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Archives for August 12, 2016

Intelligent garden design for anywhere – Courier

Every once in a while I encounter something new, something so clever and useful that I have to share it with you. This time it is a line of “fabric” pots that includes several sizes, even a raised bed that goes up in seconds and a composter for convenient composting.

Inexpensive and so versatile, the Smart Pots are simply revolutionary and one of the coolest things to come along for gardening in quite some time. The lightweight “pots” can be used just about anywhere to grow vegetables, herbs or flowers. Not only that, the “fabric areation” construction of the unique containers allows plants to air-prune roots, which is reported to produce larger, more productive plants. Even rooftop or balcony gardens are possible to allow anyone to grow things in limited areas in these feather-light sturdy pots.

Container vegetable gardens are among the easiest ways to grow fresh food, and these handy pots make it easier and better than ever.

The pots come in black or a natural color, and are available in a variety of sizes from three to 20 gallons. The raised bed Big Bag Bed warms up quickly in the spring and comes in sizes from 15 gallons (2.1 cubic feet of soil) to a whopping 100 gallons (13.7 cubic feet of soil). Imagine being able to simply unfold a raised bed, fill with soil and plant. No framework needed, no difficult construction or support materials required. The raised bed Big Bag Bed, like the other Smart Pots, can be emptied, rinsed and simply folded for compact storage when not in use.

And there is one more Smart Pot product that I know folks will love. It’s the Compost Sak. Imagine a composter that simply unfolds for use, again no structures to build or maintain. This affordable composter has a capacity of more than 100 gallons (12 cubic feet).

“The Smart Pot and Compost Sak are made from the same material, an inert geotextile fabric. They are BPA-free,” said Karen Murphy for High Caliper Growing, which produces the innovative containers. “The fabric is very durable and will stand up on their own, once you start filling soil. The fabric isn’t flimsy by any means.

“The Compost Sak, since it’s so tall, it will take time for you to fill it up and the sides will want to fold down,” Murphy said. “However, we encourage to keep the Compost Sak closed on top to avoid rodents getting in. You can simply place a large rock or brick on the top to keep it closed. The fabric itself is durable enough that rodents shouldn’t be able to chew their way through.”

I plan to use the Smart Pots to start and grow my dahlias. In the spring the dahlia tubers will be started in potting soil in Smart Pots. Once they have sprouted and the soil has warmed up outdoors, the Smart Pots with their contents will be sunk into the garden. At the end of the growing season when the foliage has died down, I will just lift the Smart Pots, trim away spent foliage and store the entire pot and its contents in a cool, dry and dark space like a cellar. The three-gallon Smart Pots with handles are easy to pull out in the fall. Pots will be ready for sprouting the following spring for another season of blooms.

Or if there is a particular plant I want to grow in a location where I’d like to contain its spread, I’ll just put it in a Smart Pot and sink that into the ground. I bet you can come up with a number of uses for these unique growing containers.

One more thing, the Smart Pots are made in the U.S., a minor fact, but an important one for those who prefer to buy American-made products. Want to see the various Smart Pots avalialbe? Visit the website at, where you can learn more about them, as well as where to find them for sale locally.

Timely tip No. 1: Oh deer! Are those graceful garden visitors or other animals eating your plants? Take a tip from Old House Garden Heirloom Bulbs and use just a dab of Vicks VapoRub. All it takes is a tiny “touch” of the stuff to deter deer, and it is best applied with a light touch to the smallest sprouts or buds. The petroleum jelly base will ensure that your deterent stays in place for quite a while.

Timely tip No. 2: This is the perfect time to give your plants a pick-me-up with something new that is actually quite old. An organic, plant-based way to super-charge trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and vegetable plants, too, is based on a 400-year-old formula. Invented in Japan, HB-101 is a combination of extracts from Japanese cedar, pine, Japanese cypress and plantain grass. Just a few drops mixed in a gallon of water to spray on assists plants and microbes to work together for healthier, more productive plants. To learn more about HB-101 or where to buy it, look online at:

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Sophie’s garden design to transform school rubbish tip (From …

A KEEN gardener is getting her hands dirty for a local charity by turning an overgrown rubbish tip into a beautiful sensory garden.

