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Archives for September 29, 2016

Ceramic artists ride design’s trend toward the handcrafted

Lisa Jones founded her ceramics company, Pigeon Toe, eight years ago with an emphasis on petite pottery pieces like her three-legged “tripot” bowls and teensy stacking bowls.

Her timing could not have been better, she says.

“I rode the wave of a resurgence in handcrafts and the individual maker,” says Jones, 32, of Portland, Ore.

Artistic, accessible and affordable, small-scale handcrafted ceramics can appeal to young singles decorating first-time apartments, or to older folks and families looking for a more personalized look than mass-produced items provide.

“We have our entry-price customers, and aspirational pieces reaching a demographic of people with means to spend,” says Jones. Pigeon Toe’s best-seller is the 3-inch-high, $48 tripot. It has an unglazed, white porcelain exterior, and a glazed interior in a choice of 16 colors.

“In the past five years, smaller ceramics have grown so much in popularity,” says Eugenia Santiesteban Soto, senior style editor at Better Homes and Gardens magazine. “They’re functional, but they’re also pieces of art. People are tapping into the notion of owning something beautiful and imperfect, but that you can use in your everyday life. You can tell there’s a hand that made it. It feels very soulful, authentic.”

Besides the evergreen appeal of mugs, Soto notes the functional allure of cups and vessels that can hold everything from food and drink to flowers, pencils and cotton swabs.

Mociun, a Brooklyn, New York-based jewelry and home goods store, sells mugs, cups, tumblers, pitchers, vases, bowls and plates by dozens of artists from across the country. Prices range from $24 for a speckled tumbler to $446 for a set of five metallic nesting bowls. Mugs sell the best, said company founder Caitlin Mociun.

“I have watched artists grow in their careers, starting as a hobby and now creating full collections of pieces sold in several stores,” she says. “A lot of our customer traffic at the store is walk-ins or tourists. They are looking for gifts or take-away items, which small-scale pieces are great for.”

Jeremy Ayers is a ceramics artist in Waterbury, Vt., whose modern rustic pieces — from a $55 round salt box to a pair of bulbous, aqua-colored mugs — are carried by stores (including Mociun) and his own online and studio shops. His studio is in the 1870 carriage barn where his great-great-grandfather made wheels and carriages.

“I’ve been noticing more customers on the younger end who want to add to their home aesthetic,” says Ayers, 41. “Maybe because so many young people work in an office cubicle, having my mug in their cubicle is a breath of fresh air.”

With pottery, repetition is part of the process. Ayers usually produces his salt boxes in batches of 20.

Creating each one out of a lump of clay on a pottery wheel takes about five minutes, he said. Then he trims the box, and loads it into a kiln to be fired for 12 hours. It takes another 12 hours for the box to cool. Then he puts a glaze coating on it and loads it back into the kiln. The glass in the clay and the glass in the glaze melt together, becoming one glassy object — stoneware — that doesn’t leak and is dishwasher safe, he says.

For those wanting to make their own pottery, Ayers — who teaches classes — suggests going to community classes. Jones, mostly self-taught, learned a lot from YouTube and books. Air-dry clay or clay easily baked in an oven are options too, she said. Pottery wheels can cost upward of $700 to $1,500, and a kiln can run between $1,500 and $3,000, says Ayers.

Another market for small pottery pieces — especially those with a minimalist, Scandinavian-design aesthetic — is as wedding gifts, as an alternative to large, expensive, traditional china sets, says Soto.

“People live more casually now, and there’s been less of a need for formal china settings,” she says. “People want something that reflects the way they live a little more, day to day.”

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Garden Club design luncheon set for Oct. 8 – Appeal

Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 3:28 pm

Garden Club design luncheon set for Oct. 8

Corning Observer

Red Bluff Garden Club is presenting its 20th annual Design Luncheon at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, at Rolling Hills Casino in Corning. This year’s designers are a mother-daughter team, Mary Arakelian and Lili Aram-Bost, from the Sacramento area.

The event includes a plated lunch prepared by Chef Hobart, shopping opportunities from local craftspeople, a silent auction, and raffle of the Fall Fantasy center pieces.

Tickets are $28 and still available by contacting Kathy Bramhall at 527-9403.

Along with being a designer, Arakelian is also a Master Flower Show Judge certified by National Garden Clubs. She has won several international design competitions, having her floral art selected for publication in both Design Dimensions (a publication of Creative Floral Arrangers of America) and Vision of Beauty (a publication of National Garden Clubs, Inc.).

