Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for November 19, 2016

Designer honored for promoting native Connecticut species

As Connecticut struggles to prevent the spread of non-native plant species, some in the landscape industry are encouraging use of native plants when designing gardens and open spaces.

What began as a hard sell is becoming easier as people learn about the potential benefits of incorporating native plants.

“Convincing people to go this direction is much easier than it was 20 years ago, because the ideology has changed,” said Larry Weaner, a landscape designer. “I think it’s a general movement toward ecology and the environment.”

In 1990, Weaner started New Directions in the American Landscape, a conference and workshop series that draws hundreds every year in Connecticut and elsewhere. His efforts will be recognized in New London on Saturday by the New England Wild Flower Society.

Weaner started his landscaping company, Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, in the Philadelphia area in 1982. Since then, he’s worked on projects in 10 states, including about 100 in Connecticut, that incorporate native plants into the design. Some of his work can be seen in Fairfield and Litchfield counties, including a garden in Washington and a meadow in New Canaan.

Debbi Edelstein, New England Wild Flower Society’s executive director, said more people than ever are incorporating native plants into their landscapes, but there’s still a long way to go among professionals.

“It’s not institutionalized in the curriculum they go through, so it’s kind of on-the-job learning,” she said.

Many nurseries and big-box stores sell only clones of the same plant, which reduces genetic diversity and makes it hard for plants to survive if there’s a threat, such as a fungus.

“I hope people see they can make something that benefits the entire environment and still be beautiful,” Edelstein said.

Edelstein said Weaner and his conference focus on the benefits of native plants, including the help they give to pollinators, the ability to survive extreme weather without human help and in providing habitat for wildlife.

“Plants are the base of the food chain that leads to your own dinner table,” she said.

Weaner said native plants improve habitats for the wildlife in the area, including birds and insects.

“They’ve co-evolved with native species for thousands of years,” he said. “In many cases, they’re not able to use exotic plants as efficiently as native plants.”

He said it’s important to know where plants come from so they can thrive in the appropriate soil and climate, but not force out other plants. Instead, native plants tend to make landscapes more balanced.

“Just because a plant is native to Connecticut doesn’t mean it’s native to your area,” he said.

Connecticut has four exemplary types of habitats, which are home to about 2,850 species of plants. Of these, about 62 percent are native and about 25 percent are listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern in the state, according to a study conducted by the New England Wild Flower Society.

Weaner encourages residents to learn a little about basic ecology to better their gardens and lawns.

“The more you know about how they operate in nature, the more equipped you are to make a connection to nature,” he said.; 203-731-3345

Article source:

Garden Club keeps Ripon beautiful

Colorful plant filled flower pots – 95 of them in all – dot the sidewalks of the Ripon downtown business district, thanks to the Ripon Garden Club in an effort led by two members, Gloria Black and Joan Azevedo.
The two longtime Ripon residents have dedicated themselves to keeping the downtown sidewalks as colorful as possible
The club’s 90 members hosted a successful home garden tour in September with the proceeds going to two $2,000 high school scholarships with the students having to have an ag or landscaping focus for their future vocations. 
The club also plants in the patio of Bethany Home on West Main Street and were busy planting bulbs last week to provide spring color at the nursing facility.  They also plant flowers in the butterfly garden and maintain the other gardens in and around Bethany.  The group also donates to all Ripon elementary schools for their gardens and gives $200 a year to the City of Ripon for the purchase of trees – two specifically for Mistlin Park.
Co-chairman of the club, Michelle Bartels said that all of the group’s profits stays in Ripon with a focus on youth in the community, striving to provide landscaping and keeping the city beautiful.
The City of Ripon provided the stone pots that dot the sidewalk.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email

Article source:

Moffis: Garden Tour featured inspiring homes

On the first weekend of November I attended the Annual Mount Dora Garden Tour, sponsored by the Lakes and Hills Garden Club. The tour showcases five private gardens, and this year the garden tour was truly inspiring, with a wide variety of plantings and styles. The first three gardens were on the same street, and each were very unique. One evoked a tribal Polynesian look with its handmade stone sculptures, while another gave you a relaxed, resort feel with its lounge patio and meditation garden. The third house on the street brought to mind an English cottage garden.

To create one of these styles in your yard or all three in different areas, choosing the right plant material, mulch and garden accents are important. For a Polynesian look, choose tropical plants with large, glossy or bold colored leaves. For example, philodendron selloum displays broad, gleaming leaves and the Hawaiian ti plant provides a pop of hot pink color. Palms such as the Chinese fan palm or our native sabal palm, and meandering paths of wood chips or leaf mulch provide a perfect backbone for tropical plantings. Including a water feature such as a koi pond or landscaping around an existing pool with tropical plants will conjure up feelings of Southeast Asia. To add whimsy and complete the look, add an interesting wood or stone sculpture like a tiki or mask.

