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Archives for June 22, 2016

Stewarts Garden Centres designer retires

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$1.5 million Welcome Plaza in front of Student Union won’t be completed until October

OSU Welcome Plaza

This sky-view drawing shows what the $1.5 million Welcome Plaza will look like when it’s unveiled Oct. 28. 

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 7:05 pm

Updated: 9:53 pm, Tue Jun 21, 2016.

$1.5 million Welcome Plaza in front of Student Union won’t be completed until October

Jordan Bishop,
Staff Reporter,

The O’Colly

Students and faculty wanting to walk through the south entrance of the Student Union without seeing any signs of constru will have to wait until October, said Steve Dobbs, Oklahoma State University’s Landscape Services Manager.

The area south of the Student Union and between the Alumni Center and School of Media and Strategic Communications is under construction to host a Welcome Plaza. The plaza will feature two bronze sculptured horses along with trees and other amenities intended to provide a friendly atmosphere to the school’s visitors and future students.

Kyle Wray, OSU’s Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing, was a driving force behind the idea of the estimated $1.5 million plaza because he felt the school lacked a welcome area like other universities Wray had seen.

“When high school students come to campus on tours, it can be kind of intimidating,” Wray said. “Especially if you’re a kid from a small town and so we’re building this to minimize that and set them at ease.”

In late 2013, Wray and a committee including OSU President Burns Hargis brainstormed ideas until they came up with the current iteration. The statue, built by Marrita Black, is supposed to reflect the spirit of the university, Wray said.

When OSU approved the project in October 2014, it set a timetable for completion in 2016 and Dobbs said everything has stayed on track for the most part.

“One reason this one is taking a little bit longer is we’re kind of having to do it in phases to be able to keep entrances, and sidewalks and driveways open with handicap accessibility,” Dobbs said. “It would have been a quicker project to just block everything off and demolition and do everything at once, but when you have to section out and bring in contractors at different times, it just takes a little bit longer.”

Dobbs said the funds for the project didn’t come from student fees, but rather from capital project funds and donor support which is one of the reasons behind the nearly two-year wait.

Because of issues that come with landscaping, Dobbs said though the concrete foundations and sidewalks are being built quickly, other things such as gardening will take time.

 “It’s not just landscape plans,” Dobbs said. “People forget that there’s a lot of other things that go in to it.”

The dedication of the competed plaza is set for Oct. 28 during Homecoming Weekend. Wray said he thinks that will be the perfect time for students and alumni to see the newest addition to OSU’s campus.

“I think it will be something that our university and supporters will turn out for,” Wray said. “Rarely will you be able to have that kind of unveiling.”

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016 7:05 pm.

Updated: 9:53 pm.

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Old Town plan suggests dramatic remake

MANKATO — In January, area residents flooded city officials with big ideas for the future of one of Mankato’s oldest business districts, and the past five months were spent distilling that into an Old Town Master Plan.

On Tuesday night, the plan was unveiled. And what was left of the big ideas? Pretty much everything.

The draft plan — written by the city’s Community Development department — calls for transforming the North Riverfront district with greenery, pedestrian improvements, fewer traffic lanes, more art and events, dramatic new connections to the Minnesota River, sidewalk cafes, better links to downtown, a walking bridge to North Mankato, and a potential extension of Madison Avenue.

At the same time, the plan emphasizes the importance of preserving the unique historic nature of the century-old stretch of shops and other businesses. And it includes both improvements that can be put in place relatively quickly and inexpensively along with major transformations that might take years or decades to complete.

“I’m pretty impressed with it,” said Tony Filipovitch after viewing the draft plan at an open house at the Eagles Club attended by more than 60 business owners and residents. “… It’s a nice combination of ideas that can be implemented immediately and steps toward building a long-term vision. And I also like the way it built the community into the process.”

That continued Tuesday night with people scribbling opinions on comment boards situated below various pieces of the plan and voting on their top four priorities.

Walking and driving

Those priority votes landed most heavily on issues related to transportation through Old Town, particularly in relation to Riverfront Drive, which carries more than 16,000 vehicles a day in that stretch.

The plan contains myriad proposals aimed at slowing traffic, along with making the district more pleasant and less dangerous for walkers. Among the potential changes are a reduction in lanes on Riverfront from four to three (with the center lane reserved for left turns), bump-outs at corners to make for shorter crossings for pedestrians, and more signal lights to create safe crossing spots.

Alleys between Second Street and Riverfront Drive would be dressed up and landscaped to promote use by pedestrians, with gateways to the alleys created at Rock and Plum streets. Suggestions include potentially burying power lines, replacing pavement with paver stones, upgrading the rear end of buildings, and adding benches, bike racks, shrubs, trees and art.

Crossing improvements, such as bump-outs, and bike lanes are urged as well for Second Street, which runs parallel to Riverfront.

Reconnecting to the river

The plan notes that the railroad corridor running between Old Town and the Minnesota River is a major obstruction. In the shorter term, the plan recommends grade-separated crossings of the train tracks, including a possible extension of Madison Avenue into the mined-out Coughlan quarry just north of Riverfront Park — which would allow traffic to reach the park and Old Town parking lots.

In the longer term, the city should explore consolidating the railroad tracks immediately behind Old Town properties to create more development potential along the river. And the plan specifically urges the city to pursue “River Reflex,” an award-winning master’s project by former University of Minnesota landscape architecture student Michael Schiebe.

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The most striking aspect of Schiebe’s plan involves removal of hundreds of feet of the flood wall and the creation of a natural riverside area dominated by trees and grass and approaching 10 acres in size. A trail, on a slope high enough to provide flood protection, would run through the green area and connect Riverfront Park to downtown near the Veterans Memorial Bridge. And Old Town would have a direct link to the river via Elm Street.

The idea would require private landowners in the area to eventually be interested in selling their property.

The plan also suggests considering riverside “promenades, plazas and boat landings” when reconstruction or modifications of the flood-control system occur, and encourages the city to study a pedestrian bridge connecting Old Town to North Mankato.

Preserving and enhancing

Old Town’s history must be preserved even as the area is revitalized, according to the plan, which notes that urban renewal downtown in the 1970s failed that test.

“The State Historic Preservation Office has estimated that Mankato lost more of its architectural heritage than any other city in Minnesota,” the draft plan states.

Along with preserving existing historic buildings, the master plan suggests strict design standards for new construction in Old Town to match the brick-and-stone nature of the area.

Simultaneously, the plan calls for cutting edge additions to Old Town such as “parklets,” a trendy urban design concept that extends the sidewalk into the street at corners. Adding murals, sculptures, artist-designed crosswalks and bike racks, and dramatic colored lighting to the Veterans Memorial Bridge is advocated. More festivals and events, cultural and commercial, are also needed, according to the plan.

Setting aside the quarry

Redevelopment of the Coughlan Companies’ quarries was originally included in the Old Town Master Plan, but the intense community interest in potential uses of the 32 acres of dramatic quarry land will require a separate plan with its own public open-house process, according to the Community Development department.

“The reuse of the quarry merits its own planning process due to the complexity of land involved and plethora of ideas that surfaced during the Old Town public engagement process,” the plan states.

After revisions are made to incorporate the public comment from Tuesday’s open house, the draft of the Old Town Master Plan will go to the city’s Planning Commission and later this summer to the City Council.

Some Planning Commission members — including Filipovitch and John Considine — were on hand Tuesday to get an early look. Considine was among the nearly 200 people who weighed in during the January meetings and was impressed how much of the community input was adopted in the draft plan.

“I see a lot of the ideas that were brought forward,” Considine said. “… The essence of those were put in the plan we see tonight.”

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Garden Stroll offers glimpse of six gorgeous gardens

The skies are blue, and the flowers are thirsty. Many of us are struggling to get those pesky weeds out of our flower beds and laying out fresh beds of mulch. Some local residents have taken gardening and landscaping to the next level, and you can see them all yourself this weekend.

Six gardens will be featured on this year’s 2016 Garden Stroll, presented by the Howard County Master Gardener Association this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. rain or shine.

“Even if it’s not their style of garden you can always pick up a few ideas along the way. And it’s just a nice way to spend the day.”

The gardens offer a wide range of landscaping styles including the Hall-Haupert Garden’s blend of Asian style ponds, pathways and bridges and the Keller Garden’s classic mix of fountain, statue and pathing.

“These people work so incredibly hard,” explained event coordinator Marian Cable. “They just work their behinds off for us. It’s incredible what they do.”

The stroll is a self-guided tour, which will allow interested visitors to explore at their own pace, ask questions and hopefully be inspired.

“They look for a lot of ideas, landscaping ideas of their own. Even if it’s not their style of garden you can always pick up a few ideas along the way. And it’s just a nice way to spend the day,” said Cable.

Gardener Larry Keller retired from hhgregg four years ago. He and his wife, Brenda, have worked hard to be included on the tour.

“My wife and I are pretty proud of our gardens. I’m sure there are nicer ones. We’ve worked hard at what we have, and I think they look really nice,” said Keller.



This June 14, 2016, photo shows a trickling water feature in Larry and Brenda Keller’s garden at 2142 Cameron Dr. The garden is one of six featured in the Howard County Master Gardener Association’s Garden Stroll on June 25, 2016. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

Tim Bath

Story continues below video

“We’re a little bit older now. It’s just something we can do at our own pace. You get a lot out of it because things grow, and they look really pretty”

The garden stroll started in 2001 as a way to fund a horticultural scholarship, and today it has expanded to fund scholarships from Purdue and Ivy Tech. The stroll is also a chance to help educate burgeoning gardeners.

“Our main purpose is to promote good gardening practices,” Cable explained. “It’s the learning and just the beauty of nature, being outside, that sort of thing.”

“For instance, the monarch butterfly will only lay eggs on milkweed and, of course, farmers have eradicated a lot of milkweed. And the numbers are down. If you don’t have pollinators you don’t have food.”

The stroll will also include a plant sale at the welcome center at the Center Road branch of the Kokomo Howard County Public Library. The sale will include native plants, perennials, grasses, shrubs and more. Most plants will be about $3.



This June 14, 2016, photo shows a grass pathway in Larry and Brenda Keller’s garden at 2142 Cameron Dr. The garden is one of six featured in the Howard County Master Gardener Association’s Garden Stroll on June 25, 2016. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

Tim Bath

Strollers can also take part in a contest to count the number of pagodas in the Hall-Haupert Garden. The winner will receive a set of three garden lanterns with LED candles.

Tickets for the event are $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the stroll. Children under 12 will be admitted free.

Tickets can be purchased at Banner Flower House, Bowden Flowers, Cossell’s Creative Landscaping, Eden’s Way, Flowers by Ivan and Rick, Garden Gate Greenhouse in Peru, Jefferson House of Flowers, Salsbery Garden Center, Pro-Hardware in Russiaville and White Lilies N Paradise or at the Welcome Center on Saturday.

For more information, visit the Howard County Master Gardener Association on Facebook at

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Plants Brought From Other Countries May Pose Environmental Threat

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lawns and gardens across the Tri-State area are getting a lot of love this time of year.

But some new Jersey residents are concerned that the plants used to beautify people’s homes are bad for the environment and they want them banned, CBS2’s Elise Finch reported.

Natasha Degannes is shopping for plants for her home garden. She said she purposely chooses plants that are native to this area.

“We have to make sure we preserve the environment for our kids,” she said.

But not everyone has the same approach to gardening and landscaping.

Sandy Bonardi is the director naturalist at Greenbook Sanctuary in Tenafly. She said she spends most of her summer trying to kill invasive plants. Grasses, shrubs and trees that were brought to New Jersey from other countries either by accident or for landscaping purposes.

“They come in and they’re just able to spread everywhere because there’s nothing that eats them,” she said. “The native insects won’t eat them and the deer won’t eat them.”

