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Archives for August 26, 2016

Memorial scheduled for renowned garden designer Ryan Gainey

Renowned Atlanta garden designer Ryan Gainey will be remembered in a memorial tribute Aug. 31 at the Atlanta History Center. Gainey, 72, died trying to save his beloved Jack Russell terriers Jelly Bean, Leo and Baby Ruth from a fire at his home in Lexington, Georgia. The dogs did not survive.

Gainey was the owner of Ryan Gainey Company, and has designed gardens around the world. He was also an author, and was featured in numerous magazines. He headed design for the Visitor’s Center and garden at the South Carolina State Botanical Garden at Clemson University and worked on numerous public and private gardens.

The gathering will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Woodruff Auditorium at McElreath Hall, 130 West Paces Ferry Rd., and is open to the public. A reception will follow in the Grand Overlook ballroom. Attendees are asked to bring a flower for the wreath.

For more information, see the story at

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Pocket parks start to pop up

DANVILLE – As construction has started on the Memorial Parks, or pocket parks, along East Main Street, city employees are being bombarded with questions — especially about plans for Griffin and East Main streets.

Steve Lane, superintendent of parks and public property with the city, said the amount of foot traffic at the Griffin and East Main intersection is tremendous and people keep asking what is a pergola and why is it going up there.

He said they’re just telling people it’s an arbor or trellis, which can be described as a structure, archway or shelter of vines or branches or of latticework covered with climbing shrubs or vines.

The Memorial Parks were recommended in the East Main Street Corridor Plan.

More green spaces and constructing Memorial Parks following the Highway of Heroes and Hope theme along the corridor at Iowa and Main, Griffin and Main and Porter and Main are some of the visual plan recommendations on the task list for 2016.

One of the spaces, at Porter and Main, is right across from the former Cannon Elementary School. That building’s future remains uncertain. Lane said the park at East Main and Porter will have a covered bus shelter, concrete, landscaping and old brick paving of salvaged brick from old sidewalks and removed from other projects.

“That will be something bus riders can use,” he said of the shelter, adding there was no shade there and it was a wide open space used pretty heavily.

At the second Memorial Park, or pocket park, under construction at Griffin and East Main streets where the city tore down a house, a pergola is being constructed.

“It’s very odd shaped,” Lane said of the piece of land at the intersection’s northeast corner across from Ruler Foods.

“I kind of wanted a backdrop at the back of that site; some type of architectural element,” Lane said.

There will be lots of landscaping and several pine trees in the back of the property to screen the alley. Also, in the front there will be decorative plants, ornamental grasses, shrubs, perennials and turf, Lane said.

Themes have been talked about for each park, with education as a once discussed theme for the Main and Porter park. There also was talk of the park to include statue pieces honoring education and teachers, with the corridor also including Danville Area Community College and Meade Park Elementary School.

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“We’ve never really arrived at a theme for that site,” Lane said of the park at Griffin and Main streets.

Other little pocket parks will be worked on in the future, including at Main and Iowa streets.

Other ideas discussed were a bus shelter with a railroad station theme also honoring the city’s railroad history, themes to recognize veterinarians and animals at Kansas and Main next to the animal hospital and mirroring the flags at Bowman and Main near the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System at Iowa and Main streets. The themes are geared toward occupations and local heroes.

The parks help break up the concrete and help improve the aesthetics of the East Main corridor, according to city officials.

Danville Area Transportation Study officials in 2013 approved an East Main Street land-use corridor study be conducted. Aldermen approved a professional services agreement with consultant Lakota Group of Chicago for $69,751 for the study.

The corridor study area, from about Bowman Avenue to east of Kansas Avenue, was separated into three zones — traditional neighborhood from Bowman Avenue to State Street; campus character in the Danville Area Community College and Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System area; and semi-rural on the far east side from Michigan Avenue to east of Kansas Avenue.

In the semi-rural area, residential housing is proposed to de-densify from six units per acre to one unit per acre due to an oversupply of housing that can be reduced over time, according to the consultant.

Developing student, staff and faculty housing in the area of DACC remains a recommendation, in addition to developing mixed-use or campus supportive services.

Other suggestions included more beautification efforts to add more green to the grey streetscape, create pocket parks on vacant corner lots, more signage, convert mid-block vacant lots to side yards, buffer industrial uses from residential uses, create a land bank authority to hold land for future development and establish a development corporation to assist with neighborhood developments.

The study includes eliminating blocks of Williams Street for green space, between National and Nicklas avenues and other areas further east.

City officials have said East Main Street has the capacity to also handle the traffic that uses Williams Street as a main thoroughfare.

