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Archives for July 14, 2016

Summertime garden reads

Winter rains and cold usually turn my attention to seed catalogs and dreams of the summer garden. Summer evenings, on the other hand, are the perfect opportunity to delve into books about gardens and nature.

This summer I decided to pull out a few of my old favorites to add to the stack, forgoing any “how to” garden books and instead immersing myself in the lore, spirit, history and botany of plants.

These are three of my favorites. Two are out of print, but you can find new and used copies through the secondary market.

Julie Moir Messervy’s “The Inward Garden, Creating a Place of Beauty and Meaning” (Little, Brown) engages and inspires the reader to reflect about natural places that have shaped us from our childhood and throughout our lives.

While many books focus on practical reasons for designing a garden, they don’t offer exercises that get the reader thinking about why they are attracted to certain styles of gardens. From Messervy’s questions and research, we begin to understand how to create a space that brings peace and tranquillity.

Throughout the book she weaves information about garden archetypes such as the sea, the cave, the mountain and the sky, and writes about how they have influenced garden design for centuries.

My fascination with collecting seeds and pods began when I first started saving seed for replanting. My collection has grown, as has my understanding of how they adapt to their environment, and I appreciate the information in Teri Dunn Chace’s “Seeing Seeds, A Journey into the World of Seedheads, Pods and Fruit” (Timber Press, $29.95).

This book reveals in images and words how seeds, seed heads, pods and fruits are unique and often more beautiful than flowers. While it may look like an art book because of the beautiful photographs, it is not. Chace provides an overview of what is inside seeds, how they disperse and why some fruits have such strange shapes. She also writes about plant and pollinator relationships.

I love how she describes “the beloved fava beans” as having a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality. In some instances, fava beans can cause a disease called favism, a debilitating condition characterized by hemolytic anemia — the breakup of red blood cells — that comes from eating the beans or being exposed to the pollen. At the same time, fava beans combat microorganisms that cause malaria.

Her words, combined with the amazing photographic works by Robert Llewellyn that are so detailed they more resemble botanical illustrations than photographs, provide fascinating information about the mighty seed.

Another book, “The Meaning of Trees: Botany, History, Healing, Lore” (Chronicle Books) by Fred Hageneder, tells us of the power of forests. They evoke feelings of tranquillity, and recent research continues to prove that a walk in the woods is good for your mood.

In his book, Hageneder introduces the reader to why trees throughout history have been considered sacred. Before buildings, religious rites and gatherings took place under the canopy of trees, and still today every continent has places where certain trees and groves are protected because they are considered sacrosanct.

The book features 50 different trees and offers wonderful information about cultural symbolism, healing properties and practical uses. “The Meaning of Trees” is a beautiful tribute to the tree in all its grace and mystery, and as a natural resource.

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Entrepreneurs are not as smart as we think we are

This piece was originally published in March of 2004.

Recently my landscaping company hired a marketing research company to help us find out for certain why our past clients chose us and why other consumers would pick us. I’m done guessing why they chose us; I want to know for sure.  We’ve done this in the past, but the information is so important, we’re doing it again. And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about this month – the importance of finding out why your clients did, in fact, choose to do business with you.

Entrepreneurs are a funny bunch. Whether you are one or work with one, you can undoubtedly identify with some of the following conclusions:

Entrepreneurs are creative. They are frequently coming up with new ideas. Some of them work and some of them do not.

Entrepreneurs are not afraid to take risks. There is story after story of the entrepreneurs who put everything on the line to make their businesses work.  Sometime the gambles pay off, sometimes they do not.

Entrepreneurs are excellent at talking themselves into the brilliance of their very own ideas. Some of them work, some do not.

Entrepreneurs sometimes don’t use logic. Once in a while you can get away with this, but most of time it will cost you.

Do any of these sound like you or your boss? I’m willing to bet that they do. And please don’t feel badly if I have described many of you very well.  I know how entrepreneurs think because I am one! You see, we really don’t answer to anyone, have few people challenge us, and end up making many decisions without the proper proof because we can. It is our business! However, smart entrepreneurs also know that any time you can improve your chances for success, you need to do it. I have an idea this month that will do just that, so read on carefully.

