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Archives for October 8, 2016

Terrariums Topic of Library Program

Terrariums Topic of Library Program

Tovah Martin, who has written extensively on gardening, will give a talk on terrariums on Saturday, October 22, in Kent.

Posted: Saturday, October 8, 2016 6:00 am

Terrariums Topic of Library Program


KENT — Tovah Martin, a horticulturalist, author and photographer, will offer a talk on Terrariums and You at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 22 at Kent Town Hall, 41 Kent Green Blvd., in an event hosted by the Kent Memorial Library and the Kent Garden Club.

Terrariums can host nature almost anywhere, in an apartment, office cubicle or a less-than-ideal growing environment

This lecture will explain how to work with terrariums and offer recycling ideas for growing and how to select appropriate plants. It will also demonstrate how to plant glass enclosures of all types, sharing secrets for success.

Ms. Martin’s book, “The New Terrarium,” will be available for purchase and signing.

An avid gardener indoors and outside, Ms. Martin is the author of many gardening books, most recently “The Indestructible Houseplant,” which follows the success of “The Unexpected Houseplant” and “The New Terrarium,” as well as the popular “Tasha Tudor’s Garden.”

A freelance writer, her articles have appeared in publications throughout the country including Country Gardens, Garden Design, Traditional Home, Martha Stewart Living, O the Oprah magazine, Old House Interiors, Horticulture magazine, Yankee, Connecticut Cottages and Gardens, as well as The Daily Telegraph in Europe.

In addition to being the 2012 Writer in Residence for the new Victoria magazine, she is an accredited Organic Land Care Professional through NOFA, an honorary member of the Garden Club of America and the recipient of their medal for outstanding literary achievement. In 2013, she received the Gustav Mehlquist Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Connecticut Horticultural Society.

She has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show and the CBS Sunday Early Show, as well as many other television and radio broadcasts. She speaks throughout the country and has lectured aboard the QE2.

Information about Ms. Martin can be found at and she posts on Facebook at Plantswise by Tovah Martin.

Her book will be available for purchase and signing. This event is free and open to the public.

Those who wish to register or are seeking more information may call the library at 860-927-3761, email or visit

More about Kent, Connecticut

  • Terrariums Topic of Library Program
  • ARTICLE: Pianist to Open Church Series
  • Kent Memorial Library: Work of Fiber Artist on Display at Library
  • ARTICLE: Kent Memorial Library: Work of Fiber Artist on Display at Library

More about Garden

  • Terrariums Topic of Library Program
  • ARTICLE: Beautification Committee to hold fall cleanup in October

More about Garden Club

  • Terrariums Topic of Library Program
  • Succulents to Be Garden Club Topic


Saturday, October 8, 2016 6:00 am.

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Italian restores ‘secret garden’ in Jinshan

WHILE most foreign residents of Shanghai live and work downtown, Gianpietro Belotti, the CEO of a multinational company, spends much of his time in the suburban district of Jinshan.

“Jinshan is a place where I’ve been spending most of my last 13 years. I saw it developing and changing from a nice community into a modern town. It’s a little jewel dense with surprises and… I often try to reserve some spare time to wander around hoping to find some unexpected ‘wow’ spots,” Belotti said.

“And so I did it when I was driving just next to the manufacturing plant I’ve used for work since early 2006. Suddenly I discovered a ‘secret garden’ that was unreal, beyond any imagination.”

“At first glimpse, you could perceive elegance, history and above all the enchanting power of the nature surrounding the construction, all magically preserved there. The match between the old countryside villa and the majestic lure of the garden was just breathtaking — but unfortunately damaged by a big car park lot built to separate the house from the garden,” he said.

Belotti said the idea that popped immediately into his mind was how to restore the harmony and the connection between these two spaces. “And that, at the same time, was the biggest job and challenge I had to face. The building complex, with its geometrical and simplified horseshoe shape, was originally designed to embrace a hexagonal pavilion, the garden and the pond behind it; and there we should have returned it to its original purpose.”

