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Archives for July 11, 2016

Peters’ Junction rolls into Sadsbury Township to the delight of many passers-by

SADSBURY TOWNSHIP — You may not be able to ride it, but plenty of people are stopping to see the little train that is rolling down the tracks to the junction — Peters’ Junction, that is.

And while there’s no Shady Rest Hotel, there is a small town’s worth of other miniature buildings, including a church, gas station, movie theater, hardware store, lighthouse and more.

“You’ve got to have a saloon in there,” said Bob Peters, the creative force behind the miniaturized landscape that is drawing the attention of passers-by in his Sadsbury Township neighborhood just down the street from Conneaut Lake. With 75 feet of G scale model train tracks and more than a dozen little buildings in the raised area recently constructed in front of his house, it’s easy to understand the attraction.

“We have had people from all over come to watch this train run,” Peters said.

“Oh, my gosh,” said Tammy Peters, Bob’s wife, “we got a lot more that I thought we would.” The children who participated in the neighborhood’s Fourth of July kids parade even took a detour to check out the new railroad, Tammy said. “People will just pull up and start taking pictures.”

Completed about two weeks ago, the project took shape in Peters’ mind over the winter.

When he began planning to have the landscaping redone in front of his house, Peters decided to incorporate a model train and village.

“The bushes out front were killed by the harsh winter two years ago, so we knew we were going to re-landscape,” he said, “and I’ve always loved trains. Tammy was good enough to let me follow through with my ideas.”

Over the past winter Peters gathered the model train equipment and constructed the kits that make up the little town he is calling Peters’ Junction after the 1960s television show “Petticoat Junction.” The equipment is made for outdoor use, said Peters, who anticipates leaving the village out all year.

“They even make a truck with a snow plow on it that will run on the tracks,” he says with a laugh, “though I don’t know if that would work when the snow gets up to two or three feet high.”

Peters completed the project with the help of Gunner Copeland of C and M Landscaping LLC.

“I have not done anything like this before,” Copeland said of the railroad project, “but Bob’s been a good customer for a long time, so when I first heard about it, I was more than excited to tackle it.”

In addition to designing the retaining wall and choosing the low-maintenance plants for the space, Copeland came up with the idea for blue stones representing a lake around the village’s solar-powered lighthouse. The lighthouse sits atop the property’s wellhead and is fully functioning.

“Oh, yeah, it rotates at night,” said Peters, referring to the lighthouse’s lamp.

Other details include a gazebo and hot dog stand as well as townsfolk and a tunnel that are still to be added. “My friend is working on painting the real tunnel,” Peters said as he pointed out the temporary cloth tunnel. “It’ll be painted to look like stones and he’s going to put ‘Peters’ Junction’ on it.”

Peters, who describes himself as semi-retired, plans to take a break from his work as a mini-developer once the tunnel is completed. “I’m just going to enjoy it,” he said as he looked forward to the next visit from his grandchildren, who have not yet seen the railroad.

The kids in the neighborhood who have seen it seem to love it, Tammy said. “Even the neighbors,” she said, “They’re like, ‘Two thumbs up on the railroad track.’ I tell them it was all Bob.”

So far, the only negative review seems to be from an enthusiastic pet.

“The little dog in the neighborhood will come over,” Peters laughed. “He’ll jump up there and knock some of the cars off the track.”

Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

You can go

The newly constructed Peters’ Junction model railroad village can be seen at 10821 Cullum St. in Sadsbury Township, near Conneaut Lake.

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Do you have Big Ideas for Middletown’s downtown?

What should be the future of downtown Middletown?

Middletown’s city government will let the public give its input and “big ideas” of how the city’s core can be improved, according to City Manager Doug Adkins.

Downtown Middletown Inc. on Thursday is hosting a public-input session, which it’s calling the “Big Idea Meeting,” from 6-8 p.m. at the Windamere Event Venue Art Gallery, 2 S. Main St. The input will be used to help develop a downtown master plan that is being created by planning and architecture consultants OHM Advisors.