For a resort feel, provide plenty of places to relax such as hammocks, café tables or lounges. Layer plantings and plant densely so that the mulch is hardly visible. Group like plants and plant in mass around focal points, like an entrance or a favorite resting spot. Select lots of green foliage plants and soothing, cool colors such as blues and soft purples. Avoid warm colors such as reds, yellows and oranges, as these tend to stimulate the viewer. Don’t forget to add a spot to meditate or let your mind wander. A cozy hidden bench under a large shade tree can provide a sweet escape in your own backyard.

An English cottage garden is almost the opposite of the resort feel with its splashes of warm, exciting colors. Plant lots of pinks, yellows and even the occasional blue or purple to achieve this look. Shrub roses, annuals and perennials provide cheerful explosions of color. Plant a pattern or border of a low growing hedge like boxwood, and fill the rest in with roses, herbs and blooming plants. White lattice, arbor structures and a walkway of decorative pavers or bricks can capture the style.

To find your garden muse, visit botanical gardens here in Central Florida. Check out Harry P. Leu Gardens, Bok Tower, Selby and even our own UF/IFAS Lake County Discovery Gardens.

On Saturday we will be hosting our first Greenhouse Plant Sale featuring butterfly plants, wildflowers and bulbs. The greenhouse will be open for the sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of our “Saturday in the Gardens” speaker series. The speaker series will begin at 10 a.m. and will feature an hour long class on Florida bulb gardening. Bulb gardening class participants will learn about the selection and care of bulbs that can be grown successfully in Central Florida. For information, go to

For gardening questions, visit our Master Gardener Plant Clinic. For landscape and garden ideas, visit Discovery Gardens. Both are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at the Extension Services Office, 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares.

Brooke Moffis is the Residential Horticulture Agent of the UF/IFAS Lake County Extension office. Email

Article source:

Keeping Your Back Strong When Gardening

The following article is from one of our community gardeners, Ann Shepphird. It was originally posted on her website,, which she started when she got her community garden in 2008.

As the seasons change and we spend more time in our gardens, it’s good to remember to take care of our backs. These yoga stretches for gardeners were first posted here in 2009 courtesy of the Ubuntu restaurant and yoga space in Napa. Ubuntu has sadly since closed but I think we can all agree that the tips themselves are timeless. Happy gardening!

If there is one thing that all gardeners share, it’s a need to save their backs from all the lifting and bending that goes along with tending their gardens. Here are some tips from Ubuntu Yoga Instructor Courtney Willis on how to create a strong and flexible back through some Yoga Flow for Gardeners.

  • Standing on your feet, reach the arms out and up and bring the palms together way above the head, saluting the sun.
  • Slowly, bend the knees and bring your hands to the Earth, relax the head and breath here, working on extending the hips upward.
  • Lie on your back and bend the legs. Lift the hips and wiggle your shoulders under the back until you can clasp the hands. For a therapeutic variation. you can bring the hands to the hips, fingers facing outward.
  • This pose is an important counter pose for all the forward bending you do in the garden.
  • From here, release the spine to the Earth, create a ‘T’ with your arms and slowly drop your legs to one side and bring you gaze to the opposite arm.
  • Repeat on the other side.

This gentle sequence is accessible to every BODY and can be done before AND after a day in the garden.

Print Friendly

Article source:

When’s the best time to plant a camellia tree? Ask gardening experts


CORVALLIS – Searching the internet for gardening information is quick but often frustrating and accuracy can be an issue. Asking a professional via the expediency and ease of an email provides answers you need backed by research you can trust.

Ask an Expert, a free online question-and-answer service of Oregon State University’s Extension Service, has a cadre of specialists who will answer your questions on average within 48 hours.

Since 2011, OSU experts have answered 16,649 questions, according to Jeff Hino, Ask an Expert coordinator. In 2015, the number of questions jumped by 50 percent. The subject matter is far ranging, but questions about insects, sustainable gardening, plant identification, lawn care, and tree and shrub issues are especially common, he said.

“Oregonians are finding research-based answers directly from our experts,” said Sandy Reichhuber, the program’s administrative program assistant. “More people are using us every year. We make a difference.”

Here’s a sampling of some recent questions. Get on board with yours.

Q: I was told that one way to store onions is to leave them in the ground over the winter. However, when I went to dig one out recently, I noticed they had all sprouted new leaves, and when I pulled them out I noticed they also have made root shoots. What are my options? Shall I pull them all out and use them, or what will happen if I leave them in the ground?

