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Archives for August 5, 2016

The Designer’s Own Gardens

Craig Socia, who has designed hundreds, if not thousands, of gardens — English country, stylish contemporary, Mediterranean, you name it — began imagining what he would like to do at his own property from the moment he arrived on Accabonac Road in East Hampton in 1999. In the following dozen years or so, he created a compound of three houses, each with an individual garden, while tending an eponymous landscape company.

Personally, he prefers French gardens. He has studied them in detail, even in winter, during 13 trips to France — not just trips but sojourns, he said — over the last few decades. It’s how he was able to achieve a formal look for the compound of three houses he has built, which is characterized by manicured hedges and espaliered trees that work together to provide symmetry and suggest control over nature.

“It gives me peace of mind when everything is in order and everything looks good,” he said during a recent tour of the three-acre property, which he calls Craigmoor.

The symmetry is most evident in the French garden surrounding the pool. If one stands at the far end of the pool and looks up past the razor-sharp shrubbery and a tall obelisk toward the French Norman-style main house, the purposefulness of the design immediately becomes evident. The garden and house are built on an axis. Save for the chimney on one side of the house and a few lawn chairs next to the pool, it all looks balanced perfectly, almost as if one half were gazing at its reflection. “The garden should really be made to mirror the house,” Mr. Socia said.

The main house, finished in 2004, is where family and friends stay when visiting. 

The Craigmoor gardens feature some of his signature twig constructions, made of native eastern red cedar and ranging from arches and arbors to benches and chairs. A folly at one corner of the property is for his young nieces and nephews to play in. A staircase, carved from a long and sturdy log, rises gently up to a small, wooden alcove, perfect for a tea party, perhaps, or some other make-believe scene, with lanterns swaying in the breeze and blossoms and shrubs all around.

Mr. Socia makes use of tropical plants as annuals, though they usually are perennials, importing a large shipment from Florida each year for his clients and his own grounds. From a recent shipment, a quartet of bottleneck palms plays harmoniously at the four corners of the pool and banana plants edge the patio.

Perennials and trees line the perimeter of the property, including white hydrangeas, which flourished in a season when their blue cousins did poorly, along with cedar, western arborvitae, holly, hinoki cypress, leyland cypress, and cryptomeria. Not one to dismiss any plant aesthetic, Mr. Socia also makes use of succulents, with arrangements of different sizes and complementary hues of green in various places.

A few espaliered apple trees grow on one side of the driveway; the other side features a fragrant, low-lying garden of rounded yew, herbs like thyme and curry, and plants chosen not for bright colors but for their texture and grayish hues, which are cultivated around serpentine walkways.

Beyond this garden is the outdoor space outside the kitchen of a third structure, a carriage-style house rebuilt in 2013, where Mr. Socia and his husband, Esteban Llivipuma, live, and where Mr. Socia spends most of his time. The second house, a cottage renovated in 2000, is rented out.

 Rather than a lawn around the carriage house, Mr. Socia opted for a pea-grit stone base and filled the secluded, shaded area with potted plants. Toward the back of the carriage house, Mr. Socia planted his favorite hybrid begonia, Phoe’s Cleo, known for sweet pink flowers and leaves speckled with purple at the edges. In front, where the sun shines all day, Mr. Socia keeps eight citrus varieties, including grape fruit, Meyer lemons, limes, tangerines, and variegated kumquats. The latter are a favorite topper for summertime cocktails.

Turn a corner from the kitchen and you’ll see outside the windows of the carriage house’s lower level a hedge and the Four Seasons, the Italian Baroque sculptures depicting summer, winter, autumn, and spring. At Craigmoor, they are individually lighted and are said to be particularly beautiful in a light snowfall.

Mr. Socia, 51, a Rochester Institute of Technology-educated former magazine art director, balanced that career with a garden design venture for a couple of years after feeling inspired by a visit to Grey Gardens in East Hampton. It was at one time the home of Big and Little Edie Beale, who were the subjects of a Maysles brothers documentary. Soon enough, he abandoned his magazine job to become a full-time garden designer. That was 24 years ago. 

