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Archives for January 17, 2017

UT Gardens to host conifer symposium, sale

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Why are Anglo-Indian gardens so rare in Britain?

Back in England, Kipling found an enthusiastic patron in Arthur, Duke of Connaught (Queen Victoria’s favourite son). Connaught had become enthralled by all things Indian as a child, when one of his playmates at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight was the Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last maharaja of the Punjab. Connaught first met Kipling while on a visit to India. The Duke subsequently commissioned Kipling to create a wood-panelled billiard room in Indian style at his home, Bagshot Park, in Surrey. This led in turn to Kipling’s most important commission and his greatest achievement as a designer: the astonishing Durbar Room at Osborne  House, created for Queen Victoria, the Empress of India herself, its ornate ceiling moulded in snow-white plaster by the Indian designer Ram Singh. 

While it is true that Morris Co produced one or two Indian-inspired floral wallpapers and fabrics (including “Indian” of 1868, still available today), it appears that Kipling – even with the queen’s patronage – proved the rule that a British-Indian design fusion was never accepted as quite the thing. In fact, it is surprising how little influence India has had over architectural and garden design in Britain – compared with, for example, China – considering its importance to the nation economically and culturally. One comes across references to “Indian bongalos” in 18th-century design books, but this was seen as essentially a branch of chinoiserie.

It transpires that the handful of “Indian towers” built as follies in England in the 18th-century – such as Haldon Belvedere in Devon and Severndroog Castle in London – were in fact Gothic in style. Even the enormous, 218ft-high Sway Tower in Hampshire, created in the 1870s in “Hindu style” by a judge newly retired from Calcutta, looks like a rather un-exotic water tower. Then there are mysteries such as the fabulously named Wonderful Barn (1743), at Castletown House estate in Co Kildare, a large and – yes – wonderful, conical structure which has been likened to a traditional Indian rice store.

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Officials eye update of city hall landscaping

Sturgis city commissioners agreed Wednesday that deteriorating planters outside city hall need to be replaced.

Sturgis city commissioners agreed Wednesday that deteriorating planters outside city hall need to be replaced.
But they had varying opinions about what the subsequent revamp should look like.
Viridis Design Group, of Kalamazoo, is expected to be back in three to four weeks with some sample concepts that may incorporate the range of ideas commissioners pitched during a 45-minute work session preceding Wednesday’s regular business meeting.
There may be a water feature — or not — depending on the city’s tolerance for potential vandalism. Flowers, in urns or other substantial containers, and the use of decorative paving brick are other ideas suggested. Commissioners favor incorporating the Sturgis “Electric City” logo into the design and featuring the community’s sister city relationship with Wiesloch, Germany.
Also suggested was digital signage that can identify city hall and Sturgis District Library, sharing the building at 130 N. Nottawa St., as well as advertising for public meetings, library events and community gatherings.
Officials said locust trees currently in planters in front of city hall must be removed if the planters are dismantled.
Commissioner Mark Dvorak cautioned commissioners and Viridis to “keep it simple,” citing cost cutting that  was required to rein-in costs for a 2016 downtown streetscape-parking plan.
No money is currently in the city’s 2017 budget for a renovation.
Also on Wednesday,  John McCann of Viridis reported increasing interest among contractors for bidding on Sturgis’ proposed four-field adult-softball complex.
In 2016, city officials decided to rebid the Viridis-designed project, after few contractors submitted quotes and the bids that were received came in well over budget. New bids are due in February.
Commissioners also approved allowing a knitting group from St. John’s Episcopal Church to display knitted hats and scarves on fences at Free Church Park and the municipal skating rink as a means to distribute them to people in need. Residents may pick a colorful hat or scarf from  the fencing and take it home at no cost.
So far, people have taken 50 items that were left scattered on the church’s yard.

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Garden Calendar

Jan. 21 and 28

Eagle Days Along the Fox River. Various locations. Eagle watching and public programs on bald eagles along the Fox River. For complete details on each day’s events, visit

Jan. 21

Garden Dreams conference. 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Portage County Master Gardeners. Lettie W. Jensen Community Center, 487 Main St., Amherst.

Garden Visions conference. Central Wisconsin’s largest garden conference. Northcentral Technical College, 1000 Campus Dr., Wausau.

