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Archives for June 9, 2016

10 new gardening books for summer reading

Speaking of pollinators, that’s another big trend in gardening lately as more and more people seek plants friendly to dwindling bees, birds, hummingbirds, beneficial insects and especially butterflies – that rare bug that even bugaphobes concede is pretty.

This book, from a leading pollinator-conservation organization, tells why we should care about helping butterflies and then names the plants and techniques that are most helpful to bringing them into your yard.

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Golf legend Annika Sorenstam launches app in Seattle that helps you find fun events and activites

Annika Sorenstam spoke at the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit on Wednesday at Sahalee Country Club, where she’ll be providing color commentary for NBC’s broadcast of this weekend’s Women’s PGA Championship.

It was only a matter of time before Annika Sorenstam launched a tech startup.

Arguably the greatest women’s golfer in history, Sorenstam was already an active entrepreneur off the course during the latter stage of her illustrious 16-year career. After she retired in 2008, the Sweden-native spent even more time with her business endeavors — a clothing line, a cookbook, a wine collection, multiple golf course design projects, the ANNIKA Foundation, and more.

Now, Sorenstam is dipping her toes in the technology world. She’s the founder of a new iPhone app called Fundu, which recommends nearby events and activities catered to your individual tastes.

Sorenstam shared more details about Fundu with GeekWire at Sahalee Country Club in Redmond, Wash. on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after she accepted the Inspire Greatness Award at the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.

The 45-year-old explained that while traveling on the road as a pro golfer, and even now in her post-LPGA life, it would be tough to find something fun to do when she had a few hours to kill. She’d spend time browsing through websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, trying to decide on an event or activity. But this process took so long that by the time she found something, it was already too late.

Sorenstam wished there was an app that could tell you about an event or activity around your given location — a wine tasting, a bike ride, a museum, an LPGA tournament, etc. — based on your personal interests.

“I decided I was going to do something about it,” she said.

In 2014, she partnered with a small game development studio called SkyReacher near San Diego and became the majority investor behind the project, which has raised just under $400,000 to date. Four months ago, the app launched in Vancouver, B.C., and this week it debuted in its first U.S. city: Seattle.

“There are lots of millennials here and it’s a very active city with a lot to do,” said Sorenstam, who won 93 tournaments. “I thought, why not go here?”

Fundu’s functionality is fairly simple. You build a profile to start, adding information about your specific interests. From there, once you’re in a given city — it could be useful in your hometown, too — the app provides tailored recommendations for activities to do nearby. It also sends alerts for events that you might be interested in, and learns more about you based on your usage with the app over time.

“It’s a recommendation engine, rather than a search engine,” Sorenstam said. “This keeps it quick, fast and easy. I don’t have time to scroll through things I don’t want. I just want it to be precise.”

Sorenstam, who will provide color commentary for NBC’s coverage of the Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee this weekend, is a bit of a geek herself. She is a self-described “huge app user,” and said some folks call her an “old millennial.”

But the eight-time Player of the Year winner, who works on Fundu daily, isn’t quite versed on software development skills. In golf terms, she said she’s a 36-handicap in the coding department — that means Sorenstam would average around 108 strokes for 18 holes on a good day, which is not exactly a great score for a player who once shot 59.

“I’ve been studying and reading a lot, and I’m learning about how this world works,” she said of developing apps. “It’s been two years, and one thing I learned is that this takes a long time. It’s not like you can switch a button and have it ready to go.”

Sorenstam said there are monetization ideas for Fundu — which plays off the Swedish word “du” — but for now she’s focused on user acquisition.

“We just want to create a great product that people want to use and go from there,” she added.

Sorenstam is clearly a fan of technology, and she noted the increasing level of tech that is changing sports. With golf in particular, she sees mostly positive impacts from new innovations like Trackman or landscaping innovation.

