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Archives for November 24, 2016

Successful season for Three Harts Farm Veterans Growing Opportunities

Three Harts Farm Veterans Growing Opportunities has wrapped up the growing season for 2016.

Three Harts Farm Veterans Growing Opportunities has wrapped up the growing season for 2016. The first productive season was a huge success despite the drought throughout the northeast.

With the generosity of the local community, Three Harts Farm had fresh water flowing and irrigating the flower and vegetable gardens this past summer, thanks to West End Drilling and Egan Landscaping of Plymouth.

Many individuals and groups have volunteered their services to help mold the Three Harts Farm to where it is today. One young man, who donated his time on the hottest days of summer, has aspirations of attending West Point. Veterans from the Great Island Veterans Group have been actively involved with the construction of several garden and landscape projects throughout the farm’s existence. Many area veterans have donated their time to construct a white pergola to the entrance of the farm where grapevines will cultivate in the spring of 2017. Recently, the farm added a cupola and a weather vane in the form of an American flag to the roof of the barn. The brilliant roof additions were purchased with donations made by Brennan’s Smoke Shop, 28 Main St., Plymouth.

Three Harts Farm has ended this year’s growing season and has begun to prepare for next year’s gardens. Navy veteran Ken Matejek, owner operator at Servpro of Plymouth and Wareham, helped complete a stone walkway, before the bad weather comes in. Veterans from the Great Island Veterans Group came together to create another stone walkway.

The Edward A. Ribeiro American Legion Post 40 Women’s Auxiliary donated funds to provide coffee, lunch and dessert for the hungry crew after the job was done.

Three Harts Farm Veterans Growing Opportunities is a farm where veterans and their families can go to enjoy more than just gardens. Several wooded walking trails and a soon-to-be bird sanctuary surround the farm, which is located on 232 Beaver Dam Road, Plymouth. Veterans and their families will be able to visit the farm to learn about vermiculture, agriculture and many growing unique techniques. The farm holds several hands-on workshops free to veterans and their families. Look for 2017 workshops on Facebook: 3 Harts Farm.


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Tips on taking landscape photos that will sell your services


Taking pictures may seem as simple as point and shoot, but following these tips can help your photos look so much better.
Photo: Kristijonas Dirse/Flickr

When you’re proud of your work, you want to show it off, but even the best landscaping project can look lackluster in a poorly taken photo.

As a landscaping professional, you have two main options: Either take the portfolio photos yourself or hire a professional. Hiring a professional may not be feasible for you if money is tight, or maybe you just prefer to do things yourself.

Here are some tips on how to capture the essence of your work and how to compose better shots.


The etymology of the word photography means “drawing with light,” so it makes sense that lighting is one of the most important things to consider when you take a picture.

It is best to take your shots either in the early morning or the evening light. Taking pictures at noon on a bright sunny day washes out vibrant colors and creates harsh contrast between darks and lights.

“If you want to improve your garden photography, shoot when it’s overcast,” Cindy Dyer, a professional photographer, told Nikon.

The eye is naturally drawn to the brightest point in a photo, so pay attention to what is bright in the viewfinder. If there is something brighter than your intended subject, zoom in or relocate to a different vantage point to eliminate the distraction.

Rule of thirds

One of the most well-known concepts of photography composition is called the rule of thirds. The principle involves dividing a shot into thirds with what looks like a tic-tac-toe board.

When you choose to place your subject in one of these four intersecting lines it helps make the photo look more dynamic and more balanced. Even though you’d think people would automatically look at the center of the photo, studies have shown these intersecting points are where a viewer naturally looks.

If you are using a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, you’ll find that most allow you to turn on these gridlines in the viewfinder or the LCD screen. You can even turn gridlines on your iPhone by going to Settings, Photos Camera and then switching on Grid.


In the landscape, you will often find a structure of some kind – be it a pergola, an arching garden gate or some tree boughs – that can serve as natural framing for your shots.

This is another technique that brings the viewer’s eye to your intended subject. Framing shots can be intriguing because doing so tends to provide depth and layers to the photo, inviting your audience to wonder what is beyond.

