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Archives for July 17, 2016

Grand designs: Alan Titchmarsh on creating a bigger garden

Wouldn’t you love a bigger garden? Most of us would, whatever the size of our present patch, but when it’s just not on the cards the alternative is to make your present space work harder for you. Most people waste an awful lot of room because the garden has grown by degrees, without proper planning. But if it was redesigned slightly with space-saving in mind – in much the same way you do indoors when you restyle your kitchen, living room or bathroom – you’d fit in a lot more of the things you really want.

And anyway, you can always cheat. For centuries, artists have used all sorts of techniques for giving an image captured on a flat canvas a feeling of depth, and you can borrow some of those to make your garden look bigger. Tackle the most obvious problem first, and for established gardens that is probably going to be overcrowding.

Late autumn and winter are good times for cutting back overgrown trees, shrubs and climbers, but when you are trying to grow too many large plants in a small space, it’s a never-ending job – and frankly, hard-pruning isn’t always the best solution. Instead, thin out crowded planting schemes, and replace outsize species (especially those that only look special for six weeks of the year) with something smaller that has more year-round interest.

In a small space, go for multipurpose trees and shrubs that are compact and slow-growing, with a changing sequence of flowers or attractive foliage, plus autumn colour, fruit or berries, striking winter shape or superb bark.

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Sun ‘n Lake cases winding down

— Prosecution of the last of the three Sun ‘n Lake supervisors accused of violating the open meetings law will be deferred 90 days.

David Halbig said he and his attorney went to court Thursday with a motion to dismiss. They expected to find County Judge Anthony Ritenour, who had dismissed the charges against another supervisor. It turned out another judge had been assigned to hear Halbig’s case.

“What happened is that the S.A. offered me the deferral,” Halbig emailed Thursday. “Pay a small amount for investigation costs and it is basically dismissed. Thank God it is over.”

“I wasn’t taking any chances,” Halbig said in a Friday telephone call. “I wanted to get it out of my hair, and get it over with for the district…This thing has been going on forever and ever. This has been ridiculous from the get-go.”

Halbig contended Friday that he did nothing wrong. “Not knowing and willingly, I didn’t.”

On June 9, Ritenour dismissed Florida Sunshine Law charges against Richard Miller. Richard Castillo, the third assistant state attorney who had been assigned to the case, had trouble explaining the facts, and the judge had trouble understanding. Frustrated, Ritenour dismissed the case and abruptly left the courtroom.

According to Attorney General Pam Bondi’s website, the Sunshine law “requires that meetings of boards or commissions must be open to the public… The Sunshine law applies to all discussions or deliberations as well as the formal action taken by a board or commission. The law, in essence, is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission. There is no requirement that a quorum be present for a meeting to be covered under the law.”

Halbig, who resigned in April, denied Friday breaking the law, because nothing they emailed would have come before the board at a future meeting.

A state attorney’s office investigator disagreed: “On Sept. 16, 2014, David Halbig emailed board members Curt McCullough, Richard Miller, Larry White and Richard Hulbert. The subject line stated, ‘Memory Refresher.’ Letter and parts from the board meeting regarding the Childress situation… Don Childress should not even be on the grounds until the end of October, much less playing golf.”

On count two, Lorenzo wrote, that McCullough emailed Halbig about members using the clubhouse without paying a fee, under the subject line, “Member Clubhouse User Fee.”

Halbig replied, “If it turns out there is not a formal policy, the Board needs to put one together.”

On Feb. 14, Halbig emailed: “I believe the rate schedule does need to be dusted off when we put the budget together this year.”

Halbig again: “To begin with, the restaurant was never operated in the M.O. described. (Attorney) John McClure’s opinion … ‘board action is required to modify action once taken…’ The rate schedule needs to be addressed. It can come when we are putting together the budget. Or it can come at any time.”

On count three, Halbig started an email chain about the capital assessment method. On March 20, McCullough replied, “I come up with about $3.5 million in money needed to complete all projects. I’m in favor of next year with a new management team and many of these projects will carry over into next year, to focus on completing these projects and only adding what is absolutely necessary for the next year.”