All are invited, says Mallory Greenham, DMI’s executive director — even people who don’t live or work downtown. Also welcome, she says, are people who live in Middletown outside the downtown area who frequently complain that the city spends too much money and effort trying to improve the downtown area at the expense of other parts of Middletown.

“Anyone and everyone” should attend, Greenham said. “You don’t have to be a Middletown resident. If you have interest in Middletown regionally, if you just are interested in business — maybe have your business or practice here.”

For those who dislike downtown development efforts, “you should absolutely come,” she said. “Yeah. We want to hear from everyone. It’s kid-friendly, too. Seriously, everyone can come. If you live in Cincinnati and just wanted to learn what’s happening in Middletown, you can come. It’s not limited.”

Among topics to be covered will be connecting the riverfront to downtown; bike-trail access; landscaping; street lights and benches; signs that direct drivers to various locations; and what downtown should be like.

No RSVP is required, but those who use Facebook are encouraged to indicate they’re going so organizers can estimate crowd size, she said.

The downtown plan will cost $30,000-$40,000, with half the amount coming from city government. The Middletown Community Foundation has given $3,000, with the Middletown Visitors Bureau giving $10,000.

City government steps back

“When the feedback comes from this Big Idea meeting, we’ll really start to lay out the plan,” Greenham said.

As the process moves along, updates will be provided at, “and they can follow the process along with us” on that website, Greenham said. DMI hopes the master plan will be finished by the end of the year.

City employees are avoiding giving their input to the downtown master plan process, Adkins said in an email.

“We have in the past been accused of setting our own agenda regardless of the needs or wants of the community,” Adkins wrote. “In this case, we are specifically waiting to see the results of the downtown master plan and the community visioning process (being conducted by the Community Building Institute and Middletown Moving Forward) before we start discussing those types of items,” Adkins said.

He added: “I’ve specifically kept staff out of most of those discussions because we didn’t want to influence the outcome. The community said they wanted to be heard. We are listening to their wishes.”

Advice for Middletown

Mark Hecquet, executive director of the Butler County Visitors Bureau, says Middletown needs two significant things to follow a path blazed by Hamilton in its downtown renaissance.

He says it’s very important to have a major hotel in the downtown, something Hamilton community leaders realized in about 2009, as they stepped up to redevelop the struggling former Hamiltonian hotel into the current, significantly upgraded Courtyard by Marriott, so it could be a gathering space for weddings, class reunions and businesses.

“One of their first initiatives (in Hamilton) was to establish a flag hotel in downtown — invest in that, make it successful — and one could argue that was one very important piece of bringing Hamilton back,” Hecquet said. “The same model, I think, truly applies to Middletown: I think it’s an important cog for a downtown environment, to have a hotel, and I’ve spoken with their leadership quite often about what’s going on, boutique hotels, etc.”

Steps to beautify the downtown also are important for Middletown, Hecquet said: “We use the adage, ‘First impressions last.’ So we talk a lot with communities on beautification and that first impression on a visitor. Because you never know when that visitor may become a resident, that visitor may want to bring their business to town.”

“So we really have a strong emphasis on beautification of communities,” Hecquet said. “I think it’s very, very important. My conversations with (Hamilton City Manager) Joshua (Smith), he asked me a long time ago, ‘What do I need?’ And I said, ‘Beautification.’ And what has he done? It’s fantastic. Trees lining the streets, slowed down traffic so people can now enjoy, cleaned up buildings, cleaned up sidewalks. A sense of arrival — a sense of place. That’s what people are looking for.”

Asked to comment on what city government is doing about a hotel and beautification, Adkins via email said officials are waiting to take action on both issues until it sees results of the two studies.

“The city government is waiting on the community to finish expressing its wishes through the downtown master plan process and the community visioning process before it takes action,” Adkins wrote. “Your questions are the correct ones to answer (need for a hotel and beautification), but the city won’t be addressing them until we hear from those two processes.”