Jan. 26

Growing a Living Mulch in Your Garden. Qualheim’s True Value. 6 – 7 p.m. Tired of weeding? Want to attract pollinators to your garden? Want to build soil health while retaining moisture and adding nitrogen to your garden? Then a living mulch may be for you! We will discuss the benefits and challenges of using a living mulch in your garden, as well as explore the various plant species that can be used. 1345 E. Green Bay St. Shawano,

Jan. 27

Snowshoe Walk, Monk Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Avenue, Wausau. 6 to 8 p.m., Experience an evening candlelit snowshoe walk. A limited number of snowshoes will be available ($2 donation) at the Gardens or BYO. Watch Facebook page for weather conditions., 715-261-6309.

Jan. 28

Toward Harmony With Nature conference. Wild Ones. 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Native plant and landscaping conference. Oshkosh Convention Center, 2 N. Main St., Oshkosh.

Ready, Set, Grow! Winter Garden Seminar 2017, 8 a.m. Chippewa Valley Technical College, Eau Claire. The day-long event will feature keynote speaker Tim Johnson of Seed Savers Exchange, along with three breakout sessions on roses, bats, invasive plants, rare edibles for the garden, water features and wise water use in the garden, wildflower plots, and a stained glass wind chime workshop.Registration costs $35/person before Jan. 15 and $40 thereafter. The make-and-take garden art workshop is an additional $15. visit or call Erin LaFaive at 715-839-4712 or

Snowshoe the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum, UW Fond du Lac. 1 to 3 p.m. Look for animal tracks and other signs of wildlife in winter. Learn about some of the plants of the prairie and dormant trees in the arboretum. Snowshoes will be provided. Pre-registration required, 920-940-8869.

Feb. 4

Winter Family Festival, Green Bay Botanical Gardens, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., free. Features free games, crafts and activities of the winter season., 920-490-9457.

Feb. 4-5

Orchid Quest 2017, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 4 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 5. This free event will let you visit the beautiful tropics in the middle of Wisconsin’s winter. Enjoy over 2,000 orchids in displays and over 3,000 orchid plants for sale. Enjoy seminars, raffles, silent auctions, vendors of orchids and orchid related material. For more information contact Terri Jozwiak (608) 592-7906.

Feb. 10

Soup with Substance, Green Bay Botanical Gardens. Hike, snowshoe, or blaze your own skiing trail. Indoors, enjoy homemade soup, bread, dessert, and a garden-related presentation. Finish out the evening with live musical entertainment. Includes free admission to the Garden and snowshoe rental. Advanced tickets, $10, members; $15, nonmembers. At door, $12, members; $17, nonmembers. Limited seats, advance purchase recommended., 920-490-9457.


Wisconsin Public Television’s Garden Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison. A midwinter oasis for people ready to venture out and dig their hands in the dirt. For ticket info visit or call 608-262-5256.

Feb. 18

Winnebago County Master Gardeners presents Winter Escapes, Summer Dreams. 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Their annual winter gardening conference. LaSure’s Banquet Hall, 3125 S. Washburn St., Oshkosh. Visit for registration information.

March 11

Spring Into Gardening. Racine and Kenosha County Master Gardeners. 9:00 a.m.- 3:15 p.m. This one day event offers a variety of sessions on gardening, plants, and horticulture related activities. Westosha Central High School, 24617 75th St., Paddock Lake.

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Design tips: How to create a Japanese-inspired garden

Lauren Dunec Hoang  / Houzz contributor

Many people are drawn to the minimalistic beauty and unmistakable feeling of calm in Japanese gardens. Drawing from centuries of tradition, a stunning natural landscape and a culture rich in ceremony, authentic Japanese gardens can be very difficult to re-create outside of the culture. Instead, look for inspiration from the design principles of balance and restraint and from some of the traditional elements of Japanese gardens.


Photo: 生活空間計画室 旭華園


Much as a Japanese brush painting captures the essence of a landscape scene in a few brushstrokes, Japanese gardens emulate the natural world in a stylized way. Inspiration for plant choices, color and form comes from the country’s native forests, lush streambeds and towering mountains. Dark stones, bright and deep greens, and earthy browns and sandy tones are the most common colors, but many gardens also have one or two accents of red or other vivid hues. Further imitating the natural landscape, traditional Japanese gardens often include a subtle change in topography, such as mounds to symbolize hills, or depressions for valleys.

Japanese Garden



Most Japanese gardens make use of naturalistic building materials like large steppingstones, bamboo, hardwoods, gravel and sand. Contemporary landscapes may combine the traditional materials with more modern ones like concrete and concrete aggregate.

Pathways, courtyards, planting beds and other garden elements are laid out to promote balance in the landscape. Unlike classical European gardens that favor symmetry, Japanese gardens often achieve balance through asymmetry. For example, if a large boulder is placed on one side of a pathway, a tree is often placed on the other to promote balance of form.

チェルシーフラワーショー2013 床の間ガーデン

Photo: 株式会社 石原和幸デザイン研究所

Garden Elements

Teahouses. Traditionally, a Japanese teahouse surrounded by a naturalistic garden is a sacred space for conducting a tea ceremony. Although the ceremony itself may not be a part of your tradition, most of us can relate to the appeal of an outdoor room designated for peace, calm and reflection.

Water basins. Wash basins are important elements in teahouse gardens and are traditionally used by guests to cleanse themselves before entering the teahouse. A proper wash basin is surrounded by a careful arrangement of stones representing different elements. Basins with or without the traditional stones can be beautiful in their own right and act as a tranquil water feature in the garden. Adding a simple water basin to your garden can be one of the easiest ways to introduce a feeling of calm.


Photo: 造園・庭造り専門店【新美園】

A representation of water. A sacred element across cultures, water — and the illusion of it — is celebrated in Japanese gardens and can have soothing effect in a landscape design. To get the look in your own backyard, dig a shallow depression to act as a dry streambed and fill with dark gravel. Nestle rounded fieldstones along the banks and fill in with ferns and tufts of sweet flag (Acorus gramineus).

Spokane Midcentury - Mary Jean  Joel E. Ferris, II House

Photo: spokanemidcentury

A representation of a mountain. Japanese gardens often have one or more large stones or boulders representing mountains in the landscape and anchoring the design. Boulders look more natural — and more like miniature mountains — when they are partially buried and have plants nestled around the base, or small shrubs placed nearby to relate to the size and scale of the stone.

Walkways designed to encourage contemplation. Many Japanese gardens have paths that meander through the space, crisscrossing streambeds — symbolic or real — and designed to guide a visitor on a meditative walk. To get the same effect on a smaller scale, incorporate a walkway made up of stepping stones. The stones will slow your path through the garden and encourage you to be present in the journey.

Rock gardens or Zen gardens. Originally designed as meditation gardens, dry landscapes made up of a composition of rocks, moss and small trees are also common elements of Japanese gardens. The pale sand or fine gravel spread to cover the ground represents water and is often raked into ripples. Even on a small scale in a home garden, these stylized landscapes can be very peaceful to gaze upon.

Plant Types

Japanese maples. The graceful branch forms and delicate leaves of Acer palmatum have long been cherished by Japanese gardeners. The trees stay relatively small — 15 to 25 feet, smaller with pruning —making them beautiful additions to smaller backyards or courtyard gardens. Choose from varieties with leaf colors ranging from chartreuse to plum.


Photo: 有限会社 三樹園

Moss gardens. Areas blanketed with verdant moss and studded with ferns and stones are another element of traditional Japanese gardens. Some moss gardens in Japan have been in cultivation for hundreds of years. Moss thrives only in consistently moist, temperate conditions with not too much sun but also not in deep shade. Finicky as it is to grow, most home gardeners would be advised to create the same effect with a moss look-a-like such as baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii).

Japanese apricot

Photo: fumihirokato

Spring gardens. Traditionally associated with birth and renewal, spring is particularly revered in Japanese gardens. Most include plants like flowering cherries, chosen for their spring blossoms, as well as plants with bright, vivid green leaves that feel fresh and spring-like for much of their growing season.

One Hundred Years in the Huntington

Photo: The Huntington Library San Marino

Fall color. Japanese gardens also embrace seasonal change from summer to winter by including trees and shrubs that put on a fall show. To get the look, choose one stunning Japanese maple, such as Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, which turns crimson in autumn, or plant a grove of brilliant gold ginkgo trees (Ginkgo biloba). Tip: To avoid cleaning up messy fruit drop, select a male ginkgo at the nursery.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is from Houzz. Hoang is landscape designer and was previously a garden editor for Sunset Magazine and in-house designer for Sunset’s Editorial Test Garden.

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