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Archives for October 11, 2016

Burrell to discuss native plants and landscapes Oct. 12

EASTON — C. Colston Burrell will discuss “Can a Garden Have Everything?” from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Academy Art Museum in Easton. The event is sponsored by the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore.

Burrell is a lecturer, garden designer, award-winning author and photographer. He also is an avid and lifelong gardener and naturalist, and has lectured internationally for 40 years on topics of design, plants and ecology.

Burrell is principal of Native Landscape Design and Restoration, which specializes in blending nature and culture through artistic design. In 2008, Burrell received the Award of Distinction from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers for his work promoting sustainable gardening practices.

Burrell also has worked as curator at the U.S. National Arboretum and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

He has undergraduate degrees in botany and horticulture, and a Master of Science in horticulture, from the University of Maryland, and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the the University of Minnesota.

He lectures in the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia.

Burrell now gardens on 10 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Charlottesville, Va. His garden, “Bird Hill,” was featured in The New York Times and frequently appears in national and regional publications. The garden is a popular destination for national tours.

Admission to the event is free. For more information, visit ernshore.

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Ask a Designer: Designing a functional yet stylish mudroom – Journal Gazette and Times

This undated photo provided by The Home Depot shows a cabinet serving as storage in the foyer of a home. One portion of an open foyer can function as a mudroom with help from a cabinet, like the one shown here, that combines closed storage, hanging space, shelving and seating. (The Home Depot/Home Decorators Collection via AP)

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Meditaton Garden opens Friday at Myrtle Hill; Cemetery tours … – Rome News

Meditation garden

A new meditation garden is opening at Myrtle Hill Cemetery. (Contributed photo)

Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 12:00 pm

Meditaton Garden opens Friday at Myrtle Hill; Cemetery tours planned for Saturday

From staff reports

A new Meditation Garden will open Friday at Myrtle Hill Cemetery, just in time for the 20th annual Where Romans Rest tours of the cemetery Saturday.

The tours will include a stop at the new Meditation Garden where landscape artist John Schulz will share the story behind the garden’s design. The new public garden will be dedicated Friday at 4 p.m. and is located on Branham Avenue, with an access road just past the Myrtle Hill Cemetery Mausoleum.

Where Romans Rest will have four tours available to the public Saturday. Tours will depart at 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. from the Myrtle Hill Cemetery Mauso­leum.

The cemetery dates back to 1857 and includes 368 Civil War graves, and the remains of four congressmen, a congressman of the Confederate States of America, a U.S. senator and Ellen Axson Wilson, the first wife of President Woodrow Wilson.

Every year, the tour highlights a new set of notable Romans, allowing visitors to learn more about the permanent residents of the cemetery. Storytellers dress in character as they share tales of Rome’s greatest heroes and heroines.

Admission to the tour is $10 for adults and $5 for children (not recommended for children under 12). The tours involve steep steps and slopes, and will be a strenuous walk for some attendees. Guests are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Due to construction inside the cemetery, the tour route will include many uneven steps and walkways. Unfortunately, the tour route will restrict strollers.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and are now available for purchase at Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Rome-Floyd Visitors Center at 402 Civic Center Drive on Jackson Hill.

Parking for the will be at the mausoleum parking lot on Branham Avenue or across the street at the Kingfisher Trail Head.

Visit or call 706-295-5576 for more information.

  • Discuss


Tuesday, October 11, 2016 12:00 pm.

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Masdar Institute Students Gain Exposure to Entrepreneurship in Study-Abroad Program at MIT

Tanmay Chaturvedi and Muhammad Awais Bin Altaf can summarize the primary benefit of studying entrepreneurship at MIT in just three words: real-life experience.

 “Exposure to what’s happening in the world was my biggest takeaway from four months at MIT,” says Chaturvedi, a chemical engineer who is pursuing a PhD in interdisciplinary engineering at Masdar Institute, a research-focused technology university in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“It opened a window on the real world, and it helps in linking my research work with real work,” says Bin Altaf, who recently completed a PhD in interdisciplinary engineering at Masdar Institute and is now an assistant professor in the electrical engineering department at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.

Tanmay Chaturvedi (third from left) and Muhammad Awais Bin Altaf (fourth from right) with fellow Masdar Institute PhD students during their semester at MIT.

Masdar Institute was established with the assistance of MIT through the MIT/ Masdar Institute Cooperative Program (MITMICP), with graduate classes beginning in 2009. Since then, the two institutes have collaborated on strategic research projects and academic-exchange opportunities.

In one such program, Masdar Institute PhD students apply to spend a semester abroad taking classes and conducting research at MIT. The most recent group of students included Chaturvedi and Bin Altaf, who each enrolled in an intensive MIT “ventures” course, which included mentoring, interacting with researchers and visiting entrepreneurs, and creating business plans or prototypes for potential real-world ventures.

‘Vibrant Startup Environment’

That combination appealed to Chaturvedi, a native of India whose family has lived in the UAE for many years. “I wanted an emphasis on development and entrepreneurship, and MIT has a very vibrant startup environment,” he says, adding that he especially enjoyed meeting entrepreneurs. “These were the people who had gone through the grind of selling their ideas, entering different competitions, and trying to raise money, or who are going through the process right now.”  

At MIT, Chaturvedi also met people conducting research similar to his own, which focuses on generating renewable energy from common biomass sources such as palm-tree leaves, seaweed, algae, and landscaping waste. “At MIT, there are so many people working on this topic,” Chaturvedi says. “You don’t realize that there are so many people out there following the same path that you are.”

While at MIT, Chaturvedi enrolled in Development Ventures, a one-semester course focused on founding, financing, and building entrepreneurial ventures that target developing, emerging, and underserved markets. Taught by MIT faculty members Alex “Sandy” Pentland and Joost Bonsen, the course particularly emphasizes “transformative innovations and exponentially scalable business models that can enable or accelerate major positive social change throughout the world.”

For Chaturvedi and his classmates, that meant developing and entering proposed ventures in MIT’s annual $100,000 Entrepreneurship Competition (widely known as “the MIT $100K”). “They wanted an actual business plan, not a class final project,” recalls Chaturvedi, whose four-person team designed a concept for a lightweight shipping container with embedded technology that people in remote areas could use, post-delivery, to convert agricultural and household waste to electricity or biogas.

The team’s plan didn’t win the MIT $100K, but Chaturvedi, who expects to complete his PhD at Masdar Institute in May 2017, called the experience “a great exercise in learning to submit a plan to a business competition.”

From Prototype to Product

His Masdar Institute colleague, Bin Altaf, focuses on developing energy-efficient wearable electronic biomedical devices, specifically on designing sensors that detect and monitor epilepsy. Not surprisingly, Bin Altaf enrolled in Healthcare Ventures, another one-semester entrepreneurship seminar. Led by MIT Professor Martha Gray and Senior Lecturer Zen Chu, the class places special emphasis on startups combining digital health and high technology. “The course was directly aligned with my research,” Bin Altaf says, adding that he came away with a strong understanding about the steps involved in designing a prototype, marketing a concept, and launching a startup.

Working in groups, Healthcare Ventures students identified industry problems, then proposed solutions for them, addressing both business and technology issues. Bin Altaf, whose team explored options for addressing mental-health problems in academic institutions, focused on the project’s technical aspects, including developing a prototype for testing the group’s ideas.

The experience helped Bin Altaf—who hopes to take his epilepsy-related medical device to market—start thinking seriously about a business model for his research work. “It taught me a lot of lessons and strategies for moving forward,” he says.

Like Chaturvedi, Bin Altaf found interacting with entrepreneurs especially useful. “One of the main highlights of the course was the mentoring. A lot of the instructors own their own health-care startups, so that helped a lot in guiding us,” he says. The course also required students to make weekly progress presentations before the whole class—including entrepreneurs. He adds: “It was really nice to get direct feedback. You get a chance to align yourself on the right path.”

Bin Altaf, a native of Pakistan who was visiting MIT for the first time, calls the class’s diverse makeup an unexpected bonus. “It helped me to work with students from different backgrounds,” he says. “Different people use different technical language. It’s essential to explain your research or problem in a way that all can understand.”

Chaturvedi, who had visited MIT twice previously, was especially impressed this time by both the talent and the generosity he encountered on campus. “It seemed like everyone was involved in some groundbreaking work, and yet they were so humble,” he recalls. “They would share everything over dinner or over sandwiches in the park.”

Finally, he says, all the students in the most recent Masdar Institute delegation shared one takeaway. “As a researcher, you’re very focused on fact and scientific evidence. We all agreed when you experience that at MIT, it’s at a whole new level,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity if you want to see how many people like you are pursuing things that are going to have an impact on the most pressing problems of the world today.”