In June, General Manager Michael Wright was asked to retire early, and Tanya Cannady took over.

“Good idea,” Halbig responded. “Take another look at what we have on the spreadsheet and adjust for what is anticipated for the landscaping signage and maintenance area. Considerable more than what is shown on the spreadsheet.”

In the information filed against Miller, Diaz wrote: On Jan. 18, McCullough emailed Miller and asked the purpose of the landowner’s meeting. Miller replied, “I believe that we still need at least one landowner board seat because the non-registered voters (snowbirds, etc.) who have made a financial investment in the district (homes, golf, etc.) deserve to have a voice in district affairs, albeit not a majority one.

McCullough replied, “I have no good ideas about running the landowner’s meeting other than anyone that regularly attends our monthly meeting, i.e. Tom Costy, Larry Bertetto, Pat Holmes, Rex Bond, Wayne Benson.”

On Jan. 19, the investigator said Miller emailed the board about the proposed general manager contract. “One major question to be answered in developing for our final process for selecting the next GM is whether or not the board wants to first interview the current district staff (if it is decided that we currently have such a candidate) for the position and then move on to a general advertisement for the position if the in-house candidate is not accepted, or whether or not we move directly to the general advertisement of the GM position. Your thoughts on all of the above?”

McCullough to all four supervisors: “Everyone should receive your copy of the final contract for Tanya Cannady today. Along with the contract for your review is a memorandum from me indicating the changes from the original contract to hopefully make it easier for you to see what the changes were.”

“Also, I forgot to add to the memorandum that this contact favors the district financially by $48,000 when you factor in Mr. Wright fringe benefits vs. Cannady and Cannady’s replacement Oct. 1, excluding the one-time early retention payment. No response is necessary.”

In September, the state attorney’s office charged McCullough with five offenses, Miller with two counts, and Halbig with three. Each second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

McCullough left the board in January. In May, his prosecution was deferred. He is due back in Ritenour’s court on Aug. 25. However, McCullough has been qualified by the Supervisor of Elections office to run for re-election, along with Wally Edgell, Richard Hulbert and Bill Jackson.

The two candidates with the greatest number of votes in the Aug. 30 primary will fill the two seats.

The state attorney’s office will not appeal the dismissal of Miller’s case, said Assistant State Attorney Steve Houchin, “due to his age and extreme health problems.”

Miller has cancer and appeared in court in a wheelchair.

Although it doesn’t appear on the form Halbig signed, Houchin said Halbig agreed not to run for public office again.

Halbig said he didn’t regret his 8.5 years of public service. “I’ve done my job as good as I possibly could; I’ve served the residents as best as I could… We’ve come so far, things are looking up in Sun ‘n Lake.”

Halbig blamed the charges on former Mike Wright. “Mike just wanted to damage the district. He had a vendetta. He was a bad apple, he just really was. I was instrumental in getting him, and that was the biggest mistake I ever made.”

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that at 75 years old I would be standing before a judge attempting to defend myself,” said a statement Halbig released Thursday afternoon, after the took the deal. He waived his right to a trial, agreed appear in court after 90 days, and promised not to violate other local, state or federal laws. He also agreed to pay $180 in investigative costs and $100 for the prosecution.

“This Sunshine Law violation complaint was not made for the sake of justice. In my opinion, it was made by Michael Wright in concert with two other Sun N’ Lake employees in an effort to damage the District,” Halbig wrote. He and Miller voted last year to fire public works director Greg Griffin. “To damage the good name and good reputation of good men, and to support claims made in another lawsuit filed against the district. It was a smear campaign, and Michael Wright and company used the court system to support all of the above…”

“Why the state attorney decided to go forward with the charges surprises me. If you read the depositions in this case, the collusion and intent is obvious, in my opinion. My decision to take the deferred agreement offer was simply to bring this madness to as swift a conclusion as possible. If this process went further, the costs to the district would be substantially higher, and for my benefit and the district, I have chosen this path.”

