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Archives for October 16, 2016

Ann Arbor seeks to cull more deer in parks, nature areas – WILX

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Walliser: Irises come in varieties worth growing in Pennsylvania – Tribune

Walliser: Irises come in varieties worth growing in Pennsylvania

Updated 23 hours ago

While the word iris may conjure an image of the stately German bearded iris whose large blooms grow from chunky, fleshy roots called rhizomes, there are many other types of irises that are well worth growing.

In fact, there are over 300 species of irises in the world, and many of them do quite well here in Pennsylvania gardens. If you cultivate the right mixture of species, you can have some type of iris blooming in your garden from very early in the spring until late in the autumn.

The first irises to bloom in the garden are the reticulated irises (Iris reticulata). These little guys grow from bulbs you plant in the fall, and they’re often in bloom around the same time as the crocuses. They stand only 6 inches tall, but their bright yellow, blue, purple or white flowers are so cheery in the early spring. Plant a large drift of bulbs for the most impact, and avoid planting them in water-logged soils.

A few weeks later, the German bearded irises begin to bloom (I. germainica). These flashy flowers come in an incredible array of flower colors. From pink and purple to burgundy, yellow and orange, their floppy, paperlike flowers stand on stalks that are often over 2 feet tall. The strappy foliage looks great in the early garden, and if you choose reblooming varieties, the plants will produce a second flush of flowers in the autumn. German bearded irises grow from rhizomes that are planted parallel to the soil, with the top half of the rhizome sticking up out of the soil.

Siberian irises bloom next (I. siberica). Their slender, grasslike foliage forms large clumps, and the plants are topped with blue, purple or white flowers in late spring. They bloom for a fairly brief period of time, but the plants alone are attractive additions to the landscape. Siberian irises reach about three feet in height.

My favorite irises are the next to bloom. These two species love waterlogged soils, so they’re great for low-lying areas. But, I also grow them in my perennial garden, where it certainly isn’t waterlogged, and they do just fine. I’m talking about the Louisiana iris (I. fulva) and the Japanese iris (I. ensata). The big, colorful, floppy flowers of these two species are so beautiful. The foliage is upright and broad, making quite a statement even when the plants aren’t in flower. Japanese irises are the largest types I have in my garden, and when they’re in flower, everyone asks about them.

Another iris that blooms in early summer is the Dutch iris (I. hollandica). You’d easily recognize them as the “florist iris” as they’re often found in bouquets at flower shops. Dutch irises are grown from bulbs planted in the fall. Their blue or purple flowers are tall and straight, and the foliage is slender and strap-like. If you plan to grow Dutch iris in Pennsylvania, plant the bulbs in a protected site and mulch them with a layer of shredded leaves in the autumn.

If you’ve done a good job of selecting reblooming varieties of German bearded iris (such as “Immortality,” “Autumn Tryst,” “Sugar Blues” and “Clarence”), you’ll get a final iris hurrah every autumn, with a second burst of blooms from these beautiful plants.

All these species of iris can be planted in the autumn, before the ground freezes, so it’s not too late to get a jump start on next year’s garden.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., Third Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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2 Miami Gardens residents killed in Keys crash

The two Miami Gardens residents who died when a landscaping truck T-boned their Infiniti in Islamorada have been identified.

Avilio Aguirre Proenza and Gladys Perez, were 52 and wearing their seat belts.

READ MORE: Deadly crash in front of park

With Proenza driving, according to the early Florida Highway Patrol report, the Infiniti came off Monroe County Road and across the northbound lanes of U.S. 1 at mile marker 87. The northbound International truck slammed the car.

Proenza and Perez died at the scene. A passenger from Miami-Dade, 31-year-old Danish Avilio Garcia, was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in serious condition.

Neither truck driver Yamiel Hernandez nor his passenger Milton Ramirez, of Key Largo and Tavernier, respectively, were injured.

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Hunt for red October: Alan Titchmarsh on giving your garden an autumn glow

Autumn gardens

Bodnant Garden, Tal-y-Cafn, Colwyn Bay, Bodnant, North Wales

This 80-acre garden is perhaps at its peak in autumn when the Dell comes alive with fiery tints. It has the tallest redwood tree in the country at 45 metres.

Westonbirt Arboretum, Westonbirt, Tetbury, Gloucestershire

A Mecca for tree fans in autumn, visitors should visit the Japanese maple collection, but be prepared for a long walk – the arboretum covers 600 acres divided into glades.

Winkworth Arboretum, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey

This little-known, 110-acre hillside garden is well worth discovering. It comes alive in autumn with Nyssa, Liquidambar and maples.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum, Bedale, North Yorkshire

A historic arboretum covering 85 acres, it is located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s worth a visit any time of year but especially during the Fall.

Jodrell Bank Arboretum, Macclesfield, Cheshire

This has 35 acres of trees with plenty of good autumn colour and the giant radio telescope as their backdrop.

Batsford Arboretum, Batsford Park, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire

This historic garden has 56 acres of trees including a Japanese cherry collection enlivened by Far Eastern sculptures and a swampery.

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This week’s gardening tips: planting trees, whitefly, protecting citrus fruit and brown patch disease

‘A chrysanthemum by any other name would be easier to spell.’ William J. Johnston


Protect citrus fruit from damage by birds with bird netting from your local nursery. Check on satsumas and kumquats as they are beginning to ripen now. Lemons usually ripen in November. Orange and grapefruit varieties generally begin to ripen in December, although Valencia and blood oranges ripen later.

Persimmons are ripening now. To save those that fall from the tree, place a thick layer of pine straw under the tree to cushion their fall. Most persimmon varieties must be very soft before they are ripe enough to eat.

To control scale and whitefly, spray plants such as camellia, holly, gardenia, magnolia and privet with horticultural oil sprays.

November through February is the ideal season for planting hardy trees, shrubs, ground covers and vines into the landscape. It’s also a great time to plant hardy fruiting trees, shrubs and vines, such blackberries, blueberries, apples, persimmons, figs, peaches, pears, grapes and plums.

As we move into milder, moister weather, brown patch disease becomes more prevalent. The grass in the center of an active infection will be tan, and, around the edges, it will be tan with a faint yellow-orange tint. Symptoms often show up after a period of rainy weather. To control brown patch, treat with one of the lawn disease control product available at your local nursery as soon as you see rapidly enlarging brown areas. Read label directions carefully before using any fungicide.

Enter the Jazzin’ Up the Neighborhood Garden Contest. The LSU AgCenter, The Times-Picayune, and the Metro Area Horticulture Foundation are looking for the best front yards in the area. Enter yours by sending a few snapshots and a description to The deadline to enter is Nov. 4, and the winners will be announced in December.

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Garden Tips: Winter squash and pumpkins are signs of autumn – Tri

You know fall has arrived when tree leaves start turning red and winter squash, including pumpkins, start showing up everywhere, along with pumpkin lattes and a plethora of pumpkin culinary delights. What do you know about these squashy signs of autumn?

A squash is a member of the gourd family that has edible flesh. A winter squash is squash that is harvested when it is mature with fully developed seeds. When mature, a winter squash has a tough skin or rind that enables it to be stored for a month or more, depending on the type of squash and storage conditions.

From the botanist’s perspective, squash are members the cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) family. This family is native to South and Central America, and may have been cultivated in these regions long before corn became a cultivated crop.

Squash have many cousins in their family, including decorative gourds, utility gourds, cucumbers, melons and summer squash.

Squash have many cousins in their family, including decorative gourds, utility gourds, cucumbers, melons and summer squash. There are also several species of winter squash. The Cucurbita pepo species includes spaghetti, delicata and acorn squash. Because most C. pepo squash do not have thick skin, they are not suitable for long-term storage.

