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Archives for December 18, 2016

ASK A DESIGNER: Kitchen trends and innovations for 2017

This undated photo provided by HGTV, shows a portion of a kitchen in Ann Arbor, Mich. Concrete countertops, as shown here in the HGTV Urban Oasis 2016 kitchen designed by Brian Patrick Flynn, are very popular right now, yet their classic modern look isn’t likely to go out of style anytime soon, says Flynn. 

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The Botanic Garden’s holiday show sizes down National Park Service landmarks





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Roots of Wisdom: Reading tips for your winter mental garden

Did you see and feel the Full Cold Moon of last Tuesday night? Daily temperatures continue to fluctuate as would be expected as we proceed from fall to winter. The winter solstice on Dec. 21 marks the official beginning of winter. For this entire week, the day length stands at 9:05, and on Dec. 26 the day length gains one minute. At that day, we begin the long, slow, cold journey to spring.

How do gardeners occupy themselves during a nongardening season? There are as many ways as there are individuals seeking an alternative to mental hibernation. I, for one, choose to read, study and learn. What do I read? Everything! My focus is mostly on books, but there are a number of magazines worth spending time with.

Two periodicals published in the U.K. head the list. Gardens Illustrated, Box 37495, Boone, IA, 50037-0485, is a 114-page, beautifully illustrated and well-written magazine containing relevant articles of interest. For example: “5 Tips for Low-Maintenance Borders,” “Design Insights” and “How to Plant for Late-Season Color and Form” are just three articles of the articles offering universal interest to serious gardeners.

The second magazine, The English Garden, holds articles of equal interest and relevancy. Offering itself “for everyone who loves beautiful gardens,” the special holiday special issue contains articles on the making of “Festive Wreaths as Homegrown Decorations from the Garden” and “Brave Blooms: Plants that Flower in the Coldest Months.” Look for this 82-page wonder at the same U.S. address, except for its name and box number (The English Garden at Box 0518).

As with all books and magazines, read for ideas, concepts and golden nuggets that will expose you to information applicable to your own garden. Take yourself to a library or bookstore that offers the opportunity to examine a copy before you purchase.

Perhaps the Fine Gardening magazine published bimonthly by Taunton Press Inc., Newtown, CT 06470-5506, comes as close in quality as any foreign publication. This 86-page, well-illustrated and well-written magazine could offer you all you need to garden successfully. For many years, Taunton Press has been the acknowledged leader in offering special-purpose, inexpensive, how-to books for the homeowner.

Horticulture magazine has been around for 100 years and continues to be a helpful, general topic periodical that has a proved track record in doing what it does best – introducing homeowners to gardens and plants in eight issues a year.

The American Gardener is a thoughtful, attractive product of the American Horticultural Society, 7931 East Boulevard Drive, Alexandria, VA 22308. The selection and range of content is first-rate and the pictures used to illustrate the well-written subject matter provide careful study.

Organic Life is the new name (same message) as Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine. J.I. Rodale would be pleased to see that his message that happy, healthy living is achieved by following a chemical-free, natural, organic life style has gained considerate acceptance among the general public. His company is now led by his daughter, Maria, who has broadened its message by including to an important degree all aspects of food preparation.

Rodale, to me, has always been an environmentalist and ecologist as well as a farmer-gardener who preached a message of reverence for the Earth and health for mankind. Organic Life is composed of a hundred pages or more of well-considered articles that stress ways to live a better-organized life. Whether you accept their principles completely or selectively, you must admire their persistence.

Are there other magazines covering vegetable gardening, design, lawns, or fruit selection and culture? Spend some winter time to find out.

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Selectmen still split over Route 28 plan

CHATHAM — Rick Leavitt only spoke for a short time, but he kept repeating one point: proper landscaping and lighting will give the town the 25 miles per hour on Route 28 it wants with a redesign instead of the 35 mph the state intends.

“They are not intended to make West Chatham pretty,” he said. “They do make West Chatham pretty, but what they are intended to do is slow the traffic down.”

Leavitt was speaking to selectmen Tuesday after Peter Cocolis, chairman of the planning of board, ran through a number of landscape and hardscape ideas his committee, and the historic business district committee, came up with after three public meetings.

The ideas are meant as an alternative to Mass DOT’s lighting and landscape plans for the stretch of roadway, which is scheduled to be reduced from three lanes to two and include two roundabouts.

Selectmen listened to the report, but it won’t be forwarded to Mass DOT yet. One of the major sticking points is that although town officials did request a redesign of the road, much of the town, and many of the businesses in West Chatham, want the road pretty much left as is.

That sentiment was on Selectman Seth Taylor’s mind when he made his motion. He asked that Tom Temple, director of the department of public works, reach out, again, to the abutters on the road and see what they want. He said that without their cooperation and input landscape changes won’t work.

Although not super excited about the prospect, particularly since the town just held an additional three meetings, selectmen Cory Metters and Dean Nicastro agreed.

“I am willing to take the extra step,” Nicastro said.

