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Archives for July 2, 2016

VA hospital’s healing garden is a refuge from ravages of war, illness

Long before he became a professor of landscape architecture and a designer of healing gardens around the world, Daniel Winterbottom had a seed planted in his very own heart.

It came from his mother, Miriam, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 30 years ago.

The hospital environment where she received treatment was “humiliating and degrading,” Winterbottom said the other day. The only public meeting place was a room at the end of the hall. Sticky vinyl chairs. Fluorescent lighting.

So his mother found solace in the sight of a lone white pine tree that stood outside the window of her hospital room.

“One tree gave her a way to focus away from the chemo, the nausea,” Winterbottom said.

It was also, he would later learn, a “soft fascination” — an escape from the difficult thoughts around medical decisions, wills and all the worries that a prolonged hospital stay can ignite.

“You freak out, you panic,” said Winterbottom, who is 60. “The human capacity to deal with these issues is limited. And nature revitalizes you.”

With that — and his mother — in mind, Winterbottom and a group of his University of Washington students transformed a space of concrete and crushed rock at the Veterans Affairs hospital on Seattle’s Beacon Hill into a lush, light-filled sanctuary called a healing garden.

The design includes a lot of herbs, which not only have a scent, but are tactile, Winterbottom said. There are beds of native plants, a fountain with the soothing sound of water, and vines where birds can find refuge. And there are mahogany benches, where family members can sit out long medical appointments.

“It all makes you feel part of a system larger than yourself,” he said.

Doorways, paths and tables accommodate wheelchairs and gurneys. Chairs tilt back “so your mind can escape,” Winterbottom said.

“In a hospital, there is not a lot of beauty,” he said. “There’s anxiety and exhaustion. You don’t come here unless you need critical care.”

His firm, Winterbottom Designs, has installed healing gardens in New York City, Mexico, Guatemala, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.

And his book, “Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces,” includes chapters on gardens designed around movement, learning and sensory enhancement. There are gardens for the homeless, immigrants, obese children and those with cancer.

Healing gardens belong in places “where people are reaching their breaking point,” Winterbottom said.

Prisons. Psychiatric facilities. Juvenile-detention facilities. Refugee camps. And VA hospitals, where the echoes of war rattle louder and longer when there’s nothing to soften the sound.

“It really helps recovery, especially with combat veterans,” said Jeremy Watson, an affiliate assistant professor in Winterbottom’s department who helped with the design.

Watson’s contribution was critical, for he has seen things. He did two tours in Vietnam as a combat medic and receives treatment at the VA for PTSD.

“There’s no other respite from the sterility of the wards and the hospital itself,” Watson said, seated on one of the garden’s mahogany benches. “Until now, the closest green was at the Jefferson Golf Course next door. If you could make it that far.” (There is also a healing garden at the adjacent Fisher House, located on the VA campus.)

Many combat veterans relate to nature and animals better than other human beings, Winterbottom said.

He remembered neighbors in his native New Jersey who returned from the Vietnam War, then moved to faraway places like Idaho and Alaska.

“They wanted to be with nature and wildlife,” he said.

Meanwhile, the hospitals where veterans are treated are becoming increasingly dense and urbanized.

So there is more and more interest in healing gardens to settle veterans’ minds. And research proves gardens help reduce cortisol levels and aggressive behavior, and increase empathy and endorphins.

Ah, but this being a government facility, the VA project involved years of red tape and approvals before anything could be done. Then once construction started, patients, visitors and staff lined up along the windows to watch.

(The Veterans and Friends of Puget Sound helped raise $85,000 to build it.)

When the garden was officially opened last month, the crowd spilled down the halls. It was clear this would help people.

There were plenty of speeches and thanks. People waited patiently while the 27 UW students who put in 5,000 hours of construction received certificates and had their photo taken.

Then Winterbottom stood up and read a letter from an unnamed combat medic to his father, detailing the ravages of war. The professor choked back tears to read aloud the ending: “I love you, my father.”

“That was one of so many” veterans’ letters Winterbottom has seen, he said.

“For them, we hope the garden will provide a place of peace and restoration. That this will be a sanctuary in times of great stress, uncertainty and loss.”

Article source:

Modern-Shed founder and his wife design a beautiful outdoor space — with a shed, of course

YOU’D EXPECT to see a cool, contemporary shelter in the garden of the guy who founded the Seattle business Modern-Shed. But you might be surprised to find that the shed in Ryan Smith’s Laurel Vista garden is a bright red playhouse for his daughter Della. The little structure, with its butterfly roof and bold color, has great presence and serves as backdrop to the newly renovated garden.

The garden is both comfortable and hard-edged, designed in intersecting planes to match the lines of the midcentury modern home. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

The garden is both comfortable and hard-edged, designed in intersecting planes to match the lines of the midcentury modern home. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

When Smith and his wife, Ahna Holder, bought their midcentury home, it was dilapidated from years of being rented, with brown wall-to-wall carpet, and in serious need of renovation. “The house looked like a project to me,” says Smith. “And I like projects.”

