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Archives for August 8, 2016

Apartments at old Hamburg school moving forward

Ideas have come and gone since Hamburg Elementary School was closed and then put up for sale in 2008.

What to do with the school?

Could it be developed it into an environmental waste recycling operation?

What about a community center or a veterans’ transitional housing facility?

Perhaps, but those ideas never came to fruition.

Now, a new plan is before the Hamburg Township Board of Trustees to demolish the shuttered school and build 208 apartment units with a clubhouse, pool, gazebo, dog walk and picnic area. The residential development would be called The Crossing at Lakeland Trail.

The township board approved a preliminary site plan for the apartments. The next steps would be for the applicant to conduct a traffic study and submit a final site plan, which township officials would need to approve.

READ MORE: Plan for shuttered school irks neighbors

Some hate it, some love it

Dozens of angered and skeptical neighbors have spoken out against the proposed apartment community.

They addressed officials at a July public hearing before the township Planning Commission. However, none of them attended a Thursday afternoon Board of Trustees meeting.

Future problems neighbors foresee include:

On the other hand, other residents, along with an architect working on the project and several township officials, have suggested it could be a good thing.

Arguments in favor of the apartments include:

Architect and designer Ralph Nunez said after the Thursday meeting that the development team will “improve it; however, we can and (will) make changes based on residents’ comments,” before submitting the final plans to the township.

Nunez said one thing they are working on is the plan for landscaping around the development. He indicated that the size of a buffer along the north side of the property would be increased.

Zoning Administrator Scott Pacheco said Thursday that resident concerns have been “pretty normal for a development this size.”

Township Trustee Mike Dolan said the project is needed and it is located in the right area for that kind of development.

Township Clerk Jim Neilson pointed out that the school is “falling into disrepair.”

Township Supervisor Pat Hohl said the developers have worked with the township to make it like a downtown streetscape instead of a typical apartment complex.

Hohl said it would be a place where older residents could live and young families could start out.

Township Trustee Chuck Menzies indicated that buffering neighbors with landscaping would be important.

Township Treasurer Allen Carlson said traffic impact would need to be reviewed.

Story continues below preliminary site plan of proposed development of The Crossings at Lakeland Trail

Potential buyers of the elementary school property have come and gone over the years. In the meantime, the value took a dive.

In 2014, Utah-based company Vertex backed out of a $600,000 purchase agreement. Later that year, Michigan-based Applestar NS LLC submitted a letter of intent to purchase it for $250,000.

Now, Plymouth-based developers Allen Gottlieb and Michael Parliment are looking to purchase it from Pinckney Community Schools for $200,000.

The building and land originally appraised for “about a half-million dollars,” Linda Moskalik, an assistant superintendent of finance for the school district, said earlier this year.

She said the shuttered school costs the district about $50,000 a year to maintain, insure and keep secure.

Contact Livingston Daily county and townships reporter Jennifer Eberbach at 517-548-7148 or at 

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A garden of memories near Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA — For more than a century, the charming white farmhouse on County Road 900 North has been an important part of Gloria LeMaster’s family history.

“The original part of the house was my grandparents’ house,” she said. “They moved in here in 1915.”

These days, Gloria and her husband, Ord, seek to preserve memories of the generations that came before them by incorporating antiques and keepsakes into their gardening and landscape design.

Vintage items show up almost everywhere around the yard, from an antique pedal firetruck that Gloria rode as a child and a log roller that belonged to Ord’s grandfather to an original well pump and a sewing machine once operated by Gloria’s mother.

Their property, complete with a large treehouse, playground and fire pit, is a popular site for family get- togethers and gatherings.

“I like to have my parties out here,” said granddaughter Ally Honeycutt, who is a seventh-grader at Madison-Grant Junior High.

Both retired educators, the LeMasters often take opportunities to pass down stories about the antiques to their grandchildren.

“I think a lot of it goes back to grandparents — in memory of them. My husband has some tools over there on the garage that were family tools. A lot of it is historical,” Gloria said. “The kids have learned a lot. When we have reunions, we take the little kids around and say, ‘Do you know what this was used for?’”