The simple lines of the buildings were softened by curvy finials, and dragons on the ridges of the roof were designed to contrast the irregular and natural shapes of the garden.

“Together with the architects team from Dedo Design, led by my friend Nunzia Carbone, Luca Crespi from Crespi Bonsai for the garden design and Ivan Corradi for the interior decorations, we decided to renovate the space by preserving the original ‘roots’ of the Chinese culture and by adding here and there elements of other origins,” he said.

Driven by the aim to create a more sophisticated harmony, they tried to re-center the yin and yang of the complex. “We knew how difficult it could have been and we were aware about the skepticism that we could have faced from the purists and the orthodoxies of traditional fengshui, but we tried to immerse our own alternative perspective and taste into the oceanic Chinese design,” he added.

After working out several options, they recognized that the most exciting idea was to introduce a “flying platform” to replace the fracture created between the buildings and the gardens by the car park and to “blend” them into a new dimension.

“We decided then to work not only on the space… but on time elements as well. So precast concrete and steel panels integrated by water, natural stones, and ‘green’ were nested together around the buildings,” Belotti said.

The same concept of playing with space and time was applied to the renovation of the garden and the restoration of its interiors.

In one of the blocks designed to be a leisure area, Belotti and his team entirely eliminated the ceiling to display the original wooden roof beams. On most of the walls, they also decided to remove the plaster to display the bricks underneath. These touches brought in an extra dose of grace as well as a sense of age.

New elements derived from Japanese and Italian cultures were then brought in to complete the existing Chinese design. Colors were also reduced.

“To activate further the entire atmosphere, we put a lot of emphasis on the lighting. Most of the visitors are astonished to see how the garden and the building totally change their appearance at night when the entire place magically lights up,” Belotti said.

Beauty of bonsai

Belotti said he has always been seduced by the appeal of greenery. “I still remember my first bonsai and the way it was collected from the mountain more than 25 years ago. Nice memories are also connected to those beautiful evenings at the bonsai club in my hometown, Brescia. Those were really magic nights spent debating with older friends about bonsai shapes or techniques. The bonsai stimulated my artistic side and the technical side as well,” he said.

Before coming to China, he followed the bonsai movement in Italy and adopted a Japanese style based on the ideal of perfecting nature.

“When I came to China I realized that there was another way to conceptualize the bonsai and it was more natural, not formal, and oriented to the imitation of nature. I learned from Chinese culture that any ‘imperfection’ of nature could be a beautiful and unique feature to enhance.

“This garden project, and more extensively my approach to life, fully implement this philosophy. There is not necessarily a right or wrong position. And the more diverse the options or the solutions, the higher the value that can be delivered. With this in mind, I’m trying to offer visitors different perspectives for a more complete immersion in the art of landscaping,” he said.

From the very beginning, Belotti saw great potential in this place, which now functions as a weekend retreat for him and his friends as well as place to host cultural events. Among the variety of possible solutions available, he preferred to focus on a multifunctional environment that could inspire him and other people.

“Though I don’t have much time to dedicate to the garden because of my busy working schedule, I try to spend quality time there. I often visit it to train our gardeners and staff to focus on detail, to care about every single element. Receiving friends or customers in the garden is also a joyful opportunity to share relaxing moments, to debate about different cultures and their connections. Experiencing bonsai pruning or shaping during sunset or at dawn is an experience I recommend to everyone,” he said.

Belotti also designed a couple of chic but minimal dining rooms and installed an acquaponic system to produce organic vegetables.

Recently he has hosted a bonsai workshop at the space, one which he hopes will become a regular event. “Along with the education of bonsai amateurs, we plan to organize once or twice a year exhibitions of bonsais and hope to one day have a permanent museum with masterpieces from all over the world.”

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ADOT internships prepare next generation of transportation professionals


Written by ADOT on Sat, Oct 8.