“It’s taking golf to a different level,” she said. “Before, it was more about equipment — balls, shafts, clubs. Now it’s a lot more innovative. It’s fun, and I think it draws some other people to golf. You have to find balance with the traditional part of the game, but if it enhances golf and brings more people to the game, I think it’s fun.”

Sorenstam, who won a record $22 million in prize money as a professional, also noted the many parallels between the business and golf worlds.

“You have to have a vision, a plan, a strategy — you need to have that focus and be relentless,” she said of the similarities. “Of course, with golf, the product is different, the people are different, and your surroundings are different. But in the end, the core is the same.”

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Italy native finds success with new garden center

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Salvatore Montemarano came to this country  from a small town in Naples, Italy, called Avellino that was once a thriving farm community.

What he thought was a routine visit with family in Brooklyn when he was a 17-years-old turned into a career opportunity — one Montemarano jumped on and never looked back.

It wasn’t long before Montemarano, now 45 years old, decided to migrate to this country and learn the landscaping business from his uncle.

“I came from a little town in the country. I really just came here to visit family and decided I wanted to learn about landscaping. I liked the work,” said Montemarano. “I had to start somewhere, and I decided to start here.”

After learning the craft from his family, he launched Salvatore Montemarano Landscaping and Gardening Inc. in 1995.

“I like the business. I like to be in the field and do things with my own hands,” he said, speaking about what attracted him to landscaping.

“I love to create Japanese gardens with waterfalls. A lot of people on Staten Island like waterfalls, and they look for new things for their gardens every year,” said Montemarano.

Salvatore Montemarano, owner

Victory Nursing Landscaping

3441 Victory Blvd., Travis


Telling Trait:
“I treat all my customers like family.” 

When a piece of property recently became available in Nansen’s park that fronts Victory Boulevard in Travis he knew it was the perfect location to launch his new business: Victory Nursing Landscaping.


The new garden center is a family affair; Montemarano’s wife, Lilla, and two sons, Pasquale, 21, and Anthony, 17, help out on the weekends.

“We provide everything — shrubs, flowers, trees. We also install for customers; we give them ideas, and we do design landscape also,” said Montemarano.

And because he spends much time with clients helping them figure out what works best for their property, he says they, too, are like family to him.

“Customers I know from my landscaping business are like family. We help new customers who come here figure out what will work for their property. If they want me to I will go to their house, look at it, and tell them what to buy,” said Montemarano.


During his busy season, which is now, Montemarano works seven days per week. While the business is seasonal, he said it’s only January and February when the interest in gardening and landscaping decreases.

“I work seven days a week so having a month or two off is OK,” he said.

Because of the cooler temperatures at the beginning of this season, Montemarano said that since things have heated up he’s been working long days — starting at 7 a.m. and sometimes ending at 10 p.m. In the last few weeks, he’s been barraged with calls and visits from people want to spruce up their gardens now that the weather is warmer.

“In a business like this, you need to put in the time to be a success,” he said.

If you have a new business on Staten Island, e-mail

 FOLLOW Tracey Porpora on FACEBOOK

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America in Bloom judges to visit Ironton

Sports, theater, science, nature and more!

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Green thumbs — Homeowners open garden gates for Pride tour

If you go:

What: 27th Pride Inc.’s Lawn and Garden Tour

When: 12-5 p.m., Sunday, June 12

Where: On the self-guided tour, properties may be visited in any order that you choose. A map is included with a ticket purchase to assist you in finding all the locations.

Info: Tickets cost $12 each, available at the Pride Inc. office, the Alton Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Karen Wilson State Farm, the Godfrey Clerk’s Office, Dick’s Flowers, Liberty Bank in Alton and Godfrey, CNB Bank and Trust in Alton and Jeffrey’s Flowers. For more information, call the Pride office at 618-467-2375 or visit

ALTON — Pride Inc.’s Lawn and Garden Tour will kick off the summer season for the 27th time.

The local service organization inspires pride in the community where we all live, drive, work, play, go to school, engage in sports and recreational activities. The tour offers the opportunity for a few individuals and this year, two organizations, to share their personal contribution to the beautification of the Riverbend through the splendor of their collective gardens.