One of the biggest mistakes I made for years was marketing to my clients in the way I thought they wanted to be marketed to. You see, clients and prospects want to buy; they do not want to be sold. All of your marketing should center on this premise. We forget to ask our clients why they chose us; we think we can read their minds. For years, I sent out an eight-page newsletter, when all that I really needed to do was a two-page newsletter. For years, I sent out coupons, when all I needed to do was call people back right away. And for years, I spent thousands of dollars on advertising that did not work, when all I needed to do was ask my clients to tell their friends and family about us!

The reasons you think people do business with you are potentially not the same reasons your clients really do choose you. I encourage you to take some time and find out the real reasons your clients do business with you. It should be something that becomes part of your follow-up routine. Each time you complete a job, call or better yet visit with the clients and ask, “Why did you do business with us?” If you really see the value in this information (and I hope you do), then either hire a firm that specializes in surveying folks or, if your budget is tight, hire a marketing student from a local college and get them on the phone and sending out surveys to your clients. The sooner you find out this information, the more effective your marketing will be and the less money you will waste.

Once you find out the reasons your clients chose you, you can craft messages that work. Let me share with you what can happen when you follow my advice. A landscaper I have been working with in Atlanta, Georgia, thought for years his clients did business with him because of his prices. He was certain he was correct. I challenged him to find out for sure.  Once we surveyed his clients, we found out that price was not the real reason his clients spent money with him – his timely and friendly service was. Consequently, he raised prices slightly and hired a person whose sole job was to call and visit clients and make sure they were happy. 

On the written survey, we also asked the question, “Where did you hear about us?” Just by doing this, my client found out that most of his business was coming from other happy clients in the form of referrals, not from the $3,000/month yellow page ad he had. At last check the company’s sales and profits were up substantially, all because he decided to prove his theory. Had he not done this exercise, he never would have known why his clients did business with him and left money on the table. 

I hope you will spend some time in the next few months asking your clients why they do business with you and do more of that. Sure, this is a lot of work, but nothing in life comes easily and, more importantly, sometimes entrepreneurs are not as smart as we think we are. 

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Help wanted filling new pages

Posted Jul. 14, 2016 at 1:01 AM

Dodge City, Kan.

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Community design ideas for Jefferson Street unveiled

New ideas for the revitalization of Jefferson Street include roundabouts, green spaces, an emphasis on local art and more retail — all on an elevated bridge over Interstate 40.

But these are simply suggestions volunteer designers created based on input from the community in a two-day visioning session as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Every Place Counts Design Challenge.

“This is an opportunity to try out all these different ideas and to take their vision and say, ‘OK, here are some examples of things that you can do,’ ” said the department’s senior counselor to the secretary and Chief Opportunities Officer Stephanie Jones.

Nashville was one of four cities in the country to receive the “technical assistance,” or guidance and designs, to help once-vibrant communities that were torn apart by highways.

“It made it difficult for them to get around, it cut them off from different transportation options, it isolated them, and we’ve seen that all around the country,” Jones said. I-40 in Nashville was built in the late 1950s, early 1960s.

Residents and business owners along the corridor wished for walkability, bike lanes, parks, landscaping, safety, a celebration of local artists and musicians, and maintaining its affordability.

Designs from volunteers included taking the middle turn lane away to make room for expanded sidewalks, street parking and landscaping. They referenced The Shoppes on Fatherland in East Nashville to welcome new retail space without damaging existing buildings, with corridors and business entrances perpendicular to the street.

And “caps,” or bridges over the interstate, for residents to walk, play and shop.

While some neighbors supported the ideas, many worried these designs could increase rent and push longtime residents out.

“We have to work on a land-use side, policy side and a physical side because those are all things that affect the outcome,” said Ian Lockwood of Toole Design Group, who helped with the designs.

Mayor Megan Barry attended, as well as Mary Beth Ikard, transportation and sustainability manager, and Lonnell Matthews from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement.

“When I-40 came through, it created dead ends,” Matthews said. “We need to turn dead ends into destinations.”

Matthews said the mayor’s office intends to “continue this conversation.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation will continue to check in to the Jefferson Street efforts via its Every Day Counts initiative “focused on streamlining projects,” Jones said.

Reach Jen Todd at 615-313-2760 and on Twitter @jentoddwrites.