Sophie Coulton, 25, of North Swindon, is hoping to provide children and staff at Eldene Nursery and Primary School with somewhere to relax, unwind and explore.

The school, based at Colingsmead, is a registered charity that teaches children with disabilities, and not having the funds to transform their garden themselves, Sophie kindly stepped in and volunteered.

Construction is set to start on Monday and Sophie will have a small troupe of green-fingered helpers to keep her company.

Sophie, who currently works at Homebase at the Greenbridge retail park while undertaking an online gardening design degree, said: “Garden design is my passion so I’m really excited about the project.

“When I first went to see the plot of land, I couldn’t actually get in because it was so overgrown and full of rubbish.

“They wanted something sensory with nice smells and colours, so I went away and came up with a few ideas – it’s now all about me cracking on and getting stuck in.”

She said that garden designer Adam Frost, who won a gold medal at the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, has been her inspiration, mentor and the reason why she discovered a passion for garden design.

Nicola Timbrell, assistant manager at the school, and who is currently on maternity leave, said: “We have been trying really hard to get our garden together for the past five years.

“We’re very grateful for Sophie’s help because we’re a charity and we don’t have the money to do things like this ourselves.

“She has worked really hard and we’re very excited about seeing the finished result.”

The garden is being funded by donations from local businesses such as BandB Innovations, Perry Mini Digger Hire, Swindon Car and Van rental, and others, with most of the materials having been donated by Homebase.

Sophie used to be the deputy manager at Homebase, but recently stood down to give her more time to focus on her degree.

The plot of land measures 18m x 10m and Sophie is hoping for it to be completed in a week.

She said: “I have gone through four different designs before choosing the final one, but I’m happy with it.

“There will be artificial grass, a water feature and lots of plants to give it plenty of colour.

“Everyone at the school is really excited. I have shown them a few ideas and they’re all really happy.”

There will be a grand unveiling when the garden is complete.

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Train Trench Cover Ideas Heard at City Council

The downtown train trench covers, home to the Reno Sculpture Fest and numerous special events throughout the years, may get a makeover depending on future funding.

The Reno City Council heard yesterday ideas for how to best use the space. Ideas that were presented as possibilities included a dog park, more arts usage and moving City Hall to the ReTRAC covers.

“People were hungry for street trees,” said Colin Robertson, who has been involved with a community group that is developing ideas for the trench covers, presented an update on the projects. “People were very interested in what we call ‘twinkle lights’ to kind of create an urban tree scape alongside the train-trench lids.”

Design ideas would be flexible, keeping in mind existing events, Robertson said. “There’s a great deal of interest in urban plazas … ideally creating a tree-lined avenue.” Shade and wind mitigation were also discussed.

Funding, however, remains in question. Council provided direction to potentially start a non-profit that could raise money for a new design.

More City Council Highlights

Provided by the City of Reno

In our ongoing commitment to keep citizens and media informed, we’ve summarized the outcomes of a few key agenda items from today’s regular meeting of the Reno City Council. The agenda numbers provide convenient links to corresponding City of Reno Staff Reports. Additionally, today’s Special Meeting of the Reno City Council and Reno City Charter Committee will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Council approves Special Counsel contract for investigation into complaints of alleged misconduct (E.21)

Council unanimously approved an award of contract for Special Counsel to Kamer Zucker Abbott to manage an investigation into complaints of alleged misconduct by City Manager Andrew Clinger in an amount not to exceed $50,000. View the Staff Report.

Council awards contract for Pat Baker Park renovations (E.10)

Council unanimously approved to award Peek Brothers Construction with the Pat Baker Park Renovation Project in an amount not to exceed $745,240.20. The project will provide several new park features including a multi-use sport court, water spray pad, and fitness station. It will also replace the outdated playground and picnic shelter, plus make landscaping and irrigation improvements to the site.

