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Archives for January 20, 2017

Sunspots | Learn the art of Southern living with design guru James Farmer – Virginian

Hi y’all. Ready for some fine livin’ with a distinct Southern flair? Want to transform your home and garden into an elegant Southern showplace? Tired of fast food, processed ready-to-eat meals or eating out all the time?

Let two experts – author/designer/editor James Farmer and Southern chef Dedra Blount – show you how to live and eat the gracious Southern way. So, y’all come to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts at 110 W. Finney Ave. to be inspired, entertained and taught the way.

Begin at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 when a true son of the South, James Farmer, appears at the Center’s Speaker Series.

A native and resident of Perry, Georgia, Farmer is editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine and author of a slew of best-selling books.

Farmer is a floral and interior designer and “garden-to-table” proponent who earned a degree in gardening design. He opened a landscape design business early in his career and soon gained national attention with his work on historic gardens.

He’s been called “truly a young and fresh voice for his generation” by Georgia Southern University. The school’s website said “Farmer masterfully guides his audience through the art of elegant garden living.”

So, plant tickets now, and dig Farmer later. On Thursday, that is. Admission to the talk is $55 per person.

After you’ve been inspired by Farmer, learn “cooking from soil to soul” the Southern way at the skilled hands of chef Dedra Blount, the Chesapeake native who co-founded Now You’re Cooking Culinary Studio at 1128 Battlefield Blvd. S. in Chesapeake.

She will teach a hands-on workshop/class, “Southern Cooking,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Suffolk Center. Tickets are $50, which includes professional instruction, classic Southern/soul-food recipes with contemporary variations, ingredients and the chance to cook and dine with friends, peers and neighbors.

Wanna-be chefs will learn to prepare entrees and sides. And even if you can’t fry an egg or boil water, no problem, experience is not a requirement.

Blount, with 15 years experience teaching at Johnson Wales and the Culinary Institute of Virginia and her own school, champions the notion of turning anyone into a skilled food artiste.

“My mission in life is to get people back into the kitchen,” she said on the Suffolk Center’s website.

For tickets to either event, call 923-0003 or go online at Call 923-2900 for more details. And get cookin’ and good-lookin’, Southern style.


Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Doyle’s, Lempertz and … Nansemond-Suffolk Academy? They all have art in common.

And it will be on display for viewing and sale at the 31st annual Art Show Sale adorning the school’s Lower School hallways at 3373 Pruden Blvd.

This popular regional art show, which opens Jan. 28, will feature the varied works of 150 local, regional and national artists. Creations can be picked up for any budget with prices ranging from $25 to $7,000.

Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Sundays and 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until Feb. 5.

Call the school at 539-8789 or visit for more aesthetic details.


Girls ages 5 and older are invited to visit with rich girl Samantha Parkington Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Riddick’s Folly House Museum, 510 N. Main St.

Part of the museum’s American Girl programs, based on the popular doll and book series, the free programs are at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Attendees will meet Samantha, a young girl brought up by her wealthy grandmother at the turn of the 20th century. Although she enjoys a life of fine living, parties and playtimes, Samantha notices not all people experience her luxurious lifestyle. With that in mind, she befriends a servant girl, Nellie, with hopes of improving her lot in life.

There is no cost, but call 934-0822 or go online at to make the required reservations. Donations will be accepted.

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Douglass Coleman’s Hundred Oaks garden: ‘It’s serenity to me’

Douglass Coleman’s garden is her magnet. She never passes the wall of windows overlooking her patio without being drawn to the view.

“I end up spending 30 minutes or so contemplating, ruminating, praying,” she said. “It’s serenity to me.”

Douglass and her husband, the Right Rev. James M. Coleman, retired Episcopal bishop of West Tennessee, bought their Hundred Oaks home six years ago. She grew up on a Pointe Coupee sugar plantation in a family of gardeners but truly found her calling on a family trip to England in 1980. 