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Instead Of Barricades, Benches And Tables Might Line The Sidewalks Of Lower Broadway

The city is hunting for a safe and permanent solution to the pedestrian scramble on Lower Broadway. This could mean replacing the ubiquitous barricades that stop people from crossing the street with more usable objects, like awnings, benches, planters and tables.

Nashville’s chief traffic engineer, Chip Knauf, says the city is planning a “pilot pilot,” as he calls it, to test new ideas for pedestrian safety.

“You might see a bench one week or an umbrella the next,” he says. “These aren’t going to be permanent items. They are very mobile, and they may move from block to block every few weeks just to see how they’re doing.”

The existing barricades that line it arrived last August as part of a broader plan to improve walking and public space along Lower Broadway. While they help prevent pedestrians from trying to cross the middle of the busy downtown street, they were not intended to be permanent. But they worked, so they’re still there.

“It did the job,” Knauf says. “But now it’s time for Plan B. Make it look better and maybe feel better.”

In recent months, the city has hired a group of consultants and designers to help re-imagine the busy corridor. What’s emerged are ideas about creating more shade, improving landscaping and finding a solution to keeping folks on the sidewalk that’s not such an eyesore.  

Knauf says over the next two months the city will deploy the prototypes around Lower Broad. The Copenhagen-based design firm assessing the pilot, Gehl Studios, will observe how visitors use the new items, seeing if it’s effective. 

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Students design White House Kitchen Garden’s permanent look

Michelle Obama stands with Tammy Nguyen, a student participating in the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative, beneath a new arbor designed by UVA students for the White House Kitchen Garden.
Photo: White House/Amanda Lucidon

Over the summer, Michelle Obama commissioned a team of faculty members and students from the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture to design a communal table and gathering space for the White House Kitchen Garden.

With the Obamas’ time in the White House drawing to a close, the announcement came recently that the White House Kitchen Garden will become a permanent part of the South Lawn, thanks in part to a $2.5 million donation from The Burpee Foundation. The first lady introduced the kitchen garden in 2009 as part of her “Let’s Move!” initiative, which fights childhood obesity and promotes healthy lifestyles.

The University of Virginia team, led by landscape architecture professor Elizabeth K. Meyer, was tasked with creating garden spaces and structures that encouraged community, as guests visiting the garden range from schoolchildren to dignitaries.

“The first lady was interested in the garden not just as a place to produce food, but as a social space where children and adults can gather to learn something about the relationships between gardening, food and their own health and well-being,” Meyer told UVAToday.

Meyer is accustomed to working with some of Washington’s most well-known landmarks, having served as an adviser for the design competitions held by The Trust for the National Mall. She is currently one of the presidential appointees on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which advises the government in the design of landmarks, memorials, public buildings and landscapes.

When the National Park Service contacted Meyer about the opportunity, she reached out to landscape architecture department chair Julie Bargmann; landscape architecture program director Nancy Takahashi; urban and environmental planning lecturer Tanya Denckla Cobb, a national expert on local food systems; and fabrications facilities manager Melissa Goldman.

She also included six undergraduate and graduate students on her team – three architecture majors and three landscape architecture majors.

“To have our students working on a project of this stature was really momentous,” Bargmann said. “It was a rare opportunity for them, and they really stepped up.”

The students worked with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” staff and National Park Service liaisons, giving the young people a chance to learn firsthand how to meet the needs of the client. The UVA team conducted two site visits at the White House to test their designs after building prototypes. Working collaboratively, the university students and faculty created three design concepts.

“We started with what was already a very successful established garden, and our goal was to give it a sense of place and permanence,” Takahashi said.

The table was built by UVA alumnus Roger Sherry out of various American woods.
Photo: Roger Sherry

The designs were presented in June and architecture student Owen Weinstein’s concept of incorporating the motto of “e pluribus unum – out of many, one” into every element of the design was selected.

“We used many different woods and different structural systems, including structures that combine steel and wood, which have different structural properties but come together to create something much stronger,” Meyer said. “We sensed that the first lady’s staff really like the idea, both for its aesthetic as well as its political and social associations.”

Following this “e pluribus unum” mindset, the team created an arbor to mark the path to the gathering area, and custom tables and benches out of a variety of American woods.

The American wood came from other historic locations, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Madison’s Montpelier, James Monroe’s home at Ash Lawn-Highland, and Martin Luther King’s birthplace in Atlanta.

