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Archives for March 18, 2017

Classes for March 18 through March 24

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5 questions on how to care for your garden

The Kentucky Wildcats defeated in-state foe Northern Kentucky in the first round of the Tournament, 79-70.

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P. Allen Smith, expert in gardening and garden design, to speak Wednesday at Cummer Museum – Florida Times

P. Allen Smith, an expert on gardening and garden design, is a busy guy.

He is the host of three TV shows — two on PBS, one syndicated. Some episodes are filmed at Moss Mountain Farm, his 650-acre estate near Little Rock, Ark., but he travels frequently to other areas of the country, and Europe, as well.

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He has written numerous books on gardening, and one cookbook. He’s an advocate for the local food movement, organic gardening and the preservation of heritage poultry breeds.

And he’s also a speaker.

Smith is scheduled to present a lecture, “Naturally: The Love of Gardening,” on Wednesday at the Cummer Museum of Art Gardens as part of the museum’s Garden Month, which continues through March 30.

He talked about garden-related topics in a telephone interview as he headed back to Arkansas after a speaking engagement in Branson, Mo.

What are some of the things you plan to talk about in your lecture here?

The best way to describe the lecture — and what the title suggests — is that gardening is certainly an activity that I enjoy, and the growing of things is something that I find hugely rewarding. But beyond that, I think that gardening is an artistic expression, and gardening and landscape design is picture-making. So one is pulled into this opportunity to express themselves with plants, with a living palette, not unlike a painter mighty apply oil paint to a canvas. …

Good garden design is good picture-making. … When I look at a landscape, and I look at a garden, I’m always thinking about what is this going to become, what kind of picture am I making with it — it being the materials, the plants and then of course what I’m fortifying those plants with if I’m preparing a bed, or feeding them.

Is there one aspect of gardening that gives you the most satisfaction?

Well, I like to prepare the soil. I know that sounds very dull. But I love good soil, and I love making good soil. It in itself is its own organism, its own universe, if you will. And it’s very satisfying to make good soil. And I like to plant things. I’m not so big on picking things. I’m not a good harvester. I’d rather grow the tomatoes than pick them. I don’t know why.

But it still involves working with your hands, which seems to inspire many people who garden.

I have very strong feelings about this. Gardening is what I call one of the hand arts. They extend into sewing and pottery making and cooking, any number of things, playing the piano or any number of musical instruments. All these things are the hand arts, and I think they inform the mind in a way that we haven’t completely understood yet — and may never.

But there’s something deeply satisfying about using your hands. I think that one gets the same kind of reduction in blood pressure, sticking your hands in the soil and working in the soil, or at least I do, as I get when I’m petting my dog. It’s a connection that’s a really fundamental, basic human connection. You can feel it.

Do you take time for for questions when you speak to groups?

I do allow for questions. In fact, if it’s a very interesting group, and an engaged group, I often just like to come in and sit on a stool in front of the audience and answer questions. As a way of getting into some of these things, it just naturally happens, I think.

Do people tend to want specific advice, or are they more likely to seek reassurance because they doubt their own gardening skills?

Both of those. Or even broader than that, [discusing gardening] in a deep philosophical way. Those are the most rewarding conversations for me.

Should gardeners accept that there will probably be a certain amount of failure?

Well, that’s certainly what I encourage and preach, that it’s not perfection we’re trying to achieve, it’s the process. The end is a beautiful thing, but the end is sort of an illusion, it’s part of a cycle. And we just sort of see the bloom as the peak, the end, but it’s really it’s part of a cycle that you have to recognize. I’ve often said that the pursuit of perfection is folly. Perfection is an illusion, and it can set expectations in a way that leaves us flat and disappointed.

There’s also the mindset that you may hear a lot, which is, “But I kill everything I touch.”

I do hear that a lot. What a defeatist attitude. I’d love to meet their mother, to get to the root of some of that. [He laughs.]