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Jack White to serve on Megan Barry’s new gender equity council

Channel 4 sheds veteran Dennis Ferrier, othersy

Crash victim’s daughter won’t forgive suspect for wallet theft

Rep. Marsha Blackburn seeks probe of Clinton Foundation

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Remembering some forgotten plants

We have all lived through trends and fads in our lifetime. If your children or grandchildren are in the room ask them what they know about lawn darts, bouffant hairdos, granny glasses, mood rings, super balls, pet rocks or dashboard hula dolls. I am sure that their reaction will be “you’ve got to be kidding.” At the time, many of us felt that these items were the most important purchases we could invest our dollars in.

I find it interesting that younger gardeners have never heard of many plants that were once commonplace in our landscape only a few years ago. Plant buying fads happen in the landscaping world, too.

Visiting old estates and gardens, I often come across these old relics and wonder why you can’t find these plants in the nursery trade any more. There are many reasons and plants that have replaced these old fashion “granny plants.” Larger blooms, disease and insect resistant, better fruiting, colorful foliage, environmental concerns and hardier plants have created a new wave of plants. We should be grateful for the large selection of plants that are available to the homeowners. It is, however, fun to remember some of our old favorite plant friends.

Reading the Midland Daily News, I enjoyed the article about Tim and Cathy Richard celebrating with friends the sweet smell of the mock orange shrub. I thought to myself, mock orange is a plant you don’t see in garden centers anymore.

If you want this old fashion plant in your garden look for the double bloom cultivar of mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius) called Snowbelle. Mock orange will tolerant a wide range of soils except those with a high water table. It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Snowbelle, which reaches a height of four feet is more compact than the species that can grow over 10 feet tall. Mock orange is noted for its very fragrant blooms. The aroma of mock orange reminds me of getting out of school for the summer. It will usually bloom during the first part of June and fill your backyard for those graduation parties.

Another plant not seen in the landscape very often is black jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens). Black jetbead usually blooms heavily in late May or early June. After this heavy bloom you will discover sporadic blooms throughout the growing season. It is almost like it doesn’t know when to stop flowering. In the fall after the leaves have dropped you will discover black “beads” in groups of four on the shrub. The fruit will persist throughout the winter.

From my experience there are two types of gardeners. Gardeners who complain because they can’t grow anything because of too much shade and those who complain they can’t grow anything because of too much sun. Jetbead is a plant that is happy in full sun and full shade. It doesn’t give gardeners anything to complain about.

Since we do like to complain there is one slight problem with this plant. It will self-seed in your flower bed. You will need to pull out a few seedlings and give them away. Or use a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent the seeds from germinating.

Another plant that you don’t see around much is beautybush (Kolkwitzia ambilis). This was a plant just off our porch when I was in first grade. The plant was about 10 feet tall but seemed like 50 feet. I could climb it and not be found during another forgotten tradition in the game of hide and seek.

Late May we witnessed pink bell-shaped flowers that covered the whole plant. The plant best flowers in full sun. The plant forms an arching shape that can take rigorous pruning after it blooms.

A plant your grandparents might have grown is the common pearlbush (Exochorda racemose). Mid-spring there will be showy clusters of white blooms. This shrub will grow in full sun or partial shade. This plant is being reconsidered because of its ability to withstand drought.

Think about all the plants that were in your yard when you were growing up. Many of these plants have been replaced by other flowering shrubs or the use of yews and junipers. As many people decided that formal landscapes consisting of shaped shrubs looked better than the old fashion free flowing, arching shrubs we have lost some of our oldies but goodies.

If you are a person who wants to impress your neighbors with unique plants, you might want to think about some of the old plants that you can’t easily find any more.

When I see many of these old underused plants they often bring back memories. Of course lawn darts, bouffant hairdos, granny glasses, mood rings, super balls, pet rocks, or dashboard hula dolls bring back great memories, too.

Chuck Martin is a horticulturist at Dow Gardens.

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Help coming for homeowners near Kil-Tone site





Things to do in South Jersey 071416 edition
Lisa Marie Voit

VINELAND – About 57 residences around the Kil-Tone Superfund site have officially been targeted for soil cleanup work later this year.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced the plans, along with an opportunity for the community to add input at a public meeting early next month.

Plans call for soil cleanup at homes surrounding the shuttered Chestnut Avenue pesticides factory, which were found to contain arsenic and lead as a result of that business’ practices.

“Arsenic is known to cause cancer, and lead can damage a child’s ability to learn and a range of other health problems,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said. “It is imperative that the contamination on residential properties is removed to protect people’s health.”

PREVIOUSLY:New soil for residents at Superfund site

EPA spokesman John Morris said excavation work is expected to begin by spring “or possibly sooner.”

The plan calls for 15,000 cubic yards of soil to be removed and replaced with clean soil and vegetation in residential areas near Chestnut Avenue, including East Cherry Street, East Quince Street, South Sixth Street, Paul Street and Washington Avenue.

But first up is an Aug. 2 public meeting at Gloria M. Sabater Elementary School.

EPA officials at that 7 p.m. meeting will explain their plans to local residents and accept comments concerning the scope of work until Aug. 12.

Recently, many of those impacted residents were given fresh soil by the EPA as a precautionary measure to limit potential exposure from the contaminants.

20 home renovations that will hurt your home’s value – Las Vegas Review

Homeowners looking to sell soon or sometime down the road often invest in home renovations to boost their home’s value for a resale. Some home improvements, however, can actually hurt your home’s value.

Sometimes, these home renovations are done particularly with a resale in mind. Other times, they’re simply done to suit a homeowner’s personal preferences. Either way, it’s important to keep your home’s resale value in mind, and do your research before investing in any home improvement updates.

If you want to increase your home’s value instead of hurting it, click through to see the top home renovations to avoid.

1. Lavish Lighting Fixtures

One common home improvement mistake is falling in love with unique or lavish light fixtures, said Alon Barzilay, founder of real estate development company Barzilay Development.

“Whether it be ceiling-mounted lights in a dining room or a hanging pendant, there is a psychological phenomenon that happens when you go to a lighting store … you’re going to pick something exciting and new instead of picking a new addition that suddenly matches the big picture,” Barzilay said.

Furthermore, the passage of trends works against homeowners. “Whatever is in vogue today will look dated 10 years down the road when you are ready to sell,” he added. “Simple is best. Fortunately, lighting can easily be switched out at a low cost.”

2. Too Much Wallpaper

With its patterns and texture, wallpaper can be an overwhelming design choice. Plus, it’s notoriously difficult to remove. Homebuyers might view wallpaper removal as a potential headache, and it could be the tipping point for someone who wants a more move-in ready home.

Fresh paint and neutral colors are always a good idea to help stage your home when it’s on the market. If you do have wallpaper, think about whether it’s beneficial to remove it and repaint the walls before any showings or open houses, so your potential buyers never have to think about it.

3. Texture on the Walls and Ceilings

Just like wallpaper, texture on walls and ceilings is difficult to remove. Simply knowing that a timely project lies ahead might cause homebuyers to decrease their offer. Think twice before deciding on a fancy textured painting technique, and play around with textured wall décor instead.

4. Quirky Tiling

Any over-personalized renovation can hurt the value of a home, especially something like tiling, which requires more effort and money to replace, according to Bob Gordon, Realtor and blogger at

“Many buyers like to upgrade the floors in their homes,” he said. “Adding tile or wood can make an improvement in value — unless you get that person that wants the 1950s diner look and installs black-and-white tile. For their vision, this is the pinnacle of cool. But for a resale value, most homebuyers will see it as a distraction and something they will need to rip out.”

Instead, consider going with a traditional white tile floor, and buy a rug with the style you’re going for, he recommended.

5. Too Much Carpeting

Most homebuyers, 54 percent, are willing to pay more for a home with hardwood floors, according to USA Today, citing National Association of Realtors data. Compared to hardwood and laminate floors, carpet can quickly show signs of damage. Plus, colors and textures are highly based on personal preference, and any overly personal touches can decrease a home’s value.

6. Bright and Bold Paint Colors

Bright and bold paint colors can turn off any potential buyer who might lack a bit of vision. Fortunately, repainting a room before putting your home on the market is an easy fix, albeit an important one. Choose neutral colors to present buyers with a blank canvas, which can help them envision the home in their own style, HGTV recommended.

7. An Extremely High-End Kitchen

The kitchen is often the heart of a home, and it’s a project many homeowners save up for. However, the resale value of a major, high-end kitchen remodel is actually less than what you’ll invest in it. In 2015, the national average for a major kitchen remodel cost $56,768, but the resale value was only $38,485, according to

To avoid spending too much on a project that won’t give you a return on investment, try to focus on which aspects of the kitchen are most outdated or worn. And as tempting as it might be, consider selecting mid-range appliances rather than the expensive high-end options.

8. A Luxury Bathroom

An upgraded bathroom can certainly add value to a home, but it’s easy to get carried away and take the idea of luxury a little too far. Potential buyers could be scared off by over-personalized finishes and over-the-top whirlpool tubs that are hard to clean and hard for some people to climb into. Instead, consider a walk-in shower to appeal to a wider audience, recommends.

9. A Home Office Conversion

Thanks to improved technology, more professionals have the opportunity to work from home, and some might consider creating a dedicated home office space to get the job done. If the new office space was formerly a bedroom, this could be a costly mistake, according to Jamal Asskoumi, real estate agent and owner of homes listing website

“A home office is usually a conversion from a bedroom,” he said. “This already is wrong. Never convert a bedroom into anything other than a bedroom. It will devalue your property immediately. Losing a bedroom could see a 10 percent [drop] in price.”

If you must use a bedroom space for a home office, be sure to avoid any bulky built-in desks or shelving units. That way, when it’s time to sell, you can easily stage the space back into a bedroom for potential buyers to see.

10. Combining Bedrooms to Create a Bigger Room

Combining two small bedrooms to create a bigger room might seem like a good idea to a young couple with no children or to empty nesters whose children have left the house. But this is a bad move if you don’t plan on staying in that home forever, according to Brian Davis, real estate investor and co-founder of renting resource

“Even small bedrooms add value to homes, as most families want children to have their own rooms but don’t mind if they’re on the small side,” he said. “In my experience, each bedroom can add about 15 percent to the value of a home.”

Instead of knocking down walls, try simple tricks to make your bedroom space look bigger, like lighter colors and modern, slim furniture.

11. Removing Closets

Michele Silverman Bedell, chief executive of residential agency Silversons, told MarketWatch that she’s seen firsthand how removing a closet to make room for another upgrade, such as a larger bathroom or bedroom, can hurt a home’s resale value.

“People need closets,” Bedell said. “They’ll walk in and count the number of closets per room.”

12. A Sunroom Addition

A sunroom can be a great space to enjoy the outdoors away from the elements, but according to Remodeling, a sunroom addition is one of the worst home renovations when it comes to return on investment. In 2015, the national average mid-range sunroom addition cost $75,726 and only had a resale value of $36,704.

Think carefully about how often you’ll use a sunroom before committing to this costly renovation, especially if your home might be on the market anytime soon.

13. A Built-In Aquarium

A built-in aquarium can make a home feel fancy and upscale, but it requires constant maintenance and can be costly to remove. Not all potential buyers will want to care for a large tank full of fish or pay for the maintenance that comes along with it. Instead, opt for a standard fish tank to avoid any issues down the line.

14. Built-In High-End Electronics

An in-house theater is perfect for any movie buff, but built-in or customized electronics that take up space in an otherwise usable room could be off-putting to potential buyers, according to As with all home renovations, personalization can lead to a decrease in home value, and built-in technology that can quickly become outdated is no exception.

15. A Swimming Pool

Contrary to popular belief, a swimming pool addition is not the best way to add value to your home. In fact, according to HouseLogic, a swimming pool could increase a home’s value by only 7 percent at most — and that’s only in certain circumstances.

“Unless you live somewhere that’s hot at least six months out of the year, pools are generally more trouble than they’re worth,” said Davis. “The only people who really want them are families with a certain age range of children, so it limits the potential buyers.”

With the cost to build a pool, maintenance expenses and a very minor potential value increase, a swimming pool addition simply isn’t worth it for most homeowners.

16. A Hot Tub

Similar to swimming pools, hot tubs are a gamble — they take up space and require constant maintenance. Plus, homebuyers with children might consider a hot tub a safety hazard. Many homebuyers won’t want one and will need to consider the cost of completely removing the hot tub when making an offer, according to Asskoumi.

If a hot tub is on your list of must-haves for your home, consider a portable hot tub versus a built-in hot tub. You could potentially take it with you when you move, or your home’s new owners can easily remove it when they choose to.

17. A Garage-to-Gym or Living Space Conversion

For a fitness lover, a garage-to-gym conversion might seem like a wonderful idea. To parents of a millennial who just moved back home, a garage-to-apartment conversion probably seems like a genius idea. But keep in mind, your future homebuyers might not agree.

