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Archives for August 10, 2016

Garden proposal unites St. Paul with Chinese sister city | Minnesota …

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Editor’s note: Public gardens aren’t just a nice place for a walk. Inspired by Minnesota’s multiple Japanese gardens, a Chinese garden planned in Phalen Regional Park is intended to promote understanding of China’s cultural heritage. In this next installment of MPR’s Young Reporters Series, Amanda Furru tells us about the new garden project working to strengthen the connection between St. Paul and Chinese sister city, Changsha.

Few residents may know it, but St. Paul’s nearly 30-year friendship with its Chinese sister city may be about to bloom.

In July, the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society dedicated the site for a proposed Chinese garden at Phalen Regional Park. The $7 million garden would be the most significant project to come from St. Paul’s partnership with Changsha, China.

“This is a pretty exciting project, and it’s a big project for Minnesota,” said Linda Mealey-Lohmann, president of the Garden Society. Mealey-Lohmann has been working to make it a reality for almost a decade.

However, backers still need to raise millions of dollars.

The pavilion will stretch along the lakeshore offering views of the Phalen Channel and restored stone bridge. It is located between existing willow trees. Jennifer Junfang Fan and Jon Youhua Wen | Changsha Hunan Jianke Landscape Company

Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for next spring. Mealey-Lohmann said the project could proceed with as little as $300,000, since construction will likely occur in phases. The project has already received $50,000 in state Legacy Amendment funds.

The 1.2-acre garden is an ambitious proposal. It will include a pagoda-like pavilion, new walking paths, a rock garden and a stone bridge connecting the garden to Lake Phalen’s Picnic Island.

The design also features a lakeside pavilion with an enclosed classroom and outdoor space for tai chi.

Saint Paul is home to one of the largest Hmong populations which claims Changsha, China as its ancestral home. The “path of the Hmong immigrant” is the focus of the Hmong cultural Plaza. Jennifer Junfang Fan and Jon Youhua Wen | Changsha Hunan Jianke Landscape Company

Garden backers say the project was inspired by the popularity of Minnesota’s numerous Japanese gardens, including the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden at the Como Conservatory.

Just as those spaces promote Japanese culture, St. Paul’s Chinese garden is intended to promote understanding of China’s cultural heritage.

In a nod to East St. Paul’s large Hmong community, architects added a “cultural plaza” to the design. Hmong people trace their ancestry to areas throughout China, including Changsha, the capital of Hunan province.

The garden’s buildings will reflect the ornate detailing found there.

“And that’s going to be the first Chinese garden in the U.S. that will have that style of architecture,” said Mealey-Lohmann. “So we think that will really attract visitors to Minnesota from all over the U.S. and maybe all over the world to come and visit the park.”

St. Paul’s friendship with Changsha began in 1985, when a group of Midwestern leaders went to China on a trade mission.

St. Paul’s project isn’t the only Chinese garden proposal in the works.

The Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society also has tentative plans to build a second garden at Washburn-Fair Oaks Park, across from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. That Chinese garden would honor the sister-city relationship between Minneapolis and Harbin, China.

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Hermiston adopts public art plan

Whether it’s a watermelon mural or a statue of the mayor, the city of Hermiston now has a plan for how to handle public art.

The city council adopted an official public art plan Monday. The plan does not allocate money, but rather lays a groundwork of policies and suggestions for community organizations to raise money for projects.

“This plan will sit on a shelf and go nowhere if the community does not pick it up,” assistant city manager Mark Morgan said.

Included in the plan are 37 suggested sites for art installations, and five themes for public art in Hermiston to be tied to: water, agriculture, heritage, transportation and watermelons. Morgan said the themes could be loosely interpreted.

“We’re not saying you literally have to have water in the art, or literally depict a drop of water,” he said.

He used the hypothetical example of a someone who wanted to build a statue of Mayor David Drotzmann. Now, they could consult the plan to see the community’s most preferred locations for a statue, see where the mayor might fit into one of the five themes (heritage?), study the rules about commissioning and maintaining the art, get permission from the city council and apply for a special revenue fund where the city would keep track of donations for them and possibly leverage it as matching funds for a grant to put a statue of Drotzmann in front of city hall.