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In Bangor, a ‘green pocket neighborhood’ adapts new ideas to traditional setting

BANGOR, Maine — On Fern Street in Bangor, in the modest block between Garland Street and Mount Hope Avenue, there’s a bright new addition to the housing stock. On the site of a former commercial laundry and dry cleaning plant, three custom designed, super energy-efficient houses have been built in the past two years, with room for three more.

These homes are different from the others on Fern Street. Their exterior walls are 16 inches thick and filled with rockwool and cellulose. The windows are triple-glazed and seal as tightly as a refrigerator door. Banks of solar cells cover the south-facing slopes of the roofs. The landscaping trends toward edible permaculture, boasting raised vegetable beds, native fruit trees and berry bushes instead of grassy lawns and flowering shrubs.

This is Bangor EcoHomes, a small but ambitious sustainable-living project developed by husband-and-wife team Bob and Suzanne Kelly, owners of House Revivers and Kelly Realty Management. The couple, longtime members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor and active with the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, has renovated and remodeled dozens of intown properties over the past 20 years — including many historic buildings. They currently manage about 65 apartments, offices and commercial spaces.

Now, with their 30-year-old son, David Kelly, as a consultant and designer, they’ve entered the single-family home market, aiming to attract like-minded buyers to their ambitious new mini-development.

“We’re calling it a green pocket neighborhood,” Suzanne Kelly said. “It’s open to people of all ages, but it’s ideal for elders in many ways.”

Bangor EcoHomes is a bit like the intentional community model of co-housing, she explained, but without the commitment to bylaws, committee work and planned group activities. Also, unlike many co-housing projects, the Fern Street project is not in a rural setting but in an established neighborhood.

The project offers many advantages that appeal to older Mainers, Kelly said, including its energy efficiency, a spirit of shared values and a livable, walkable intown vibe.

Plus, she said, “We like the idea that we’re improving the neighborhood.”

“We’re drawing from history, re-using what we can, fitting into the existing community and trying to make it better,” Kelly said. “We’ve never done anything like this before.”

A ‘bad site’ reclaimed

Built in 1912, the New Franklin Laundry dominated the Fern Street neighborhood for decades, doing a brisk commercial business with local hospitals, restaurants and other high-volume laundry and dry-cleaning customers.

“At the time it was built, it was at the edge of the city,” said Bangor planning officer David Gould. “The residences grew up around it.”

After the plant closed in 2002, the building sat vacant and derelict in the midst of the residential neighborhood while the owners searched for a buyer. The property included the old brick laundry and the acre-and-a-half it sat upon, which had been badly contaminated with toxic chemicals from the cleaning business.

“It was a bad site,” Gould said.

But Bob Kelly worked with the owners to obtain federal funding for the cleanup, which included scraping off and carting away truckloads of contaminated topsoil and aerating the remainder on site until the contamination was no longer detectable. When Kelly purchased the site in 2007, his idea was to rehab the still-standing laundry building into six condominium units. The real estate crisis of 2008 changed that plan.

“No bank would lend money then on a project like that,” Kelly said. “And in the meanwhile, the building was starting to fall down.”

So instead, he razed the structure, cleared off the site and got city approval to establish six house lots, each about 6,800 square feet.

Then, the Kellys enlisted the help of their son, who had been studying sustainable communities and energy-efficient construction at Yestermorrow, a design and building school in Vermont.

“The challenge here was to do a lot of balancing between the individual space and sovereignty people want in their private homes while still maintaining a sense of community,” David Kelly said.

In addition, he said, the project was committed to sustainable construction practices, including the use of local materials whenever possible, the re-use of materials left from the demolition of the old laundry building and the restoration of the land’s vanished topsoil to support a permaculture landscape.

“All the original topsoil was removed with the cleanup,” he said. “This whole site was like a gravel parking lot.”

Now, applications of organic matter such as leaves and bark chips have already begun to decompose into soil, supporting early plantings of fruit trees, blueberry bushes, cranberry vines and other native edibles.

Cost versus value

For retired physician Miriam Devlin, 84, the permaculture landscaping and gardening opportunities of the project were a big draw.

Plus, she said, “the opportunity to have a solar-run house was too good to miss.”

She and her housemate, artist Nancy Earle, helped design the home, working with David Kelly to achieve a one-story 1,225-square-foot floor plan that suits their needs. They moved in last January.

Devlin admitted that they still miss the rural environment of their previous home in Orland. But the project’s commitment to sustainable living, along with being close to shopping, medical services and like-minded neighbors, promises to mitigate those losses, she said.

