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Archives for December 16, 2016

CCC workers vote to ditch Seamen union

Castries Constituencies Council (CCC) workers have voted to abandon the Seamen, Waterfront and General Workers trade union.

CCC workers gathered in the council yard Thursday to indicate their support for joining the National Workers Union (NWU).

Seamen Union Branch Representative, Timothy Alfred, told the Times that the workers had made up their minds to join the NWU over the alleged termination of General Secretary of the Seamen Union, Janice Eugene.

Seamen Union officials were not immediately available for comment.

However the Times was reliably informed that when the term of the last executive of the Seamen Union came to an end, Eugene refused to accept the terms of a new offer that was made to her.

November 30, 2016, is said to have been her last day on the job.


(Timothy Alfred)

Alfred said Eugene had done much for the CCC employees.

“Without her in the Seamen union CCC workers will leave the union because she had worked hard for us,” he explained.

According to Alfred, things that seemed almost  impossible for the workers to achieve at the CCC, Eugene had managed to obtain.

“She wasn’t looking at party or government,” he stated.

Alfred said as far as the CCC workers are concerned, if Eugene is not at the union they will leave.

He disclosed that most of the CCC employees had signed membership documents.

Alfred refused to name the union that the workers had opted to join, but other CCC employees identified the NWU.

He explained that about ninety CCC workers from the Works, Sanitation, Cemetery, Gardens and Landscaping Departments are members of the Seamen union.



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Alpine gardens director earns award

VAIL — Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Director Nicola Ripley was recently awarded the North American Rock Garden Societies Award of Merit. This honor is given to those who have made outstanding contributions to rock and alpine gardening and to the North American Rock Garden Society. The society is an organization for gardening enthusiasts interested in alpine, saxatile, and low-growing perennials. 

Ripley is a leader in public gardening in North America. She was elected chairman of the board of the American Public Garden Association, a consortium of nearly 585 public gardens.

“Her lectures on funding, construction and planting of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens have been inspiring,” said David Sellars, a regular contributor in Rock Garden Quarterly and North American Rock Garden Societies member. “Nicola has done a wonderful job of outreach in her role as Director of Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. She has clearly made a difference to the development of a unique garden in a very special location that promotes rock gardening to a wider public.”

As director, Ripley has expanded the role of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens to conduct research on rare montane and alpine plants of her region. Together, they are actively monitoring several species near Vail. Betty Ford Alpine Gardens has initiated collaborations with other gardens and agencies to study the effects of global warming on alpine plants and the gardens has always promoted awareness of the need for conservation and sensible landscaping in Colorado — becoming a tourist attraction that has raised the awareness of rock gardening to the tourists who visit Colorado in the summer. With more than 3,000 alpine and native plants, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens also holds the National Colorado Alpine Collection through the North American Plant Collections Consortium.

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Gardening: Time to curl up with a good book

Now that Mother Nature has closed up shop in the garden, it’s time to dive into some great green reading. Here’s what’s next to my easy chair this month.

Hot off the press is a book by Michigan’s rising horticultural star and self-proclaimed, obsessive plant geek, Joseph Tychonievich. His second book is “Rock Gardening: Reimagining a Classic Style” (Timber Press, $34.95). Joseph takes us on a pictorial tour of 50 fabulous private and public rock gardens throughout the United States and the United Kingdom to show a range of garden design. Then he presents a practical how-to section delving into the techniques and methods specific to creating and maintaining a rock garden, large or small, that will work for every need – from collections of hyper tufa troughs, to dish gardens, to hillsides covered in scree. And finally, Tychonievich provides a palette of 50 rock garden plants to select from to make a dream garden a reality.

Ecological and sustainable gardening are more than just hot buttons with today’s gardening crowd. Young and old alike are looking for keys to creating healthier landscapes and happier gardeners who aren’t required to spend hours weeding and manicuring their yards. “Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be A Source of Environmental Change” by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher (Timber Press, $39.95), shows how an ecological approach to planting can lead to beautiful gardens that buck much of conventional gardening’s counter-productive and time-consuming practices.

The advice comes from Weaner’s hands on experience – a lifetime of garden design, installation and management and while the projects are mostly large acreage efforts, there’s much for the average homeowner to learn from and use.

New homeowners who inherited older gardens and landscapes and those who want to do some updating are often at a loss as to where to start. Troy Marden’s book “Plant This Instead: Better Plant Choices” (Cool Springs Press, $24.99) looks at older annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines and ground covers and recommends newer varieties or better alternatives, providing longer and better blooms, easier care, drought tolerance and more. Marden also includes tips on plant placement and care to help ensure success.

“The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks,” by Amy Stewart (Algonquin Press, $19.95) is a great read for gardeners who hang with those who think artisanal alcohol is all the rage. Stewart’s fascinating mix of history, biology, chemistry, etymology, and mixology – with more than 50 drink recipes and growing tips for gardeners, makes for interesting conversation with the cocktail crowd. Published in 2013, it remains atop the Amazon’s best-seller book list.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnewscom/homestyle.

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Do this and your greenery will stay fresh and safe indoors – Belleville News

Q. We have a number of evergreen trees and shrubs and would like to cut them for indoor Christmas decorations. Give us some help on choosing which ones work the best and is there any way to make them fire-proof?

M.K. of Collinsville

A. Some of the best evergreens to cut for indoor decorations are balsam and Douglas firs, yews, hollies, boxwood and junipers.

Pine branches are attractive in indoor decorations, but this is not the correct time to prune them (which is in late spring when the “candles” have grown out — they help to thicken the number of new branches that develop). But you can prune any branches that are inconspicuous and won’t be noticed if pruned.

Hemlocks and spruce tend to drop their needles quickly and should be avoided for indoor use. Barberry, English ivy, rhododendron and seed pods dried from magnolias add additional color. Don’t forget to use any dropped cones, seedpods and colorful berries.

To make these cuttings last longer and not be a fire hazard as they age and dry, you should not place them near fireplaces, heat ducts, televisions, candles and other sources of heat and flame.

Place the cut ends of the branches in a 50-50 water/lemon-lime soda solution. This will help the conductive tissue of the plants remain open for the uptake of the watery solution. It will also slow the growth of bacteria.

You can also make a homemade flame retardant by combining four tablespoons of boric acid and nine tablespoons of borax with two quarts of water. Spray on the foliage with a quart spray bottle.

A different recipe calls for five tablespoon of borax and four tablespoons of Epsom salts to a quart of water. These retardants are not foolproof, especially when the branches and needles and leaves become dry and brittle.

Q. When does one add additional soil or other type of covering of mulch to protect roses during the winter?

L. H. of Belleville

A. Now that the weather is starting to get cold and ground will begin freezing (usually in very late November and December), you would want to add at least a 12-inch mound of soil or mulch around the base of the rose bush to insulate the graft union. If you add this covering too early, the roses will not go dormant and continue to hold leaves and freeze and prevent the rose bush from going dormant.

Q. We have friends which are very good gardeners and always want to select their own plants. Any ideas for Christmas gifts?

D. S. of O’Fallon

A. Hand tools such as hand pruners or long-handle loppers, hand trowels, bulb drills and gardening books (once you find out what type of plants are their favorites) make good gifts. A gift certificate to a garden center, greenhouse or seed catalog would be appreciated, too. There’s always a gift certificate to the Missouri Botanical Garden as it can also be used in certain other U.S. botanical gardens.

Things to do this week:

Check your soil for moisture and if the area is on the dry side, apply water just before you put the hose away.

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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Gardening tips for the winter

By Melissa Koesler

Garvin County

Extension Director

• Lawn Turf – Remove leaves from cool-season grasses or mow with a mulching mower. (HLA-6420). Continue mowing cool-season lawns on a regular basis. (HLA-6420).

Continue to control broadleaf weeds in well-established warm- or cool-season lawns with a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer.

• Tree Shrubs – Select a freshly cut Christmas tree. Make a new cut prior to placing in tree stand. Add water daily.

Live Christmas trees are a wise investment, as they become permanent additions to the landscape after the holidays. Light prunings of evergreens can be used for holiday decorations. Be careful with sap that can mar surfaces.

• Flowers – Apply winter mulch to protect rose bush bud unions and other perennials. Wait until after several early freezes or you will give insects a good place to winter.

Poinsettias must have at least six hours of bright, indirect light daily. Keep plants away from drafts.

• Fruits Nuts – Cover strawberry plants with a mulch about 3 to 4 inches thick if plants are prone to winter injury. Wait to prune fruit trees until late February or March.

• General – Keep all plants watered during dry conditions even though some may be dormant. Irrigate all plantings at least 24 hours before hard-freezing weather if soil is dry. (HLA-6404)

Order gardening supplies for next season.

Now is a great time to design and make structural improvements in your garden and landscape. Send for mail-order catalogs if you are not already on their mailing lists.

Christmas gift ideas for the gardener might include tools, kneeling benches/seats, garden books and magazine subscriptions.

Clean and fill bird feeders. Make sure indoor plants are receiving enough light, or set up an indoor fluorescent plant light. Till garden plots without a cover crop to further expose garden pests to harsh winter conditions.

• January: If precipitation has been deficient (1 inch of snow = 1/10 inch of water), water lawns, trees, and shrubs, especially broadleaf and narrowleaf evergreens. Double check moisture in protected or raised planters.

• Check on supplies of pesticides. Secure a copy of current recommendations and post them in a convenient place. Dilution and quantity tables are also useful. If you did not treat young pines for tip borers in November, do so before March.

Check that gardening tools and equipment are in good repair — sharpen, paint, and repair mowers, edgers, sprayers, and dusters. Inspect your irrigation system and replace worn or broken parts.

Control overwintering insects on deciduous trees or shrubs with dormant oil sprays applied when the temperature is above 40°F in late fall and winter. Do not use “dormant” oils on evergreens. (EPP-7306)

A product containing glyphosate plus a postemergent broadleaf herbicide can be used on dormant bermudagrass in January or February when temperatures are above 50°F for winter weed control.

Fact sheets referenced in this article can be accessed via the web at – click “Fact Sheets.” They are also available at the Garvin County Extension Service, 201 W. Grant, Room 7, Courthouse, Pauls Valley.

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Teenage gardening star Huw Richards shares his top tips for winter

Gardening is sometimes thought of as an interest that develops with age, but one teenager from Ceredigion is keen to dispel that myth.

Huw Richards, 17, has grown his own vegetables since he was a young boy and says he’s now “on a mission” to help as many people as possible to grow good food inexpensively.

The youngster from Tregaron is the star of popular YouTube gardening channel HuwsNursery, which has so far notched up more than seven million views and boasts almost 40,000 subscribers.

His video tutorials range from sowing seeds to harvesting and attracting beneficial insects to your garden.

Now A-level student Huw is turning his passion into profit, even securing a grant from an initiative that supports social entrepreneurs.

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