“Could we raise money to not have a statue of him in front of city hall?” councilor Jackie Myers asked jokingly.

Morgan said some of the actual ideas on the list were already being eyed by service clubs in town — Hermiston’s breakfast Kiwanis Club, for example, said they would like to start raising money for uplighting and landscaping around the old Armand Larive Middle School arch on Ridgeway Avenue behind the library.

The plan was put together by consultant Rebecca Couch, the Community Enhancement Committee and the Desert Arts Council, with feedback from the community to rank the most popular of the 37 proposed locations.

“Everyone has a big focus on putting art downtown,” Morgan said.

That could be functional art such as decorative benches and lamp posts, but Morgan said several cities also have a popular rotating art program where they build empty sculpture plinths, and artists can get approval to place sculptures there temporarily while they are for sale.

Drotzmann said even though there is no money allocated for art in the plan itself, it is possible that the city could use it as a guide to funnel some urban renewal money toward a city-funded art project or two downtown. Still, he said outside groups were needed if Hermiston was going to start putting art in more locations around town.

“All those philanthropic groups out there who would like to help make Hermiston more livable through public art, please come forward,” he said. “We have some ideas for you.”


Contact Jade McDowell at or 541-564-4536.

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Harlingen Downtown’s champion is retiring after 20 years with city

Cheryl LaBerge

As Downtown manager, Cheryl LaBerge helped to transform and revitalize the city’s core district. After nearly 20 years with the city, LaBerge is retiring to develop ideas aimed at spotlighting Harlingen’s hidden gems.

Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 10:16 pm

Harlingen Downtown’s champion is retiring after 20 years with city

Staff Writer

Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — More than 10 years ago, Cheryl LaBerge began to help transform the city’s downtown from a struggling business area to an award-winning historical district.

Empty storefronts stood aside fledgling shops and restaurants along historic Jackson Street.

So she focused on revitalizing the area where Heritage Manor was beginning its transformation into the Reese.

“There were a lot of buildings that needed some TLC,” LaBerge said yesterday. “We’ve gotten a lot of buildings fixed up and occupied. A lot more properties have sold. There has been a lot of importance put into property improvements, sidewalks, landscaping and making sure downtown looks attractive 24-7.”

For the last 10 years, the National Main Street Center has awarded the city recognition for its downtown revitalization program.

“It’s a challenge,” LaBerge said. “Adaptive reuse of buildings is not easy — taking older buildings and bringing them to current code for today’s marketplace. It’s repurposing buildings that develop the core of your community.”

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Springfield gets state grant for Greenway web site, app

The City of Springfield has won an $8,200 state tourism grant to create a website and tour app for the Ebenezer Creek Greenway.

The website will include information about the historic and ecological significance of the Greenway project, a 15-mile multi-use trail that will extend from Springfield, along Ebenezer Creek, to Ebenezer at the Savannah River.

Erin Phillips, the city’s community development director, said Springfield will provide a 50-percent match.

She said the app will offer people traveling along the creek a self-guided tour. The website and app should be finished by the end of this year.

The grant, from the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s tourism division, was part of $85,000 in product development agreements awarded to 13 new and expanding tourism projects across the state. 

About a year ago, Springfield had a consultant prepare plans for a park and pond on Ebenezer Creek and two canoe/kayak launches as part of the Greenway project.

The plan by Thomas Hutton calls for turning the former sewage treatment pond at Stillwell Road and Ash Street into a useable pond, surrounded by a park and small boat launch. 
The cost of the project was estimated to be about $2 million.

City Manager Brett Bennett said due to the high cost, the park would have to be funded in phases, as grant funds become available.

“The timing will be dependent on funding,” Bennett said.

Other projects

The Greenway and its website and app are just one of many projects in the works in Springfield.

Phillips said the Springfield Revitalization Corp. (SRC), city council and newly created Downtown Development Authority (DDA) are discussing how they can work together.