“Each piece has so many really interesting and historical and geographical stories attached to it,” Meyer said.

It was then constructed by landscape architect and master builder Roger Sherry, a 1998 graduate of UVA’s architecture school. The botanical and common names of the woods were etched into one of the benches highlighting the wide geographical origins of the woods.

“The different materials come together and become stronger and more beautiful in the process, which seemed to us quite a nice metaphor,” Weinstein said. “We used wood from throughout the United States, so you have a sampling of American woods with really tremendous variety in grain, tone and texture, all lined up next to each other to become this beautiful assembly.”

Along with the new garden elements, the team also assembled a short report on the history of kitchen gardens at the White House. The finished project was unveiled on Wednesday, October 5, and Michelle Obama thanked the team for their work.

“I take great pride in knowing that this little garden will live on as a symbol of the hopes that we all hold of growing a healthier nation for our children,” the first lady said. “I am hopeful that future first families will cherish this garden like we have.”

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East Quogue Reading Garden Dedicated To Father Who Died

Oct 11, 2016 11:14 AM
By Amanda Bernocco

When recess ended for Sue Masera’s second grade class at East Quogue Elementary School on a recent Thursday, the students were excited to learn that they didn’t have to return to their seats in the classroom. Instead, Ms. Masera told them to grab their books and head back outside—so they could read in the crisp fall air.The students grabbed piles of picture books—including popular titles such as “Flat Stanley” by Jeff Brown—and hurried outside with them so they could get seats on a bench in the shade in the school’s new reading garden.

The garden was built over the course of five years in memory of an East Quogue father, Dan Kyea, who died of a heart attack at 35 years old on December 10, 2011. Mr. Kyea was also a boatswain’s mate 1st class with the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Kyea family was fairly new to the district at the time—Mr. Kyea’s daughters, Brooke and Emily, were in kindergarten and first grade, respectively, when he died—but that didn’t stop the community from immediately coming together to try to figure out what they could do to help and show support for the family.

During a school improvement meeting one day shortly after Mr. Kyea’s death, a few people suggested that the grass nestled between the school’s main office and the hallway where Ms. Masera’s classroom is located should be made into a reading garden in his memory, with students and teachers using it for learning. Without hesitation, Bonnie Chieffo, a teacher’s assistant at the school, volunteered her brother, Todd Scates of Westhampton who works for Landscape Solutions, to make the first drawing of the garden. From that moment on, Ms. Chieffo helped lead the way to the garden’s creation.

Though Ms. Chieffo was one of the leaders of the project, she was quick to point out that she received help from many individuals and businesses. “It was really a community effort,” she said. “Some of the community members in the building brought in plants from their own gardens.”

She said she received donations of materials and services from several area businesses, including Landscape Solutions, Tiana Shores Landscaping, East Coast Mines Materials, Peat Son Nursery, K. Clemenz Irrigation, Aspatuck Gardens and East End Outdoor Supply Company. East End Trophy and Awards in East Quogue donated memorial plaques. The East Quogue Teacher Association donated a birdbath, and the East Quogue Parent Teacher Association has agreed to buy flowers every year.

Additionally, the garden became part of David Mangusso’s Eagle Scout service project. An East Quogue resident who graduated from Westhampton Beach High School earlier this year, Mr. Mangusso, who was in Boy Scout Troop 62, helped with planting and organized a fundraiser where members of the community purchased engraved bricks that would be included in the patio in the garden. One brick, purchased by the Kyea family, reads: “We Love You Daddy Em Brooke.”

In total, about $7,500 was raised for the garden, Ms. Chieffo said. So far about $6,500 has been spent. The leftover funds will be used to maintain the garden.

“It was an idea we were thinking about for quite some time,” she said of the garden. “We wanted to establish an outdoor reading space for the kids.”

School Superintendent Robert Long said one of his favorite things about the garden is being able to peek out of his office window, which borders the garden, and see kids outside smiling and reading. “We hope it’s a place that our students enjoy for many years to come,” he said. “We love that it was a community effort.”

Although the school community has been mulling the idea of a reading garden for a while, Ms. Chieffo said it still took some time to plan and figure out how it would be funded. Crews eventually broke ground in 2013 and classes started using the garden last spring.

Additional features, such as an art mural or more plantings, might still be added to the garden, she said: “I foresee this as something that is ongoing, because there is a lot of space left.”

