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Archives for September 24, 2016

This week’s home and garden happenings in Sonoma County | The …

PETALUMA: Spooky “bootique”

It’s time to deck the halls with pumpkins, black cats, ghosts and witches. If your stash of decorations could use an update, check out the Halloween Vine arts and crafts show Saturday, Sept. 24, in Petaluma.

The show features bewitching art from 39 diverse North American artists.

This is the show’s 21st season featuring one-of-a-kind works of art in media from papier-mache and leather to felt and spun cotton.

Shoppers line up at the break of dawn to be the first inside, so beware. Proceeds from an art auction and drawing will benefit Petaluma Animal Services Foundation. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $5. Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Ave., Petaluma.


HEALDSBURG: Russian Tea Fragrance Festival

The Russian River Rose Co. holds a Russian Tea Fragrance Festival Oct. 1 and 2 in Healdsburg. It recognizes the region’s 19th century Russian settlers as well as the Russian heritage of co-owner Michael Tolmasoff.

Highlights include tea prepared in antique Russian samovars, a debut of the rose farm and nursery’s new rose oil perfume, live folk, Slavic and gypsy music and dancing, a Russian heritage museum, a scent salon and fall blooming gardens to stroll through. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1685 Magnolia Ave., Healdsburg. 707-433-7455.


SEBASTOPOL: Gold Ridge Farm holding open house

The farm where the most famous plant breeder of all time performed many of his experiments holds an open house today and Sunday with a plant sale, tours, refreshments and a one-man Chautauqua on the early environmentalist Rachel Carson.

Luther Burbank’s Experiment Gold, also known as Gold Ridge Farm, has a day full of activities planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., including docent tours of the grounds, a photo exhibit of the farm’s history inside the cottage and snacks.

Gardeners can scoop up plants such as Seascape strawberries, Penstemon, Deodar cedar trees, Burbank’s Amarcrinum (think Naked lady wearing a skirt), white grape vines, daylilies, spineless cactus and crimson winter rhubarb. Decorative pots of succulents also will be for sale; there’s an antique rope-making machine for kids and a chance to press apple cider.

The event is free.

Burbank’s Farm includes three of the original 18 acres owned by Burbank. It is maintained by volunteers from the Western Sonoma County Historical Society, located above Burbank Heights and Orchards at 7777 Bodega Ave.


WINDSOR AND GUERNEVILLE: Monarchs and Milkweed

Monarch butterflies are valuable pollinators that need help from home gardeners. Master Gardener Suzanne Clarke will offer two free workshops today and Oct. 1. She will give information on the anatomy, life cycle, diet and distribution of monarchs and will explain what home gardeners can do to help them survive. She will also bring along her caterpillar and butterfly cage so workshop participants can watch the metamorphosis. 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today at the Guerneville Library, 14107 Armstrong Woods Road, and Oct. 1 at the Windsor Regional Library, 9291 Old Redwood Highway. For more information, visit or call 707-565-2608.


SANTA ROSA: Jail Plant Nursery sale

Fall is a great time to plant perennials, bushes and frost hardy flowering plants and winter vegetables.

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Forecast for Fall: Garden Club to Host Greenwich Designer at Autumn Event

Forecast for Fall: Garden Club to Host Greenwich Designer at Autumn Event

The Pomperaug Valley Garden Club will host Greenwich floral designer Michael Derouin for Forecast for Fall: Bringing Autumn Inside! on Tuesday, October 11, at The Country Club of Waterbury. Tickets are $40 for the luncheon program and may be purchased at, via email at or by calling 203-405-3868.

Posted: Saturday, September 24, 2016 6:00 am

Forecast for Fall: Garden Club to Host Greenwich Designer at Autumn Event


WOODBURY — The Pomperaug Valley Garden Club will present Forecast for Fall: Bringing Autumn Inside! with renowned Greenwich floral designer Michael Derouin on Tuesday, October 11, at The Country Club of Waterbury.

Doors will open at 11 a.m. for this festive fall event that will feature floral designs for the home inspired by the season and reflecting the “modern sophistication” that is a hallmark of Michael Derouin’s style.

Michael Derouin a second-generation floral designer, raised in his family’s Waterbury florist shop.

He joined McCardle’s, the state’s largest florist, in Greenwich in 2007. Today, he is the director of floral design for McCardle’s.

He is one of only five people worldwide who currently hold membership in all four of the floral industry’s most prestigious organizations: The American Institute of Floral Designers, the American Academy of Floriculture, Professional Floral Communicators International and the Canadian Academy of Floral Art.

He sits on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Florists Association, where he serves on the education committee for the state floral design school, the Northeast Floral Education Center.

He has received many design awards and was named the 2001 Connecticut Floral Designer of the Year.

With a passion for education and a fresh, fun, sophisticated sense of design, Michael Derouin will share tips and techniques as he demonstrates designs for the home, inspired by the season.

The event will feature luncheon and a holiday gift boutique with one-of-a-kind, handmade treasures, including original paintings and porcelain pieces, hand-crafted jewelry, garden and seasonal décor and more.

All floral designs by Mr. Derouin, as well as table centerpieces designed by members of the Pomperaug Valley Garden Club, will be raffled that day.

Tickets are $40 per person and reservations are requested by Friday, September 30.

Those seeking tickets or additional information may visit, email or call 203-405-3868.

Founded in 1927, the Pomperaug Valley Garden Club is a charter member of the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc. and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

The club meets on the second Tuesday of each month in Woodbury.

Those seeking additional information about the club may visit

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Saturday, September 24, 2016 6:00 am.

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Mailbox gardens are a ‘first class’ idea

Even if the daily mail doesn’t amount to much, a cheerful mailbox garden stamps you as “first class” in the neighborhood. It’s also a fun gardening opportunity.

Mailboxes perched on posts at the curb give you a chance to create a postage-stamp garden design. Think of the mailbox as a piece of functional sculpture that gives your little garden both a focal point and a vertical element. Then design around it, choosing hard-working plants that will thrive in the often challenging conditions at the curb.

A mailbox on a sturdy post must be front and center in your design. It can stand no more than 8 inches from the curb, according to U.S. Postal Service recommendations.

To make the best impression on the mail carrier and everyone else who passes by, the garden around the box should look attractive year round. You might start with a couple of small evergreen shrubs, as a conifer collector in Norfolk, Va., did when she designed her mailbox garden.

Her evergreens anchor the plantings, are in perfect proportion, and give the bed definition even in the winter. Dwarf conifers are a good choice because they grow slowly: They will never overwhelm the space.

A gardener in Madison, Wis., who favors naturalistic landscaping and has a meadow in her backyard, designed a mailbox bed to reflect her gardening style. She created a miniature meadow around her curbside mailbox using just a handful of plants. In a spot less than 3 feet on a side, she planted short prairie grasses, bright yellow coreopsis, bold purple coneflowers and a drift of black-eyed Susans. None of these plants needs special attention, and the design looks pretty through the winter, when the grasses turn into a tawny backdrop for the bristling black seed heads of coneflowers and black-eyed Susans.

Curbside gardens are not the place for plants that need pampering. Of course, you’ll need to water the plants while they become established, but drought tolerance is important when you’re choosing plants that must thrive at the end of the driveway, a long distance from the nearest spigot.

Mailbox-garden plants are also subject to a lot of wear and tear. Even the most careful mail carrier may drive over plants that creep or flop across the curb, or step on ground covers. You’ll want sturdy plants at the front of the bed, on the street side. Small grasses and tough ground covers such as ajuga or creeping phlox will bounce back from occasional trampling.

A ribbon of daylilies set back about six inches from the curb will produce a magnificent show of color through the summer, and if the foliage along the curb is damaged, it will not affect the flowers. Depending on the location of your mailbox and your driveway, you may want to choose plants that grow no more than about two feet tall, so they will not block your view as you pull out of the driveway.

Not all mailbox gardens have to be planted around a post. Sometimes, the garden might be a few steps behind the mailbox itself, forming a living backdrop protected from the challenges of a street-side planting but still reaching out to the neighborhood with a stylish punctuation mark of flowers.

Pushing the garden back a little way also allows you to grow taller plants without obstructing mail delivery. This could be an opportunity to include a small tree in the scene, perhaps a spring-blooming magnolia or a crabapple. A gardener near Washington, D.C., made a round bed separated from her mailbox by a strip of grass. She planted a small magnolia in the center and a little cottage garden of perennial flowers around it. The bed looks beautiful from the street and draws the eye further toward plantings in the rest of the garden.

In some neighborhoods, monumental mailboxes are a slightly intimidating presence at the curb. They look more like barricades than small architectural elements around which to plant a garden, but adding just a few plants can soften their appearance.

Ornamental grasses are especially effective when planted just behind such massive mailboxes, taking some of the hard edges off a brick pillar. In front, there may be room for a row of liriope, an indestructible plant with leaves that are grasslike, but more sophisticated. It will dress up the base of the pillar, just as foundation plants soften the transition between a house and a garden.

Perennials are classic mailbox garden plants because they come back every year.

Chrysanthemums, iris, lavender, spiderwort, sedum, daylilies and phlox will all thrive in a sunny mailbox bed. In a shadier place, ferns, coral bells, lamium and hellebores are surprisingly resilient.

Roses are tempting, but plants with thorns might complicate things for the mail carrier.

Supplement the perennials with colorful annual flowers – zinnias, cleome, pentas, petunias – that will bloom through the summer.

A well-behaved vine, such as clematis, mandevilla or black-eyed Susan vine, will dress up the mailbox post.

Like any garden, a mailbox garden will evolve over the seasons and through the years. Borrow ideas from your regular garden and prowl the neighborhood and the internet for inspiration. Above all, don’t let the limited size of a mailbox garden constrain your imagination. Good things come in small packages.

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KCCC Children’s Garden under remodel

Virgil Shipley/Mount Vernon News

New sidewalks are part of the make over currently underway at the Knox County Career Center Children’s Garden. Buy Now


MOUNT VERNON — The Children’s Garden located at the Knox County Career Center has been a well-loved place for children, parents and grandchildren to visit and use their imaginations for many years.

The Children’s Garden began as a vision of former Superintendent Ray Richardson in 1999. Building the garden was part of the curriculum for several of the labs. As time has marched on, the years of Ohio elements have been taking a toll on many of the displays. Underground plumbing issues and the deterioration of mortar and wood have necessitated the removal of a few displays and the refurbishing of others.

Recently the students in Building Trades have been working on refurbishing the train and creating new tracks. The students in START have been doing many maintenance jobs around the garden for over a year. The landscaping students and summer workers spend countless hours weeding and planting. A donation given through the landscaping lab will provide the materials to rebuild the Secret Garden wall. KCCC Metal Fabrication students maintain the fence and other metal features on a regular basis.

The standards/learning objectives that career tech students must learn are more numerous than in 1999 and lessen the time available for maintenance of the garden. Donations to help maintain the garden were also received more regularly in the past.

“There is so much to balance with unfunded state mandates, curriculum and testing requirements, and available finances,” said Superintendent Kathy Greenich said. “We are looking for new displays that ignite the imagination of children and that will be easy and cost efficient to maintain.”

Some ideas include moving a fountain from one area of the school to another and possibly building a giant-sized chair or a wooden tepee.

The career enter is open to donations to the Garden including vendor or company-sponsored displays that would stay with the theme of imaginary play.


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Funding boost for landscaping industry

Lawn mowing has become a breeze after landscaping firm Ho Eng Huat Construction got itself a wireless remote mower.

The device bought with a government grant has cut the number of workers it needs for lawn mowing from six to just one.

Landscaping companies will have more government funds to tap to buy such nifty devices, after the Government announced a $5.6-million boost for the sector over the next four years.

Of the sum, $3 million will go towards the Landscape Productivity Grant – a co-funding scheme announced three years ago with $3.6 million to help firms defray the cost of equipment. The remaining $2.6 million will be used to fund studies and surveys on topics such as the skills and manpower needed for the industry.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee announced the new funding yesterday at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, where 2,000 guests from the landscaping industry gathered and took part in competitions.

Mr Lee said Singapore needs to “evolve the way we green”.

“The world is going to be quite different in the next 50 years. New technologies are on the market, new business models and innovative ideas will change how things are done,” he said.

Apart from pumping more funds into the grant, the Government is also tripling the funding cap to $300,000 per company.

Ho Eng Huat Construction was one of more than 50 firms to tap on the initial $3.6 million.

Mr Jeverss Choo, 35, project director at Mao Sheng Quanji Construction, said his company will apply for the grant.

He hopes to make use of the grant to buy a robotic lawn mower that he saw at a tradeshow in Germany.

“It can mow the lawn by itself, so instead of having one man mow the lawn, I need a man to programme the machine. This will make the job more attractive and easier for me to hire workers,” said Mr Choo, whose company has about 500 employees.

Meanwhile, Mr Lee noted yesterday that some nursery operators are worried about their land leases expiring from early next year.

He said the National Parks Board will extend the leases of nurseries in Sungei Tengah and Neo Tiew Crescent to early 2019.

The Government has also set aside parcels of land for long-term nursery needs, he added. These will be launched in phases from mid- 2018.

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Master Gardener: Putting a positive spin on landscape blunders


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I recently spent a delightful day at the Gathering of Gardeners, an annual symposium sponsored by Monroe County Master Gardeners in September.

A featured event is the parking lot plant sale, where vendors make a variety of plants and accessories available to us plantaholics. I showed great restraint in making only one plant purchase, a hardy succulent commonly called Dunce Cap, which I incorporated into yet another dish garden.

The sale was in Eisenhart Auditorium at the rear of the Rochester Museum and Science Center in Rochester. While there, I had a great opportunity to observe some of the new, more sustainable landscaping being installed.

The engaging speaker I enjoyed was a landscaper from Minnesota, Don Engebretson. He has trademarked a name for himself, The Renegade Gardener ( I enjoyed looking at all the resources on his website and will likely discuss them further in a future column.

His ideas were pretty easy to understand and implement. He spoke to his list of top 10 landscaping blunders – mistakes he sees frequently and sometimes has made himself. I won’t repeat his entire list, and am re-wording some selected ideas into positive statements, for your landscape design consideration:

n Think bigger. People want a garden, but often are afraid of creating a maintenance headache, so they put silly little circles in their lawn, often surrounded by white bricks, and/or topped by white stones that look like they were dropped there by aliens. A nicer island bed, shaped with gentle curves, isn’t going to be much more work and has much greater aesthetic appeal.

n Avoid straight lines around your garden beds or for planting. Curves are much more appealing. Use a hose or heavy rope to outline planned beds, then spray paint the lines before you begin cutting them in. Your plantings should echo these curves.

n Cut down mature trees or shrubs if they are not in optimal condition, if they interfere with a new design plan, or if you find something else that will thrive under your growing conditions. It’s okay; this act will not damage the environment. Mature plantings are most often overcrowded. Selective removal can enable the remaining plants to be revitalized, and newer plants to thrive.

n Include more trees, shrubs and large plants in your landscape. These plants cost more, but over time will be a good investment due to longer lives and less maintenance. Many of us often buy smaller, cheaper plants that end up requiring more back-breaking work. These plants may be purchased on impulse, based on what’s in bloom at the garden center rather than thoughtful consideration of what would thrive in and enhance a specific location in the landscape.

I love learning from landscapers and professional gardeners whose experience is so much broader than my own. I learn something new on many days, but the scope of my experience is small compared to theirs.

Fall is a great time to enhance your landscape. You will need to set up a sprinkler to thoroughly soak an area the day before digging if your ground is still dry.

Julie Brocklehurst-Woods has been a Master Gardener Volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Livingston County for more than 10 years. She enjoys helping all gardeners become successful gardeners, especially helping people identify tools and strategies to prioritize and simplify their gardening tasks.

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Landscape architect keeps his own backyard ‘simple’

Grow Native Plants: Help birds and eliminate fall garden chores …

What’s one thing you can do to help birds and cut down on mowing, pruning fussy ornamentals and ripping out dead flowers before winter sets in?

Add some native plants.

Think about it. Your garden is your outdoor sanctuary, whether it’s a backyard, a patio or a simple potted plant on an urban windowsill.

When you fill your sanctuary with native plants it becomes a vital recharging station for birds passing through and a habitat for nesting and overwintering birds. As urbanization increases and natural habitats disappear, native plants can go a long way to restoring the environments birds need–and free you from the tyranny of the lawnmower.

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Friendship Garden expansion underway – Journal Gazette and Times

Whenever Rob Stroud posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

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Caring for bamboo, corn stalks, geraniums: Master gardener tips

Summer may be winding down, but gardening questions keep on coming. Get answers from Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State University’s Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days, usually less. To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. What’s yours?


Q: How do I clean up my patch of corn? Do I need to cut the stalks down to the ground and leave the roots to rot or do I need to pull the stalks out root and all? – Multnomah County

A: The root ball will still be in the soil next spring, so I suggest that you remove the roots in addition to the corn stalks. This will reduce pest and disease pressure next gardening season.

If you have cows for neighbors, they would enjoy munching on the spent corn stalks. Or you can compost the root balls or place them in yard debris containers.

The final step is to sow a cover crop or cover the growing area with mulch of some sort. Leaves are great. Also, you can refer to OSU Extension’s fall check list for putting your garden to bed for winter. — Anna Ashby, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Q: We have found a few giant house spiders in my home in the last year and I don’t know what to do about this issue. I have a severe phobia, and these are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Portland, and I’m losing a lot of sleep over it.

We’ve lived in this house 10 years and never have seen them, then all of the sudden they’re showing up. Is there anything you can suggest to get these away from my house so I never have to have the psychological trauma of seeing one again? I know this sounds silly, but I’m dead serious. I am losing a lot of sleep over this fear. What to do? Please do not attach an image to the response, I will throw my computer and completely freak out! – Clackamas County

A: Overall, spiders are beneficial in the garden, landscape and even indoors, because they help humans manage the pesky insects that abound. Spiders live everywhere in the world. We’re fortunate that those here in the Northwest aren’t dangerous. And that’s true in spite of any hype and horror stories you may have heard.

You could use sticky traps meant to capture spiders that are available at most garden centers and hardware stores. They’re to be placed just inside doorways, the flat side against the wall; follow the directions on the package.

Or you could hire a pest control company to apply an outdoor perimeter spray around the house during July. (It’s too late now for such a spray.) For your own safety, please don’t use pesticides indoors.

Q: I have bamboo that is at least 20 years old. This year it seems to be blooming and the blooming stalks seem to be dying. Is there anything I can do? – Washington County

A: Unfortunately, when bamboo starts flowering, most plants usually die. You may be able to save it by cutting the flower stalks and chopping the living portion of the plant away at the rhizome. Sometimes plants come back from this. It is important to immediately cut away any stalk that is beginning to flower. New bamboo plants can take root from the seeds if the flowers are pollinated and you may end up with new plants growing as well. – Dardie Robinson, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Q: Can geraniums be left in the ground during an Oregon winter. If so how do you prepare them. – Washington County

A: An old-fashioned method of over wintering geraniums is to dig the plants before the first frost, knock the soil from their roots, and hang the plants upside down in a brown paper bag in a cool, moist basement or garage with 80 percent humidity and temperatures between 35 to 45 degrees.

If plants begin to dry out, soak the roots in water a few times each winter. In spring, take the plants down, cut off half to three-fourths of the top growth and replant outdoors. Due to the high water content in these plants, freezing will destroy the plant. Occasionally we get a winter without a freeze but it is rare. Check out the Extension reference on how to buy and care for geraniums. — Von Whitney, OSU Extension Master Gardener

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