Next door, Mike Grondin, 62, and his partner, Kyle Tardy, 53, said they knew about the Kellys’ project from the beginning, when it was envisioned as condominiums in the rehabbed laundry building. Their interest didn’t flag when the project changed to a mini-neighborhood of separate houses.

“I was really ready to move into town,” Grondin, who previously lived in Eddington, said. “I was intrigued by the design and construction of these homes — the heat pumps and solar panels, the use of reclaimed lumber and local materials — the whole thing.”

Plus, Grondin said, as he ages, he values being closer to medical services. In the future, he said, “When I call 911, I want them here in two minutes, not 20 minutes.”

Bob and Suzanne Kelly live in the third house on the site, a two-story, 1,600-square-foot home they love.

Three lots remain to be sold, at an asking price of $40,000 each. While there’s no requirement that David Kelly design the new homes, the family feels confident that buyers will be drawn to the project’s ideals as well as to its location. The cost of building these energy-efficient homes runs about 10 percent higher than standard construction, they say, but that expense is offset by much lower costs for heating, cooling and electricity.

Suzanne Kelly said the activity around Bangor EcoHomes is having a positive effect on the rest of the neighborhood, spurring a small flurry of home improvement and home beautification projects.

“I think it’s true what they say, that a rising tide floats all boats,” she said.

Bangor planning officer Gould agrees.

“The neighborhoods that go into decline are the ones where homeowners aren’t invested in their properties,” he said. “What makes a neighborhood work is when people are concerned with the long-term value of their homes.”

On Fern Street, he said, the Kellys’ project is generating the kind of interest that attracts new homeowners and preserves and protects the value of family neighborhoods.


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Victory Drive ideas reborn after developers pull plug on Johnny Harris plan

While it is too late to save the Johnny Harris Restaurant, Savannah residents got a chance on Thursday night to offer their input on what they would like to see in the restaurant’s place now that the developer abandoned plans for a commercial development there.

In addition to offering input on land use and urban development, Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission officials collected feedback on how to improve transportation and landscaping along the Victory Drive corridor.

Long-term management is the goal, said Jane Love, MPC project manager.

“The focus is policy change, which could occur quickly,” Love said. “But the effect they have would happen over time.”

The meeting at the First Presbyterian Church took place to gather ideas and present potential improvements as part of the third phase of the Victory Drive corridor study, which focuses on the section between Bee Road and Skidaway Road.

Mary Anne Gojdics said she appreciated the opportunity, but was disappointed that previous recommendations from the first two phases — such as additional sidewalks, landscaping and blight controls — had not yet been implemented.

The first phase, which began in 2014, looked at the entire corridor between Ogeechee Road and the south end of Tybee Island, while the second phase looked in more detail at the most western segment from Ogeechee to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

“The city is not moving forward with what it could do,” Gojdics said. “They are just ignoring it and waiting until the entire study is done.”

There may be some improvements on the way to address the condition of medians, many of which have become barren eyesores.

The city is evaluating proposals from contractors to beautify the medians using voter-approved sales-tax funds, said city spokesman Bret Bell. In addition, the Savannah City Council recently approved a $34,245 contract with Southern Tree Experts for palm tree maintenance services along Victory from Ogeechee to Downing Avenue.

Planning officials have said that the current focus area along Victory is the stretch most affected by commercial development and increasing traffic.

Until recently, plans for the area had included a commercial development that consisted of retailers, restaurants and a specialty grocer on an 11-acre site bounded by Victory, Wicklow Street, Kerry Street and Dixie Avenue, according to planning commission officials.

The project had drawn opposition from residents who had been concerned about increased traffic and the project’s design, in addition to the loss of the Johnny Harris building they had considered a historic landmark.

Curley Green said he lives across from the site and the development would have just added to the congestion along Victory.

“You can walk a lot faster than you can drive a car,” he said.

Although the building that housed the restaurant for 80 years has been demolished to make way for the development, Gary Plumbley, MPC project planner, said Thursday he heard issues regarding the time the project was taking and with tenants led to the developer’s decision to call off the plan.

“That particular project has gone by the wayside,” Plumbley said.

Attorney Robert McCorkle, who has served as the developer’s representative, declined to comment on the project or any future plans for the site.

If a new development is proposed, it would have to again be submitted to the planning commission for consideration.

Dale Thorpe said she realized that Victory has always had commercial development, but that future projects’ scale and size should be controlled to conform to the surroundings.

As a lifelong Savannahian, Thorpe said she remembers the former prestige of the boulevard that was named in honor of World War I veterans.

“I would like to see it become world famous Victory Drive once again,” she said.

Preliminary recommendations of the third phase are expected to be presented in October, and the study is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Future phases will look in detail at the other segments of the corridor.

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‘Dream garden’ bringing people together in New Brunswick





James Neal and his wife have dedicated their garden to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Staff video by Suzanne Russell

NEW BRUNSWICK – Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Neal, a retired city police officer, has a dream to unite people in his nearly 6-square-mile hometown.

And Neal and his wife, Debra, and their Joyce Kilmer Avenue neighbors, Daniel and Aurora Martinez, are trying to use the beauty of flowers in their  “dream garden,”  to do it. The garden is dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of the 53rd anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech delivered Aug. 28, 1963, during the March on Washington.

“We do this for the neighborhood, for ourselves and this year because we have the (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ) mural down the street. This is an extension of that,” Neal said. “We care about the neighborhood.”

Neal feels his job is to support Dr. King and make his community better. Like other communities across the country, New Brunswick has struggled to cope with fatal police shooting of African American men in 2011 and again earlier this year.

“We just want to make a difference. We don’t want to complain, we don’t want to protest. We’re not mad at anybody,” said Neal, a longtime city resident who retired from the police force in 2004 after 28 years. “This is what we need. The flowers and landscaping brings people together.”

READ: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march in New Brunswick

READ: Local reverend recalls meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

READ: New Brunswick protest rally energetic but not violent

He said his wife often finds him talking to people he doesn’t know about their garden.

Neal said his wife cares for the flowers while he maintains the grass at their home, and Daniel Martinez, who runs Daniel Landscaping in New Brunswick, serves as supervisor. The two couples say they are more than friends, they are like family.

“We work well together,” said Neal, adding that they just want to uplift their neighborhood.

And it seems to be working.

Neal said when he’s out in his yard working on the landscaping, people of all colors and nationalities stop to admire it.

“Everybody loves the garden. I feel the love and inspiration,” Neal said. “The flowers are talking. They are bringing people together spiritually.”

Aurora Martinez said many people remark about the beautiful flowers when they pass the two homes, located a block from each other. They also ask for suggestions on how to update their own landscaping, so they can have nice gardens.

“We see it makes a difference,” she said, adding that now she notices other residents cleaning up their yards and cutting their grass. “They clean up.”

Neal said it’s important to live in a clean community.

“It tells something about you, your image, what type of person you are,” said Neal, adding that keeping their community clean has united him with the Martinezes.

He noted that now other residents remind each other to keep off his grass because of the work Neal puts in to maintain his property.

“They start taking ownership as well,” James Neal said.

Neal said the well-manicured garden in his backyard is a tribute to Coretta Scott King, with the mostly red and white color scheme arranged by his wife and Aurora Martinez. James served as security for Coretta Scott King when she once visited a church in New Brunswick.

“She was such a beautiful lady,” he said.

The backyard has large bouquets of Dragon Wing begonias, mandeville, a tropical plant, and supertunia, a hybrid petunia, calla lily as well as some evergreens.

The front yard has a colorful display of zinnias, more mandeville, daisies, hibiscus, geraniums and more large displays of Dragon Wing begonias. Most of the work was done this year.

The couple likes to have greenery around the house all year long.

“We visualized how we wanted it to be,” said Debra Neal, who worked as a teacher and in finance in Bridgewater.

“We need to make a difference here. Dr. King, he made a difference,” Aurora Martinez said.

The two couples met several years when the Neals were looking to have trees removed from their backyard and Daniel Martinez, who has lived up the street for about 10 years, was hired to do the work. One tree was up against the roof and gutter, and required some technical skill to be removed.

“He did get it down. We trusted him, but it was tricky,” Debra Neal said.

“The benefit of knowing him is a blessing,” James Neal said. “He loves what he does.”

Daniel and Aurora Martinez, natives of Mexico, had a dream for a better life when they came to the United States. He had no background in landscaping when he first arrived and worked for several companies before starting the landscaping business seven years ago.

“We’re here to make a difference,” said Aurora Martinez. “The flowers make the difference.”

Daniel Martinez said he takes special pride in his work.

“We’re looking for the dream garden to go as big as it can, cause we love it,” James Neal said. “Because in a garden like this, you can relax, read a book. It makes you feel better. It’s therapeutic.”

Debra Neal, who lives in the home she grew up in, was raised gardening. Her mother always had flowers around the house when they moved to New Brunswick in 1963.

“I used to go out here with her and she showed me how to put a flower in the ground,” Debra Neal said about her mother.

Aurora Martinez said gardening is good therapy.

“It’s quiet,” she said.

“It’s healing,” Debra Neal added..

Like the Neals, the Martinezes home has a lush landscape of fragrant tropical flowers, roses, lemongrass and hanging baskets.

And Aurora Martinez said the most important thing about creating a vibrant, healthy garden besides water is putting in a lot of love.

Staff Writer Suzanne Russell: 732-565-7335; 

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Gong art panel explains renovated RMSC landscape

The sign outside the Rochester Museum Science Center is apologetic: “Excuse our mess while we go green.” But no apology is necessary as far as ecology-minded citizens are concerned.

The heavy equipment is still ripping up the old parking lots and the trucks are still hauling in special porous asphalt as the landscaping around the museum evolves into a working demonstration of rainwater management. Yet, despite the mess at the corner of East Avenue and Goodman Street, some of the more delicate aspects of the $1.4 million renovation are already in place: The wildflower gardens that will be fed by this re-direction of rainwater, and the large Nancy Gong outdoor glass panel that explains the principles behind it.

Genesee River Watershed, beneath a pavilion alongside the museum parking lot, is the first outdoor art installation in Rochester utilizing a colored-glass lamination process. “We still have to tweak it a little bit, with a little extension on the roof we have to do to get it to fall properly,” Gong says.

When all is aligned, rainwater falling from the pavilion’s butterfly-wing roof will be redirected to a stone-lined channel, sending the water burbling into one of the museum’s wildflower gardens. Afternoon light shining through the two large panels is already casting colorful shadows on the pavilion floor.

“The colored glass is the same mouth-blown colored glass that I use in my leaded-glass windows, my stained-glass windows,” Gong says. “I take these old techniques and materials I use and embraced modern ways of working with them.

“Most pieces are typically cut by hand, but I worked with an optical company that has a water-jet cutting machine. It can cut glass to patterns, unnatural cuts, that can only be done with a water jet.

“It’s cut to fit so closely, it fits like a puzzle, rather than the lead that is used to hold together the different pieces in some of my stained-glass windows.”

After the pieces are cut, Gong uses vitreous paints — ground-glass pigments — that are permanently fired into the glass. Images such as houses and words are sandblasted into the piece.

It’s a complex process, resulting in a deceptively simple, folk-art piece. The etched images and words — “Condensation,” “Precipitation,” “Infiltration,” “Transpiration” — depicting the area’s water basin are rendered as casually as a hydrologist might sketch them on a cocktail napkin. Rochester’s two main sources of water, Lake Ontario and Hemlock Lake, are included along with some of the Finger Lakes.

“The lamination is borrowed from Germany,” Gong says. “The Europeans have a bit of a jump on us in regards to design and technology, but in about the last 10 years we’ve been seeing more of it here.”

Her Rochester-based Gong Glass Works has created sweeping architectural glass art, windows, mosaics and sculptures for lobbies at the Rochester Institute of Technology and in business offices and private homes both here and in other states. One easily seen piece is the glass-enclosed bus stop in front of Gleason Works on University Avenue.

“This desire to have an educational, visual artwork to help the museum convey the story of storm-water management — where it comes from, how it affects us — this exterior application was perfect for this process,” Gong says.

“This is all new to me, learning about storm-water management through the creation of this design.”

When finished, the museum’s working rainwater landscape will feature rain-collecting barrels, interactive rain gardens and porous concrete sidewalks. The green infrastructure’s new, rain-permeable asphalt is perhaps the first time the parking lot could be called interesting. Visitors to the museum will be able to monitor the system’s collection of rainwater. RIT students will conduct a multiyear study to assess the effect that the new construction has on infrastructures such as the sewer system.

And, as Gong notes, it’s easy on the eyes.

“This has a huge potential,” she says, “from an archaeological point of view, from a landmark point of view, from a fine art point of view.”

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21st Annual Austin Fall Home & Garden Show |

Creating a garden that will thrive in our finicky and often brutal Central Texas Weather can be a challenge, but not for the experts at the 21st Annual Austin Fall Home and Garden Show. Heather McClean of Goodness Grows in Austin joined us in the studio with more. Help get your projects solved at the 21st Annual Austin Fall Home Garden Show. Turn your home and garden dreams into reality with new ideas, fresh tips, latest products and the hottest home trends on August 26-28 at the Austin Convention Center, 500 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin.