He added: “Any future plans would be developed incorporating elements of those two plans, and the end result, hopefully, would be viable, sustainable, and consistent with the wants and needs of our residents.”

Downtown business encouraged

At the DD Doggy Wash Grooming Salon on Central Avenue, owner Dena Ware says she loves the downtown location better than the former space on Breiel Boulevard.

“All the little shops down here are so neat,” Ware said as she, her daughter, Megan Ware; and daughter-in-law, Shayna Ware, trimmed dogs.

Megan Ware said she’s encouraged by the events that are happening downtown, particularly DMI’s very popular Women’s Wine Chocolate Walk that happened in May for a fourth year.

But she would like to see more — especially outdoor activities, like interesting running events and mud volleyball.

“Just things for the young people, to get us out and doing things,” Megan Ware said.

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Prospective Eagle Scout installing library pathway

Posted Jul. 10, 2016 at 5:35 PM

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More lawns becoming drought-tolerant – Appeal

Posted: Sunday, July 10, 2016 9:37 pm

More lawns becoming drought-tolerant

By Chris Kaufman

After multiple drought years, many Californians converted their lawns to more water-wise, native and low- maintenance landscaping — mostly with success, they report.

Marysville and Yuba City both have landscaping following the trend, in collaboration with other agencies.

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      Sunday, July 10, 2016 9:37 pm.

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      Vail Landscape Logic column: Beware: Insects are invading

      Our run of sunny, warm days plus rainy evenings has created an explosion of insects in many gardens and landscapes. Many gardeners along the Front Range and higher elevations are seeing telltale signs of three major pests that are busy chomping on their plants. Here’s a heads-up on pests to look for and what you can do if you find your plants are on the hit list.

      • Aphids — Aphids are showing up in the veggie garden on mixed lettuce greens. Radishes, broccoli and kale can also be infected. If you have marigolds and lemon thyme planted among your edibles that can help deter this messy pest.

      If you have roses of any kind, you’re probably also seeing aphids on buds, tender new growth and even stems. Be aware that aphids multiply by live birth and are clones of their mothers. Their numbers can explode in one day.

      The best control for aphids is also the easiest: a quart spray bottle filled with tepid water and 1 tablespoon of dish detergent. Use the solution to spray plants. Simple soap and water is a quick and easy fix. Releasing ladybugs — available at local garden centers — can also help deal with aphids.

      • Tobacco budworm and Japanese beetle — Both of these insects can devastate garden plants and do so quickly. In a matter of days, you can lose all of the flowers on geraniums and petunias to tobacco budworm — and the loss is usually worse when plants are in the ground than in hanging baskets. Similarly, Japanese beetle will “skeletonize” leaves of a variety of plants. After their chomping, all that remains is a filigree of the leaf, as all the soft green tissue has been chewed away.

      Tobacco budworm is a field crop pest that has jumped ship to both vegetables and annual flowers. Petunias and geraniums are some of their favorite fare, followed by nicotiana, snapdragons and surprisingly, marigolds. Telltale signs are “shot-holes” in geranium buds that look like holes about the size the tine of a fork would make. On petunias, you will see the worm’s black droppings on the flowers. Activity from the tobacco budworm can stop blooming almost overnight. Within a matter of a few days, it is possible to lose all of the blooms on flowering plants.

      Tobacco budworm is hard to control, as the worm stays down in the soil during the day and only comes out to feed at late dusk and, possibly, early morning. Products available at local garden centers can control this pest. Another easy treatment is to sprinkle cigarette tobacco on top of the soil and then water it in to control the worm down in the soil.

      Japanese beetles are most often found near areas that are heavily watered, such as on properties near golf courses or a water source such as a small creek. These pests love roses, both the flowers and leaves. Their other menu favorites include Virginia creeper and grape leaves. As noted, skeletonized leaves are the telltale sign they are active.