Arakelian has chaired Flower Show Schools and Flower Show Symposia in California and currently serves as director of the California Garden Clubs’ Golden Foothills District. She also serves or has served on the board of the Organization of Floral Art Designers, the Sacramento Floral Design Guild, and Auburn Arrangers Guild.

Aram-Bost, following in her mother’s footsteps, is also an Accredited Flower Show Judge and award-winning designer who loves color and out-of-the-box ideas, implementing them in her floral designs. She, too, has been published in Design Dimensions and Vision of Beauty. Aram-Bost’s second career is that of a school speech therapist. During her “spare” time she has a role in a production of “Anything Goes” at the Sutter Street Theater in Folsom.

Proceeds from this event support Red Bluff Garden Club’s various activities. The Garden Club’s programs and meetings are held at 1 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month at the Community Center. Come join us.

  • Discuss


Wednesday, September 28, 2016 3:28 pm.

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Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour blends contemporary and traditional design

Maple Ridge Tour

The home at 21st Place and South Owasso Avenue is one of six homes on the annual Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour this year. The tour is noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and will feature vintage clothing, automobiles, inventions and entertainment. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

Maple Ridge Tour

The kitchen was doubled in size about seven years ago when the current homeowners needed more space. The space features an updated design that also complements architectural details of the home built in 1918. The Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour is noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and is $10. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

Maple Ridge Tour

Jane Butts, Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour organizer, explains how the annual tour Sunday will feature new additions, including vintage automobiles, clothing, inventions and more. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

Maple Ridge Tour

Homeowners transformed their library into a formal dining space. The large glass light fixture blends with the home’s traditional style to make a “soft modern” space. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

Home tour

Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour

When: Noon-5:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: 2130 S. Owasso Ave., 2116 S. Detroit Ave., 1123 E. 20th St., 1114 E. 17th Place, 325 E. 19th St. and 316 E. 29th St.

Cost: Admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 12, and children under 5 are free. Raffle tickets are $10 each or three tickets for $25.

Related Galleries

Photo Gallery: Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour

The 18th annual Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour will showcase six
homes starting at noon Sunday. 

Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:00 am

Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour blends contemporary and traditional design

By Jessica Rodrigo
Tulsa World


Correction: This story contained incorrect prices for admission to the Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour. It has been corrected.


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    Photo Gallery: Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour

    One of Tulsa’s historic neighborhoods will celebrate homes built around the 1920s with a home and garden tour this weekend.

    The 18th annual Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour will showcase six homes starting at noon Sunday. While some might expect the homes to feature traditional styles, half offer a unique blend of modern and contemporary designs.

    One home in particular had been on the radar of Jane Butts, coordinator of the Maple Ridge Home and Garden Tour, for a few years.

    “I’ve driven by (the home) so many times — my house has a similar appearance, but this one is so grand — and wondered if it looks like mine in the inside,” she said.

    The home at 2130 S. Owasso Ave. in Maple Ridge, which spans 15th to 31st streets along Peoria Avenue, is a contemporary home disguised by a brick exterior with tall ornate columns and a wraparound porch. Its current homeowners moved in about 10 years ago and gave the interior a much-needed update.

    Built in 1918, the home was designed with amenities that didn’t meet modern needs.

    “The family was very conscientious of maintaining the home’s existing elegance and craftsmanship. They did such a good job re-inventing the home for today’s family without destroying the details,” Butts said. “We really appreciate when the homeowners are preserving the history of the homes in this neighborhood.”

    Many of the homes in the tour were built around the same time and have seen several new owners. Many of the homeowners have completed various degrees of remodeling, but rarely ever has anyone chosen to do an entire remodel, Butts said. The historic preservation is part of what makes the annual Maple Ridge tour so special for guests.

    The three-story home that stands at the corner of 21st Street and South Owasso Avenue was updated with functionality in mind but was still respectful of the original design.

    The kitchen was doubled in size to accommodate a large island and dining table for a couple with children who love to cook. The original dining room and library were flip-flopped by the homeowners to improve the flow of the home, as well as create a more intimate formal dining area and an inviting space with plenty of natural light where they can catch up on reading.

    An unused porte cochere was re-purposed by the homeowners as a living area where the kids can play or watch television. To avoid breaking up the design of the home, the port’s original columns were incorporated into the space for structure and design. The original windows remain intact in the home and matching windows were chosen for the additions to ensure a seamless remodel.

    “You pray that you don’t break the glass because you can’t replace it anymore,” Butts said.

