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Archives for September 21, 2016

Enota school design public forum set for Thursday night

A public forum to discuss a proposed new school for Enota that has generated controversy for months is planned at the school Thursday night, and two opponents of announced plans said they hope it will be a “beginning” of discussion leading to a decision.

At least one Gainesville Board of Education member has indicated he would like it to be the end of discussions about the school. Brett Mercer, vice chair of the board, said at the board’s retreat Aug. 13, when the forum was broached, that the board needs to make a decision about the school and move to other topics.

He has cited the enrollment at Gainesville middle and high schools, among the other topics. GMS has more than 1,700 students and GHS more than 1,900. Mercer has said planning for another school or schools, to reduce that enrollment, should start soon.

The meeting will be from 6-8 p.m. at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

Mark and Mildred Fockele, who have been among the most active proponents of preserving the Smartville garden at the school, said by email, “We are hopeful that the meeting will provide a meaningful dialogue with the architects and engineers.  

“This is what we have been seeking since April — a chance to have a back-and-forth discussion in an attempt to create the best new school possible, and to save as much of the garden as possible — a garden that was created with significant monetary and volunteer investment, and which over 1,200 citizens asked to save.

“We see the meeting as the beginning of collaborative discussions that will lead to a better result all the way around.”

The Fockeles were among the major contributors in the design and installation of the garden.

The proposal to build a new school at Enota has been a source of controversy nearly since it was announced in December 2015. It is one of the factors that led Superintendent Wanda Creel’s announcement that she would leave her position at the end of her contract, June 30, 2017.

Over a series of meeting in the spring and summer, community residents who support preserving the garden voiced their belief that the board made its decision too hastily and that Creel did not encourage comment from the community or faculty.

Creel has insisted the preservation of a garden has been in the plans for the new school since the beginning and a “project fact sheet,” posted on the school district’s web site, says 25 public meetings have been held about the proposed school building.

A series of documents are posted on the website about the proposed school, and it includes a form for community residents to submit comments or questions about those documents.

As of about 5 p.m. Tuesday, one person had submitted comments through the website, according to Lynn Jones, the school district’s community and communications coordinator.

The website includes a design presentation, an audio recording of the presentation, the capital project fact sheet, options for the garden and the form for questions.

The “Enota garden plan options” document lists three concepts. The estimated price tags are $17,550,000, $18,250,000 and $18,350,000. All three concepts include a two-story school building. All three would have 185 parking spaces. The difference is the site for the school.

The least expensive estimate, option 2, would redo the garden — moving it from its current location to outside the gym and moving bus traffic from in front of the school to South Enota Drive.

The information says the “site will be balanced allowing sight lines across property for increased safety of students and drivers.”

It does not say, but previous discussions have, that the site would be leveled, lowering the current school level by about 6 feet.

The $18,250,000 estimate, option 1A, also would level the property, but it would have a wall around the existing garden and an “alley” between the garden and building. The document does not say how wide that space would be.

Vehicle traffic would continue to pull in off of Enota Avenue and would extend to the rear of the building. Bus traffic would continue to pull in front of the school, but the entrance would be moved, and the area expanded, to come off of South Enota Drive.

The most expensive estimate, $18,350,000, option 1B would leave the current garden and it would be about 1.9 feet higher than the school building. Bus and vehicle traffic would be swapped — buses coming off of Enota Avenue to the rear of the building and vehicles off of South Enota Drive to the front.

It also would require a 360-foot concrete retaining wall at the southeast side of the property. It would be 8 feet high.

In options 1B and 2, the playground at the school would be filled and level with the rest of the site. A retention pond would be constructed at the rear of the property, near Cumberland Valley Road.

The documents do not include information about funding for a future garden. Opponents of previous plans have complained the school district has not planned any funding dedicated to a garden.

The current garden was created with donations of money and time. The estimated cost of it is about $120,000.

The information on the website is at the top of the home page on the left side.

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Backyard ponds a growing trend

Maybe that’s why water features like ponds, pools and water gardens are becoming so popular these days and such welcome additions to our yards.

“More and more people are spend time at home and want more than just a landscaped garden,” said John Ohling, owner of Suncoast Water Gardens in Spring Hill.

“Only a few rich Florida residents can live waterfront or next to a lake, but most homeowners can afford to install a water feature on their property complete with exotic fish and beautiful aquatic plants like lilies and lotus blossoms,” he said.
Ohling’s advice for residents who want to incorporate a water feature is to design something that you can afford, appreciate each day, and fits in with the landscape.