Arizona’s network of highways requires transportation professionals specializing in areas as wide-ranging as planning routes, repairing bridges and creating beautiful landscaping along roadways.

To help ready the next generation of professionals to plan, operate and maintain a safe and efficient transportation system, the Arizona Department of Transportation employs nearly 40 interns whose work touches projects in every corner of the state.

Coming from communities across Arizona, the interns work in fields including engineering, urban planning, construction management, environmental science, landscape architecture and more.

Earlier this year, ADOT partnered with Arizona State University to have meteorology interns provide real-time forecasts to those managing highways. Working out of ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center, these interns have helped crews respond rapidly to storms and other weather challenges.

ADOT recruits interns from high schools and colleges every spring, and interns can work for the agency throughout their college careers and up to six months after graduating. Typically working one day a week, they tackle the same kinds of projects they’ll face after graduating. Interns benefit from the experience of working with a supervisor plus a designated mentor. “The interns I talk to love the program,” said Candee Samora, ADOT’s intern project coordinator. “They say they love school but there’s nothing that can replace the hands-on training they’re getting at ADOT.”

One of ADOT’s interns is Yuri Lechuga-Robles (shown in the photo), an Arizona State University landscape architecture student who graduated in May as the 2016 Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Lechuga-Robles’ position in roadside development has allowed him to work on freeway projects in northern Arizona, Tucson and the Phoenix area. One of the lasting impacts of his work with ADOT Roadside Development is helping choose plants to go along roads and the graphic designs on bridges.

“Everyone in Roadside Development has been very helpful,” he said. “They’ve really taken care not to hold back and they’ve put me in situations where I can do things and learn. They’ve had confidence in me.”

Lechuga-Robles received the John E. McGee Intern Scholarship in 2015 from ADOT and the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. He was the first landscape architecture student awarded the scholarship named after McGee, the late ADOT chief financial officer.

“A lot of what I’m doing at school is directly related to the projects I do here,” Lechuga-Robles said. “It’s definitely been enriching to my career in landscape architecture.” LeRoy Brady, ADOT’s chief landscape architect, said the agency gets just as much out of the experience as its interns do.

“Interns help us meet our project development goals and schedules,” Brady said. “They bring in new ideas and new ways of looking at things.”

For more information on ADOT internships, visit


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Best Autumn-Red Tree – Prescott eNews

Watters Weekly Garden Classes

Oct 15 – Keeping Critters Out. The animals can have a ferocious appetite in the landscape, but not in your landscape. These simple steps will keep critters at bay. We will take special care to show only plants the furry locals are know to dislike, some may even have a repelling presence to them.

Oct 22 – Autumn Colors Enjoyed at Home Landscapes in autumn can be stunning, but only if you plan for them. This easy care advice will bring the silver and blues out of the evergreens, brilliant bright foliage and crazy colored flowers. Make this the brightest fall of all. Plant experts will abound after the class to show off new plant introductions along with local favorites.

Oct 29 – Fall ‘To-do’ list for a Healthy Yard Get the most out of your landscape this fall with this easy to use checklist of fall care. Bring the color out of the fall gardens, reduce bugs next spring, or simply put you landscape to bed for fall with these easy to use ideas. You will have a better landscape next spring if you do.


Nov 5 – Gardening for Newcomers Learn all the mountain secrets to local garden success. This is an information pack class guaranteed to increase garden blooms and fruit this year. The first 10 students to bring $10 and a soil sample receive a soil test done on sight with advice on how to improve the garden. You will know exactly what to do in the gardens this year.

Nov 12 – Decorating with Winter Evergreens. The autumn colors have dropped leaving the landscape naked and bare. As the last leaf drops Watters winter evergreen collection fills the garden center. Late fall is the ideal season for spotting evergreens trees in the naked spots of the yard. Best varieties, planting techniques, and evergreen care are all included in the class. Watters ‘Living Evergreens Indoors as Holiday Decor’ is free for each student who attends.