You’ve made a strong case for container gardening over the years. Is that because many people with an interest in gardening have a limited amount of space?

It certainly is part of it. But my container gardening ministry is about trying to get people comfortable in growing things. It’s a place to start. And I believe in small victories. You can take on a project like that and not feel overwhelmed. It seems like so many things in life that people jump into sort of willy-nilly and take on too much, then they’re doomed to fail. And if you can help them take their enthusiasm and curb it a little bit, and approach it in a more circumscribed way, then you’re setting them up for a greater chance of successs.

How would you complete this sentence? I prefer to grow my food organically because …

I prefer to grow my food organically because it benefits the planet, my family, my friends and myself. I think it’s so important that we think about what we’re doing. If everybody did that, if there was a higher level of consciousness about those kinds of things, before it would be a different place we live in today.

You talk to people like they’re your next-door neighbors. Is that an Arkansas specialty? Bill Clinton seems to have the same ability.

[He laughs.] Well, I remember my grandad, who was a very wise man, said you have to learn to minister to people’s understanding. And just, everybody’s on this journey, and trying to figure things out. I think what you want to do is encourage them, and the best way to do that is to make them feel OK about not knowing everything. …

I think that’s all in your demeanor and your use of the language, and how you approach people. If your goal is to help people, then you’ve got to understand where they’re coming from, and to do that, you’ve got to get them comfortable, and they’re share that with you in various ways. And then you can, together, crack the problem.

David Crumpler: (904) 359-4164

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Want to save time, money? Kill your lawn and embrace plants that thrive in our dry climate

Leah was such a sweet dog. I never heard a peep from her, and she was always friendly in a calm way.

We met when I bought a duplex in Boise’s East End, and she was living in one of the units with her owner. I moved into the unit next door after the sale closed, and gradually she warmed up to me.

But Leah was brutal on the lawn. Dead spots pockmarked the turf from where Leah, um, relieved herself. The grass was having a hard enough time as it was — being on a slope in the dry Foothills, and the strip of grass on the north side had zero shade.

In this climate, as many of you know, maintaining a decent looking lawn can be a struggle — even without a dog. If you pay for your water like most of us do, it can also be an expensive endeavor. I didn’t like wasting money on water and fertilizer. I also didn’t like spending my weekends mowing, and I didn’t like how hard it was to keep the lawn looking halfway decent.

So I decided to kill some of the lawn. One July, I mowed that strip on the north side down as short as I could and watered it thoroughly to increase the humidity. Then, I covered the whole thing with a black plastic tarp, securing the edges with landscape staples every few feet.

The idea is to cook the grass under the tarp. I turned off the sprinklers in that area and left the black plastic on the strip for the rest of the summer and through the winter.

As spring began to thaw the ground, I peeled back the black plastic. The technique had worked. The grass was brown and thoroughly dead.

Spade by spade, I turned the turf over so the dead grass would decompose into the soil. I manually broke up the clumps of dead turf with the shovel. This was tough work, but it gave me a good canvas on which to start planting.

I really struggled with what to put in the space. I’ve never been good at making household decisions. What color should I paint this room? Um, I don’t really know, there are so many dang swatches. What kind of carpet would be best? Well, uh, what’s on sale?

I took a class on native and xeric plants, which provided lots of ideas. But that was part of the problem: The possibilities seemed endless. What would give me a nice-looking yard with minimal maintenance? The answers were plentiful, and therefore elusive.

With the encouragement of my then-girlfriend and now-wife, Jessica, I dedicated the top of the strip to a vegetable/herb garden. She took charge of this area. The zucchini went crazy, and so did the tomatoes and thyme.

I dedicated the bottom portion to native/drought-tolerant plants. I purchased some of the plants at the Idaho Native Plant Society’s annual sale. The group’s sale is great. The plants at the sale are organized by the watering and environmental needs of each so you can match the plants to your site’s needs, and the prices are reasonable. (I’m so dedicated to their sale that I even went this past year on my wedding day before the ceremony!)

