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Archives for November 2016

Construction set to begin on senior living facility in south Leawood

Bright Space Senior Living received final permission to begin plans to bring an assisted-living facility to Leawood.

The city council, on Monday, unanimously approved a final plan and plat for the 90,000 square foot, 90- bed facility south of 137th Street and west of Mission Road.

A second phase calls for a 60-unit independent living facility at the southwest corner of 137th Street and Mission Road.

The Chattanooga, Tenn., based company worked with the city council since August to address many of the conditions requested by the city and residents to the south of the development. Storm-water management as well as temporary and permanent erosion control are especially important stipulations as drainage issues have affected the area.

“Our development is taking care of some of the existing problems brought to our attention by staff and by the residents to the south of Leawood Meadows,” said applicant representative Jay O’Dell of BHC Rhodes.

A berm to the south with grading will be one of the first changes to help alleviate the drainage problem.

Construction on phase one could begin as early as December and be completed in 13 months. Stipulations outline no construction between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. No construction is allowed on Sundays.

“I’m on the homeowner association’s board and I talk a lot about this development,” said resident Jane Ross. “We’ve been very pleased with working with this developer. We’ve been very happy with the landscaping they’ve proposed.”

That landscaping includes natural building materials, rain gardens, and plants to the south that will simultaneously attract butterflies and act as a buffer between the development and tneighboring areas.

Bright Space operates facilities in Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

In other action, the council granted permision to the National Park Service in conjunction with the Mid-America Regional Council to retrace the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California National Historic Trails in Leawood. Signs are being installed to indicate the historic trails across the nation.

Leawood will have eight signs marking where the Santa Fe, Oregon, and or California National Historic Trails crossed the city,Councilwoman Julie Cain said.

Three signs are slated for 135th Street, one on Nall, two on Pembroke Lane, one on State Line Road, and one on 123rd Street. The signs are provided at no cost to be installed by city staff.

Article source: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/joco-913/overland-park-leawood/article117495073.html

On the Market: Darien property comes alive in warmer months

More Information

ABOUT THIS HOUSE

STYLE: New England Cape

ADDRESS: 18 Stony Brook Road

PRICE: $1,895,000

ROOMS: 9

FEATURES: walking distance to the Metro North train station and high school, close to shops and restaurants, 1.26-acre level and sloping property, bluestone patio, hot tub, energy efficient features, two fireplaces, professional landscaping, shed, perennial gardens, stone walls, sprinkler system, skylights, workshop, new wall-to-wall carpeting on second floor, ample amount of closets, attached two-car garage, attic storage, cedar closet, five bedrooms, five full updated baths

SCHOOLS: Royle Elementary, Middlesex Middle, Darien High School

ASSESSMENT: $1,211,280

MILL RATE: 15.77 mills

TAXES: $17,856

Article source: http://www.ctpost.com/realestate/article/On-the-Market-Darien-property-comes-alive-in-10640296.php

Great gardens start with great foundations

I’d like to think that every one of my columns is “the most important story I’ve ever told.” This one, however, probably needs to move to the top of that list. And it may also be the most boring. But if you’ll stick with me for two minutes, I can probably save you hundreds of dollars.

I see so many people start their gardening on the wrong foot. They just start digging holes and planting. I just intervened with a friend with the guidance I’m about to share here. What she didn’t realize was that our flower and vegetable gardens are only as good as the bed preparation we do for them.

It’s exactly like your house’s foundation. If you do a shabby job up front, you’ll have shabby results in the end. Let’s visit about how you can bypass that frustration.

Most people who read this column live on, and garden in, Blackland Prairie clay gumbo soil. With a few exceptions, it extends up and down the I-35 corridor from the Red River clear to San Antonio. In spite of how we swear at them, however, clay soils are not inherently bad. They simply require proper bed preparation, and too often people either overlook or ignore it.

Basics from the soil-science classroom

Clay particles are tiny — visible only through an electron microscope. That’s why they pack together so tightly. It means that they have huge cumulative surface area. They take water in slowly, and it drains away equally slowly.

To improve any soil, add organic matter to it. That might come in the form of sphagnum peat moss, finely ground pine bark mulch, well-rotted compost, composted manure or humus from the forest floor. Organic matter holds moisture and nutrients when it’s mixed into sandy soils. In our clay soils it breaks open the compaction, allowing better movement of air and water in the process.