These days, he often brings his clients to his own property for show-and-tell. “There’s a little bit of everything here for them to see,” he said. “I love gardening and to be able to do this on the scale you can do it out here is fascinating.”

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Landscaping Property Lines

Watters Weekly Garden Classes

July 30 – Easy Grow Roses – There are so many more choices than your grandmother knew. Learn the difference between hybrid tea, floribunda, shrub, carpet and so much more. Placement is critical for an easy to care for rose. Students learn the best varieties, care and placement for non-stop blooms. Free to local gardeners that want more fragrance color in the yard.


Aug 6 – Secret Gardens with Hedges Privacy Screens. Not all plants are created equal when it comes to intimacy in the garden. This class shows off the best plants, fastest growing, height, thickness, spacing and the local technique that gets them to fill in FAST! You can block unsightly neighbors and enhance your view, or pesky traffic and cut noise and light pollution. Experts will be on hand to help individuals with unique situations.

Aug 13 – Ground Covers and Vines to use in place of lawns without the mowing and care of grass. Soften that rock look with these easy to grow alternatives to a grass lawn, but take the summer heat all that rock throws off. These fast growing plants stay low tight with less care needed than a lawn mower dreamed of. Learn which evergreen shrubs, herbs and vines soften all that rock, hold the soil from eroding, cool in summer while looking good all year long. A few plants go a long way when students know plants to use locally.

Aug 20 – Juicier Fruits, Grapes Berries. Central Yavapai county is famous for our wine grapes but you can grow so much more. We will have experts on hand that can share the best producing raspberries, a blackberry bush that produces HUGE berries, more table grapes, gooseberries, currents, elderberries and more. Join in the garden harvest to big, juicy fruiting plants.

Aug 27 – Drip Irrigation Design and Installation (Free) It’s time to turn that irrigation back on. Learn the benefits of drip irrigation, the best emitters and parts, how to set a system up or add to it. With the right system you can save water and have healthier plants at the same time. We will also go over how to properly set up and run an irrigation clock.

As I noted in last week’s article, it has been 29 years since Lisa and I were married.  It was a joyful time for both of us, and our marriage has continued happily since. We were sweethearts through college and married upon graduating from Arizona State University.  

Over the last two weeks nostalgia has carried me back to many happy memories.  

Relax.  I promise, no more old photos from our past.  ~  Yes, that is the Prescott courthouse grass, 29 years ago!

It was Robert Frost that said, “Good fences make good neighbors”.  In today’s fast-paced, noisy world we all need our privacy. Without it we become moody, perhaps even grumpy neighbors.

The most common fencing goals of the customers we’ve helped here at the garden center are privacy, security, and defining the actual line at a property’s edge.  Whether to employ a privacy fence, a border planting, or a combination of the two, is a choice best made by the customer. Security, maintenance, and beauty, all must be taken into consideration. While plants hold the promise of beauty, usually more esthetically pleasing than a fence, nothing beats proper fencing for security from undesirable people and/or critters.

Sometimes it is enough to simply define a line of demarcation along the boundary so it’s always clear where your land leaves off and your neighbor’s begins. If that’s the objective, there are plants that effectively discourage trespassers.

Before landscaping property lines, always make sure you know precisely where the boundary lies, if unsure, hire a surveyor. While you’re at it, research the possible existence of easements. And if you decide on a fence, check to see if you need a fencing permit.  Much bickering and deputes can be avoided by taking these precautionary steps.     

My new book “The Secret Garden: Plants as a Natural Privacy Screen” goes into great detail on the subject.  This week’s column is a synopsis of the outline used for the book.  Feel free to download it for your convenience.        