Autumn tree colors are here! Sadly, most properties don’t have many trees. You actually can count on one hand the number of trees in the average landscape. In any landscape, trees stand out like anchors that bring together the foundation of a good plan. Also, don’t forget that trees increase the value of a landscape more than spas and grills ever do.

f you are thinking of a new tree, don’t waste money by cutting corners. Trees are where the landscape value is and their purchase is no place to pinch pennies. Buy the best-looking tree you can find, the bigger the better. The good-looking trees at the garden center turn into big, bold specimens as they mature. An ugly tree stays ugly for most of its adult life. Save landscape dollars on shrubs, flowers, and hedges so your budget can afford a few specimen-sized trees to enhance your outdoor areas.

The high country of Arizona is famous for growing nice maples. If you plant the right variety it can require less care, with fewer problems, than the same tree in the New England states. The “Matador Red Maple” is so at home in our area that I refer to it as the ‘Prescott Maple’. Just going into autumn color now, its leaves glow like embers in a blazing hot fire. This maple grows fast, loves our soil, the area’s extreme weather conditions, and stands up to our wind better than other maple varieties. It is perfect for patios, hot sunny walls, driveways, and anyplace shade is needed. October is the ideal month to plant a large maple specimen. Get it rooted now and this tree will burst into vibrant life in spring.

The most important plant feeding of the year is in October. Plants are like bears getting ready for their winter hibernation; for sustenance they store up food in their roots like bears store up body fat. Plants use this food to create next spring’s flower and leaf buds. In addition, this feeding is especially important for conifers to fend off pinion pine scale and bark beetle damage.

Many native evergreens are under attack by scale, bark beetles, borers, aphids, and grubs. Many trees actually look stressed right now. Make sure to include natives when feeding your landscape, as they will use this food to combat their natural enemies. The “All Purpose Plant Food” 7-4-4 was intended for landscape ornamentals, but it works just as effectively on the natives in our yards.

Deodar Cedar, Cypress, and Pine are notorious for losing their green color and becoming pale, dry, and yellow in mid-winter. The secret to keeping evergreens green is the right plant food. October feeding of conifers is critical to prevent damage this winter and promote better growth in the coming year. Evergreens respond amazingly well to my specially formulated 7-4-4 “All Purpose Plant Food”.

If your irrigation system’s water volume was the same in September as it was in June, you need to change the timer settings. The length of time a tree needs to be watered in June is the same length of time that it should be watered in cool weather. What needs to be changed isn’t the length of time water runs, but the frequency of watering at each station. Irrigation cycles must water deeply to ensure that adequate water is delivered to the entire root system; it just needs it less often. The amount of water increases only as a plant’s size noticeably increases.

When programming an irrigation clock you should be modifying how often each station cycles. Personally, I like using the station interval button. Instead of telling the clock which ‘Day of the Week’ to turn on my irrigation system, I can dictate the frequency it waters. It doesn’t matter which day the clock runs, what matters is when the clock ran last and when it will come on again. I just changed my landscape trees and shrubs from a seven-day watering interval to every nine days. This results in a 23% savings of water consumption. Also, I changed my lawn from water every fourth day to being watered every five days.

Landscaping companies like an every other day watering schedule for newly planted yards. If your landscape is still on this heavy water cycle, this is a good time to change that frequency. Just be sure to maintain the same amount of water to encourage a deep root system. If you need help determining the right frequency for your landscape, ask for help from any of us on Watters’ staff. I created a convenient mini watering guide that fits inside the covers of most irrigation clocks. It is free for the asking.

Gardening Class – October 8th at 9:30 am we will have a walking tour around the nursery to view the best fall-colored trees for our area. It’s an ideal time to be planting trees with good Autumn coloring, and Lisa Watters-Lain will share the strongest local varieties, and how to plant and care for new trees in a landscape.