You can always add water when the soil becomes dry. It’s much more difficult to remove it when the soil is too wet.

Further, research done by Texas AM about 20 years ago found that expanded shale incorporated at the same time as you are tilling in the organic matter will multiply the benefits. For flower and vegetable gardens, you’ll want to add a total of 5 or 6 inches of a mixture of the different types of organic matter along with 1 inch of expanded shale, then till it all together to a depth of 12 inches. That will give you a garden soil that’s almost like fine potting soil.

Raised planting beds ensure good drainage. You can use stones or pavers to elevate your beds, or you can mound the beds to the centers if they’re wide enough (5 or 6 feet or wider). That will allow incident rainfall to drain away.

You can always add water when the soil becomes dry. It’s much more difficult to remove it when the soil is too wet.

This is a good time of year to have your soil analyzed. The soil testing laboratory at Texas AM offers several levels of tests, but the basic one that measures nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, pH and soluble salts would be fine.

It’s a good plan to have your soil tested every three or four years. Don’t be surprised if the results show your soil to have excessive amounts of phosphorus and very low levels of nitrogen. Access the lab either through its website or your county Extension office.

A couple of tips on composting

If you ever wanted to dabble in composting as a source of homegrown organic matter, it’s really quite simple. You can compost things in a ready-made plastic or rubber bin, in a barrel, or in an enclosed frame you make somewhere in the yard.

Put in finely ground organic matter of all types (leaves, grass clippings and shredded branches) if you have a grinder. If you have a stable or have access to manure, put it in there as well. Every 4 or 5 inches of organic matter you add, top it with 1 inch of topsoil.

There are many ways to compost successfully, but you do need to think big.

Position the pile so it faces the south sun in winter, and keep it covered with black plastic film to soak in the sun’s warmth. Turn it often with a spading fork, and when it’s no longer recognizable as its original components, it’s ready to use (usually in 6 to 12 months).

I have a low area that’s 8 or 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. We live in a rural area, and that sunken area becomes my thin-layer compost pile. It’s out of sight, and it’s very informal. It’s 8 or 9 inches deep, and we put all of our newly fallen leaves into it immediately after running them through the mower. I put a couple of cups of all-nitrogen lawn food across it, then till it 2 or 3 inches into the soil beneath. That brings up the soil’s microorganisms to speed the decay.

All of which basically suggests that there are many ways to compost successfully. But you do need to think big. Those little premade composting containers aren’t very large, and if you’re going to be spreading 1 inch of compost over even a medium-sized area, it’s not going to go very far.

But don’t let that discourage you. Use it in the most prime of beds where you’re growing your favorite flowers or vegetables. If you choose only shrubs and trees that are adapted to our soils, most of them won’t need this “heroic” bed preparation.

Article source: http://www.star-telegram.com/living/home-garden/neil-sperry/article117514018.html

5 garden tips for the week starting Nov. 26



First avocados, then guacamole

Harvest Fuerte avocados from now through March by cutting stems close to the fruit, not breaking them off. The crop is ready when picked fruits soften without shriveling, so try a few first to see how they do. Then taste-test to make sure they are ready. Guacamole, dips and an astonishing array of mouth-watering recipes await your creative touch. Find them by searching “avocado recipes.”

Out with the old

Although this is an easy task, it is vitally important. Pick up and dispose of any old fruit — whether it is on the ground or dried up and clinging to the tree. These so-called “mummies” harbor reproductive disease spores that can devastate trees next spring and reduce the quality and quantity of next year’s harvest.

Daylily care

Divide overgrown or declining daylily clumps any time from now until early March. First cut back the tops to only about 3 inches. Then carefully dig the plants — inserting the shovel about a foot away from the center, all the way around the plants, in order do minimize damage to the fleshy roots. Clean off the dead leaf debris. Divide into clumps with three to six plants together and replant them a foot or more apart in a sunny location at the same depth as before.

Division of labor

Divide and replant Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile). When clumps get too big or crowded, dig all around the clump 6 to 10 inches deep then tilt the handle of the shovel to lift the clump out of the soil. I like to break or cut the older rhizomes apart so the each new clump has three to five foliage fans. Then replant the new clumps so they can settle in over the winter and be prepared to bloom again next spring.