The Pride tradition began in 1965 when Dr. Gordon F. Moore had a dream. He suggested a community service organization for the Alton area that would pool the resources of industry, labor, education, government and the public at large to foster positive change to beautify and instilling a sense of community pride in the area.

The Lawn and Garden Tour provides a day for residents to take a peek at the gardens, ideas and hard work of others. It has grown into a tradition for many residents who come back year after year. Tour goers discover ideas that they can use themselves, and hopefully get in the mood to start digging around in their own gardens. On the self-guided tour, properties may be visited in any order that you choose. A map is included with a ticket purchase to assist you in finding all the locations.

Four of this year’s homes are within walking distance of each other on Prospect Street in Alton’s Christian Hill District, including Tom and Mary Hoechst’s home and garden; Robert and Susan Delgado’s garden, and the gardens of Ron and Judy Mayhew and Ed and Patty Morrissey.

Tom Hoechst, Pride board member and chairman of this year’s tour, said having several houses grouped together within walking distance hopefully, makes it easier for tour goers who can stroll from one to another.

“And it makes it nicer when people do not have to park so many different times,” he said.

Each of the gardens offers a distinctive style reflecting the tastes and personalities of the homeowners. Some of the gardens are small, backyard gardens, while others are tucked into subdivisions or city neighborhoods.

Also featured are Dianne Burton’s garden on Alton Street, Jeff and Karen Kelley’s on South Fairmount Drive, and three that are owned by John Meehan and Bruce Egelhoff, located at 1024, 1026 and 1028 Washington Avenue.

Meehan and Egelhoff own 13 rental houses through their company, J.E.M. Properties Inc., in addition to the one they live in, and Meehan designs and maintains landscaping at all of the properties. When the home at 1026 Washington Ave. was purchased in 1990, Meehan said he was delighted to discover what amounted to a “secret garden,” much like the book and movie of the same name, behind the property.

“The yard and gardens were in great disrepair,” Meehan said. “The sunken garden was overgrown, and in the yard, there were only a couple of dead trees and a birdbath — and that’s about it.

“I cleared out the brush, and over the years, I’ve added new elements, and our gardens have overflowed and grown into the gardens on either side of us (which are owned by J.E.M.),” Meehan said.

He chooses his plants wisely, often selecting maintenance-free varieties of hostas, ferns, impatiens and daylilies. The area’s differing terrains offer opportunities to add depth to landscaping elements.

Meehan said the house at 1026 Washington Ave., was owned by Maurice and Catherine Sessel, who owned Sessel’s Department Store, a men’s store with locations in Alton, Jerseyville and Bunker Hill. The house at 1028 Washington Ave. was originally owned by the Busse family.

“And at one time, Washington Avenue was known as Garden Street,” he said.

Even with so many gardens to tend to, Meehan consistently earns Pride Eye awards for his efforts. Usually, he begins work each year on April 1. Summer is busy, with many hours spent on landscaping and maintenance, ending somewhere around the end of October or so, depending on the weather.

“I do spend a lot of time on it — it’s almost a hobby occupation. I enjoy the gardens and the summer, and we love having friends and family over to visit and share them with us,” Meehan said. “I like to say I love winter, too, because at times it does get hectic.

“But it is hard when you see the gardens begin to wither, and the first frost is very sad,” he said.

Now retired, Meehan said somehow, he also worked on all of his gardens while he was still working as a fifth-grade elementary teacher in Edwardsville.

Weather forecasts for this year’s tour are good, but he recalls another time in the mid-1990s, when he was set to have gardens on display, and a Sunday morning storm with straight-line winds destroyed multiple properties of those who were scheduled on the tour. They were all given the opportunity to participate the following summer.

This year’s tour also includes the University of Illinois Master Garden Project at the village garden in Godfrey, where Hoechst said Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening and planting questions and conduct a plant sale.