Wright responded Saturday: “I have no ill will toward the District, and we enjoy living here.

“What I did a year ago was pass along to the state attorney copies of emails generated by the three supervisors that I thought were apparent violations of the Florida Sunshine law. It was the state attorney who made the decision to file charges and negotiated the subsequent plea agreements with two of the supervisors,” Wright said.

“It was Mr. Halbig’s own actions that put him in his current position, and if he is bitter toward anyone, then maybe he should look in the mirror.”

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South Norwalk Citizens for Justice calls for housing in former industrial building

NORWALK — AMEC Carting had hoped to revamp and incorporate the former Pac-Kit building on Chestnut Street into its contractor’s yard in South Norwalk.

But with the Norwalk Zoning Commission having rejected that plan and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency encouraging mixed-use, infill development in the areas surrounding the South Norwalk Train Station, some residents have other ideas for the former light-industrial building at 57 Chestnut St.

“It would be nice to have some housing and some greenery back there like a little park,” said Ernie Dumas, chairman of South Norwalk Citizens for Justice, the neighborhood group that fought the AMEC Carting contractor’s yard. “You wouldn’t have to tear it down. It could be converted into apartments.”

Dumas said efficiency apartments and housing for veterans would be ideal for the building. He’d like to see the city or the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency pursue the possibility. He made the suggestion as the agency invited public input on Norwalk’s Transit Oriented District Redevelopment Draft Plan.

The draft plan, prepared by The Cecil Group for the agency, recommends zoning changes to encourage mixed-use, infill development in the areas surrounding the train station. At the request of residents, the boundary of the plan area was extended westward to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to include the industrially zoned land used by AMEC Carting and other companies.

The Redevelopment Agency doesn’t consider itself a re-developer. Rather, the agency shepherds large redevelopment projects, such as Waypointe and The SoNo Collection, toward groundbreaking through the adoption of urban renewal plans and design review.

Would the agency be interested in spearheading redevelopment of the former Pac-Kit building?

“That ultimately is the determination of the (redevelopment) commissioners and we haven’t looked at it, because at this point we don’t even have a plan approved,” said Timothy T. Sheehan, the agency’s executive director.

Sheehan noted that the Chestnut Street property is not located within the boundaries of an approved urban renewal plan. As such, the agency has no authority.

“You can’t just say that the public sector is coming in and it’s going to do this acquisition and there’s no understanding as to what the public sector intent and re-use is going to be,” Sheehan said. “And you’re going to want to make sure that that re-use is meeting all the objectives of the community, the plan and such.”

The property, which had been home to Pac-Kit Industrial First Aid Kits Supplies, is owned by Vernoy Properties c/o Roy M. Brown, according to the Norwalk Tax Assessor’s Office.

The office had the property appraised at $1.96 million and assessed at $1.37 million on Norwalk’s 2015 Grand List of taxable properties. The two-story, brick structure was built in 1910 and spans 40,965 square feet.

That’s plenty of space for housing, Dumas concluded.

“It’s pretty long inside and then you’ve got two side and the middle,” Dumas said. “I think you could get a good 10, 12 or maybe more apartments in there.”

In response to violation notices from the Norwalk Department of Planning and Zoning, AMEC Carting put forward a plan to consolidate its equipment storage yard off Lubrano Place, erect a wall and extensive landscaping around it and buy the former Pac-Kit building where it would store and repair its trucks.

AMEC Carting did not respond for comment Friday.

Dumas said the sale never materialized.

“They were trying to buy it but as of a couple of weeks ago the deal didn’t go through,” Dumas said.

For now, the first step for possible reuse of the building and property hangs with the Norwalk’s Transit Oriented District Redevelopment Draft Plan. That plan is headed to the Norwalk Planning Commission for review and is expected to go before the Common Council later this summer for consideration and adoption.