October 15 we will teach how to “Keep the Critters Out” of landscapes with a tour of Watters’ test gardens here at the nursery.

If you are unable to attend a class, tune in at for live streaming of the gardening classes.

Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center.

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Arroyo Grande hosts national America in Bloom event

Year-round, the Arroyo Grande Village is filled with a riot of flora: brightly colored flowers spill out of hanging baskets along the historic Bridge Street bridge, special fire-resistant plants decorate a garden next to the fire station while trees line the majority of the streets.

It’s for those reasons that Arroyo Grande was chosen to host the 2016 America in Bloom symposium — marking the first time a city west of the Mississippi River, as well as the first time a city of its smaller size, has been chosen to host the national event. Other symposium host cities have included Holland, Michigan; Philadelphia and Orlando, Florida.

It’s really quite a nice moment for us.

Bob Lund, Arroyo Grande in Bloom

Starting Thursday, roughly 178 representatives from across the country and their guests arrived in town to view the unique landscaping that makes up Arroyo Grande and to share ideas on the latest landscaping techniques, technologies and trends.

“It’s really quite a nice moment for us,” Arroyo Grande in Bloom coordinator Bob Lund said Friday. “So far, we’ve had a wonderful time.”

America in Bloom is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to “beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements,” according to its website.

Its local chapter, Arroyo Grande in Bloom, is involved year-round in beautification activities such as maintaining the flower baskets, planting trees and helping to form new parks, Lund said.

Symposium attendees sat in on panels from local experts on everything from the weather’s impact on the environment to the benefit of landscaping in communities. They also toured neighboring areas like Morro Bay, Hearst Castle, Point San Luis and the Cal Poly arboretum.

“They’ve been ecstatic,” Lund said of the representatives he’s talked with from outside California. “They love California and are really just enjoying being here.”

Besides the rosy glow of being chosen as the host city, Arroyo Grande has garnered more bragging rights this weekend: It also won the event’s “Best Example of Water Wise Gardening” award and a “Five Blooms” recognition (the highest level of recognition a participating city can win).

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Winning garden makes lavish use of difficult space

She and her husband have taken a one-story, cinder-block building on an overgrown patch of land and transformed it into an Italianate villa, complete with fountain and formal plantings in the front driveway, and lush rear gardens. It was chosen as the winner of the large garden, summer category of the Great Gardens Contest, which is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

The couple originally bought the former cabinet shop to store Rob Vietmeier’s classic car collection. But his wife saw its potential to be much more when she stepped onto the roof. On a clear day, its panoramic vistas include the tallest buildings Downtown. On the Fourth of July, they can see as many as six fireworks displays.

She made up her mind that day to build on top of the existing building, leaving the first floor for up to a dozen cars and the second for the family home. And she made plans for the overgrown backyard.

“I immediately had visions of a woodland garden,” she says.

The couple moved into a trailer on the property and work commenced. After two years of demolition and construction, they had a new home. Then she turned to the garden. A 100-foot swath of shady slope was covered with briers, poison ivy and saplings, not to mention the two storage trailers that needed to be cut up and removed. She cleared the slope and put down landscape fabric, then added boulders for dimension.

“In 2006, I started to bring in lots of my perennials to start filling the sparse landscape,” she wrote in her contest entry.

Among the hostas she planted are ‘Sum and Substance,’ ‘Praying Hands,’ ‘Aphrodite,’ ‘Stained Glass Window’ and ‘Empress Wu.’ She also made use of ferns, adding in ostrich, ladyfern and maidenhair, a collection of astilbes and lots of groundcovers such as creeping Jenny, lamium, ajuga, sweet William and creeping thyme.

Thanks to careful selection, she has created a visual tapestry of both texture and color. Over the years, she has divided the plants over and over again, filling in the 30-foot-wide bed. Each spring she buys several flats of ‘Angel Wing’ begonias. They add a spark of color, carry the eye down the expansive bed and tie the garden together.