      Many controls are available from garden centers, both soaps and other treatments. Some of these products should not be applied to edibles, so read labels and follow the instructions. You can also use a homemade soap solution to treat the beetles. They are large and easily visible and can be picked off the plants in early morning and dropped into a bucket of soapy water. You can also spray the beetles with the soap spray solution.

      Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

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      The get-well garden

      Arkansas Children’s Hospital is raising lettuce, carrots, spinach and high expectations on a 4,000-square-foot plot on a far corner of the hospital campus in Little Rock.

      The hospital spans 36 blocks near Central High School, and “we try to be a good neighbor,” community outreach director Scott Allen says.

      With the idea of a garden to show the benefits of healthy food and outdoor activity, it seemed only neighborly to “try going door-to-door to let people know what we were doing,” he says. The notion took off like a cucumber vine, producing a one-of-a-kind collaboration of medical, government and volunteer partners.

      Dedicated in June, the leafy garden represents about a year’s work to date. The National Park Service built the 10 raised beds, producing also beets, onions, radishes and snap peas for distribution through Helping Hand of Greater Little Rock. The food pantry supplies families that otherwise might not have fresh produce, an essential source of vitamins, nutrients and fiber.

      The garden is meant to raise not only nourishing vegetables but also “plant happiness and friendship that will nourish our souls,” park service Ranger Fabian Ruiz said at the dedication. He enlisted the maintenance department from the Central High School National Historic Site to help make the garden.

      “The clients we serve in central Arkansas have limited income,” Helping Hand director Gayle Priddy said. “They don’t have extra dollars to spend on fresh produce.”

      The garden is color-speckled with bug-deterring marigolds and nasturtiums. And Allen points with pride to the hose-connected sink for washing produce that is unlike anything the garden store sells.

      He had put in for any old sink the hospital maintenance crew intended to replace, picturing something kitchen-size. He got a stretch of sink with multiple bays for cleaning medical instruments. But it works for cabbage, too.

      “We don’t know what this garden is going to become,” he says, eyeing more vacant land to the east that could as well be given over to beans. But it’s already “a great collaboration.” The garden is supported also by the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Program and by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

      Besides vegetables, the garden provides a way to “further examine how access to fresh produce and physical activity reduce childhood obesity,” according to Judith Miller, director of the research program.

      Arkansas GardenCorps members Acadia Roher and Jimmy Parks tend the garden along with several other projects they look after in the program, which supports urban and community gardening. They have a basket of carrots to show for the effort.

      “Here’s a pretty good-looking carrot,” Parks says from under his wide-brimmed hat, while pulling more. “You oughta try it.”


      Arkansas Children’s Hospital describes its vegetable garden as “innovative.” It might not have broken entirely new ground, but few other hospitals grow watermelons.

      Landscaping, yes, that’s different — and gardens of flowers and greenery to walk through, or just sit for a moment’s tranquility as at Winter Haven Hospital in Florida, thanks to the Gardenia Garden Club.

      Some hospitals, in fact, feature gardens praised as “breathtaking” by the Accrediting Commission on Education for Health Services Administration. Among them:

      curving paths and arbors at Emanuel Children’s Hospital in Portland, and the indoor bamboo grove at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

      “Throughout antiquity, societies cultivated gardens in part to stimulate and maintain good health,” according to an article posted by the health care accrediting agency.

      Today’s hospital gardens are backed by modern science that agrees, people often feel better for having spent some time in the garden.

      Just three to five minutes of gazing at a garden view of trees and flowers and water can reduce anxiety and even lessen pain, Scientific American reports. “Back in style,” gardens figure into the design of most new hospitals, the report goes on.

      “One of the fastest growing trends,” according to Becker’s Hospital Review, “is the installation of green roof, or roof gardens — some for the view, some for outdoor therapy, and some for down-and-dig vegetable gardening.

      Nationally, more than 450 hospitals and food service management companies have pledged to serve healthier meals one way or another, including gardens and farmers markets, according to Health Care Without Harm, a coalition of health care interests.