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Classes on beekeeping, worm composting, orchid growing: Upcoming gardening events

Upcoming gardening events: Orchid Basics —  July 19, 7 p.m., Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 5914 Canal Blvd. — At the New Orleans Orchid Society meeting, Patricia Sander will lead the Orchid Basics program on pests and diseases, then Zach Goodnow will give a presentation on terrariums and orchids.

Fairy Garden Workshop July 20 , 10-11:30 a.m., Longue Vue House and Gardens, 7 Bamboo Road —  Longue Vue’s horticulture staff teaches adults and children how to create a terrarium for fairies. Reservations required. Program fee covers one adult, one child and one terrarium. $25 ($20 for Longue Vue members).  To register, call 504.293.4722 or email

Basic Beekeeping WorkshopJuly 30, 10 a.m., New Orleans Botanical Garden, City Park — Former LSU AgCenter extension agent Russell Harris explains how to start your own backyard hive. $10. Pre-registration required. To register, call 504.483.9473 or email

Botanical Garden plant saleAug. 6, 9 a.m., the Pelican Greenhouse, off Henry Thomas (Golf) Drive south of the Interstate 610 underpass
Call 504.483.9464 or e-mail for a list of available plants.

Bonsai auctionAug. 13, viewing 4-6 p.m., auction 6-9 p.m.,
Marine Corps League Hall, 2708 Delaware St, Kenner. — The Greater New Orleans Bonsai Society hosts its annual bonsai auction, offering a large selection of bonsai, starter materials and pots for every budget from the novice to dedicated enthusiast. Free.

Farm to Table Experience  — Aug. 18, 1:15—2:15 p.m., New Orleans
Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd.—  The 2016 Farm to Table Experience will be held Aug. 18-20, featuring tastings, interactive displays, seminars, chef demonstrations and more at the New Orleans Convention Center. On Aug. 18, Longue Vue House and Garden’s horticulture and education staff will lead a presentation entitled, “Cultivating Communities with Students: Farming, Marketing and Giving Back.”

Garden to glass receptionAug. 18, 5-7 p.m., New Orleans Convention Center,
900 Convention Center Blvd. —  Part of the Farm to Table Experience, New Orleans bartenders will use fresh produce and backyard herbs to make cocktails. “Each participating mixologist will include at least one ingredient that is grown from a seed, is innovative in taste, and is easy enough to recreate.” $69,

Edible landscapingAug. 18, 9:45-10:45 a.m., New Orleans Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd. — Also part of the Farm To Table Experience, Christine E.H. Coker leads a talk on incorporating edible herbs, flowers, trees and shrubs in residential gardens. Prices for the educational programming at the Farm to Table Experience conference range from $49-$169,

Seven ways to use fresh herbsAug. 18, 2:30-3:30 p.m., New Orleans
Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd. — Another program of the Farm to Table Experience, Chef Kamili Hemphill explores ways to incorporate homegrown herbs into salad and dressing; flavored oil; pesto in soup and pasta; compound butter; pan sauce; curing salmon and pickling; roasting meat; and freezing (think granita or cocktail). Prices for the educational programming at the Farm to Table Experience conference range from $49-$169,

Worm Farm and Nutrient Cycling for chickens and gardenAug. 21, 6:30-8 p.m., Laughing Buddha Nursery, 4516 Clearview Parkway, Metairie. —  Grant Estrade of Laughing Buddha Nursery in Metairie will lead a program on using a worm bin to recycle organic food scraps into feed for your chickens and food for your garden. $5. Pre-register at 504.887.4336, 504.234.3564.

To have your event listed, send a fact sheet to

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Building a backyard oasis

For 25 years, Ibanez Gardens has operated a retail nursery and landscape design center for residential and commercial customers seeking exceptional service and value.

Owner Jose Ibanez’s attention to detail and quality work serves as his best referral source. “My customers know my decades of experience coupled with the work ethic I instill in my crews assure a dependable team of professionals whether you need complete landscape design or ongoing maintenance services,” Ibanez said.

