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Archives for February 25, 2017

The future of urban gardens

The composition must excite you when you look out, so it can be enjoyed in all weathers at anytime of the year, morning, noon and night.

Use similar materials and lighting so the narrative you’ve set in the house continues into the garden, and if the floor levels are both the same, so much the better.

Outdoor seating must be comfortable enough to entice you outside. Can you lean back, will your ankles fit underneath and is it wide enough to lie down and grab a quick siesta?

Every object in your garden has to earn its keep. Maybe your bench could offer storage space and a raised bed could be built to seating height and double up as a perch.

Two thirds of your view will be boundary. Maximisze potential with climbers such as Star Jasmine or Climbing Hydrangea and make the most of vital growing space.

Be bold with scale: one large architectural plant is better than five medium-sized ones dotted about. And creates a calmer environment.

Recommended designers

Anoushka Feiler is a multi-award-winning gardener based in Oxfordshire and London working on stylish residential, commercial and public gardens throughout the country.

Chelsea medal winner Kate Gould and her team will tackle all shapes and sizes of projects from city courtyards to country estates.

Daniel Lobb say, “The most rewarding aspect of garden design is the time-based aspect of nature; each space evolves season upon season.” His work ranges from a breaker’s yard to manor house gardens.

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Renny Reynolds to discuss English gardens on March 1


On Wednesday, March 1 the Boca Grande Garden Club will welcome Renny Reynolds to its monthly meeting at the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium at 2 p.m.

He will present a program entitled “Inspiration from the English Garden,” a visual stroll through predominantly private English gardens designed by well-known English garden designers who share Renny’s outlook on the important design features of the gardens.

Renny has a wide and varied background in landscape architecture, floral design, party planning and more recently with Hortulus Farms, an 18th century farmstead and nursery operation in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

After graduating with a degree in landscape architecture from the University of  Wisconsin, Renny opened his first shop in New York City. His career really took off when he designed a terrace garden for Bill Blass. He expanded into event design when Yves St. Laurent asked him to design the introduction of his Opium fragrance.  That led Renny to designing events at the legendary Studio 54, including events for Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minnelli.

He co-founded Renny Reed in New York City, one of the nation’s most renowned entertaining, gardening and lifestyle experts. He also wrote “The Art of the Party,” widely known as the party planner’s “Bible.”

His event and garden designs have been featured in all major shelter, garden and lifestyle magazines, including Architectural Digest, W, House Garden, House Beautiful, New York Magazine, Horticulture Magazine, Town Country, and Garden Design. Clients have included U.S. Presidents Ford, Nixon, Reagan and Clinton, with events in the White House, luminaries of stage and screen, leaders of industry, countless brides, and the country’s largest and most prestigious corporations and nonprofit institutions.

In 2005 Renny left the event design business and returned to his first love, garden design, with current projects across the country. In 2008 he was awarded the prestigious “Great American Gardener” Award by The American Horticulture Society, their highest honor. Renny has served on the boards of P.S. 1/MOMA, The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, The Royal Oak Foundation, Bucks Beautiful, Fisherman’s Mark, and Heritage Conservancy of Bucks County, Pa.

A longtime member of Greater Philadelphia Gardens, Hortulus Farms was honored in 2015 by being made the second-only-in-their-history Affiliate Garden of The Garden Conservancy, giving it major new national prominence. The Hortulus Farms Foundation was created in 2000 to ensure that this historic property will continue to exist as a public place of tranquility and horticultural inspiration in perpetuity.

The program is free to members of the Boca Grande Garden Club and open to the public on a space-available basis for a fee of $30, payable at the door, by cash or check made payable to the Boca Grande Garden Club. Membership for this season is now closed, but if you are interested in joining for next season, membership will reopen on April 1 for 2017-2018.  All memberships are annual and open on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Marcy Shortuse is the editor of the Boca Beacon, and has been with the paper since 2007. She is also editor of the Boca Beacon’s sister publication, Gasparilla Magazine.
She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing local newspapers and is originally from the Chicago area.

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Community Counts: Rites of spring – Barnstable Patriot

This week we had a teasing taste of spring, with warmer temperatures and longer hours of daylight. It put all of us in a cheery mood.