Winter squash, with harder skins that store well for up to several months, are the Cucurbita maxima species that includes hubbard, marblehead, buttercup, banana, golden nugget, Turk’s turban and kabocha squash. Other species that store well are Cucurbita moschata, which includes butternut, ponca and waltham squash, and Cucurbita argrosperma that includes cushaw squash.

All pumpkins are winter squash, but the term pumpkin is an inexact, nontechnical term that refers to a roundish winter squash with orangish smooth ribbed skin. However, not all winter squash that are called pumpkins are round and orange.

Pumpkins vary in appearance, characteristics, and use.

Many pumpkin pies come from pumpkin cultivars of C. moshata that have tan colored skin and an elongated fruit shape. This type of pumpkin is used to make canned pumpkin used in making pies and baked goods.

Gardeners trying to grow gargantuan pumpkins for giant pumpkin contests usually plant cultivars of C. maxima. These have creamy white to somewhat orange or yellow skin, and a spongy stem. These pumpkins can weigh in at 100 pounds or more. Selections of the cultivar Atlantic Giant produces most of the winners of pumpkin contests.

All pumpkins are winter squash, but the term pumpkin is an inexact, nontechnical term that refers to a roundish winter squash with orangish smooth ribbed skin. However, not all winter squash that are called pumpkins are round and orange.

The Cinderella pumpkin, also known as Rouge Vif D’Etampes, is an heirloom variety that has grown in popularity. It has flattened fruit with deeply furrowed orange-red skin. It is often used for decorating, but its flesh is supposedly good cooked or in pie. Other heirloom pumpkins on the market are the Jarrahdale pumpkin with blue-green deeply ribbed skin, and the warty Galeux d’Eysines, with salmon-colored skin. Both are a departure from the typical orange pumpkin, and are reported to have tasty sweet flesh.

When it comes to carving, look to the cultivars and hybrids of C. pepo with orange skin and a deeply furrowed woody stems. Also, most of the cultivars with naked seeds for eating come from C. pepo, as well as do the miniature pumpkins used for fall decorating. In addition, there are some cultivars of C. Pepo used for making fresh pumpkin pies.

This would be a good weekend to get winter squash and pumpkins, if you did not grow them yourself. I want to get one of the carving pumpkins with white skin. How about you?

Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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25 tips for winter garden reading

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.”

— George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)


After 1906, Nobel Prize-winning playwright, author and critic Bernard Shaw imagined and created most of his works out of a tiny wooden hut set in the garden of his home in the English countryside. From there, Shaw wrote most of the plays that have earned him renown as the greatest dramatist since William Shakespeare.

I, too, enjoy imagining in my garden, and I have a glider rocker set up for just that purpose. Oftentimes during the summer, I’ll move from conjuring up an idea from my seat in the rocker to carrying out that thought in one of my garden beds. During the winter, however, I have a rocker by an indoor fireplace from which I practice mental gardening. It’s here that I imagine my garden and gardening life into existence.

This week, I derived great pleasure in perusing my library of gardening books, selecting those I have found most enjoyable or useful, and stacking them into various categories. Following is the result of those efforts, which I offer as possibilities for your fall and winter mental gardening pursuits. Share your book suggestions on my blog at


Writers and Their Gardens

1. “Emily Dickinson’s Gardens” (Marta McDowell, 2005)

2. “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life” (Marta McDowell, 2013)

3. “Shakespeare’s Gardens” (Jackie Bennett, 2016)

4. “Back in the Garden with Dulcy” (Ted Mahar, 2013)


Garden Poetry

5. “Poems of Emily Dickinson” (1952)



6. “The English Roses” (David Austin, 2007)



7. “The Soul of Soil” (Grace Gershuny and Joe Smillie, 1999)

8. “Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth” (William Bryant Logan, 1995)

9. “The Soil Will Save Us” (Kristin Ohlson, 2014)


Garden Journalism/Memoir

10. “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” (Barbara Kingsolver, 2007)

11. “The Botany of Desire” (Michael Pollan, 2001)

12. “The Reason for Flowers” (Stephen Buchmann, 2015)


Garden History

13. “Founding Gardeners” (Andrea Wulf, 2011)