However, just because you can frame a shot doesn’t mean you should. Ask yourself if the framing will add or detract from the photo. If it makes the image seem cramped and unappealing, even distracting, then set aside framing for another shot.


With gardens and landscapes, there is generally a lot to take in. This is why a variety of shots, both vertical and horizontal, need to be taken.

“Picturing the garden as a whole is a prime goal and the establishing shots set the scene,” Dyer said. “I’m looking for clean graphics and strong colors, and I tend to try most of my subjects in both vertical and horizontal formats. I think that’s almost as important as shooting a scene from every angle possible.”

By mixing up viewpoints, you can change your background and find interesting perspectives you might otherwise have missed. Even when you’re taking lots of pictures try to keep quality in mind. Don’t rush your shots and take several minutes to actually see the landscape.

Having a portfolio of wide angles, medium shots, and macro photography produces an overall impression that is more engaging to viewers.


If you ask any professional photographer what gear you should use, they’re going to advise investing in a tripod – at least if you already have a dependable DSLR camera.

Tripods enable you to gain a better depth of field, and you can compose your shots more carefully. What’s more, a tripod lets you take steady photos that come out incredibly sharp.

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Wild Ones group promotes native landscape movement

TRAVERSE CITY — Retired Traverse City biologist Philip Jarvi guided Grand Traverse Wild Ones founding over a nine-month period to its current status.

“We have sprouted now and are a real seedling,” Jarvi said.

Jarvi describes the Wild Ones objective as a combination of conservation and landscaping. No other local group addresses landscaping’s overall effect on wildlife, he said.

The Grand Traverse Group is Michigan’s 10th chapter of the national nonprofit.

Fourteen people gathered for the chapter’s first meeting at Boardman River Nature Center earlier in November.

“We had everyone from lay people to PhDs in attendance,” Jarvi said. “It was a wide range of knowledge and experience.”

Ecologist and chapter member Katie Grzesiak believes the group’s public debut met important goals.

“Our first meeting was to get people involved and excited,” she said. “In the next weeks, we’ll be getting to know each other and get into some cool stuff.”

According to Jarvi, the new education and advocacy group plans to promote learning about native plants, habitat changes, and the impact of climate change on native plants and how to convert yards to native landscapes to improve insect and wildlife environments.

The club will tap the knowledge of local experts and resources and conduct field trips.

Wild Ones defines a native plant as “a species that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem and/or habitat and was present prior to European settlement.”

Grzesiak said native northern Michigan plants have deep roots (which absorb excess rainfall), are cold tolerant and suited to local soils. These factors make them attractive for low maintenance landscapes and gardens.

A Michigan Certified Nurseryman and co-owner of Pine Hill Village Gardens in Traverse City Jeanine Rubert said native plant education and advocacy, like that which Wild Ones provides, is important to the natural landscaping movement.

“We have an idea that native plants are wild and don’t have a place in the landscape,” she said. “We tend to think of them as what we see growing on the side of the road, but there’s a variety that can fit into landscape and research behind native plant habitats for pollinators.”

Wild Ones encourages biodiversity.

It recognizes native plant restoration’s role in preservation of native pollinators — bees, butterflies, ants and bats. The local chapter’s first speaker Grand Traverse Butterfly House and Bug Zoo operator Cyndie Roach addressed the pollinator factor at the November meeting.

Grand Traverse Wild Ones plans a native plant seed exchange for the next chapter meeting slated for December 8. Meetings are open to the public.

“My hope is that we’ll get people networking and bringing along friends so our numbers will grow,” Jarvi said.

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Here’s how you can keep your Christmas tree once the gifts are opened – Belleville News

Q. We would like to buy an evergreen tree with the ball of soil and roots to place in our yard after Christmas. What should we do to prepare for this?

K. H. of Collinsville

A. First, purchase at least one bale of straw to spread over the soil where you want to plant your new evergreen tree to keep the soil from freezing before the planting takes place. Or, dig the hole now if you know how big it will be, then fill it with straw to prevent freezing in the hole.

Take the soil you removed and cover it with straw and then another covering to keep it dry.