“A simple, informal pool can be just as stunning as a large pond with fountains or sculptures,” he said.

Ohling and his wife, Beverly, both retired post office workers, have been building their business, Suncoast Watergardens, for over a decade.

“We’re definitely a family business,” said Ohling. “My wife does the bookwork and payroll, and helps at the store,” he said. “My son, Shawn, designs each project’s lighting landscape.”
“ But I also have my two other ‘blessings’,” he said.

Ohling is referring to Jason Osborne and Mary Paulus – two employees at Suncoast Water Gardens. For several years now, they’ve run their own independent activities to complement Suncoast Water Gardens.
“I was so busy designing and constructing water garden that I needed someone to take charge of the terrestrial plants that I need,” said Ohling, “Jason’s specialty is clumping bamboo.”

Ohling explained that bamboo is an invasive plant that will take over your garden but clumping bamboo is a totally different variety that will form neat, uniform clumps exactly where you want them.
“And then Mary was recommended for her creativity with fairy gardens,” said Ohling.

Paulus’ specialty is creating miniature fairy gardens for customers. She creates enchanting, whimsical container gardens that have endless opportunities for customization with tiny trees, succulents and accessories.

“Jason and Mary are my right-hand guys,” said Ohling. “My time is spent mostly at client locations so they take care of just about everything when I’m not here.

Suncoast Water Gardens has built hundreds of customized ponds from small backyard gardens to waterfalls, cascading streams, water gardens, and koi fish ponds.

“It used to be that building a pond used to require permitting, huge amounts of time and a ton of labor,” said Ohling. “Concrete is still used for some very large ponds, but most medium-sized water gardens are formed with a flexible rubber liner,” Ohling said. “It’s about 45 mm thick, extremely tough, resilient and lasts for decades.”

Ohling said he gets his inspiration from friend and personal mentor, Rick Bartel of the Savio Water Feature Institute.

“I use his methodology of water garden design that uses R.I.S.E. — an acronym that stands for random, irregular, spontaneous and erratic,” he said.

When he designs a water garden, Ohling aims to mimic nature based on Bartel’s principles. Organic and irregular, using real rocks and boulders and with fish and aquatic plants. A soothing and relaxing sound is also important.

“My clients usually have a vision of what they want when they first approach me,” said Ohling. “Then I factor in the size, shape and location and drainage, boulders and electrical needs.”

Ohling also grows all his aquatic plants –
“Ponds need aquatic plants, fish, and water snails for ecological balance,” said Ohling. “So I grow them myself here in the back of my property,” he said. “The fish control algae and mosquito larvae.”

Behind the Suncoast Water Gardens store are several ponds which grow and sustain the aquatic plants. Several other aerated pools are bursting with colorful koi fish and goldfish.

Water lilies come in various sizes and a multitude of colors and the Ohlings sell just about any color imaginable.

“Water lilies can be day bloomers or night bloomers,” he said.

In 2005, Suncoast Water Gardens was asked to participate in the tv program “Extreme Makeover – Home Edition.” According to the Suncoast Water Gardens Facebook page, a family in St. Petersburg were going through a traumatic time because the father had been shot and blinded in the process of a robbery while at work. John Ohling installed pottery fountains on either side of the front entrance to help the father navigate through the home.

“I love what I do,” said Ohling. “I want my customers to be happy.”

Installing a waterscape will transform your property into a little oasis. With soothing water sounds, fish and colorful blossoms, water features can be a beautiful addition to any size of yard and provide hours and hours of enjoyment.

John Ohling can be contacted at 352.688-8788.


Suncoast Water Gardens is located at
9229 County Line Road, Spring Hill, FL 34608

Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm
Saturday –
9am to 5pm
Closed on Sunday


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Yard, Garden and Patio Show is a no go (photos)

The Yard, Garden and Patio Show, held in Portland every February since 1988, will not be held in 2017 as planned, and its future is uncertain.

“The reality is that attendance, both by appropriate vendors and the general public, has been down, making it a financially unstable event,” said Sean Guard, president and chief executive officer of Metropolitan Productions Inc. in Washougal, Washington, which ran the show at the Oregon Convention Center for the past two years.

Guard purchased the show from the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) in 2015. The OAN represents more than 800 Oregon wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers.

Many past vendors and attendees were disappointed to hear the news on Sept. 1, when Guard announced the cancellation in an apologetic two-line press release. They shared dismayed messages and reminisced on the show’s Facebook page.

“That was my favorite garden show,” read one post.

“Oh no!!!” read another.

“There are no words,” said Matt Sander, owner of Matt Sander Landscape Services in Beaverton, when asked if he was disappointed.

Sander won Best of Show in 2016 for his display garden, themed “Welcome Home,” and had exhibited every year since 1993. He said he hadn’t invested any money in the 2017 event yet, but already had a thick “idea file” full of possible themes for his next display garden.

“The show has been so good to me; it attracted a true community of gardeners and the quality of the display gardens was incredibly high,” said Sander. “There are other shows in the area but they’re not purely about garden and exterior design. I’m very sad.”

Metropolitan Productions would not give detailed attendance numbers, stating only that attendance had been “down” recently. The OAN’s website states that recent attendance has averaged between 25,000 and 30,000 total for the three-day event.

Guard cited three reasons for the decision to cancel.

“First, having to stage the show in early February in Portland puts it ahead of the curve in terms of folks being in the mood for outdoor activities and gardening.” he said. “Second, there is now huge competition in the Portland and Pacific Northwest market for folks to get great deals on plant material at local nurseries. That wasn’t always the case.”

Third, he said, “the garden centers and retailers have not been participating for a few years like they used to. From what we gather from them, they really only want to sell at their facilities. They want the repeat customers who find their facilities, and not the ‘one-off’ customers who might buy from them at a show.”

The show has struggled for some time, and almost ended once before. In 2014, the Oregon Association of Nurseries released all of its sponsors and sent out letters to exhibitors stating that the event would not continue. When it inked the agreement to turn the show over to Metropolitan for a structured payment, it seemed to be a great fit, said Jeff Stone, executive director of the association.

The show attracted roughly 300 exhibiting companies in 400 booth spaces last year. In addition to concept gardens, there were booths advertising decks and fences, water features, patio furniture, storage sheds, decorative rock, sculptures, power equipment, lighting and play equipment and more. Past shows included a Rebuilding Center presentation, a pirate ship clubhouse and a wallaby for kids to cuddle.

Under the terms of the OAN’s agreement with Metropolitan Productions, the OAN is now free to run the show itself or find another partner.

“We were very disappointed to hear the news,” said the OAN’s Stone. “When we selected Metropolitan Productions to take over the show, we thought it was a good solution and hoped the show would continue for many years, but we respect their decision.”

Stone said it is “possible” the OAN will find a way to re-launch the show. He said the OAN’s event staff is already spread thin putting on its wholesale show every August, but “we’re not ruling anything out.”

— Amy Mason Doan


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Keyword Research: Finding Local Intent

This article is part of an SEO series from WooRank. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

If you’re a local, brick-and-mortar shop, local SEO is incredibly important; a few years ago ComScore found that almost 75% of local searches on mobile devices resulted in an in-store purchase. As with more traditional SEO, local SEO starts with keyword research. It forms the foundation of almost every on page and off page optimization you do going forward. If you’re a local business, or even a large chain with multiple locations, you need to tailor your keyword research to build a solid base for your local SEO.

In this piece we’ll go over how to find keywords relevant to your site and audience, and how to make sure those keywords are relevant to local searchers.

Local Keyword Discovery

Before you start digging into data like local search volume, click through rate (CTR) and competitiveness, go through the process of keyword discovery. Don’t worry about whether or not these keywords are specifically local keywords, we’ll cover that in a minute.

Just like with traditional keyword research, start with the keywords people are already using to find your website. Use Google Search Console’s Search Analytics report and filter the data by queries. Add in the columns for impressions, CTR and position to make sure you’re looking at your top keywords.

You probably won’t end up targeting this list. Think of it more as answers to the question, “what type of business do you own?”, or a list of topics covering your website content. If you’ve got a landscaping business in San Francisco’s South Bay, for example, your list at this point might look like:

  • Landscaping
  • Home landscaping
  • Business landscaping
  • Landscaping design
  • Gardening services

Once you’ve come up with a list of topics, it’s time to generate a list of keywords for each. These are the keywords people will actually type into a search engine to find your site. You don’t need to come up with a list of every possibility, just a few places to start further research.

Start with one of the topics you just came up with and brainstorm a few keyword ideas. What would you enter in a search engine to find your business? This is where the “local” part of “local keyword research” comes into play. Start by appending geographical areas that you serve. So, for the “landscaping” topic for our Bay Area landscaper, you would come up with a starting list of keywords that looks like this:

  • landscaping San Jose
  • landscaping Palo Alto
  • landscaping Santa Clara County
  • landscaping Sunnyvale
  • landscaping South Bay

If you’re having trouble deciding on where exactly your audience is located, dig into your analytics. Under Geo in the Audience section of Google Analytics, select Location. Drill down by clicking on your country and state. Set your primary dimension to ‘Metro’ or ‘City’, depending on the size of your business.

There’s no real target number of keywords to come up with. If you’ve got a small site with just one physical location or a small service area, you’ll need a lot fewer keywords than if you’ve got a large site or a business that has multiple locations.

Expand Your List

Google Suggest is a great place to start when you’re looking to expand your keyword list, and is an excellent source of longtail keywords. If you want, you can do this manually by checking the bottom of the first page. This is a good way to go if you’re a small business with a pretty simple website, but isn’t very efficient. Luckily, there are plenty of free tools out there that will leverage suggested searches for you. Tools like Ubersuggest and work by appending every letter of the alphabet to your keyword and recording the suggestions. Keyword tool Answer the Public also includes question modifiers (how, where, who, etc.) and prepositions (for, to, with, etc.). Export your list of potentials as a .csv for easy analysis and use with other tools.

In Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner, search for the local keywords from your list of topics you came up with earlier. You can enter multiple keywords as either a comma or paragraph-separated list or by uploading a .csv file. Click on the Ad Group ideas tab to find ideas for related keywords. You will need to create a free AdWords account to use this tool.

Go over the search volume trends graph at the top to see how seasonality might affect your traffic. Our fictional landscaping business could start a campaign in December so they’ll appear at the top of search results when the season starts.

Trim Your List Down to Size

By now you’ve probably got a pretty sizable list of keywords — likely more than you should actually target. You’ve also probably got some keywords in there that don’t generate enough traffic to be worth targeting. It’s important to weed some of these out since local search volumes are generally already quite low.

Note that if you’re a small advertiser, there’s a chance you won’t see all the data for your keywords. That’s because Google recently started throttling data in Keyword Planner for advertisers that don’t reach a certain monthly spend. However, WooRank’s SERP Checker still provides full monthly search volumes at the country level.

Enter your keywords into Keyword Planner to see average search volume and competitiveness. Average search volume is the average number of searches per month, instead of total searches in Bing’s Keyword Research tool.

What’s particularly useful in Keyword Planner is the competitiveness and suggested bid for each keyword. Technically, this information is for paid advertising only, but they generally work for organic search as well. Highly competitive keywords, or those with high suggested bids, can generally be seen as more valuable; advertisers won’t bid very much on keywords that don’t convert. Remember, though, that it’s a tradeoff — these keywords generally get more traffic, but it is much harder (if not impossible) to rank for them.

Target your results by location to get hyperlocal. You can target by city, metropolitan area, county, state/province or country. For our landscaping company, we could choose to target the entire San Francisco Bay area of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, or limit our keyword research to just Santa Clara County.

You can further trim your keyword list by running small paid campaigns on Google and Bing to determine the monetary value of a keyword. Make sure you choose “exact match” for your keywords and set the most relevant pages as landing pages. Once you’ve brought in a significant level of traffic, divide the total number of visitors by the revenue generated for each keyword. So if “home landscaping San Jose” brings in 100 visitors that wind up generating $5,000 in revenue, that keyword is worth $50 per person. Meanwhile, “garden services South Bay” brought in 200 visitors and $6,000 for $30 per visitor. Start optimizing pages for “home landscaping San Jose” to increase your most profitable traffic, and consider weeding out keywords that either aren’t very valuable or don’t convert at all.

Competitor Research

Finally, do a bit of competitor research to see how your local competition is targeting the same keywords and if there are any gaps in the market for you to fill. Do a quick search of your top keywords. Start with your most valuable keywords. Since your search results could be skewed by search history and location, use AdWord’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool to search for your keyword. This tool shows the true first page of search results for your target location.

Take note of the top results. What are their title tags and meta descriptions? Visit their sites and look for sections and category names as well as blog categories and topics. Chances are, these are keywords they want to rank for and are targeting.

To get a little more in-depth, use a tool like KeywordSpy to search for either a domain, if you know your competitors, or a keyword, if you don’t. To see your competition for a keyword, search for it on KeywordSpy and click on the Organic Competition tab for the top 10 search results.

You could also use SpyFu for competitor research. See what your competitors rank for by their domains and click on Ranking History to the left. This will show their top keywords. Check out your own domain to see which keywords you compete over and which ones they’re beating you on. Search for a keyword to see its ranking difficulty on an ascending scale of 1-100. Click through to the landing pages of the top 10 pages to see how they’ve optimized their pages. Read through the page content to see how and where they use that keyword on the page.

Wrap Up

Local SEO can seem like a daunting, time-consuming task — especially when you’re a local business owner with a full plate just from running your company! But, if you set your website up with some forethought and strategic thinking you will have a large impact on your business, particularly since Google’s Pigeon update went into effect. To create the best opportunity for your business, start by tailoring your keyword research to get your website in front of searchers with local intent, and then build your website from there.

How have you found keyword with local intent? What techniques or tools did you use for your local keyword research? Has it impacted your SEO?

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MISENHEIMER Council talks upcoming events, future plans

The village of Misenheimer addressed plans for its upcoming community events and population size during its regular village council meeting on Sept. 12.

Mike Riemann announced to the council that The Carolina Thread Trail grand opening will be 10 a.m. Saturday at Richfield Park, with 2.67 miles of the trail opening to connect Misenheimer to Richfield.

Riemann noted that the trail could still use improvement, such as additional wastebaskets and more trail markers, but it is already being utilized by the community.

The council discussed the best methods of providing food to the attendees of its community barbecue, set for 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Community Building. After much deliberation, the council decided to order food through the same catering service as last year and, possibly, have a roasted pig for picking on site.

“Our population had gone down by about 40 students … last year,” Mayor Michael Herron said. “The result of that is that it is going to have about a 6 percent impact on our sales tax dispersals. Now, if the economy continues to grown it may not be an actual 6 percent reduction in funding but it is going to be an impact.”

A 6 percent population decrease equates to about $10,000, according to the council. Should the trend continue, the village would need to rebudget to cover the loss of income.

However, Police Chief Erik McGinnis reported that the student population for the 2016-2017 academic year is actually trending upwards, with Pfeiffer bringing in 10 percent more first-year students and a higher number of transfers. With a football program possibly in the works for the university and establishing cheerleading as a varsity sport, Pfeiffer could see more growth in the coming years, according to McGinnis.

Pfeiffer Assistant Director for Athletic Communications Jeremy Zalacca did not comment on specifics for possible future plans but said that with the school’s shift to NCAA Div. III athletics, Pfeiffer “is looking into all options.”

The council approved the hiring of Josh Byrd to tidy up the landscaping around the community building. At $900, Byrd gave the lowest bid of the two contending landscaping companies.

To submit story ideas, contact Karlen Lambert at or (704) 982-2121 ext. 21.

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Mount Calvary couple wins landscaping prize

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Save money in the spring by landscaping now

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Fall officially kicks off this week which means it’s time to transition our lawns and gardens for the cooler months. Feels like we were just Spring cleaning our lawns! Well, now it’s time for some Fall cleaning so you protect your garden throughout the winter.

As the seasons change, Don Dickson of Tarrantino Landscapes says it’s a sign you should make a change too.

“This would be a good time to think about and be ordering bulb plants, tulips and daffodils and things. They get installed late in the year just before the ground freezes,” Dickson said.

He says if you plant your own bulbs and grow for the Spring rather than buying later, you’ll save 50-75% of what you’d spend on a plant later. Now is also the perfect time to put in the grass seed.

“It’d be a good time to over-seed the lawns any bare spots that’ve died back, they can be scratched up and put down new seed, they’ll have a chance to germinate this Fall and we’ll be good to go this Spring,” Dickson added.

Inexpensive plants that can spruce your yard now are mums, cabbage, kale and millet plants. He says they take to cold well and sometimes last all winter.

Another tip is do your Fall cleaning. You need to clear the leaves off your yard and garden. If they’re left there they invite disease and your grass could die under the leaves.

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Miniature daffodils a spring delight – Tribune

Miniature daffodils a spring delight

Updated 3 hours ago

While it may seem like a leap of faith to tuck a bulb into the ground just a few months before the snow starts flying, there’s nothing mysterious about the process. That bulb spends the winter growing a strong root system and anchoring itself in the ground. It absorbs nutrients and water to help fuel its spring blooms. And then, come spring, the bulb flowers.

The rewards of spring-blooming bulbs are well worth the effort it takes to plant them every season. And, for me, daffodils are the bulbs that pay the biggest dividends.

Unlike some other spring-blooming bulbs, daffodils are deer- and chipmunk-resistant. They are fully winter hardy, and each bulb divides repeatedly so the plant grows into a bigger clump every season.

Bulb-planting season is upon us now, and while the world can always use more big, yellow daffodils, I’d like to inspire you to step a bit out of the box and plant some more unusual daffodil varieties in your garden this year. More specifically, I’d like to introduce you to miniature daffodils.

While standard daffodils have blooms that may reach 2 or 3 inches across, miniature daffodils produce flowers that are far more diminutive. The plant’s stature is smaller too; miniature daffodils grow to only a few inches in height, while standard daffodils can grow 12 to 24 inches high, depending on the variety.

Miniature daffodils look beautiful when planted along a front walk or tucked on top of a retaining wall where they can be easily noticed. Mine are planted at the top of a bank of perennials. They’re finished flowering before most of the perennials even push up through the soil.

Miniature daffodils are perfect for rock gardens, herb gardens and fairy gardens, too.

Here are some of my favorite miniature daffodil varieties. I hope you’ll consider planting some of them this fall. Come spring, I promise you’ll reap big dividends.

“Hawera”: This miniature daffodil has been gracing homes with its cheery, yellow, backward-arching petals since the mid 1930s. It bears multiple flowers per stem and is very hardy.

“Baby Moon”: A favorite for its clean, soft yellow flowers, “Baby Moon” has grass-like foliage, and the half-inch-wide flowers are heavily scented. Be sure to plant this variety where drainage is good.

“Elka”: I love the frilly, yellow trumpet and white petals of this variety. It blooms fairly early and reaches only 6 inches in height.

“Kokopelli”: This sweet little variety bears multiple, tiny, yellow flowers per stem. It comes into flower in mid-spring and is sweet as can be.

“Little Oliver”: With three to five flowers per stem, “Little Oliver” is a great addition to the spring garden. The bright yellow flowers are only 4 inches tall and they appear in mid-spring.

These, and many other miniature daffodil varieties, are available at many local garden centers and online through Brent and Becky’s Bulbs ( and White Flower Farm (

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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Coos Bay Garden Club ready for 2017





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Mercer Grower Offers Fall Gardening Tips

SPRING, TX – Don’t let your garden fade with summer. Fall is the perfect time of year to ramp up care for healthier gardens ready for new growth.

Mercer grower Jacob Martin explains how proper maintenance can reduce weeds and prevent the spread of disease to make fall gardening a breeze.

“Remove weeds before they start dropping their seeds in the fall to keep them from coming back,” he said. “Fallen leaves from unhealthy plants can also spread disease if the leaves aren’t removed. Adding good compost or mulch to your beds can help protect against weeds and the cold.”

For effortless gardens that will survive the winter, Martin suggests planting cold hardy perennials, trees, and shrubs in the fall. Camellias, a fall favorite at Mercer proven to perform in the Gulf Coast region, feature vibrant red and pink blooms that come in hundreds of varieties.

“These fall-blooming perennials are completely cold hardy in our area. They also reliably sprout tall pink spikes that are great for bees,” he said.

Deciduous or cold hardy trees and shrubs also thrive in the fall, said Martin.

“Planting large, non-tropical trees in the fall will cut back on the amount of water your tree will need compared to spring or summer,” he said.

Bog coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima), a tough Texas native found in both boggy and dry areas, produces a tall yellow coneflower throughout the year that attracts butterflies. Frog fruit (Phyla nodiflora) is an effortless, native groundcover or lawn substitute that thrives without much tending.

“It’s a hard-to-kill variety that can grow anywhere from a ditch to a parking lot, and only gets two to four inches tall,” said Martin. “Both of these underrated natives are extremely beneficial to our area.”

Shoppers can find all these plants and more during the Autumn Plant Sale Market at Mercer Botanic Gardens Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. hosted by The Mercer Society (TMS).

Featured camellias include Camelia japonica ‘Mine-no-yuki,’ ‘Kanjiro,’ ‘Fragrant Fairies,’ and ‘Royal Velvet.’

To receive additional information, call Mercer Botanic Gardens at 713-274-4160 or visit For more information about TMS, visit

Photo: Don’t let your garden fade with summer. Fall is the perfect time of year to ramp up care for healthier gardens ready for new growth.

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