Selectman Amanda Love readily agreed as she, along with Taylor, is firmly against the project. She initially suggested the board not listen to the report because town meeting voted to abandon the project, and the then board of selectmen continued to approve it. The town meeting vote was non-binding.

But the rest of the board thought the discussion was worth it, particularly since they had requested the report.

“We are a far cry from making recommendations,” said Metters, who was chairing the meeting in  chairman Jeffrey Dyken’s absence.

Metters said it was important to bring the framework to Mass DOT so officials could get “some hard numbers.

“We don’t have the costs associated with this at the moment,” Metters said.

As part of the project the town would receive state-funded landscaping and lighting, but many in town don’t want the state to dictate the trees, or the lights chosen. The document put together by the two boards makes suggests of more native trees and also less lights.

The state won’t pay for extras the town wants, say officials, but there is the possibility of reducing the lighting and switching the saved funds to landscaping.

When, or if, the report is sent Bill Tuxbury, of the West Chatham Association, asked that there be an addendum saying that “numerous townspeople” and “90 percent” of nearby businesses were not willing to comment on a project they didn’t support.




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Rehoboth commissioners debate City Hall landscaping

As a new City Hall rises in Rehoboth Beach, city officials have begun working on the land surrounding the $18 million complex.

With the new building facing east, the city commissioners are discussing landscaping an unused space leading to the complex from Baltimore Avenue.

Architect Mike Wigley presented plans Dec. 5 for a walkway surrounded by trees that would lead from Baltimore Avenue, through the parking lot to the new entrance of City Hall. Wigley said the Sandcastle and Breakers hotels – which sit on each side of the planned promenade – would be screened, as will the water tower.

The commissioners had their own ideas as to how the space should look. Wigley said the commissioners would have time to debate, because landscaping occurs at the end of the project. The new City Hall is scheduled to open in July.

Commissioner Stan Mills said the promenade should be open space with fewer trees, giving visitors a more open view to see the new building from Baltimore Avenue. It would also provide more security at night, he said.

Commissioner Lorraine Zellers questioned maintenance of the space, while Mayor Sam Cooper singled out lighting, pushing for lighting directed downward, unlike the lamps on Rehoboth Avenue, which spread light all around. Cooper said downward light is more useful and eliminates glare and light pollution.

Commissioner Toni Sharp said the promenade was an opportunity to showcase not only the new City Hall, but the kind of trees the city would like to promote, such as smaller decorative trees that are not crepe myrtles.

At this point, there is no cost for the landscaping, but Cooper said it will likely exceed $75,000. He said costs should be part of the discussion when the commissioners resume talks at their Monday, Jan. 9 workshop.

City gets break on loan interest

At their Friday, Dec. 16 regular meeting, the commissioners will close on the U.S. Department of Agriculture loan the city received for the new City Hall.

To build the new facility, the city has borrowed construction funds as needed from PNC Bank with the intention of using the USDA funds to pay back that loan and then make payments to the USDA.

When the city entered into its agreement with USDA, Cooper said, the interest rate was guaranteed at either 3.5 percent or, if the rates were lower, whatever the rate is on the date the loan closed. Cooper said that agreement had also specified the city could not draw down the funds until construction was completed.

However, he said, because rates have fallen to 2 ⅜ percent in this quarter and are likely to head higher, the USDA has agreed to close on the loan prior to Wednesday, Dec. 28, in order to lock in the lower interest rate.

Cooper said the new loan terms will save the city $120,000 per year on interest payments, amounting to about $3 million over the 25-year term of the loan.

“These folks didn’t have to do this. They are doing it because the people who work for this city have cultivated good relationships with federal and state agencies, and they know they can depend on what we say,” Cooper said.

Additional Dec. 16 agenda items

Besides closing on the USDA loan, the Rehoboth Beach commissioners will also consider accepting the city’s audit, prepared by Barbacane, Thornton and Co. for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016.

The commissioners will also receive an update on the filter and pre-treatment building roof project at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

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Margaret Rice receives Master Gardeners’ award

© Copyright 2011-2016

50 Culpeper Street, Suite 3
Warrenton, Virginia 20187

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It’s the time for a frost flower bloom





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It’s not too late for Christmas greenery

It is hard to believe Christmas is only a week away.

Hopefully you have been in the Christmas spirit for several weeks and have poinsettias, amaryllis, Christmas cactus, cyclamen, Christmas trees, mistletoe and Christmas wreaths and ropes of greenery surrounding you at home and work to help create that Christmas magic.

If you have been busy and haven’t yet surrounded yourself with Christmas plants and greenery, there is still time to select your poinsettias and Christmas trees, and you can enjoy them now and for an extended season after Christmas.

Although living or cut Christmas trees and greens should have a limited time inside our warm, dehydrating homes and offices, the living poinsettias and cyclamen often can be enjoyed for several months with a little attention to light levels and watering.

Gift ideas

One of the cherished rituals of Christmas is sharing gifts with those we care about or love. If some of those on your gift list love plants or gardening, there are literally hundreds of great gift ideas that should help you find the right last-minute gift.

You always can give actual plants like poinsettias, amaryllis, paperwhite and hyacinth bulbs for forcing into flower or their favorite house plants to green up their home or office right now.

