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Archives for October 20, 2016

Landscaping: When Size Doesn’t Matter

When it comes to landscaping, size doesn’t matter.

If only you had a nice big yard, then you’d finally be able to have all of those flowering plants you’ve always wanted, right?

Good try, but you’ll need a better excuse. Susan Skoorka bought a home on a postage-stamp of a lot in Southampton Village more than 30 years ago. Maybe an eighth of an acre in size, the plot consisted of grass and a few forsythia plants.

“There was nothing here. It was just lawn,” said Ms. Skoorka. “Little by little, I started adding things. I really didn’t know much about perennials or pollinators, but over the years, I learned as I went. I began using native plants, and every year I make the beds bigger because I want to add more things.”

Even in early October, her yard is alive with color and life. Stalks of goldenrod wave in a light breeze, squirrels scamper up the trunk of an elderly maple tree. Christmas-red vibernum berries cover a large shrub, waiting to feed hungry songbirds filling up for a long migration south.

Ms. Skoorka, whose primary residence is in Manhattan, has no formal training in botany or landscape design, but the graphic designer has an artist’s eye for color, and a deep curiosity about nature that was gifted to her by her parents.

“I was born in the Bronx. My parents were big hikers, and Bronx Park was the woods. We had an aunt and uncle who lived on the other side of the park, so every weekend we hiked across the park. I used to go sleigh riding in Bronx Park, we used to ice skate in the Bronx Botanical Gardens after school in the winter until it was dark outside, then we’d go up for hot chocolate. We were always outdoors, and that love for the outdoors never left me; it’s in my soul.”

Oakleaf hydrangea or hydrangea quercifolia, hyssop or agastache, black-eyed Susan or rudbeckia—the common and Latin names for everything growing in her yard roll easily off Ms. Skoorka’s tongue. “The first Latin name I learned was aesculus hippocastanum, the horse chestnut tree, and I just loved knowing that. I love to learn things.”

While the yard is a picturesque oasis, beauty isn’t the main driver of Ms. Skoorka’s planting regimen. Her focus is on creating a perennial garden that provides food for the birds and bees from spring through late fall.

“I’ve created an ecosystem here that works, even in this tiny space.” She says she visits Lynch’s and Marder’s garden centers to see what’s new, “and if I like it, I plant it. Basically, I stick with perennials, and I choose them for color and for their value to pollinators. I also look for plants that are going to be hardy, because I don’t live here.”

While she doesn’t hesitate to remove plants that don’t pull their weight in engaging pollinators, she’s willing to leave some plants that others might consider weeds, like wild asters and wild strawberries, for their value to wildlife. The old maple tree growing in the corner of the yard gets a reprieve from the ax for the housing it provides to squirrels and the dead branches that attract colorful woodpeckers. Instead of cleaning up garden debris in late fall, she leaves it until spring so the bugs and small animals can use it for food and shelter over the winter.

Protected by a fairly low fence, the garden must be a mouthwatering sight for the local deer, but Ms. Skoorka and her partner Joanne Spina said the hoofed plague isn’t a problem. “The reason we have phlox is because the deer love the phlox,” laughed Ms. Spina. “The phlox starts to get tall in mid-spring, and the deer come in and trim them all down, so our phlox gets a later start flowering than it would normally, but then it lasts longer too, so it balances out. They really only eat the tops, they don’t destroy them.”

Looking out beyond her own yard to the community, Ms. Skoorka has her eye on an open field not far from the Rogers Memorial Library. “It’s a big open field, and it’s doing nothing—I’d love to be able to turn part of that into a meadow. I was also thinking that a chestnut tree would be beautiful at the entrance to Southampton Village. Over time it would become a landmark.”

Contemplating the next steps for her own garden, Ms. Skoorka said she probably won’t add too many more plants. “Maybe I’ll just extend the beds out another foot or two, we’ll see….”