Spice up your life

Save your home-grown spices to savor later by drying them now. Harvest and dry mint leaves before plants go dormant. Basil will die back, so preserve those flavorful leaves while you can. Parsley, rosemary and thyme will remain usable on the plants as fresh herbs throughout winter; or you could hang any of these herbs in loosely-tied bundles to dry, then store the whole, dried herb leaves in air-tight containers to retain freshness.

Article source: http://www.dailybreeze.com/lifestyle/20161127/5-garden-tips-for-the-week-starting-nov-26

Garden tips: Botanical dwarfs can surprise with their beauty


Dwarf peppermint willow ground cover under eucalyptus tree (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

Dwarf peppermint willow ground cover under eucalyptus tree (Photo by Joshua Siskin)






TIP OF THE WEEK

Jan Urban sent an email query wondering why she has split oranges. Split citrus most often is symptomatic of irregular soil moisture. The scorching temperatures we had this summer, combined with a warm fall, have necessitated keen attention to watering over the last six months. Where such attention lapsed, split fruit could have developed.

Typically, split citrus is the result of over-watering or of sudden heavy watering or rain after a long period of dryness. When citrus is over-watered, the inside of the orange or lemon will grow faster than the surrounding rind. The fruit doesn’t split so much as the pulp simply grows so fast that there is not enough rind to contain it. Still, if water is withheld from citrus for too long, a sudden soaking may cause the inside volume to suddenly expand, causing the rind to split. Fluctuating humidity and fertilizer levels may also bring about split fruit, and thin-skinned citrus varieties are most susceptible to splitting. Tomatoes, by the way, split quite often for the same reasons that citrus does.

In general, citrus trees should be watered infrequently, but deeply. Garn Wallace, a soil and plant scientist in Torrance, recommends the following regime: once a month, put a barely trickling hose under your tree and leave it for 48 hours. Citrus trees develop tap roots when irrigated in this manner and become accustomed to going without water for 30 days at a time. A 4-inch layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture at a constant level.

To make sure your water goes where you want it to go, and then stays there, build a berm (a circular hill of earth) several inches out from the trunk, and build another berm around the drip line — the place where water drips off the tree during rain — beneath the canopy perimeter. In between these two berms is the area that will be filled with water once a month.

By the way, those incredibly hot days we experienced this summer are not bad for citrus, as long as watering is properly done. Thousands of acres of lemons, for example, yield heavy crops in the Arizona desert.

“Small is Beautful” was a best-selling collection of essays on economics written in 1973.

The lifestyle encouraged by the author, E.F. Schumacher, would lead to “the maximum amount of well being with the minimum amount of consumption.”

These words are most apt when introducing the phenomenon of botanical dwarfs. Their diminutive and delicate charms impart a sense of well-being while their consumption of resources dwarfs that found among larger specimens.

And so, on any occasion when I happen to cross paths with a dwarf or compact plant cultivar, I can’t help thinking “small is beautiful.” Maybe it’s just the surprise that stimulates my aesthetic appreciation. Or maybe it’s the laziness in me that appreciates a small plant since it will not require as much maintenance as larger versions of the same species.

It’s always a revelation the first time you set eyes on a small or dwarfed version of a familiar plant, be it a miniature rose bush, a dwarf ‘Mugo’ pine tree (Pinus mugo mugo), a ‘Pix Zee’ peach tree, ‘Pixie’ snapdragons, or a dwarf dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Miss Grace’), which stays under 10 feet tall, a diminutive stature indeed if you’re a redwood.

You see such wonders and your horticultural horizons broaden to where you think just about anything is possible with plants. Certainly, if your gardening horizon stops at the edge of a patio or a balcony, plants of small stature are worth a second look.

Sometimes, though, I think that shrinking a plant’s stature goes too far. Such is the case, for example, with sunflowers. Thanks to advances in genetics, it is becoming much easier to insert dwarfing genes into the DNA of plants.

I am not sure exactly how dwarf sunflowers came about, but I cannot look at them without trembling slightly. It’s as though they were the product of some mad botanist’s imagination and they were created solely for the sake of exclaiming, “See! Even sunflowers can be shrunk!”