“Ward 3 looks forward to the upcoming enhancements at Pat Baker Park,” Vice Mayor and Ward 3 Reno City Councilmember Oscar Delgado says. “Safety and community pride are essential for a healthy neighborhood. The new features will not only provide a space for neighbors to connect year-round, but will also raise the quality of life for all citizens.”

Staff anticipates that the renovation project will be completed by spring 2017. Pat Baker Park will be closed entirely during construction. View the park’s Conceptual Improvement Plan.

Council hears design concepts for downtown ReTRAC covers (J.3)

Following a presentation and status update, Council unanimously approved general design frameworks for the downtown ReTRAC covers and the development of an implementation strategy that will bring them to fruition. Council approved proposed next steps, such as the possible creation of a 501(c)3 for fundraising purposes, participating in the upcoming ArtPlace America application process, and developing a local donation/fundraising framework. The motion also included specific direction to staff to research a bike share program and cohesion between this project and special events.

Background: A charrette consisting of urban design professionals occurred in March 2016 to develop concepts for the ReTRAC covers’ redevelopment which incorporated the community’s inputs. Charrette participants’ design ideas included the use of the entire right of way, prioritizing the pedestrian, flexible uses, public amenities and spaces, and creating shade (trees).

D.1- Local US Paralympics cyclist Will Lachenauer recognized

Council recognized Will Lachenauer’s accomplishment of making the US Paralympics Cycling Team for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. “I’ll definitely do Reno proud,” Lachenauer told the Council.

E.8 – City Hall Parking Garage

Council unanimously approved an award of contract to Nelson Electric Company to install three new access gates at the City Hall parking garage in an amount not to exceed $247,771 from the City Capital Projects Fund.

E.12 – Park Repairs (Crystal Lake Manzanita)

Council unanimously approved authorization to award a contract for court repairs at Manzanita and Crystal Lake Parks to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder in an amount not to exceed $350,000. The tennis courts at Manzanita Park are currently unplayable because of surface deterioration and must be reconstructed. The tennis courts at Crystal Lake Park have some surface cracking along the nets and end lines, and will be patched and overlaid. The basketball court at Crystal Lake Park has significant structural cracking throughout the playing area and also must be reconstructed.

F.1 – North Sierra Street Abandonment (Raising Cane’s)

In the case of North Sierra Street Abandonment – Raising Cane’s, Council unanimously approved a request for abandonment of a ±1,906-square-foot unused portion of the North Sierra Street right-of-way to accommodate the development of a ±3,600 square foot restaurant next to Archie’s Giant Hamburgers in the University of Nevada, Reno area. View the Preliminary Site Plan.

A Special Use Permit for the development is scheduled to be heard at the 6 p.m. Planning Commission meeting on August 17, 2016.

J.2 – Rosewood Lakes Golf Course

Regarding Rosewood Lakes Golf Course, Council unanimously approved Amendment No. 1 to the Long Term Lease Agreement with The First Tee of Northern Nevada. The amendment includes an updated equipment list, updates obligations of The First Tee to keep the property in golf course condition, and updates a clear termination clause of the agreement should First Tee desire to not operate Rosewood Lakes Golf Course due to the construction of the Southeast Connector project.

Council was not asked to make a decision on the future of Rosewood Lakes Golf Course today. Staff will return to Council this fall to provide an update on the course and the possibility of providing nine-hole golf on the site. If nine-hole golf is not possible, staff will provide options for Council’s direction on the future of the site. The site is deed restricted and must used for golf, open space, or a combination thereof. Reconstruction of the driving range is on schedule, and completion is anticipated by the end of December 2016.

K.1 – Citizen Appointments to Boards and Commissions

K.1.1 – Council unanimously approved appointment of Bella Sloane to the Youth City Council.

K.1.2 – Council unanimously approved appointment of Gene Carano to the Capital Projects Surcharge Advisory Subcommittee.

