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Archives for October 15, 2016

Ann Arbor seeks to cull more deer in parks

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Lessons in landscaping: City gardens demonstrate how to create a drought-tolerant oasis

Purple sage from the city of Glendora’s demonstration garden (Photo by Leo Jarzomb, staff photographer)

It’s a hot afternoon in late September, and the Glendora Library Garden is a riot of wildlife activity.

Monarch butterflies flit about the purple floral spires of “Santa Barbara” Mexican Bush Sage, honey bees visit the yellow daisy-like blossoms of a Chocolate Flower plant, and a small lizard hurries across the decomposed granite path into the silvery variegated Abelia Radiance, with its white clusters of fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers.

“Sometimes I hear from people who want to know how to attract certain pollinators, or bring in more color or textures, and this definitely shows them how to do it,” says Raquel Zepeda, park supervisor for the city of Glendora’s highly visible drought-tolerant garden that was unveiled in April using plants from local nurseries.

With fall planting season approaching, this lively little oasis on Glendora Avenue is an educational opportunity for locals to see and experience water-wise gardening in drought-ravaged Southern California.

But Glendora isn’t the only place showcasing conservation in the garden. A growing number of such gardens have popped up around civic centers, libraries and parks to keep up the drumbeat of the turf replacement program, whose funding has run out for many water agencies, except the city of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Traditional landscapes account for about 70 percent of overall water use. Many plants native to California and the Mediterranean, as well as succulents, require little or no irrigation once established and produce colorful flowers, fragrant foliage and greenery.

In Long Beach, many homeowners have already made the transition from lawn to garden.

“There are streets where the majority is garden with very few lawns left, so we’re definitely seeing an impact,” says Krista Reger, a water conservation specialist at the Long Beach Water Department, which launched its demonstration gardens as part of the citywide Lawn-to-Garden program in 2012 “to show people what a drought-tolerant garden looks like.”

It includes California native plants that go dormant.

“We’re not going to lie to you,” Reger says. “If you chose these plants, this is what they’re going to look like. But they’re going to come back, and they’re going to be beautiful. You just have to learn to roll with the season.”

This fall, the Long Beach garden undergoes a partial redesign. Four sections are receiving updates to highlight a different drought-tolerant style, including a Northern California-inspired look of colorful wildflowers and shrubs suited for the local climate.

In Ontario, at the end of last year, the city unveiled Conservation Park on what was the south lawn of City Hall. The park was designed to be a picturesque “outdoor educational classroom” with California-friendly plants, a children’s play area, public art elements and an outdoor educational amphitheater.

“I’m sure more and more communities will find programs and opportunities to provide amenities to teach and educate the public on water conservation practices, as we know the drought is not going away and will require us to be better and wiser stewards of our resources,” says Mark Chase, community and public services director for the city.

As people experience all the park has to offer, they encounter landscaping elements designed to save both water and energy like a vegetated bioswale that captures and treats runoff, drip irrigation systems above and below ground and solar-powered lights and irrigation.

Back in Glendora, the garden is a year-round display that demonstrates cutting back on irrigation doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a green lawn. On the sidewalk end of the garden, folks will find two plots of Native Mow Free sod — a blend of Western Mokelumne, Molate and Idaho fescue grasses — that can be maintained as a turf lawn or left unmowed as it is here. A third plot demonstrates a Carex species of ornamental sedge.

“We paired those up with the planters to show that you can have grass without the hassle,” Zepeda says.

In addition, artificial turf has been installed in strips.

“I know a lot of people are curious about artificial turf,” Zepeda adds. “Some people like it, some people don’t, but we’re trying to show this specific application of putting it in a little area that might not work with natural grass.”

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How sweet: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on autumn fruiting

Order them now and plant in autumn proper when they can be sent out by fruit specialists “bare root”. Plant them a foot apart in rich soil and a sunny spot.

When it comes to varieties there is hardly a duff one. ‘All Gold’ is a yellow variety and ‘Joan J’ a red one with few spines.

Make sure that the fruits are absolutely ripe when you pick them. Oh, and blackbirds like them, too, so you may have to net them unless you want to share the crop!

Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and Tip Of The Day every weekday in the Daily Express. For more information on his range of gardening products, visit

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Sharum’s Garden Center Tips: Planting for the Colder Weather

In this week’s segment of Sharum’s Garden, Frank Sharum gives us some suggestions on which plants to buy this time of year, as well as some planting advice for the colder fall months.