In just a couple of weeks (March 18-19), an annual rite of spring will cheer us even more: for the 59th consecutive year, Hyannis Rotary Club mounts its Home, Garden Lifestyle Show at Barnstable High School (full disclosure: I am a Hyannis Rotarian).

A sure sign of spring is this expansive opportunity to see landscaping ideas, home improvement options and, new this year, opportunities for health enhancement and personal development. As spring beckons, we’re itching to get our hands into our gardens, get our bodies into shape for the coming beach days and apply spit, polish and maybe some fixings or new equipment to perk up our homes.

What better place to feed spring fever than at the Home Garden Show? Bring the whole family and plan to stay all day.

Children’s activities are numerous: face painting and STEM activities for the kids; and Rotarians (educators and child care professionals) guide children in painting flowers on recycled 2-liter soda bottles, then kids can use them for “bowling”; and creating flower pots to “plant” pink flamingoes, then using them for a ring toss. Prizes, too!

Meanwhile you can peruse new window options, roofing, gutters and green lawn products. You can bring your garden soil to have it tested by the Master Gardeners Association to identify soil enhancements that will help your garden flourish. Sonny’s Flower Trends is offering flower-arranging workshops, while both students and Cape Abilities are selling trays of flowers for an early start on your annual beds.

Besides some 150 booths and displays, there’s food in the school cafeteria with plentiful seating and live music, as well as many new delectable food offerings.

The new Lifestyle component of the show features professionals and businesses offering personal care and healthy choice products and, especially exciting, a Good Run for Good Works on Saturday, March 18, the first day of the show.

With two 5K runs (adults and teens), a half-mile run for youth 7-12 and even a 100M “run” for children 6 and under, the Good Works Run offers prizes in each category and a prize for best St. Patrick’s Day costume. Entrance fees vary by age group, but runners get free entrance to the show, and a whole lot of fun.

Cape Cod Academy is major sponsor for the Good Run for Good Works and has issued challenges for Barnstable and other high schools to compete for a largest team prize. Register for the Good Works Run at

And why call this “Good Works” run? Like all Rotary Clubs, Hyannis raises money that it then returns to the community in scholarships and grants. Founded in 1925, Rotary Club of Hyannis has awarded thousands of scholarships and more than a million dollars in grants.

From the Faith Neighborhood Kitchen to Champ Homes; from a new bandshell on the Hyannis Green to an electronic scoreboard for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks; from Cape Cod Healthcare’s bloodmobile to scores of nonprofits, Hyannis Rotary puts its money into the community – and the Home, Garden Lifestyle Show is the major source of the dollars the club devotes to insuring that “Community Counts.”

You can support the Hyannis Rotary Club’s good works while having an informative and fun day. Join the thousands of people from all over the region on March 18 and 19. See you there.


Kathleen Schatzberg is the former president of Cape Cod Community College. Her monthly column chronicles community building on Cape Cod.





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A night to imagine: Hundreds weigh in on Lady’s Island’s future

The colorful maps, crayons and candy at each cafeteria table hinted at an elementary exercise.

But the hundreds of area residents who filled Lady’s Island Elementary School on Thursday took on a complicated subject. The community forum hosted by the Coastal Conservation League and grassroots Sea Island Corridor Coalition targeted the lofty goal of designing Lady’s Island’s future.

Nothing was cemented, but ideas were scribbled along the islands and thoroughfares of the county maps and collected. Organizers will continue to collect feedback and said more events are likely.

The turnout for the community-driven exercise encouraged organizers.

“The fact 350 people came down here is a game-changer,” said Chuck Newton, whose Sea Island Corridor Coalition has mobilized residents over traffic and development issues. “It’s clear people care about what’s going on and want to have a say in it. That’s the most important thing.”

In all, 325 people signed in Thursday; about 100 more than had RSVP’d.

Noted urban planner Victor Dover, who has worked on plans for Port Royal and Beaufort’s Boundary Street, opened with an interactive presentation explaining planning concepts highlighting mixed uses, walking, biking and landscaping.