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Petite St. Matthews home brings joy to owner – The Courier

A Guide to Urban Havens in NYC, from a Quaker Meeting House to a Bird-Watching Refuge

Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, one of the sites on the What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

While Central Park might be New York City’s most prominent urban landscape, there are thriving wetlands, pocket parks, rustic cemeteries, and sculptural topography embedded in the environment of the five boroughs. The What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City, launched this month by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), is an interactive map that charts over 70 of these popular and unsung environments.

“All of the sites in this guide are in some way connected to the National Park Service,” Charles A. Birnbaum, president CEO of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, told Hyperallergic. “They include state, municipal, and nonprofit sites that have received a historic designation from and, or, been documented by NPS. This is significant because we think of national parks as big expanses of wilderness, but our cities are rich in natural and cultural systems that are all connected.”

What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide for New York City (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

The guide coincides with the 100th anniversary of NPS, and was developed from TCLF’s What’s Out There database as part of a series of five guides highlighting urban landscapes. The New York City edition follows one released in March for Philadelphia, with Boston and Richmond planned for 2017, and Baltimore for 2018. Joining a map, which plots the location of landscapes, there’s a companion history of landscape development, and biographies of designers and city shapers. You can find brief profiles on landscape architect Robert Zion who set the standard for the “vest-pocket” parks in the city with his 1967 commission for Paley Park, rural cemetery visionary Almerin Hotchkiss, and landscape architect Marjorie Sewell Cautley, who worked on Garden City movement communities like the Hillside Homes and Sunnyside Gardens.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, one of the sites on the What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Many of the cultural sites are likely familiar, such as the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Modern Art, or the Arthur Ross Terrace Garden at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, yet considering them together emphasizes the long history of landscaping in New York City. The Old Quaker Meeting House in Flushing, Queens, for instance, dates back to the 17th century and still has its medieval Dutch influence in its timber framing and steep roof, as well as its austere graveyard bordered by weathered elms and oaks. The Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve, meanwhile, on Staten Island, was once a resource for 19th-century terracotta architecture before being protected as a natural haven.

More recent sites, like the 1967 West 67th Street – Adventure Playground by architect Richard Dattner responding to the postwar adventure playgrounds of Europe, Brutalist architecture, and the interactive sculptures of Isamu Noguchi, emphasize the enduring connection between art and everyday design. Furthermore, the guide is an interesting way to explore the names behind landscape design, particularly women, such as at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx where Beatrix Farrand planned a rose garden, Ellen Shipman the perennial border, and a conifer arboretum was envisioned by Marian Coffin. Each of these places, whether the bird-watching refuge Udall’s Park Preserve in Little Neck or the former burial ground James J. Walker Park in Manhattan, is part of the city’s continuously developing landscape heritage.

General Grant National Memorial in Manhattan, one of the sites on the What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
Governors Island in the New York Harbor, one of the sites on the What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
The Old Quaker Meeting House in Flushing, Queens, one of the sites on the What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, one of the sites on the What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, one of the sites on the What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
The New York World’s Fair grounds in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, one of the sites on the What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to New York City is available online from the National Park Service and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

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Gardening organizations share tips for winterizing gardens – Carroll …

Carroll County Master Gardeners and the University of Maryland Extension will host “Is Your Garden Ready for Bed?” on Thursday, Oct. 27. The free Chat ‘n Chew discussion begin at 7 p.m. at the Carroll County Public Library’s Eldersburg branch. The event is open to the public and no registration is required.

Participants are encouraged to share their gardening successes, laugh about garden problems, and get some tips from fellow gardeners. Beverages and light snacks will be served. For details, please contact Laura O’Callaghan at


Volunteers winterize HSP of Carroll County's community garden

Caption Volunteers winterize HSP of Carroll County’s community garden

HSP of Carroll County partners with United Way of Central Maryland, Carefirst, and Sandy Springs Bank for annual winterization of the community garden. (Michel Elben / Carroll County Times)

HSP of Carroll County partners with United Way of Central Maryland, Carefirst, and Sandy Springs Bank for annual winterization of the community garden. (Michel Elben / Carroll County Times)

