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Archives for December 9, 2016

The Gallery | Morgan Tucker wins Blackpool project

Situated in the Blackpool Winter Gardens, the £25M development will be 6,000m2, and will boast a conference hall, exhibition gallery and break out spaces.

The building will be erected on the grounds of a former car park, situated between the Empress Ballroom and the Opera House, creating a large, multi-functional space within the complex.

The centre aims to boost Blackpool Winter Gardens’ capacity to around 7,000 visitors.

Morgan Tucker will complete civil engineering services throughout the planning and construction phases of the project, including offering advice on hard landscaping specifications and the sustainability of surface water drainage. The company’s structural engineers will also design the building’s foundation, superstructure and any external infrastructure.

“We are really proud to be part of this prestigious development, especially due to the prominence it has within the Blackpool Council project portfolio and its plans for the future. For many years, the Winter Gardens were home to the annual party conferences and it is hoped that this development will lead to the return of these and other major events,” said Morgan Tucker regional director Tim Dungate.

“The project is a truly national one for us, with engineers, technicians and support staff from a number of our sites providing expertise and support on this job. We’re looking forward to the project commencing.”

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California grass blues

Growing up in midcentury California, we’d see the spiky sapphire domes growing at homes in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Large Japanese communities had grown up in all these ports. Many of them ran exceptional small neighborhood nurseries that specialized in Asian plants, bonsai and landscaping. Gradually the influence of their cultural designs became more prevalent in Los Angeles.

Out of the suffering in World War II, the Sunset Magazine garden style emerged, which blended elements of this Japanese garden legacy with clean lines of modern homes. Since childhood, the one plant that best achieved this synthesis in my mind is blue fescue. Though not a Japanese plant per se, it was picked up in these communities to use in Japanese dry gravel streambeds and small gravel and rock yards. The only ornamental grass available at the time was pampas grass and residents are still fighting the remnants of these monster Argentinean grasses a century later.

The beauty of Festuca glauca is it originates in the south of France to maintain both with surprising cold hardiness coupled with a tolerance of dry heat. Its home in limestone soils and sandstone crevices shows why it is a small grass, the species about 10 inches tall and a foot wide. This makes blue fescue a perfect companion for other Mediterranean species, as well as most succulents, which share similar water requirements.

The earliest use of these puffs was in the late 1950s, when gardeners filled problem open areas between driveway and front door with dry stream beds of natural cobbles. There’d be a small tree, a Japanese maple or for spring a tulip magnolia. Boulders created balance when accented by these little blue grasses as individuals and in colonies. It was common to add a few dark green irises to this template composition to imply the presence of water in dry climates.

When blue fescue blooms, its character changes. Needle fine flower stems rise many inches above the foliage topped with flowers identical to those big grasses but in miniature. They grow pale with age until the top becomes a blonde haze over the blue dome that vibrates with the breeze. They are stunning backlit by the setting sun. Many prefer to trim these to keep the blue sphere perfectly shaped, particularly for precise modern designs.

There are many different named varieties of Festuca glauca that offer larger sized plants or more or less blue color. Most are reliably hardy in Zone 4. Special blue fescues are bred for heavy soils and moist climates of northern Europe because they prefer rapid drainage and a drier season. Getting the right one for your microclimate is key to longevity: about four years. ‘Elijah Blue’ (Zone 4) has long been used in Western horticulture and is widely available, but your local garden center will verify which ones do best where you live.

With so many gardens using stone and gravel these days, this little blue grass is key to achieving great looks in small spaces without a lot of water. Where there is adequate rainfall they will thrive, but in most areas regular irrigation is required.

Blue fescue makes a great container plant for the contemporary or modern terrace, roof garden or use at poolside, where its vivid color is not dependent on flowers to look its best. Uniformity of growth allows some interesting opportunities for repetitive elements. Their texture and form is the perfect offset for dark green columnar cactus and small golden barrels.

With so many gardens using stone and gravel these days, this little blue grass is key to achieving great looks in small spaces without a lot of water. Just remember that though fescue is evergreen, you’ll want to shear it back gently at the end of winter to renew the foliage. Then all that’s left to do is wait for the blooms and decide whether or not you keep the flowers.