There is an undeniable attraction to exotic plants and people will wait in long lines just to take a look at something strange. In truth, a plant does not have to be beautiful, necessarily, to grab our attention. Just different. It’s a phenomenon that made P.T. Barnum and his circus side shows and Robert Ripley (Believe It or Not!) rich, and reached its ultimate botanical expression in “Little Shop of Horrors,” a comedy featuring Audrey, a carnivorous plant that is nourished from human blood.

Not long ago, in the Australian section of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, I came upon a dwarf peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa ‘Nana’). It was planted as ground cover under a eucalyptus tree and was flourishing there. I thought this was an important discovery.

The list of plants that grow well under eucalyptus trees is short. The only other plant that I have seen thriving under eucalyptus was Australian rosemary (Westringia spp.), a relative of true rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Australian rosmary, which has no fragrance, resembles true rosemary in having tiny leaves, a minimal water requirement, and a mature height of around 6 feet.

The beauty of dwarf peppermint willow, an evergreen for full to partial sun, is in its foliage since older leaves are a lush green, while emergent leaves and stems are red. In Australia, it is commonly used as an informal hedge. While it will eventually reach 6 feet in height, it can easily be kept lower with occasional pruning.

Its leaves emit a strong peppermint fragrance when crushed. Dwarf peppermint willow survives a frost but may suffer damage when temperatures dip into the mid-20s.

To the best of my knowledge, the only local nursery growing dwarf peppermint willow is San Marcos Growers in Carpinteria. To find it among your neigborhood nurseries, go to smgrowers.com and click on “Retail Locator” on the left side of the home page.

Speaking of Australian plants with red new growth, there is a honey myrtle (Melaleuca linariifolia) cultivar known as ‘Claret Tops’ that deserves wider recognition. It is a shrub that stays less than 5 feet tall and bears fragrant flowers in the summer. It may also be grown as a hedge, whether formal and regularly clipped, or informal and free to develop unfettered.

The advantage of letting it just grow is that new red growth will always be present.

For more information about area plants and gardens, go to Joshua Siskin’s website at www.thesmartergardener.com. Send questions and photos to Joshua@perfectplants.com.

Tip of the week

Jan Urban sent an email query wondering why she has split oranges. Split citrus most often is symptomatic of irregular soil moisture. The scorching temperatures we had this summer, combined with a warm fall, have necessitated keen attention to watering over the last six months. Where such attention lapsed, split fruit could have developed.

Typically, split citrus is the result of over-watering or of sudden heavy watering or rain after a long period of dryness. When citrus is over-watered, the inside of the orange or lemon will grow faster than the surrounding rind. The fruit doesn’t split so much as the pulp simply grows so fast that there is not enough rind to contain it. Still, if water is withheld from citrus for too long, a sudden soaking may cause the inside volume to suddenly expand, causing the rind to split. Fluctuating humidity and fertilizer levels may also bring about split fruit, and thin-skinned citrus varieties are most susceptible to splitting. Tomatoes, by the way, split quite often for the same reasons that citrus does.

In general, citrus trees should be watered infrequently, but deeply. Garn Wallace, a soil and plant scientist in Torrance, recommends the following regime: once a month, put a barely trickling hose under your tree and leave it for 48 hours. Citrus trees develop tap roots when irrigated in this manner and become accustomed to going without water for 30 days at a time. A 4-inch layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture at a constant level.

To make sure your water goes where you want it to go, and then stays there, build a berm (a circular hill of earth) several inches out from the trunk, and build another berm around the drip line — the place where water drips off the tree during rain — beneath the canopy perimeter. In between these two berms is the area that will be filled with water once a month.

By the way, those incredibly hot days we experienced this summer are not bad for citrus, as long as watering is properly done. Thousands of acres of lemons, for example, yield heavy crops in the Arizona desert.

Article source: http://www.whittierdailynews.com/lifestyle/20161127/garden-tips-botanical-dwarfs-can-surprise-with-their-beauty

Celebrate Ruth Bancroft’s bold, dry garden


Photo by Marion BrennerRuth Bancroft, left, and her garden is celebrated in author Johanna Silver’s book “The Bold Dry Garden.”

Photo by Marion Brenner
Ruth Bancroft, left, and her garden is celebrated in author Johanna Silver’s book “The Bold Dry Garden.”




IF YOU GO

What: “The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden”

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 30

Where: Marin Art Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Ross

Admission: $25

Information: 415-455-5260, www.magc.org/events

When Ruth Bancroft first stuck a spade into her Walnut Creek garden to plant succulents and native plants decades ago, she had no idea her passion would launch an organization or foreshadow a new style of California gardening.

Now, Sunset garden editor Johanna Silver has published “The Bold Dry Garden,” a tribute to the 108-year old garden creator and to her renowned eponymous garden. It recounts Bancroft’s life and offers her plant tips and techniques complemented by lush photography by Marion Brenner.

Both Silver and Brenner will present an illustrated lecture, “The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons From the Bold Dry Garden,” at a wine reception and book signing Wednesday at the Marin Art Garden Center.

Bancroft, the daughter of a Latin professor at UC Berkeley, initially studied architecture there but gave it up for home economics teaching after the 1929 stock market crash.

She married Phillip Bancroft Jr., and raised their three children on his family’s 400-acre Walnut Creek ranch of pears and walnuts.

“The garden around their family home is a classic California flower garden with a riot of color,” says Antonia Adezio, the executive director of the Marin Art Garden Center in Ross.

Bancroft’s fascination with succulents — their shapes, colors and survival strategies — began much later though, and through her extensive research, Bancroft would become a leading authority on them.

“She started collecting small specimens from around the world and visiting growers throughout California to build her collection, all in pots,” Adezio says.

When her collection outgrew the greenhouses she built to house it, “her husband Phil offered her the last remaining lot of once-vast walnut orchards adjoining their home, leaving a new two-acre plot in which Ruth planted out her collection,” Adezio says.

Lester Hawkins, a garden designer who co-created the famous Western Hills Rare Plant Nursery in Sonoma County helped Bancroft lay out a series of meandering paths and curved, mounded beds to provide good drainage for the desert plants.

“Native California trees and shrubs provided shade and additional seasonal interest,” Adezio says, “And, before long, the collection of succulents, once grown in small pots, grew to maturity and the garden became a dramatic statement of color, texture, and form, a reflection of Ruth’s training as an architect and a painter.”

It wasn’t until 1988, when noted English gardener Penelope Hobhouse told another noted garden creator, the late Frank Cabot, about “the best American garden she had ever seen,” that Ruth Bancroft’s garden cemented its future.

“Ruth’s garden is a fantasy world filled with unusual shapes and textures and whose scale is both huge and tiny, with something to look at in every direction,” Adezio explains. “The meticulous arrangement of plants combined to complement one another is a hallmark of Ruth’s style, and each bed is a carefully composed picture. There is nothing natural about it and yet the effect is of a natural landscape fine-tuned by an expert eye.”

Hobhouse’s comment prompted Cabot and his wife to visit Bancroft’s garden, and upon discovering there were no preservation plans in place for it, Anne Cabot suggested her husband start a garden conservancy.

With that, the Garden Conservancy, now a national organization that preserves exceptional gardens and opens them to the public, was launched.

Cabot hired Adezio to help start the organization (which she ultimately presided over until 2012) and the two visited Ruth and the garden together in 1989, to start the process of preserving it.

Bancroft still occasionally tours what is now known as the Ruth Bancroft Garden (www.ruthbancroftgarden.org) in a motorized chair.

Besides showcasing Bancroft’s strong aesthetic and rigorous design standard, Adezio says, “the garden radiates the dedication and commitment of one person doing something much greater than she set out to do, and leaving a lasting legacy for gardeners to enjoy.”

Don’t-miss event

• The Espenet Studio will open its doors for the Bolinas Stinson Beach Open Studios from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Saturday at 1100 Olema-Bolinas Road in Bolinas for visitors interested in locally crafted furniture. Call 415-868-1542.

PJ Bremier writes on home, garden, design and entertaining topics every Saturday and also on her blog at DesignSwirl.co. She may be contacted at P.O. Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at pj@pjbremier.com.