Maasai delegation visits with CCPS students

Caption Maasai delegation visits with CCPS students

Maasai delegation visits with CCPS students at Ebb Valley Elementary School in Manchester. (Michel Elben / Carroll County Times)

Maasai delegation visits with CCPS students at Ebb Valley Elementary School in Manchester. (Michel Elben / Carroll County Times)

Introduction to Brain Disorders and Yoga

Caption Introduction to Brain Disorders and Yoga

“Introduction to Brain Disorders and Yoga” was designed to introduce health care practitioners to a more complementary approach to treating dementia and other conditions. (Jon Kelvey, Jen Rynda and Max Simpson / Carroll County Times)

“Introduction to Brain Disorders and Yoga” was designed to introduce health care practitioners to a more complementary approach to treating dementia and other conditions. (Jon Kelvey, Jen Rynda and Max Simpson / Carroll County Times)

Students participate in German-American Day at McDaniel

Caption Students participate in German-American Day at McDaniel

Students participate in German-American Day at McDaniel (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)

Students participate in German-American Day at McDaniel (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)

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5 garden tips for the week starting Oct. 15 – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Battle Bermuda grass

To stop or get better control of Bermuda grass in garden plots or flower beds spray now with Ortho “Grass-B-Gon” grass killer (containing fluazifop-P-butyl). This product specifically attacks grasses and will not usually injure other plants. Spray to wet the grass fully, and apply twice, seven days apart before it cools off too much. Do not mow or cut the grass before or after spraying, and do not water within an hour of applying this product.

Spring into action

It’s time to plant bulbs for spring blooms. Many stores and garden centers already have a good supply. If you purchase crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, narcissus and/or tulip bulbs, store them in the refrigerator for four to six weeks before planting. Amaryllis bulbs don’t need the chilling, so you may purchase and plant them right away. And if you already have large clumps of bulbs growing in your yard, now is a good time to divide them and replant some of the divisions in other parts of your garden.

California natives

Autumn is the best time to plant native California trees and shrubs. You may want to visit the arboretum or a botanical garden to see some examples. Consider Blue sage (aka Cleveland sage, Salvia clevelandii), a low-growing shrub; California lilacs (Ceanothus), which come in lots of different sizes, plant habits, and flower colors — mostly blue; Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), the very large, spreading evergreen oak that grows almost anywhere here; California sycamore (aka Western sycamore, Platanus racemosa), the large-growing, large-leaf, deciduous native tree with tan bark that peals off at times during the year; Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp.), evergreen groundcovers, shrubs or trees with clusters of white or pinkish bell-like flowers in spring; or Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), a relatively small deciduous tree covered with tiny sweet-pea-like flowers in spring; and these are just a few of the many selections. Remember that even though they are drought-tolerant, that is only after they have adapted to the new environment. They MUST have regular water for two or three months. Then, after that, you can let them go pretty much on their own.

Prime-time for pumpkins

Harvest pumpkins and winter squashes. They are ripe when the shell hardens enough so you cannot easily puncture it with your fingernail. Leave a couple inches of stem for best effect and longest keeping quality. Store in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Be sure to laugh a lot as you and your kids make jack-o-lanterns with the pumpkins.

Nut season

Harvest walnuts and pecans as the husks split. Remove nuts immediately from husks to prevent worm infestation. Spread out in a low box or shallow tray and allow to dry in a shady spot with plenty of open air. After several days or a week, check to make sure they have reached the proper degree of “doneness” by taste-testing a few. At that point they may be stored for use throughout the winter, or cracked and cleaned to freeze the nutmeats in resealable plastic bags available as needed.

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Garden clubs hosting Franklin workshop on designing potting containers


A gardening workshop jointly hosted by the Franklin, Norfolk, and Millis garden clubs will be held Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Remington Middle School cafeteria in Franklin. The workshop, called “Pots with Pizzazz,” is intended to inspire participants to create eye-catching potting containers that can brighten their gardens with color. The presenters will be Jana Milbocker and Joan Butler of Enchanted Gardens, a landscape design firm in Holliston. The program is open to the public. For more information on the Franklin Garden Club and its programming, visit

Rachel Lebeaux can be reached at

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Design Lessons from Charleston’s Amelia Handegan

The best Southern houses tell personal stories, and in her beautiful new book, Rooms, out this week Amelia Handegan shares a few of her own.

The designer, whose work has appeared in Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, and Veranda, grew up on a farm in South Carolina built by her grandparents, and loved decorating from an early age. She founded her Charleston firm more than thirty years ago, and quickly became known for a less is more approach, deft hand with color, and ability to create spaces that live very much in the present and reflect the interests of their owners. “I love Southern houses,” Handegan says. “The finest to the most humble are built to accommodate both luxury and need.”In her portfolio, it’s not unusual to see a spare, purposeful kitchen in a nineteenth-century house that meets the needs of a twenty first-century family, for example, or a living room where modern and antebellum portraiture share one wall.

In the 223-page volume, Handegan covers a diverse array of projects, from a North Carolina mountain cabin to a formal historic estate in Virginia to her personal residences on Folly Beach and in downtown Charleston. Here are a few of our favorite decorating lessons from the book:

Look for a “map piece” to guide color choices 

All photographs by Pieter Estersohn

Southerners are known for their love of color, and in Handegan’s Charleston apartment, above, she used a textile discovered during her travels to guide the color selection of the room. “We bought the pichwai in India,” she says. “I was determined to have a place for it because it’s full of colors that I love. The acidic green yellow in it is what I used for the lacquer color for the doors to the bedroom. Amazingly, this color becomes neutralized by such a strong art piece.”

—When it comes to kitchens and bathrooms, restraint is important, particularly in historic houses.

“I think the biggest mistake is trying to make utilitarian spaces more than what they are,” Handegan says. “These spaces were always simply functional and there is beauty in that.” Pared-down design is key in order to play up the existing architecture (as seen in the kitchen above).

In the bathroom in an eighteenth-century home above, Handegan highlights the original windows, trim, and millwork with a custom mirror and vanity fit to the exact measurements of the space.

Painted and stenciled floors are a timeless addition to any space.

“I like patterns and I also like a plain glossy paint finish,” Handegan says. “Sometimes they help hide an inferior floor but more often they add dimension and interest.” In the entry hall of a Virginia house above, the floors are hand-stenciled.


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Show will feature a wide variety of products, services – Daytona Beach News

DAYTONA BEACH — The latest in home and garden improvement products and services, decorating trends and tips, health advice and lifestyle ideas are all under one roof at this weekend’s 56th Annual Fall Home Show hosted by The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

With more than 150 vendors, this year’s show is the largest in the past 10 years, according to News-Journal marketing officials.

“If you’re looking for something for the home, inside or out, the roof, the yard, we have it covered,” said Jamie Brown, marketing director for the News-Journal. “After the hurricane that went through here, people are looking to fix their homes. If it’s to refresh, renew or something new, this is the place to be this weekend.”


CELEBRITY GUESTS: Erin and Ben Napier, stars of HGTV’s “Home Town,” will be at this year’s show. They will give presentations at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the show’s main stage on restoring vintage homes and the benefits of small-town life. Erin’s an artist specializing in print design and Ben’s a craftsman specializing in woodwork.

The couple live in Laurel, Mississippi where they were renovating a 1925-built Craftsman house and posting pictures on the social media website Instagram. An executive of HGTV saw the postings and arranged for a one-hour pilot show that aired in January. Additional episodes are being filmed of the couple helping newcomers to town find, restore and decorate older Southern homes. The series begins airing on HGTV in January 2017.


Daytona International Auto Mall: Has several dealers displaying a variety of vehicles including Alfa Romeos and Maseratis.

Florida Hospital Care Advantage: Will be providing information on its Medicare and individual health care plans

Beck’s Wholesale Nursery, Landscaping Pavers: Has decorated the stage and will provide landscaping seminars during the show.

The Home Depot: Is sponsoring the Kids Zone where children can participate in a workshop to learn how to build a birdhouse.