Gift certificates or gift cards have grown in popularity in recent years, and most nurseries and garden centers offer gift certificates so the person you are gifting can pick out their own favorite plants, shrubs or trees.

This allows the avid gardener to pick out the new rose bush variety they have been dreaming about next spring, or to get the vegetable transplants to start their new vegetable garden, or to select the shade tree they desire to replace that giant tree they lost in their backyard. You always can give tools, gloves, garden hats and decorative garden containers in addition to plants.

Another popular gift for gardeners is a membership to the Myriad Botanical Gardens, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens or the new Tulsa Botanic Gardens, so they can make regular visits to these great Oklahoma gardens and get special rates at their events and classes.

If they have special interests in one type of gardening consider a membership in a plant society of other folks interested in that same plant area. These include the Rose Society, Iris or Daylily Groups, Cactus or Succulent Society, Orchid Society, Chrysanthemum, Bonsai, Wildflower and Native Plants and many other specialized plant groups.

I love the Oklahoma Horticulture Society, a group of folks from all across the state with a general interest in all phases of horticulture and gardening. A membership in the Horticulture Society or a local Garden Club always is a good choice for gardeners. An Oklahoma Horticulture Society membership includes a year’s subscription to the Oklahoma Gardening magazine and helps fund scholarships for Horticulture students.

Gardeners love to learn, and know there is always more to learn, so classes are another good gift. Many local nurseries and garden centers offer classes as do many of our public gardens like the Myriad Botanical Gardens, the county extension offices and master gardeners. Plant and horticulture societies and many of our vo-tech or technology schools and the horticulture departments at Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City and Stillwater also offer great classes.

For the gardeners who have everything, consider a gift of travel to other botanical gardens like the Dallas Arboretum, the St. Louis Botanical Garden or gardens all over the world or even to plant events like the spring Azalea Festival in Muskogee or the spring bulb show in Dallas.

Another great gift is to honor a gardener with a scholarship to encourage young people to get interested in nature and gardening through 4-H or FFA or to encourage horticulture studies at the OSU-OKC or OSU-Stillwater campuses.

One of the most appreciated gifts to parents or grandparents or friends who struggle to keep up their gardening is to offer to spend a half day, day or weekend working with them in their yard and garden. That time together may be the greatest gift of all even while you are accomplishing needed landscaping and gardening efforts.

We hope you, your family and friends have a very merry Christmas season.

Rodd Moesel serves on the State Board of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and was recently inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame. Email garden and landscape questions to

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GARY BACHMAN: Consider these gifts for gardening friends



We’re now officially in the Christmas season, and holiday shopping is in full swing. So, instead of an ugly sweater or a pair of reindeer socks, consider gifts that the special gardeners in your life could use in their landscape and garden.

Here are what I consider some nice gifts for the gardener.

If you have a gardening friend who likes to read on those winter days that aren’t suitable for working outside, then a book is in order. There are lots of gardening and landscaping book choices, but one of the most fun gardening books I’ve read is “The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden.” That’s quite a long title, but, in my opinion, it sums up the adventures and misadventures many of us have experienced seeking garden perfection.

One of the most fun gifts I give is sharing the harvest from my home vegetable garden. My wife and I share the harvest bounty all summer, but it gets a little harder during the holiday season. There are not many people I know who would be thrilled opening a Christmas gift package containing a bunch of kale or Swiss chard – kind of like getting that gift of Underroos. But what about homegrown and ground spices?

This year for gifting, I grew my own paprika peppers and dehydrated and put them through my spice grinder. My paprika looks and tastes just like the stuff in the little jars at the grocery. And it is far fresher than the store-bought product. I also grew and ground gorgeous Dinosaur kale and Big Jim New Mexico and jalapeño peppers. Someone is going to be doing a culinary happy dance on Christmas morning.

If you want to encourage your gardening friend to grow you some delicious fruits and vegetables, gifting them a quality garden tool is a good idea. I’m not much of an in-ground gardener, but a tool I have to make easy work in that vegetable bed is my Rogue Hoe.

Home vegetable gardens can be a source of fun, creative holiday gifts. (Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service)

Home vegetable gardens can be a source of fun, creative holiday gifts. (Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service)

You may be thinking that giving someone a hoe is not much of a gardening gift, but you are so wrong. Rogue Hoes are made from recycled agricultural tempered-steel disc blades. This means they will keep a sharp edge and make any garden chore so much easier. There are lots of styles, with long handles and smaller hand models. I have several of each.

Now what to do when you really get stuck and can’t decide on the perfect gift? Almost every garden center I know offers gift certificates. While this may seem like taking the easy way out, it actually allows the gifted gardener the opportunity to get exactly what he or she needs.

With a little thought, you can rest assured your favorite gardener won’t be regifting anything next year.

Gary Bachman is an associate extension and research professor of horticulture at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. His Southern Gardening column appears in the Daily Journal Home Garden section twice a month.

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Gardening Tips: Looking after your Christmas Poinsettia

Pollok Park CM

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