Adding antiques to the landscaping was something that just evolved through the years.

“When we first got married, my dad worked for an auctioneer, and we seemed to buy all the stuff that nobody else wanted,” said Gloria with a laugh, recalling a time when she and Ord purchased an old plow. “So we ended up putting flowers on top of the plow.”

Tending to the thousands of plants, flowers and trees on their property is no small task, but the LeMasters enjoy working outside.

“We get out every morning. We get up early,” Gloria said. “People ask, ‘Why do you want to take care of all this?’ Well, now that we’re retired we have the time to do it, and it gets us out of the house. It’s something we can do together, and it’s exercise.”

Ord adds, “It relieves a lot of stress – it’s sort of therapeutic. There’s always something to do.”

Gloria credits her husband with many of the unique ideas found in their yard.

“I just like to put them out and make use of them,” Ord said of the countless vintage items he has incorporated into the landscape.

Gardening has definitely been a learning process for the couple.

“We’ve always liked the outdoors; we’ve always liked flowers and stuff,” Gloria said. “It’s a continuing project. We’ve always collected antiques and kept family in mind and history. My husband is a retired history teacher.”

For those new to gardening, Ord suggests to “start out small. Don’t go real big all at once. And just keep at it.”

A piece of advice from her grandmother has stuck with Gloria all of these years.

“Grandma always told me, ‘You take care of the land, and the land will take care of you.’ So we do our best to take care of things.”

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Weymouth teen spearheads project to replace town’s military honor roll wall

Town and state officials, veterans and members of the Boy Scouts organization gathered Sunday to dedicate the new military roll of honor wall – a project Brendan Quinn spearheaded as a requirement for reaching the highest rank in Scouting. He will go before a board in September for final consideration in becoming an Eagle Scout.

WEYMOUTH – Brendan Quinn and his mother were brainstorming ideas for his Eagle Scout project during a car ride last summer when they passed the military roll of honor wall on Middle Street, across from Weymouth Town Hall.

Quinn said his mother, Janelle, pointed out that the wall was in poor condition.

“Seeing the wall – it was in need of such serious repairs,” Quinn, 18, said Sunday. “I realized that wasn’t the way our veterans should be honored for their service.”

Town and state officials, veterans and members of the Boy Scouts organization gathered Sunday to dedicate the new wall – a project Quinn spearheaded as a requirement for reaching the highest rank in Scouting. He will go before a board in September for final consideration in becoming an Eagle Scout.

With materials and labor donated by local businesses and contractors and guidance from town officials, Quinn led the effort to replace the deteriorating wall with one made of brick and granite, install a new brick walkway and landscaping. Quinn said he received help from 36 volunteers, who collectively gave 392 hours for the project.

In addition to in-kind donations, Quinn collected about $8,000 for the project – which officials estimate would have cost the town as much as $20,000.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Quinn, who will be a senior at Weymouth High School. “This is a huge accomplishment for me. At times, the pressure was a lot, but it was worth it.”

The wall includes the names of military veterans who have served honorably since the start of the Gulf War, or Aug. 2, 1990. To be eligible, all veterans must have officially joined from or returned to Weymouth. All living veterans or family members of deceased veterans must give approval before a name is added. So far, the wall bears 450 names, and officials expect to add more.

Weymouth Mayor Bob Hedlund said that he has seen many Eagle Scout projects during his two decades in government, and he has not seen “anything that comes to rivaling” Quinn’s undertaking.

“It’s with great pride to see a someone in this community, raised here, to step up and do this kid of volunteer project on behalf of the town,” he said.

State Sen. Patrick O’Connor, a Weymouth Republican, state Rep. James Murphy, a Weymouth Democrat, Director of Veterans’ Services George Pontes and Chairman of Weymouth Veterans’ Council Delray Dorsey, also spoke.

Peter O’Hare, leader of Boy Scout Troop 9, said it didn’t surprise him when Quinn expressed interest in doing a project that would benefit veterans.