Maureen Gilmer is an author, horticulturist and landscape designer. Learn more at

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The gardener in your life will really dig these books! Horticultural experts dish the dirt on their best landscaping …

GARDENISTA by Michelle Slatalla (Artisan £28.99)

GARDENISTA by Michelle Slatalla (Artisan £28.99)


by Michelle Slatalla (Artisan £28.99)

Michelle Slatalla is a former columnist for the New York Times and the editor-in-chief of the Gardenista website. Her ‘definitive guide to stylish outdoor spaces’ begins with a ‘gardenista manifesto’: ten rules for the style-conscious gardener.

They include such homely aphorisms as ‘a hedge makes a better neighbour than a fence’, ‘plant for the garden you will have five years from now’, and ‘buy beautiful tools and you will enjoy using them for a lifetime’ — the latter a sharp reproof to those of us still using the bog-standard secateurs we bought at a DIY warehouse.

Among the aspirational gardens featured is that of Michelle herself and her husband, Josh, who embellished their Spanish Revival bungalow with a planting inspired by New York’s High Line.

With ravishing photographs and handy advice on how to ‘steal the look’, this is a superlatively elegant guide to making the most of your outdoor space.


CAPABILITY BROWN AND HIS LANDSCAPE GARDENS by Sarah Rutherford (National Trust £20)

CAPABILITY BROWN AND HIS LANDSCAPE GARDENS by Sarah Rutherford (National Trust £20)


by Sarah Rutherford (National Trust £20)

The great landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was born 300 years ago this year.

The son of a land agent, he worked for the designer and landscape architect William Kent, and became the most sought-after garden designer of his age.

He created naturalistic landscapes at Blenheim Palace, Harewood House, Warwick Castle and many others that survive today.

The garden historian Sarah Rutherford celebrates Brown’s enduring influence on English gardening style and our ideas of English landscape in this handsomely illustrated account of his life and work.

The secret of Brown’s success, Rutherford claims, was his instinctive sense of framing a landscape that looked both natural and beautiful.


THENFORD, THE CREATION OF AN ENGLISH GARDEN by Michael and Anne Heseltine (Head of Zeus £40)

THENFORD, THE CREATION OF AN ENGLISH GARDEN by Michael and Anne Heseltine (Head of Zeus £40)


by Michael and Anne Heseltine (Head of Zeus £40) 

The 18th-century satirist Voltaire suggested that in troubled times, the best thing to do is cultivate one’s garden.

Michael Heseltine, the former Conservative deputy Prime Minister, has taken this advice to heart. 

With the help of their garden designer, the late Lanning Roper, and their head gardener, Darren Webster, Heseltine and his wife Anne have turned the garden at their Northamptonshire home, Thenford, into a landscape of immense grandeur, with ambitious plantings and a wealth of sometimes startling sculpture.

This richly illustrated coffee-table book explains the creative process in detail, from the hourly rate (£6.25) paid to a labourer who rebuilt a stone wall, to the installation of sculpture, including a 9ft head of Lenin acquired from the former Soviet Union.

 From Thenford: The Creation of an English Garden Book by Anne Heseltine and Michael Heseltine

 From Thenford: The Creation of an English Garden Book by Anne Heseltine and Michael Heseltine


LIVES OF THE GREAT GARDENERS by Stephen Anderton (Thames  Hudson £24.95)

LIVES OF THE GREAT GARDENERS by Stephen Anderton (Thames Hudson £24.95)


by Stephen Anderton (Thames Hudson £24.95)

What makes a great gardener? Perhaps the single quality that unites the 40 men and women in Stephen Anderton’s collection of gardening lives is a certain tenacity, or stubbornness, in pursuing their vision.

His gardeners encompass a vast range of era and backgrounds, from Andre Le Notre, who created the Sun King’s gardens at Versailles, and Charles Jencks (‘a great provocateur of the horticultural establishment’) to Ian Hamilton Finlay, who made Stonypath (an aphoristic literary garden south of Edinburgh, otherwise known as Little Sparta) and Rosemary Verey, ‘queen bee of English country house gardening’, whose clients included Elton John and the Prince of Wales.


NEW WILD GARDEN Ian Hodgson (Frances Lincoln £25)

NEW WILD GARDEN Ian Hodgson (Frances Lincoln £25)


Ian Hodgson (Frances Lincoln £25)

A ‘wild’ garden is, of course, no such thing, but an artificial landscape, ingeniously planned and constructed to appear entirely natural.

In this guide to creating a natural-style garden, Ian Hodgson, a landscape architect and former editor of the Royal Horticultural Society magazine, The Garden, discusses the ecological benefits of wild planting, including the provision of habitats for wildlife from insects and birds to mammals such as hedgehogs. He suggests different styles of natural garden, from urban woodland to an informal cottage garden or a wild water garden.

With plenty of colourful illustrations, and practical advice on preparing the ground, sowing a meadow and creating a natural look in small spaces (such as roof-top gardens, balconies and planters), this is a useful guide for anyone who would like to create an informal garden that provides year-round interest and a sanctuary for wildlife, but isn’t sure how to begin.


HOW DO WORMS WORK? Guy Barter (Mitchell Beazley £14.99)

HOW DO WORMS WORK? Guy Barter (Mitchell Beazley £14.99)


Guy Barter (Mitchell Beazley £14.99)

If you have a troublesome gardening query, Guy Barter may be able to help.

For more than two decades he has offered advice to gardeners on behalf of Gardening Which? and the Royal Horticultural Society, and there are few horticultural conundrums, from the serious to the whimsical, to which he cannot provide an answer.

Such pressing questions as when is a plant a weed, how can you tell a mushroom from a toadstool or the difference between a fruit and a vegetable, are briskly dealt with.

There is practical advice on attracting butterflies, making a hot bed to grow early salad crops and using beer to get rid of slugs (apparently they are less keen on Budweiser than other brands).

And when it comes to spider-proofing your shed, Barter is firmly on the side of the arachnids: ‘It seems unfeeling to deny winter accommodation to some very useful members of society.


RHAPSODY IN GREEN by Charlotte Mendelson (Kyle Books £16.99)

RHAPSODY IN GREEN by Charlotte Mendelson (Kyle Books £16.99)


by Charlotte Mendelson (Kyle Books £16.99)

The award-winning novelist Charlotte Mendelson has a garden so small that it scarcely deserves the name. An irregular shape, about 8 x 11 metres, it has ‘no bench, pond, greenhouse, nursery bed, log pile . . . nuttery or parterre’.

Still, Mendelson’s modest patch of land has inspired her with a passion for exotic vegetable growing.

This exuberant love letter to her garden is as much a celebration of the language and drama of gardening as the deed itself. Bite-sized essays, ideal for reading between the weeding and the dead-heading, record her horticultural triumphs and disasters in fine comic style.


PLANTS, BEDS AND BORDERS Katie Rushworth (Kyle Books £16.99)

PLANTS, BEDS AND BORDERS Katie Rushworth (Kyle Books £16.99)


Katie Rushworth (Kyle Books £16.99)

TV presenter Katie Rushworth may be one of a younger generation of gardening experts, but there’s nothing impetuous about her approach. ‘It is worth being absolutely clear from the beginning that gardening is not about instant satisfaction,’ she writes.

‘You must be patient. Accepting that now before you get going is probably the best advice I can give you.’

Before you buy so much as a single seed, she suggests sitting down and considering your garden’s shape, aspect and soil type, and the use you want to make of it.

How much time you have for gardening, whether you have children or pets, and whether your priorities are encouraging wildlife or growing your own food will all affect the design of your plot.

Nicely illustrated, with plant lists and sample planting plans, this is a clear and helpful guide for the novice gardener.


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COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Master Gardeners December …

Spring Flowers, Plants

Spring Flowers, Plants

Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 6:25 pm

Updated: 6:25 pm, Wed Dec 7, 2016.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Master Gardeners December gardening



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      Wednesday, December 7, 2016 6:25 pm.

      Updated: 6:25 pm.

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      Tropicanna Horticulture Release Winter Hydroponic Gardening Tips

      Derby, England — (SBWIRE) — 12/08/2016 — 2016 has been another great year for the hydroponics industry – with many gardeners and growers switching to hydroponics from more traditional, soil-based methods. This is absolutely wonderful news, however with the seasons changing and the cold weather upon is it is vital that these new hydroponics gardeners know how to look after their grows during the colder months in order to achieve the best results and minimise the risk of damage occurring. In line with this one dominant hydroponics equipment supplier, Tropicanna Horticulture, has revealed some top tips for all to consider.

      The winter hydroponics gardening tips supplier by Tropicanna Horticulture, included but were not limited to the following:

      -People growing in this way must keep a close eye on temperatures within grow tents, particularly near root zones where plants are likely to be more vulnerable to the cold. The most appropriate grow lights must be used.

      -When weather is cold and days are short, light and heat must be contained in grow tents even more than usual – this can be achieved using effective insulation which is available from all leading hydroponics suppliers.

      -Humidity levels must be maintained as it is very important that plants do not dry out. Some plants can be misted with water to assist in growth, however always check before doing this as some plants are more susceptible to mould than others.

      A spokesperson from the company was incredibly keen to comment saying, “These are of course only some of the available winter hydroponics gardening tips, we advise all hydroponic beginners who are unsure about anything to simply give us a call so that we can supply the most appropriate advice for their individual set-ups and grows. We are more than happy to help all with any questions – as passionate hydroponics enthusiasts, our main aim is to allow others to grow hydroponically to the very best of their abilities.”

      About Tropicanna Horticulture
      Tropicanna Horticulture is a leading hydroponics supplier, offering everything that is needed for hydroponic growing, from complete grow tent kits containing everything that is needed to grow hydroponically, to individual hydroponics items such as digital lighting and more. For further information and to view their superior collections, simply visit their website today.

      PR Contact:
      Company name: Tropicanna Horticulture Ltd
      Contact name: Mike Stimpson
      Tel: 01332 348787
      Address: Unit 1A, Upperdale Yard Colombo Street Derby DE23 8LW the best press release distribution service!

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      This Week in the Garden: Winter bloomers can bring holiday cheer

      Thanksgiving cactus, or Schlumbergera truncate, produce complicated flowers in red, pink, magenta or white.

      Thanksgiving cactus, or Schlumbergera truncate, produce complicated flowers in red, pink, magenta or white.

      Like many gardeners, I enjoy decorating my home for the winter holidays using items that come from nature. Especially if the decorations are living, they bring the great outdoors inside, where we can enjoy them no matter what the weather is like. If they also provide color, they can be spots of cheer on chilly winter days. So what can be found in local shops that provides colorful flowers now in the shortest days of the year?

      • Poinsettias of course are available everywhere and are relatively inexpensive. Growers have created an array of colors and patterns in addition to the traditional red. They now include various pinks, creamy white and cranberry, many with swirls, splashes and dots of contrasting hues. Most of us think of poinsettias as plants to enjoy through the holidays, then, as flowering time ends, to discard. However, in Southern California the plants are often planted outdoors and can become enormous hedges. If you are in a warmer location, you could try planting out-of-bloom poinsettias outdoors and see what happens.

      • Orchids have also become widely available and inexpensive, and they offer a vast array of colors. Flowers of purple and violet, yellow and orange shades as well as reds, pinks and whites fill the shelves of any shop that sells these exotic plants, and many of the flowers have intricate patterning and form. Some are even fragrant, and many bloom throughout the winter months and are well-adapted to home interiors. If you do select one or more of these plants to take home with you, ask the shop for care sheets since the needs of different species can vary quite a bit. You will have healthier longer-lived orchids if you meet their preferences for temperature range, light exposure, watering and drainage.

      • Another exotic winter-flowering plant, the so-called zygocactus, comes from the mountains of South and Central America where it grows, like many orchids, in the crotches of trees where debris collects. This tells us that it likes a humus-rich but well-draining soil. There are actually several species from which to choose. Usually blooming first is the Thanksgiving cactus or Schlumbergera truncate. These blossoming jewels produce complicated flowers in red, pink, magenta or white and the tips of each “leaf” have two or three jagged points. Less common and with flowering usually beginning in December is the Christmas cactus or S. bridgesii; to identify this species, look for smooth rounded or scalloped edges on the leaves. The two species are often mislabeled but all bloom prolifically if their needs are met.

      As with poinsettias, flowering is triggered by shortening day-lengths. If you have an old plant that is reluctant to bloom, next year try this: In September, stop feeding and decrease watering to once weekly. In October, move the plant to a cool, dim windowsill, where it should remain until leaf tips sport bright buds. If your plant still refuses to set buds, give it 12-hour nights in a dark closet for three weeks, and only dim light during daytime.

      During the rest of the year, your zygos will be happy outdoors in a shaded location, and for better growth, and thus more blossoms, keep vigorous growth coming along with every-other-day waterings, and frequent doses of all-purpose plant food. Summer is also the time to pinch off segments to encourage branching. The broken segments can be placed in small pots with good quality potting soil where they will readily root and become new plants. These often flower their very first year.

      • If you’d prefer a flowering plant that is particularly undemanding, take a look at the several species of bromeliads available locally. Also coming from the mountainous tropics where they cling to mossy tree branches, they receive frequent downpours but the moisture quickly drains away, telling us these plants want shaded conditions and excellent drainage. Many have a leaf structure that forms a water-retaining cup or tank in the center of the plant. When you water, fill the tank as well as applying water to the potting soil. (Fertilizer should only be applied around the base of the plant, not in the cup.) They need only infrequent feeding. Most bromeliads flower only once in their lifetime but that one flower can last for months. And during the flowering period, the plant will produce offsets or “pups” at the base of the mother plant. These pups can be separated and planted in separate containers to grow into new plants. Visit for detailed information on how to handle these pups.

      And check your favorite garden center for many other plants that can thrive indoors and that will brighten your home during the holidays.

      Garden tips are provided courtesy of horticulturist Sharon Hull of the San Lorenzo Garden Center. Contact her at 831-423-0223.

      Article source:

      Garden Tips: American persimmon good to grow in Tri-City region – Tri

      When it comes to your favorite tree fruit, the persimmon is probably not at the top of the list. It may not be on your list at all.

      Persimmons are roundish to oblong red, orange or yellow fruit with a unique flavor. When ripe, they can be eaten out-of-hand or used for making pudding, jam, chutney and baked goods.

      Oriental persimmons were first introduced to the U.S. for cultivation in the late 1800s.

      There are various species of persimmons, but the two main edible species are the American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, and the Oriental persimmon, Diospyros kaki. Persimmon aficionados say that American persimmons typically have smaller, seedier fruit about the size of a plum, with flesh that is astringent unless fully ripe. Oriental persimmons have larger, usually seedless fruit about the size of a peach with better flavor when ripe.

      Oriental persimmons are native to Japan, China, Korea, Burma and Nepal. They were first introduced to the U.S. for cultivation in the late 1800s. Cultivated varieties of Oriental persimmons are divided into two groups, one with astringent fruit and the other with non-astringent fruit. The astringent types must be fully ripe and soft before they are ready to eat, while the non-astringent ones can be eaten when ripe but before they soften.

      Oriental persimmon trees are fairly small, growing to about 12 feet tall, and start bearing fruit at about 2 to 3 years of age. With few insect or disease problems, they typically do not require regular pesticide sprays.

      With few insect or disease problems, Oriental persimmons typically do not require regular pesticide sprays.

      If you are a backyard gardener who may want to try growing Oriental persimmons, consider that they are only hardy down to zero degrees, or United States Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 7. With most of our region designated as Zone 6B to 7, Oriental persimmons are only marginally hardy here. A severe cold winter freeze could cause significant damage. Also, Oriental persimmons do best in full sun, but their bark is subject to sunburn on the south and southwest sides. Their trunks will need protection from the sun especially when the tree is young. Most cultivars of the Oriental persimmon are considered self-fertile, meaning that they do not require cross pollination to produce fruit.

      The native or American persimmon is native to the eastern U.S., but it has also come under cultivation and there are a number of improved cultivated varieties available. In addition to its fruit, the American persimmon is prized for its strong, hard wood.

      The American persimmon is hardy down to minus 25 degrees, or USDA hardiness zone 4, making them fully hardy in our region. Native specie trees can grow to 35 to 60 feet tall, but they are slow growing. Nurserymen say they can be kept to a height of 10 to 12 feet with some pruning.

      The American persimmon is hardy down to minus 25 degrees, or USDA hardiness zone 4, making them fully hardy in our region.

      One obstacle to growing American persimmons is that they are dioecious, meaning that a tree produces only female flowers or only male flowers. While the female trees of certain cultivars are self-fertile and produce some fruit without a male tree nearby, they will produce a heavier crop if a male American persimmon tree is planted nearby as a source of pollen.

      Before buying or planting a persimmon tree, I recommend trying some persimmons available at grocery stores and see if you like their flavor. Even if you do not like the flavor, the trees can be very decorative in the fall with their brightly colored fruit and fall leaf color. If you decide to grow persimmons, consult your favorite local nursery or check out the cultivars available from online nurseries, and

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

      Article source: