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Archives for January 11, 2017

Shark pools and mammoth TVs; a look at Britain’s million-pound gardens

In Thames-side towns such as Henley, Sturgeon comments that you can find formal gardens “on only a slightly smaller scale than Versailles, with the ubiquitous man-made lake, mazes and the curving arcs of enormous Richard Serra sculptures in private hands.” He is still reeling at the sight of a vast shell-encrusted grotto formed out of an old ice house, built purely as a surprise for the owner the next time he spends his annual fortnight in that property. “Faux caves, swimming pools in grottos and shark pools do not even raise an eyebrow in landscaping circles,” he says. 

Art collections have also crept out into the garden now, “so it’s a good time to be a sculptor. I know of Hepworths and Rodins in private gardens and Roman antiquities are not as hard to get hold of as you might think,” says Sturgeon. 

Garden sculptor David Harber – who has created a bespoke piece for Buxmead, a new development of multi-million pound apartments in The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead – can design a bespoke work for your garden from around £50,000. He comments that he likes to bring an element of theatre to clients’ gardens and to turn the garden into an exhibition space.  

Such a space will also need to be professionally lit, of course – for which you might wish to call in Sanjit Bahra, founder of Design Plus Light. “Sometimes the tiniest garden can have the highest cost per square foot. It’s like the guest loo in your home. You know all and sundry will go there and judge you based on that room, so it often ends up being more opulent than spaces people won’t see,” says Bahra. 

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‘A designer’s designer’: NY exhibit showcases Chareau

This undated photo provided by the Jewish Museum shows two Peirre Chareau designed high-backed chauffeuses (fireside armchairs), wood and velours, with tapestry upholstery by Jean Lurçat, and reupholstered in 1968, in an installation view of the exhibition “Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design,” in New York. (Will Ragozino/The Jewish Museum via AP)

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Ask a Designer: Kitchen trends and innovations for 2017

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, he says.

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Company acquires LandOpt license rights

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – By acquiring exclusive LandOpt license rights in Henning, Minnesota, Precision Landscape Irrigation becomes the first Powered by LandOpt contractor in the state of Minnesota, continuing the network’s expansion.  

As the first LandOpt Contractor to sign up for the Associate Program, Precision Landscape Irrigation will implement systems and processes intended to improve overall business performance and fuel continued growth. Among other elements, LandOpt will introduce a professional, web-based learning platform that also includes on-site coaching and peer networking. 

Owner, Pat Morstad, has more than 33 years’ experience working in the field with an agronomy degree from Michigan State University with a concentration in both turf and landscaping. Morstad has constructed several golf courses over the years.

Morstad is excited to share ideas and best practices with the entire network. He is also eager to fully embrace the LandOpt systems and processes to achieve the aggressive growth goals he has set for his company over the next few years.

“For us, continued success is tied to continued growth. Adopting a more systematic approach company-wide will fuel that growth,” Pat noted. 

According to LandOpt Sales Manager Ryan Stroup, Precision Landscape Irrigation fits the mold of an ideal Associate Program LandOpt Contractor. 

“Companies that are strong and successful in their own right are exactly what we are looking for,” he said. “Yet, change is not without challenge and that their continued success is dependent upon their ability to focus on their business processes and practices in order to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving industry.”

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How green is my desk?

There’s nothing like walking into a space that’s surrounded by greenery. In a city, there’s so much joy in gifting a plant that breathes and lives. What’s better for urban folks, who’re stressed for time, than having something that requires just the minimal care? A mini green turf, a living present which is not cumbersome, is a welcome change among gifting options.

Mini landscapes are an attractive option. An assembly of plants on soil, the landscape is imaginatively put together to create a tiny scene.

Not sure of what this is all about? Check out websites selling flowers and potted plants. After going through the regular riff raff, the pages will open up to potted beauties. Tiny colourful mushrooms with a few sheep in one place, or the dwarfed plant with tiny inanimate birds perched on its branches or a scenery made to replicate a farmyard with cows and birds grazing freely, all make for a pretty picture.

The best trees for miniature gardens are conifers because they resemble full-sized trees. These are however, not dwarf-sized like the bonsai.They are regular trees, but small in size. Other ideal types for indoor landscaping are ‘baby trees’ that mostly come with small leaves and grow slowly, for eg., the Boxwood or Japanese Holly.

“When looking for trees that you can use indoors for your mini garden, look for plants that resemble full-sized trees. The bottom leaves can be trimmed to expose the trunk, thus giving it a look of the tree rather than a shrub. Unless one has good knowledge about plants, trimming and potting should be left to the experts. To begin with, one can try with potted bulbs which need minimal care, with the option to work on landscaping ideas later,” explains Afreen. Lorea, her flower boutique at Madhapur and Sainikpuri is home to many potted beauties which can be excellent gifting ideas.

In order to make the miniature landscape resemble a real garden, it is advised to use small trees to add height to the miniature garden so that it mimics an outdoor garden perfectly. To these add some shorter plants as bedding to create a lush understory. “All the plants in your container should have the same light and water needs for the best success,” explains Afreen. She and her husband are among the few people in the city to ace this idea and as a gifting option they are working wonders. Their collection of cactus, ground lotus, woodrose are hot sellers. Florists also say that Jade plants don’t just look good but also work best to create drama on your table.

So, does one go pick ordinary garden soil for miniature landscaping? Expert gardeners advise organic potting soil with no added fertilizers. Even water-retaining polymers will do. They always need to have a drainage hole in the pot/dish where the plant is to be planted. If in doubt on how to go about making your own private mini garden for you wall or table, turn to the DIY videos online.

To start with, try the miniature landscaping with the most easily available money plant. Add some stones, some gravel and you can call it your own version of ‘Jack and the beanstalk.’

These potted beauties do come with a price but given the ceramics and props that go with them, it’s not much for a gift that will live and grow.

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Reduce effort with these smart landscaping ideas

Ready for a new year’s resolution that means less effort, not more? How about a smarter, more forward thinking landscape. Some of these thoughts might require some modifications at first, that mean more work, but others are simply decisions to manage your landscape differently.

Does your lawn need to be “perfect”? You can choose to minimize or even eliminate supplemental water and fertilizer. Lawns usually don’t need it unless you simply must have one that stays a bright green. Even if it browns out during during the hottest and driest seasons, it will revive once rains arrive and temperatures cool. Raising your mowing height also helps, as it shades the roots reducing water needs, and also reduces the need for mowing as often.

Who said you should hate the common lawn weeds henbit and dandelions? These plants, so despised by some, are actually very good plants for attracting the bees, butterflies and birds that make our world work and add color and interest to our lives. The hatred for henbit is particularly mystifying as it will disappear once weather warms and mowing begins.

Minimize other watering needs by grouping plants that like high moisture so you have only a specific area that requires supplemental watering. Tired of dragging that hose? A weekend with a trencher and a few plumbing parts will be well spent adding a convenient faucet. Be sure it is a “frostproof” type that will not be a freezing problem in winter.

A shaded yard lowers maintenance. Remember that land in the south “wants to be woods”, and that shade on the house will significantly impact cooling costs in the south. Though it seems counterintuitive, a group of trees are safer than a single shade tree. Trees on the outer edge will  blunt the force of the wind, plus the many tree root systems will knit together as they grown, forming living mat that helps anchor the entire group. Consider that a tree planted close enough to lean on the house will not strike with as much force as one planted at just the right distance to gain maximum speed as it impacts the house.

Tree species are also important when considering the possibility of wind damage. The tree least likely to blow over in high wind is common bald cypress due to it’s growth habit and buttressed root system. .

Are you struggling to grow turfgrass in the shade? No turfgrass is tolerant of several hours of shade, thought some do a little better than others. Consider instead that shady landscapes lend themselves beautifully to moss as the “floor”. Moss is amazingly tough, even drought tolerant. Though it browns in dry weather, a shower will green it right up. Another alternative is to  cover the ground with mulch and add a mixture of shade tolerant shrubs and perennials, perhaps alongside a meandering path. More ways to reduce landscape tasks next week!

Carol Reese is ornamental horticulture specialist for the Western District of the University of Tennessee Extension Service.

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A new garden from the ground up

In the garden or any part of our lives, January is the traditional time to think about making constructive, positive changes. If your landscaping leaves you cold, this is a great time to imagine some fresh ideas. Whether you want to refresh a mature planting or start with a clean slate, there are really only two main considerations: What do you want, and what do you have? Your wish list can be as long and specific as you desire, and it should include how you want to feel in the garden as well as the features you’d like. 

Because those desires can only be realized if they are balanced by reality, take time for a reality check. It’s no use lusting after an Olympic-sized pool if you don’t have an Olympic-sized yard. Likewise, an herb garden won’t flourish given a northern exposure, and shade plants won’t be happy in full sun. Similarly, the garden won’t feel like a retreat if it’s overlooked by the wrong windows, and your entryway won’t feel hospitable if nobody can find it.

To get from dream to reality, a thorough physical assessment is needed. When you stroll the property, gather answers for some very specific questions. Is access to home and garden satisfactory and safe, or awkward and funky? Are there views you want to block or frame? Are there privacy issues? Can you easily oversee the kids at play? Is there enough space for the dog? Where are the sunniest and shadiest areas? Does that future orchard require a wind break to keep buds from freezing? Do soggy spots linger all winter? The more information you can gather, the better you can apply practical problem-solving skills toward making the dreams come true.

Before starting on any actual projects, make a realistic budget that includes time, energy and money. That will determine the pace of your garden-making, which is an ongoing process, not a one-off deal. Plants are not like furniture; they change over time, so editing and maintenance will always be part of the picture. With either an empty lot or an aging garden, your best initial investment may be an hour or two of a professional’s time. Many independent nurseries offer consultation services, which usually include an option to assess liabilities and assets in what’s already in place. However, be wary of anybody who advises a wholesale clearance: sometimes it’s needed, but most often there are at least a few valuable plants that can help create enclosure and a sense of maturity that can take years to achieve with raw new plantings. 

Also, be aware that landscapers and garden designers are different. Landscapes are generally less detailed and more park-like, while gardens will feel more intimate and (usually) have more varied and interesting plants. Landscapers often design with routine maintenance in mind, which is not a bad thing, but the effect is often rather impersonal. They are also likely to install an irrigation system that may not serve your needs if you prefer lush borders rather than uniform plantings and clipped shrubbery.

Good garden designers can certainly create a plan that suits your needs and desires and won’t be a maintenance nightmare. However, make sure that point is understood, as both landscapers and designers can get carried away if practicality is not a firm request. You are, of course, not bound to take their advice, but running your ideas past a pro (or two) can save you a bundle.

Contact Ann Lovejoy at 8959 Battle Point Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 or visit Ann’s blog at / and leave a question/comment.

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Lagoon-anchored $1B development near Lake Ray Hubbard snags landscape architect

Bayside — a $1 billion lagoon-anchored development near Lake Ray Hubbard in Rowlett — has landed a new landscape architecture firm, which will design the master plan for the 262-acre lakeside project.

Newport Beach-based Lifescapes International was selected to oversee the landscape architecture at Bayside, which will feature the first Crystal Lagoon in Texas.

The Crystal Lagoon is a man-made lagoon using technology to create crystal-clear, blue water to enhance the property. It will also feature a 300-foot long fountain with video projections to give a show fountain that will rival Las Vegas’ Bellagio fountains.

Lifescapes International was selected, in part, because of the firm’s extensive experience designing iconic mixed-use and resort destinations throughout the world.

The Bayside mixed-use development — which sits less than 20 minutes from Dallas — will be the ultimate destination, said President Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs.

“The concept for this project is centered on an immersive experience,” Brinkerhoff-Jacobs said, in a statement. “The fountain is planned to deliver the most visual water entertainment show in the United States.”

The fountain will span an acre of land with 250 water nozzles, 29 fire nozzles and two laser-projected video mist screens, which will result in an entertainment experience like no other, she added.

In all, Lifescapes International will design the landscaping for the entire 116-acre peninsula, including 25 acres of parks, retail rooftop gardens, beach zones and the perimeter of the 8-acre Crystal Lagoon.

Some of the outdoor amenities at the lagoon include private beach clubs, swim-up bars, floating fire pits, cabanas and terraced gardens overlooking the lagoon.

Plans for Bayside include more than 1.5 million square feet of commercial real estate, 3,000 residential homes, a 1,000-slip marina and 700 hotel rooms. Dallas developer Kent Donahue of Bayside Land Partners LLC is overseeing the project.

Construction is slated to begin in March with completion slated for spring 2019.

Go here to read this article in its original form and see more images of the planned development.

Copyright 2016 WFAA

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Community Gardening Workshops & Tips

Megan Gregory with NC Cooperative Extension stopped by to speak about Community Gardening and how you can get involved.

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