Vietmeier has had some failures along the way. When heavy rains turned part of the slope into a waterfall and washed her plants away, she installed a dry riverbed that is both functional and attractive. She’s also had deer issues, although dogs Tessa and Hanna patrol the grounds and help keep them at bay.

She’s had no formal training in landscaping, but it’s clear she has a good eye and a green thumb. The long garden bed is filled to the brim with healthy, lush plants. She says the space no longer requires lots of maintenance or mulch because the plants have taken over.

She has carefully chosen garden ornaments and placed them throughout. Bird houses scattered about are home to a variety of species. Large containers are placed around the yard and huge hanging baskets dangle from trees. A tiny fairy garden in a large bowl lives in a gazebo.

In one corner, against a stucco wall, is a large Norfolk Island pine that she rescued from the trash. It now is quite large and overwinters with her husband’s cars.

She says her husband would rather have cement than garden, but it’s clear he’s proud of her creation. Each year, they have a party where their friends can admire his cars and her garden.

“My husband and friends call it ‘Paulaville,’” she says, “I love that.”

A visit to Paulaville is a lesson to visitors: How to turn an eyesore into a showstopper.

Article source:

OSU garden helps horticulture students’ knowledge blossom

STILLWATER — The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University is not the largest or most grand facility of its kind in the state.

However, there is no more diverse and educational piece of ground in Oklahoma. It’s quite literally the garden spot of the state.

“This is what we do here,” said Lou Anella, director of the garden. “We are the land grant university.”

The Botanic Garden is a teaching and research facility for OSU students in horticulture and landscape architecture.

If it’s in your garden and you got it in this state, it was or may still be growing in one of many different gardens at the OSU site.

The garden, a 110-acre spot in the midst of several major research farms, is just west of Stillwater.

Neighbors include turf management areas, where many types of grass have been developed for the NFL, MLB and some of the world’s top golf courses. Crops and animal science research stations also are nearby.

In the midst of all that agriculture is this garden, with four acres of “intensely cultivated gardens” for use in the weekly statewide television show “Oklahoma Gardening.” Broadcast weekly by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, the show is in its 41st year.

The Botanic Garden grew out of the needs of the television show. As a result, much of it is composed of small rectangular gardens with various plants and landscaping.

Gardens in various stages of development are growing here, from recently planted to fully mature.

“The good thing is that these gardens are all things that anyone in the state can do in their yard,” Anella said. “That’s why the show is so popular. These are things that anyone, with a little guidance, can do.”

Anella acknowledged that there are larger and more grand gardens in spots all over the state. That’s not the point.

The OSU garden exists for the education of the state’s residents.

“The Tulsa Botanic Gardens are fabulous, as are several other major gardens around the state,” Anella said. “What they’re doing is really spectacular.

“We’re not doing that. Our gardens here are small. They are plants and landscaping that anyone can do.”

Literally thousands of plants and designs are featured. Many are “Oklahoma Proven” — plants that have been tested and recommended for growing in Oklahoma.

“All of our gardens, no matter how small, have their own identity and are in a different process,” Anella said.

The Botanic Garden works closely not only with students but also the state’s many Master Gardener programs. The OSU site has hosted 162 workshops in the past year. In addition, 23 OSU classes have met here.

“Oklahoma Gardening” came on the air statewide in 1975. In the early 1980s, it was filmed in the Stillwater backyard of OSU horticulturalist Ray Campbell.

“We’ve recently expanded the show on YouTube, and that has really been a game changer,” Anella said. “We went from 177,000 viewers to millions around the world.

“There may be more people around the world that have seen the Botanic Garden than folks in Stillwater who know we’re out here.”

In 1986, the seeds of the Botanic Garden started to grow when a small parcel west of Stillwater was dedicated for use with the television show.