One tip Frank Sharum has for us this week is to make sure that any flowers you intend to plant are planted by the first or second week of November, or their roots may grow too big for the pot they are purchased in.

Frank Sharum says that a great plant for this time of the year is ornamental grass. It does not grow as tall as pampas grass, but has a great look to it.

Also, make sure to check out Sharum’s Garden’s large selection of monster sized mums this weekend.

For more tips and information, please check out the video.

Segment Sponsored by: Sharum’s Garden Center


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Garden: Tips for growing hydrangeas in pots – The Morning Call

Q: I recently moved to a townhouse and I love hydrangeas. However for two years now I’ve been trying to grow them potted with no luck. Can you give me some advice as to what to do to keep them growing in a pot? They receive full sun. They bloom nicely after I get them, however about a month later they just shrivel up and die! I’ve tried moving them to shade with no luck. Is it impossible to grow them potted?

—Catherine Grisafi, Breinigsville

A: I checked several sources since I have had no problem with hydrangeas in pots, even when I have severely neglected them.

First is the selection of a plant. Although any hydrangea is fair game, it is easier to grow the popular mophead and lacecap varieties in pots. You can also improve your chances of success by selecting a small or even dwarf variety. Catherine doesn’t mention what variety of hydrangea she is growing.

Bethlehem's Broadway Social introduces new food and drink menus ahead of adjacent venue's debut

Caption Bethlehem’s Broadway Social introduces new food and drink menus ahead of adjacent venue’s debut

At restaurant and night club Broadway Social in Bethlehem, a multitude of changes are underway in advance of another dining/entertainment venue’s debut next door next year.

At restaurant and night club Broadway Social in Bethlehem, a multitude of changes are underway in advance of another dining/entertainment venue’s debut next door next year.

Sax great Branford Marsalis, set for Symphony Hall gala, tells patrons hed rather play live, structured

Caption Sax great Branford Marsalis, set for Symphony Hall gala, tells patrons he’d rather play live, structured

Grammy-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis speaks on Friday at a meet the artist event inside Miller Symphony Hall. Marsalis performs with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra in the season gala opener Saturday and Sunday.

Grammy-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis speaks on Friday at a meet the artist event inside Miller Symphony Hall. Marsalis performs with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra in the season gala opener Saturday and Sunday.

The role of artists in gentrifying neighborhoods

Caption The role of artists in gentrifying neighborhoods

What role do artists play in the gentrification of certain neighborhoods? Looking at various studies, here’s the answer.

What role do artists play in the gentrification of certain neighborhoods? Looking at various studies, here’s the answer.

Phantoms- Food and Fun for the 2016-2017 season

Caption Phantoms- Food and Fun for the 2016-2017 season

Phantoms- Food and Fun for the 2016-2017 season 

Phantoms- Food and Fun for the 2016-2017 season 

Fill the pot with a potting mix, not garden soil. If you are planting one of the hydrangeas affected by soil pH, select an acid (for blue) or alkaline (for pink) mix or add a soil amendment, an acidifier or alkalinzer product. Consider adding a slow-release fertilizer. Bury the plant to the same depth as in the original pot and tamp the soil to remove air pockets. The soil level should be about 2 to 3 inches below the edge of the pot to allow watering space.

Now, where to put the pot? Hydrangeas do best with morning sun and afternoon shade. Too much sun can create problems as the pot will dry out quickly and hydrangeas need plenty of water. Too much shade and you will get fewer, if any, blooms. Full shade is unacceptable.

Make sure the drainage holes are open; pot feet can lift the pot high enough to permit quick draining and decrease problems with marks or moldy/rotting spots on decks.

Now what about the winter? Recommendations are to move the containers into an unheated garage or basement. There are several reasons: A potted plant is exposed to greater temperature extremes than one in the ground. Generally, consider the pot environment one zone cooler than your yard. Secondly, depending on the composition of your pot, exposure to the elements can damage or destroy it.

Ceramic or terra cotta containers do not perform well, often shattering or cracking in cold weather. Repeated freezing and thawing also destroys terra cotta. Some plastic containers become quite brittle in the cold. Remember that hydrangeas wintering over inside will still need occasional watering as they will not have the benefit of rain or snow melt available to plants outside.