The SRC, which is a non-profit and can accept donations, worked with the city in renovating and reopening the Mars Theatre.

The city council created the DDA so it could have a say in what happens to real estate such as the Walt’s Furniture building it owns on Laurel Street.

One of the projects the SRC is considering is landscaping around the huge oak trees along Cleveland Street, just off Laurel Street and in front of the Springfield United Methodist Church.

The group would use $2,000 raised by its annual bike ride, as well as donations, discounts and help from volunteers.

Ideas are in the early stages, but an arborist will be consulted to assess the health of the trees, which city council member Charles Hinely helped plant as a Boy Scout decades ago.

If the trees are healthy and expected to have a long life, the SRC is considering landscaping around them so that the roots will be protected from vehicles and pedestrians. Walkways would be created for people, along with such things as benches and possibly a water fountain for people and dogs.

The group may set up a booth at the city’s fall festival where people could create paving stones that would be used in the walkways.

The SRC also is considering being a part of three 5K races that will be held in September, October and November, along with a permanent course that would be marked with signs.

The SRC will host one of the runs and the others are being hosted by Catie’s Fund and the Effingham 4-H Extension Office.

Also in the works are upgrades to Ulmer Park and the possibility of façade grants for downtown businesses, which could be used for such things as paint, awnings, signs, planters and benches.

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EARTH Center open house will be held Aug. 20

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County will host its Garden Field Day/Open House from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the EARTH Center, located in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park at 42 Riva Ave. in South Brunswick. The rain date will be Aug. 21.

The day will be filled with activities for the whole family, including garden tours, presentations and showcases on gardening and landscaping and live music. This day will also celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Rutgers University.

This year they will be holding a food drive for MCFOODS, the County food bank. This program provides nutritious food to more than 90 pantries and soup kitchens throughout Middlesex County. MCFOODS bins will be available at the Open House, so please bring along some canned food or dry goods to donate.

A new addition for 2016’s Open House will be the Master Gardeners Scavenger Hunt. From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., kids age 14 and under can sign up to hunt for medallions in the demonstration gardens throughout the park. Once all their medallions are found, treasure hunters will turn in their hunt forms and wait for the randomly chosen winner. The name for the grand prize will be drawn at 2:30 p.m.

Throughout the event, the Extension’s Agriculture Office and Rutgers Master Gardeners will offer advice on horticulture and environmental stewardship while guiding visitors through various teaching gardens and learning projects. Examples of their work include the Children’s Garden with Green Roof playhouse, an enormous vegetable display garden and the popular Butterfly House.

Also part of the event will be the “Greatest of the Garden” competition. Gardeners are welcome to bring their biggest or most outstanding home-grown produce for a chance to win. Categories include but are not limited to: biggest tomato; biggest cucumber; biggest squash; biggest watermelon; longest gourd; and best likeness to a celebrity or historical figure (all vegetables).

“Come enjoy the beautiful gardens and educational presentations, while enjoying the sounds of local musicians in beautiful Davidson’s Mill Pond Park,” said Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, chairman of the County’s Business Development and Education Committee.

“Garden Field Day is a day of fun for the whole family,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “It’s a great way to learn about gardening and enjoy the park and warm summer weather.”

Many exhibitors who collaborate with Middlesex County Extension throughout the year will be on hand to share their programs and accomplishments. For more information, call 732-398-5268 or e-mail

For information on Middlesex County’s Extension office visit and search “extension.”

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Meet The Women Who Make Oz Park’s Garden Beautiful Year In And Year Out

Emerald City Gardens
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LINCOLN PARK — For more than 20 years, Judy Johanson has spent almost every Saturday morning from April to October pulling weeds, planting perennials and throwing out trash at Oz Park’s garden.

When she’s not kneeling in dirt, the 74-year-old is applying for grants to pay for more upkeep or rescuing dying plants from nurseries to eventually bring to the garden.

“The only thing the [Chicago] Park District does is mow,” said Johanson, one of the founding members of the Oz Park Advisory Council.

Johanson doesn’t do it alone. 

Over the years, she’s recruited a small group of women volunteers who are all equally dedicated to the garden.

“It’s our baby,” said Kathy Jordan, the oldest member of the group at 75.

Like Johanson, Jordan has been cleaning up the garden since it was established in 1994. The women even helped name it Emerald City Gardens in keeping with the park’s “Wizard of Oz” theme.

On a recent scorching hot Saturday, five members of the group, all in their 60s and 70s, convened at the garden for the weekly three-hour cleaning.

In between plucking weeds and hauling them away, the women lovingly clipped back roses, lilies and other flowers and raked the dirt in a few of the garden’s 17 beds.

“When you work on it this long, you really care about it and you want to maintain its beauty,” said Jordan, who has lived down the street for 40 years.

The future of Emerald City Garden

The Park District has put some money into the garden over the years, but Johanson’s advisory council is responsible for most of the beauty, raising thousands of dollars through grants and other fundraisers.

Community organizations like the Oz Park Baseball Association have also helped raise money. Those funds allowed the group to hire a landscaping crew to do a fall and spring cleanup.

According to Jordan, the garden used to be a horseshoe pit “that no one used.”

When asked what the garden would look like without the group’s efforts, Johanson said it would look “like crap.”

Today, there are perennials in every direction (Johanson estimates they’ve planted a few hundred different types over the years), fluttering butterflies and benches to sit and enjoy it all. It’s a quiet respite from the rest of the beloved park, which is always brimming with activity.

But the women need a younger generation to carry on their legacy.

“We really haven’t had a lot of people step up to volunteer,” Jordan said.

Sometimes folks seem interested, she said, but those people rarely commit to the weekly cleanings.

The women in the group are getting older and won’t be able to able to garden forever — as much as they’d like to.

“It’s always a worry,” Johanson said of the future of the garden. “That’s why we’d like to recruit some younger volunteers that would be as anxious to take care of the garden as we are.”

To volunteer or donate, visit the advisory council’s website.

Check out photos of the garden below:

The garden is separated from the rest of the park. [All photos DNAinfo/Mina Bloom]
Kathy Jordan, 75, trims plants on a recent Saturday morning.
Johanson estimates the group has planted a few hundred perennials over the years.
The northern side of the garden.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here:

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Stopping a modern invasion (Garden Talk)


By: Andrew J. Baril

The other day I was at a meeting in the Birmingham Metro area. The reason for this meeting was to see what community leaders thought I needed to cover in my educational programing for 2017. I try to keep in touch with the pulse of the community which I serve, but at this meeting I was totally caught off guard. My subject area is Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resources. My specialty is forestry; to which I owe a 35 year career. Walking into the meeting, I expected community leaders say they wanted to hear more about nuisance wildlife. Many of you have written me, thanking me for my articles on armadillos, chipmunks, squirrels, etc. Dealing with nuisance wildlife is the number one thing I do in the Metro. However, at this meeting, community leaders stated they wanted to hear more about invasive species.

Throughout the county, the US Forest Service conducts a survey of forestland. One fifth of the acreage is surveyed on a rotational basis, so that, every five years we have a new survey of our land. While here in Alabama, we may have 23 million acres in timber, we also have almost 5 million acres in invasive plants. Our number one invasive with around three million acres in coverage is Japanese Honeysuckle. Planted as a wildlife food source, Japanese honeysuckle can completely cover the ground preventing regeneration and overtopping trees to kill them. Following in a distant second with one million acres is Chinese privet. Privet loves moist forests. For those of you who love hardwoods and hate pine plantations, you should be concerned with privet. After Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, beautiful hardwood forests were replaced with privet tangles after the big trees fell.

Following privet is, Kudzu, Cogongrass, and Japanese Climbing Fern. Rounding out the top seven are the two trees Mimosa, and the Popcorn-tree. Just these seven species occupy almost five million acres of timberland. The invasive species problem is not just a forestry problem. Farmland and our waterways are fighting the battle too. This time of year I spend most of my time helping pond owners identify weeds in their ponds, and how to kill these weeds. Most of the weeds I encounter are invasive weeds like Alligatorweed, Hydrilla, Eurasian Water Milfoil, and Water Lettuce. If these plants are not controlled, they will over-take a pond, streams, rivers, and even our reservoirs.

What can you do? Number one, become informed! There are a number of resources to help you understand the problem. Here in Alabama, our best resource is the Alabama Invasive Plant Council (ALIPC) Every year we gather for an annual meeting to discuss where we are with the plants, how to kill these plants, and what’s new on the horizon. Another source of good materials is the University of Georgia’s, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at UG’s Center not only covers plants, but any other type of invasive. The second way you can help is once you find an invasive learn how to kill it. This may mean changing the landscaping around your house. It is a difficult decision to make, but if we do not stand up for our native plants and protect them from these invaders, one day the natives will be gone.

Garden Talk is written by Andrew J. Baril of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This column includes research-based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama AM and Auburn Universities. Email questions to, or call 205 879-6964. Learn more about what is going on in Jefferson County by visiting the ACES website, or checking us on Facebook and Twitter. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama AM and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

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Gardening tips for August





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Gardening Tips: The August garden –

This certainly has been a different summer than last year! Hot sunny weather and a bit of rain has made for lush gardens.

All my flowering shrubs and perennials are loaded with blooms. The large clump of hybrid lilies I have in the garden near my deck is loaded with about 100 flowers.

Now that August is well under way you should stop pruning your trees and shrubs. Pruning at this time of year will stimulate another flush of soft, tender growth that may not have a chance to harden off before cold winter temperatures arrive.

Plus you want all those buds that have formed to stay dormant until next spring.

However, you can remove dead wood at any time of year. It is best to prune dead branches and twigs as soon as you notice the problem. This allows the healthy tissue to start to heal up the pruning cut. Otherwise the area won’t heal until the dead branch rots and falls away.

Remember not to prune the early spring blooming trees and shrubs now, in fall or early spring. They have already set flower buds for next season. Lilac, azalea and rhododendron have formed buds at the ends of the new growth. Instead, they should be pruned immediately after blooming.

Trees, shrubs and perennials also don’t need any more fertilizer that stimulates new grow. Plants need to harden off for winter. If you use anything at all, it should have a low first number (nitrogen), since that nutrient promotes leaf growth.

Focus on phosphorous for root development and potassium for overall health and hardiness. Those are the second and third numbers respectively.

Annuals should still be fertilized, deadheaded and pinched back until the end of the season. This will help them stay compact, healthy and blooming. I was out this morning picking off yellow leaves and pinching some of the leggy growth in my planters.

With good care, you should be able to enjoy your annuals right up until the frost.

If your lawn needs a pick-me-up, now is the time to fertilize again. Use a good quality organic food with a moderate nitrogen level. The first number on the package should still be the highest.

Examine any dead areas in the lawn to see if there was a pest at work. You may have damage from White Grubs as I’ve had reports of active feeding. If dead grass comes easily away with no roots, the problem was grubs. If sunken dead areas are still firmly rooted, Chinch bug was the culprit.

It will soon be time to apply a second round of beneficial nematodes to control White Grubs. Be sure the ground is moist before you apply the nematodes with a hose end spray.

Start in the damaged area and work your way outwards. Then keep the lawn watered for three days after the application; this will keep the nematodes alive until they enter the grubs.

Once you have killed the grubs, do a vigorous raking in the damaged areas to remove dead grass, spread some topsoil and reseed. Remember that newly scattered seed has to be kept constantly moist while the seed germinates and the young plants get established.

Now is a good time to take a few moments to assess your gardens. Make notes about perennials that are too crowded or need dividing. Fall is a good time for that task. Just leave fall blooming plants undisturbed. The spring is a better time to divide those ones.

You may also want to plant for planting a few trees and shrubs once summer heat has passed. There may be empty areas in your yard that need some work.

I hope we still have some nice summer and fall weather so that we can all enjoy our gardens for weeks to come. Soon fall pansies, mums, ornamental grasses and kale will arrive at the garden centres. They will be a nice splash of colour that will survive fall frosts.

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