    In addition to showcasing the homes and a few outdoor spaces in the Maple Ridge neighborhood, Butts has set up other era-specific details for tour guests to enjoy. There will be vintage automobiles, clothing, inventions and entertainment.

    Other festivities include an ice cream social at a home on the tour that is celebrating its centennial anniversary, and guests can participate in a raffle fundraiser for the Maple Ridge Home Association. Raffle items include paintings, dinner packages, cooking classes and more. Money raised from admission and the raffle go toward maintaining and landscaping more than 30 islands that divide the streets throughout the neighborhood.

    Jessica Rodrigo 918-581-8482

    Twitter: @EatsEatsEats


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      Unleashed dogs attack, injure landscaping goats at Arnold Arboretum

      Two goats leased by Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in Boston for plant control were attacked by an off-leash dog that jumped over an electrified enclosure Wednesday afternoon, the organization announced.

      The two animals did survive, but were taken off-duty for veterinary treatment, staff said.

      The Arboretum employs four goats in its Peters Hill landscape to help control weeds and other invasive plants.

      The approach, while seemingly unique for an urban environment, is an often cost-effective and greener method for maintaining property.

      “This unfortunate and violent incident illustrates the potential dangers caused by dog owners who allow their animals to roam off-leash at the Arboretum, a violation of the law as well as park regulations,” the Arboretum said in a statement. “In addition to incurring injuries to staff, pedestrians and bicyclists, off-leash dogs also pose threats to leashed dogs and wildlife species in the landscape.”

      The staff is asking anyone enjoying the park to help ensure the safety of the goats by keeping their dogs leashed at all times, while also reporting any off-leash dogs to Boston Animal Control or Boston Police.

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      ‘We plan, you plant’ – Garden Center Magazine

      Having offered both retail and landscaping services since its first year of business in 1981, Willow Ridge Garden Center and Landscaping is no stranger to sharing knowledge from both specialities to create solutions for customers. Retail manager Greg Steele discusses the ways Willow Ridge plays to its strengths and gives clients full-spectrum service for their home projects.

      Q: What would you say your market has come to rely on Willow Ridge for?

      A: Obviously our plant material is there, but we also specialize in water gardening, fairy gardening and outdoor living products — especially high-end things like benches and tables, but our fairy gardening department and our water gardening department really sets us apart from a lot of others. Of course, the plant material is what most people come to us for.

      Q: How long have miniature gardening and outdoor living been major categories for you? How did they grow into the focus points that they are today?

      A: Fairy gardening started probably about eight years ago, but it’s grown considerably over the years even though some people thought it was just going to be a fad. It has stayed the course, so probably a quarter of our interior garden center building is devoted to fairy gardening products.

      As far as outdoor living, that was really brought about by our landscaping department. We actually added a section onto our outdoor display area that was basically to show people what we do in landscaping. We also host events in our outdoor living area, special fundraising events for local organizations and people who want to rent out the space for their parties and different clubs and associations.

      Q: Your website has some sections dedicated to planting advice and consulting. What can you tell us about these extra services?

      A: That is one of our focuses on the retail end, because a lot of people like to do the work themselves, they just don’t know where to get started. We have a program called “We Plan, You Plant.” [Customers] bring us pictures and measurements of the area and what kind of sunlight they have, then we go through the nursery and just suggest things to put in different areas … and [how to have] the right plant for the right place. It takes the guesswork out of just trying to do a landscape. You get some professional advice on what to do and the homeowner does the work themselves. We also offer that same service on the water gardening end. There’s a lot of people, do-it-yourself type people, that want to build their own water gardens and water features: ponds, waterfalls and things like that, they just don’t know the technical aspects of it. It’s a free service.

      Water features became a large segment of Willow Ridge to supplement its landscaping services.

      Q: How has 2016 been for your so far?

      A: The spring was pretty good. We had a warm, early spring, which can be a help and a hindrance in some ways. It got everybody out early but then you pay for that on the latter end. Then of course, it got really hot and dry really quick, so … months like June, July and August have been wanting. On our landscaping end, we’re good year-round. That part of our company has only grown since we’ve been in business.

      Q: What else do you think keeps Willow Ridge competitive? What are your plans for future growth?

      A: “For the most part, we’re forward-looking. We’ve partnered up with some business coaches. We’re doing a lot of social media — I’m sure everybody is, but we’re not just floundering with it, we’re trying to be coached on it. We’re just always looking for ways to improve what we do and how we do it. All of our key employees go to seminars, they go to different shows and things that have training programs to help increase our knowledge of not only marketing but customer service, new plant introductions and new products. All of those things, we do all year-round. We continue to try to help ourselves grow and help our employees have a better knowledge base.