The garden has four wooden benches circling a brick patio in the middle of the grass. It is surrounded by colorful flowers and trees.

Brooke, who is now 10 years old and in fifth grade, and her older sister, Emily, who is now 11 years old and in sixth grade, said the attention was a little overwhelming at first, but they are happy to have a garden at their school in memory of their father.

“All the kids, when they came out here, they were, like, ‘Oh, that’s your last name!’” Emily recalled. “Some of them didn’t know I guess—it was a little awkward. I was just, like, ‘Go read your books!’”

Laura Kyea Leiblein, who had been married to Mr. Kyea for 10 years when he died, said she saw the finished garden for the first time only a few weeks ago when she visited the school for its annual Fun Run fundraiser. “It was awesome,” she said. “The kids’ dad used to read to them all the time, so it was very fitting.”

Mr. Kyea was a member of the Coast Guard for more than a decade and was assigned to Coast Guard Station Shinnecock in Hampton Bays a few years before he died. He was expecting to have to relocate his family once again to Florida so he could run one of the stations down there, Ms. Leiblein recalled.

After his death, Ms. Leiblein decided to stay in East Quogue because she loved the community and the teachers in the school.

She added that she is glad that Mr. Kyea’s family—including his three stepchildren, Joshua Dunn of Rocky Point, Amy Pribanic of East Quogue, and Sean Pribanic, also of East Quogue—are happy that they have the reading garden to remember him by.

“There is so much to say about him,” Ms. Leiblein said this week. “He was an incredible father, son—everything. He was reliable, he was everybody’s friend. There wasn’t a bad bone in his body. It was a shocker that he passed. It was very sudden and very hard on us all.”

Reflecting on the help of the East Quogue Elementary School and Coast Guard Station Shinnecock communities, she said, “I don’t know how we would have got through without them.”

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Drought-tolerant gardens: Expert tips and tricks

Even in our succulent-obsessed times, many people feel intimidated by and unsure about the idea of drought-resistant landscaping. For some, the notion of drought-tolerant landscape still conjures a drab vision of plain gravel with a few sparse plants. But with the growing trend in artful and verdant low-water landscaping, not to mention municipal incentives for reducing water use, drought-resilient gardening makes great aesthetic and economic sense.

We’ve interviewed some top landscape architects in southern California on the key steps to create a garden that looks beautiful—and even lush—while remaining environmentally sustainable.

Location: where is your garden?

Before you get started with the process of designing a garden, it’s crucial to understand the conditions of the land where you are going to plant. First, figuring out what “plant zone” you are in will help you find out what plants will do well in your garden.

Other important local factors include your soil’s mineral content, how much shade or slope there is, and whether the drainage is adequate. “The first thing for any project is to take a look and understand what the specific site conditions are,” says Judy Kameon, who founded the Los Angeles-based design firm Elysian Landscapes. “Is it sunny, is it shady, is it coastal, is it inland? Is it flat or is it hillside? Understand what the conditions are that you have and then you can pick climate appropriate plants.”

But choosing climate-appropriate plants doesn’t necessarily mean that a drought-tolerant garden has to be arid. “I might start by reassuring someone that a drought tolerant garden can be beautiful. I like to think about it as not so much drought-tolerant as ‘resilient,’” says landscape architect Susan Van Atta, whose firm Van Atta Associates Landscape Architecture + Planning is based in Santa Barbara.

Van Atta advises gardeners to “look at what grown in nature itself where you live. Here in Santa Barbara, there are plants that look gorgeous and green even when it gets very hot and very dry.” If assessing soil and other conditions in your garden plot sounds daunting, a landscape designer can assess the conditions for you and provide expert guidance.

Use: How do you plan to use the garden?

For Van Atta, the question of how you will use your garden should be a primary part of the design process. “Look at what you’d like to have happen there; you are making places for people.” Van Atta says.

Designing with usage in mind can even help to reduce water waste. “Often, creating new uses for the landscape will displace water using plant materials,” Van Atta notes, citing the example of her firm’s Santa Barbara County Bowl project, where a sloping green lawn was replaced with a flat surface of decomposed granite and flowering native plants that allow the space to be used for events, rather than sitting unused. “It’s prettier now because it’s more interesting with flowering plants in the place of a boring lawn.”

