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Archives for October 23, 2016

Wall-to-wall landscaping | Jacksonville News, Sports and … – Florida Times

Imagine stepping into a bathtub, and instead of bathroom tiles lining the wall next to you, there’s a fresh vertical garden, lush with bright green ferns, lavender, baby’s tears, mint and other fragrant plants.

San Francisco-based design studio Siol created just that a few years ago for one home.

Unusual ways to display indoor plants run the gamut, from built-in shelves and containers in and along walls, countertops or tables, to wall pockets and terrariums.

“Decorating with plants is still one of the easiest ways to make a home feel lived in and relaxed,” said James Augustus Baggett, editor of Country Gardens magazine. “There are so many different ways that people can incorporate plants into a home’s design.”

For that living green bathroom wall, grow lights and a self-circulating drip water system were built into the 10-by-10-foot wall to promote indoor growth, said Siol co-owner and principal Jessica Weigley, 38. Lavender plants added a spa-like dash of aromatic beauty.

“We were joking that you could pick the lavender and put it into the bath with you,” Weigley said. “Bringing nature indoors is huge. It still requires care and attention, like any other garden. It’s just on your wall.”

Of course, a full green wall is also incredibly pricy — it can cost customers at least $10,000, at about $100 to $200 per square foot, Weigley said, because of its embedded lighting and watering system.

A much cheaper indoor-garden alternative is pockets made of various materials — including ceramic, glass, plastic, wood, metal and even macrame — that can hang directly on a wall and be filled with plants, said Baggett. They can run about $20 to $100 each.

Easy-to-care-for indoor plants include snake plants — also known as sansevierias — with long, pointy green leaves that reach upward; dark green, cast iron plants; wall-crawling ivy; dangling spider plants; succulents, and foxtail ferns. Snake plants and cast iron plants, especially, require little light and watering. Bonsai trees, bay laurel trees and small fig trees can also be displayed indoors in both planters and partitioned floor areas padded with soil and rocks.

Those living in smaller homes can get creative: “Vertical gardening is the hottest trend for not a lot of space,” said Baggett. “There’s the floating shelf — a shelf that’s just sticking out of the wall — and the half wall, a waist-high wall, with plants on top of it. Recessed wall niches are also popular.”

Miniature gardens, from terrariums — landscapes in glass containers — to fairy gardens, have caught on for both space-conscious adults and fun-loving kids, he said.

What are fairy gardens? They’re small, whimsical sceneries decorated with itsy-bitsy figurines, houses, moss, milkweed pods, pine cones and tiny plants.

Kokedama, a Japanese plant art that means “moss ball” in English, involves forming a moss-covered ball of soil around the roots of a plant and wrapping it with twine. Suspending these moss balls as hanging plants is also a trend, Baggett added.

Those with a retro aesthetic can display succulents and cacti in vintage tins and decorative pottery. Molded fiberglass bullet planters, popular in the 1950s, have also been making a comeback. The size of an ice bucket, the planter is held aloft on a three-pronged stand.

“Plant stands are handy. You’re raising those plants to eye level,” said Baggett. “That pulls your eye around that room. It’s the same way in an outdoor garden that people use color to pull the eye around the garden.”

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Tiny spider mites can do big damage – Tribune

Tiny spider mites can do big damage

Updated 24 hours ago

Spider mites can be very troublesome to gardeners, especially on certain plants. These little critters aren’t insects, but rather close relatives of spiders and ticks. They have eight legs, are less than 120th of an inch long and feed by sucking out plant juices.

Despite their small size, spider mites can cause big problems. They live in large colonies and collectively spin fine webbing to shelter themselves. Many gardeners spot the webbing before discovering the mites themselves. The webs are most often found on the undersides of infested leaves. The best way to see the mites themselves is to shake an infested leaf over a sheet of white paper and look for small moving specks on the paper.

Spider mites produce several generations per year, and each mite lives only a few days. Because female mites lay many eggs in a very short period of time, spider mite populations can quickly spiral out of control if there are no predators to keep them in check.