If you plan to keep this tree indoors for the Christmas holidays, don’t keep it there more than five days. Plus, before planting, you need to acclimate the tree that’s been indoors to a cooler-weather area, such as a porch or in an unheated garage, for a couple of days. Then after planting, water it thoroughly and mulch it heavily to help it through the rest of winter.

Q. Is it too late for fertilizing the lawn?

D. W. of Glen Carbon

A. No, in fact usually the day after Thanksgiving is one of the best for doing this. Just make sure the fertilizer is low in nitrogen but high in amounts of phosphorus and potassium. This mix will help to harden off the grass to tolerate the adverse winter conditions. This is especially helpful if you also fertilized the lawn in October and it is lush and soft going into winter.

This late application should not exceed 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. This will ensure the roots and rhizomes of your lawn will continue to grow below the surface of the soil. Secondary tillers will develop from the crown of the lawn plants as long as the soil has not frozen or is covered with snow.

The added benefit to your health is working off some calories from your Thanksgiving Day meal.

Q. I planted several tulip poplar trees this spring. Now, my best-growing tree has broken off and is laying at a 90-degree angle with just a small amount of tissue connected. What should I do to save it?

L.W. of Freeburg

A. Prune off the rest of the remaining plant tissue so that the tree will not tear any more of the bark tissue down any lower on the stem.

Next spring, watch for the latent buds that will sprout out from the remaining trunk. Choose the best-looking stem — and hopefully the tallest — and stake it upward so that it will become the new upright central leader. Prune off the other buds which may develop.

In the spring, with all the roots below supplying nutrients, water this newly trained stem and it will grow very quickly. You will have to brace one stem sit it will develop into your desired vertical new trunk. Don’t be surprised by the amount of growth that will take place this next spring.

Do not give up on this new branch; be patient with it. You may still end up with this tree being your best tree as time goes on.

Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to

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Linda Cobb: Five more things that make my garden great

Last time we were discussing things that make my garden great, according to me. These things are worth pointing out, as they add diversity to the garden as well as help make that perfect garden. I will finish this discussion in this column.

1. You need a few well placed large pots, not 30 small pots! Over the years, I have made the mistake of using and planting too many small pots. One of my goals in this coming year is to get rid of all of those small pots that don’t make any impact. I have come to the conclusion that I need about 10 very large pots that are about 22 inches tall and 28 inches wide. These pots can hold some of my very dynamic collection of Japanese maple trees. The maples are breathtaking in the spring and fall. Other favorite large plants are 10 foot tall conifers that are twisty along with Graham Blandy, the upright boxwood. My friend Dianne Nodine, a well known Carolina garden designer tells me that an extra large pot full of diverse plantings makes a big impact.

2. Succulents are a must! This group of pants has risen in value due to their gorgeous colors, exotic blooms, and amazing textures. Growing some of these is a must whether it is in a giant trough like I have, or in large pots. Their colors range from deep blues to dark coppers. You should also understand how tough these plants are. The very large trough I have on the driveway is filled with succulents. It stays outside all year long. In the winter, I cover it with an acrylic cover that I had made for it. I may lose 20-30 percent of the plants, but it gives back to me more than I lose. It is one of the “jewels” in my garden.

3. Bulbs in the springtime cannot be overlooked. I have said this so many times and I mean it! By the time March rolls around, I am ready to see some bright green and pastel colored tulips and daffodils. Spring is the signal that winter has ended and the earth will be reborn. It is the time when bulbs begin to push up through the earth, all fresh and green with a tightly closed flower. I love watching the process of the flower opening. Daffodils are more reliable with their return the next year. Tulips are rare to come back the next year, but I accept this. Each year, I replant a lot of tulips, daffodils and muscari. They are so worth the trouble.

4. Garden ornaments set the stage. All of the pots, birdbaths, birdhouses, statues, arbors, and garden gates are the jewelry of this garden. They make an ordinary garden look amazing. Sure we could get along without them but why should we when they just make everything look awesome. Then there are the many rocks that were dug up from the woods. In addition, there is the threshold stone from grandmother’s farmhouse that is special. The sphere of music chimes up in the trees playing natures music when the wind blows. All of these elements work together to complete the picture of a perfect garden setting.