WHAT: The 21st Annual Austin Fall Home Garden Show
WHEN: Friday, August 26, 2-7p | Saturday, August 27, 10a-7p | Sunday, August 28, 11a-5p
WHERE: The Austin Convention Center | 500 East Cesar Chavez Street | Austin, TX 78701 Metered street parking, and nearby City Garages.
ADMISSION: Adults 17+ – $9 per person | 16 Under – Free | Seniors 65+ – $7 | Active Duty Military – Free (with ID)

For over two decades, the Austin Fall Home Garden Show captivates visitors with expert builders and contractors, celebrity guests, exciting presentations and fun activities for the entire family. The Austin Convention Center is transformed into a vibrant, colorful home and garden paradise, with thousands of square feet of dazzling displays, interactive demos, and experts in virtually every area of home building, remodeling, landscaping, gardening and wildlife. There are beautiful furnishings, state-of-the-art kitchen, wall design and countertop displays, closet organization and storage, entertainment and technology, the latest in sinks, tubs, fixtures and even pools, spas and outdoor living areas. For the yard and garden, there are ‘outdoor living’ inspirations, with imaginative landscape displays, unique water features and a wide variety of plants and garden accessories to boost curb appeal. There will also be outdoor furniture, grills, spas and more. Special seminars this fall include everything for gardens including Central TX Gardens, Landscapes, Bees Container Gardens. The Garden Wildlife Stage will also host citrus expert Mani Skaria, education on bamboo and a lively show with Birds of Prey.

Whether it’s a small home improvement project or a complete renovation, guests can expect one-on-one time to consult with expert builders, contractors, remodelers, interior designers and landscapers among others. Some of the top professionals in the industry are available to offer invaluable advice and practical ‘how-tos’ on everything from common topics such as gutters, walls, and flooring, to home security, green living, media technology, and the latest on solar energy.

On the Austin American Statesman Fresh Ideas Stage, the Austin Fall Home Garden Show is thrilled to host special celebrity guest Chris Lambton of DIY Network’s “Yard Crashers” and HGTV’s “Going Yard”. Chris takes the stage with an entertaining and insightful presentation on landscaping, trends and how to be sustainable in your own backyard; plus, share a behind the scenes look at your favorite crashes and how to create your own! The Fresh Ideas Stage will also host outdoor living experts of Diamondscape and KXAN’s David Yeomans weather seminars. Families can take advantage of fun interactive activities including the Kids Project Zone, movies, coloring, arts and crafts to educational fun with Thinkery’s nature sensory bin and collage making, and even the child ID program with fingerprinting by NY Life. For the shoppers, there is a unique Art, Gift and Gourmet Center with artisan foods and handcrafted gifts, GO TEXAN products and gourmet treats such as jams, dips, pasta and sweet treats.

Attendees won’t want to miss a chance to win an outdoor 12’ x 12’ garden room by Goodness Grows in Austin. Valued at $10,000, the giveaway includes flagstone, native plant collection, moss boulders and mulch container gardens, ceramic containers of succulents, Adirondack chairs with stools and an accent table. In addition, free totes and bluebonnet seeds are available for all attendees while supplies last. The Austin Fall Home and Garden show is cash or check only at the door. Prices are $9 for adults (17+), $7 for seniors (65+) all weekend, and free for 16 and under. Admission is also complimentary for all active duty military personnel (valid ID required).



Sponsored by The Austin Fall Home Garden Show. Opinions expressed by guests on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.


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Tips to simplify gardening, from Neil Sperry’s many years of experience

I’ve been answering North Texans’ gardening questions since September 1970. That’s a lot of years, and it’s been a lot of questions. Perhaps 400,000 of them. Seven hours most weekends, newspaper columns and Facebook. And from all those shouts for help, I’ve seen some recurring issues that have made gardening more difficult than it needed to be.

My goal here is to help simplify your gardening endeavors. This is a list I’ve never developed before — at least not in this form. I hope it makes your gardening much more enjoyable and a whole bunch more rewarding.

Do your homework ahead of time. Choose only plants (native or adapted) that are most likely to succeed where you are. If you’re trying something as yet unproven, try just one or two. Prove success before you take a big plunge. Know proper planting times, and be forewarned of any special soil or lighting needs.

The last things you need to ask before you check out at the register should be directed toward the nursery manager or assistant manager: “Am I about to make any mistake in the plants I’m about to purchase from you? Is there anything you ought to be telling me?” Let them help “own” your decisions.

Know the correct names of all the plants that you’re growing in your landscape. Keep a list so you’ll know who the patients are if you ever need to reach out for help. So many people begin their questions with “Neil, I have this tree, but I don’t know what kind it is.” If you have a planting plan, hang onto it. If you amend it, write in the names of the newcomers.

As you buy new shrubs and trees, save their name tags. If you’re unsure of a plant’s name, take good and clear photos (taken with the sun behind you!) and a sample to a local Texas certified nursery professional, and take notes of what he or she tells you. Transfer those names back to your record book.

Make copies of your receipts and keep them together in case you ever need to call in a plant’s guarantee. Some nurseries offer extended guarantees, but I’m going to do something I rarely do here, that being to suggest a moral fine-tuning. You probably don’t need it, but I’ve certainly seen people who do. If the plant was healthy when you bought it, and if you know that you neglected it during the growing season, examine your soul.

Nursery owners work hard for their incomes. If they sold you a bad plant, use the guarantee. That one would be on them. But if you turned a good plant into a bad one by your own actions (or inaction), don’t ask the nursery to honor the replacement or to give you a refund.

Keep a list of dates when you’ve planted your annual flowers and vegetables. Hopefully you used lists of recommended planting dates that professionals have prepared for your area, but either way, make note of your own choices, then follow up with comments about each crop’s success. Write down little tips like “Plant earlier next year” or “Wait two weeks to plant — got caught by late freeze.”

Keep a list of all pest problems that you encounter during the year. Note when you first saw them, what you did to address them, and if they recurred. Insect and disease problems have a habit of coming back year after year, and they usually do so about the same time.

If you’re putting all of this into a single three-ring notebook, print out the Texas AM fact sheet on each particular insect you encounter. You can find them by searching “City Bugs Texas AM” and then adding in the insect name. The “City Bugs” series is especially consumer-friendly.

If you have a sprinkler system, hang onto that design plan that shows where all the valves are. It’s best to keep it hanging somewhere near the controller. You and any repair people will be very glad that you did. Finding valves can be really tricky, especially if they were installed some distance from where most of their sprinkler action is.

Bookmark the websites that you find the most useful, and keep a file of them on your desktop. If it gets a bit lengthy, break it into categories. One that I have close at hand in my Bookmarks bar is for Texas AM fact sheets on fruit crops ( I just label it as “Fruit and Nut Resources.”

Along a similar vein, keep a folder on your desktop for photos of all the landscapes and gardens you have liked while you’ve been out and about. You can refer back to them later for design ideas. Assign them photo names that give the date, location and plant names that are visible. These are absolutely priceless as you try to describe your desires and goals to a professional landscape designer.

That’s enough for this time. I’d jot down a few more ideas, but I need to head outside. I have this sprinkler valve we’ve been searching for for years, and now it’s haunting me again. Let’s see. Where’s that sprinkler plan?

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Gardening column: Stretch your garden’s growing season with these tips

Soon autumn will arrive (the official autumnal equinox date from The Farmer’s Almanac is 10:21 a.m. Sept. 22). With its arrival we can usually count on cooler days and nights and more rainfall. For those of you who enjoy planting cool weather vegetables, or those of you who want to try doing this for the first time, right now is the perfect time to begin this process.

There are several pluses to planting now, usually you will not have to deal with as many pests and some of those vegetables with a little protection from frosty nights will often continue to produce well into winter.

Here are some tips and hints on stretching the growing season and continuing to enjoy fresh healthy food right from your very own gardens:

• In the area you choose, clear off all vegetation from summer vegetables and deal with any weeds that you see.

• Add amendments — maybe a bag of composted manure or compost if you have it.

• Till or spade up the area you’ve chosen to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and work in the good stuff as you go.

• Side dress once plants are up and growing with 10-10-10 fertilizer unless you have already been fertilizing that area with slow-release fertilizer for your warm weather vegetables.

• Plant seeds or look for transplants if you can find them for cool weather vegetables such as the following:

Here are examples of those that can tolerate a light frost: Beets, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, parsnips and potato.

The following vegetables are hardy in our gardens: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, onion, parsley, peas, radish, spinach and turnip.

(Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage and onion will produce more quickly as transplants).

• Water if needed until your plants are established — and continue if rainfall is scarce once the plants begin to produce.

• Weeds know no season, so don’t let them take over — they are nutrient and space bullies, so keep after them.

• Be prepared to cover young plants if we get a frost warning. Once established those plants that are hardy can stand quite cold nights. I have cleared snow off Brussels sprouts to harvest them — so some of our favorites thrive in cold weather.

• There is no guarantee that critters won’t welcome your fall garden produce so be prepared to protect your plants from them as well.

People are often afraid of failure so they don’t try new things in the garden or often times, anywhere. If you are an old pro at this gardening thing, you know how many times you had to try things before you felt comfortable working with soil and plants and gave yourself permission to say “big deal” if things didn’t work out as planned. So, my advice to those of you who are new at this, think of fall gardening as a laboratory project. Have fun with it; keep a journal of what worked and what didn’t and ask questions. I am happy to help preferably by email and you can call the Extension and talk to Ricky Kemery, the horticulture educator, or Master Gardeners who work in our Response Center at 481-6826, Option 2.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to She also answers gardening questions with horticulture educator Ricky Kemery noon-1 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month on “The Plant Medic,” a radio show on 95.7fm. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.

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12 Tips to Get Your Edible Garden Started | Fox News

  •  (Priscilla Torres/Houzz)

  •  (Amy Renea/Houzz)

  •  (Square Foot Gardening/Houzz)

You’ve dreamed of turning your lawn into a lush food-producing oasis. Perhaps you’ve had visions of stepping onto your patio before dinner to snip fresh chives and basil onto your plate. The good news is that almost anyone can grow food, whether you have a tiny apartment balcony or a big yard. And there’s still time to start many summer crops — and to plan for a cool-season garden for fresh harvests this fall.

12 Edibles Perfect to Plant in Late Summer

1. Start small. Just because you have a big backyard doesn’t mean that you should turn the entire thing into a vegetable garden. At least, not in the first year. Begin by building one raised bed and see how things go. You may be surprised both by how much food you can grow in a tiny space and by how much work it actually takes to keep things going. If you’re hungry for more next year, add another bed or two.

2. Plan your garden. Before you spend money or build anything, take time to get to know yourself and your space. Where is the best light? How much time do you have each week to spend on your gardening? How much food do you really want to grow? Ask yourself these questions before you put your shovel into the ground.

3. If you don’t have a backyard, find an alternative. You don’t need a big backyard to grow food. Patios and decks can make for great gardens. They can even offer advantages over traditional beds since they often have plenty of light. You may also want to consider building a front yard vegetable garden. It’s a great way to bring the neighborhood together.

4. Get good soil. Soil is the most important factor in the health of your garden. Instead of buying bags of the cheapest stuff from the hardware store, do some research and find the best way to get compost-rich organic soil for your garden. Whether you build your own soil or buy it from a reputable supplier, your plants will thank you.

5. Choose easy-to-grow crops. Giant leeks, Romanesco broccoli and heirloom watermelons look gorgeous in the seed catalog, but hold off on planting them in the first few years. Instead, choose tried-and-true varieties of crops that are productive and easy to grow. Snap peas, radishes, herbs like mint and chives, salad greens, kale, tomatoes and zucchini are all classic choices — just make sure you actually like to eat them before they go into the garden. Consult a seed catalog from a local company to find the best varieties for your regional climate.

6. Decide whether to plant seeds or seedlings. It can be tempting to buy seedlings from the nursery or grocery store, but, in some cases, planting seeds is even easier. Growing vegetables from seed also saves a lot of money, opens up a world of plant varieties and can make for healthier plants.

7. Invest in some garden tools — but not too many. Vegetable gardens don’t need a lot of tools. In fact, you may find that the best “tools” out there are a good pair of garden gloves and your hands. Start with a trowel, weeder and a few other essentials, then build your collection from there.

8. Try planting a square-foot garden. Gone are the days of planting vegetables in long, skinny rows. Instead, try building raised beds and planting them using the square-foot method described in Mel Bartholomew’s book All New Square Foot Gardening. This technique, which divides crops using a grid, creates patchwork quilt-style gardens that grow more food in less space.

9. Stay on top of weeds. Square-foot gardens usually have surprisingly few weeds. Still, you’ll find a few in there. Rather than straining your back over giant dandelions, try pulling weeds out when they’re relatively small. A once-per-week weeding is the perfect way to keep things in shape.

10. Welcome the birds and the bees. Pollinator animals, like bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, are your allies in gardening success. They provide an essential service by helping plants set fruit — so having lots of them means that your cucumbers and apples will be way more plentiful.

Pollinators are sensitive creatures that need your help to thrive. Welcome them by planting attractive flowers and by providing sources of shelter and water.

11. Don’t forget to label your crops. It’s a small detail but one that makes a big difference. Whenever you plant something, label it with a plant maker including the crop, variety and planting date. Otherwise, you may sow the same place twice before seeds emerge. Plant markers help keep your garden organized.

12. Remember that it’s an experiment. Treat your garden with curiosity and an open mind. If a crop fails, don’t get upset. Do some research and try to figure out what went wrong so that you can avoid the problem next time. Successful gardeners spend years learning from mistakes and are always open to trying new techniques. Treat it as a fun and delicious experiment.

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