Spider mite feeding leaves behind mottled, yellow foliage that, in severe cases, will dry up and fall off the plant. Hot, dry weather makes the problem worse.

Susceptible plants include garden phlox, dwarf Alberta spruce, azaleas, melons, grapes, strawberries and other plants.

Many gardeners think chemical pesticide applications are the answer, but they aren’t. In fact, spider mites have developed resistance to certain pesticides, and some chemical pesticides actually stimulate mite reproduction. Spider mite populations can explode after a pesticide application because the beneficial insects that naturally keep the mite numbers in check are killed, instead of the spider mites themselves.

Instead of resorting to pesticides to manage spider mites, encourage the beneficial insects that eat them by interplanting susceptible plants with lots of flowering herbs, sweet alyssum, dill and other plants with small flowers. These plants encourage the minute pirate bugs, ladybugs, lacewings and damsel bugs who love to dine on spider mites.

You can also purchase predatory mite species that feed on spider mites and release them into the garden or greenhouse. They do a great job keeping pest mite numbers in check. These predatory mites come from a different family than spider mites, and they are already naturally present in gardens that aren’t regularly blanketed with pesticides. Intentionally introducing them to the garden helps boost their numbers. Predatory mites are slightly larger than their spider mite kin and move a lot faster, too.

Many botanical gardens and conservatories use predatory mites to help manage spider mite populations. You may see their little white pouches hanging from branches. These pouches are the delivery system for the predatory mites. If you’d like to introduce predatory mites to susceptible plants in your garden as a preventive measure, you can purchase them in the spring from several online sources, including and

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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Garden tip: How to identify oaks in Marin

How to identify oaks in Marin

There are 10 species of oak listed in John Thomas Howell’s “Marin Flora.” If you are trying to identify oaks you have to be a keen observer. Does the tree lose its leaves in the fall (deciduous) or stay green all year (evergreen)? Are the leaves oval-shaped or lobed? What does the acorn look like? Long and pointed, or short and round? On a recent hike near Bahia Drive in Novato we observed the California black oak (Quercus kelloggii), the coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and the blue oak (Quercus douglasii). The California black oak is deciduous and has lobed leaves with pointed tips. Coast live oak is evergreen and has oval, cupped leaves. Blue oak is less common in Marin and more difficult to identify. It is easily confused with valley oak (Quercus lobata) because both are deciduous and have lobed leaves.

— Katie Martin, UC Marin Master Gardener

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Mary Carol Garrity: Tips for trimming your tree | Home and Garden …





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Garden Tips: Fall a good time to consider the trend of tidy gardens – Tri

The Garden Media Group predicts that one of the new garden trends for the coming year is tidy gardens.

In essence, this is the decluttering of the garden, and it coincides with the U.S. shift to urban living, with many moving away from suburbia and back to living in cities. This population shift brings with it smaller houses, yards and gardens, a trend we have been seeing for a while.

GMG points out that tidy does not mean sculptured hedges and immaculate garden spaces. Tidy translates to simplified, less cluttered gardens that require less input. GMG said that an important part of achieving a tidy garden is getting things under control.

Crowded gardens are cluttered gardens. If your perennials have grown too big, divide them and share them with other gardeners. Too often shrubs and trees are planted too closely together when young and become crammed together as they grow. Sometimes judicious pruning done properly may help, but this locks you into repeated pruning in the future. Simplify by removing some of the plants to make more room for the others.

Crowded gardens are cluttered gardens. Simplify by removing some of the plants to make more room for the others.

However, it is difficult for gardeners like me to remove a plant. It is like choosing one of your children over another. One must harden one’s heart and decide which plants are not contributing to the overall beauty of the landscape or garden.

It could be the ones beset by insect or disease problems, or those that have outgrown their space, or mature plants that are past their prime. Of course, GMG suggests keeping the plants you love the most and the ones that are flourishing.

When establishing a tidy garden, GMG recommends keeping things simple by using a “restricted palette of plants and hardscaping.” The smaller the palette or number of different plants is a hard precept for avid gardeners to follow. Gardeners like me delight in a diverse melange of garden plants.

It helps to think of a landscape and garden like a home. A crowded and cluttered home takes more time and effort to keep neat and clean. The same goes for a crowded, disorderly garden. Gardens are probably more enjoyable when they are not a chaotic jumble of plants.

It is difficult for gardeners like me to remove a plant. It is like choosing one of your children over another.

Gardeners wanting to create a tidy food garden should look to the many new dwarf varieties of edibles. Plant breeders continue to develop bush vegetables that take up less garden space and can be grown in containers or raised beds. Many can also double as ornamentals. In addition, there are compact berry bushes that can be grown in containers on the patio or planted in the garden where they take up much less room than the large leggy berry bushes of yesterday.

There are also beautiful new compact ornamental plants, including the new flowering shrubs that are smaller and more prolific bloomers than their predecessors,and the increasing selection of dwarf conifers that do not require frequent hedging to keep them within their allotted space.

Whether your goal is a tidy garden or just one that does not require as much work, take time in the coming months to take a critical look at your garden and landscape. Decide what plants should be removed and what should be replaced, but keep in mind the words of the French poet and theologian, Francois Fenelon: “Exactness and neatness in moderation is a virtue, but carried to extremes narrows the mind.”

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

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Ask a Designer: Designing a functional yet stylish mudroom

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.

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Gardening: Grand Garden Designs at the State Library of NSW

What are the most innovative gardens designed in NSW since 1980? Architect and writer Howard Tanner explored this interesting question for Grand Garden Designs, an exhibition the State Library of NSW. It is a contemporary companion piece to the library’s extensive and fascinating Planting Dreams exhibition, which documents 200 years of garden-making in Australia.

To compile his selection, Tanner talked to garden makers, designers and garden lovers, then criss-crossed the state to see the gardens himself, before pruning the list to 22. Nicholas Watt, Jason Busch, Sue Stubbs and Murray Fredericks then photographed the gardens over the spring and summer of 2015. The State Library has acquired more than 600 images of the gardens to add to its collection of garden photography and to preserve this moment in NSW garden history.

Wirra Willa on the Central Coast. 

Visiting a garden is a total sensory experience. You don’t just see it, you hear it, smell it, feel it and experience it changing in time, even if only moment-to-moment. So a still image, no matter how beautifully framed and lit, is only ever a snapshot suggestion of what you might experience in the real thing. To overcome the limitations of viewing gardens in a gallery, the exhibition offers multiple ways in – through images on the wall, large back-lit projections, interactive computer screens, Tanner’s excellent catalogue, and a short film of interviews with some of the garden-makers.

Most of the gardens are private, and most have the expansive space – and budget – to create a big vision, such as the recreated subtropical forest and botanical ark of Sea Peace, outside Byron Bay; the natives-only garden on Horse Island in Tuross Lakes; or Peter Fudge’s grand re-imagining of Hadrian’s Villa in hedges at Tobermory in Moss Vale.

Carefully clipped eleagnus at Ooralba in the Southern Highlands. 

Some of the gardens invite you to look out at the view, such as Hugh Main’s garden at Ooralba in the Southern Highlands, where mounded, jelly-like lumps of clipped eleagnus echo the line of the mountains on the horizon. Others enclose you in their arms and ask you to stay awhile, like Michael Cooke’s Wirra Willa on the Central Coast where a boardwalk winds through only slightly gardened bushland, and a pavilion sits over the lake.

Public gardens are a vitally important part of any snapshot of our garden life in the early 21st century as private gardens shrink along with the time to make and maintain them. Tanner has included the atmospheric Paddington Reservoir Gardens, designed by Anton James in 2009. Here two sunken courtyards complement a Gothic architectural space, one a lawn dotted with eucalypts, the other with a dark rectangular pool surrounded by banksia and tree ferns.

In his catalogue essay Tanner identifies influences on contemporary designers, from the rich textural plantings of Piet Oudolf to the clipped forms of Nicole de Vesian, and the spatial relationships of Japanese design. He also notes a renewed appreciation of Australian natives and a desire to create spaces to show off sculpture. For me, though, the take-home message from these inspiring and innovative gardens is the way in which they fit their space, expressing that age-old idea of the garden: the genius loci, the spirit of place.



Trim finished callistemon flowers to promote a bushier plant and more flowers next year. If the bush has been neglected and is looking straggly, cut it to the ground and let it start all over again.


Mahratta is one of few remaining gardens in the Sydney area designed by Paul Sorensen, a leading designer of the early 20th century. The garden surrounds a wonderful art deco house, now owned by the School of Practical Philosophy. It’s open this weekend, October 22-23, 10am-4pm, $5 or $10 including a tour of the house, 25 Fox Valley Road, Wahroonga.


Apply a complete fertiliser according to pack directions and water in well.


ABC Gardening Australia host and educator Costa Georgiadis is a passionate advocate for gardens and their ability to create connections within communities. His Gardening for our Future talk is at the State Library of NSW, November 12, 2-3pm, $20, bookings

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Opinion: Preserve the Legacy of Prouty Garden

Oct 21, 201612:51 PMPoint of View


When my daughter had to receive treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, I remember having two thoughts when I walked through its giant revolving door: how much I wish I didn’t have to be there, and thank goodness this place exists. In addition to being a world-class hospital, it also features one of the most beautiful and historically significant hospital gardens in the US: Prouty Garden.  

Just yesterday, the Massachusetts Public Health Council approved the hospital’s plan to build a new structure on top of the garden, replacing it with a rooftop greenspace, which will be roughly one-third the size of Prouty, and smaller gardens inside the hospital. 

Prouty Garden, designed by the legendary Olmsted Brothers in 1956, has provided visitors to Boston Children’s Hospital a place to escape and collect their thoughts for over 50 years. Inside the garden, the gently bubbling fountain drowns out the surrounding noise.  When you look up, you can still see some open sky, surrounded by the hospital’s taller buildings. You can’t see the patients in their rooms, but they can see you and the well-manicured lawn, paths, trees, and flowering bushes. I’ve read many stories about how Prouty Garden helped children and their families recover from the stress of chemotherapy and surgery, and how parents have strewn the ashes of their children who died after being treated there—as a way to connect their lives eternally with this comforting space. 

Courtesy Yuhgo Yamaguchi

Thirty years ago, Roger Ulrich, a leader in evidence-based design, famously conducted a study comparing two sets of patients—one with “tree views” and one with “wall views.” He showed that patients with tree views had “shorter post-operative hospital stays, took fewer moderate-to-strong analgesic doses, and had slightly lower scores for minor postsurgical complications.” Upali Nanda, associate principal and director of research at HKS, describes hospital gardens as, “almost a type of alternative medicine” due to their “impact on human health, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, and better overall physical health.” 

Ulrich cautions against building hospital gardens that are not large enough to provide the respite for which these gardens are intended to provide, or accessible enough to the people who want to visit them. Also, gardens in proximity of patient rooms and waiting areas could compromise patient confidentiality if garden visitors can see into these areas, which according to Ulrich, “happens more frequently than one might expect, and it turns well-intended, but badly designed gardens into essentially useless sunk costs.” 

This is why it is critical to maintain the design intent of Prouty Garden. Spaces designed without intent may meet some objective, functional criteria, but they’ll never hold a place in our hearts. Mrs. Prouty, a devoted friend and benefactor of Boston Children’s Hospital, described the garden’s design as “a haven for patients, parents, and staff.” In light of Boston Children’s Hospital’s expansion, I hope the new rooftop garden will respect and build on the legacy that Mrs. Prouty left for us, not by replacing Prouty with just any garden, but with a well-designed space that will be a haven for people during some of the most difficult moments in their lives. 

Yuhgo Yamaguchi is a Principal at Continuum. 





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