Other things that may affect your success are a bit less obvious. Plants received as gifts or purchased in small pots intended for indoor display are often difficult to maintain outside. The plants have been growing indoors too long; we keep them well beyond what we should. Many plants have been greenhouse-raised and never acclimate to cooler, harsher outside conditions.

Watering becomes crucial. Check the top inch or so and water when the soil is dry. Hydrangeas will wilt quite quickly when they are dry so check often. Location will also affect watering needs. Plants on hot, dry patios, porches or driveways will dry out much sooner than those on the ground or in cooler locations.

Jade plants

Q: I have two jade plants here at The Bird House in Bethlehem. They are in front of the south window and receive sunlight most of the day. One (43 year old) plant is fine. The other plant is not.

One side of the plant has large strong, deep green leaves and appears healthy. However, on the other side of the plant (different branch), sprouting leaves are small, deformed, have some dry/black edges and fall off easily. Other leaves that have not fallen are about half as big as the healthy leaves with some dry or scaly spots. The leaves that fall off are not yellow, nor shriveled. Any thoughts regarding what is wrong, or why only half of the plant is distressed?

—David P. Charrier, Bethlehem

A: Since this problem is affecting only part of one plant, I would look for something environmental. Is that side of the plant always facing the same direction? Is there a heat source directed toward that side?

If David can’t find a single factor that differentiates the conditions for that side of the plant, I still have a suggestion. I would unpot the plant, separate or cut off the bad side of the plant and repot the healthy portion. There may be a disease or pest problem in that portion of the plant.

Check for root problems, hollow or damaged stems, visible pests. Clear out any damage, using clean tools, preferably wiped down with a weak bleach solution or a disinfecting wipe. This should be done any time you are cutting a plant but particularly when dealing with sick ones. A dirty tool, one not disinfected, can carry the problem to the next plant you trim.

Local award

The Miller’s House Garden, maintained by the Bethlehem Garden Club, recently won the blue ribbon in the 2016 PHS Gardening and Greening Contest. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society selected this garden from a field of more than 300 entrants. The award celebrates the “commitment to enhance your neighborhood through your work in the garden.”

The garden, located in the Colonial Industrial Quarter of Historic Bethlehem, near the Luckenbach Mill, represents an 1870s Victorian garden. It was planted in 1989.

The Miller’s House Garden is located in the Colonial Industrial Quarter of Historic Bethlehem near the Luckenbach Mill. The club planted/dedicated this garden in 1989 and has been maintaining it since.

Sue Kittek is a freelance garden columnist, writer, and lecturer. Send questions to Garden Keeper at or mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, P.O. Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.

This week in the garden


•Use asters, kale, mums, winter pansies and other fall garden favorites to brighten the fall landscape.

•Plant spring-flowering bulbs, garlic and shallots, asparagus and rhubarb, perennials, trees and shrubs.

•Sow seeds that require a cold period for germination.


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Gardens: the truth about online gardening tips

Supersize your garden with a mirror

The tip Place mirrors around your garden to make it look bigger: the reflection gives the illusion that your plot is twice as big as it is.

The catch This theory works in principle, but position your mirrors in the wrong place, and you’ll get birds flying into them, be blinded by glare from the sun, or end up reflecting that delightful view of your wheelie bins. Garden designer Kate Gould says mirrors can work in small, shady places, to bounce light about, but they’re hard work: “Mirrors have to be spotlessly clean,” she says. “As soon as they get dirty, the illusion’s gone.” If you insist on a reflective surface, try mirror-polished steel rather than a breakable mirror.

The alternative It may sound counterintuitive, but supersizing things (be they pots or pavers) also helps to make a small space feel larger by tricking the eye.

Grow roses in a potato base

The tip Stick the stems of rose cuttings into a hole cut into a potato, then bury the whole thing in the ground, leaving the top section of the stem above ground. The potatoes keep the cuttings from drying out while the root system develops, and the potato slowly rots away, leaving a healthy new plant.

The catch The jury’s still out on this one. There are various YouTube videos and blogposts providing anecdotal evidence that it works, but Michael Marriott, technical manager at David Austin Roses, says, “The question that comes to my mind is, why put them in potatoes? Why not just put them straight in the ground?”

