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Archives for January 4, 2017

Lets evaluate your 2016 landscaping

By the time many of you are reading this you may of recently unwrapped a nice surprise from Santa. Or perhaps finishing up that holiday meal or enjoying your favorite football team on TV. Maybe even celebrated the brand new year of 2017. Ah yes, the holidays are such a great time of year. Even though we tend to get into a “take a break” mode it can be a really good time to look back at the past year and evaluate what we did well and things perhaps we would like to tweak a bit and do a better job or improve upon. It’s a good time of evaluation and planning for the upcoming year.

This can also be a great time of year to give the same type of evaluation to your landscaping. What worked out well? What didn’t? Keep in mind that reviewing this year’s gardening triumphs and defeats is the best guarantee of success when designing the following year’s garden. Garden design requires a knowledge of plants and you’ve got a whole garden full to learn from. Don’t let that experience go to waste, just because a season is winding down.

What went right? What always brought a smile to your face? There’s usually at least one section of your garden that works really well. That should be a key to telling you what your style of gardening is, as well as what truly grows well in your conditions. Was it the blue iris that bloomed with the bright yellow daylilies? The hummingbirds flying to your Butterfly Bush? The way your Chinese Fringe Flower made all the other plants pop? Viewing your garden in small sections makes it easy to set up season long eye candy!

What went wrong? Did the year seem like the endless year of problems? Always out there keeping things cut back? Some weird bugs showed up on your favorite plants and started eating on them and you were not sure what to do exactly? Everything seemed dying for a drink of water but your water restrictions or lack of your own time kept denying their thirst and they seemed to stay alive but not thrive?

Did you find yourself telling guests, “I wish you’d been here last week, when [fill in the blank] was in bloom?” You need to play with the sequence of bloom in your gardens. Strive for having a different section at peak at different times, rather than trying to have the whole garden in flower all season. And give more focus to colorful and unusual foliage that’s stunning all season.

Have enthusiastic growers crowded out other plants? If you’re wondering how your lilies turned into a jungle, it’s time to think about doing some thinning and dividing. If you don’t have the time for it now, at least mark the plants this fall or winter, so you won’t be tempted to let them be in the spring. New gardeners like instant plants. As your garden matures, you need to be more selective about what gets space in it. If you’re pulling your hair out about too many plants having the run of your garden, consider putting in larger plants and more specimen shrubs.

Perhaps your garden was beautiful but you just don’t seem to be enjoying it the way you used to. What about those pesky weeds? Did the weeds get away from you? Make a note to mulch earlier next year. Sometimes we get caught up in planting or waiting to see what has self-seeded. Before you know it, it’s July and every weed seed that landed in your borders has now firmly taken hold. Mulching isn’t fun, but it can free up so much time you would otherwise spend weeding and watering. If you really hate to mulch, get more plants. Exposed soil is an open invitation to weeds.

Did you take the actual time to smell your own roses? Did you spend any time sitting and enjoying your garden or better still, entertaining in your garden? It’s a joy to work in a garden, but you need to take time to appreciate what you’ve created. If you don’t have a seating area (or 2 or 3) in your garden, design one this winter. Whether it’s a small table and chairs, a couple of functional chairs or a stone patio with a fire pit, if you build it, they will come. Nothing pulls guests into the garden faster than a chair with a view?

These are just a very few ideas that pop into my head when I begin to evaluate my or a clients landscaping. Perhaps it will help you do the same. Now back to those new year resolutions and I think I am getting hungry again…

Until next time…

Happy gardening and I wish peace and prosperity to all of you in the new year.


Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at or in care of the Prosper Press at Jimmie is the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company. He is a resident in Prosper. His landscaping and gardening column runs every other week in the Prosper Press.

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Peffley: South Plains winter landscaping can attract birds

Winter gardening in Lubbock does not have to be desolate. A landscape plan that brings into the garden trees, shrubs, and other plants that offer food and protection will attract birds throughout the year and into the winter months.

Principle elements essential to attract birds to the garden are sources of fresh water, food and shelter — the more varied the sources of these the greater the likelihood of visits by different species. Summer months are abundant with diverse food sources but unless planting strategies were done with food sources in mind food, sources during the winter months can be scanty. Including just a few berry- and seed-producing trees and shrubs invites birds to the garden by providing food and shelter.