Bonardi said with no natural predators, the foreign plants thrive and the native plants die, as do the native animals that rely on them for food and nesting grounds. There are thousands of of these invasive plants including Japanese stilt grass, a climbing vine called Asiatic Bittersweet, Japanese Angellica trees, Wineberry and Barberry. They may have been panted in people’s yards but they spread.

Naturalists like Bonardi said they’re doing what they can to get rid of invasive plants, but they need help from lawmakers.

“It always drives me crazy when I go to a nursery and I see Burning Bush still for sale,” she said.

Bonardi wants legislators to ban the growth, sale and use of all invasive plants in New Jersey, which has already been done in New York and Connecticut. Some said that’s not the right approach.

“That doesn’t make any sense to me. That really doesn’t. I think people should have the right to set up in their garden what they want,” Woodcliff Lake resident Wylie Hembree said.

But others say they would support an invasive plant ban.

“As long as people become more informed about why they shouldn’t have these other things, they’re going to understand and go back to using things that are better for the environment,” Metropolitan Farms manager Jennifer Anderson said.

Naturalists said some invasive plants are also bringing insects that kill natives trees. Many are hoping for legislation before entire forests in northern New Jersey are destroyed.

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Touring the gardens of Plainfield

PLAINFIELD — Seven homes were included in the 2016 Plainfield Garden Tour. Flower enthusiasts beginning their tour at the library turned East onto Stafford Road and traveled a mere half mile, turning left onto Elm Drive.

The home of Jim and Jill Wheeler provided a unique landscaping opportunity.

“This has taken us about 10 years,” Jim Wheeler said. “I have five kids and the youngest is 22. About five years ago, things slowed down considerably. As I had more time on my hands I was able to do more stuff in the yard. At that time, I made a lot of changes. A lot of what you see now didn’t exist.”

Wheeler took on the challenge of creating a multi-deck system against a steep slope curving down from his backyard to Clarks Creek. The project contains a tiered waterfall and stream, as well as a fire pit with generous seating. Plantings provide color and greenery , allowing the massive deck to blend in with the native growth.

“I’ve placed every stone, rock and board with some help from my brother-in-law,” Wheeler said. “I’ve built some decks before, but nothing as elaborate as this. You’d never guess that something like this was back here.”

The deck also includes interesting touches such as antique windows and a wine bottle ceiling.

“We saw the wine bottles at a flower and garden show, but that was more concentrated,” Wheeler said. “This is purely ornamental because we have plenty of shade back here.”

This is the second time that Wheeler has participated in the Garden Tour.

Other homes along the tour included noteworthy locations such as the home of Plainfield Town Council president Robin Brandgard and a bonus garden south of Plainfield that is rarely open to the public: Terra Flora, the home of Doug and Kay Flauding.

These two retired educators have created a seamless variety of 18 gardens on half of their five acres.

Nomad Yarns, 218 E. Main St., also took part in the tour, opening up the back garden to the green thumbs of Hendricks County. Five years ago, Nomad’s back lawn turned from patchy grass to a bountiful provider of food. Since 2013, the front garden has been a picturesque place to sit and craft with the addition of drought tolerant perennials and flowers of all kinds.

Sponsors for the 2016 Plainfield Garden Tour were Chapin Landscaping, Mr. Electric, Cox’s Plant Farm, Central Indiana Lawns Inc., Greencycle McCarty, Bowman Boys, Avon Gardens, Frazee Gardens, Cumberland Trace, Daylily Dementia, Photography by Fast, Smith Scape Landscaping, Mason Jewelers, Forest Commodities Inc, Whitley’s Lawn Care and Aquatic Design Supplies Inc.

Follow Hendricks County Reporter Stephanie Dolan on Twitter @StephanieDolan.

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South Pittsburg public housing residents sound off over garden ban

South Pittsburg, Tenn., resident Roberta Shockley tried for weeks to remain soft-spoken and anonymous when talking about a resolution requiring public housing residents to remove vegetable and flower gardens from their yards. But on Monday, she erupted with anger at the South Pittsburg Housing Authority.

“Y’all have destroyed me and my flowers,” said the 80-year-old Shockley. Then she cried.

Housing authority board Chairman Virgil Holder offered residents a community garden during Monday’s meeting, but it provided little consolation for Shockley and several other residents and supporters.

The small Marion County town, home of the annual Cornbread Festival, gained national attention recently after board members banned public housing residents from planting gardens, passing a resolution stating that all landscaping was to be removed June 1 unless the housing authority had planted it.

Supporters across the nation wrote letters opposing the ban, and several residents attended the housing authority board meeting Monday hoping the board would reverse its decision, but Holder said the decision stands.

“It’s just wrong. Senseless. Heartless,” said South Pittsburg resident Marilyn Davis after the meeting. “They’re taking what little these people have away from them.”

Roses, impatiens and irises that once majestically lined Shockley’s walkway and overflowed throughout her yard have all been mowed down, leaving a barren yard of red wood chips, green stumps and scattered grass. Her yard is one of several where flowers have been removed.

But some residents, those living on Hemlock Street, Hemlock Drive and Pine Street, still have gardens.

“We had no intention of going in and ripping stuff out,” Holder earlier said of the gardens.

But after the meeting Monday, Holder said all planted gardens will have to be removed in a timely manner.

The Barn Nursery and other donors pledged to purchase flowers for Shockley to replace her garden. Holder said she still won’t be allowed to plant anything, but she can have potted plants on her front and back porches.

Shockley said she’s had a garden in her yard since she moved into public housing in 1969.

Holder said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has banned gardens in yards since the public housing site was built, and the South Pittsburg Housing Authority board only is enforcing an established rule.

Joseph J. Phillips, HUD’s Southeast Region senior communications officer, said that is not the case.

“The decision regarding public housing residents planting gardens is a local public housing policy,” Phillips wrote in an email to the Times Free Press. “HUD does not prohibit the public housing authority from permitting residents from planting gardens.”

Chattanooga Housing Authority Executive Director Betsy McCright said she has never heard of a ban on gardens by HUD.

“We’re left to our own devices,” she said. “I have not heard any prohibitions on gardens as long as it’s reasonable and well attended and they add to the value of the property.”

Shockley knew the back of her house could be seen by those attending the Cornbread Festival. She said she tried to keep her yard beautiful for festival participants who drove by, and sometimes they liked her yard so much they stopped and asked her the names of different flowers, she said.

Holder said earlier, and again Monday after the meeting, that the controversy over the gardens has been politically motivated. Holder is running against incumbent Mayor Jane Dawkins for mayor of South Pittsburg.

Holder said HUD is watching the housing authority more closely because of the politics in the city.

“HUD is now saying get your stuff together, watching us real close, and the reason is because we were informed by a HUD official that never in their career have they ever seen interference of the city to the housing authority. And that’s because we moved away from the mayor’s insurance company and saved $18,000 a year,” Holder said. “Every since that happened we’ve had interference from the city.”

Dawkins could not be reached for comment.

Bill Stuart, who also is running for mayor, said the “flowers and the shrubbery were just beautiful, and the residents in the housing authority should be encouraged to improve the property that they live in because that’s actually their home.”

Davis said the community garden that Holder proposed didn’t matter to some residents because they would have trouble getting to it.

A centrally located community garden would require some residents to drive, because the housing authority has 202 public housing units scattered throughout the city. Shockley is one of a number of residents who don’t have cars.

Davis said she was disappointed with the meeting’s outcome.

“Nothing happened that would benefit the housing people,” she said.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.

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Experts Share Top Lilac Gardening Tips

Those who want to know something about lilacs would be well advised to ask Jeff and Jan Young. The two lilac experts visited Mackinac Island for the duration of the Lilac Festival to share their knowledge with curious gardeners, from novices to masters.
“You must kill 1,000 plants to be a good gardener,” Mr. Young says.


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Shelley Peterman Schwarz: Making gardening easier with tools, tips – – WISC





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Master gardeners gives Springfield food pantry visitors seeds, gardening tips – Springfield News

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