Participants received keypads and chimed in with opinions on particular street designs. Responses were used to determine more than half the crowd was older than 64.

Dover cautioned that the forum wasn’t representative of the community and encouraged participants to think about younger generations when brainstorming ideas.

“It’s for puppies we design these doghouses,” he said.

Dover noted that it can be difficult to stop development long enough to think about design but that the sizable crowd showed the community cared and could steer plans.

After the presentation, attendees huddled in small groups to list Lady’s Island’s needs.

Ed Atkins, who lives off of Airport Circle near the new Wal-Mart shopping center, suggested a bus route from Chowan Creek Bluff to downtown. Beaufort builder Merritt Patterson, also part of Atkins’ group, said the public transportation could be a trolley system, and they debated its merits and drawbacks.

The group also advocated landscaping and street improvements already outlined in a plan for the Village Center, a planned mixed-use area of Lady’s Island. Another group that included Beaufort planning director Libby Anderson suggested a bike trail running in a circle encompassing Lady’s Island, part of Port Royal and downtown Beaufort.

Ideas also included bike paths to Meridian Road between Sea Island Parkway and Lady’s Island Drive, a waterfront park at Whitehall across from downtown Beaufort and implementing road projects suggested by a city traffic study.

“I want to see how they handle everyone’s ideas,” Lady’s Island resident Scott Lewis said.

The league planned to continue gathering feedback from the forum to present to public officials. Beaufort city and county planners, administrators and elected officials attended.

“Our hope is people leave feeling empowered,” said Rikki Parker, south coast project manager for the Coastal Conservation League.

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Tips on enhancing a home’s curb appeal

Front Lawn of Beautiful HomeBy Alexander Huxley

As a professional landscaper, you are the go-to-guy or gal, whenever property owners need to revamp the curb appeal of their properties.

They come to you confident that you will solve their landscaping needs. Local rental owners are always looking to renovate their properties to attract new tenants but they still care to profit. You, therefore, need to have novel yet practical decoration ideas to not only impress your clients but also ensure that you remain competitive in the market.

If lately you have been struggling to come up with exciting concepts for enhancing your customer’s curb appeal, here are a few ideas to get you back on top of your game.

Introduce outdoor lighting

People’s busy lifestyles have transformed to the extent that most renters prefer to go house hunting in the evenings. Make it easier for your clients to showcase their units to potential tenants or buyers, by lighting up their property.

Fortunately, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the various landscaping lighting ideas at your disposal. These options include downlights to create a striking moonlit effect, up lights to illuminate the pathways, or cross lighting to enhance the aesthetic features of the landscape, devoid of unsightly shadows.

Besides aiding the property in remaining visible even after dusk, outdoor lighting also makes the place safe, secure, inviting and friendly, much to the delight of both your client and their guests.

Edge the paths

walkway-to-frontdoorAn ingenious way of making your customer’s curb neat and clean is to demarcate high traffic areas. For example, you could install borders along the driveway and the walkways, using easy to find, conventional edging materials like stones, pavers, flagstones, and bricks.

However, instead of just selecting one item, showcase your landscaping prowess by combining a variety of edging materials, to create colorful, texture-rich, beautiful designs, guaranteed to transform the rather mundane yard into an elegant, welcoming open space.

Revamp the mailbox

Many property owners spend too much time and resources upgrading their units to make them habitable and market friendly, but for one unclear reason, they always seem to neglect the mailbox.

beautiful-asian-inspired-mailboxIronically, the mailbox is one of the first features that guests on the property encounter. Imagine visiting an advertised rental property only to find that it has a rusty mailbox mounted on an unstable leaning-to-the side post. Naturally, you wouldn’t help but wonder what else in the house is outmoded.

Help your client make a good first impression to the prospecting visitors by giving his or her mailbox a much-needed facelift. You could repaint the box and replace the post with a new sturdy one, or you could opt for the more durable stone or brick columns, to complement the house’s style.