Coniferous evergreens make excellent bird-friendly backbone plantings since they maintain foliage year round. Pines, juniper, spruce and arborvitae bear cones and berries; their narrow leaves and dense foliage offer shelter. Broad-leaved evergreens such as Nandia, Pyracantha, Photinia and Mahonia produce berries in the autumn, many of which persist into the winter. Species of Ilex, such as Yaupon, Chinese, Japanese and American holly have female plants that are prolific producers of berries.

Of deciduous trees producing berries and seeds, the Chinese pistachio or Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) gives beautiful autumn colors of crimson, orange and magenta as well as seeds that draw cardinals. Only females develop berries. Be forewarned that the female, in addition to the added benefit of the berries, sheds the fruit stems and creates trash under the canopy.

Other deciduous species with winter interest and berries are Melia azedarach, the Chinaberry tree, but without the stunning autumn colors; crabapples, Malus spp., have showy spring blooms, autumn colors, and fruit that can last into winter.

Providing a habitat that attracts birds has its rewards.

A juvenile American bittern paid a surprise, uncommon, thrilling visit to our garden this summer and stayed long enough for its image to be documented on camera. Birds of these species are migratory, rare west of the Trans-Pecos but scattered as far as the Panhandle.

As members of the heron family, American bitterns are solitary carnivores that feed on snakes, insects and mice and are usually found among marshes and reedy growth. If alarmed they stand with their long, straight and sharply pointed dagger-like bill pointed skyward. They patiently stand motionless when stalking prey. Necks can appear short and sturdy or extended, appearing long and slender as in the photo.

If interested in bird watching and identification, the Lubbock Memorial Arboretum, 4111 University Ave., will host a program and tour led by Anthony Hewetson of the local Audubon Society at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7. The tour follows established paths within the fenced area of the arboretum. A second tour at 10 a.m. continues around the lake. Wear walking shoes and bring binoculars and field guide if you have them. Call (806) 797-4520 for more information.

Some information from The Texas breeding bird atlas; The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

ELLEN PEFFLEY taught horticulture at the college level for 28 years, 25 of those at Texas Tech, during which time she developed two onion varieties. She is now the sole proprietor of From the Garden, a market garden farmette. You can email her at

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A son’s gift to his mom: a first-place garden in the Jazzin’ Up the Neighborhood Garden Contest

Cathy Lorio and her husband, Allen, built their Old Metairie house in 2002, doing much of the work themselves. By the time they were done, Lorio joked, “we’d run out of money to put in a garden.”

So the front yard had a tidy lawn but no landscaping for a few years. 

“I still had dreams of a garden,” Lorio said. “I kept collecting articles and reading books.”

Three years ago, Lorio’s dreams became reality, thanks to a 50th birthday present from her 26-year-old son, Kyle, who offered to finally put in the garden she’d been wanting.

The mother and son teamed up on the design, and Kyle Lorio, who had a grass cutting and lawn maintenance business, KTL Enterprises, did the installation, including the irrigation. It would be his first total landscaping project.

Lorio knew she wanted a formal look. “Our home is tall and angular — straight lines everywhere,” she said.  “So we added curves with the garden.”

Today, the manicured landscape is framed by boxwood hedges, classic topiary, coral “Autumn Belle” Encore azaleas and a layered mix of annuals to provide seasonal color and interest. The polished look earned the Lorios’ front yard first place in the second annual Jazzin’ Up the Neighborhood Garden Contest, sponsored by The Times-Picayune, the LSU AgCenter and the Metro Area Horticulture Foundation.

The contest, held this fall, was open to gardens from throughout the New Orleans area. The judges were LSU AgCenter agents Anna Timmerman and Lee Rouse; Metro Area Horticulture Foundation president Kevin Taylor of Southern Accent Landscaping Lawn Care Inc.; and Susan Langenhennig, home and garden editor for|The Times-Picayune.

“Cathy Lorio’s garden uses formal garden design elements, such as curves, clipped boxwood hedges and simple topiary, to create a space that is both beautiful and inviting,” Timmerman said. “The curve of the central walkway leads the eye to the house, while the restrained color palette of shades of red and pink, white and green creates unity and visual interest as well.”

Holly trees anchor ends of the yard, while a row of crape myrtles fill the space between the sidewalk and the street. A sunny spot on the side of the yard is home to a satsuma and a grapefruit tree, both recently laden with fruit. The citrus trees run alongside the front porch, providing a green welcome to those entering the home’s front door.

The citrus trees are about six or seven years old, Cathy Lorio said. “I gave my husband the grapefruit, and he gave me the satsuma,” she said. 

“As judges we are looking for sustainable gardening principles used in the landscape,” noted judge Lee Rouse. “Cathy Lorio worked citrus trees into her front yard, thus creating somewhat of an edible landscape.”

A low row of loropetalum, also known as Purple Fringe Shrub,  adds more color near the porch. Loropetalum “is an excellent alternative to our otherwise extensive selection of green shrubs,” said judge Kevin Taylor. “‘Purple Pixie’ is a good choice if you are looking for something small, growing only 1 to 2 feet tall by 4 to 5 feet wide.”

Two of Cathy Lorio’s favorite aspects of the yard are a stone pathway leading from the driveway to the front stoop and a pebble walk leading to the side garden. The use of such hardscapes also caught the eye of the contest judges. 

“The lines of the garden created by pathways and hedges help to draw visitors to the front door, creating an inviting space to be enjoyed along with the architecture of the house,” Timmerman said. 

By far, Lorio’s favorite part of the garden, though, is the fact she got to create it with her son. And Kyle Lorio continues to maintain it. “I get to see him, and I have his favorite lemonade ready,” she said. 

The second-place and third-place winners will be featured in upcoming stories on and in InsideOut, The Times-Picayune’s weekly home and garden section.

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Country File Shares Great Tips For Winter Gardening – SAT Press …

Get to know more about HealthyWiser’s soil meter

An advertisement feature on website Country File shared important tips that homeowners should remember about winter gardening.

“The short dark days and inclement weather can make the prospect of gardening in winter both unattractive and potentially unproductive. However, a little bit of winter planning can get your garden ready for a great year ahead,” Country File wrote in their feature.

The first tip is about the winter wildlife. Gardening during the water should also keep homeowners aware of certain species of animals that come out during the season.

“Putting out fat blocks and other food will not only help local wildlife to survive the winter but will encourage birds, frogs, hedgehogs etc to stay in the garden and they will repay the favor a hundredfold by eradicating many garden pests in the coming year,” the website advised.

Taking care of the plants and shrubs before the first onset of winter should save plants from getting “broken branches.”

The website reminded gardeners, “Dead-head autumn-flowering plants and prune summer-flowering shrubs before the first frosts. Brush any heavy snow from shrubs and trees to prevent broken branches.”

Furthermore, lawn care during the winter gardening season needs a bit of attention. Keeping people away from the grass is one way to succeed.

“Make an exception to get rid of large weeds, moss and leaves,” Country File added.

How HealthyWiser’s plant soil meter can help

The HealthyWiser plant soil meter measures the soil in three different ways – through moisture, light and pH levels. Knowing about the soil in these parameters ensures brighter gardens during the dark winter season.

The device provides an accurate way to settle everything about the specific garden needs during this season. From finding the right soil to knowing the moisture needed, the HealthyWiser soil condition meter can always do the work.

About HealthyWiser

HealthyWiser is a reputable company in the United States that provides various products for health awareness. The products are used for beauty, personal health, and wellness.  For more information about HealthyWiser’s soil condition meter, visit their page on Amazon.

Contact Info:
Name – Jon Agustin
Email –

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Gardening tips, former Loop Line railway, Roman Roads and Peak District plans

Gardening phone-in, this week with guest expert Joe Smith of Cheddleton. We’ll be discovering more about the former Loop Line railway that can still be travelled on foot or bike, the route of a Roman road that runs through North Staffordshire to an ancient barracks in Chesterton. We’ll also find out how you can have YOUR say on plans for the Peak District National Park.

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Cape Coral rec offers garden walks, tours – The News-Press – The News

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Olive Garden server fired after allegedly lying to customers about …

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – A server in Mississippi is now without a job after he allegedly lied about having cancer to increase his tips.

Officials at the Olive Garden in Southaven say Jason Kisner was only an employee at the restaurant for about three months before he was fired.

In fact, several customers complained to the company’s corporate office after they suspected that Kisner was making up stories to get better tips.

According to WMC, Kisner reportedly told customers that he needed money for cancer treatments.

His story caused many customers to drastically increase how much money they left as a tip.

Olive Garden released the following statement, saying, “This individual’s actions are inconsistent with our company’s values and he no longer works for us. We are working to contact the guests and we will reimburse them for the $125 they gave the server.”

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Olive Garden employee fired after customers say he lied about …



SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — A Southaven Olive Garden employee is off the job after customers say he lied about having cancer to get bigger tips.

WREG spoke with three people who all had similar stories of feeling like they were tricked by this waiter, but police told them the waiter can’t face charges since they willingly gave him the money.

“We all felt sorry for him,” said Steven Blake Hughes.

Hughes said he was celebrating a friend’s birthday there in October when the service was below average.

He said his waiter told him he had a lot going on his life, including his cancer coming back.

“He kept going and kept going and kept going like we’re supposed to feel more sorry for him, so when we were going to leave a tip, we were going to leave this huge tip.”

Hughes says he shook it off as an odd meal.

He couldn’t believe it when he saw social media posts circulating this week with similar stories and a man’s picture, Jason Kisner, linked as being the waiter.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that is the gentleman that talked to me,’” he said.

A woman told WREG a similar incident happened last month. She said she doubled his tip after he sighed deeply and revealed a fight with cancer.

She said a red flag went up when she heard him bragging to another waiter about getting a $100 tip the night before.

“That’s just not ethical,” said Hughes.

Then another woman posted how her mother tipped the waiter $100 this week after hearing his struggle with cancer.

“I’ve had family members and I’ve had friends that have died from cancer and it infuriated me at first.”

But their complaints led to resolution. Olive Garden released a statement saying Kisner’s actions are inconsistent with their company’s values and he no longer works for them.

WREG went to Kisner’s address to get his side of the story, but no one answered the door.

“I’m glad what had happened happened but at the same time, he needs help.”

Kisner has been arrested in the past for shoplifting and conspiracy to unlawfully possess a motor vehicle, but Olive Garden told WREG his criminal record didn’t disqualify him from the job.

He was hired in February.

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Olive Garden Waiter Fired for Pretending to Have Cancer to Get Better Tips

Ask any competent server, and they will tell you that their job is essentially one of seduction: Turn on the charm, sell that bottle of wine, pitch that daily special, flirt a little (or a lot), laugh at lame jokes, and, finally, get that coveted gratuity on which your livelihood depends.

And while there is always a fine line between seduction and deception, lying about having cancer is not an advisable tactic for maximizing tips. Sure; if you don’t have a conscience, you can certainly try it. But odds are that you will be exposed and fired, like former Olive Garden waiter Jason Kisner, who took their “When you’re here, you’re family” slogan a little too far.

According to local news outlet WREG, Kisner was let go when reports emerged of him taking very generous tips after spinning some yarn about how he required cancer treatment, according to diners he served. The problem is that Kinser does not have cancer, which may suggest that he instead has a terminal case of being an asshole.

Olive Garden did not confirm or deny whether Kisner was ill, but they did promptly fire him from the Southaven, Mississippi location. When MUNCHIES reached out for commentary, Olive Garden issued a statement saying that his actions were “inconsistent with our company’s values and he no longer works for us.” Some of those “inconsistent actions” allegedly included taking $125 from clients who truly believed that he needed the money to pay for cancer treatment.

In addition to firing Kisner, Olive Garden promised that they were “working to contact the guests and we will reimburse them for the $125 they gave the server.”

In the weeks and months leading up to his dismissal, witnesses also reported that Kisner had been heard bragging to coworkers about getting $100 tips and sighing loudly while telling clients about his supposed cancer treatment. Kisner also has a rap sheet that includes shoplifting and conspiracy to unlawfully possess a motor vehicle convictions. And while it’s not a criminal act in itself, he can now add preying on the generosity of others to that list.

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