      But not every hospital can dig up a vegetable patch. To have a hospital garden calls for administrative approval just to get started, and the maintenance department might have to give it a work-gloved thumbs-up, besides.

      Location is extra important for a hospital, according to the National Recreation and Parks Association. One thing a hospital garden needs to be is “highly visible.”

      Whatever peace, whatever good things to eat the garden might provide, the larger idea is that it also symbolizes a commitment to healthy living.


      People can see the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Garden just by driving by the corner of 12th and Schiller streets. On dedication day, nobody could have missed volunteer Betty Harlston’s bright pink dress.

      “I usually come on Tuesdays and work from 3 to 6,” the garden’s regular volunteer hours, she says. (Other times, the gates are closed.)

      “Families are welcome to bring their children to volunteer during the open hours,” according to the hospital’s call for helpers. “Volunteer contributions will be vital to providing the produce [that] food-insecure families will receive.”

      Food insecurity means not knowing where the next meal is going to come from, a condition that Children’s Hospital rates as a priority problem. The hospital and its clinics provide free lunches to children year-round.

      Helping Hand of Greater Little Rock reports serving more than 15,000 families in 2015. Arkansas is among the nation’s most food-insecure states, according to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.

      Against such a need, one garden on the corner might not seem to matter. But it does to Helping Hand director Priddy, who already sees the effort making a positive difference.

      “We’re not getting a whole lot from the garden yet,” she says. But the crops are coming on, and “we appreciate everything we get.”

      Helping Hand serves as many as 100 families a day, Priddy says. The need keeps her always on the search for fresh produce to give out. Sources include grocery store donations of produce near the end of its shelf life. And, once, a man called about excess tomatoes from his own garden, she says, “and he brought those to us.”

      One garden can’t meet the agency’s entire need, she says, but it can help, and it can bring up something at least as important as radicchio — awareness of hunger relief.

      Meantime, any given Tuesday, volunteer Harlston expects to find a half dozen of her friends from the Central High Neighborhood Association at work amid the spinach and squash.

      “We get to play in the dirt,” she says, “and we don’t get scolded.”

      They plant. And they pull weeds, because that’s how it is with weeds.

      Weeds are volunteers, too.

      DIG IN

      For more about Arkansas Children’s Hospital, see or call (501) 364-1100. More information about Helping Hand of Little Rock is at, and (501) 372-4388.

      ActiveStyle on 07/11/2016

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      Garden Tips: There are no perfect trees to plant in Mid-Columbia – Tri

      I am often asked what the best trees are for planting in our region. This query typically includes certain criteria that make my answer more challenging.

      Homeowners want a tree that does not get too big, does not produce messy fruit or seeds, does not have insect or disease problems, or does not have invasive roots or surface roots. Their ideal tree also has pretty flowers in the spring and attractive fall color, grows quickly, and tolerates our local soils and climate well.

      If you are waiting for a list of trees that meet these criteria, keep waiting. There are no perfect trees. Every tree has one or more characteristic that is objectionable in some way.

      ▪ Leaf litter: If you own a mature sycamore or silver maple, you know that large trees with huge leaves produce generous volumes of leaves, creating a raking and disposal nightmare in the autumn. Mature large trees can be magnificent. However, when studying what type of shade tree to plant, consider trees such as little leaf linden or river birch, with smaller leaves that produce a smaller volume of fall foliage.

      ▪ Seed and fruit litter: Generally, trees are going to produce litter in the form of seeds or fruit. I hear complaints about the massive amounts of seeds from some maples and Siberian elm, as well as the seed balls of sycamore and sweet gum trees.

      The fruit of ornamental plums, crab apples and cherries can provide food for wildlife, but this fruit can be messy when ripe and mushy, especially if the tree is close to pavement. Some fruit trees, even ornamental fruit trees, are subject to attack by the cherry fruit fly or the codling moth. County law requires that these pests be controlled, even in ornamental fruit trees. This requires regular pesticide applications.