5. Finding joy in your own garden space. This last one is the most important. You can work your fingers to the bone but if you will not take time out to actually sit in your garden, you are missing the point and doing all of this for nothing. The time I take to read a book in my garden is so valuable to me. I feel the need to be very “present” in my garden space. I watch the chipmunks play or communicate with God from my garden bench. It places me square in the center of this beautiful space as I count each valuable minute.

Linda Cobb is a master gardener who lectures, teaches, and does garden design in South Carolina. She can be reached at 864-574-8493 or email her at Visit her website at

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A garden grows at Longwood

In the early 1900s, much of the compact and highly developed Longwood Medical and Academic area was a pasture where cows grazed and provided milk to patients at Boston Children’s Hospital.

For an enterprising group of volunteers, students, faculty, and staff representing 10 Harvard institutions, today that memory is proving inspirational.

What began as a simple discussion centered around improving handicapped access between Harvard Medical School’s campus and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health grew into the Re(Design) Innovation Challenge, which led to plans for an innovative space that fosters health and sustainability for the Longwood community at the same time that it generates knowledge.

The centerpiece of this creative challenge is the Countway Community Garden — a 140-by-50-foot sunken patio and garden space behind the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. The space is on top of the roof of the Center for the History of Medicine’s rare book stacks, which essentially makes it a street-level rooftop garden, according to Julia Bald, community garden manager and Countway Library of Medicine Library assistant.

This “hidden gem” gave staff, faculty, students, and hospital affiliates an opportunity to collaborate and interact outside of normal school and work structures, Bald said. Thanks to the innovation challenge, it soon will be revitalized green space intended to unite a community focused on urban sustainability.

“This has been very much a grass-roots effort because of the positive changes on campus, the conversations and engagement of volunteers who spoke in helping to shape and support the development of this garden space,” said Adam Meier, Longwood sustainability manager. “This challenge was supported by so many different players who represent a process that is fairly new in how the University can think about decision-making for the campus by engaging students.”

The challenge brought together students from various disciplines to work on a design proposal for an optimal space addressing several factors, including bicycle storage, garden space, access to water, pest control, weather and noise considerations, the use of sustainable materials, and how the space can support University education and research while involving the Longwood community.

The crowd-sourced venture included contributions from the Medical School, the Harvard Chan School, EcoOpportunity, the Harvard Chan Student Association, the Harvard University Office for Sustainability, the Countway Community Garden, and the Built Environment and Health Student Consortium. The effort raised nearly $9,000.

“I think students were inspired and empowered by the ability to make real change on their campus. Being part of the design process allows us to integrate all that we have learned into a space,” said Erika Eitland, a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard Chan School who is the Countway Community Garden student organizer. “The magic of this competition is in the interdisciplinary approach. It’s an opportunity to give back to a community that has given us so much.”

Second runner-up, The Indestructibles favored simplicity in their redesign concept. Courtesy of Harvard Office for Sustainability
Second runner-up, “The Indestructibles” favored simplicity in their redesign concept. Courtesy of Harvard Office for Sustainability

Teams from the Harvard institutions formed, and after five weeks of planning, five of them submitted their redesign proposals. Three finalists were selected after a public voting period. The top three teams gave 10-minute presentations to six guest judges on Nov.10 at the Countway Library, and the winner was selected.

The Green Dream Team — whose members included students from the Harvard Chan School, Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard College — was awarded first place and a $2,000 prize. Its proposal, called “The Countway CoLab,” is focused on sustainability, usability, and community.

The plan utilizes innovative growing concepts, including vertical plantings and aquaponics, along with solar umbrellas, rain capturing, and a green roof. Usability is enhanced by sound barriers, a shade canopy, and even a mobile classroom for integration with Harvard programs. A hybrid ramp and open seating improves accessibility, and murals add visual enhancement.

Team Longstain garnered second place and $1,000 for its “Crystal Skywalk Garden,” a two-level design incorporating a street-level glass walkway with shutter shading that overlooks a sunken garden.