Research Explore

Whether you are working with a landscape designer or creating a garden yourself, it’s a good idea to spend some time visiting nurseries and reading (either online or in books) about gardening in water-restricted areas. Armed with the knowledge of what zone your garden is in and what its conditions are like, you can then peruse the plants at nurseries and in literature to find out what types of viable plants you like.

“When you get into plant selection, that’s the fun part,” says Pamela Palmer, president of Venice, California-based landscape architecture firm ARTECHO. “We advocate creating a plant palette that is based on plant association-—in other words, plants that grow together in a similar habitat and have similar needs.”

“I always tell people to do your homework. Before you start madly buying plants and putting them in the ground, make sure you are buying the right plant and putting it in the right spot,” advises Kameon. Palmer mentions also that you can also incorporate plants that occupy similar climates in different areas of the world, such as the Mediterranean climates of South Africa and Australia, which are very similar to Southern California.


Once you have figured out which types of plants will grow well in your garden and what plants you like, you are ready to create the design of the garden. “Another thing to remember is you’ll use the same design principles for a drought-tolerant landscape as for any other landscape—you use plants in the same way, but just different plants,” Van Atta says. When you begin designing, it may be useful to look at landscaping designed by professionals to gather aesthetic inspiration.

Kameon, who with her partner Dana Bauer designed landscaping for the Platform in Culver City, conceived the design of the landscaping there to reflect elements of the site’s architecture. “We had a lot of hard materials with concrete and metal, so we carried that through to the planting, so the planting is very much based on foliage, color, texture, and strong silhouettes.”

In addition to plant selection, you may also choose to incorporate hardscaping, fencing, and other elements into your garden design. In fact, in some municipalities, regulations require homeowners to install permeable hardscape elements on the ground that prevent local rainfall from being lost into storm drains.

But even when required, the options for hardscaping are vast, from gravel to shale to decomposed granite. The garden design store Big Red Sun in Venice sells a variety of hardscaping stones, planters, dishes, and steel vessels in a garden setting, and visiting these types of stores can be another good way to gather ideas.

Observe, Water, Repeat

Once your garden is designed and planted, the relationship you have with your garden really begins. Experts caution that just because a garden is drought tolerant doesn’t mean it doesn’t need attention, and that paying attention to your garden and its needs is a crucial element to its growth.

“‘Drought tolerant’ doesn’t mean no water. It means plants can survive with little water, but it doesn’t mean they will necessarily thrive,” says Kameon. Palmer says, “Even if you are planting natives or low-water plants they need water while their roots are establishing, and then you can back off and water less. So the key is observing.” Kameon advises, “Try to be patient. Allow plants the time and space to grow in. For me, that’s part of the pleasure of the garden, how it grows and changes over time.”

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5 garden tips for the week starting Oct. 8

• Cooling trend: Daytime temperatures will soon be getting cooler (believe it or not) as days grow shorter, and plants will require less water. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks you can start gradually reducing the amount of water you put on the lawn and other shrubbery and then stop watering completely for the winter.

• Pomegranate season: Pomegranates are beginning to ripen now. Harvest one or two to check for sweetness. Beware of overwatering — just kidding. However, too much moisture from irrigation or rain causes ripe fruits to split. When whole, undamaged mature pomegranates are picked off the tree and refrigerated, they will keep for over six months.

• Pest control: To prevent nocturnal rodents from eating your maturing avocados and oranges before you can enjoy them, keep the trees trimmed away from power lines, the house and shrubbery, and even up several feet from the ground. Also try wrapping the trunks of the trees 3 to 4 feet high with aluminum sheeting available from local hardware and home-improvement stores, secured in place with wire (only at the top and bottom). Rats can’t climb up the slippery metal. Reposition the sheet metal at least once a year to allow the trunk to grow.

• Prime-time for primroses: Primroses don’t like the heat, but they will get a strong foothold if planted soon, and they will provide wonderful color throughout winter and spring. Choose from the billowy, pinkish fairy primroses (Primula malacoides), or the bolder English primroses (P. polyantha). These come in brilliant colors including yellows, blues and reds. Plant primroses in partial shade incorporating plenty of compost or mulch. Feed lightly with liquid fertilizer about two weeks after planting.

• Root of the issue: Horseradish roots may be harvested from now through spring. Dig pieces of horseradish root from the outer parts of the root clump as you need them. Peel, grate and mix with vinegar or cream to make horseradish sauce. New starts may be planted in late winter or early spring. Easy to grow with regular watering, especially in rich soils.

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