A: Onions left in the soil will succumb to rot eventually. Pull the onions up, shake off the soil, and lay them out to cure with the tops still attached. Any warm, airy location is a good place to do this; you can even leave them outside on a screen as long as they aren’t rained on. Bulbs must stay dry and have good air circulation. As the onions cure, the roots will shrivel and the necks above the bulbs will slowly dry – a natural process that helps to seal the top of the bulb, making the onions less likely to rot. After seven to 10 days, clip off the tops of the onions and the roots with pruning shears, remove as much dry dirt as possible without taking off the papery outer skins, and store your onions in a cool place. Onions can be stored in the refrigerator if desired but also any cool dry place.

– Jack, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Q: I would like to plant a camellia tree in my yard. Is it too late for planting that type of tree? I am worried about freezing, but could place leaves or plastic bags around the base, or would that promote disease or rot? Any suggestions about planting in November? – Washington County

A: This is the time of year to plant camellias. Success with camellias depends on the planting site and care provided. Although they may tolerate full sun, part sun to part shade is best – especially for younger plants. Choose a location that receives four to six hours of direct sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon, or a spot that receives bright, dappled shade through the day.

Newly planted camellias often fail to open most of their flower buds for the first few years, but this generally lessens as the plants become established.

Good drainage is essential. Do not plant camellias in areas that are poorly drained or where water settles after a rain. Where drainage is a problem, plant camellias on mounds or in raised beds.

Incorporation of organic matter to the planting area is recommended. Compost or rotted manure are suitable forms of organic matter.

– Von Whitney, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Q: I have a Ficus in a pot indoors. I’ve had it for year and it has never been repotted and is doing poorly. I am sure it needs repotting. It has few leaves and they are yellowing and dropping. Must I wait until spring to repot? – Multnomah County

A: Ficus (Ficus benjamina) is a beautiful house plant. It does need to be repotted every few years, some signs of this need are: roots growing through the drainage hole or up through the top, new leaves are smaller than normal, and other signs of stress. This article, How to Repot a Ficus Tree, gives you the steps. Late winter or spring are the best times to repot, because the plant is starting to actively grow after its winter rest. You’ll have to decide if it’s better to repot now and give the plant a fresh start or wait until growth starts in the spring.

For Ficus these conditions are optimal:

Indirect or filtered light, not direct strong light.

Temperature greater than 60; above 70 is optimal.

Moist soil, but not wet roots, so only water when the soil on top of the pot is dry. You can increase humidity by placing the pot on a saucer with gravel or small rocks then add water. Keep the rocks above the water level.

Decrease or even stop fertilizing in the winter, then increase to once or twice a month when growth starts in spring and they are growing fairly rapidly. A slow-release fertilizer will give your plant a steady supply of nitrogen.

– Anne, OSU Extension Master Gardener

About Gardening News From the OSU Extension Service: The Extension Service provides a variety of gardening information on its website at Resources include gardening tips, videos, podcasts, monthly calendars of outdoor chores, how-to publications, and information about the Master Gardener program.

Article source:

Winter star: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on growing false castor oil plant

My parents were given one as a wedding present in 1947.

They were married in the Yorkshire Dales and at the beginning of this millennium, when my mother finally moved out of the old family home, it was still growing strong in the back garden.

It makes a rounded bush, usually up to 6ft high, but sometimes as much as 10ft, and its leaves are striking and hand-shaped with a shiny, leathery texture.

The flowers open about now, which accounts for my mentioning it in November. They are creamy white, spherical and carried in open-branched clusters at the tips of the stems.

Article source:

Sharum’s Garden Center Tips: Breathing Life Back Into The Greg Smith River Trail

Frank Sharum shares with us the importance of giving back to your community in this week’s segment for Sharum’s Garden Center Tips.

Frank was at the Greg Smith River Trail and discussed the importance of making the park a thriving livable place for the community to go and visit now and long after he has gone.

He encourages all in the community to participate by donating tree’s and other plant at the event on Saturday, December 3rd at the park.

Segment Sponsored By: Sharum’s Garden Center

Article source:

10 tips for winterizing your vehicle

One of the most important keys to survival when you find yourself with car trouble or a weather situation is your emergency kit. Each emergency kit will be different based on your needs, but the basics should include a cell phone, blankets, extra clothes, flashlight, flares, food and perhaps a radio. 

Article source:

How to design edges of a garden

An edge around the flower garden. Photos/Jacquiline Nakandi

Have you ever thought of how beautiful and tidy your garden can be if you surround it with an edge, one would use pavers, stones, small flower pots or even logs. However, to save, one can go in for cheap home- made alternatives.

David Nkwanga, a gardener says an edge helps to hold back soil so that it does not run off in case it rains and also keeps the grass from intruding the garden. And since the edge is surrounded by either stones or logs, one will not have to trim it all the time.

He adds, the edge does not need a lot of maintenance and it is not expensive because one can use things around them like stones or logs.

Below are some of the materials to use:

Stones can be used on the garden edges but this will depend on the type of stones one is able to access.  Slate kind of stones can be good for edges. 