The nursery offers annual and perennial flowers, ground covers, mulch, shrubs and trees. Palms are one of their more popular sellers and Ibanez suggests pentas for our hot summers, noting they withstand the heat beautifully while drawing butterflies to your garden.

Decorative patio décor is also for sale and various landscape designs are on display, including retaining walls; propane fit pit, water features and more.

Virtual landscape planning via technology is a popular service Ibanez offers. “I can come to your home or business to assess the property, and then guide you through all the choices.”

Whether you desire a northern look of junipers and oaks, or a tropical retreat bursting with colorful plants and palms, during a virtual landscape appointment, both can be viewed as just installed and full maturity.

“If you have a busy life and can’t make it by the nursery, email pictures of your property to save a trip. I will design a landscape then schedule the install or just deliver the plants if you’re a do-it-yourselfer,” Ibanez said.

With virtual technology, tweaking the design, moving trees or plants around are as simple as a swipe and allows complete customization of a landscape.

Retaining walls are a popular virtual design and Ibanez can build patios into an uneven yard, creating hundreds of square feet of beautiful, usable space while increasing property value and enjoyment.

“For new homes or complete remodels, I can tailor a landscape package that includes everything. From the lawn to the plants and pavers, I can show you just how beautiful your property can be.”

Offering complete packages of patios, pavers and pergolas, Ibanez Gardens specializes in creating amazing outdoor landscapes.

The business also installs beautiful fire pits, wood-burning or propane, ranging from 30 to 60 inches in diameter with a custom patio surround as incredible as your vision or budget allow. “Our outdoor patio at the nursery serves as a showcase to give customers a visual of what we can do and also has been used for many special events,” shared Ibanez.

From missionary groups to Girl Scouts, anniversary dinners to baby showers and small weddings, the patio can accommodate up to 100 people and can be reserved by contacting the gardens.

Maintenance services such as lawn mowing, trimming, weeding and more are also offered for both residential and commercial accounts to ensure the investment in landscaping is properly maintained.

Commercial accounts can opt for a beauty guarantee, with flowers rotated out as needed to ensure the property always looks inviting. “The Lake Placid branch of Wauchula State Bank and the Glades Electric corporate office are two local examples of our commercial accounts,” Ibanez said.

Creating a relationship with his customers is the backbone of Ibanez’s business and also a measure of his success.

His ability to instantly address issues noted by his trained crews offers assurance that your landscape investment will remain healthy for years to come.

Offering a one-stop-shop of installation and maintenance provides for proper trimming schedules and insect control, eliminating the hassle of coordinating multiple companies for your landscape.

Ibanez admits to harboring a creative mind with a razor-sharp attention to detail. This combination leads to his meticulous designs and also serves him well in his service as a professional and volunteer firefighter.

He volunteers for the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department, serving as a lieutenant and was honored in 2012 as Volunteer Firefighter of the Year. “I do this to give back to my community that’s been so good to me over these past two decades,” Ibanez said

Ibanez also works for Hardee County Fire Rescue as a firefighter/EMT and was lauded as Firefighter of the Year in 2014 and County Employee of the Year in 2015. He acknowledges maintaining his public service and thriving business requires a lot of hard work, but credits his amazing teams who consistently follow his work ethic and business model focused on excellence.

“We have weathered the economic turmoil and are still here. That’s a testament to our business ethics and reputation,” Ibanez said. “Our customers know they can count on us to make their landscaping dreams come true.”

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Walliser: Too little sun? Don’t write off growing vegetables – Tribune

Walliser: Too little sun? Don’t write off growing vegetables

Updated 9 hours ago

In last Sunday’s column, I introduced you to a few of my favorite annual and perennial plants for shade gardens. Today, I’d like to discuss growing vegetables in the shade.

For gardeners not blessed with full sun, vegetable gardening can prove quite challenging. Most vegetables need at least eight hours of full sun to perform their best. But it’s possible to harvest plenty of fresh, homegrown vegetables with little sunlight, if you’re smart about the plants you choose to grow.