These days the gardens have grown to include an irrigation system, a formal garden, shade-loving perennial flower beds, water gardens, butterfly gardens, a garden railway, an alpine rock garden, a Japanese tea ceremony garden, a patio garden, the chicken moat, the lotus garden, the sun perennial garden, the Oklahoma Proven garden and an herb garden.

If it can be grown in Oklahoma, it’s being grown in the Botanic Garden at OSU.

“We are obviously always doing trials on plants,” Anella said. “Companies send us plants or grasses, and we do the trials to see if they do well in Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma is a great testing ground for plants. The state is considered a temperate climate with diverse soil and rainfall.

Some parts of eastern Oklahoma get up to 40 inches of rainfall per year, while some parts of the Oklahoma Panhandle get less than 15 inches.

“We’re kind of right in the middle of the state in the middle of the country,” Anella said. “This is a great spot for this.”

He said Interstate 35, which divides the state into relatively equal eastern and western halves, is sort of a border used in horticulture.

“A lot of times we talk about the success of a plant either west of I-35 or east of I-35,” Anella said.

The Botanic Garden at OSU is working to improve its facilities. A new entrance and parking area was recently added off State Highway 51.

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Be inspired with Cape Coral’s Florida Friendly Yard Tour – The News

Contrary to what some people might think, all of the beautifully manicured yards in Cape Coral aren’t necessarily the creations of professional landscapers. 

In today’s DIY (Do It Yourself) driven world and with a big assist from the City of Cape Coral, you can learn what types of native plants to grow for easy maintenance and low cost with the bonus of benefiting the environment.

How? By going on the Florida Friendly Yard Tour and seeing first-hand the success people in Cape neighborhoods have had after taking a Florida Friendly Landscaping Class.

This month there will be opportunities to go on the tour (Oct. 15, 9 a.m. to noon) and to take the landscaping class (Oct. 18, 6 to 9 p.m.).

The tour, which is $10 for Cape residents and $15 for non-residents, can be the inspiration for taking the class, according to Harry Phillips, an environmental biologist for the city’s Environmental Resources department.

“We try to wow them,” said Phillips. “We limit it to 15 people. It is wildly popular and we usually sell out.”

Instead of looking at pictures in a book or magazine, the tour allows you to walk right into the front and backyards of Cape homes and see the amazing plants and breath-taking designs the homeowners have created.

“This tour takes people around to see other people’s yards,” said Honey Phillips, who works for Cape Coral Parks and Recreation and is Harry’s wife. “They are spectacular. They don’t look like your typical palm trees and red mulch yards that everybody else has.”

The homes that are on the tour have been designated a “Florida Friendly Yard” under the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program. The yards must have a primary focus on native plants because they use less fertilizer and water. There are several requirements in terms of plants, mulch, fertilizer use, and irrigation.

“Instead of making it an ‘anywhere U.S.A. yard,’ you can actually define your yard as a true Florida yard,” Harry Phillips said.

An example is the hibiscus plant. Harry Phillips said there are hibiscus plants native to Florida and the ones you see at the big box stores are typically non-native. He said the hibiscus Florida natives are usually from swamps. The store-bought hibiscus are adapted to dry soil.

Mulch is a big topic, according to Honey Phillips. In the classes, students are taught about more natural ways to use mulch in a yard so it becomes its own fertilizer and provides plants with all they need.

Like everything else, there are do’s and don’ts to landscaping and gardening.

“Rubber mulch is hot and you are going to cook your plants,” Honey Phillips said. “We want to stay with light colors that are more natural.”

The tour will visit at least three homes. Some have manicured yards, but stops will also be made at homes with “wild look yards.”

“That also appeals to some people,” he said.

Either way, the homeowners get to show off their yards and speak about how their landscaping has evolved. It typically takes three to four years to transform a typical yard into a Florida Friendly yard according to Harry Phillips.

“Some folks say they’re never done because it becomes an addiction to acquire all native species,” he said. “They are very proud of what they’ve done.”