And rose expert Rosebie Morton of the Real Flower Company says that while the basic principle of the potato technique (namely, to keep the cuttings moist) is right, it’s doubtful that it’s any more beneficial than the usual propagation technique.

The alternative Morton says she gets good results from taking a 30cm rose stem, cutting off the top at an angle and recutting the bottom straight across a leaf node. Sink the stem into well-drained soil or compost at a 45-degree angle and to a depth of 12-15cm, keep moist but not wet, and leave in situ for a few months. If the cutting takes successfully, it will start to produce new top growth and can be moved once established.

Stop slugs having a ball

The tip Copper is reputed to repel slugs, so take an old bowling ball (you’ve got one of those lying around, right?), glue pennies (or 2p pieces) to it, so they cover the surface, and use it as a decorative garden object that doubles as a slug barrier. (And if you want it to shine, soak the coins in cola first.)

The catch Not only is it debatable how decorative this actually looks, it’s also hard to be convinced by its efficacy as an anti-slug device. These days, British 1p and 2p “coppers” are made from copper-plated steel, plus there is at best only patchy evidence that copper repels slugs in the first place. Dr Ian Bedford, head of entomology at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, has lab-tested copper slug repellers and found no evidence that they work. And even if copper did dissuade slugs, you’d need a whole bowling alley’s worth of coin-covered balls to have any meaningful effect. As Bedford points out, “You put a bowling ball in the middle of your lawn, but what’s to stop them eating the plants in your border?”

The alternative Go ahead and make your ball; just don’t expect it to deter slugs. For that, use a biological control such as Nemaslug or a nightly slug patrol.

Nail those blue hydrangeas

The tip Gather up those rusty nails from the back of the shed and put them in the ground around hydrangeas to correct an iron deficiency, increase acidity in the soil and, in the process, turn their blooms from pink to blue.

Illustration: Zoe More O’Ferrall

The catch None of it works. Here’s a mini-science lesson from Guy Barter, the RHS’s chief horticultural adviser: “Almost all soils contain a lot of iron, but it becomes unavailable to plants – especially ericaceous ones such as rhododendrons – in alkaline soils,” he says. “Adding iron nails to alkaline soil merely slowly adds a very small amount of iron to the pool of chemically locked-up iron in the soil. It is soil aluminium that influences hydrangea flower colour, and aluminium is most available to plants in the acid soils associated with blue hydrangeas.”

The alternative Add sulphur dust, not nails, to soil to increase acidity. Aluminium sulphate, often sold as hydrangea-blueing compound, is the best product to change flower colour in hydrangeas – try Vitax’s Hydrangea Colourant. Plants with iron deficiency suffer yellowing patches between the veins. Barter recommends treating them with chelated iron, an organic compound that prevents lock-up in the soil, allowing plants to absorb the iron they need.

Dish it out to the weeds

The tip Kill weeds by spraying them with a homemade brew of vinegar, epsom salts and washing-up liquid mixed with water. This mix of ingredients commonly found in our homes is touted as safer for pets and children than shop-bought weed treatments.

Illustration: Zoe More O’Ferrall

The catch Home remedies such as this are often billed as “all-natural”, but have you looked at the ingredients of washing-up liquid recently? Plus, it’s illegal under EU law to concoct homemade weedkillers from household ingredients (what happens after Brexit is a moot point). Linda Chalker-Scott, associate professor at Washington State University’s department of horticulture, spends her life arguing against such poor gardening advice. She points out that household products aren’t formulated for this kind of use: “You have a concoction that will strip away the protective layers of plants and associated organisms, which is not a sustainable way to approach weed control,” she says.

The alternative If you choose not to garden organically, buy a proprietary weedkiller and follow the instructions to the letter. Organic gardeners can control weeds with hoeing, mulching and hand-pulling. To remove weeds between paving slabs and other tricky-to-treat areas, Garden Organic recommends a flame weeder that uses propane or paraffin to kill weed plants and seeds.

Make a vertical herb garden

The tip Plant herbs in glass mason jars and hang them on hooks on your kitchen wall to create an indoor herb garden. Put a layer of gravel or rocks in the base of the jar to improve drainage, then add compost and your herb plant.

The catch Herbs have varied requirements: some like full sun and well-drained soil, others prefer some shade and more moisture. Most will be deeply unhappy in a relatively tiny pot in a centrally heated room, and away from a light source, so watering will need to be pinpoint accurate to avoid them drying out or drowning. Even if you do manage to keep them alive and happy, they will soon grow enough to be potbound, and therefore unhappy once again. Either way, you’ll end up with dead plants in pretty glass jars.