***

If you go

What: “The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden”

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 30

Where: Marin Art Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Ross

Admission: $25

Information: 415-455-5260, www.magc.org/events

Article source: http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20161125/FEATURES/161129899

Monacan resting place dedicated to late chief

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Article source: http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/monacan-resting-place-dedicated-to-late-chief/article_aed585aa-b4f9-11e6-a29f-93c79a852439.html

For Christmas, give these books to the gardener/reader in your life …

With the arrival of winter in Maine, gardening moves inside and into the realm of the imagination. Gardeners exchange rakes and hoes for books, and turn from cultivating gardens to cultivating their (horticultural) minds. It’s merely a coincidence that many of us enjoy receiving books as gifts.

Here are some of the gardening books I’ve read this year and can recommend.

A few others to read

781041-herbs781041-herbs• “Herb Gardening: How to Prepare the Soil, Choose Your Plants, and Care For, Harvest, and Use Your Herbs.” By Melissa Snyder. Countryman Press, 264 pages, $19.95.

A comprehensive book with an easygoing, conversational style, “Herb Gardening” offers everything the herb gardener needs to know.

• “The Rooftop Growing Guide: How to Transform Your Roof into a Vegetable Garden or Farm.” By Annie Novak. Penguin Random House, 256 pages. $23.

Rooftop gardens have been a trend for a decade or more. “The Rooftop Growing Guide” describes how to plant one, from figuring out weights to picking the right plants to dealing with pests.

• “Garden Design Bible.” By Matt James. Mitchell Beazley, 256 pages. $34.99.

• “Garden Design Bible” offers 40 different garden designs – ranging from small balconies to entire estates – each of which you can create, depending on what sort of outdoor space you have.


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 “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World.” By Peter Wohlleben. Greystone Books, 272 pages. $24.99.

1114315_781041 trees.jpg1114315_781041 trees.jpgTrees are a social species. They intertwine their roots, sharing nutrients so that healthy trees can assist those that are ailing. Huge stumps of old trees may be fed by smaller, healthy nearby trees (the stump’s children, perhaps?), getting a bit of chlorophyl, which prevents them from rotting long after they really should have.

Trees warn their neighbors of trouble. When the leaves of an acacia are eaten by a giraffe in Africa, for example, that tree gives off a scent warning nearby trees it is in danger. The neighboring trees then send poisons to their leaves so the giraffe will leave them alone.

“The Hidden Life of Trees,” which contains these nuggets of information, is the most fascinating plant-related book I have read this year. In addition to describing trees’ social network, the book explains why old-growth, wild forests are healthier than planted forests, and it predicts how forests will react to climate change.

Author Peter Wohlleben is a forester in Germany, so the book concentrates on the beech forests where he works. But the principles are easily transferred to the oak-maple-pine-fir forests of Maine.

 “Heirloom Plants: A Complete Compendium of Heritage Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs Flowers.” By Thomas Etty and Lorraine Harrison. Ball Publishing, 224 pages. $29.99.

“Heirloom Plants” is filled with drawings; it’s designed like an old-fashioned garden catalog. It is the kind of book that’s perfect to dip into when you want to look something up or spend a few minutes learning something new.

The book opens by defining what heritage plants are and presenting arguments for growing, saving and swapping the seeds of open-pollinated plants. Among the reasons you should, it says: by saving the seeds of plants you grow, you can create what are known as landrace seeds, which are precisely adapted to your specific garden.

 “All the Presidents’ Gardens.” By Marta McDowell. Timber Press, 236 pages. $29.95.

1114315_781041 presidents.jpg1114315_781041 presidents.jpgBecause the geography of America is so diverse, it would be impossible to write a history of gardening in the United States – a work like that would run to many volumes. Instead, Marta McDowell writes a history of the gardens of American presidents. She uses presidential gardens as a lens through which to examine gardening trends over the centuries and to give insights into the personalities of the presidents themselves.

Up to James Monroe (1817-1825), all of the presidents were serious farmers, and in the early years of our nation, the White House gardens provided food for the president and his family. Later on, flowers superseded vegetables in importance (although with First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden, the pendulum may have swung back), and a greenhouse was built on the grounds.

Over the decades, the head gardeners at the White House have changed less frequently than the First Families, and occasional conflicts have arisen between the gardeners and the families. Whether you approach “All the Presidents’ Gardens” from the perspective of gardening or history, you’ll find the book informative and entertaining.

• “Shakespeare’s Gardens.” By Jackie Bennett with photographs by Andrew Lawson. Frances Lincoln Press, 192 pages. $40.