Bank of America: Sponsoring the celebrity guests


Adele Horton, owner of Kwik Kerb by Adele, a family-owned concrete landscape edging business in South Daytona: “We’ve been participating in the home shows for many, many years. We get lots and lots of leads. People come to the show looking to improve their homes and that’s what we do. People can make appointments for us to come to their homes or get information and call us later.”

Becky Fair, co-owner of The Window Shoppe window replacement business in Orange City: “We’ve been doing the Home Show since we’ve been in business since 1979. It’s a way to show our products to people interested in home improvement. They can see and touch the products while making appointments for estimates.”

Luna Lightscape Inc., an Ormond Beach-based landscape and architectural lighting-design and installation business: This will be the first Home Show for the company.  “This is the place to be to get exposure. It’s hands-on and beats typical advertising. People at the home show are looking to be educated. We hope to generate appointments and follow-up leads,” said company president Bart Teracino.


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Adventures in Gardening brings out large crowd

The Hendricks County Master Gardeners held its annual “Adventures in Gardening” event earlier this month at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds in Danville.

Among the guest speakers at the event were two locals.

Beekeeper Terry Plank of Danville spoke on “The Amazing Honey Bee” and gave a history of bees, diseases and how important they are to food in our produce departments. Brownsburg Master Gardener Colletta Kosiba offered “Great Landscaping Ideas,” giving attendees 200 ideas on how to jazz up their yards.

Adventures in Gardening is an annual conference open to all area gardeners. This year, 140 people from 20 Indiana counties and two states attended the event.

Next year’s event date is Oct. 7.

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Leading by example: Victorville unveils new Water Conservation Demonstration Garden at Center Street Park

VICTORVILLE — A corner of Center Street Park is being touted as the perfect example of how sustainable landscaping can be both beautiful and drought conscious.

In a ribbon cutting ceremony that featured Victorville and Mojave Water Agency (MWA) officials, the recently completed Water Conservation Demonstration Garden was officially unveiled Wednesday morning.

Intended to be a teaching and demonstration garden that shows examples of desert adaptive plants, ground covers, hardscape options and borders, the spot on the corner of Verde Street and Hesperia Road was specifically chosen for its high visibility.

“This will serve as an education tool for residents who think that xeriscape (landscaping) is just rock,” said MWA Director of Division 4 Michael Page. “It promotes drought and tolerant landscape.”

The park, which took roughly three months to complete and came in under budget at roughly $99,000, according to city staff, was made possible after the city applied for the MWA’s Large Turf Removal Program.

A total of 286,000 square feet of turf will be removed from Victorville parks and open space areas, starting with the 13,000 square feet removed at Center Street Park.

“This is a long-term mission on how we can conserve water, so it has a great impact on what the people are actually seeing and it gives you a good view of what you can do at home to conserve water,” said Victorville Mayor Gloria Garcia.

The new park is expected to save the city an estimated 975,000 gallons of water per year and will serve as a location for city water conservation staff to hold workshops and provide residents with water-wise landscaping ideas.

“With a demonstration garden people get to see what the possibilities are,” Page said. “It gives them the opportunity to come out and see that there are beautiful plants that provide color at different times of the year.”

Designed by city staff and conservation specialists, the garden includes nine separate aesthetically pleasing themed areas, in addition to an area demonstrating grades of artificial turf.

Sage, ornamental grasses, succulents, a raised island perennial flower bed and other California native plants populate the garden, which also includes mulches like wood chips, shredded bark and decomposed granite, as well as hardscape materials like stamped concrete, interlocking pavers and flagstone.

Other features include tree seating and benches throughout the garden, a bike rack and a main kiosk at the north entrance exhibiting an illustrative map presenting the garden and the capability to scan a barcode for additional information to the city’s conservation website.

“We have a lot of plans for the future,” Garcia said. “We want to start doing this type of landscaping throughout the city with water conservation purposes, which is really one of the main goals we keep in mind at all times.”

Kevin Trudgeon may be reached at 760-955-5358 or

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