The couple worked on updating the house on and off for nearly 15 years before tackling the garden. Which was so overgrown they couldn’t even see the grass on the lower level of the property.

“We left the trees around the perimeter for privacy, and started hacking away,” says Smith. Now Smith and Holder’s property, with its gray horizontal screen angling off the sidewalk, terraces and minimalist plantings, is an ideal space for the thriving Modern-Shed business Smith started in 2005 and runs from his studio on the property.

Courtney Olander designed the planting plan for the garden, creating groupings of pots holding medleys of textural, colorful foliage. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Courtney Olander designed the planting plan for the garden, creating groupings of pots holding medleys of textural, colorful foliage. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Initially, though, neglected underbrush wasn’t the only problem the family faced when stepping out the back door.

“We felt marooned on the patio,” says Smith, for the lot dropped steeply away from the house. So they set in to tame the slope with terraces, carving out usable space for sitting and dining outdoors. They did all the hardscaping themselves, using pavers and a bamboo composite material called ZomeTek for the steps and walkways. The planting beds are built of COR-TEN steel; the terraces and lawn are rectangles. Clean hard edges of steel, ZomeTek and pavers meet up at the corners, creating a contemporary feel of intersecting planes.

Pots, grasses, chocolate cosmos, rudbeckia and the playhouse in late summer. The shed is about 100 square feet, with a butterfly roof. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Pots, grasses, chocolate cosmos, rudbeckia and the playhouse in late summer. The shed is about 100 square feet, with a butterfly roof. Smith started his Modern-Shed business in 2005 when he badly needed storage space because his home had no attic or basement. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Two years ago the couple hired designer Courtney Olander of Olander Garden Design to come up with a planting plan. Smith wanted a low-maintenance garden, and asked Olander to keep it simple to go with the lines of the house. Holder, who grew up in San Diego and still is adjusting to the Northwest climate, wanted plenty of warm colors. Smith and Holder saw the garden as a chance for living outdoors as many months of the year as possible, from the covered terrace by the house to gathering around a firepit, and dining under the stars.

Dark-leafed heuchera, nandina, blood grass and a silvery succulent fill a COR-TEN steel bed alongside the steps to the lower garden. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Dark-leafed heuchera, nandina, blood grass and a silvery succulent fill a COR-TEN steel bed alongside the steps to the lower garden. Designer Courtney Olander used mostly foliage plants chosen for color, texture and ease of maintenance. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Olander’s challenge was to select plants that would work with the mustard yellow trim on the house and studio, and the brilliant red of the shed. She chose shades of burgundy and gold in foliage and flower. Now ebony-leafed heucheras and deep purple ‘Queen of the Night’ tulips hit the dark notes in springtime, followed in summer by chocolate cosmos, blood grass and rudbeckia with its golden flowers centered in dark brown.

Ryan Smiths garden is all about  modern living  outdoor kitchen, patios, pots, various rooms, and a darling little red shed.

Ryan Smith’s garden is all about modern living – outdoor kitchen, patios, pots, various “rooms”, and a darling little red shed. This stylish garden in Laurelhurst features a fire pit on the lower patio.

She planted in masses, using lots of ornamental grasses for their modern, upright lines. She added a grouping of pots beneath the red maple outside the dining-room window. She planted them with year-round foliage plants in the same deep, rich tones. The maple tree and the pots are up-lighted at night, as is the huge old ginkgo original to the property. The night lighting helps connect the family to the garden after dark, and expands the usable space for evening entertaining.

One terrace holds an outdoor kitchen, with sink and barbecue, long countertops and a pizza oven that’s a concrete half egg with a stucco shell. Here’s where Smith cooks up pizza for Della and her friends.

“We use this outdoor kitchen constantly,” says Smith.

The outdoor living room has a grouping of red Adirondack-style chairs around a firepit. Yellow butterfly chairs complete the color scheme and echo the roofline of the shed, while adding a dose of 1950s cool. The garden is surrounded by mature evergreens for screening, including rhododendrons, conifers, cypress and junipers, mixed with ornamental cherries for seasonal color.

“We love the private, courtyard feel of the space,” says Smith, “and the outdoor kitchen,” where the family has served pizza outdoors, fresh from the oven, even into December.

Article source:

Jacksons Fencing in Ashford: Pushing back the boundaries of garden design



Fencing isn’t what it used to be. Sharp, modern designs have been pushing back the boundaries of garden design.

Safe, secure and environmentally-friendly, this new breed of fencing has been transforming gardens up and down the land.

From classic featherboard to traditional palisade, there’s a look for every garden – and there’s not a tin of smelly creosote in sight.

Here’s a few ways to give your garden the cutting edge…


Horizontal slats are ideal for creating a lighter garden as they allow sunlight through yet also shade, creating a dramatic effect in your garden. Accessories like hurricane lanterns or tea lights hung from a tree will also add ambience and romance to a summer evening.

Venetian: The strikingly attractive Venetian fence panel is a great way to help create a lighter garden if yours is quite small or shaded…


Looking to block out noisy neighbours or traffic from nearby roads? Jacksons Jakoustic timber environmental noise barrier systems were traditionally used as a motorway fencing system and have now been adapted for use in residential gardens.

This fencing has the appearance of any solid timber garden fence but with the added benefit of reducing noise. A dense growth of plants or hedges is another visually appealing way to block out noise. Place them so there aren’t any gaps between the plants. Voila!

With the hedgehog population dropping a third in the last decade, this hedgehog friendly gravel board will give them the opportunity to roam freely between gardens at night


There are now less than one million hedgehogs in the UK compared with over 36 million in the 1950s. There’s many reasons for this and one is their change in habitat but also the area where hedgehogs find food has dramatically reduced because we are replacing hedges with concrete gravel boards and solid fences.

Help the hedgehogs and get a hedgehog-friendly gravel board which has a hole at one end so they can pass through from garden to garden…

Woven: A modern high quality panel designed with traditional inter-woven styles of fencing in mind. The style is the same on both sides which will keep you and the neighbours happy


You can use fences to create zones in your garden and also for screening tactics outside. They can be used to hide or disguise certain features that you might not like or to section off certain areas like vegetable patches, or to create flower gardens or shaded dining areas.

Attractive woven panels or bold venetian horizontal panels are stylish and can create a striking filtered light effect when the sun is shining.

Lattice trellis panels can be covered by beautiful, scented climber plants and flowers like honeysuckle, roses and clematis.


Lattice trellis panels are the perfect trellis style to use if you looking for a little more privacy without completely blocking out light or making an area feel less spacious


Smaller gardens can suffer from a lack of privacy as a result of close proximity to neighbours or from nearby buildings. By adding an elegant railing topper this creates instant additional height and a dash of designer style.

Don’t be afraid to divide your garden to create space. Regardless of it’s shape, try to make it so there’s a couple of separate areas using planting, wooden trellis, or even freestanding walls.

You could also decorate the garden with colourful pots and features to draw the eye to a focal plant or area.

Hit and Miss Horizontal: The pales or boards are alternately fixed on the front and the back of the fence panel, over-lapping to create a hit and miss pattern


If wind is an issue then try a semi-solid panel like Jackson’s Hit and Miss. The design allows some wind to pass through, taking the pressure off the fence but doesn’t compromise too much on privacy. Hedges are a great way to block the elements and offer an all-year-round shelter.


If you’re looking to buy panels or fencing go to the experts at Jacksons

Article source:

Tom Morrissey purchases Lebanon Farmers Market

One of Lebanon’s most prominent property owners has added another of the city’s jewels to his holdings.

Tom Morrissey, the owner of the Samler Bulding at Eighth and Cumberland streets and several other buildings, recently purchased the Lebanon Farmers Market.

Morrissey, who also operates the family-owned Thomas B. Morrissey TV and Appliance in Jackson Township, is the third owner of the market at 31-35 S. Eighth St. since it was renovated by businessman Bill Kolovani 10 years ago. He purchased the 30,000-square-foot building on June 6 for $1.3 million from Lebanon Farmers Market LLC, a partnership between businessman John Byler, his son Jonathan Byler and Henry Yiengst, who purchased it for the same price from MT Bank in 2010 after Kolovani declared bankruptcy.

Built in 1892 as a market house, the building has had many uses over the years, including as a vaudeville theater and secretarial school. Its longest tenant, however, was S. Kantor Sewing Co., which operated there for more than 70 years before Kolovani purchased the building in 2004 for $140,000.

Morrissey said he approached the previous owners about selling because he owns several properties on the block.

“It is more of a community investment than anything,” he said. “Having most of the properties around there, it is in the city’s best interest and my interest to have the property do well.”

Managing the building will be Morrissey’s wife, Joya. One of her goals will be to attract more vendors, he said.

“The property is a beautiful property,” Morrissey said. “Kolovani spent lots of money and time creating it. It has a great restaurant upstairs in The Foundry, and lots of great vendors who have been there a while. We are just looking to add foot traffic to that and building upon what is already there.”

Morrissey met with vendors shortly after the sale to discuss ideas about how to promote it better, said Lebanon City Councilman Wayne Carey, the funny-hat-wearing manager of Candy-Rama, one of the market’s anchors.

“I think everyone is pleased he bought it. It’s a breath of fresh air,” he said. “The Morrisseys are hands-on people. We see them every day. They are visible. They are doing stuff. They’ve made a huge effort.”

Carey admits that the number of customers who visit the market has dropped significantly from its early years.

“The market has been down. Our foot traffic has been down. And that is the area we need to work at. I know that the Morrisseys are willing to work with us hand-in-hand,” he said.

Ken Keener, the owner of Keener Poultry, another of the market’s most popular stands, said he has already seen a difference in the Morrisseys’ approach, noting that they purchased a half-page color add in The Merchandiser at their own expense. The advertisement includes a solicitation for new vendors.

“We need to make this market more interesting,” Keener said. “We have to add to what we already have. The empty spaces need to be filled up with farmers-market-quality vendors. He (Morrissey) knows what needs to be done. It starts with adding to the vendor base that is here.”

Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello, who Morrissey consulted before purchasing the market, is also pleased that he has purchased it. Morrissey has added landscaping touches and agreed to resume maintenance of the parking lot, which had been part of a deal Kolovani reached with former Mayor Bob Anspach in exchange for the city providing free parking and allowing an electronic sign and Victorian clock to be installed on city property, she said.

“The purchase of the farmers market was a significant investment by Tom and his family,” she said. “As an anchor in the downtown, it is vitally important for the market to succeed. Its success will be essential for positive movement in the downtown. The community has to be invested in the market as well.  We need our residents to support the market.”

The farmers market is in the center of the city’s new Business Improvement District, and its success will be important to revitalizing the downtown, Morrissey agreed.

“I think it is one of the pieces to the puzzle of making the whole area work,” he said.

Laura Putt, president of Visit Lebanon Valley, which has its office at the farmers market, also stressed the importance of its success for the entire downtown and believes Morrissey is committed to making it a success.

“I don’t think that this is just an investment to him,” she said. “I think this is something that he and his wife take personal pride in revitalizing as a cornerstone of the community, which it really will be. It will be the hub of the downtown as we launch the BID (Business Improvement District).

Keener also is confident that Morrissey’s management will restore the market’s popularity, and that it will get a boost from the establishment of the Business Improvement District, which will be run by a downtown manager who should be hired in the coming weeks.

“I’ve been running a market stand for 38 years in this town, and I’ve had a lot better numbers than I have now,” he said. “But the thing to get excited about is the BID. In the next five years, there is an opportunity here to make things better. We don’t know where it is going to go. But that is something I am holding on to – that there’s better times ahead.”

The farmers market is Morrissey’s second purchase of an historical downtown building this year. In May, he purchased the former Washington Tavern at 10th and Cumberland streets, which had been vacant since 2013 when Patsy Fagan’s Irish Pub closed its doors.

Morrissey paid $138,000 for the property, which also includes apartments upstairs. The former owner’s liquor license was not part of the deal, but that doesn’t worry Morrissey.

“There are three available in the area,” he said. “I don’t have any intention of operating a restaurant, but I want to keep one there.”

Several interested parties have looked at leasing the restaurant space, but a deal is not imminent, Morrissey said.

Article source:

The Silver Lake Reservoir Will Be Refilled—Probably in Spring

A crowd of hundreds packed into Micheltorena Elementary School Thursday night for a meeting concerning the future of the Silver Lake Reservoir. As people filed in, a group of neighborhood activists called Refill Silver Lake Now handed out stickers and spoke to people about their concerns over the displaced ducks they say have been wandering the neighborhood since the reservoir was drained last summer. Seats filled up quickly, and people sat on staircases and stood in aisles to hear LADWP officials, along with Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and David Ryu, discuss the future of the massive pit of dirt where once was Silver Lake.

They didn’t have to wait long for reassurance. “The most important thing is the Silver Lake Reservoir will be refilled,” Ryu said in his opening remarks. From there, the central questions of the meeting became “when?” and “how?”

These questions were primarily fielded by Marty Adams, senior assistant general manager of LADWP. He explained that before the reservoir can be refilled, construction must first be completed within the empty reservoir. DWP initially drained the lake in order to install piping that will transport drinking water to the new underground storage facility under construction near Griffith Park. That facility will replace Silver Lake and Ivanhoe Reservoirs as DWP seeks to comply with new federal guidelines that require reservoirs to be covered.

Director of Water Engineering and Technical Service Susan Rowghani gave a timeline for the completion of construction in the lake bed, which is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.

DWP won’t be able to refill the reservoir right away, though. With the reservoir’s connections to the local water supply disconnected, another pipe system will have to be installed to cycle water in and out of the lake. Otherwise, the stagnant water will quickly become laden with bacteria and algae.

That’s expected to add a few months to the lake’s time as an empty hole in the ground. Adams’s best guess is that water will once again cover the floor of the reservoir in May or June of 2017.

But where will the water come from? DWP has a few ideas on that point. First, there’s the possibility of extending the recycled water system that currently irrigates the golf course at Griffith Park so that it reaches Silver Lake—and possibly beyond. Adams points out that both Echo and MacArthur Park Lakes are currently filled with drinking water. In the future, he suggests the bodies of water could all be fed from the same (non-potable) source.

Another potential source for the water is a groundwater well just north of the reservoir that would have to be reactivated. Stormwater could also be collected and used to mitigate the effects of evaporation occurring on the surface of the lake. Adams says he once had hopes that the LA River could be used to feed the reservoir, but that a complicated permitting process would make this all but impossible in the near term.

Officials suggested that while the lake is empty, residents should help to come up with a plan for its future. One thing that must be determined: how full should the reservoir be in the future? Adams pointed out that a shallower lake would be easier to keep clean, and would make future work in and around the reservoir easier to accomplish. A shallower level could also help to foster a wetlands area in which the water would be naturally filtered by wildlife.

Adams also suggested that while construction continues inside the reservoir, some of the unsightly asphalt that lines its sides could be removed and replaced with hydroseeding to prevent erosion. The crowd of people at the meeting didn’t seem to mind this idea, but some were wary that it would create further delays in refilling the lake. As several people pointed out, DWP initially planned to begin refilling the reservoir this summer.

One thing’s for sure: most residents at the meeting were not interested in a damn park! The loudest cheers of the evening came when a woman informed the officials at the meeting that Silver Lake did not want to hear about alternative uses for the reservoir—just a quick refill. There was also nearly a riot when O’Farrell began discussing the prospect of landscaping the path around the lake, making the mistake of comparing the project to Echo Park Lake and saying future public meetings would be a “marketplace of ideas.” From the back of the room, one woman shouted, “It’s not a marketplace. It’s a community!”

This was the first of three meetings to be held concerning the reservoir; the second will focus on future plans for Silver Lake. As Ryu noted in his closing remarks, that meeting is sure to be lively.

Article source:

Faces of Faith: Celebrating community, diversity




Background: He’s 23, he lives in Guilderland where he grew up. He majored in history and government at Hamilton College. He’s a photographer who until recently worked as a digital imaging specialist for Grace Note in Glens Falls and now does landscaping and other odd jobs.

An exhibition of his photographs, “In Whom We Trust: At the Crossroads of Faith and Community,” opens Thursday at the Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction.

How did the photography project come about?

I was a volunteer first and then an intern at the Mabee Farm Historic site. Dating to 1705, it’s the oldest house in the Mohawk Valley to be continually occupied as farming family house, all the way up to 1998 as America was changing around it. Jan Mabee came up from New Amsterdam to Albany, which was then Beverwyck. He was one of the first Dutch settlers of Schenectady and started trading and trapping with Daniel Van Antwerpen who sold him the land on which he built his house. One of its rooms is maintained as it would have been when what’s now Rotterdam Junction was a rugged frontier site in the town of Schenectady at the edge of the European world. There are also parts that show what life was like later in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s a really cool place and I had fun leading tours and helping with exhibits. Most importantly, I became good friends with the staff there.

One day, Mary Zawacki, the head curator for the Schenectady County Historical Society, and I were talking about things we wanted to do at the site. We have a mutual interest in photography and independently came up with the idea of a photo essay about religion. We had some different ideas at first but she let me take creative control of the project since she has so much else to manage. She told me about the a grant program from the New York State Council of the Arts. Together we wrote a grant request for $3,000, and we were thrilled when we actually got approved for the full amount.

Are you religious yourself?

The short answer is no. Both my parents had Catholic backgrounds. They brought me to church once or twice when I was almost too young to remember but not much more than that. So I really never had much of a religious background to start with. Studying history at Hamilton College, I was taught to look at things critically and see broader themes and patterns. I took several courses that looked at religious traditions in a comparative context. And while I’m not a certified anthropologist, that’s the approach I take toward religion — trying to understand people on their own terms rather than mine.

How is that reflected in your work?

As a photographer I want to capture emotions, something deeper than what exists on the surface. Religion provided ample material for that. What I’m trying to show here is that religion includes not just what people believe and theology in but how they come together in social interactions ways that build a community. Everyone can appreciate the social aspects of religion, the human moments that punctuate religious experience for a group of friends and family with a sense of belonging. I decided to focus on communities that were not the subjects of much exposure so I didn’t go to churches and synagogues. Instead I reached out to the Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and the Unitarians. I think that was a good balance between the depth and breadth of my study.

What did you learn?

Of course, I learned a lot of specifics details about different customs and liturgical traditions but I don’t think that’s super important. The most profound lesson I learned is that there is so much cultural and religious diversity in Schenectady County that it defies my ability to understand it completely. I’ve lived in the area almost my entire life but had no idea that there was, for instance, such a large Sikh population. That teaches me to always keep exploring and to never be afraid to leave my comfort zone. In the beginning, I’ll admit I felt a little awkward when I started the project. And the people I met welcomed me into their sacred spaces. They were eager to teach me about their religion and to share their personal experiences. And while its easy to be distracted by the obvious differences between any two religions, the fundamental search for truth and belonging is universal.