1114315_781041 shakespeare.jpg1114315_781041 shakespeare.jpgBeyond some bare facts and the plays and sonnets themselves, scholars know surprisingly little about William Shakespeare’s life. But now writer Jackie Bennett has pulled together plenty of facts about the gardens he knew, lived in or created – many of which can still be visited in England today.

Naturally, those gardens have changed in the 400 years since the playwright’s death, changes that Bennett outlines in her totally entertaining book.

“Shakespeare’s Gardens” also addresses how Shakespeare described plants in his works – which he did often – and it explains the symbolism of those plants.

• “The Homebrewer’s Garden: How to Easily Grow, Prepare and Use Your Own Hops, Malts and Brewing Herbs.” By Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher. Storey Publishing, 224 pages. $16.95.

This is the second edition update of a 1998 book by two brothers who are organic farmers in Winterport. The book is in four parts: The first part details growing hops, from how to get started to dealing with hops pests, including the Japanese beetle. Next comes sections on herbs you can add to beer, malts you can grow and finally recipes. With the boom in Maine brewing, there could well be a home brewer in your life – this book would make a handy gift.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: [email protected]


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Article source: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/27/maine-gardenerfor-christmas-give-these-books-to-the-gardenerreader-in-your-life/

Column: Tricks to make your home more comfortable

One of the wonderful things about living in Hawaii is landscaping with lush tropical plants. Blessed with daily sunshine, fertile volcanic soil, frequent rain, and a year-round growing cycle, we can quickly transform our yards into exotic gardens.

Utilizing tropical friendly landscape designs can make a significant difference in your home’s comfort level. Unless you live on the west side of the Kohala Coast, or at another arid location in Hawaii, placing plants too close to your home and planting trees that shade your home will increase the humidity level of your home, while decreasing air flow and sunlight entering into the home.

After it rains, sunshine plays an essential role in drying out the home and the ground surrounding it. Shade trees and other plants planted near the home create a moist environment which increase humidity levels.

We feel more comfortable when humidity levels inside the home are lower than 50 percent. When humidity levels increase above 60 percent, not only do we feel hot and sticky, mold flourishes. If you feel you are suffering from vog, and the humidity level in and around your home is consistently above 60 percent, you may be suffering from the ill effects of excessive mold spores, rather than vog. An inexpensive and relatively easy method to combat mold is to apply a fungicide on the siding of your home and under the eaves at least once every two years.

To reduce maintenance while creating a better living environment, landscape the perimeter of the home in a manner that directs water to flow away from the foundation. Low growing plants, like asparagus fern and society garlic are ideal to plant within six feet of the home. When possible use crushed volcanic rock as ground cover and use drip irrigation when planting near the home.

Cutting back and removing overgrown plants enhances the appeal of your home while reducing humidity levels. It only takes a few years before attractive smaller plants, bushes and trees to become overgrown and unattractive. Unless you are landscaping with plants that have a limited height, you should anticipate re-planting every two to three years.

Keep in mind that if you are fortunate enough to have an ocean view, good neighbors in Hawaii do not plant trees behind or on the side of their homes. So if those trees you planted some years ago have grown tall enough to block your neighbor’s view, your neighbors will most likely want to lend a hand when you trim them back or remove them, while you benefit from the added comfort of your home.

Blessington is a resident of Kailua-Kona.

Article source: http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-features/column-tricks-make-your-home-more-comfortable

Garden Notes: What about a turkey season?


Turkeys nibble at sprouting corn in West Tisbury.
– Susan Safford

Being grateful for what one is given takes work, but is often the path to contentment. “Every disadvantage has its advantages,” a quote from the Dutch soccer great Johan Cruyff, has been a key quote in our gardens; over all, a pretty good year.

Thanksgiving and turkey day, coming right up. And, increasingly year ’round, coming to a garden near you, it has also been “turkey day.” The flocks roaming their preferred ranges on the Island have swelled to substantial numbers. The damage they can do to a garden is substantial as well.

We were mystified at the damage occurring — rodents? — in a compact Vineyard Haven flower bed, up against a house wall, to plants that are known to be immune to that sort of thing; but the cause became clear when we saw the turkey phalanx boldly advancing across the lawn one day, as we were finishing up.

Another garden, this one off South Road, Chilmark, contains a small, fully fenced vegetable patch; the Tuscan kale the owner specifically requested kept disappearing, with nothing else touched. Several replantings later, the culprit was seen to be a hen turkey, flying into and out of the enclosure. She had apparently developed quite a choosy nutritional sense.

No one knows just how many feral turkeys roam the Island, but they are increasing here. Perhaps our human nutritional sense could be developed to the point of petitioning to open a season on them?

Currently the season for wild turkey in Massachusetts is Oct. 24 through Nov. 5. Because here they are not wild but escaped domestic turkeys (“feral”), originally enlisted as an economical tick control, sportsmen are apparently not allowed to shoot them. Over the years our family has had many Thanksgiving dinners that featured game; I anticipate feral turkey gracing the holiday table in future.

Wild turkey recipe

A recipe for wild turkey in “Eat, Drink and Be Merry in Maryland” (compiled by Frederick Philip Stieff, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1932), found among those for marsh rabbit (muskrat), rabbit pie, and roast quail, suggests dressing the bird and letting it hang outside on a porch for six or seven days if the weather is cool: “Prepare stuffing with fine bread crumbs and chestnuts as follows: Boil chestnuts until mealy, and mash them up fine. Put one half bread crumbs and one half chestnuts with some butter and mix up well. Stuff the turkey with this filling. Put in oven to roast, putting plenty of butter on turkey, also some small strips of bacon. Cover same with a cloth. While roasting baste thoroughly, and when turkey is about done, take the cloth off and brown it thoroughly. Put salt and pepper on turkey with butter before starting to roast.” (That’s it — no numbers, no temps, no times. Evidently, 84 years ago people just knew how to cook.)

Leaf harvest

After unseasonable delay, leaf fall is finally here. The upside of the delay may be that local drought-stressed trees have been able to claw back some vitality from the extended season. At least this week’s sleet was not early snow; when that happened some years ago in Vermont, it was a disaster for in-leaf trees, with broken limbs and fallen trees widespread.

It should also be noted that trees and many other plants like the mulch of their own debris. When we go into the woods, there is no raked and bare soil! While we think that cleanup is a responsible element of home ownership or gardening and landscaping, this is an entirely human approach, one of “lookism,” not one that benefits trees, shrub borders, and their surrounding soil. Lawns are a different matter; removing matted leaves does benefit them.

For gardeners, the harvest of leaf fall may be viewed similarly to all the other harvests, but this is a harvest of humus, carbon (the “brown” component of compost), and soil tilth. Stockpile them or run them through a mulching mower.

Leaf litter in beds and borders may be a plus, depending upon one’s own point of view. The litter keeps soils soft and protected from erosion, and performs many of the functions of laid mulch. However, like laid mulch, litter may obscure the presence of weed seedlings, moles, voles, and chipmunks.

Commence pruning of shrubs and trees once leaves have fallen and plants are dormant: Look for crossing or rubbing branches. Rubbing opens wounds in shrubs’ and trees’ bark. Crossing branches may be no more harmful than merely interfering with a tree’s aesthetics, but generally, a branch growing toward the center of the crown is better removed.

A leaf muddle is shorthand for accumulations of leaves lodging in plants’ interiors, especially of evergreens, and typically occurs in such as yews, boxwood, shrub hollies, and other broad-leaved evergreens. Remove them before snow or ice catches there and their weight deforms or breaks the plants. Leaf muddles have also been known to house rodents that gnaw the underlying bark.

Pluck boxwood (englishboxwoods.com/?p=130) to grow stockier plants less prone to breaking open under snow and ice load. The pluckings can be recycled into holiday decorations, or used to fill window boxes and containers. While clearing leaf muddles, take time to check how whippy the plants are. If they are bendy and split open easily, bundle loosely with twine or wrap with burlap.

Dahlia digging

New thoughts on dahlia digging by Matt Mattus are at his Growing With Plants blog, bit.ly/digDahlias, including his recommendation to dig them before tops have been blackened by frost, and then washing and dividing tubers immediately. The reason is that for a short interval, a warty section of stem shows where new growth will sprout.

Drain rain barrels. Clear gutters. Thanksgiving cactus: Keep in bright indirect light, and water when the soil is dry.

Article source: http://www.mvtimes.com/2016/11/24/garden-notes-turkey-season/