Many people search for houses with a garage, and what they’re looking for isn’t a gym or an extra living space — they’re looking for a garage to serve its primary purpose of housing cars and storage items. In fact, in a recent survey of 7,500 people, 74 percent of recent buyers said that having a garage is extremely or very important, according to MarketWatch.

If you must use your garage space as a gym or as extra living space, be sure future homeowners can easily and inexpensively remove the renovations.

18. The Wrong Landscaping Investment

Homeowners are prone to certain devaluing landscaping mistakes in the name of “curb appeal,” said Theodore Beasley of Landscaping London. “Costly landscaping decoration will not increase the value of your home, but rather increase the maintenance required for it. A potential buyer sees this, and it may turn into a concern. Fancy decorative additions that you find attractive are pretty much subjective, as well — including your personal DIY projects.”

Keep your gardens beautiful but simple and easy to maintain, and be sure any decorative additions can be easily removed.

19. Beautiful But Messy Trees

Trees are an important part of any home’s landscape, but it’s important to do your research before planting anything. Beasley recommended homeowners particularly look out for any trees with leaves or flowers that might create a mess in the yard.

“Some trees just tend to be more messy than others,” he said. “Constant leaf rain is not something that will positively attract a potential homebuyer. When fall comes, they will just know it will give them a hard time.”

Trees to stay away from include oak, female Ginkgo biloba, sweet gum, locust tree and Eastern white pine. These messy trees can decrease your curb appeal, and removal can set you back a hefty sum, depending on the tree’s size, Beasley said. Instead, choose an alternative tree, like an Eastern red cedar, crepe myrtle or Colorado blue spruce.

20. DIY Repairs

Always think twice before getting into the do-it-yourself home improvement game. Gordon said he’s seen several examples of DIY jobs that have decreased a home’s value.

“I’ve seen plenty of houses where you can tell the owner did the work,” he said. “The owner probably feels she made all the right improvements, but buyers quickly see the shoddy workmanship and unusual finished product.”

“Overcoming these mistakes is simple: Don’t try to do the work yourself,” Gordon added. “Hire a pro, then ask to be a part of the process and learn from the professional as they do the job.”

The bottom line is that any over-personalization of your home can lead to a decrease in value. Yes, you want to live in a space you love, but think twice before investing in any major or costly renovations. And always make sure your home improvements are completed with the proper permits by licensed professionals.

From 20 home renovations that will hurt your home’s value

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Percy Thrower’s gardening tips still blooming good, says his competition judge daughter

PUBLISHED: July 13, 2016 07:59

The daughter of Britain’s first celebrity gardener Percy Thrower today reveals she refers to his invaluable Encyclopaedia of Gardening when judging the best blooms in Shropshire.

Margaret Thrower refers to her celebrity father’s expert flower knowledge to help her to judge blooms. Inset: Percy Thrower.

Shrewsbury’s famous son, Percy, tenderly nurtured the BBC’s Blue Peter garden and was a household name from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Now his daughter Margaret Thrower, who lives on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, is continuing his legacy.

She is currently judging Oswestry in Bloom and will move on to Shrewsbury, where entries are still open, for more judging on July 27.

Margaret Thrower and Betty Gull are braving the changeable British summer’s sunshine and showers, to select the outstanding blooms on a three-day walking tour of the market town.

Margaret said:

“I always look forward to judging this competition and every year it gives me ideas for putting into practice in my own garden.

“I still refer to dad’s Encyclopaedia of Gardening while judging. It is still current.

“Dad was trained in the hands-on apprentice style, working his way up through the departments to the head gardener, which I think is the best way for education.

“He liked everything in the garden but he was particularly fond of fuchsia and begonias. He used to judge in Nantwich, in Cheshire, and I took over from him. I’m not sure if dad judged Oswestry in Bloom.

“Gardening was his job and hobby. He was in the right place at the right time.

“He was gardening in the early days of popular television when he was pretty much the only one in his field.

“Judging is something of a mammoth task. It takes us three days when it used to take just one.

“It is so nice to see fellow gardeners and I’ve been doing this job for so long – for 12 to 15 years or so – it is like meeting old friends.”

The Oswestry bloom committee has won gold awards in the Heart of England in Bloom Competition for the last 11 years.

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Butterfly Gardening Tips

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