I focused on plants that need very little water and like lots of sun. These are the plants that have done especially well on my north-facing, sloped strip of former grass:

▪  Snow buckwheat

▪  Hot rock penstemon

▪  Colorado Blue Columbine

▪  Chamaebatiaria millefolium fernbush

▪  Fringed sage

▪  Dwarf rubber rabbitbrush

▪  Lavender

The fringed sage and the lavender in particular have really thrived. They’ve put up volunteers all over the place, including an adjacent rock garden and even in a seam on my driveway.

I water these plants occasionally, but I can go for a week or more in the summer without watering, and they’ll be just fine. After a few seasons in the ground, they are already taking up a fair amount of space and look pretty nice, despite not being precisely organized.

Lawn will always have a place in our landscapes. When I was a kid, ours was the outfield grass for wiffle-ball games, and the grass got beaten up good during neighborhood football games. But if yours doesn’t get that kind of use, there are a lot of options that are less expensive, less time-consuming, less wasteful and more aesthetically pleasing than standard turf.

Joe Jaszewski has been a visual journalist with the Idaho Statesman since 2003, and lives in Boise’s East End with his wife and son.

Idaho Native Plant Society sale and more

Saturday, April 29: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Idaho Native Plant Society sale, MK Nature Center, 600 S. Walnut, Boise. For information, visit The website also has many resources for gardeners. (Members-only sale is Friday, April 28. See website for details.) Watch for a list of available plants to be posted on the website about the second or third week of April.

Thursday, May 11: Idaho Botanical Garden Plant Sale for members from 4 to 7 p.m. Any leftover plants will be for sale on Friday, May 12, at National Public Gardens Day (see below). Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise. Information:

Friday, May 12: National Public Gardens Day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise. Information: Celebrate National Public Gardens Day with free admission to the Idaho Botanical Garden.

▪  Follow the Statesman gardening calendar on Saturdays for updates about local plant sales that often benefit nonprofit groups.

▪  The Treasure Valley is also home to several amazing gardening stores and nurseries that specialize in plants that grow great in our area. Their experts also can help you find what’s right for your yard.

Yard and garden classes

Take a free class like the one that Joe, the writer of this article, attended to get ideas. Many gardening stores, landscape shops, libraries and more offer classes and advice. Here are a few options:

April 11: Get inspiration and tips for landscaping with native plants from Ann DeBolt, member of the Idaho Native Plant Society and botanist at the Idaho Botanical Garden. 7 p.m. Boise Library Hillcrest Branch at 5246 W. Overland Road. Call 208-972-8340 for more information.

April 11: Bert Bowler, “extreme gardener and native plant buff,” will talk about the Table Rock fire that decimated the popular area in East Boise last year. Bowler lives near the fire site and will talk about how growing native plants (and combating cheatgrass) helped save his house. The talk, sponsored by the Idaho Native Plant Society, is at 7 p.m. at the MK Nature Center, 600 S. Walnut, Boise. Email for more information.

April 12: Landscape Design, 6 p.m. at FarWest Garden Center at 5728 W. State St., Boise. Introduction to design of gardens and outdoor living spaces. Learn the basic principles of landscape design — form, function, flow, aesthetics. RSVP to save your spot as space is limited: 208-853-4000.

April 22: Earth Day Essentials: “Get Xerius: Water and Firewise Gardens,” “Hey There Pollinator: How to Attract Native Pollinators”; “Get the Mix Right: Soil Amendments; Planting Perfection: Best Practices.” 11 a.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. RSVP for classes at 208-995-2815 or email

Boise City series

The free classes below are part of a special series presented by the Boise Community Forestry/Boise Parks and Recreation:

All classes take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. Pre-registration is required at or call 208-608-7680 to hold your spot.