Add flowers

 One of the best landscaping ideas for revamping any property is flowers. Still, you must make sure you select the right type of flowers that accentuates the mood and theme of the property, and whose maintenance is relatively easy.

garden-in-front-of-homeIt makes no sense to grow beautiful flowers whose sustenance will prove a challenge. Go for perennials that do well in your client’s area. A simple phone call or a visit to the local nursery should be enough to inform you what type of flowers are ideal.

Moreover, instead of just sticking with the tradition of growing flowers in front of the house, and along sidewalks, consider bolder options like growing them on raised garden beds, in flower boxes, berms, and on hanging baskets.

Establish a berm

If your client has a relatively flat and uninterrupted lawn, you could build a berm to breathe some life and excitement to it.

Berms are a convenient way of adding color to the property by using trees, plants, stones or even mulch. The fun thing about them is that they have soft and curving edges, making it possible for you to come up with interesting, innovative shapes and designs.

The flexibility also makes it viable for you to add aesthetic improvements without making any significant structural changes to the property. Such a possibility is a much-welcomed idea, especially when working with a client who prefers minimum changes in their garden.

Conceal the dead spots

Even though plants are an effective solution for enhancing a property’s curb appeal, sometimes they can just do the opposite. Robust trees are a perfect example.

They deny the area around their base water and essential nutrients, causing those areas to have ugly dead spots. When faced with such a challenge, the initial reaction for most novice landscapers is to try and restore the grass.

That, however, is fighting a losing battle. Instead of wasting precious time and energy, be creative and work with nature. For instance, look for flowers that can thrive in such a shaded setting and plant them around the base of the trees. Alternatively, you could cover the dead spots with mulch to help the yard look healthy and appealing to the eye.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Alexander Huxley is with Costello Realty Management, a local property management and realty company located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Busch Gardens offseason anything but quiet

Dan Everhart has amassed a mighty collection of sunset views from the top of Busch Gardens’ roller coasters.

The ride technician is a 27-year veteran at the park, but making the climb to the top doesn’t get old, especially from Alpengeist, a 20-year-old roller coaster that reaches a height of 195 feet.

On a cold February day, no guests are milling about to take in the views with Everhart. The park doesn’t open for another month, but there’s still plenty of bustle coming from all corners.

With ride and landscaping maintenance, Busch Gardens’ employees stay busy in the offseason so the park will be in tip-top shape when the park opens to pass-members March 18 and to the public March 25.

Tips for Taking Your Landscaping Vertical

Seth stottlemyer living walls 2 evvun2

Image: Courtesy Seth Stottlemyer

The “living wall” you’re looking at was created by Seth Stottlemyer, who, as a proponent of the living architecture movement, was the keynote speaker at a recent Lunch in the Gardens event at Selby Gardens. 

Stottlemyer, who studied horticulture and ornamental gardening at the New York Botanical Garden and worked at a prominent landscape design company in New York, returned home to Sarasota and opened Oasis Gardenscapes, which specializes in living walls and also more traditional landscape designs.

At six feet tall and 28 feet long, the living wall here is on the pool patio deck of a Harbor Acres bayfront residence. Because the wall is mostly shaded, except for a bit of sunlight as the sun starts to set each day, Stottlemyer used low-light tropical plants: various species of ferns, philodendrons, peperomia (“a workhorse for me because it adapts well to different settings”), and small flowering orchids. He also likes to work with bird’s nest ferns, cypress spikemoss ferns and variegated spider plants.

Living walls and rooftop gardens, which comprise the living architecture movement, have numerous benefits besides their aesthetic value, he explains, “especially for heating and cooling and mitigating stormwater runoff issues, plus the all-over health and well-being of people working and living in those spaces.” 

Seth stottlemyer fspkm7

Image: Courtesy Seth Stottlemyer 

At the Selby Gardens luncheon, Stottlemyer walked the audience through the steps required to build and install a living wall. A support structure with a lot of strength is essential, he says, because the wall has to hold a lot of plants and water. An irrigation system on a timer is a must, too, because in order to thrive the plants must be watered regularly.

Most importantly, he says, plant selection is key. “if you have a shady living wall, you don’t want flowering herbaceous plants that need sunlight and vice versa,” he says. “It’s about trying to be very smart and plan for what’s appropriate for a given space and environment.”