K.1.3 – Council unanimously approved reappointment of Charles Reno and Peter Gower to the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Commission.

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Ask a Master Gardner: How do I weed through the bad tips?

This week’s guest columnist, Karen S. Rita, warns against faulty gardening pointers and highlights several online resources.

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RSF Garden Fair & Market returns to the Ranch

The Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club will host the 2nd Annual Rancho Santa Fe Garden Fair Market on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Rancho Santa Fe Association/Community Center Parking Lot (17022 Avenida de Acacias).

The Rancho Santa Fe Garden Fair Market celebrates all things horticulture by featuring landscape consulting, plant and garden gifts, irrigation district rebates, horticulture presentations, and fun hands-on activities for kids. Dragon Organics, a charitable farm from San Pasqual Academy, will be onsite selling fresh produce.

This free event is the perfect opportunity to learn about water-wise irrigation systems and sustainable gardening and landscaping ideas and products.

Parking for the event is available at the RSF School and on surrounding streets. Entrance to the RSF Fair Market is on Avenida de Acacias at the RSF Association building.

For more information on RSF Garden Club membership and upcoming activities, please visit

Generous sponsors of the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Fair Market include: Merrill Lynch; Rancho Santa Fe Connect, brought to you by Fision, Fiber Optics by Hotwire; San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum; Santa Fe Irrigation District; and Chicweed Patio Garden.

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Hail the sun-loving trumpet vine

When I stop to take photos of a particular plant, I tend to glance back at that plant every time I pass that spot thereafter. If it’s something in flower, by the time I see it again, it has usually gone to seed or disappeared entirely.

Well, two months ago I was in a Metroplex suburb running errands, and I happened to spot a fence covered by one big, bold and beautiful Madame Galen trumpet vine in full bloom.

That was in early June. Just a few days ago I was back in that same area, and there was that vine still highlighting the neighborhood. For longevity of flowering season, no other vine comes close to the trumpet vine clan, especially here under the Southern heat lamp.

Hummingbirds love trumpet vines (also known more formally as trumpet creepers). Those brightly colored, long, tubular flowers are prime targets for the birds’ activities, so that alone could be your reason to include them in garden plantings.

These plants need sun. Full, hot and intense summer sun. If you try to grow them in shade, you’ll get nothing but leaves. They’re very at home in arid Southwestern landscaping, where summer temperatures regularly exceed 110 degrees.

They do best where they get only minimal nitrogen, so it’s usually best not to plant them where you’ll be maintaining turf and ground-cover beds with high levels of nitrogen. But they do appreciate moisture. They bloom on new growth, and regular watering helps promote that.

Polite Madame

There are some great ways you could put Madame Galen and her sisters to work in your gardens. They’re great covering expanses of fence, but you can also use them to cover patio arbors and pergolas.

All they require is steady support, because these babies get really big. And heavy. Their stems, leaves and flowers have caused many an old and tired wooden fence to lean and finally tumble. And don’t put them above concrete, brick or stone surfaces that could be stained by their succulent flowers as they fall.

You also really want to avoid the native trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). While it, too, bears the handsome bright orange flowers all summer, the plants themselves are extremely invasive. Root sprouts will pop up like gophers, here, there and everywhere. You’ll soon learn to hate it, and the neighbors won’t be too happy with you, either.

Stick with Madame Galen and the other improved selections and you’ll avoid a lot of apologies and hand-digging later. Plus, Madame Galen’s flowers are twice as large as those of the wild form.

Other colors are also available, and many nurseries have introduced named selections in shades ranging from intense red to brilliant orange, soft salmon-orange, yellow and others. I’ve not grown each of those, so I can’t speak to whether they have any of the invasive tendencies, but the hybrid Madame Galens are far less assertive, and the Flavas (yellows) I’ve seen don’t seem to be quite as bad, either.

Pick a time and place

Most trumpet vines are sold in 1- or 5-gallon pots. They climb by aerial rootlets, so you’ll want to give them some means of climbing poles and fencing if they’re unable to grab on initially. Once they establish a stable horizontal presence on their support, they’ll take over from there.

Plant them 10 or 15 feet apart — the plants grow quite large and will quickly fill in the voids.

As to the best time to plant trumpet vines, summer is as good as any. Nurseries have them, usually in flower so you can see the color you’re getting, and they’re well suited to establishing in the heat.

Your only challenge during the summer and early fall will be to water them by hand every day or two until they are completely rooted into the surrounding soil. That would certainly take the rest of this growing season and into next spring.

How to multiply

If you’re interested in starting your own trumpet vine from a plant that you like, use cuttings or tip-layering. People are tempted to plant seeds from the pods that follow the blooms, but you have no way of knowing what you will get, and odds are you’ll get that dominant gene of invasive growth habits.

Stick with vegetative propagation. Cuttings can be taken in summer. There is ample information on how to root cuttings.

Tip-layering is another topic entirely. It’s really quite simple. It involves rooting the new plant while it’s still attached to the mother.

Select a stem that’s 10 or 12 inches long. Use a sharp knife to rub off the outer surface on the bottom of the twig. Dust it with rooting hormone powder (not required), then peg the stem against the ground with a small piece of coat-hanger wire. Cover it with a couple of cups of topsoil, and keep it moist.

Roots should form where the wound was made, and after four to six weeks you can sever it, trim the top back by half, and plant it into a 1-gallon pot filled with good potting soil.

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Natural landscaping in mountain yards

The beauty of the mountains is right out the front door of most homes in Summit County, so it’s not too common to see clean-cut grass lawns in this area.

“We see very few true grassy lawns in this alpine environment,” said Laurie Williams, associate broker for RE/MAX Properties of the Summit. “Because so many of the homes in Summit County are second homes, owners often opt for low-maintenance landscaping.”

If you do want to implement living landscaping in the mountains, it’s absolutely possible — it just takes maintenance, care and, if you don’t live here in the summer months, it takes money to hire someone else to take care of it for you.

“Some people are still doing perennials and annuals, but gardens take more maintenance and upkeep throughout the year, and more water,” said Arnie Surdyk, president of Double Diamond Property and Construction out of Breckenridge. “We have so much sun and hardly any humidity, so keeping up foliage like that is water- and time-intensive.

The Fairways at Breckenridge is an example of a housing development with well-groomed lawns, but many residents and second-home owners are happy to get away to the mountains and enjoy the natural surroundings here.

Xeriscaping is a landscaping and gardening method that’s often used in regions like Colorado with limited water resources. It is meant to eliminate or reduce the need for supplemental water.

“So many people are environmentally conscious and prefer to use natural elements, such as rocks, wildflowers and indigenous trees to save on water,” Williams explained.

There is, however, no longer a ban on water features, and Surdyk said they are popular outdoor elements with the homes he builds.

“They have been back for a few years and are being put in a lot,” he said. “Especially the homes with a lot of road noise, to help minimize it.”

Unlike states like California and cities like Denver, Summit County does have access to a lot of water, explained Surdyk.

“Fortunately where we are, we don’t have the extreme droughts other places have,” he said. “We are right by the (Continental) Divide, so we get tons of snow, and we get the runoff from Hoosier Pass, so we do have good water sources.”

Embrace natural elements

For most mountain homeowners, the outdoor lifestyle is often a big part of how a home feels. Williams said many luxury homes are on a hillside, and terracing with natural stone to create several levels of flowered gardens and features like an augmented hot tub area, make for a soothing, beautiful and restorative ambiance.

“Splashes of brilliant colors with poppies, daffodils, Alpen roses, lupine, columbine and other mountain flowers bring interest to the landscaping,” she said.

Native trees, like spruce, evergreen and aspen, are popular outside of homes in Summit. Since the pine beetle infestation has thinned out trees naturally, homeowners are now putting in some fresh new growth.

“Aspens are kind of defensible trees against fire,” Surdyk said, “so people have been encouraged to plant aspens if they want trees that help with fire danger and that won’t blow over on your house.”

Trees are often planted around hot tubs to help blend the large amenities into the environment around them. Rock walls are also being added around hot tubs to create more of a seamless, natural look to outdoor spaces.

The backside of homes generally have more serenity than the front side, so this is commonly where a landscaping style that pairs with outdoor living comes into play.

“Typically, hot tubs are in the backyard, along with outdoor fireplaces,” shared Williams, “and thus the spot in which folks tend to recreate and enjoy the visual splendor of mountain gardens.”

Wherever people spend the most time — whether it’s in the front of the house or the back — is where they will put more money and effort into landscaping, explained Surdyk.

Areas with more sun, or mountain views, or serenity — whatever elements are most attractive to a homeowner — are going to be the focal points of outdoor attention.

“Everyone wants a nice appearance as you approach the house, so they will never abandon that area,” he said, “but where people spend most of their time is where you will see the most landscaping.”

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Up next for Venetian Gardens: a beach, boat ramp, walking paths, lighting

LEESBURG — In 1988, when Jay Hurley moved to Leesburg, the southern tip of Venetian Gardens known as Ski Beach was a crowded summer playground bristling with swimmers, boaters and children playing on the lakefront.

“On the weekends, you couldn’t get anywhere near the waterfront,” Hurley recalled. “There were beach blankets everywhere.”

That all came to a halt with one simple decision by the Leesburg City Commission to impose a no-wake zone in the area off Ski Beach to protect the handful of boats occupying the marina at Venetian Gardens.

With no place to ski or wakeboard, boaters left the basin off Ski Beach, the shoreline filled in with dense aquatic weeds, and Ski Beach became a virtual ghost town, said Hurley, now the mayor of Leesburg.

That’s all getting ready to change.

This week, the City Commission approved the next two phases in a multi-step makeover of Venetian Gardens, including the addition of a white sand beach on the lake. The city will also build walking paths, add what officials call “historic” lighting, build a boat ramp and landscape the area attractively.

“This can really be a cool destination place again,” city spokesman Derek Hudson said Thursday. “We want to make it someplace the whole family can enjoy, all year.”

Phase I of the Venetian Gardens makeover began early this year, when city officials set out to renovate Kids Korner playground in the northwest corner of the park, near Dixie Avenue. Just as the city completed that project in early July, it launched an effort to build a splash pad near the playground like so many Central Florida cities, including several in Lake County, have done in recent years.

Phase II of the Venetian makeover will focus on Ski Beach.

The city plans to pave the dirt road that currently winds through the Ski Beach area, add parking, create walking paths, build a boat ramp and restrooms and add the beach on the shore of Lake Harris.

Phase III will involve improvements to the Leesburg Community Center at the entrance to Venetian Gardens.

Mayor Hurley estimates that by the time the makeover is complete, the city will have invested about $9 million in Venetian Gardens.

He said the project aligns with the city’s, and his, philosophy about economic development.

“My feeling is, if you’re going to do economic development, it has to be more than just helping a company come to town by reducing impact fees. You have to train and provide a workforce, but you also have to have a place they want to come to.”

Right now, residents often leave town to take advantage of recreational opportunities in nearby Mount Dora, Tavares, Eustis and The Villages, he said.

“All of this is strictly to bring people back into the community, to have pride of ownership in the community,” Hurley said.

City officials say Phases I and II will cost about $6.6 million and will be funded from city reserves and the city’s gas utility, which are healthy after several years of strong financial management.

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10 tips to bring art into your garden: Get inspired at the Oregon Garden exhibit (photos)

You might be considering adding a piece to your garden and you’re thinking beyond plants. Maybe it’s a a single ornament or larger art that’s whimsical or sophisticated, or something in between.

Perhaps you’re planning to purchase art from a professional, or craft something yourself. That leaky birdbath could be filled with glass balls, shells or polished rocks, or an old stepladder could be used to hold succulents in colorful ceramic pots. (Read more about turning castoffs into creative garden decor.)

For inspiration, you could wander around the Oregon Garden in Silverton, where local artists’ works are on display through Sept. 30.

The annual Art in the Garden event features 10 installations, four of which were built specifically for the garden. Festival artist Tyler FuQua of Eagle Creek created “Wind in the Willow,” which contrasts the organic nature of trees with the rigid nature of metal.

David Hillesland, founder of Oregon Chainsaw Sculptures in Lyons, has “Chaise-ing Dreams,” on display, which is a bench and chaise lounge carved from the remains of a fir tree.

Salem-based artist Jacob Sorenson created a piece using wood shingling, a thatched roof effect and hand manipulation to loosely represent the experience of sighting Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot.

Jill Torberson is a Portland-based artist whose work in steel epitomizes a light and minimalist design aesthetic. She created garden stakes repeating a rhythm in form and size to explore the idea of the horizon and how it relates to the highest elevation in the garden.

The remaining six exhibiting artists are Portland mosaic artist Mark Brody, Mark Collins, who developed Pop Gardens from reclaimed materials, Glide glass artist Lowell Duell, Beaverton artist Richard Hays, whose nature-inspired pieces are made from welded steel, Eugene artist Scott Kuszik, who power-draws on copper, and Portland artist Denise Sirchie, who specializes in multimedia mosaics.

All of the pieces are available for purchase.

We asked one of the Art in the Garden organizers, Kelly McCarty, and her team to offer suggestions to bring art into a garden, from selecting the art based on its size and materials, to placing and illuminating it for maximum impact as well as practical advice so a wooden sculpture doesn’t become a waterlogged mess.

Here are tips to adding art to your garden:

Selecting artwork

Pick a focal point. Decide if you want art or your garden to catch people’s eyes. Large singular pieces will be the center of attention, whereas small groupings of multiple pieces will have an organic appearance that complements your already beautiful garden.

Decide if you prefer symmetry or asymmetry in your garden. If you like symmetry, buying in pairs will achieve that balance. For asymmetry, use groupings of objects and always purchase them in odd numbered quantities for the best composition.

Consider the weather in your area. Glasswork, mosaic, metal, stone and wood are the best mediums for garden art. Wood and mosaic pieces will last much longer if placed in the shade, while glass and metal can withstand full sun for long periods of time.

Placing for impact

Pay attention to the backdrop for your piece. Pieces of art with many fine details look best when placed in front of a subdued background, such as a grouping of conifer trees. Sculptures made of metal or a single color look great when framed by colorful flowers.

Remember that your art is on display full time, but your plants aren’t. You don’t want a sculpture buried in foliage in the summer, or looking oddly placed in the winter. If it’s something you can’t easily move, be sure to note where your perennials are planted and how big they will get.


Make sure to check the placement of your irrigation systems and sprinkler heads.  Placing wood or painted art too close to a direct streaming sprinkler heads will cause pressure damage over time. If you have to secure your piece in the ground, make sure you know where your irrigation pipes and hoses are located underneath.

Be sure to protect your art, especially if you live near the coast or in a particularly dry climate. Your local hardware store will be able to help you pick the appropriate varnishes or protective coatings.

Secure your art in firm ground, or use additional resources when securing on soft ground. It often helps loosen the firm ground if you wet it for a couple days before placement. High-wind areas will also require additional staking to keep your pieces upright.

Illuminating art

Know your own schedule. The best way to be sure you can enjoy art in its best light is to place it in your garden at the same time of day you plan to be there the most.

Shady garden? No problem. Vibrant mosaics add a pop of color to shady gardens and will also last longer without the direct sunlight. Abstract pieces are also a great alternative for shady gardens because they cast their own shadows that surprise you as they change throughout the day.

— Homes Gardens of the Northwest staff

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