The alternative Some herbs (chives, mint and parsley, for example) will live relatively happily in a pot on a kitchen windowsill over autumn and winter, in bright but not direct sunlight, particularly if you repot them regularly. Make sure excess water can drain out into a saucer, and remove it promptly to save the plants from drowning.

Crack seed-starting

The tip Don’t throw out eggshells – use them as “pots” for seedlings instead (6). Cut off the top of a raw egg with a knife, rinse out the shell, make a hole in the bottom of the shell with a nail, then fill with seed compost and sow. When the plant is big enough to be transplanted, just put the whole thing in the soil.

Illustration: Zoe More O’Ferrall

The catch It may look cute, but this is the most fiddly and uneconomical way of sowing seeds. Have you ever tried making a hole in half an eggshell? “Fiddly” doesn’t begin to cover it. Eggshells, once empty, are fragile beasts. And if you don’t clean them thoroughly (one website goes so far as to suggest boiling them, which involves more energy-consuming faffing about), they will go mouldy and smelly.

The alternative You’d be better off recycling your eggshells by putting them on the compost heap. Sow your seedlings in conventional plastic trays, which can be washed and reused dozens of times (if you don’t want to buy them, reuse those plastic trays that fruit and veg are often sold in). If you insist on a compostable container, buy coir pots or a paper potter (£10.95,, and fashion pots from toilet rolls or newspaper.

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Garden Design & Irrigation Class Hosted By The Master Gardeners Of Amador County

Posted by: News_Desk on 10/11/2016 09:38 AM

Updated by: News_Desk on 10/11/2016 09:39 AM

Expires: 10/11/2026 12:00 AM


Garden Design Irrigation Class Hosted By The Master Gardeners Of Amador County

Jackson, CA…As we go into winter, is a great time to plan what you want to do next in your garden and to plan the irrigation layout for that design. There are many options for convenient and easy to maintain garden designs. So let’s spend some time thinking and planning ahead.

Join the Master Gardeners for this free class on creating large and small garden layouts or making improvements in your existing garden. In addition to discussing garden design, irrigation techniques will be explained and appropriate materials for various situations will be discussed. Hand-outs will be provided.
UCCE master Gardeners of Amador county will offer this class to be held from 9 am to noon on October 22 at the Amador County General Services (AG) building, 12200-B Airport Road in Jackson. It is open to the public.

For questions, call the UCCE Master Gardeners of Amador County at the UC Cooperative Extension Office from 10am to noon, Tuesday through Thursday, 223-6838 or email Website:

Event occurs on 10/22/2016 from 09:00 AM to .

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Design ready, but money needed for proposed Library Park – Pittsburgh Post

Designs and drawings are in for the proposed Library Park in Carnegie. Now the search begins for the $1.5 million needed to create a park that would connect the Andrew Carnegie Free Library Music Hall at the top of Beechwood Avenue with Carnegie’s bustling Main Street below.

The design by landscape architects LaQuatra Bonci Associates was developed after a daylong “charrette” in August with ideas from 45 people, including local officials and library patrons. 

Charrette is a French word for an intensive planning session.

The proposed plans include a “grand entrance” to the park, with a staircase, stone wall and a meandering serpentine walk. The park would have stone seats, lighting and landscaping that is native to southwestern Pennsylvania and butterfly/pollinator friendly.

“We want to maintain the essential character of the space,” which has many large, old-growth trees, said Maggie Forbes, library executive director.

Some trees will have to be removed because they are dying, but new trees are expected to be planted.

Plans from the landscape architectural firm were funded by a $35,000 grant from the Allegheny Foundation. Support from foundations and donors will be needed to build the park. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is serving in an advisory capacity on the project, Ms. Forbes said.

The annual operating budget of the Carnegie-Carnegie library, as the building is nicknamed, is $444,000, and is “as lean and mean as it can be,” Ms. Forbes said. The budget does not include money for construction or renovation.

The grand entrance to the proposed Library Park would be adjacent to a World War I monument on Beechwood Avenue that has been somewhat neglected for years.

Library staff hope civic and veterans organizations will get involved in refurbishing the monument, which was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1931.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-1953.

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