“For someone who can access stones either in their land or in a near-by query, they can be a relatively cheaper alternative. Otherwise, bought on the open market, stones may not be much cheaper than pavers,” Nkwanga notes

Bricks can also be used especially good quality clay bricks however, Nkwanga, explains that soil bricks tend to weather away and the sustainable alternative may be to plaster them.

“Using bricks instead of pavers may result in saving of at least 40% but the life-span is relatively shorter as well,” he says. 

He says wood could be another cheaper alternative to pavers because the main limitation is that most wood is not resistant to water and termites which make them rot or eaten in a relatively short time.

Nkwanga adds that there are, however, some wood types that are relatively resistant to
water degradation.  One such tree is teak tree which is a very good outdoor design wood, pine tree is also relatively resistant to rotting. 

“Another way to add resistance to your wood may be through treatment and regular painting,” he advises.


Article source:

Tree Power

Proper Landscaping Can Cut Utility Bills in Half

Believe it or not, landscaping may be the best long-term investment for reducing home heating and cooling costs. An asset to your yard and community, proper tree, shrub and grass plantings can protect your home from the ravaging onslaught of winter wind and snow, as well as summer’s baking heat and urban noise, while reducing your utility bills by as much as 50 percent, says the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC).

Illustration: Susan Fazekas

In fact, the DOE estimates that the proper placement of as few as three trees can save the average household between $100 and $250 annually in energy costs. Because trees and shrubs shade the ground and evapotranspire (releae water vapor), air temperatures below trees can be as much as 25 degrees cooler than air above nearby blacktop, which helps reduce summer cooling needs. Planting deciduous trees (which lose their leaves in the fall) provides summer shading, as well as solar heat during winter coldspells.

Ken Sheinkopf, executive vice-president of the Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation, says there are three main considerations when landscaping for energy-efficiency: your house’s orientation to the sun; the amount of shade you’ll need; and the intensity and direction of wind around your home. Planting evergreen trees and shrubs north and northwest of a property is the most common type of windbreak, and can dramatically lower energy costs by channeling winds away from or over a house.

In addition to windbreaks (planted two to five times the mature height of the tree away from your home), planting shrubs, bushes and vines right next to a house also helps by creating “dead air spaces” that insulate your home both in summer and winter (one foot of space between plants and wall is ideal).

To decrease energy use in summer months, arrange plants to shade east and west walls, recommends Sheinkopf, making sure to provide cover for air conditioning units. If you live in a sweltering or arid climate, allowing summer breezes to enter your home will lower air conditioning costs, as winds carry away warm, humid air. To accomplish this, tree canopies need to be high enough to block downward solar radiation, but should have thin, unvegetated trunks to allow breezes through underneath.

EREC suggests that, before making any landscaping decisions, you should sketch your ideas first, drawing in deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, walls, fences, light and dark concrete, and any other formations that may alter radiation, sunlight, wind or snowfall. Draw arrows to show typical wind direction, sun angles and north/south orientation. Also keep in mind structures which may interfere with new plantings or their growth, such as utility poles and wires. With the help of landscapers, calculating your “solar window”—the amount of sun your house receives given its placement on the lot—will determine where to position yard plants to maximize energy-efficiency.

And though it may be hard to part with a current resident of the yard, EREC advises relocating or removing shrubs or trees that hinder proper wind channeling or solar exposure.

Areas not used as family or play areas can be “xeriscaped,” or planned with low water use in mind, note the authors of Energy-Efficient and Environmental Landscaping (Appropriate Solutions Press). Native vegetation that’s drought-resistant and relies on rainfall is a great way to shrink that water bill. And converting a traditional lawn to short-growing grasses like buffalo grass can reduce local air and noise pollution and save time, by reducing lawn-mower use.

“Poor plant selection is the most common problem,” says Mike Lamb, energy manager for EREC. Dense foliage makes a great wind blocker and sun filter, but can hinder summer breezes that cool indoor air or pose security risks near windows or doorways, cautions Joel Albizo of the American Nursery and Landscape Association. Homeowners also make the mistake of choosing plants inappropriate for some climates. Also be conscious of a tree’s root system, which can damage sewer lines or sidewalks as it matures, says Lamb.

To aid in your decisions, rely on local landscape professionals, nurseries or county extension offices, advises Albizo. Professionals can point out costly mistakes before trees are in the ground, or provide additional design ideas. Find out how large each species will grow and plan your yard according to mature growth, suggests EREC. And when you’re ready to pick out plants and trees, make doubly sure they’re native to the area and disease- and pest-free.

Vegetation offers the environmental plus of added erosion-control, improved air quality, and food and habitat for wildlife and birds. And according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, a well-designed landscape can add from seven to 15 percent to the resale value of your home.

Article source: