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Archives for August 9, 2016

Peace Garden unveils tower design winner

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Winnipeg firm GPP Architecture’s entry “Interwoven� was chosen as the winner of the International Peace Garden’s tower design competition. (SUBMITTED)

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Runner-up in the International Peace Garden’s design competition was “Aurora,� the entry from Los Angeles-based Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture. (SUBMITTED)

Described as inspiring, creative and provocative, the International Peace Garden has chosen a new tower design to take the place of the crumbling Peace Tower.

The winning entry came from Winnipeg firm GPP Architecture, entitled “Interwoven.”

“Designing a peace tower — a true peace tower in a garden like the International Peace Garden — is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Guy Préfontaine, principal architect with GPP Architecture.

The Peace Tower, built in 1982, was expected to last a century. Unfortunately the 120-foot-tall monument started falling apart in 2011. Due to the concrete columns being penetrated by moisture and its failing foundation, the International Peace Garden had no choice but to take it down. Demolition is slated for this fall.

The tower’s four columns represent people arriving from the four corners of the world to form two distinct-but-similar nations with a common base in democracy.

The IPG board invited 23 architecture firms across Canada and the United States to submit design ideas for the new tower.

Six entries were received, and went through a judging process with a jury of seven experts.

“We were impressed with a number of the ideas,” said Charlie Thomsen, International Peace Garden board president. “We clearly came up with the No. 1 winner — I think it was unanimous.”

Thomsen said they hope the new tower will become a new icon for future generations.

“The tower is probably the most iconic symbol for the Peace Garden itself,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of features of the garden that are memorable, but I think the tower stands out above all … it certainly is your focus of attention once you drive through the gate into the garden, and I think the new tower will be much the same thing.”

Demolition is expected to get underway this fall, and continue through the winter months.

As the new tower is in the early stages, and is dependent on fundraising, it is unclear when construction might begin. Thomsen said he hopes significant progress is made within the next five years.

The estimated cost was reported at $8 million to $10 million, but Thomsen said it may be in excess of that figure. The government of North Dakota has dedicated $1.5 million to the project, but it is contingent on matching funds from another source.

“We have initiated a fundraising program,” Thomsen said, adding they plan to seek support from private corporations, government grants, individual donations, etc.

“That’s in the spirit of the garden, this has to be supported by a number of different people and abilities.”

The Brandon Sun requested in interview with a Manitoba government representative on the topic on Monday. Rochelle Squires, Manitoba’s minister of sport, culture and heritage responded with an emailed statement.

“Since 1932, the International Peace Gardens has been dedicated as a pledge of peace between Canada and the United States and we are proud of the Manitoba government’s support of this important work. We look forward to connecting with the board to learn more about the proposed monument and to work with them to continue to make the Peace Gardens a space where people can come together,” Squires stated.

In response to critics questioning the need for a costly new tower, rather than using the funds in a humanitarian way, Thomsen said it is important to have physical symbols to represent IPG’s message.

“I think this new tower does well at getting the message across, for peaceful co-existence between peoples,” he said. “It has great legibility, imagery. I think it brings up images in the public’s minds for many different things … it’s provocative, and that’s what I think we’re looking for, something that will provoke some responses in the minds of the people that are visiting the garden.”

Préfontaine said his team put a lot of work into the design — studying the garden, it’s mission, what they represent, etc.

“It’s a very natural and amorphic shape that is quite soft, it speaks to the softness of the human spirit, the rising of the emotions,” he said. “It has two large panels which are the only opaque ones, which actually symbolize each of the countries. They start from each of the nations and they twist together.”

They hit a finite point at the top, which is “the height of human aspiration.”

The design includes an interior elevator and staircase, for visitors to view the gardens from above. The plan is to build the tower slightly taller than the existing structure.

“We didn’t want it to be anything less than the current structure, we want it to be that and more,” Préfontaine said.

All entries will be on display at the IPG interpretive centre.


» Twitter: @jillianaustin

Wardens on Wheels set for IPG

Wardens on Wheels will mark its 10th annual rally this weekend at the International Peace Garden.

Fifty motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to attend the milestone fundraiser, bringing together game wardens, retired officers and others from the conservation field.

“We have riders that come from the western provinces and we have quite a few that come from the States, from as far away as Mississippi and Texas,” Manitoba conservation officer Paul Hopkins said.

Since the event was launched, more than $20,000 has been raised for the North American Game Warden Museum at the IPG.

The first phase of the museum is complete, and is open all summer. It offers programming, rotating exhibits and interpretive trails. It also houses a memorial for all of the fallen game wardens throughout the years. The second phase of fundraising will go toward expanded display areas.

Participants will start the event on Friday at Lake Metigoshe, followed by a gathering at the IPG and a poker derby on Saturday.

“It’s quite good because … it gets a lot of people that wouldn’t otherwise have come to the game warden museum, to come out and see the museum,” Hopkins said. “It promotes the whole idea of the museum being there because a lot of people aren’t even aware of it.”

» The Brandon Sun

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Anna Wintour’s Wild Garden – The New York Times

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How to dog-proof your garden design

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Trump sign blaze goes way beyond usual campaign hijinks (commentary)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Maybe you like Donald Trump.

Maybe you hate him.

Either way, you have the right to support whoever you want to for president of the United States. And to express it.

But you don’t have the right to stop somebody else from expressing their White House preference. And that includes refraining from arson.

But it doesn’t look like everybody feels that way. Over the weekend, it appears somebody set alight a huge “T” for Trump sign on the lawn of Castleton Corners resident Sam Pirozzolo.

Police are investigating the fire as an arson. The Fire Department is looking into the blaze as well.

It’s been an incendiary presidential campaign year already. Emotions are running hot on both sides of the aisle, with Trump sparking some of the strongest feelings with his in-your-face, shoot-from-the-hip political incorrectness and offensive comments about Mexicans, Muslims and Gold Star moms.

Still, he is the GOP candidate for president. He has his supporters, just like Democrat Hillary Clinton does. So get ready to see plenty of campaign signs. Which means get ready for plenty of tales of sign vandalism and theft.

None of which is anything new, including in local campaigns. Every year there are reports of people having campaign signs stolen off their lawns, or of signs being torn and mangled.

Some campaigns complain to the police. Some have taken matters into their own hands by trying to nab the perpetrators themselves. Some have gone so far as to hire private detectives.

And, of course, no campaign ever admits to sign vandalism or theft. It’s always the other side doing it, never their own supporters.

But the truth is, it can happen on both sides of campaigns. Sometimes high-spirited volunteers take it upon themselves to steal or vandalize the opposition’s signs, thinking that their own candidate will approve.

Many campaigns treat sign theft and vandalism as the cost of doing business. They just buy more signs, figuring that some of them are going to go missing.

And you know what also happens sometimes? Those landscaping folks who come to mow the lawn during the day when nobody’s home take the signs down so they can do their job. Nothing nefarious there.

But what happened with the Trump sign over the weekend goes way beyond mere theft or vandalism. It was positively dangerous. Whatever you may think of somebody having a 12-foot “T” on their lawn, free speech is free speech. It’s Pirozzolo’s lawn. He can do with it what he wants.

We’re in a campaign here. A debate between two sides of an argument. Let’s let it be a battle of ideas, not a battle of sign theft or vandalism. And let’s not see any Hillary signs go to the torch in retaliation.

Frankly, everybody in politics should condemn this Trump blaze, no matter what you think about Trump or whether you think it’s some kind of just desserts for Trump’s own incendiary comments. A threat to one person’s freedom of speech is a threat to everybody’s.

This is one of the most important presidential elections of our lifetimes. Let’s settle it at the ballot box. And if Trump goes down in flames to Clinton in November, so be it. No need to add any fuel to the fire.

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Weymouth teen builds new military honor roll wall for town as part of Eagle Scout Project

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.”

The Patriot Ledger reports 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 and 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 this fall 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 he has seen many Eagle Scout projects during his two decades in government, but he has not seen “anything that comes to rivaling” Quinn’s undertaking.

“It’s with great pride to see 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 the 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.

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Looking back, looking ahead in Peabody Square

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt Jr., left, gives the second time capsule to Jason Peck, right, so that it can be stored in the base of the statue in Peabody Square.

By Adam Swift

PEABODY — Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. has already scaled the city’s political ladder.

On Monday, the mayor climbed a literal one when he placed a time capsule inside the base of the relocated Civil War Monument in Peabody Square.

The capsule coincides with the relocation of the monument as part of the downtown road reconstruction program.

In June, city officials opened two time capsules that had been removed from the monument as workers prepared to move it 30 feet closer to the courthouse.

Items from those 1881 and 1989 capsules are now joined by a host of mementos from this year.

“We are starting a new 2016 time capsule to celebrate the city’s history, and this is a very important point in our downtown revitalization efforts,” said Bettencourt. “We are at the tail end of the project.”

The Peabody Square project, including new traffic lights and  a reconfigured intersection at Lowell, Main, Central, and Foster streets, should completed soon.

“By Labor Day, we should have the paving done, with the landscaping and some finish work down in the fall,” he said. “The heavy work will be done and in place for the International Festival on Sept. 11 and the Centennial Parade on Oct. 2.”

The project is one of many markers of modern city history included in the time capsule. Schematics for the work are among the maps from 1989 and 1881 that were tucked back into the monument. But Bettencourt said the city’s history is about more than maps and construction projects.

“We wanted to include a lot of school items and newspaper articles that show the work that has been done at the schools,” he said.

Among the souvenirs of 2016 are a Peabody Tanner hat, a Bettencourt for mayor campaign sticker, which is heavily outnumbered by the Torigian for mayor paraphernalia included in the 1989 time capsule, photos and newspapers from former state Sen. Fred Berry, Brooksby Farm newsletters and numerous items honoring the city’s veterans.

“We’ve had a lot of fun over the past couple of weeks in the city coming up with ideas for the time capsule,” Bettencourt said. “The time capsule really celebrates all the wonderful things in the city.”

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Gardens galore

Brad and Debbie Young of rural Cokato have created a special place for them and others to enjoy. Gardens everywhere are accented by structures throughout the space. Everywhere you look, you see garden areas that are planted around trees, carved into the yard with flowers and plants of almost every kind.

“We have been at this for a while, since 2003 when we bought the spot,” Debbie said.

“We decided to level it all and start over because a storm took down most of the trees.” Brad shares. “We did everything ourselves and started with a clean slate.”

Brad has been in the landscaping business for many years. The couple had to amend the soil, plant trees, set up structures, repair old pieces and renovate the barn. They still have lots of ideas that will keep them busy for a long time to come.

A white arch with granite steps leads to the large garden in the backyard that is full of perennials and centered with a large boulder fountain surrounded by a mass of sedum, which will turn a lovely pink in the fall.

“Granite is a great alternative to concrete. It is more durable,” Brad said.

A formal garden was something Debbie wanted to cover a large area.

“I drew some plans on paper and went from there,” she said. “Trees were planted and then gradually added in the plants.”

The formal garden is outlined by boxwoods “Green Velvet,” a cultivar, is used and does well in the Minnesota planting zone. Paths in the garden are dirt for now.

“The entire area has been mulched heavily, about three inches. It saves a lot of weeding,” Debbie said. “We get our mulch for free at the local recycling plant. By using mulch, you keep the moisture in the ground as well.”

A sprinkler system was installed so it can be used when rain is sparse. 

How do the Youngs maintain all the gardens?

“We take walks every day in the yard and weed as we walk,” she said. “We do it together and enjoy doing it.”

On the edge of the garden is a large, graceful, curved pergola Brad built. Under the pergola is a pathway that has seating and edged by hydrangeas.

“From here you can sit and enjoy the garden,” Debbie said.

A sitting bench is also available in the garden when one needs a break from weeding. “Blue Moon” wysteria winds up the columns and soon will shade the entire area.

“I did plan for color in my garden with pinks, purples and reds plus planned for year-round color,” she said.

Debbie has added plants from their previous home, transplanted and divided plants along the way. It is a constant work in progress. Among the 100-plus plants in her garden are “Lime Light” hydrangea, “Korean” lilac, bee balm, liatris and delphiniums.

She also has planted daylilies in masses, which are in full bloom this time of year.

“By planting in large groups when you have the room, you get to see more of the colors,.” she said.

The sea of color is evident as you glance across the landscaping. You can imagine a paintbrush filled with all colors flowing from the brush in perfect harmony.

A large hosta garden is also amongst the trees with more than 120 varieties.

“We divide them when they get too large,” she said. “Hosta are very durable and there are so many kinds to choose from.”

In addition to all of the gardens in the yard, the couple also has a vegetable garden, grapevines, a few fruit trees, strawberries and a barn that is still under renovation. A variety of trees and bushes also flow into the scene.

“We need to work on the house now,” she said, with a laugh.

The house was totally gutted and now it is coming together and will soon be in its glory to complement the revamped landscape.


Debbie offers these tips to make your gardening a good experience:

  • Make sure you enrich your soil with compost. Your plants are only going to be as good as your soil. Adding compost will make your soil drain better and retain moisture.
  • Plant in odd-number clusters, especially small plants.
  • Repeat colors in the garden. Use the same variety of plants or similar color at the same flowering time.
  • Try to do your gardening maintenance daily. A little every day helps you from getting too far behind. We walk the garden every day. “If you’re going to work that hard at it, enjoy it, too!” she said.
  • Use time-release fertilizer in your planters. It will last for three months.
  • Try adding plants with burgundy or golden foliage. They can add as much drama to your garden as plants that flower and they last the entire growing season.

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Volunteers spruce up museum

Susan Bennett was beyond excited Monday as volunteers cleared up the exterior of the historic Carnegie Center in preparation of its re-opening.

“There’s people crawling all over the building,” said Bennett, executive director of the Port Huron Museum. “It’s pretty cool. It’s going to be such a transformation.”

Ten volunteers from Home Depot spent Monday weeding the gardens, transplanting plants, putting in an irrigation system and mulching, said Dave Bertram, a specialty manager and community captain at Home Depot. In addition to labor, the company donated 160 bags of mulch.

“It looked like something out of Jurassic Park,” Bertram said of the landscape prior to the group’s work. “It definitely needed to be taken care of.”

Since the museum closed about a year ago, the exterior landscaping had been neglected, leading to much overgrowth. City workers also spent time trimming the trees this past week, Bennett said.

“We need to lead by example,” Bertram said. “I hope we inspire others to give back to the community.”

Gina Porrett, visitor services coordinator at the museum, said that she estimates between the mulch and the labor, Home Depot donated about $2,000 worth of services.

Since the closure, extensive repairs have been done on the historic building after City Council approved about $387,000 worth of work in February. The roof was replaced and the electrical systems within the building were overhauled. A new heating and cooling system will be installed in the coming weeks.

All the work is in preparation of next week which will mark the museum’s first exhibit this year. The Blue Water Art Association’s annual art show, which will feature the work of local artists, will run from Aug. 13 to Sept. 8.

“We wanted the outside to be inviting,” said Porrett.

For the exhibit, the museum will put a fresh coat of paint on the main-floor walls, which have been stripped down.

“People can see the bones of it and what we’re trying to do,” Bennett said.

Directly following that exhibit, “Paleomania: 4.6 Billion Years of Fossil History,” a traveling exhibit exploring fossil history, will be installed in the space. That will be there from Sept. 17 until Feb. 5.

Renovations are not completed yet. Bennett said that the museum will likely shut down again for some time in the spring, with all work projected to be completed in May.

For the exterior of the building, Porrett said she would like to plant some flowering trees and get the exterior of the building thoroughly cleaned. If any organizations want to provide those services to the museum, they should contact

Contact Anya Rath at (810) 434-2172 or Follow her on Twitter @anya_rath.