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      Creating rain gardens for pleasure and practicality

      Many cities are now requiring builders to create water catchment systems to prevent erosion and improve water quality. One way for the homeowner to do this is to build rain gardens on their property.

      Roxy Wolosenko, a Bay Area landscape designer and contractor, outlined both the benefits of rain gardens and the steps for constructing one. Here are her tips:

      • Most older homes have rain gutters that direct water off the roof and onto the landscaping, where more often than not it runs into the street and down storm drains. The problem, says Wolosenko, is that storm drains can become overwhelmed by the volume of water, and the water itself picks up toxins from the roof, landscape and street, killing and sickening wildlife.
      • Rain gardens provide a place for the water to go and slowly percolate into the ground. The soil will help filter out any pollutants and the gardens provide places for us to grow native plants that prefer our winter rains.
      • Before digging your rain garden, determine the percolation rate of your landscape by digging a hole and filling it with water. If it takes longer than a day and a half to drain, you’ll want to import better-draining soil for your garden. You don’t want to create a pond or have standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
      • Place your rain garden at least 10 feet from the house, and provide an overflow area that also is away from your house.
      • Rain gardens should be at least 100 square feet. You can build one too small, Wolosenko says, but you can’t build it too large.
      • Use trenches or underground pipes to direct the water from the gutters to the rain garden.
      • The bottom of the rain garden should be flat and the sides sloped. You can plant in both areas.
      • Depending on your site, you want your rain garden to be at least 4 to 6 inches deep. If you have the space, you can create a series of rain gardens.
      • You’ll need to create solid berms, like levees, around the rain garden to hold in the water.
      • For best results, put the rain garden in a sunny spot.
      • If you have heavy clay in your yard you may need to dig some out and replace the soil with a mixture of 60 percent sand, 20 percent compost and 20 percent top soil.
      • Don’t use all sand, Wolosenko says. That will make the water drain too quickly, and the idea is to have it slowly dissipate. And don’t mix sand in with your native clay soil. That, she says, will make concrete.
      • You can put gravel on the bottom of the garden to increase percolation.
      • Most rain gardens are built in an organic shape.
      • Although our winter rains, which we’re hoping will return again this season, will provide enough water for our natives for several months, new plantings will need some supplemental water in the summer until the plants are established — about two to three years. Wolosenko recommends installing an irrigation system in the garden, either drip or over sprinklers. Even though you’ll be doing supplemental watering, your won’t be doing much as most natives don’t really like or need summer water.
      • Mulch your garden with an organic mulch, such as wood chips. In the wetter conditions, the mulch will break down much faster. Just reconcile yourself, Wolosenko says, to adding mulch every year.
      • You’ll likely also have more weeds as you are creating a fertile growing place. Wolosenko uses filter fabric as a weed block, spreading it on top of the garden and cutting planting holes in the fabric, which allows the water to penetrate.

      • If you plant trees on the slopes of your rain garden, they’ll need a little extra support as planting on a slope can make them lean.
      • As plants die, replace them. The more roots you have, the better your soil will drain.


      • If you don’t have room for a rain garden, look at other ways of retaining water on your property, without creating ponds.
      • Wolosenko recommends using water retention blocks, which resemble milk crates but with fair more and varied holes. The blocks are extremely sturdy, able to support up to 25,000 pounds.
      • Dig a hole in your backyard big enough to hold one of the blocks. Cover the block in filter fabric and put it into the hole, then cover it. The block will slow the water, allowing it to drain into the soil.
      • Some people are using the blocks to convert their swimming pools into cisterns. The blocks hold the water in the pool and landscaping over them keeps the water safely underground. You can hook a pump to the system and use the stored water on your landscape.
      • Water retention blocks are commonly used in new construction and landscaping, and are available at commercial irrigation stores.


      Our Garden offers free classes at 10 a.m. every Wednesday from April through October. Master Gardeners are available to answer questions and a large selection of seedling are available. All produce grown at the garden is donated to the Monument Crisis Center in Concord. The garden is at Wiget Lane and Shadelands Drive, Walnut Creek.