Fast Growing Shrubs for Privacy – Most gardeners who are landscaping to achieve privacy are in a hurry for that screen. This often is the case if next-door construction just broke ground, or the neighbor just parked that class-A motor home right at the property’s edge.  Either way, you need to screen fast, right? Here’s the local Top 10 Plant List that will be of help.  

More than Greens – Evergreen shrubs play a critical role at a landscape’s property lines. Evergreens provide foliage to admire all year long.  They also provide year-round privacy.  Evergreen doesn’t mean you are limited to the color green.  Many evergreens are available in shades of gold, silver, cream, yellow, and blue.  Our native Arizona cypress is a good example of a fast growing native that grows in colors of blue that border on hues of silver, and it is hardy! 

Mix and Match Evergreens with Bloomers – For a more natural look I encourage planting evergreens and tall bloomers together.  The combination creates the feel of a ‘Secret Garden’.  The trick is to grow enough evergreens to block prying eyes, while injecting enough flowering shrubs to keep your own eyes constantly stimulated. An underplanting of blooming perennials really creates a feast for the senses with a lot of WOW!.  

The list above is a good source of suitable plants to mix and match. 

Garden Elegance through Tall Grasses – Grasses often are overlooked as a privacy screen.  Throughout the mountains of Arizona there are several grasses that grow very well.   Pampas grass is the first to come to mind, but there are many other choices.  Consider our native bear grass, maiden grass, deer grass, and zebra grass.  Each grows fast and fills in quickly with beautiful plumes from autumn through winter.  Also look closely at native rabbit bush, staghorn sumac, and Apache plume as companion plants to grasses.  They look great, are easy to grow, animal resistive, and all are care free once they have fully rooted into the landscape. 

Clumping Bamboo is also a member of the grass family, several varieties of which grow well in the mountains of Arizona. 

Deter Trespassers – A hedge of Oregon Grape Holly isn’t likely to keep a serious robber off your property. But the barbed leaves on this chest high native aren’t exactly comfortable to brush up against. The discomfort level should be sufficient to turn away all but the most determined would-be trespassers.

Taller roses and old fashioned pyracantha are two plants that discourage unwanted visitors.  The blooms are beautiful, but the stems are covered in vicious thorns.  Birds will love you for either of these choices, as they offer safe nesting sites and food sources. 

Best Plants for the Job – Some plants are better than others in your garden.  Before you visit the garden center measure the amount of sun or shade your boundary will have.  Does the soil drain, or is it a heavy clay?  Will there be serious threats from deer or javalina?  Do you live on top of a rock pile? How windy will it be?  Not all plants are created equal but there are some that will fit your circumstances.  Using the answers to these basic questions helps us to help you design the perfect border planting. 

Plant a Hedge –  Technically, hedges are plants grown tightly together and trimmed into a living fence.    Properly manicured, they form a partition that is as close to being a “wall” as plants possibly can be. 

We curated a block of tall evergreens here at Watters that grow into head high fences and like to be trimmed and pruned.  In fact, the more you trim these plants, the thicker they become.  Visit us and ask for a personal tour of good fence plants and more details on the best plants for your hedge needs.  

How to Measure –  It’s a simple task to determine the number of plants needed to create a hedge.  Look on the grower’s tag for the mature width of the plant. Divide that number by 2 for the recommended spacing between each plant.  This formula ensures fast growth with an overlapping branch structure that is thick, secure, and perfect for hedging.

Deflect Annoying Wind –  Trees are used at a property’s edge for many reasons.  Not only can trees offer privacy, they also break the assault of strong winds to make living on the back patio bearable.  Large evergreens like Colorado spruce, Deador cedar, and Arizona cypress are first to be considered, but this is also the place to plant a single row orchard with grape arbors between each tree.  This design will give you grapes to enjoy, define your property lines, reduce prying eyes, and cut pesky wind.  

Until next week, I’ll see you here at Watters Garden Center.  

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or .

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Reinvent Horton Minutes

Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2016 9:36 am

Updated: 3:58 pm, Thu Aug 4, 2016.

Reinvent Horton Minutes


July 20, 2016

Present: Travis Torkelson, Debby Lowe, Tara Speer, Rita Boller, Hunter Speer, Tim Lentz

Travis called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.

Connie gave a report on how the food booth had went at the County Fair. She said there have been a lot of positive comments from the public and from volunteers. Most of the food ordered/prepared for the Fair was sold. Some of the items left over were donated to the 4H kids for their dance.

Tara said that there were about 140 kids at the Horton Fish and Game Fishing Derby this year in spite of the rain. Debby said they used 5 big buckets of ice cream in serving all of them root beer floats.

Travis said that Keith Olsen, Horton Activities Director, is putting together the final details for Movie Night in Horton on July 30. The movie shown will be Batman v. Spiderman at the Horton Blue Building at 7:00 p.m. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. There will be a free will donation. Each attendee will receive a ticket for a pop, popcorn, and an ice cream. Reinvent Horton will serve the refreshments. Jim O’Neill at Thriftway donated the ice cream, popcorn, and movie. The pop is also donated.

Connie said that she is still putting together details for the upcoming 130th Birthday of Horton. The temporary museum will be housed in Van Norris’ bank building and will feature different displays  from the history of Horton. Memorabilia of  Pony Express, Rock Island Railroad, filling stations, fashions, and elevators will be only a few of the displays. A member of the  Kickapoo Tribe has been contacted for an exhibit from the tribe.  The historic bus tour of Horton, which was done at the 125th Horton Alumni Anniversary, will be done again for the celebration. We will have to finalize a date for the celebration.

Tim said that the building that Morgan Miller will be moving her business into should be finished very soon. He also said we will need to decide on landscaping ideas for the lot downtown.

Tara asked about replacing the position left by President James Noble’s resignation. Hunter nominated Connie Werner to fill the position, with a second from Travis. All were in favor and Connie accepted the position.

The next Reinvent meeting will be on August 10th at 6:30 p.m.

Tara made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Hunter seconded the motion. Meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

© 2016 Hiawatha World Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Thursday, August 4, 2016 9:36 am.

Updated: 3:58 pm.

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Viggo Mortensen: A Full Heart and an Empty Nest

I have a photo of you at age 3, wearing light-brown cowboy boots, a tan fringe-sleeved jacket and a red cowboy hat with a black yarn stampede string in the parking lot of what was then the main truck stop of Biggs Junction, Oregon. You are running around on a windy winter’s day, rosy-cheeked and laughing, being towed across the broken asphalt by your exuberant new puppy, Brigit. I think she had a red leash then, or was it the green one? My recollection is that your hat blew off right after the picture was taken. We were headed south with your mother, who may have taken the picture I have in mind, and a full load of clothing and household goods, taking Brigit to Los Angeles for the first time.

We sometimes used to pick up chunks of basalt on our trips through that area to use in landscaping our garden, especially the pieces that were crimson-hued from oxidation. I wonder if that is illegal, if the state of Oregon or federal authorities might object to those borrowings. Not being anywhere near the Columbia River at this moment, I am going by recent memory of tangible representations of that time, like those red rocks that now border our roses, and that snapshot of you and Brigit which I cannot find this morning.

Mostly I am guided by abstracted glimpses of our shared past—fallen trees I helped you clamber over, bee stings, skinned knees, your warm tears, dusk-stained clouds reflected in your eyes, your first bicycle ride without training wheels, your first solo swim in the deep-end of a pool. These subjectively retrieved fragments help me feel you near, but I am wary of them keeping me from fully being the person you are with when we are alone together. They are not really us. I am here, and you are gone.

Often, when you asked me to play “Fight,” “Village,” or “Dinosaurs” with your plastic friends, prehistoric creatures, farm animals, and your sticks, strings, stones, blocks, ribbons and rags, I answered: “Wait a minute, just let me finish writing this down… I’m washing the dishes… As soon as I finish this call (see? I’m on the phone?)… Let me just lie down for a minute, I’m tired… Can we do it later?… We just played that, didn’t we?… I’ll read you a story in a while instead…”, and gave any number of fairly reasonable excuses for not dropping whatever I was busy with in order to get down on the floor and join your ephemeral, perfect worlds. Your mother nearly always understood the privilege of your persistent entreaties, and wisely accepted most of them in those early years.

Every time I did go along and allow you to take the lead in eliminating everything outside of those intricately imagined landscapes, I found myself immediately grateful to be included, awed at your intelligence and commitment. Thankfully, I recall your eyes and hands now, the sound of your young voice, your delight at sharing even the simplest game. Although I suppose I must have known that your single-minded enthusiasm for those make-believe sessions would probably dissipate and evolve into other preoccupations, it seemed that there would always be time for them later, in the morning, in some tomorrow. What I did not understand was how irrevocable, how final the transitions would be. There would be no making up for lost time, no use in my pleading, years later: “Let’s do it now; there’s time and I’m ready to play!… You can kill the commander but my other guys are still alive, OK? … I’ll be Godzilla this time, and you can be Mothra… Let’s make a caveman village and have an earthquake…”

Even when you made the transition to “Let’s wrestle, Papi!”, and “Come see the Viking warrior outfit I made!” or “Let’s build an ambush!”, I still occasionally found reasons to turn down your invitations. You continued to create history on your own while I used up time in other rooms. Now I wish I had always joined in; nothing could possibly have been as important as what you had in mind. Over the years we have done many things together, visited all kinds of faraway places to learn a bit about our finite world, but I know I lost far too many chances to share in your singular adventures.

Today you left home as a young man, moving over a threshold and across the country to begin a new life. We will continue to see each other, and I’ll continue to be tempted by distractions from your naturally less-frequent requests to play. Hopefully, though, I’ll remember from now on that our play days are limited, and to make every effort to say “yes” for as long as we have us.

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Growing Concerns: Don’t believe it? Goldenrod is great for your garden – Post

Visit our other local news sites: — Kankakee, IL — Moline, IL — Ottawa, IL

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Inside a Lake Nagawicka dream home – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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You Can Grow It: The Idaho Botanical Garden

Our garden master Jim Duthie has taken us to some beautiful botanical gardens over the last couple of weeks, and today on You Can Grow It, he is showing us one more, right here in the Treasure Valley.

It’s the Idaho Botanical Garden, and in addition to the beautiful plant and flower displays they’ve always had, there are some exciting changes going on in other parts of the garden.

There are a lot of beautiful and famous botanical gardens throughout the world, and in the last couple of weeks I’ve showed you a couple of them.  But we have a pretty famous and beautiful garden right here in our own backyard – the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise.  Let’s take a little tour and see what we can find.

The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at the gardens, is a new entrance, freshly landscaped with beautiful flowers and native plants. 

The path leads you onto an expansive lawn, known as Outlaw Field, which is the garden’s popular summer concert venue.  Sit and enjoy a picnic under the stars while you listen to the stars on the stage perform. Many famous artists performed on this stage this summer, including Paul Simon, Tony Bennett and Willie Nelson.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is nestled in the Boise foothills with a great view of the Boise skyline. It’s one of the first and oldest botanical gardens in the state, covering about 15 acres that was once part of the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

There are several specialty gardens that you can explore: an herb garden full of color and fragrant scents; an English garden with more than 1,300 perennial plants; a meditation garden, with shady walkways amidst water features; a rose garden displaying heirloom as well as modern rose varieties.  And the Lewis and Clark native plant garden that features most of the plants collected during the Lewis and Clark expedition more than 200 years ago.

Right now, construction is underway on a new state-of-the-art koi pond that will be home to these existing fish, as well as several new very large exotic koi recently donated to the garden.

The pond will require less maintenance and will be virtually self-cleaning.  A planned bog garden will filter the water through the plants’ root system, and fish waste will be collected and used as fertilizer.

“We will be able to harvest that compostable material for additions to our soil and beds and what not,” said Bob Mckay with the Idaho Botanical Garden.

The garden is also committed to horticulture education.  Each year, thousands of Idaho school kids visit the gardens on field trips and learn about plants and how to grow them.  The garden also offers grants to schools and other groups for special projects.

“We have a grant program, the Lunaria Grant, and schools all across the state and other facilities that want to do horticulture or botanical education can apply to the garden to receive a grant,” said Elizabeth Dickey with the Idaho Botanical Garden. 

Other projects demonstrate how to create successful gardens and landscapes unique to Idaho’s growing conditions, including native plants, and even cactus, such as this prickly pear.

“The Idaho Botanical Garden wants to sort of demonstrate how people can garden in the Intermountain West,” said Dickey. “So we want to show people how to plant and care for plants and choose plants that will be perfect for our climate and our soils here.”

The vegetable garden features ideas for raised gardening beds and watering techniques specifically designed for Idaho’s climate, including built in cold frames for protection from frost.

There are also examples of how to grow small-space fruit orchards, in this case pears, and apples.

There’s even a display for a popular new trend in growing vegetables, straw bale gardening.

You’ll also be inspired on how to use what would normally be considered junk or garden waste.  These raised beds are made from old fruit orchard boxes; arbors have been constructed from dead tree branches; and this eye-catching fence is made from tree limbs and twigs.

The recent Table Rock Fire burned just outside of the garden, right down to the boundary fence. Close by, the firewise garden is a unique and valuable resource offering homeowners ideas for creating an attractive defensible space around their homes.  The blackened hill below Table Rock stands in stark contrast to the lush firewise garden below, a good reminder of how important firewise landscaping can be.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is open daily throughout the year starting at 9 a.m., and is located on Old Penitentiary Road, off East Warm Springs Avenue, adjacent to the Old Idaho Penitentiary, and just below Table Rock. 

Besides concerts and other seasonal attractions, a popular highlight of the garden is wintertime a-glow, when the garden is decked out in hundreds of thousands of bright lights for the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Years.

Copyright 2016 KTVB

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Organic gardening tips! – The Nation

By Rafia Mubashir

You’ve been trying to eat more organic foods, both to decrease the amount of pesticides you and your family consume, and to help protect the environment from overloading with toxic chemicals. But organics can get a bit expensive, we know. Luckily, there’s a way to grow your own delicious, fresh produce, while having fun and learning at the same time: organic gardening!

Don’t know where to start? I tell you knowledge is the key to successful organic gardening. Organic gardening is the practice of growing your vegetables, fruits and plants in as natural a way as possible without the use of manufactured pesticides and fertilizers which add unnecessary chemicals to our food and environment. 

Here are some tips, many of which will not only help you garden more sustainably, but will save you money, too!

·        Preparing the Soil! make sure your soil has plenty of humus — the organic matter

·        Get manure for soil  from local livestock that have been organically and humanely raised — and never use manure from animals that eat meat.

·        Choose Plants Sensibly.

·        Feed Your Plants Naturally! If you feed your plants, choose natural products. Well-rotted animal manure from plant-eating critters (rabbits, horses, sheep, chickens) is a great source.

·        Practice Rotation! If you plant the same vegetables in the same spot every year, disease can build up and be ready before your plants have much of a chance. Keep the element of surprise against your disease foes and try to plant in different parts of the garden each year.

·        Keep It Clean! Many diseases spread rapidly in dead, fallen foliage. Regularly — once a week or more if you have time — walk through your garden and pick up shed foliage.

·        Give Them Some Air! Avoid planting your vegetables too close together. Good air flow between the plants can help prevent many types of fungal diseases.

·        Water wisely! Water in the morning to help avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that are often spread by high humidity.

·        Try to water deeply and thoroughly.

·        Once a seed sprouts it must be kept watered. If it dries out, it dies. If seeds are lightly covered with soil, they may need to be gently sprinkled with water once or twice a day to keep them moist.

·        Plant Some Flowers!   A few flowers will not only help your garden look prettier, but they may also attract beneficial bugs. These good guys in the garden attack insect pests such as aphids and tomato hornworms. Don’t worry about these good bugs: Most types are small enough that you’ll hardly notice them in the garden.

·        Milk jugs, soda bottles and other plastic containers make great mini-covers to place over your plants and protect them from frost.

·        Be Realistic! One of the hardest lessons for first-time organic vegetables growers is that organic gardens don’t look perfect. They’ve achieved a balance where there’s usually some form of damage from pests and diseases. Nature comes to the rescue before that spotted leaf becomes a plague.

·        Don’t forget to harvest the fruits of your labor! Fresh organic produce also makes great gifts, educating your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Generally, the more you harvest, the more your plants will produce for you.

I hope that these organic gardening tips can help you in your organic gardening adventure!

Published in Young Nation magazine on June 25, 2016




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Get Growing: Tips for keeping your garden moist in time of drought

Special to the Reading Eagle: Gloria Day | A soaker hose and timer can be your best friend on these hot, dry days.

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Fearful cucumbers and planting in human ashes – Henry VIII’s …

Henry VIII’s copy of the Ruralia Commoda forms part of the new exhibition at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

As the king of England, Henry VIII would have had no shortage of advisers and confidants during his 37-year reign.

But it seems the notorious monarch was in receipt of some distinctly ropey green-fingered advice.

Bizarre horticultural tips are contained in the world’s first gardening manual, written more than 700 years ago and acquired by Henry around 1543.

Among the medieval text’s gems are suggestions that squashes will bear fruit after nine days if they are planted in human ashes and watered with oil, and that cucumbers shake with fear at the sound of thunder.

And if you want to grow tasty greens, planting a radish, lettuce seed, nasturtium and colewort inside a ball of goat manure is suggested as the best way to achieve success.

The well-thumbed text also contains questionable tips on how to grow giant leeks, produce different-coloured figs on the same tree and transform basil into mint.

The book is among more than 75 items from the Royal Collection going on show at a new exhibition in Edinburgh on the garden in art.

Written in Latin between 1304 and 1309 by Petrus de Crescentis, a wealthy lawyer from Bologna in Italy, Ruralia Commoda was the only publication of its kind during Henry VIII’s reign.

It entered the king’s library upon the death of its previous owner Richard Rawson, the king’s chaplain and adviser on his divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

As well as providing a wealth of gardening advice, the manual includes a section on how to create a royal garden and may have provided inspiration for Henry’s lost garden at Whitehall Palace.

According to the book, the size of the garden and the perfection of the trees and plants within it were an expression of a king’s status and wealth.

The author said a royal garden should occupy a plot of 20 acres or more, and the planting of fragrant herbs is recommended because they “not only delight by their odour , but… refresh the sight”.

The royal garden should include walks and bowers “where the king and queen can meet with the barons and lords when it is not the rainy season”, and should be surrounded by suitably high walls.

The new show at the Palace of Holyroodhouse also features works by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt.

Among them is a pen and ink da Vinci drawing of the plant Job’s tears, dating from around 1510, which shows the artist’s desire to understand the structure and growth of plants.

Another highlight is a magnificent Sunflower Clock, produced in the 18th century by the Vincennes porcelain factory.

The clock is made up of delicate porcelain flowers that surround a dial made from brass shavings to imitate the centre of a sunflower, a symbol of the Sun King Louis XIV.

The exhibition, Painting Paradise: The Art Of The Garden, opens on Friday at the Queen’s Gallery and runs until February 26.

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