You might be surprised to hear that there are many vegetables that do quite well in the shade. But before you begin to experiment with these shade-tolerant vegetables, it’s important to understand that there are different levels of shade, and each level has a different degree of productivity.

The dappled shade beneath deciduous trees is the best canopy for growing shade-tolerant vegetables. Here, the plants will receive occasional light as it filters through the leaves throughout the day. Depending on the sun’s movement, plants grown in dappled shade may even receive a few hours of full sun during the morning or evening.

When a garden receives sun for only a small portion of the day, it’s considered to be in partial shade. It’s quite possible to grow a decent vegetable garden in partial shade, especially if you choose the right varieties.

Full shade conditions, such as on the north side of your house or under heavy tree cover, make growing any vegetables very difficult, even the most shade-tolerant ones. In deep shade such as this, veggie gardening is a struggle, and I suggest you focus on growing shade-loving ornamental plants in these areas instead.

Vegetables that produce fruits, such as tomatoes, squash and peppers, are not good candidates for a shady vegetable garden. They require a lot of sun to make enough energy to be able to produce their fruits. But, the leaf and root veggies listed below have an excellent shade tolerance. You’ll get good yields from these crops, even with only two or three hours of sun per day.

Lettuce: For the best results, harvest lettuce leaves in the baby stage, while the plants are young. If full-size heads are desired, stick with loose-leaf types. You can sow lettuce seeds directly into the garden in early spring, and then again in late summer for fall harvests.

Kale: One of the most nutritious veggies around, kale thrives even with just a few hours of sunlight per day. It’s also extremely cold-tolerant, making it a great crop for fall harvests. Plant kale seeds in mid- to late-summer, and you’ll be picking this leafy green until the snow falls.

Beets: A shade-tolerant root crop, beets will produce small but delicious roots in the shade. In areas with less than four hours of sun per day, focus on growing beets for their edible greens, not their roots. Plant a new row of beets seeds every two weeks from late March through early August, and you’ll be able to enjoy a continual harvest of this crop.

Arugula: This peppery salad green doesn’t just tolerate shade, it thrives in it. Because arugula bolts when the weather warms, growing it in shade extends the harvest. Arugula is quick to mature and is ready to harvest just 30 days after planting the seeds into the garden. Very early spring is the best planting time for this green.

Radish: Another quick-growing veggie that’s ready to harvest a mere 30 days after planting, radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in the shade. When grown in dappled shade, radishes are ready to harvest even before the leaves emerge from the trees. Sow seeds in very early spring, and make a second planting in mid-August for a fall harvest.

Carrots: Though their roots will be slightly smaller than carrots grown in full sun, it is possible to grow a decent crop of carrots with minimal sunlight. Shade-grown carrots take a few weeks longer to mature than their sun-grown counterparts, but the wait is worth it. Sow a new row of seeds every two weeks throughout the season for a continual harvest.

Chard: Swiss chard produces colorful, edible leaves and stalks all summer long. You won’t get huge leaves in the shade, but there will be plenty of tender baby chard leaves produced with as little as two or three hours of sun per day.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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Montana Homesteaders Flower Show provides educational tips for gardeners

The CMR Stampede hits Stanford on Friday and while most cowboys will be competing for checks, one bronc rider will saddle up for a cause. Geyser’s Tyrell Smith is donating a portion of his winnings this season to childhood friend and fellow rough stock rider Chris Johnson of Iowa, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for stage three testicular cancer. 

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This week’s gardening tips: plant pumpkin seeds now, trim bedding plants

This week’s gardening tips: Plant pumpkin seeds this month for Halloween pumpkins. But watch out for the squash vine borer, which can be destructive to pumpkins and squash planted at this time of the year.

The borer is a grub-like caterpillar that burrows into the stem and eats it out, causing the plant to wilt and die. If you’ve had problems in the past, treat plants regularly with Sevin, BT or spinosad to control.