O’Hare, a veteran himself, thanked Quinn for his project, and said it has personal significance to him and his family.

“While Brendan didn’t know it at the time of his presentation to me, he’s given my son Scott, who’s also an Eagle Scout in Troop 9 and a very special fellow veteran, a beautiful place for his name as well,” he said.

Jessica Trufant may be reached at

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Oakland County community calendar


• Voter Registration and ID drive is noon-5 p.m. Aug. 8 at 461 W. Huron Street, Pontiac. Services include voter registration, State ID card, driver’s license requests, vehicle registrations. For voter registration, bring birth certificate and Social Security card, etc, 248-724-7449,

• The Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair is hosting the second annual Michigan State Fair Senior Citizens’ Program, 10 a.m.-noon Sept. 1 at the Suburban Collection Showplace, Diamond Banquet Center, 46100 Grand River Ave in Novi,, 248-348-5600 ext. 245.


• Troy Traffic Jam is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Columbia Center along Big Beaver Road in Troy to support Troy Historic Village. The event is free for spectators. Children’s activities include face painting, a remote control car obstacle course (in partnership with Mahindra), crafts, and Sparkles the Clown. Music is provided by DJ Bob Steel. Food and frozen yogurt to purchase. Free to spectators, $20 per car.


• Twelve Oaks Mall Final Days of Summer will feature Baffling Bill the Magician at 1 p.m. Aug. 11, at Twelve Oaks Mall at Novi and Twelve Mile roads in Novi. Seating is limited, onsite registration begins at noon in the mall’s Center Court. The first 100 children registered each week receive a free gift, while supplies last,

• Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social is noon-4 p.m. Aug. 13 at 205 North Main St., Clawson, 248-435-9090, Celebrating 100 years of the Clawson United Methodist Church with ice cream, home-baked pies and brownies, bounce house for children.

• Lockwood of Waterford Senior Living Annual Car Show and Pig Roast is 4:30-6:30 p.m. Aug. 10 at Lockwood of Waterford, 1407 Skipper Drive, Waterford, 248-618-0777,, free event.

• Summer Fest is 2-4 p.m. Aug. 14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 6440 Maceday Drive, Waterford. The event includes games, face painting, ice cream cart and obstacle bounce house, Waterford Fire Engine and Police Car on site. Activities will take place on the grounds if good weather; inside if rain, 248-623-0512.

• Troy Historic Village 50th Anniversary Party is 4:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Troy Historical Society, dinner, guests, recognitions, bring a dish to pass – we’ll supply hamburgers and grilled sausages, beverages and dessert, free event, RSVP at 248-524-3309 or


• Native Landscaping for Water Quality and Preparing for the Cold Months workshop presented by Clinton River Watershed Council is 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at Orion Center, 1335 Joslyn Road, Lake Orion, reservation required to 248-601-0606 or email

• Wixom Farmers Market, at Sibley Square Park, 48900 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 3-8 p.m. Aug. 11, 248-624-2850,

• Davisburg-Springfield Farmers Market is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays, June 5-Oct. 2 at 12000 Davisburg Road, Davisburg, 248-249-1592,

• Downtown Holly Farm Flea Market is 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and 4-8 p.m. Thursdays, May 7-Oct. 29 at 202 S. Saginaw St., Holly, 248-735-0500,

• Fogler’s Orchard Farm Market, 3979 Rochester Road, near Gunn Road, Oakland Township, 248-652-3614,, seasonal produce, sweet corn. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.


Whole NU U and Reaching Out To Others Fashion Show is 4-10 p.m. Aug. 20 at Plum Hollow Country Club,21631 Lahser Road, Southfield, email Shanika at or call Regina at 248-416-2814.