      Come take a free class

      • Oct. 5: Growing cover crops, Master Gardener Janet Miller
      • Oct. 12: Growing citrus and avocados, Ed Laivo of Four Winds Nursery
      • Oct. 19: Growing roses from seed, horticulturist Kathy Echols
      • Oct. 26: Fall and winter care of fruit trees, Janet Caprile UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor


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      Lush planting, grand fountains and an inspiring retreat grown out of tragedy: A peek inside Britain’s most beautiful …

      Whether you like a perfectly preened hedge, lush wild flowers or slick modern landscaping, these gardens are sure to get your green fingers twitching.

      The breathtaking spaces are all winners of this year’s Society of Garden Designers awards.

      Amongst the winners was designer Cleve West who created Horation’s Garden, a peaceful outdoor sanctum at a spinal treatment centre in Salisbury inspired by the tragic death of a teenage volunteer.

      Scroll down for video 

      Wimbledon Garden by Charlotte Rowe, in south London, won the Medium Residential Award

      The judges said Charlotte Rowe’s design had ‘good proportions, beautiful site lines and an amazing finish’

      The inspiring garden, packed with wild flowers, was awarded the Public or Commercial Outdoor Space award and also honoured with the People’s Choice Award. 

      The designer used herbaceous planting to accentuate the seasons and attract insects, keeping it full of life.

      It was named after Horatio Chapple, who volunteered at the centre in his school holidays, and had come up with the idea for the garden.

      He was tragically killed at the age of 17 by a polar bear but the outpouring of love, goodwill and donations enabled the garden to be created. 

      Designer Cleve West listened to patients, nurses, therapist, doctors and managers to help him inform the design of the garden, which opened in September 2012.

      Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Richard Sneesby explained: ‘This is what healing gardens should be like. It has beautiful planting that works with the scale of the building and helps to reconnect people to nature.’

      Millwater Garden in Surrey by Ian Smith at Acres Wild won The Grand Award

      The judges called Ian Smith’s Acres Wild in Surrey ‘a transformational project’

      The Grand Award, the most celebrated award, went to Ian Smith of Acres Wild for this private garden

      The accolades were presented at a ceremony in London where 19 awards were announced including recognition for community garden projects, international schemes, excellence in public and commercial outdoor space and a special lifetime achievement award. 

      The Grand Award, the most celebrated award, went to Ian Smith of Acres Wild for a private garden in Surrey that the judges called ‘a transformational project’. 

      ‘This garden achieves one of the most difficult goals in garden design; it feels as if it has been in situ for several decades,’ explained Sneesby. 

      Devised as a journey through interlinking spaces, Sneesby said the garden ‘feels composed and perfectly linked and has a period ambiance, exhibiting confidence of scale’.

      The River Garden by Rosemary Coldstream, which won the Pocket Garden Award, features plants including the moorgrass molinia ‘heidebraut’, bverbena bonariensis and asters

      Tall astilbe bumalda plants lead down to native irises on the river’s edge in Rosemary Coldstream’s design

      ‘It’s a well-executed, integrated design with sharp edges softened by sophisticated planting,’ he added.

      The garden was also named best Large Residential Garden.

      A contemporary garden in Wimbledon designed by Charlotte Rowe won three awards for best Medium Residential Garden, Hardscape and Lighting Design.

      The garden features ‘green architecture’ formed from clipped hornbeam, yew hedging and and box balls interspersed. 

      Another award-winning transformation was by Dan Pearson, who won the the award for Historic Garden Restoration for a space that was originally designed by influential British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll.

      Sneesby described the design as ‘a sensitive, beautiful and intelligent response to the client’s brief’.

      Bold architectural plants and splashes of colour feature in the Curved Contemporary Courtyard by Sue Townsend, winner of the Small Residential Award. 

      Horatio’s Garden by Cleve West at a spinal treatment centre in Salisbury earned the People’s Choice Award

      Horatio’s Garden by Cleve West was described as ‘inspiring garden’

      The River Garden by Rosemary Coldstream in Hertfordshire, which won the Pocket Garden Award, features plants including molinia ‘heidebraut’, verbena bonariensis and aster frikartii ‘monch’.

      Astilbe ‘bumalda’ leads down to native iris pseudocorus on the river’s edge. 

      Describing her Suffolk Manor, which won the Planting Design Award, designer Sue said: ‘Olive trees, box cubes, lavender, paeonias, irises, yew hedges and pleached hornbeam create intimacy in the courtyard garden whilst Dahlia David Howard and Kniphofia uvaria Noblis pack a punch in the hot borders.’

      Sue Townsend’s Curved Courtyard, winner of the Small Residential Garden award, looks chic and urban

      Outdoor rattan tables, chairs and recliners on black limestone patio in Sue Townsend’s Curved Courtyard

      College Crescent by John Davies uses slate, bamboo and box to create a contemporary look

      Commenting on the SGD Awards, Philippa O’Brien, chair of the SGD said: ‘One of the joys of superb garden design is that it looks effortless.

      ‘These gardens are however the result of years of training and experience, immense skill and razor-sharp attention to detail. 

      ‘I am immensely proud that the SGD is the professional body representing such finely honed talents and we are able to recognise and celebrate these talents at The SGD Awards ceremony.’ 

      The Old Bakery design with geometric beds by Rebecca Smith won the Small Budget Garden award

      The Old Bakery by Rebecca Smith uses pale stone flags, pebbles, a patio and flower beds native plants


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      Guru of gardening harvests 15 more ribbons at Bloomsburg Fair

      Article Tools

      It could be the soil. Could be the water.

      Or it just could be something about Dave Briggs, who returned from the Bloomsburg Fair with 15 ribbons for the vegetables he grew in his Union Township garden.

      For those counting, this year’s haul brings Briggs’ total to 94 ribbons from the fair. And while he’s proud of each of them, he’s most proud of winning in the Home Garden Collection competition.

      “The big thing is that I won first place for three years in a row with the Home Garden Collection,” he said.

      “You have to have 15 or more vegetables in it. I chose 18 different vegetables and arranged them on nice tablecloths, plates and doilies.”

      Judges liked what they saw. They also awarded first-place honors to his carrots, two types of eggplant, white and yellow Swiss chard, and watermelon. Other wins came for purple teardrop eggplant, green tomatoes, yellow frying peppers, Chinese chestnuts, white onions, purple bell peppers, grape tomatoes and a market basket.

      When Briggs planted his garden in June, he didn’t have high hopes.

      “It started out bad. Even though Schuylkill County had a burn ban because it was dry, my garden was actually mud,” he said.

      With conditions too soggy to plant, Briggs waited. And waited.

      “I planted it 11 days later than Memorial Day,” he said. “Memorial Day weekend was when I usually plant, not just for the fair but to avoid the threat of frost. I knew some vegetables wouldn’t be ready for the fair.”

      He wasn’t able to enter some varieties of bell pepper, since they didn’t change color. A white eggplant crop was less than impressive, and a cauliflower crop still needs time to mature.

      Judges look for perfect specimens, free of blemishes, dirt and marks.

      Briggs has a method of determining which are his best. On the morning entries are due, he harvests his crops, cleans them and puts them on a backyard deck where he inspects and sorts them. The best ones make it to the fair.

      Briggs, who purchases seeds and starter plants at Klinger’s Farms Greenhouses in Catawissa, offered some gardening tips.

      “You have to keep the weeds under control,” he explained. He makes sure the soil around the crops is loose, which helps provide oxygen and nutrients to the plant. An application of mushroom soil every few years is helpful.

      No matter what he does, not every vegetable is perfect.

      “That’s why I grow at least a half dozen of each of them,” he noted.

      And not every crop is meant for the contest. Family members, his Ringtown Valley neighbors and Briggs find time to enjoy the bounty.

      “When I’m working in the garden, there’s nothing like picking a green bean, snapping off both ends and eating it,” he said.

      Griggs admits that his favorite meal includes no veggies.

      “… Toasted cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise are the best,” he said.

      Briggs plans to enter vegetables at the 2017 Bloomsburg Fair and sink his teeth into a few more ribbons.

      “I have 94 ribbons now. My goal is to hit 100. I’ll always have a garden but once I reach 100, I can think about backing out,” he said.

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      Rake in the Tips with Online Gardening Tutorials

      Looking for an easy way to brush up on your gardening skills? The website, bewaterwise. com, has a link to online gardening tutorials and classes in your neighborhood where you can rake up ways to keep your drought resistant garden looking sharp year-around.

      Are you new to gardening or eager to learn the basics? There are four short, 15-minute tutorials that cover the key points of water-wise gardening: getting started; plant selection; irrigation system; and planting and maintenance.

      Want more information? Residential gardeners can dig into four 60-minute tutorials: landscape design; efficient irrigation; plant selection; and plant care.

      If you are an expert or landscape professional, there are four classes to learn more about landscape irrigation systems, fine tuning controller, irrigation scheduling issues and more. There’s a Spanish language professional tutorial, too.

      There are many ways for your and your garden to love water and save water.


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