Regular maintenance, every week or every other week, is important, too. “If you’ve made that investment, you might as well pay a little bit to keep it up,” he says.

Stottlemyer has created four large living walls, including one for a West of Trail spec house and another for a large, high-end custom home on Siesta Key. “It’s on a covered dining terrace area, a really beautiful location looking south out to the Intracoastal,” he says. And he has commissions for several more. “It’s definitely taken off.”

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Blueberries excellent addition to gardens, landscapes

Looking for a plant to grow in an area with full sun and that becomes more drought resistant over time? Blueberries are an excellent choice when adding plants to gardens and home landscaping.

Assuming the soil conditions and the amount of available sunlight are adequate, blueberries can be incorporated almost anywhere. The blueberry plant itself is adorned in spring with white bell-shaped flowers, and vibrant red foliage in the fall.

One attribute that makes blueberries fairly easy to grow is that they usually do not have any issues with insect pests. Their edible berries are another reason you should consider adding blueberries to your landscape or garden.

Requirements for Healthy Blueberries

To achieve maximum fruit production, full sun is best when growing blueberries. A small amount of filtered shade, such as under pine trees, can be tolerated, but may result in reduced fruit production.

The type of blueberry that is most commonly grown in the Southeast is the Rabbit-eye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei.) There are more than 10 different Rabbit-eye blueberries varieties that have been known to thrive in Alabama.

“Various species of Vaccinium grow in differing regions throughout the United States,” said Bethany O’Rear, a regional Alabama Extension agent in commercial horticulture and home grounds.

According to O’Rear, blueberries do not tolerate nitrate fertilizers. Rather, ammonium fertilizers, such as urea or ammonium sulfate, are the best to use. Conducting a soil test will help you discover the amount required and help ensure that you are supplying your new blueberries with its essential needs.


Because blueberries require high levels of organic matter, incorporating compost, peat moss or finely ground pine bark into the planting hole is necessary. The actual planting hole should be about twice as wide as the blueberry plant’s root ball, but no deeper. Making the hole more shallow is not a bad idea to account for settling when the new plant is watered in. To finish planting, amend the soil from the planting hole with organic matter, then finish filling. Water the newly planted blueberry and apply a layer of mulch, which helps control weeds as well as conserve moisture.

“One other point to mention regarding planting – you must have at least two, preferably three different kinds of blueberries in one planting area,” said O’Rear. “This step will ensure cross-pollination between the plants, which is necessary for fruit-set.”

Planting time is dependent on the type of blueberry plant. If you are planning on growing containerized blueberries, they should be planted between October and March.

“Bare-root blueberries have an increased survival rate when planted between December and the end of February,” O’Rear said. June marks the harvest time for blueberries.

Maintenance Care

During the first year after planting, plan on watering the plants twice a week. A thorough watering is needed one or two times per week upon establishment of the plant.

“To encourage enhanced root establishment, water the plant for longer periods of time rather than shorter ones is ideal,” O’Rear said.

An adequate amount of moisture is imperative when fruiting for successful fruit production. The plant actually will retract water from the fruit itself if its water levels are too low.

To allow the plant to focus its energy on establishment instead of fruit production, it is a good idea to pick the small fruit for two years after the bush is planted. Once established, most landscape plants require less water per year than they did when first planted. Therefore, blueberries can withstand drier periods better as an established plant compared to a newly planted plant.

To learn more about how to enhance your garden and landscape, check out Alabama Extension’s “Gardening in the South” series. You can find the series on iBooks.

Based on proven Master Gardener training and seasoned with university research, the “Gardening in the South” series of books is packed with information, tips and tricks to being a successful Southern gardener.

Also, for those of you who have current blueberry bushes and would like to learn how to properly prune them to optimize their berry production, there will be a free Blueberry Pruning Workshop from 9:30 a.m. to noon March 1 at the Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center in Crossville. You can register for the workshop by calling the Etowah County Extension Office.

For more information on this topic and many others, contact the Etowah County Extension Office, 256-547-7936 or 3200 A W. Meighan Blvd., Gadsden. Amy Burgess is extension coordinator for the Etowah County Extension Office.



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