• Red Dog Saloon/Last Day Dog Rescue – Raising of the Red Dog into it’s new Dog House, noon-3 p.m. Aug. 7 at Red Dog Saloon, 250 W. Summit, Milford, $5 includes your photo taken with the mascot and printed out to memorialize the occasion, proceeds to the Last Day Dog Rescue, helping abandoned and abused animals, also 10 percent of all of sales for the day will be donated to the Last Day Dog Rescue, 248-685-2171,, • Alex and Ani Charmed by Charity Soiree is 6-8 p.m. Aug. 11 at Alex and Ani Birmingham, 150 West Maple Road, Birmingham, 248-797-3916 and Alex and Ani Twelve Oaks, 27500 Novi Road, Novi,, reservations by email to Refreshments, snacks and shop with 15 percent of proceeds donated to Cranbrook House Gardens. • Through its “Summer Give Back” program, Checkers restaurant of Pontiac will donate 10 percent of its net sales: Aug. 12-14 to Habitat for Humanity; Aug. 19-21 to Grace Center of Hope Women’s Shelter and Aug. 26-28 to The Power Company Kids Club. The Pontiac Checkers is at 780 N Perry St.,

• 11th Annual Bowl-4-Animal Rescue is 7-10:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at Country Lanes, 30250 West 9 Mile Road, Farmington Hills,, silent auctions, 50/50 raffles 248-444-7032.

• Annual Community Softball Tournament and picnic to benefit Farmington SAFE (Suicide Awareness For Everyone) and the Graham E. Smith Memorial Fund is Aug. 13 at Founders Park, 35500 W. Eight Mile Road, Farmington Hills. It begins at 9 a.m. with games throughout the day between softball teams made up of representatives from the Farmington Hills Police and Fire Departments, staff of city departments, and participants of community organizations. The family-friendly event features a bounce house, tours of police cars and fire trucks, community resources, and a visit from Argos, the K-9 police dog, concessions, adult beverages for 21+, 248-473- 1800,

• Purple Polka Dot Race 5K Run/Walk and Fun Family Run is Aug. 14 at Stony Creek Metropark, Eastwood Beach, 4300 Main Park Drive, Shelby Township. Registration is 7:30 a.m., 5K Run is 8:30 a.m., 5K Walk is 8:45 a.m. and Family Fun Run is at 10 a.m. at Stony Creek Metropark, 586-781-4242,, $30 adv., plus Oakland County Parks vehicle permit to enter the park.

• Ball at the Barn fundraiser for Extreme Women at Extreme Response is 6-9 p.m. Aug. 14 at Upland Hills Farm, Oxford, guest speaker is Luther Elliss, NFL Denver Broncos chaplain and former Detroit Lions defensive tackle, homestyle BBQ, line dancing entertainment, casual attire, adults only,, $40.

• Michigan Lupus Foundation Walk for a Cure fundraiser is 8 a.m. Aug. 14 at the Detroit Zoo, 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, $20 per person, free for children 2 and under,

• The Rainbow Connection 14th Annual Walk for Kids is Aug. 20 at Jimmy John’s Field, Detroit. Registration is at 5 p.m., the Walk for Kids kicks off at 6 p.m. with a walk around Jimmy Johns Field. Following the walk, contests and games, visits from Superheroes, a spectacular raffle, refreshments, the whiffle ball field, concessions. The Eastside Diamond Hoppers and Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers play at 7:25 p.m. Tickets are $25, sign up at, text DREAM to 515555 or call 248-601-9474.


• 2016 Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic is Aug. 12 at Pontiac Country Club. Shotgun start is at 8:30 a.m. $125 per Golfer, $50 for dinner only. Register at or call 248-666-8600.

• Grace Centers of Hope hosts 19th annual Hope in One Golf Classic is 11 a.m. Aug. 15 at Oakland University Golf Course, 2200 N. Squirrel Road, Rochester. For more information, call 248-334-2187 or email Tickets are $250 at

• Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 25th Annual Golf Outing is 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 15. Golf outing is at three golf courses: Greystone Golf Club of Washington; The Orchards Golf Club of Washington and Cherry Creek Golf Club of Shelby Township, where the reception and dinner will be held. Register at

• 20th Annual Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Open Golf Tournament is Sept. 9 at Mystic Creek Golf Club in Milford. Registration at 9:30 a.m., shotgun start at 11 a.m. register at

• Annual Oakland County Veterans Bar Association/ATOT is Sept. 12 at The Links at Crystal Lake in Pontiac. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the shot gun start at 9 a.m. The cost of golf, cart, lunch and dinner is $100. Just dinner is $30. Checks should be made payable to Americans Thank Our Troops (ATOT) and mailed to Michael D. Schloff, Treasurer at 1607 E. Big Beaver, Suite 215, Troy, Michigan 48083. All funds raised will be used to purchase gift items to be sent to deployed military units over seas.


• Diabetes Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) is 1:30-4 p.m. Tuesdays, Aug. 9-Sept. 13 at 510 W. Big Beaver, Troy. For more information call 800-543-WELL (9355) or visit, workshops are free.

• Healthy Eating Nutrition Workshop is 2-3 p.m. Aug. 11 at Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network – Family Medicine Center, 461 W. Huron Street, Pontiac,, 248-724-7449.

• Bone Marrow Registry Drive is 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 11 at Express Weight Loss and Wellness Clinic, 6647 Dixie Hwy., Clarkston, 248-625-3300, there is no cost for ages 18-44, involves a swab of the inside of cheek, walk-ins welcome,

• Knee pain seminar presented by McLaren Oakland orthopedic surgeons is 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at Oxford Public Library, 530 Pontiac St., Oxford, 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at Oakhurst Golf Country Club, 7000 Oakhurst Lane, Clarkston and 6 p.m. Aug. 25 at Clarkston Independence District Library, 6495 Clarkston Road, Clarkston,

• Free Community Workshop: Ethnicity’s Role in Recovery is 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 10 at Oakland County Resource Crisis Center, 1200 N. Telegraph Rd., Bldg. 32 East, Pontiac, register at, 248-858-1271.

• Gray Matters Creating Brain Body Health with Thought, Meditation and Supplementation presented by Mind University is 1 p.m. Aug. 10 at Jewish Vocational Services, 29699 Southfield Road, Southfield, free workshop, reservation required to Angela Popoff,at or 248-592-2671.


• Star Party-Telescopes 101 is 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at Highland Township Public Library, 444 Beach Farm Circle, Highland, register at 248-887-2218 or, ages 16+.

• Rochester Writers’ Group Meetings meets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9, (second Tuesday of each month) in the second floor conference room of the Rochester Hills Public Library, 500 Olde Towne Road, Rochester. Contact Mary Gibbons at 248-652-4403 or at, free.

• Turtles in Trouble is 1-2 p.m. Aug. 13 at Brandon Township Library, 304 South St. Ortonville, presentation featuring Michigan turtles in an observation pool, all ages,, 248-627-1460.

• “I Love My Librarian” 2016 award nominations are being accepted through Sept. 19 at the Troy Public Library. Each year, ilovelibraries,org chooses 10 librarians for the award. Each librarian receives $5,000 cash award, a plaque and a travel stipend to attend the awards ceremony and reception in New York City. For qualification requirements, visit or email


• Star Party is Aug. 9 at Farmington Hills Nature Center at Heritage Park, 24915 Farmington Road, Farmington Hills. It begins at dusk and last about 90 minutes after sunset, outdoors, so dress for the weather. Canceled if cloudy or inclement weather occurs,, 248-477-1135 or email, free event.


• Bryan’s Hope peer-led heroin recovery support group meetings for addicts and families and loved ones of addicts, is 7-9 p.m. Thursdays, at Base Church, 7325 Maceday Lake Road, Waterford Township,, 248-410-4163.

• Widowed Friends Widows/Widowers Dinner Club is 5:30 p.m. Aug. 17 (3rd Wednesday of month), at MacPhees Restaurant Pub, 650 S. Ortonville Road, Ortonville, reservations required at 248-840-0063.

• Widowed Friends is hosting a lunch and car parade at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at O’Mara Irish Restaurant, 2555 W 12 Mile Road, Berkley RSVP to 248-534-1018.

• Aspies Hangin Tracey Cohen, author of Six Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome hosts a monthly support group meeting, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Novi Public Library, 45255 W 10 Mile Rd, Novi,

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.

— Submit community events:

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Mike Bleech: Gardens are outdoors too

Increasingly I enjoy sitting in the shade in my backyard watching the garden grow. But this might have more to do with getting older than being a farmer. Or does it?

Our yard has an inch to 3 inches of topsoil, then it is just clay. So when we moved here, one of the first things I did was to construct a 4-foot by 8-foot raised garden. All of the soil was bought, along with fertilizer.

Over the next couple of years, two 8-foot by 2-foot raised gardens were added, and a slightly narrow garden specifically for growing watermelons. Jeri, the Mrs. Farmer of the house, got a 2-foot by 8-foot garden that was originally flowers, but since has been converted to chives and blueberry bushes that are not doing well. Last year I made a couple of 2-foot by 2-foot gardens. Gardens are separated by paving blocks.

And this summer I am making a bucket-and-flower-pot patch that will sit on blocks.

Over the first few years of these gardens, the soil was just inexpensive bagged soil with some manure added. The raised gardens were made with landscaping poles which are flattened on two sides, spiked together four poles high. But as snugly as these poles fit together, soil sneaks out, so each year more soil is added. This year I added strictly special soil with plant food, and it shows.

Watering has been necessary, but this is the most productive garden we have ever had.

With all that goes in to backyard gardening, it is not a profitable venture. However, the fresh veggies taste better, and I believe they are more nutritious than store bought vegetables.

To make backyard gardening work, for it to make good sense, the crops should be well chosen. Through the years I have tried numerous different vegetables. This has been the first way of narrowing down my crops. More important, though, in the garden I now grow is choosing crops that fit into our diet.

I did not grow up with a balanced diet, and might have been the fussiest eater on the planet. I did not eat a pizza until I was 16 years old and working at an Italian restaurant. I did not eat a salad until I was 23 years old. And I really did not make any serious attempts to eat a more balanced diet until I was in my 30s. The diet is not as good as it should be, but a bunch better than it had been.

Chinese restaurants accelerated the rounding of my diet. The sauces they use make just about anything taste good. That led to snow peas becoming one of my primary garden crops, as a regular ingredient in my own stir fry, and later in other dishes.

Goulash has long been a favorite dish, so sweet bell peppers take up a lot of space in the garden, especially since I use them now in other dishes. Then Worth Hammond introduced me to barbecue and Texas chili. That added a good variety of peppers and chilies. They take up a good quarter of the garden.

Remember the salads? Four different kinds of lettuce are in the garden this year, though that will be cut back to three next year. I just cannot grow head lettuce, but it is probably the least nutritious of the common lettuces, so why try harder to grow it?

Cucumbers alwayshavebeen a favorite vegetable, one of only three vegetables I would eat as a kid, and then only raw (cucumbers, celery and carrots). This year four varieties of cucumber are in the garden, mainly so I can determine a couple of favorites. When cucumbers get ripe, gardeners are begging people to take some. The wife made it very plain that she did not want me to can pickles.

I really do not have time to make pickles, what with watching the garden grow.

Mike Bleech can be reached by email at Read more of his columns at

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Bursting with color, native plants: New garden on Butte Hill

With Indian blanket flower in the foreground, gardener Norm DeNeal, 69, walks among the sunflowers downhill last week. The ultimate goal of the project is to protect mine waste buried under the soil cap, but DeNeal is making the space beautiful and restoring the flora native to the area in the process.

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

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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Tips for the mid-summer garden: cut back to grow more

As summer comes full bloom, Saint John gardening expert Betty Kennett has some tips for getting the best out of your flowers, fruits and vegetables. 

Her first helpful hint? It’s all about the soil in the New Brunswick climate.

“I’ve resorted to buying black soil. It really is the best,” said Kennett.

‘If you don’t deadhead you lose a lot of those blossoms, they simply rot.’
– Betty Kennett, gardening expert

She suggests gardeners start with a great base and work from the ground up and black soil is a key part of that plan.

For those who’ve dreamed of picking their own ripe strawberries for jam, pies, or shortcake, Kennett says it’s critical to trim the plant’s first bloom, as hard as that might be when you are craving your own luscious berries.

Betty Kennett says strawberry plants should be trimmed regularly to strengthen the plant. (Submitted by Jackson McLean)

“When you’re starting a strawberry patch it’s wise the first year to cut off all the blossoms.”

“That sounds like an exercise in stupidity. In reality, it produces a much stronger plant and the next year you benefit,” she said.

Make sure to cut back any of the runners from the main strawberry plants, but let at least four blooms remain.

Deadheading, or trimming, is an important part of gardening.

Kennett says it is the same with daylilies and many other flowers, some developing blooms can rot from the rain.

“If you don’t deadhead you lose a lot of those blossoms, they simply rot before they have a chance to bloom,” said Kennett.

Potato bugs

Kennett also warns about the dreaded potato bugs and says spotting the eggs is key.

She says it’s best to squish the orange-coloured eggs on the leaves and spray with a soapy solution — one tablespoon of soap in a one litre of water.

“And if you look after those two things fairly well maybe you will be lucky enough not to get the potato bug.”  

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Garden Tips: Protect your home against wildfires – Tri

Kudos to our firefighters for their hard work in fighting the recent wildfires and successfully protecting local homes. Since they do their part in keeping us safe, homeowners should help protect their own properties with fire-resistant landscaping.

In the short term, there are some easy steps to provide some protection to your home. If your home is situated in an area vulnerable to wildfire, the long-term actions of designing and creating a fire-resistant landscape should be undertaken.

▪ Mulches: Many of you know I favor bark mulches in the landscape because they add organic matter to the soil as they decompose, conserve soil moisture, control weeds and keep the soil cooler than rock mulches. However, when working to create a fire-resistant landscape, bark or wood chips should be eschewed in favor of nonflammable gravel or rock mulches. Gravel or rock mulches are best, especially when mulching areas that are close to buildings, fences, wood decks or other wooden structures.

▪ Raised beds: Raised beds are a big trend in gardening right now, but they are predominantly constructed out of wood. In fire-vulnerable areas, it is better to build raised beds with bricks, concrete blocks, rocks, corrugated metal or other nonflammable materials.

▪ Landscape maintenance: While not everyone craves a neat and tidy landscape, yard cleanup and the removal of plant litter is one way to reduce fuel for wildfires. So get busy raking up the layers of dead pine needles and arborvitae foliage beneath evergreens, dry leaves that have piled up in nooks and crannies around the yard, or bunches of dry plant litter anywhere else. If pines or other needled evergreens are situated close to your house, regularly remove their litter that accumulates on the roof and in gutters.

Keeping potential sources of fuel in mind, be sure to store any firewood 30 to 100 feet away from structures and also keep vegetation away from area. Eliminate any piles of plant litter, such as grass clippings, you may be accumulating. Also, remove dead shrubs and tree branches in your landscape. Cut down weeds and brush in areas of your property that are not landscaped.

▪ Lawns: In regions like ours where the supply of irrigation water is a constant concern, green lawns do resist fire well, and efforts should be taken to maintain this green space around your home. However this is not a license to apply water heedlessly. You should still water more deeply, less frequently to save water and promote a healthy green lawn.

▪ Trees: Because I like trees and appreciate the cooling value of their shade, I have 10 trees in my yard. If I was in a fire-vulnerable area, I would need to consider pruning the lower limbs to remove this ladder fuel. Ladder fuel is plant vegetation, green or dry, that permits fire to ascend into the tops of trees. Pruning off limbs from 6 to 15 feet up is recommended. For the health of the trees, this is best done with proper pruning cuts when the trees are young.

▪ Landscape design: Creating a well designed “firewise” landscape is important, especially if located in the wildland-urban interface area. You can help defend your home with sound firewise landscaping. For information, go to For a list of firewise landscaping plant materials, go to

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

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