      Gingko fruit smells like dog manure, and mulberries will turn white tennis shoes permanently purple. Catalpa, Kentucky coffee tree and honeylocust can create an abundance of bothersome litter with their seed pods.

      When selecting trees, look for seedless and fruitless cultivars. For example, the Autumn Blaze maple is a hybrid cross between red and silver maple. It is seedless or pretty much seedless. If you find those spiny seed balls of sweetgum trees a problem, look for ‘Cherokee’ or ‘Rotundiloba’, both virtually seedless sweetgum cultivars. If you like gingko trees like I do, be sure to purchase a male tree, as only female trees produce the stinky fruit. If you like mulberry trees but want to skip the fruit, find Morus alba ‘Fruitless’ that does not produce berries.

      ▪ Bark and twig litter: Some trees, like sycamore, have bark that sloughs off, and in some years, they can create considerable annoying bark litter. However, this does create an attractive mosaic bark pattern. Siberian elms and birches have a tendency to drop twigs that must be cleaned up before mowing. Since river birch is one of my favorite trees, I am willing to tolerate this annoying tendency.

      ▪ Nut litter: Mature nut trees, such as walnut, horsechestnut, Chinese chestnut and oak, produce fairly large hard or spiny fruit. Before planting nut trees, be sure to consider the fruit that will eventually be produced.

      There are no perfect trees, but some research before you buy and plant a tree will help you avoid trees that create a mess and more work for you.

      Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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      GARDEN WALK: A few tips when visiting open gardens this week

      Those who have never been to a garden walk have ample opportunity to wander among other people’s blooms this summer.

      Today, there are two garden walks being held in the area, including Lockport in Bloom and the Grand Island Garden Walk.  Also, the Garden Walk Niagara Falls USA takes place on Saturday.

      Lockport in Bloom continues in its second day today, from 10 a.m. to  4 p.m. The Grand Island Garden Walk, a one-day event, features 19 gardens and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

      Janet Freedman, a spokesperson for the Grand Island Garden Walk, has offered a few tips on what to do when you are welcomed into someone else’s secret garden.

      1. Feel free to ask questions of the gardener. Describing the Grand Island gardeners, Freedman said, “They are all excited, not only to show their gardens, but also to show people what a beautiful, unique community we live in.”

      2. Be respectful of people’s property. Please avoid stepping into flower beds and do not pick flowers unless you are invited to do so.

      3. Ask if you can take photos.  Some homeowners don’t like being in photos or having their homes and gardens photographed. Be sure to ask!

      4. Keep children and pets under close supervision. It’s probably best to leave furry friends and little ones at home if their behavior might create a ruckus.

      5. Most of all, have fun! Enjoy the day and appreciate the beauty of nature. 


      To attend the Grand Island Garden Walk, a brochure detailing the location of the gardens may be picked up at the gazebo today in the Town Commons, at the corner of Baseline and Whitehaven roads. 

      The Grand Island event will include a raffle prize of one cubic yard of garden soil donated by Lakeside Sod.

      Said Freedman about the prize: “It’s the best soil in the world. Our gardeners have had lots of good luck with it.”


      To attend Lockport in Bloom, there are full details including a map of gardens available on the website at Brochures are also available at the Kenan Center at 433 Locust St., in Lockport.


      Garden Walk Niagara Falls USA will take place Saturday. The schedule for that event includes: 9:30 a.m. welcome at the Niagara Falls Public Library on Main Street, 10 a.m., “Stump the Master Gardener and Tree Tour” by John Farfaglia at the Oakwood Cemetery; 11 a.m., Schoellkopf Gardens Tour will meet at the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

      At noon, “Native American Herbs and Teas” will be held in the Children’s Garden at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center. Artists and art vendors will be on the NACC lawn until 4 p.m.

      At noon to 4 p.m. in Park Place Historic District, there will be self-guided tours and wandering minstrels.From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. local musicians will perform at “Porch Fest” on area porches in the Park Place district. At 1 p.m., there will be a Memorial Park Neighborhood Black Squirrel Home and Garden Walk Self-Guided Tour; and from 3-4 p.m., Chef Bobby Anderson will teach “How to Make a Seasonal Fruit Parfait and Lavender Lemonade” at the Niagara Falls Public Library. 