March 22: Tree Selection and Planting with Ryan Rodgers, city arborist and nursery specialist with the Laura Moore Cunningham City Arboretum.

March 29: Tree Problems with Debbie Cook, city arborist.

April 5: Lawn and Irrigation with Dave Beck, city lawn maintenance specialist, and Danny Roop, city irrigation mechanic.

April 12: Roses with Andrea Wurtz, Master Gardener, and landscaping with landscape technician and Toby Norton, who is the city landscape architect.

For more options, check with Boise Community Education at and the Idaho Botanical Garden at These classes may have a nominal charge.

Other classes in the area

The Statesman is keeping track of free classes for gardeners presented by organizations and gardening shops in the Treasure Valley. Find the detailed list online at

We also run a list of gardening events (free and otherwise) each Saturday in our weekly gardening calendar. Know of a free class or gardening event we should add to the list? Email Michelle Jenkins at

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Try This At Home: 10 Indoor and Outdoor Design Ideas from the Philadelphia Flower Show

Composition by J. Downend Landscaping | Photos: Sandy Smith

“Composition” by J. Downend Landscaping | Photos: Sandy Smith

We all can benefit from having a touch of nature in our lives. Our lungs and our mood will thank us for it, and so will our guests and the planet.

Not to mention that should you ever sell your South Philly row home, the buyers will marvel at what you did with that postage-stamp-sized patio out back.

The Dutch have mastered the art of inserting nature and eco-friendly design into compact spaces over several centuries now. And while many of this year’s prize-winning installations at the annual PHS Philadelphia Flower Show are scaled to American suburban standards that would cause Dutch jaws to drop, there are also several that work in urban settings too. The landscape pros who created them can create Holland-inspired solutions for your pocket-garden challenge as well as your garden-variety one. Or maybe you might want to try the do-it-yourself designs the amateur gardeners who walked away with best-in-class prizes came up with for balconies and dining room tables. Check out these beauties:

(Above) “Composition” is one of several designs that takes its inspiration from abstract expressionist painter Piet Mondrian’s use of blocks of color divided by black lines to create energetic visions. This garden is well suited for urban environments. J. Downend Landscaping, Crum Lynne,, 610-833-1500.

Spring's Bounty 940px

Got a little more space to work with? Burke Brothers’ prize-winner, “Spring’s Bounty,” showcases four different and distinct outdoor environments, including a recycled treehouse and an outdoor formal dining room. Burke Brothers Landscape Design/Build, Wyndmoor,, 215-887-1773.

A Touch of Whimsy 940px

If your space is more compact, you might consider enlivening it with “A Touch of Whimsy,” designed around a Dutch door and scaled for urban rear patios. Irwin Landscaping Inc., Hockessin,, 302-239-9229.

Sustainable Roof Garden 940px

And if your outdoor space is on your home’s roof, Dutch landscape designer Bart Hoes’ “Sustainable Roof Garden” is your solution. You’ll be helping fight global warming with this design; its crushed olivine stones along its pathways bind carbon dioxide. “Even in a city-jungle, one must survive,” Hoes says, and this is a complete survival kit. Bart Hoes Green Architecture, Heemstede, Netherlands,, +31-023 5443 707 / +31-06 53 962 693.

A Sieve and a Sponge 940px

Did the folks who built your subdivision wreck a floodplain in the process? Help save your home and those of your neighbors with “A Sieve and a Sponge” from Refugia Design/Build Ltd. This wetland’s design is based on strategies the Dutch have implemented over the years to keep the water that threatens to inundate the country at bay without having to build more dikes and berms. Refugia Design/Build Ltd, Philadelphia,, 267-314-SOIL.

Sigh 940px

Have a seat at the pick-your-own-salad bar! This educational project created by students at Delaware Valley University outside Doylestown, “Sigh,” demonstrates how cities and nature can coexist in style. Self-weathering Cor-Ten steel, wood and plants suited to this region’s climate make this a stylish space for backyard or rooftop that can grow your dinner as well.