The tour does extend beyond homes. It will also drive by city-owned medians and cul-de-sacs and one of the Lee County libraries. Both libraries in Cape Coral — the south branch and the one by Mariner High School — showcase Florida friendly gardens.

If you go

What: Florida Friendly Yard Tour

When: Oct. 15, 9 a.m. to noon

Where:  Rotary Park

Cost:  $10 for Cape Coral residents; $15 non-residents
Registration: Call 549-4606

More info:

Article source:

Don Davis: Tips for autumn gardening

Don Davis is a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension agent. He
can be reached at

Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 12:30 am

Don Davis: Tips for autumn gardening


Gardeners are pleased with last week’s rain. Now the ground is moist enough to do some planting and cultivating.

Fall planting works just fine for shrubbery and trees. Cooler temperatures at this time of year will reduce the need to water the plants as their new roots are getting established.

One of the best bushes to plant for fall color and fragrance is the autumn flowering camellia. It blooms for six weeks every fall.

These cold hardy evergreens are useful as specimen shrubs planted alone and in groups at the edge of a woodland, but many of them get too big at maturity to plant next to a door or under low windows in your foundation landscape plantings. In the event no retailers around here have fall camellias, you will definitely find a selection of them at nurseries in Charlottesville, Richmond and Roanoke.

Other timely plantings include chrysanthemums, asters, pansies and violas. All of them are now available in various stages of bloom.

The bulb planting season is in full swing. This month and next are the main seasons to set out tulip, daffodil, crocus and many other so-called Dutch bulbs.

The best choices in yards with deer herds are crocus, daffodil, allium and hyacinth. If you must have tulips, try planting them near your home and apply a deer repellent regularly during the budding and blooming process.

Fall is also the time to plant Oriental and Asiatic hybrid lily bulbs for a stunning display of large trumpet-shaped flowers in summer that attract butterflies. Lilies are vulnerable below ground to voles and above ground to deer, so choose planting locations carefully.

The time to wrap up lawn planting chores has come. If sown by the 15th, seeds of fescue, bluegrass and other cool season species should have plenty of time to germinate and begin developing a new lawn.

This date is not chiseled in stone. Considering our climate’s warming trend, you could possibly sow grass seed on Halloween and still have good results.

Or maybe the weather will turn extremely cold on Nov. 1 and inhibit grass seed germination. Then your yard may need to be seeded again when spring comes.

The first frost of fall is going to come around Oct. 27. That is the average frost date in Lynchburg, and it will be slightly earlier in Sedalia and later in Gretna.

This information is particularly important if you have any tender potted plants to bring indoors. Cold temperatures will do your houseplant collection no good at all, so be sure to bring them in before night temperatures are regularly in the 50s.

Two exceptions are geranium and Christmas cactus. If protected by a porch or roof, October temperatures suit these plants quite well and promote a brilliant flowering display.

Amaryllis bulbs now in full leaf must be forced into dormancy to prepare them for blooming. You can do that by simply bringing them indoors and cutting off their water supply until early next year.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016 12:30 am.

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Alan Titchmarsh – Greenhouse tips that can make your plants survive the winter

In February, fill any gaps with rows of “forcing” varieties of radish, more spinach, early mangetout and lettuce, rocket and mixed salad leaves. You will enjoy homegrown crops months before an outdoor patch produces. To overwinter tender plants, you might be surprised by what you can get away with without any heat. 

The climate has changed a lot since my boyhood, when you could expect a frost almost every night from the middle of September to early May. 

Now we have relatively few frosty nights so, provided you keep them as dry as you dare, a lot of borderline and slightly tender plants will survive in an entirely unheated greenhouse. 

If the weather takes a sudden Arctic turn, switch on your heater for the very coldest nights only. Or, better still, partition off the far end of the greenhouse with a sheet of thick, clear polythene, keep your tender plants there and only heat that. It’s cheaper.

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