The Indestructibles, third-place winners receiving $500, focused on simplicity, serenity, and sustainability. Their design showcases a peaceful green retreat where gardening and relaxation in a natural setting is the primary focus.

The Harvard Medical School Operations Department donated the prize money to treat students as design consultants, according to Meier, in tandem with the University’s missions of research and teaching.

“I loved being on a team with students representing four other Schools across Harvard and creating a concept together. I also love that this competition was grounded in reality,” said Alyssa Curran, a GSD student on the Green Dream Team. “We were continuously motivated and inspired at the prospect that our design proposal, or at least parts of it, could actually be implemented. And today we continue to push forward on the project to bring it to fruition.”

One representative from the Green Dream Team will be part of a panel discussion focusing on urban design and sustainability as part of the Harvard Chan School lecture series on Dec. 5.

The next step is construction of that handicap-accessible ramp in early 2017, while discussion continues about how to move forward with a redesign of the Community Garden that utilizes ideas from all the teams, Meier said.

The winning team identified a $50,000 grant from the Graduate School of Design’s Department of Landscape Architecture, and the Community Garden project received $500 from an innovation fund within the Office of Sustainability, specifically for living lab endeavors that use the campus as a test bed for research into action, he said.

“We look forward to incorporating student voices and their innovative ideas into future design changes of this space,” said Michael McGowan, interim dean of campus planning and facilities at HMS. “Furthermore, we hope that this model can be replicated in future campus space-planning decisions.”




Colorful clones track stem cells

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Treasure Valley gardening events include indoor growing

Friday, Nov. 25

Indoor Kitchen Gardening in Winter: 11 a.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Workshop on growing all types of edible greens in your home through the winter. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or

Saturdays, Nov. 26 and Dec. 3

Terrarium Building Workshop: 12:30 p.m. Nov. 26 and 11 a.m. Dec. 3 at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Craft a mini eco-system with foliage, succulents, cactus and more. Feel free to bring your vessel. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or

Saturday, Dec. 10

Indoor Kitchen Gardening in Winter: 12:30 p.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Workshop on growing all types of edible greens in your home through the winter. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or

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Del Mar awards contract for its first roundabout

Construction on Del Mar’s first roundabout should be completed by next spring.

The Del Mar City Council on Nov. 21 unanimously authorized the city manager to execute a contract for the construction of a traffic control improvement project at the San Dieguito intersection.

In addition to the construction of a roundabout at Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive, the project includes sidewalk widening and street resurfacing across the Jimmy Durante Bridge, new sidewalks, bike lane striping, pedestrian lighting and the completion of the River Path Extension project along San Dieguito Drive.

The city received 10 bids on the project. Blue Pacific Engineering and Construction was the lowest responsive bidder with the contractor’s bid at nearly $660,000. The total project construction budget is $810,000, which also includes $65,000 in project contingency funds and a little more than $85,000 for construction management.

In March, the council certified an environmental impact report on the roundabout proposal and directed city staff to finish designing the project for the intersection of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive.

The roundabout was originally proposed as part of a citywide sidewalk improvement project, but after some community members voiced concerns about the need of a roundabout and impacts on traffic, the traffic calming device was pulled for a separate study. The report concluded that the roundabout is the “environmentally superior” option for improving the intersection, compared to a traffic signal or no changes at all.

Construction is expected to begin in December and be completed in April 2017.

The council also discussed potentially installing a city of Del Mar monument sign in the roundabout.

It would cost roughly $9,500 to $12,000 to install a monument sign similar to the signs at the north and south entrance points to the city along Camino del Mar.

According to the staff report, the monument signs, which are made of stone and feature the Del Mar logo with a Torrey Pine branch, were selected in 2007 following an extensive community process with the Del Mar Village Association and approval by the Design Review Board. The estimated cost for the project includes funds for the materials, fabrication, metal work, placement design, podium construction, and monument construction and installation.

The item was initially listed as part of the council’s consent calendar. After pulling and discussing the item, the council ultimately decided to bring the subject back for a public hearing at a later date to give the community an opportunity to weight in on the matter. The council also asked staff to explore other ideas for the space, including landscaping and a public art piece.

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Longtime New Haven resident, landscape architect Diana Balmori dies; wife of Cesar Pelli

NEW HAVEN Diana Balmori, an internationally recognized landscape architect, is remembered by friends and colleagues for her inspiring designs and teamwork.

She died Nov. 14 in Manhattan. She was 84.

Balmori may have had a global presence, but she was well known locally.

The landscape architect was among those who saw the possibilities of creating a linear trail along the abandoned Farmington Canal rail line.

Joy Ford, a former deputy director at the New Haven City Plan Department, said Balmori was responsible for bringing together various groups that saw it to fruition.

One of the most popular recreational attractions in the area, the trail will soon be connected to the terminus of the original canal in New Haven Harbor where there will be a new boathouse for educational and water activities .

Balmori created landscaping along the section of the trail from Trumbull to Prospect streets at the Yale Engineering building, a limestone covered structure that was designed by her husband, Cesar Pelli.

Balmori devoted her career to integrating landscape and the built environment.

Born in Spain and raised in Argentina, Balmori came to the United States in 1952 with Pelli, who went on to become a world-renowned architect and former dean of the Yale School of Architecture.

Trained as an architect in Argentina, she earned a degree in urban history at UCLA in 1973, according to the New York Times.

She started a department of landscape architecture at her husband’s firm in 1980 and founded her own company, Balmori Associates in 1990.

The comments about Balmori recognized her creativity, but also her warmth and ability to develop deep friendships while leaving behind examples of her work around the world.

She developed a master plan for Bilboa, Spain, creating a park system at the port. She provided landscaping for Sejong City in South Korea, and last year Balmori put a “floating landscape in the Gowanus Canal,” the Times reported.

“Not only was she a dear friend, but we have had the daily pleasure of living with one of the beautiful gardens she designed,” said Jane Levin, wife of former Yale President Richard C. Levin.

Laura Clarke, executive director of Sight Projects in New Haven, remembered her as someone who did the hard work of organizing the teams necessary to bring a project from conception to reality.

She said one of her ideas, inspired by Europe, was a light rail system in downtown New Haven organized around the old trolley lines.

“She would get so excited about her work,” Clarke said.

Carole Brodus lived next door to Balmori and Pelli for close to 20 years.

“Diana was one of a kind: a creative genesis who made everything better and more interesting, whether landscape, art or relationships. She has a wonderful sense of humor and always made one feel that they were the one who had something to offer; yet it was always she who did,” Brodus said.

Mary Beth Bowerman said she was hired as Balmori’s personal trainer in 1986 and over the years on their walks through New Haven they became great friends.

“She appreciated me for my healthy influence and I admired her for so graciously welcoming, supporting and encouraging me,” said Bowerman, who became Balmori’s personal assistant.

Paul Butkus, a landscape architect, said he first worked with Belmori in the spring of 1994 in what was supposed to be a short commitment for her presentation on the Gwynns Falls Trail in Baltimore, Md.

“What was intended as only a couple of weeks of work turned into 10 years and only ended when Diana moved the office to New York,” wrote Butkus in an email.

“Diana had a remarkable ability to see the potential (sometimes hidden) in those she hired. She surrounded herself with many extremely talented people and with Diana’s keen critical skills the office was able to create very unique and successful projects,” Butkus wrote.

On a personal level, Butkus said Balmori’s sense of style always took precedence over practicalities, which included inappropriate but impressive footwear on the muddy site of Reagan National Airport, which she had been hired to landscape.

Butkus said Balmori was continually reinventing herself as a designer, author, educator, artist and critic.

She developed a master plan for Bilboa, Spain, creating a park system at its port, according to the Balmori Associates website. Balmori provided landscaping for Sejong City, a new government center in South Korea, and last year put a prototype “floating landscape” in the Gowanus Canal.

There will be a memorial service for Balmori at Battell Chapel, 400 College St., at 3 p.m. Nov. 27 with a reception to follow at The Graduate Club across the street.

Editor’s note: The headline on this story has been changed to correct a wrong spelling. It is Diana Balmori, not Diane Balmori, who is being remembered.

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