Port Huron Museum 

The Carnegie Center is located at 1115 Sixth St., Port Huron. Find out more at 

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Landscaping company gives back to community from day one

Todd Fox Gardens specializes in edible landscaping and native plants.
Photo: Todd Fox Gardens

At Todd Fox Gardens in Richmond, Virginia, the quality of an individual’s garden is not determined by how much disposable income they have.

President Grace Albritton formed her small company a year ago with the goal of providing environmentally friendly, food-producing gardens to everyone – even those who can’t afford them.

Although she majored in English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Albritton has always had a passion for gardening and became inspired to start a business that could meet the needs of those who didn’t normally hire landscaping companies.

Todd Fox Gardens, whose name is based on the Beatrix Potter character, has both a for-profit landscaping division and a nonprofit division. Customers who are interested in the pro bono services can fill out a form that reports their income and the number of people in the household, which allows Todd Fox Gardens to determine whether to charge them by sliding scale or not at all.

Even though Albritton is trying to stay affordable for everyday people, she does strive to keep the company’s prices competitive. Right now she charges a flat rate of 45 dollars an hour for services, whether it be garden design, installation or maintenance.

Clients that pay market price “end up basically sponsoring our pro bono clients,” Albritton said.

Currently, Todd Fox Gardens has one other full-time employee and one part-time laborer. Galen Canham, Albritton’s business partner, has a degree in urban planning and has spent time working on a farm and at Whole Foods.

If the company grows enough to support such a move, Albritton would like for there to be one staff dedicated to the market rate customers and another for the nonprofit clients.

Todd Fox Gardens offers a number of services such as mowing, weeding, pruning, seasonal cleanup, and container garden installation. It also has less common offerings like plant babysitting – looking after a homeowner’s plants while they’re away – and do-it-yourself classes on topics such as herb gardens and pickling.

“We just launched them (the classes) a week ago,” Albritton said. “I’m hoping once we get the word out people will come.”

Todd Fox Gardens also caters to commercial clients, targeting restaurants that are looking for the fresh, local foods angle. Albritton hasn’t swayed as many restaurants as she’d like, as most of them already have someone taking care of their landscaping.

As for the pro bono clients, many are filled with pride once being provided with the resources to grow their own food.

“We are always willing to do what our clients need for us to do, but most of our pro bono clients are excited to do the harvesting themselves,” Albritton said.

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Freshen your Space with these Indoor Gardening Tips

Whether you lack outdoor space or are just looking for ways to bring the outside indoors, indoor gardening is a great way to freshen up your home. If you can correctly master the skill of interior gardening, you’ll add benefits to your home that go far beyond aesthetics – including improved air quality and quick access to organic fruits and vegetables. This beginner’s guide to indoor gardening will help you get started.

Choose plants that are easy to grow indoors and know how to care for them

There are many options for plants that are easy to grow inside your home, but depending on whether or not you trust yourself to keep a plant alive you may want to choose a plant type that is certain to thrive indoors – plants like these are popular choices. Be sure to do your research before you select a plant. You’re home’s layout should be an essential part of your decision – some plants need direct sunlight, while other plants can survive in low lighting.

Know which vegetables and fruits will grow well inside

Believe it or not, even an amateur gardener can grow a vegetable, fruit, or herb garden indoors. Easy vegetables to grow at home include tomatoes, carrots, beans, peppers and potatoes. While fruit is more difficult to grow inside, peaches, apricots, grapes, and strawberries are able to flourish indoors. Avoid common mistakes like under or over watering your fruit and vegetable plants, or not using a nutrient boost in the soil. Don’t be too ambitious – produce gardens can be challenging, so start slow!

Combine green with inspired home décor

If you lack a green thumb but still want to reap the benefits of having plants in your home, then consider incorporating houseplants into your home décor using species you’re certain you won’t kill. Low-maintenance indoor plants include peace lilies, aloe plants, English ivy and succulents. Whether your home has a rustic vibe or modern flair, there are plenty of options for decorating with houseplants that will suit your home’s style. Wall-mounted planters achieve a contemporary look, while an elevated planter can provide a more traditional ambiance. Find a look you like, and start gardening!

—For more valuable, home improvement articles, to read contractor reviews or to find a local home improvement specialist, visit

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