Numerous bedding plants, such as impatiens, begonias, salvias and geraniums, may look a little stressed now. Blame the heat. Many bedding plants (especially the tender perennials we grow as annuals) can be cut back in late July or early August. They will revive as the weather cools and provide color until November or longer.

Container plants should not be placed directly onto wooden decks. The moisture underneath can damage the wood. (Saucers do the same thing). Boost pots off the surface an inch or two with pieces of brick or terra-cotta pot supports called “pot feet” available at local nurseries and garden shops. The pot feet may help the drainage holes to function better and can prevent dark stains under pots.

Peppers and eggplants planted in early summer will revive and produce well in the fall if the plants are kept in vigorous growth. Side dress them every six weeks, and you’ll be amazed at how productive they can be in September, October and early November.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

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The perfect flower for a ruined mansion and other tips from English gardens | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

The third week of July is time to deadhead or remove the spent flowers from your roses, perennials and container gardens.

If your petunias are going Vegas on you – getting a bit seedy and leggy – then clip them back to half their size and fertilize for a flush of fresh new blooms. Clip off the blooming spikes of hosta, heucheras and coleus to keep these foliage plants looking tidy. Cut back delphiniums so they are just a few feet tall, then fertilize for a second flush of blooms.

When leafy greens such as lettuce, kale or Swiss chard send up flowering stems clip these off to encourage more leaf growth. When lettuce bolts or goes to seed, pull up the plants or bury them in the soil. Lettuce and many other leaf crops turns bitter once it blooms.

Now, in a continuation of summer garden inspiration from last week, here more ideas to borrow from the great gardens of England:

Ideas from Aberglasney Gardens – A restored manor house in East Wales, England

This was my favorite garden of all the spectacular gardens we saw in England. The creative plantings were arranged around garden ruins, inside a walled garden with an unusual raised walkway and along the pathway of a woodland walk. This garden paid homage to the 500 years of gardening history on the site but breaks from tradition to showcase new plants and ideas.

Take Home Idea (if you happen to have the ruins of a mansion on your property): create a Ninfarium.

Head gardener Joseph Atkin of Aberglasney gardens says the idea and made up name for the Ninfarium comes from Rome where the Ninfa Gardens have been blooming on ruins since ancient times. In Wales, the central rooms of the crumbling manor house have been covering with a glass ceiling and tropical plants added in the place of furnishing.

Palm trees and bananas grow from openings in the once grand marble floor, vines spread out on walls that once hung with portraits and instead of rugs from the Orient, exotic groundcovers from the Far East add a tapestry of color and texture.

The Ninfarium of Aberglasney is just the most unique, and little known garden in the world. It will make you want to put a greenhouse roof on every abandoned house you see and plant a tropical jungle.

Plant Idea: Aberglasney Gardens includes a pond garden, sunken garden and walled garden but the garden with the plant material that is most practical for our Western Washington gardens is the new woodland walk showcasing shade loving plants such as primulas, lilies, hosta and corydalis.

The show stopper plant in this garden is the gigantic, six foot tall, fragrant white lily called lily Cardiocrinum giganteum. Cardio means heart in Latin, so I suspect the name refers to the fact that the fragrance and size of this lily is likely to cause heart attacks – or at least a bit of a flutter in the chest.

Great Dixter – In County Kent, outside of London

The late, great garden author Christopher Lloyd left the care of his masterpiece garden in the hands of new head gardener Fergus Garret. (We went all the way to England to find out Mr. Garret will be coming to speak at a sold out seminar at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens this summer, by the way.) Some new ideas added to this very colorful garden are the inclusion of more weeping evergreens into the hot color garden and the use of even more brilliant color combinations. We loved the fearless combinations of red, purple and yellow in the mixed borders. In nature there are no clashing colors – just plant more color.

Plant Idea: Verbascium olympicum : Form and structure is very important in the mixed borders and this upright perennial with drought resistant gray foliage and spiky yellow blooms was used with floppy roses and trailing clematis to over some contrast.

This verbascium grows to five feet tall and the wide, furry leaves are drought and pest resistant and even more impressive than the flower spikes.

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