Anneke's New World 940px

If all the outdoor space you have to work with is a balcony, you can still turn it into a green oasis with a little creativity. Members of the Moorestown Garden Club walked away with first place in PHS’ “Balcony” design class with this project, which imagines how a Dutch emigrant to New Amsterdam — ‘scuse me, New York — might recreate a little bit of the landscape she left in her own apartment.

Soettsdejik Palace: Bringing the Downstairs Upstairs 940px

Your indoor spaces look better with a touch of color and nature in them too. Participants in the “Tablespace” class were asked to give their settings the royal Dutch treatment, and the Rose Tree Gardeners of Rose Valley responded by imagining how the staff in Queen Beatrix’s household would set their breakfast table before preparing for that night’s jubilee dinner. (Beatrix abdicated, following Dutch custom, last year; her oldest son Willem-Alexander is now king.)

Your Royal Presence Is Requested 940px

In the dining room, guests are transported back to the beginnings of the House of Orange with this table set and decorated by the Norristown Garden Club. William and Mary would both be delighted to dine here, I’m sure.

Blocked Cube 940px

Finally, there’s design for very small spaces. “Exciting!” was how the judges described this stylish clear plastic pedestal with tulips created by The Garden Workers.

You still have the weekend to see these and many more sources of inspiration at the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. If you’re going with friends, however, I recommend you all go Dutch: tickets are $35 for adults.

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Experts to teach how landscaping can make a difference at Backyard Buffers Education Day

The Carroll County Forestry Board will host its third annual Backyard Buffers Education Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 8. Pre-registrants will get seedlings and tree tubes to undertake reforestation efforts on their own properties conveniently and at low cost.

During the workshop, speakers will touch on the importance of riparian forest buffers on Chesapeake Bay health, water quality, as well as best management practices for arranging, planting and maintaining your seedlings. Those interested are urged to register early at

“It’ll be interesting and informative for people interested in nature and the outdoors,” said Chris Spaur, Carroll County Forestry Board’s backyard buffers committee chair.

“Attendees will get a chance to hear forest and stream information directly from experts and practitioners, and can get answers to questions and advice on problems. They will also get to meet other nearby landowners with similar interests, so it’s a social opportunity.”

Relics Architectural Salvage

Caption Relics Architectural Salvage

Union Bridge family converts Linwood Mill into architectural salvage business. (Michel Elben/Carroll County Times)

Union Bridge family converts Linwood Mill into architectural salvage business. (Michel Elben/Carroll County Times)

2017 Celtic Canter

Caption 2017 Celtic Canter

The sun came out for the 2017 Celtic Canter in downtown Westminster on Saturday, but unfortunately, Jack Frost also redeemed his invitation, bringing frigid temperatures and biting wind to the seventh annual 5K foot race. (Jon Kelvey and Max Simpson / Carroll County Times)

The sun came out for the 2017 Celtic Canter in downtown Westminster on Saturday, but unfortunately, Jack Frost also redeemed his invitation, bringing frigid temperatures and biting wind to the seventh annual 5K foot race. (Jon Kelvey and Max Simpson / Carroll County Times)

Hero Dogs work on training, commands

Caption Hero Dogs work on training, commands

Hero Dogs work on training and commands on Friday, March 10, 2017. (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)

Hero Dogs work on training and commands on Friday, March 10, 2017. (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)

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Selia Qynn’s backyard landscaping projects are labors of love

Selia Qynn's Spring Branch home, known as Habitat House, has been Backyard Habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation. Photo: Courtesy Photo

Building her garden one small spot at a time was a weekend project for Selia Qynn. Over time, her projects grew and she bought adjacent homes and turned all of their backyards into one giant wildlife habitat.

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Fairy Gardens: the latest in landscapes | lifestyles | maysville-online …

Whenever Marla Toncray posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

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