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Archives for August 13, 2016

Sophie’s garden design to transform school rubbish tip

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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Parade of Homes starts Saturday

The annual Metropolitan Builders Association Parade of Homes showcases what local home builders can do.

But the event isn’t just for people who want to build a new house.

“I say it’s the largest remodeling show out there,” said Kristine Hillmer, executive director of the builders organization. “Because more than 50% of the people who come — we do exit surveys of people who come to the parade — are coming for design ideas for their existing house.”

From Saturday through Labor Day, the Parade of Homes will display what Hillmer calls “the latest and greatest” in home building designs, decorating, technology and landscape ideas.

The parade is being held this year at the Weyerhaven subdivision in Menomonee Falls and Windrush in Hartland. In all, the parade includes 20 new houses constructed by 16 builders.

Some visitors to the parade come mainly to check out paint colors and decorating touches.

“If I want to get ideas on what the trending colors are or I want to see granite countertops or wood flooring or whatever it is, this is a great way to see it in application,” Hillmer said. “Not everybody  can look at a paint chip and picture it in their house.”

Hillmer said “muted colors” — gray tones and whites — accented by “pops” of color still are popular.

One trend that keeps growing, Hillmer said, is “smart” home technology that allows owners to electronically control functions like adjusting window shades, lighting, heating and air conditioning and security.

“We are seeing more and more of it,” she said.

The builders of properties in the parade pay attention to the outside of houses as well, so visitors can look for landscaping ideas there, too.

The houses in the show range from a base price of about $375,000 for the least expensive model to about $1 million on the top end, Hillmer said. The parade homes generally feature lots of extra amenities so builders can show visitors the possibilities, she said.

The Parade of Homes will be open Mondays through Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets at the gate cost $12 for adults, $6 for seniors 65 and older and $6 for children 3 to 12. Children younger than 3 are admitted free.  Adult tickets can be purchased online for $10 (service charges may apply), and there are various promotions.

Weyerhaven is located off Lilly Road, south of Mill Road and north of Silver Spring Drive, two miles west of Interstate 41.

Windrush is located off Lisbon Road (Highway K), east of both Jungbluth Road/N. Shore Drive and Highway KE and west of both Highway 164 and Hanover Hill Road.

The Parade of Homes is presented by Nonn’s.

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View Over 7000 landscaping ideas, including landscaping design, landscape ideas, garden design, garden ideas …

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” How to Liven Up Your Home With Over 7250 Breathtaking Landscaping Designs WITHOUT Hiring Costly Professional Landscape Designers…. “


Dear Home Owner,

If you are reading this letter then it is likely that you want to design your dream home landscape and save money in the process.

  • Do you know that most landscaping designers overcharge you for their services?

  • Have you under-estimated the time and cost required to complete your dream landscape?

  • Having trouble coming up with ideas for your landscape design?

  • Do you want a new landscape but don’t know where to start?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, I understand your pain. I was once in your shoes

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Here’s the BIG problem: Most landscaping designers are downright rip-offs. Why? They overcharge you with the simplest design ideas and they skip over many important parts.

I’ve been designing and building my own landscapes for the past 18 years. The truth is, when I first started out, I spent a ton of time reading magazines and hiring different designers. Most of the time, it just left me with more questions than answers and a huge hole in my pocket.

Well, luckily for you, these problems become a blessing in disguise because I have spent the last 5 years putting together a comprehensive landscaping resource with all the design inspirations and instructions of my 18 years of experience.

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You can get the job done cheaper, faster and without headaches using my landscaping resource…

This massive collection of photos, ideas, and simple step-by-step details is designed to help home owners make some progress with their plan to liven up their home with the perfect landscaping.

It’s meant to save you money and give you the choices that you would otherwise not find if you settled for magazines or your landscaping contractor . With this database, you’ll truly be able to choose the “dream home” landscape you’ve always wanted to have.

Inside this massive database, you’ll find 1’000s of landscaping pictures in 60+ categories like these…



This post has been seen 219 times.

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5 landscape ideas for people who aren’t good with plants

Are you a weekend yard warrior who needs help coming up with landscape ideas to turn your yard from an unsightly mess into a sight to behold? Here are five landscape ideas to help you create a beautiful yard, even if you have a brown thumb.

1. You can’t escape the streetscape

An angled bench and large flower pots create a very inviting threshold. (Photo: David Papazian/Shutterstock)

A good place to begin gathering landscape ideas is to go to the street and look at your front yard and those of your neighbors. Ask yourself about what you see in your yard and the yards on both sides of your house, said Ellen Bauske, program coordinator at the Center for Urban Agriculture at the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Griffin campus: “Which one has the tidiest yard? The yard that looks tidy will be the one you will want to emulate … or improve upon.” A guiding principle to keep in mind as you study the yards around you is to match those models with your skill level and time commitment.

One way to begin creating a fresh look that will change the appearance of your landscape without going to a lot of expense is to place a bench or chair on the porch or in an area near the front door, Bauske advised. For maximum effect, she said to “Be sure to angle it so it points toward the door.” Nothing says “Welcome!” more effectively than an outdoor bench or chair that invites people to stop and stay for a bit.

Another quick, easy and inexpensive landscape idea that Bauske said will add color and increase visual interest to your yard is a pot of flowers. Like the chair or bench, she said you should place the pot on or near the front porch. “Choose the largest pot that will fit the space and your budget,” she urged. “Large pots not only make a visual impact, but they require less frequent watering than smaller pots.”

Better yet, with the pressures of today’s today’s time-pressed lifestyles, pots are far easier to maintain than flower beds, especially if you can find a pot with a compartment for water that will wick water up into the potting soil. Many garden centers will even pot a planter for you if you purchase the plants from their inventory.

2. Love your lawn

A nice-looking lawn will do a lot for your yardscape, and it doesn’t require a lot of work on your part. (Photo: StockWithMe/Shutterstock)

If you’re a busy professional with little time for yard work, a tidy lawn makes a big impact, Bauske said. That’s because grass is much easier and less time-consuming to care for than trying to plan, plant and maintain flower beds, she pointed out.

The key to having an attractive lawn is to keep the grass short and tidy, especially if your lawn is a mixture of grasses and weeds. Keep in mind that neat and tidy doesn’t mean the lawn needs to look like the putting green of a golf course or a manicured professional baseball field … unless you want it to. After all, many a homeowner has adopted the perspective that even weeds can look good if you keep them mowed.

“A general rule of thumb is to mow the lawn often enough that you only remove a third of the blade height at each mowing,” said Kerry Smith, a home grounds team co-coordinator and state master gardener program coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “Most turf is happiest [when] kept under two inches of blade height,” added Smith, who is based at Auburn University. “St. Augustine is the exception and can be allowed to grow slightly taller.”

Develop a lawn care program based on the type of grass you have and the region of the country where you live. A lawn care program for the most popular turf grasses can be found at UGA’s turf grass website. “These calendars are adapted for Georgia’s climate but could be widened to the Southeastern U.S.,” said Clint Waltz, an extension turf grass specialist at UGA in Athens, Georgia. Implementing a year-round regimen for maintaining your lawn will greatly reduce the amount of weeds and, hopefully, eliminate them altogether.

If you’re uncertain of the type of grass or grasses in your lawn, dig out a sample of the dominant grass (entire plants, roots and shoots), place it in a sealed plastic baggie and send or take the sample to your local county extension agent. To find the extension agent nearest you, do an internet search using the key words “cooperative extension.” Don’t be overly concerned if you have a mixture of grasses in your lawn, Bauske said. “Lots of people have more than one grass,” she added. Chose the lawn care program based on the predominant grass.

Another landscape idea for lawn care is don’t be hesitant about hiring a professional. Depending on your goals and budget, you can hire companies that will lay sod (think instant lawn!) and apply the growing-season fertilizers as well as do the mowing.

3. Choose plants of steel

Crepe myrtles are sturdy trees that will leave a clear view of your house even when in bloom. (Photo: CLS Digital Arts/Shutterstock)

Whether you are choosing plants for a pot or in-ground beds, be aware that the many varieties you can choose from are not created equal, said Smith. Seek those that are resistant to problems associated with drought, disease and pests, she advised. The staff at your local gardening center can help you make smart choices for plants that are hardy in your region.

If you are ambitious and are going to create new beds for trees and shrubs or perennials or enhance existing ones, remember that the best landscape ideas include a design that leaves a clear view of the front door, Bauske said. Remember, also, that the most successful landscape ideas often start off small. Don’t bite off more than you can chew (or plant and take care of!).

If your goal is to create flowering borders, here are some recommendations for plants of steel for sunny areas that will work especially well in the Southeast.

  • Ground covers: creeping Jenny, creeping raspberry, creeping thyme (the variety Elfin is perfect for use between stepping stones), sedums
  • Bulbs, rhizomes or tubers: daffodils, iris, day lilies, canna lilies
  • Flowers: natives such as cone flowers, Black-eyed Susans and verbena (Homestead Purple is an excellent choice)
  • Shrubs: Butterfly bush, abelia, oakleaf hydrangea and fothergilla
  • Roses: Drift and Knockout roses are both resistant to black spot, the scourge of people who love roses but find them difficult to grow.
  • Trees: Crepe myrtles and any native tree such as red buds, magnolias and dogwoods
  • Herbs: Mix them into your flower beds to add texture and color and to harvest for culinary use. Some to consider are rosemary and upright thyme, such as French thyme
  • Grasses and grass-like plants: Panicum virginicum Shenandoah, fountain grass, pampas grass, carexes and sedges. The latter two stay small and can be used to fill in gaps between perennials. They are also evergreen and will keep garden areas from being bare during winter when flowers are dormant.

If you have a shady yard, here are some recommendations for plants of steel for shade or areas with filtered light.

  • Ground covers: Ajuga, sweet woodruff, Lily of the Valley, partridge berry
  • Small plants: Ferns, hostas, Aspidistras (cast iron plants, which will add a strong vertical visual interest)
  • Shrubs: Hydrangeas (If you have a grouping of hydrangeas, plant ferns such as autumn ferns among them. The ferns are evergreen and will provide a soft foundation that will keep the hydrangea stems from looking like a bunch of bare sticks in winter when their leaves have dropped.)

4. Aim for a minimum of maintenance

Ground cover, like mulch, will cut down on the amount of maintenance you need to do. (Photo: OzCameraman/Shutterstock)

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a zero maintenance landscape — no matter how much thought you put into your landscape ideas! Even if your hire a lawn service company, for example, you’ll likely still have to pull weeds and water and replant pots as seasons change.

There are, however, some landscape ideas that will help you cut down on maintenance. Some have been mentioned previously, such as having a lawn instead of flower beds. Other landscaping ideas to reduce maintenance are:

  • Mulch planting beds heavily with fall leaves. As the leaves decompose they will enrich the soil and help reduce weeds. “Take care not to mound leaves against the stems of woody plants,” said Smith.
  • Fill in flower beds with ground covers as much as possible. Like mulch, ground covers help keep weeds at bay.
  • Use native plants as much as possible. They tend to be hardy and are adaptable to stresses caused by drought and local pests once established.
  • Because life is nothing but choices, instead of planting a lot of flowers in your beds (even bulletproof plants can require deadheading, staking and dividing), consider replacing perennial flowers with woody shrubs and trees. Many of the latter only require pruning once a year, if that.
  • For shrubs, consider viburnums, spiraeas, nine bark, wiegelia and hydrangeas.
  • Dogwoods and eastern redbuds are popular spring flowering trees and crepe myrtles add summer color. Dwarf evergreens such as junipers can be used to add color as well as texture.
  • If you have a very small and shady front yard, consider planting dwarf mondo grass for your lawn instead of grass.

5. Relax and enjoy

With your new landscape in place, go back to the street to see how your landscape ideas have turned out. You’ll likely come up with some new ideas to tweak the work you’ve done and will probably encounter some neighbors out for a walk. They’ll no doubt admire your work as much as you do. Invite them to the chair or bench you placed near the front door when you began your project. As you do that, remember that gardeners like to share. It’s a safe bet they’ll want to hear where you came up with your landscape ideas.

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Perfect native plant for favorite butterfly – The Evening Sun

With so much focus on the decline of several bee species and other pollinators, including our beautiful Monarch butterfly, many gardeners and nature enthusiasts are wondering what they can do. You may ask how you, here in Adams County, can use your landscape to provide a haven for native animals, insects and birds.

There are many websites and organizations that can provide some answers. For example, the PA Native Plant Society website has complete info on native plant sources, plant information and landscaping, as well as events. Here in Adams and York Counties, our Penn State Master Gardeners have fact sheets, plant lists, and demonstration gardens available to all with a phone call, visit or email.

Residential properties play an important role in wildlife conservation. When considering planting a tree on your property, please plan to plant a native tree that will help sustain and nourish our native insects. Remember, insects are the diet mainstay for all young birds, as well as toads, frogs, and small mammals, filling that all important role near the bottom of the food chain. When planting a tree, remember to consider its eventual height and width, and exposure and water needs.

A study in suburban Chicago recently reported that “having neighborhoods with many wildlife-friendly yards is more important than having a neighborhood surrounded by parks or forest preserves.” Residential areas with a variety of tree species attract twice as many bird species as neighborhoods lacking that variety.

Doug Tallamy, a University of Delaware entomologist says “96 percent of all terrestrial birds raise their offspring on insects, primarily caterpillars.” Native oak trees host 557 caterpillar species. Tallamy says “The more caterpillars a yard produces, the greater the chances a bird will nest successfully.”

Two years ago, Tallamy, in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation and the U. S. Forest Service, began a study of plant preference of every butterfly and moth in the U.S.  Part of the project is the development of an online database listing wildlife friendly plants for each of the nation’s 3,000 counties.  The database will allow gardeners, educators and others to search for native plants by their zip code.

Here is how to access the National Wildlife Federation’s website: That brings up a “Native Plants by Zip Code – NWF” site. The site will feature a tab “About”. This tab explains how to use this tool, breaking down results into two categories: flowers and grasses, and trees and shrubs. I must caution that the site is still being worked on, and not all of the information is complete at this time. The plants are ranked by the number of caterpillar species they support. You can click on any plant to learn more about it.

Under the ‘Find Butterflies’ tab, there will be a list of butterflies and moths in your area, and what host plants their caterpillars depend on. As I perused this site, it is obvious that it is a work in progress. You may not find some of the things you are looking for right away. I am hoping that over the rest of 2016 that a lot of the site work can be completed, so that it will be ready for planning our 2017 gardens and landscape plans.

The ‘Choosing Plants’ tab gives you information on selecting the right plant for the right spot. It also highlights the importance of trees to your landscape and the community at large. Under “Supplier” tab, there are directions to locate native plant nursery directories in each state.

I am so happy with this new website, and appreciate all the time and research spent on developing it so far.  As a Master Gardener, I look forward to recommending this website to my gardening friends and neighbors. Happy Gardening with Native Plants!

Faith Peterson is a Penn State Master Gardener from Adams County. Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, call 717-334-6271.

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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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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. 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. (Susan Dunlap/Montana Standard via AP)

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Freshen your Space with these Indoor Gardening…

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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Master Gardener: Tips on what to do to your garden in August

Q: What should I be doing in my garden this month?

A: During the hot days of summer, we may forget that there is still much that can be done to keep your garden and yard healthy and looking its best. First, don’t forget maintenance:

Replace mulch that has broken down in the hot summer temperatures to continue to conserve soil moisture and control weeds.

Do the final pruning of summer for fruit trees that have finished producing fruit. This helps to keep size in check and also decreases the amount of pruning needed during winter. Also, Prune apricots now to avoid spreading Eutypa fungus. Remove about 20 percent to 30 percent of this year’s growth.

To prevent the spread of brown rot, clean up debris around fruit trees and pick up dropped fruit.

To trap codling moth larvae, attach bands of corrugated cardboard around apple tree trunks.

Fertilize citrus trees, chrysanthemums until buds start to open, and annuals and container plants.

Next, start vegetable seeds in a cool location indoors or in a cool shady part of the yard. Start seeds of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, chard, bunching onion and radicchio for over-wintering.

Direct seed into garden beds oriental greens, beets, carrots, lettuce, turnips, Florence fennel, mustard, radish, rutabaga, spinach and leeks. To help with germination while temperatures are still hot, shade beds and cover seed rows with wooden boards or cardboard to keep it from drying out. Make sure to remove cover once seed germinates.

Do you have a gardening question for University of California/Shasta College Master Gardeners? Email it to or call 242-2219.

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