      Brochure and maps are available for attendees at 550 12th St.

      Get more details at “Garden Walk Niagara Falls USA” on Facebook.  

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      Stealing garden tips and ideas from the English countryside | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

      The second week of July you need to take some time to relax and enjoy the garden. Forget about planting vegetables, take a break from adding more flowers and ignore the weeds. The spring rush and June explosion of blooms is slowing down and so should the gardener.

      After a recent visit leading a tour to see some of the great gardens of England here are some take home ideas to consider on a summer afternoon while gazing at your own landscape:

      Stealing Beauty from Powis Castle:

      The claim to fame for this ancient castle on the border of Wales and England is that the layers of terraced gardens on the fortified hillside are still intact despite 400 years of garden renovations. You may not have a hillside retreat looking out over miles of ancestral land but you can steal the idea of making the most of your views.

      Cut back shrubs blocking light and views from your windows and consider removing trees that compromise the view of sea or mountains. There are plenty of dwarf shrubs and compact trees to take the place of your overgrown monsters.

      Summer is a fine time to clean the closets of your garden and either compost, donate or create firewood out of your overgrown specimens.

      Plant idea: Grow the gray foliage of Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ if you want a low water-use perennial that is easy to find at local nurseries and you’ll have a direct link to this castle in Wales. Every plant was first started from a random Artemisia plant that volunteered at Powis Castle gardens and was noticed by the head gardener because it did not send up many flowering stalks to reseed about the estate.

      Today the Powis Castle, Artemisia is a favorite perennial of designers that want to use silver foliage and home owners that want to cut back on their summer water bill.

      Stealing Beauty from the village of Portmeirion:

      A fantasy village of turrets, towers and pastel painted buildings, some say this seaside town built at the turn of the century by an eccentric duke was the inspiration for Disneyland.

      There were no giant mice dressed up with huge gloves walking around Portmeirion but there was a story book quality to the architecture and a creative use of different building materials. The take home idea is to make use of architectural fragments to build your own arbors, benches and garden sheds.

      Create your own style by adding bits of ironwork to a simple shed and use pastel paint to give fences, benches and door frames a dream like quality. Fearless design is the mother of creativity and the collection of hotels, restaurants, pavilions and gardens of Portmeirion was enchanting and original.

      (Note: The town charges an entry fee to visitors to keep the streets from becoming too crowded dirt cheap compared to what Walt Disney demanded to enter his magic kingdom.)

      Plant Idea: Hydrangeas in pastel shades of pink, lavender and blue dot the gardens of Portmeirion as this shrub thrives in the cool mist along the coast of Wales. Hydrangeas love cool weather so at home grow your own hydrangeas where they are shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

      Stealing Beauty from The Lost Gardens of Heligan: In Cornwall

      This renovated estate garden of Heligan was rescued from generations of decay to become one of the premier tourist attractions in Great Britain. The huge estate has a walled Victorian vegetable garden, a ravine full of tropical plants, a rope bridge and woodland walks and the famous modern sculptures that feature a troll’s head and a giant lady lying asleep covered with moss and ornamental grasses.

      Plant Idea: Heirloom fruits and vegetables are the stars of the edible Victorian garden and the head gardener told our group of American tourists that the best place to order heirloom vegetable seeds was from American seed companies.

      Heirloom vegetables are those grown one hundred years ago before our food was shipped to market in trucks. The modern vegetables we now consume have thick skins and slow ripening for ease of transport often at the expense of flavor and nutrition.

      The biggest seller of heirloom seeds today is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This family owned company is also known for their seed bank and National Heirloom Expo out of Santa Rosa California. (Check out the for more information.)

      Next week: part two of the best ideas from the English Garden tour.

      Marianne Binetti has a degree in horthiculture from WSU She can be reached at


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