14. “Women and Their Gardens” (Catherine Horwood, 2010)


Sensory Pleasures in the Garden

15. “Cultivating Delight” (Diane Ackerman, 2001)

16. “The Untamed Garden” (Sonia Day, 2011)


Garden Language

17. “Gardener’s Latin” (Bill Neal, 1992) and “A Gardener’s Latin” (Richard Bird, 2015)

18. “100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names” (Diana Wells, 1997)


Garden Crafts

19. “The Winter Garden” (Emma Hardy, 2015)

20. “Small Space Garden Ideas” (Philippa Pearson, 2014)


Garden How-To

21. “The Permaculture Garden” (Graham Bell, 2004)

22. “Plant Propagation Made Easy” (Alan Toogood, 1993)

23. “Pruning Made Easy” (Lewis Hill, 1997)

24. “Edible Gardening for Washington and Oregon” (Marianne Binetti and Alison Beck, 2010)

25. “Gardening Guide for the Rogue Valley” (Jackson County Master Gardener Association, 2007)


— Rhonda Nowak is a member of the Jackson County Master Gardener Association and teaches writing at Rogue Community College. Email her at

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Love of Italy inspires designer’s sanctuary

Visually, it borrows heavily from Italy, a country Raitt is passionate about. Her first visit as a student at Croydon College of Art in London in the earl ’70s. “The Italians are so animated, they walk everywhere, they take their meals slowly and together. They love to cook, the food is fabulous and fresh, they buy local and they buy every day.”

“I must have been Italian in a past life although you wouldn’t know it from the hundreds of lessons I’ve taken and still can’t speak the language but I do have an affinity for the country, the food … the people and how attached they are to the land. In the countryside, everyone is still a farmer, because even if you have a small patch of land, they’re using it, planting lemon or olive trees.”

Inside her home, Raitt aims to recreate the Italian aesthetic of life revolving around food, family and friends. Her kitchen is a “cook’s kitchen. I love to cook, and I love to see the look on friends’ faces when something tastes amazing. And there’s a little theatre there, too — stone walls behind the stove that lend some European antiquity, beams on the ceiling like what you’d see in a Tuscan farmhouse. Concrete terrazzo countertops.”

On the patio, a big wooden dining table seats 10 and a small round table seats another four. It’s not unusual for her to host dinner parties out there for 14 — as late as November if the weather holds up. An amiable melange of mismatched wooden chairs, large terracotta or metal planters, rusted iron containers spilling out ferns, lattice screens hung with clay sculptures contribute to the European al fresco feel.

For sure, the minute Raitt comes in the front door, she feels like she’s in a “different place, not in Toronto. I’ve created my own little world here (with) the romance of Europe.”

That other place where you can get away — the creation of a world of your own — is what Raitt believes each of us craves. But how it’s manifested changes with each person. “Mostly, though, there is a cosiness and warmth that you get with an oasis, whether it is texture or colour. It’s a place for you to pursue your passions, where you can be yourself, a place that allows you to be you.”

For Raitt, an oasis isn’t just for looking at, it’s for being in. And her garden is no exception: “After digging in the dirt every day, and interacting with all creatures great and small — including two feral cats who loved my garden and came to love me, too, because of it — I have learned about the extraordinary planet we are blessed to inhabit.

“I have loved every minute of the 14 years it’s taken to get to this place, my shelter, my oasis, my sense of self.”

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DETA hosts public meeting for Ward 3

Duncan Enhancement Trust Authority hosted its second of four weekly meetings at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Simmons Center, located in Ward 3 of the city.

The purpose of the meeting was to reach out and discuss ideas and projects with community members while also generating ideas and to-do lists as DETA works to complete its mission of making Duncan beautiful.

Nate Schacht, Community Development Director for the City of Duncan, moderated the event. He used what he called a “SWOT” analysis to gather information from about a dozen individuals attending by focusing on Duncan’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).

“Through our meetings that we’ve been holding on a regular basis, we thought it was time to engage the general public and hear your thoughts,” Schacht said. “What do you want to see happen in Duncan on terms of beautification? What amenities do you want to see come to our community? We strongly believe that the beautification process is a form of economic development. If you have a clean, beautiful city, residents will want to live here. When residents want to live here, your property values go up. When you have a clean, vibrant community, businesses want to locate here. When businesses want to locate here, we create jobs.”

Carolyn Rodgers, Chairman for DETA, explained to those attending on how DETA came to life in Duncan.

“It’s been almost two years ago since I’ve been in a meeting in Lawton, and I’ve been noticing how attractive Lawton is looking, the landscaping has improved dramatically and I was impressed,” Rodgers said. “I was teaching a class on Crapemyrtle care and there was a landscaper there and he told me about LETA, which is the Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority … We want your feedback. This is economic development at its finest … We want Duncan beautiful, clean and green.”

First, those in attendance spent time generating ideas on what Ward 3 and the City of Duncan as a whole has for strengths.

Those attending listed Horace Mann Elementary School and its sidewalks, Duncan Regional Hospital, new housing additions, the new water tower, the Simmons Center, the marked bike lane on Elk Avenue, some other sidewalks, Chisholm Trail Parkway and everything along it, some good roads, an older population, neighborhood parks, Whisenant Park, a “very engaged” Heritage Trails project, parks along Highway 81, the new assisted living center going up, new community development, Duncan High School, Duncan Middle School, the Duncan Public Library and Think Ability, Inc. as strengths.

Next, the group moved into weaknesses. Those attending identified dilapidated houses, not enough sidewalks, missing a dog park, sidewalks missing on Beech, some poor road condition, unkept right of ways and curbs or grassy areas, temporary signs in the commercial area, lack of following covenants, low hanging limbs, keeping Highway 81 median clean, lack of lawn culture and pride, inadequate lighting, faded street signs, lack of house numbers on properties, overhead powerlines, industrial satellites and light towers on Highway 81, lack of landscaping in medians, drainage issues, lack of curbs, narrow streets, lack of signage on the Bypass identifying Duncan as beautiful, lack of lights on Bypass and Beech being too narrow as weaknesses.

In the opportunity category, a list consisting of the Heritage Trails project, improvement of arterial streets, extending the bike trail, obtaining a street sweeper, widening Beech, improving existing retail at Elk Plaza, adding a splash park, improving and growing neighborhood parks, finding practice fields for sports, adding a traffic light at Beech and Chisholm Trail Parkway and adding signs for neighborhood parks was made.

Finally, in the threat category, attendees listed the county’s unemployment rate, lack of current available funding, dilapidated houses and Duncan’s image because of constant bad news. Additionally, those present added there is an identity crisis in Ward 3 because of mix of industrial and neighborhood zoning, increasing traffic and lack of traffic calming, use of land plans, a less engaged and informed or apathetic population, Duncan lacking its preexisting pride, the City of Duncan not maintaining its own, a friction between City of Duncan and citizens, timed street lights, obstructed intersections, kids needing sidewalks to schools, flooding issues, aging utility lines, trees in creeks and a lack of a tree replacement program to the list.

Finally, those attending were allowed to discuss where green space needs improvement,  what public safety measures are needed, what new attractions Duncan can use, how we can get the community involved, how to improve general upkeep and marketing and public relations.

Last, but not least, citizens got to pitch in their original ideas.

Each of these will be considered for Duncan’s beautification plan.

“Eventually we’re going to get to a point as DETA where we prepare the beautification plan for the City of Duncan and when we get to that point, we’re going to present it to you first before we take it to city council and let you see it and make sure it is representing what you feel is important as a community,” Schacht said. “If we can get that body, then it’ll be so much easier for us to go to city council and say, ‘We have the community’s support to be doing these projects.’ The plan will also enable the city of Duncan to provide for future grants that we can match through funds that we as a group obtain.”

The next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at Gospel Beams Church in Ward 1.

For more information on DETA, email

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