As they were driving through the countryside, they came upon the magnificent Sissinghurst Castle Garden, designed in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West, an English poet, novelist and garden designer.

“It changed my life,” Douglass said. “Gardens are like the people who create them. Some are intimate, some are for show and some are for the public. This garden was personal. After my first visit, I felt that I knew Vita Sackville-West.”

When Douglass returned home, she began reworking the garden at her home. She has been gardening ever since. 

The Colemans’ home already had a developed backyard, originally established by the great Steele Burden and later modified by landscape architects Jon Emerson and Wayne Womack. Burden’s style featured graceful curved beds filled with camellias, azaleas and other local plants along the perimeter of the property. In the 1990s, Emerson made some design changes, and Womack introduced new plantings.  

Douglass views her yard in two parts — the yard and the garden, which she added in 2013. Landscape designer Michael Hopping created the basic structure, which includes six garden boxes set in a bricked area with a central walkway and varying trellises.

At the center of the walkway is a soothing fountain made in a huge copper kettle and a tall trellis with a lush climbing rose. The Colemans also added a screen porch on the west side of the garden.

“I knew what I wanted when we added the garden,” Douglass said. “I study gardens all the time.”

Her idea was for the garden to reflect an English cottage garden.

“There is no plan of colors or foliages,” she said. “It’s just what I like or what will grow here.”

Even though Hopping came up with the hard elements in the plan, Douglass selects the plants.

“I do a lot of planting to attract honeybees, dragonflies, butterflies and hummingbirds,” she said. 

The garden is also home to box turtles, including an elderly Mr. Crunchy, named by Douglass’ grandchildren.

“He is old and limps,” she said, “but he has a lot of progeny.”

Douglass said she loves to experiment with plants and is always visiting nurseries and looking through plant catalogs.

“I change the garden around. I have had tons of failures but some success,” she said.

The garden is filled with pentas, lantana, petunias, abutilon, Rose of Montana, bougainvillea and other plants interspersed with a few herbs.

Cary Saurage, who grew up in the home on the property and whose parents lived there until their deaths, planted the back of the yard with a variety of azaleas that all bloom in the early spring.

“When they are in bloom, it is so beautiful. It looks like a watercolor,” Douglass said. 

Although the yard is designed with some blooming plants, much of the beauty is in the varieties of green foliage.

“It’s such a spiritual thing to have a garden — to work in it, to enjoy it,” Douglass said.

The entire property is crowned with four massive live oaks, including one 300-year-old treasure shading the front. There are many other oaks in neighboring yards that also provide shade to the Colemans’ property.

“I feel a huge responsibility to preserve the trees in our yard,” Douglass said. “They are so beautiful. You can understand why people worshipped them.”

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Student Union to hold contest for rooftop garden design

Starting next year, the food you’re eating in the Student Union Memorial Center might be coming from right above your head.

The Arizona Student Unions are working with the Office of Student Engagement and the Graduate and Professional Student Council to make the idea of a union rooftop garden into a reality.

“The food that is grown would go back into feeding the restaurants within the Arizona Student Union, like Pangea, as well as Campus Pantry,” said Jessica Litvack, senior coordinator of student engagement and faculty programs.

The garden could reduce the need to bring in food from outside the university. Some of the fresh ingredients grown in the garden will be given to the UA Campus Pantry, an on-campus organization with the goal of reducing food insecurity in the UA community. The pantry holds distributions on Fridays where students and staff can have food for free.

The current goal is to wrap up planning for the garden by the end of April in order to build the garden over the summer and have it operating when school starts next August, Litvack said. The garden would be student-run, giving UA students interested in the environment or sustainability an opportunity to apply their knowledge in the real world and gain more experience. The garden will even be designed by UA students. 

Arizona Student Unions are having a rooftop garden design competition, sponsored by Shamrock Farms and Coca-Cola, where groups of up to five students can design and propose their ideas.