Lewis and Clark Community College’s garden on the campus in Godfrey will be on display, where the school is commemorating “Gardens Through the Looking Glass,” to celebrate the 150-year anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

“Pride has done a lot for the community,” said Meehan, who is a member of the organization. “There are so many people who volunteer and who inspire others to take pride in their property and the area.”

The self-guided tour runs from noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, June 12. Pride volunteers will be at each property with many of the owners also present, although some leave to take the tour, too. Tickets cost $12 each and are available at the Pride Inc. office, the Alton Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Karen Wilson State Farm, the Godfrey Clerk’s Office, Dick’s Flowers, Liberty Bank in Alton and Godfrey, CNB Bank and Trust in Alton and Jeffrey’s Flowers. For more information, call the Pride office at 618-467-2375 or visit

If you go:

What: 27th Pride Inc.’s Lawn and Garden Tour

When: 12-5 p.m., Sunday, June 12

Where: On the self-guided tour, properties may be visited in any order that you choose. A map is included with a ticket purchase to assist you in finding all the locations.

Info: Tickets cost $12 each, available at the Pride Inc. office, the Alton Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Karen Wilson State Farm, the Godfrey Clerk’s Office, Dick’s Flowers, Liberty Bank in Alton and Godfrey, CNB Bank and Trust in Alton and Jeffrey’s Flowers. For more information, call the Pride office at 618-467-2375 or visit

By Vicki Bennington

For The Telegraph

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Painting with Plants

Louisville is an area blessed with interesting and high-quality horticulture. Consequently, the city has no shortage of incredible marvels of landscape architecture. There are countless businesses that perform beautiful work in this field, but one of the best is Korfhage Landscape Designs, run by veteran horticulturist and landscape architect John Korfhage. Through his business, Korfhage has had the opportunity to establish a sterling reputation that has afforded him the opportunity to work ona such gardening and landscaping projects as the offices of Kindred Healthcare as well as some of the most valuable residences in Louisville.

“Our family started a horticulture business in 1920,” explains Korfhage. “My father and his brother took over the business, and my brother and I worked in the business as kids. Then I went to UK and got a degree in ornamental horticulture, but I always knew that I wanted to do design work.” Korfhage says that the university didn’t have a landscaping architecture program when he went there, but the degree he was able to attain and the experience he had and would gain allowed him to become a registered landscape architect anyway.

Photos courtesy of John Korfhage

Korfhage worked in the family business for several years. He eventually decided, however, to open his own location with his brother, Bob, in Jeffersontown in the late ’70s – what now has become Korfhage Landscape Designs.

“There are more development, office buildings and higher-end residences there every day,” says Korfhage of his part of town before adding with a laugh, “Since we started our business here, the whole East End has changed tremendously. When we moved out there, it was a lot of corn fields.” During that time, not only did Korfhage work hard but he also developed a reputation for excellence. He also sought ways to offer services that his competitors did not.

Photos courtesy of John Korfhage

“I traveled a lot, looking at gardens around the country and in France and Italy,” recalls Korfhage. “Everywhere I went, I tried to learn what the style of gardening was there. For example, when I went to Dallas, I asked, ‘What is the style? What are they doing here that they are not doing in Louisville?’” In essence, each region uses different plant materials. Each city has a different look. For instance, New England has more hydrangeas, and due to his trip to the gardens of Versailles in France, Korfhage understands how to utilize that sense of color and scale when appropriate.

More than just flights of fancy, these trips arm Korfhage with a vast array of ideas and concepts to apply to his projects. “When people build a house with a particular style, I know what it’s supposed to look like. When I look at a house, I know about 10 different looks that will work for it,” he says. With this treasured knowledge in tow, Korfhage will get the dimensions of the building or residence and draw a plan. “I’ve got a blank sheet of paper with the drive and the walks on it, and I just start drawing. After a while, the thought just comes to me and I think, ‘I like this.’ I draw it up, and I price all the pieces. Then I sub it out, but I supervise all of it. I make it happen. If I’ve drawn it, I’ve imagined it, and that means I’ve seen it.”

Photos courtesy of John Korfhage

Korfhage treats each of his projects as an artist would. Every home, office building or industrial complex is a blank canvas waiting for him to take advantage of lines, curvatures and plant materials: “I include flowerbeds, and I like mixing colors. Most flowerbeds in Louisville are uniform in color, but I like to mix. A few clients dictate color, but I mostly get to have at it.” When asked specifically what it’s like for him to work, Korfhage simply offers, “It’s like painting with plants.”

The man also prides himself on never doing the same thing twice: “When someone tells me, ‘I love what you did. Come do my house,’ I usually agree to do it, but it’s not going to look like the house they saw. Another thought’s going to come to me.” Korfhage has tremendous conviction in his abilities and his work. Not only that, but he values the end result for his client, which makes him an incredible asset to the Louisville landscaping community as well as a treasured source of knowledge and advice for the rest of us: “I like to create an environment that is pleasing to be in but also pleasing to look at, and when I do, I feel fulfilled. I feel like I’ve done something nice.” VT

You can contact John Korfhage by calling 502.267.0001 or 502.267.0541 or by visiting

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Avoid gardening aches and pains with these easy steps

With the onset of gardening weather, chiropractor Krista Revenberg sees a long line of clients coming through her office with sore backs and joints.

Those injuries are typical this time of year because people are so eager to get into their gardens, they often forget to take steps to avoid getting injured.

Revenberg is one of those gardeners who spends hours in her yard. She has several tips for anyone wanting to take it easy on their bodies while in their gardens.

Treat it like a workout – warm up

People commonly forget to stretch before they head out in the yard.

Because gardeners spend so much time kneeling, squatting and yanking out weeds, they should take a few minutes stretching their quads, hamstrings, wrists, arms and backs.

“You wouldn’t go out and run a 100-metre race right away without warming up and you should look at gardening the same way,” Revenberg said.

Proper positions

Gardeners often spend hours leaning over pulling weeds and planting. Without the right posture, this activity is a sure way to walk away with a sore back.

Revenberg suggests kneeling, which creates more of a “neutral” back position that engages all those core muscles that protect from injuries.

Chiropractor Krista Revenberg offers up three basic tips to avoid typical injuries that come with gardening. (Nathan Swinn/CBC)

Plenty of people have bad knees, so they are urged to use mats on the ground or knee pads.

Revenberg also suggests mixing up the tasks, so people aren’t kneeling or squatting for too long.

“If I were to kneel for two hours and garden or I was to squat for two hours, I’m going to be sore either way,” she said. “Be sure to switch up what you’re doing.”

Take breaks

Make sure to take breaks. Eager gardeners tend to toil in a bit of a frenzy when spring first hits, so they can sit back and enjoy their yards.

“People are excited. They want to get their gardening done in one shot and they’ll sit there for two or three hours,” Revenberg said.

She recommends even short breaks, so people have time to walk around, stretch more and stay hydrated.

“If you can imagine going for a two- or three-hour walk or a two- or three-hour run, you would be exhausted,” Revenberg said. “It’s the same thing with gardening.”

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Art and Garden Fest brings herbs, art, decor and tips to Andersen Center

SAGINAW, MI – The Art Garden Festival at the Andersen Enrichment Center invited shoppers to buy plants, herbs, art, home decorations and accessories Wednesday, June 8, at the Andersen Enrichment Center.

They also had the chance to listen to master gardeners and presenters talk about  a variety of topics including gardening basics, honey and essential oils pertaining to plants. Patty Burnside, an advanced master gardener from Freeland, spoke on gardening basics and her personal favorite tools to use in her own garden. 

Guests participated in a silent auction, which featured plants, gift certificates and home and garden accessories. Proceeds from the auction were donated to the Lucille E. Andersen Memorial Rose Garden. 

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