What’s in the exhibit?

There are 20 photos in total split into four themed groups. From each of the four religious groups I visited, I interviewed someone to serve as a representative of sorts to the larger community. I drew from their words to decide on the themes of this project. There will be an opening reception July 7 with refreshments and I’ll be giving an in-depth talk about my experiences with this project how it relates to American society as a whole.

— Rob Brill

“In Whom We Trust: At the Crossroads of Faith and Community,” opens Thursday at 5:30 p.m. with a discussion and refreshments. The historic home is located at 1100 Main St. in Rotterdam Junction.

Article source:

Jacobs leaves others to fund plaza project – The San Diego Union

Qualcomm cofounder Irwin Jacobs, who this week reactivated his plan to get the cars and parking out of the center of Balboa Park, will leave it to others to fund the $45 million project.

“There have been indications of some very substantial support and I’m reasonably sure that we can be successful and that’s probably largely without any support from my family,” Jacobs said.

He and his wife Joan previously spent about $11 million in planning and legal costs, he said, and the balance that is needed will be determined once the city recalculates costs.

“We’ll obviously be supportive of having this move ahead if the City Council goes ahead and approves it,” he said.

Jacobs, who had previously suspended his Plaza de Panama Committee, said he renewed active interest after Mayor Kevin Faulconer and park institutions demonstrated their commitment to implement it.

This week he joined the mayor and others in announcing the revival of the plaza plan and devoting as much as $1.6 billion over the next 53 years to improve regional parks and beaches, including Balboa Park.

The projected park funds, rising from today’s $10 million to as much as $80 million a year from earmarked Mission Bay lease revenues, would repay bonds and generate annual cash outlays, according to Katherine Johnston, Faulconer’s infrastructure and budget policy director.

Jacobs’ renewed interest in the project delighted park boosters, who reported a “chilling effect” on the part of donors who were scared away from making parkwide contributions after the Jacobs’ plan stalled.

“I think Dr. Jacobs’ reengagement in the park makes it much easier to have that conversation with other major donors in town,” said Tomás Herrera-Mishler, director and CEO of the Balboa Park Conservancy fund-raising group.

He said he hopes Plaza de Panama construction can start next spring and be completed in time to celebrate Balboa Park’s 150th anniversary in 2018. The original goal had been to complete it by 2015, the 100th anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition.

It’s been six years since Jacobs unveiled his solution to the park’s chronic traffic and parking problems. The centerpiece was a bypass off the Cabrillo Bridge. Motorists would turn right onto the so-called Centennial Bridge rather than entering the 1915 world’s fairgrounds at the California Tower.

The bridge would lead to a road through the Alcazar Garden parking lot, skirt the edge of Palm Canyon and continue below new walkways to an 800-space, paid parking garage, topped by a new park, south of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Those changes would make it possible to end traffic and parking in four areas — the Plaza de California in front of the San Diego Museum of Man, the west Prado, the Plaza de Panama in front of the San Diego Museum of Art and the Esplanade that leads to the organ pavilion. A shallow pool would be added in the Plaza de Panama and new landscaping and decorative pavements would replace asphalt roadways and lots.

But opponents, led by the Save Our Heritage Organisation, sued the city in 2012 after the council approved the plan, saying the bypass bridge would ruin the historic look of the west entrance to the park and introduce paid parking, estimated at $5 per day, for the first time since the second exposition in 1935-36.

While SOHO eventually lost the case, Jacobs bowed out of the project and pursued other philanthropic interests, including donating $30 million to the new Central Library.

In the meantime, then-Mayor Bob Filner ordered the parking stalls out of the Plaza de Panama in 2013. The lot was resurfaced and filled with tables and chairs and, during the summer, food trucks every Friday night. A new tram system also was instituted to transport visitors between the Inspiration Point parking lot off Park Boulevard and the spiffed up plaza.

“Over the years it hasn’t gone away,” Jacobs said of his plan, “in the sense of people continually coming up and saying, ‘Boy, I wish that could have been able to move ahead.’ I think there is very strong support. We’ll see how it goes ahead.”

Herrera-Mishler said many other big projects await donor support. They include:

Restoration of Pan American Plaza, a featureless parking lot in front of Starlight Bowl and the San Diego Air Space Museum, to its 1935-36 look with a decorative fountain and gardens, as well a refurbishment of the now unused bowl itself;

Reclamation of the Arizona Landfill on the park’s East Mesa and modernization of the Morley Field recreational facilities;

Implementation the San Diego Zoo’s promenade plan and underground parking garage; and, perhaps,

A bid to land filmmaker George Lucas’ proposed “Museum of Narrative Art,” originally planned for Chicago but now seeking a home in California. Lucas reportedly is focusing on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay as a preferred site.

Jacobs himself nominated one project he’d like to see: replacement of the Museum of Art’s deteriorating west wing with a reconstruction of the 1915 Science and Education Building on the west side of the Plaza de Panama.

City officials estimate that a $126 million initial park bond could produce $45 million for Balboa Park and other regional parks. The balance would be earmarked for dredging, habitat restoration and other long-deferred improvements for Mission Bay. As lease revenues grow, successive bonds could be sold.

Some park boosters also hope to squeeze sizable lease payments out of the San Diego Unified School District if voters authorize a new lease to replace the current 50-year agreement covering San Diego High School’s 34-acre site.

However, all this new revenue and spending is contingent on two things — voter approval of the new Mission Bay lease priorities and overcoming legal challenges that are threatened against the Jacobs plaza plan.

David Lundin, founder of the 400-member Balboa Park Heritage Association, sent out a notice Friday of a public meeting at 6 p.m. July 14 at the Brick Bar, 1475 University Ave., to “organize opposition to the resurrection of the awful Jacobs plan.”

“This is an initial get-together, a brainstorm, to see what people want to do,” Lundin said.

Jacobs expressed a willingness to hear what these opponents have to say.

“If they come up with some reasonable discussion points, we’ll continue to have discussions as we have in the past,” he said. “But I think we’re pretty well through with that activity.”


(619) 293-1286;

Twitter: @rogershowley

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Tickets on sale for Garden Parade

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Lee and crew keep zoo gardens beautiful

If you didn’t have a chance to attend the David Traylor Zoo’s Open House last weekend, Mark Lee is extending an invitation to come out and see what all the zoo has to offer.

Not only does the zoo have animals to view, educational activities and other fun events, it also provides an opportunity to view the gorgeous plants and landscaping.

Lee, city horticulturalist, said maintaining the zoo gardens and landscaping throughout is a labor of love.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into maintaining the zoo every day,” Lee said. “Watering the plants is a full-time job. It’s non-stop weeding, deadheading and cleaning — the grooming of the plants is a daily chore. For example, we have a few hundred varieties of daylillies throughout the entire zoo and the zoo education center. When they are flowering they take a lot maintenance. We go through every day and take off the deadheads because when they fall, they attract pests and fungus. We keep that all cleaned up in our quest to keep things beautiful.”

Lee, along with four full-time workers, one year-round, part-time worker and two to three seasonal workers, are all responsible for the upkeep of the landscaping and plants at the zoo.

“I was lucky enough to get this job and just love it,” he said. “This has been my first full year in the horticulturalist position. Our former horticulturalist, Dave McCullough, was here 23 years and he put his life into this place. He knew the name of every plant here. He created the bones and the structure of the zoo and we were fortunate enough to inherit it. It’s a place for me and my crew to put our personal touches on it and bring our own inspiration into it.”

Keeping it fresh

Lee said the zoo gets many of its plants from distributors, but also recycles plants from those already at the zoo.

“We do plant from seeds and we also do cutting from other plants,” he said. “A lot of these plants have been here for years and years. They are offspring from what we call the mother plant. We take a bunch of cuttings off the main plant, put them in about 10 different pots and then we have 10 more pots of the same plant. We are able to rotate things out to keep them looking fresh and beautiful.”

One plant which is very unique to the zoo is the Amorphophallus Konjac, a variety from Eastern Asia that is a bulb.

“It blooms a huge spire bloom and then opens up,” Lee said. “It does have medicinal purposes to it. Once it opens, it smells like rotten meat. It’s designed to attract a certain fly in Eastern Asia that comes and pollinates it. It blooms or flowers every seven to 10 years, but we’ve been lucky enough to have it bloom every year. Last year, a specific one bloomed in the fall and it was completely unheard of. I tried to spread the word and called the Lyon County Extension Office and put word out on Facebook so people could come view it. It is pretty unique.”

The zoo contains many alocasia (elephant ears) plants and has the varieties Borneo Giant, Sarian and Portadora. There are also Blue Hawaii and Mojito varieties of colocasia (elephant ears).

Moonlight, Celebration and Florida Red Ruffles are varieties of caladiums, which are scattered throughout the zoo.

Campfire, Kiwi and Alabama Sunset varieties of coleus can also be seen at the zoo, as can the varieties Pink Dragonwing, Looking Glass and Torch of begonias.

Finally, hibiscus varieties include hostas, ferns and nandina.

“We try to do a lot of perennials,” Lee said. “We have a limited budget so we don’t want to spend a whole lot of money on annuals. We want to get the color and pop out of our perennials. We do have a lot annuals throughout the zoo, just to give a pop of color and contrast throughout. We have begonias — four different varieties of them.

“There used to be some large evergreen shrubs here, but this year we cut some shrubs down and created some large hanging baskets to add variety. We really try to go for contrast so we add colors like bright reds with the greens. I love how everything contrasts with the different colors in some of our arrangements.”

Lee said the zoo was fortunate to have a greenhouse which, during the fall and winter months, was a great thing to help preserve and grow new plants.

“We use hibiscus a lot,” he said. “We have four varieties and in the fall when it gets cold, we will cut these back to about two feet. We do aggressive pruning and take them into the greenhouse and overwinter them. Then we start bumping up the temperatures in the greenhouse in the early spring and they really start growing then. That is how we get everything so green and massive by June. We are lucky enough to have a greenhouse to do that.”

A walk in the forest

Lee said one of his favorite spots in the zoo is the Preston Forest Adventure.

“It’s a beautiful area with perennial gardens with a few splashes of other things,” he said. “We put in a few elephant ears and extra things, but mainly it’s the perennials. It’s all on drip irrigation, so beneath everything you see there are tubes with holes and we water it every three days or so. It’s so beautiful and serene and I just love it here.”

The Preston Forest Adventure exhibits a great horned owl, common barn owl and a raccoon (or opossum); animals you might find in a North American forest. Other features include interactive graphics, thought-provoking play structures, pond overlook, picnic tables and benches.

The area was made possible through a major donation from the Preston Trust and donors including the City of Emporia, Emporia Community Foundation, Emporia Friends of the Zoo, Loretta A. Langley Charitable Trust and Walmart Foundation.

“With the expansion efforts at the zoo, we’ve added some concrete planters and painted them and got them looking nice,” Lee said. “We added some benches and new flower beds. With all the concrete here we wanted to add more things to make it more beautiful for our patrons. We have 56 pot rings, as we call them, which are clay pots that hang on the fence. We create the designs for them every year and have them set for certain areas of the zoo.”

‘Better than Disney’

Lee said he loved hearing comments from the public about the landscaping and plants at the zoo.

“We had a lady come in a couple of years ago who loved our zoo,” he said. “She said she had been to Walt Disney World and they didn’t hold a candle to what was offered here. That gave me the chills and made the whole crew here feel so good. We do get many compliments from people out of town and from other countries who come here to see the zoo and plants. We put in so much hard work and it’s definitely worth it.”

Lee said he hopes the community will come to zoo to experience all it has to offer. He said the zoo’s landscaping beauty was due to the hard work of the entire crew.

“I am just so fortunate to be a part of the David Traylor Zoo,” he said. “Even days that are stressful, when we have floods and irrigation issues and all the other problems that can come with it, I still love my job and feel fortunate to be here. I am so proud of this zoo and the landscaping throughout. That is the best part and it’s why I do what I do. That’s what makes me want to come to work.

“Our crew — we all pride ourselves in what we do and those little things. We do it for the community, of course, we love to do it. But it’s really for the patrons, people who support the zoo and everyone who is looking for a nice getaway. It’s like an oasis in your backyard. People don’t realize they can come down here, spend the day and enjoy the quietness, beauty and serenity.”

David Traylor Zoo Hours of Operation:

Zoo: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily

(except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day)

Summer hours:

Memorial Day – Labor Day; 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily except:

Sundays Wednesdays: (Extended) 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Zoo Education Center Classroom: Monday, Wednesday, Friday

1- 4 p.m.

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GARDENING TIPS: Plant a Patriotic Centerpiece for the Fourth of July

Use trailing plants to connect the planting to the container and serve as a secondary focal point. The billowy heat tolerant snow princess alyssum can stand alone in a container or complement other plants as it spills over the edge of the pot. Calibrachoas come in a variety of colors and provide lots of blooms with little care. Blue and white fan flower (Scaevola) is heat and drought tolerant and works great in summer containers. White licorice vine is another heat and drought tolerant plant. The white hairs on the green leaves give the plants a silvery white hue.

Fill in the middle with plants like white diamond frost euphorbia. Short red or white zinnias provide a pop of color now through fall. White or purple Angelonia makes a nice filler or focal point in smaller containers. The sun and shade tolerant whopper begonia has bold leaves and loads of blooms. Use these or other plants to connect the focal point to the plants cascading over the side of the pot.

Keep your containers looking their best through the holidays and the remainder of the season with proper planting and care. Select a container with drainage holes. Pick a color that complements but doesn’t overpower your red, white and blue arrangement. Or paint a pot red, white and blue. Add some stars and stripes or combine several to create a colorful display. Then fill it with a quality compost based potting mix. Compost-based potting mixes hold more moisture naturally while providing drainage to promote root growth.

Reduce your workload later by adding some additional slow release fertilizer when you first pot up your celebratory containers to keep plants looking their best all season. These fertilizers release small amounts of nutrients over a long period of time.

So take a trip to your local garden center and start planting a few red, white and blue centerpieces and party favors for your upcoming holiday celebrations.

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Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written more than 20 gardening books. For more information, visit

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