Carmen Valenica | The Daily Wildcat

The kickoff to design a version of the rooftop garden will be on Feb. 3 at the Gallagher Theater in the Student Memorial Center.

The winning group will have their design implemented and each member of the team will win $1,000 in meal plan money. Each member of the second and third place teams will win $500 and $100 in meal plan money, respectively.

Litvack said the teams will be required to do research in order to generate an implementable design. This includes taking into consideration things like the amount of weight the roof can hold and where the best place to buy materials is. Each group will also have a mentor assigned to help them through the design process.

RELATED: Student teams show off tech skills, ideas at Hack Arizona

“The idea is students designing something that is going to have a tangible impact on the university moving forward, but also has a service component to it,” Litvack said.

Cassidy Leroux, a pre-nursing sophomore and the director of training and development for the Residence Hall Association, thinks the rooftop garden is a great idea.

“I think it’s a good use of space,” Leroux said. “It’s a creative way to be more sustainable.”

Leroux said she would not be interested in personally participating in the design competition, but said that “it’s a really good idea and there are some students here who are capable of making it into something great.”

The UA Community Garden, founded in 2012, is an example of how successful projects like this can be. Jaclyn Mendelson, the manager of the garden, said it is completely student-run.

RELATED: UA Community Garden offers opportunities for students to grow“The garden serves two main purposes,” Mendelson said. “The first is food production, and the second is being an educational and community-building space for the university and the Tucson community.”

Mendelson thinks the competition is a great idea because it encourages students to think about where their food comes from and gives them the opportunity to get involved with it directly.

Carmen Valenica | The Daily Wildcat

The goal of the contest will be to find a design that will be implemented to grow fresh ingredients for the Student Union.

“I think any agriculture on campus sounds good,” Mendelson said. “It makes people think about how to garden in this region.”

Idrian Mollaneda, a junior studying political science and environmental studies, also thinks the garden would be a good addition to the campus.

“It all sounds like an exciting new opportunity for students to uniquely engage in gardening,” said Mollaneda, the chair of the Environmental Social Justice Committee of Students for Sustainability. “It will definitely help in making the university a more sustainable place. However, there is much more work to be done to create a truly sustainable university.”

There will be a kickoff event on February 3 at 6 p.m. in the Gallagher Theater for all interested teams to find out more details about the project.

Follow Taylor Brestel on Twitter.

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Home show moves into new site

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 10:50 am

Home show moves into new site

January isn’t a good month for homeowner projects — but it’s a great time to plant new ideas.

The 42nd annual Central Nebraska Home and Builders Show, set for this weekend, gets people in the mood for spring with its offerings of unique home conceptions, creative solutions and fresh products and services.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017 10:50 am.

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Builders Show,

Pinnacle Bank Expo Center,


Central Nebraska Home,

Central Nebraska Home And Builders Show,

Grand Island,

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Connecticut Master Gardener Association hosts symposium

Spring will be here again before we know it and so will the Connecticut Master Gardener Symposium.

The Connecticut Master Gardener Association invites all Master Gardeners and anyone interested in nature and gardening to the 24nd Annual Gardening Symposium “Landscape Design…or Not”. This daylong event, open to the public, will be held March 18, at Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, Crozier-Williams Building in New London.

The keynote speaker will be Julie Moir Messervy who is principal designer of JMMDS, a landscape architecture and design firm in Saxtons River, Vermont (create parks and residential gardens around the country). Julie’s lecture, Landscaping Ideas that Work, will provide a host of visual ideas as well as design tips, before-and-after images, case studies, and essential information to initiate the process from thinking ‘big picture’ about your property down to the details.

The closing speaker will be Bill Cullina, Executive Director-Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Bill is a popular lecturer and teacher for garden, conservation and professional horticultural groups in the U.S. and Canada. He has written five acclaimed horticultural references on subjects ranging from wildflowers, native trees, shrubs and vines, growing woody plants, understanding orchids, native ferns, moss and grasses and understanding perennials. His numerous awards for the advancement of horticulture include the Scott medal for lifetime achievement in horticulture. Bill’s lecture “From Emerald Carpet to Amber Wave: Serene and Sensuous Plants for the Garden” will introduce some of his favorite texturally rich and visually delectable native ferns, grasses and sedges to consider for your landscape.

With registration, each attendee has the opportunity to select two workshop sessions from these well-known horticultural professionals:

Nancy DuBrule-Clemente “Bookends of the Gardening Year: Planting for Early/Late Season Pollinators”

Dan Furman “Unusual Landscape Edibles for Connecticut”

Dan Jaffee “Designless Gardening” What clues can you take from nature for your landscape?

Jan Johnson “Spirit of Stone: Creative and Practical Ways to Use Natural Stone in Your Garden”

Maria von Bricken “Classical Vertical Gardening: Vines that Flower Up and Around”

For over 25 years CMGA has supported UConn’s Master Gardener program and horticultural projects around Connecticut through grants and scholarships. Your attendance at the symposium helps CMGA fulfill these worthwhile activities.

The admission price of $65 for CMGA members and their guests, and $85 for the general public includes a light breakfast, buffet lunch, access to two workshops, speakers, vendors, free raffle, and a silent auction. Master Gardeners can earn two AMG educational credits by attending the symposium. For additional information or to register for the symposium on-line or print paper flyer/registration, go to . Registrations must be processed by March 6, 2017; after that date, only walk-in registrations will be accepted. Equal opportunity program provider. Find Connecticut Master Gardener Association | Facebook

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Symposium looks at adjusting landscaping ideas for Idaho

Saturday, Feb. 18

Rethinking Idaho Landscapes Symposium: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Special Events Center, Boise State University. Keynote speaker is Mike Bone of the Denver Botanic Garden. $45 general, $35 Idaho Botanical Garden members and University of Idaho Master Gardeners. Register: 343-8649,

Tuesday, Feb. 21

Gardening 101: 7 to 9 p.m. at Boise Library Collister branch, 4724 W. State St. The ins and outs of growing your best garden ever with resident expert Doreen Guenther.

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Incredible Edible Landscapes

When horticulturalist Gareth Crosby looks at red leaf lettuce, she sees more than food. She sees the perfect ornamental accent to a bed of tulips. “Landscaping with food plants is both useful and can be beautiful,” she says.

In a time when people are looking for new ways to reconnect with food, some Athens horticulturalists and landscapers, like Crosby, are hoping to bring freshly grown foods one step closer to your table through edible landscapes.

An edible landscape, says Crosby, is a step up from a vegetable garden. While both provide homegrown food, edible landscapes take on the extra challenge of appeal. “It needs to look good and also be edible,” she says.

That requires the same design concepts—balancing the texture, height, color and size of plants—as a traditional ornamental landscape does, only with plants you can eat. “When someone would have an azalea,” says Crosby, “we’d plant a blueberry.”

Kevin Clyde Yates designs and installs edible gardens for Athens residents with his company, Hungry Gnome Gardenscapes. “We try to blur the line,” he says. “I hope for not a clear distinction between edible versus aesthetic.”  

He often encourages planting perennials—plants that will continue to flower or fruit year after year. Most of what we consume in the U.S. are annual plants, says Yates: “We seed the plants, we harvest them, they die.” Edible landscapes instead offer a more sustainable approach to gardening and eating.  

“There are lot of different perennial foods out there, perennial vegetables included,” Yates says. Asparagus is one. So are native plants Solomon’s seal and sochan, which Yates admits aren’t as popular because his clients aren’t used to eating them. More often, he starts with fruit. Nanking cherry trees are popular for both their summer berries and the dainty white flowers that adorn the tree in spring.

Sometimes, says Crosby, introducing edible plants to a landscape requires a broadening of perspective. Consider the artichoke. Many of us recognize the flowering bud that we eat, but “the plant itself is a light, bluish green color with wide, spiky leaves,” Crosby says. “It’s really striking in a garden.”

Other favorites: A blueberry bush’s summer berries give way to attractive dark red leaves in winter, and layered pole beans create a “lovely” effect creeping up a trellis, Crosby says.

“I tend to like beautiful things that are also practical,” she says. Choosing low-maintenance plants that will succeed in Georgia’s climate is key. Our warmer, wetter weather attracts fungi and pests that can overrun gardens, edible or not. And edible gardens, like annual ornamental flower beds or vegetable patches, take work—and continuing education.

“So much of growing food has a technical component to it that is not part of our normal cultural understanding,” Yates says. He suggests that first-time edible gardeners start with one edible plant they’re interested in eating and expanding from there. “Herbs are an easy one,” he says. “They’re very gratifying, and you get a lot of flavor out of it.”

Pat McElroy has several herbs in her newly created garden landscape and 16 raised beds brimming with vegetables. Yates designed and installed the garden in April, and McElroy is enamored: “To see life happening in that way is a wonderful thing.”

Like Crosby, she sees beauty in her lettuces. “Cauliflower plants lined up like little soldiers,” she says. “I think that’s beautiful”—especially in contrast to the wildness of the pumpkin and watermelon vines growing feet away. It takes work and learning new tricks, says McElroy, but knowing where her food comes from is worth it.

Crosby hopes more Athenians will consider adding a few edible plants into their landscape plans for spring, especially foods they would normally eat. “It’s a more practical use of the land that you have,” she says.

Her No. 1 tip: Take the time to build up the soil. Georgia has lost much of its nutrient-rich topsoil, and red clay isn’t friendly to many plants. “It’s the hardest thing to do retroactively,” Crosby says.

So, for those of us who want our food produced close to home, it may be time to swap out a few begonias for berries this spring.

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NWU says it is not seeking to undermine anyone

The National Workers Union (NWU) has declared that it is not seeking to undermine anyone, as the union seeks to become the bargaining agent for  workers of the Castries Constituencies Council (CCC).

Some ninety CCC workers from the Works, Sanitation, Cemetery, Gardens and Landscaping Departments want to ditch the Seamen, Waterfront and General Workers trade union in favour of the NWU.

NWU President General, Tyrone Maynard and other union officials met some of the workers today.

Solace Myers, the Deputy President General of the NWU, told reporters that workers have  issues and challenges that they are facing.

She did not elaborate.

“If they believe that one organization might be better suited to address their business, they obviously will exercise their franchise and do what they have to do,” Myers said.

She explained that the NWU works with all its colleagues in the trade union sector.

This  morning’s  meeting with the CCC workers was held ahead of a planned decertification exercise planned for tomorrow.

Myers said the meeting was summoned to explain the process to the workers and what would be expected of them.

She explained that once the decertification exercise is completed, the NWU will go through the legal process of becoming the representative of the CCC employees.

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South LA high schools celebrate MLK Day

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Dorsey and Crenshaw high schools were the beneficiaries of the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 16 as each school received a campus makeover thanks to nonprofits agencies who held a Day of Service at the schools.

More than 1,500 volunteers at Dorsey High School helped with projects such as beautifying classrooms and hallways with murals, building sustainable gardens and landscaping campus grounds.

The service activity was organized by L.A. Works, which is a nonprofit volunteer action center that empowers Angelenos to address pressing social issues through volunteerism and community collaborations.

“In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,What are you doing for others?’” said Bob Johnson, chairman and co-founder of L.A. Works. “Today Angelenos came together … to reinforce this vital notion and answer King’s call to service.”

Attendees included Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and former Laker Derek Fisher.

Corporate sponsors included Target, Kaiser, Macy’s, Accenture, In a Perfect World Foundation, and the Jonathan Club.

Dorsey High School’s mission is to be the cornerstone of success in the community, providing a quality education that will empower students to compete and succeed in their post-secondary endeavor.

Not too far from Dorsey, City Year organized about 700 volunteers at Crenshaw High School beautifying the school’s grounds by painting 35 murals, 120 college logos and completing two gardening projects.

The day of service was sponsored by Disney. City Year is an education organization fueled by national service, that partners with public schools in 28 urban, high-need communities across the U.S. and through international affiliates in the U.K. and South Africa.

“We are grateful to Disney and Disney/ABC Television Group President, Ben Sherwood, for sponsoring this special day and making it possible to reflect on Dr. King’s contributions by mobilizing volunteers for a day of service in their own community,” said Mary Jane Stevenson, executive director of City Year Los Angeles.

Participants consisted of more than 470 City Year alumni, staff and AmeriCorps members, 60 Disney volunteers, and 250 other volunteers.

“National service is a common experience that brings people together from all walks of life, and perhaps more than ever before, our country needs more unity and collaboration,” Stevenson said. “Through our work in 28 Los Angeles schools, and through our partnerships with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the local business community, and the parents who have supported our efforts, our AmeriCorps members honor that legacy each and every day.”

Crenshaw High School’s vision is to be recognized nationally as a model of collaboration among teachers, parents, administrators, and the community dedicated to maximizing the educational, social emotional development and civic engagement of its students.

Contributing writer Marissa Wells contributed to this story.


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Gardening Tips: Camelias bring colour to dark winter days …

If your garden is in a mild location in the UK then snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils will begin to show their heads in February.

But beware – the weather is changeable and can still be bring days that are extremely cold and full of frost.

Time, therefore, to give your garden a little bit of love with a quick tidy up.

And you could also start sowing seeds and planting – weather permitting.

Growing your own plants from seeds is one of the most rewarding and economical ways of getting your garden going after the winter months.

For grow your own gardeners February is all about cultivating and prepare seed beds (if the ground isn’t frozen) and covering them with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing.

From mid-February you can sow tomato and cucumber seeds for growing in greenhouses, and plant out garlic and shallots in light soils.

This is also your last chance to winter prune apples, pears and autumn fruiting raspberries and to plant bare-rooted raspberries.

A simple garden solution for February is to make a mini woodland glade in your garden.

If you haven’t any dappled garden shade you are missing out on some amazing plants.

Plant a couple of small trees such as weeping willow and twisted hazel – add lots of leaf mould to the ground to make these woodland natives feel at home.

Then plant some hellebores, a couple of pots of dwarf daffodils and some native cyclamen into the ground and fill in the gaps with ferns. Finish the whole thing off with a covering of bark chippings.

Another woodland plant to consider, that does best when planted in a sheltered or shady position, is the Camellia.

It’s also ideal for the romantics among you looking for a floral gift for your loved one as the fragrant Camellia represents desire, passion and perfection.

Camellias are also one of the best garden plants to use for adding a real splash of colour in the dark winter months.

They are a wonderful plant to grow in the garden or a container.

They can be grown in a more exposed position if watered carefully and thrive in a free draining spot with plenty of humus in the surrounding soil.

Depending on the variety, you can have flowering from November through to April and the range of colours is vast, from light pinks to dark reds and stunning whites with single, double and other flower forms.

As it gets towards the end of January and into February, prune large flowering clematis right back to a strong bud and divide and re-plant snowdrops.

If the weather is dry, keep an eye on evergreens in containers and make sure they are watered regularly.

Once winter flowering jasmine has blossomed, cut out dead steams, trim back new shoots and tie back the new growth.

For the maximum show of flowers later in the year, cut back summer flowering shrubs such as buddleia, lavateria and hardy fuchsia.

Deadhead winter flowering pansies to keep them blooming and, depending on frosts, prune roses, climbers and hardy evergreens.

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