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Archives for March 23, 2017

Garden expert: Dan Rutherford brings intrigue into garden design …

Dan outside the woodshed in his Cashmere garden.

Dan outside the woodshed in his Cashmere garden.

Scattered throughout Christchurch landscape designer Dan Rutherford’s 4000sqm garden are what appear to be large round boulders.

Some are covered in moss and nestled under leafy plants. They are symbolic of Dan’s love of rocks, a fascination that started while growing up on his family farm and led to a degree in geology. 

Now rocks provide inspiration for Dan’s sculptural spheres, which are modelled on the South Island’s famous Moeraki boulders – scientifically known as concretions.

One of Dan’s man-made boulders gathers moss in his own garden.

One of Dan’s man-made boulders gathers moss in his own garden.

“They’re naturally formed and happen all around the world. They’ve always intrigued me,” he says. Dan tries to mimic the natural process when making his spheres. 

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“I use the same materials. They’re hard reconstituted rock in the middle and as you get into the outside layer they become softer,” Dan says. 

His sculptures can often be found in his clients’ gardens and offer an element of intrigue – a signature of Dan’s designs. He tells us how a different take on hedging, lighting, water and walls can give gardens the surprise factor. 


A stone and driftwood column marks the entrance to a Wanaka property and creates a focal point in the landscape.

A stone and driftwood column marks the entrance to a Wanaka property and creates a focal point in the landscape.

Airy hedges

Light, round and airy are not necessarily words you’d associate with hedging, but you should, says Dan. He enjoys creating hedges that you can peep through or are grown around objects or structures. 

A new take on walls

One of Dan’s sculptures lights up the garden; made for a Christchurch property, it was moved to Wanaka after the quakes.

One of Dan’s sculptures lights up the garden; made for a Christchurch property, it was moved to Wanaka after the quakes.

“They don’t have to be straight or solid. You can make a stone wall quite fluid,” says Dan, who has also created revolving walls in his designs (see below left).  

All about the owners 

“Sculpture not only provides a focal point, it’s a representation of the owners,” says Dan. “Often people will really fall in love with a sculptural work. That will be something they really connect with. We tend to gravitate towards things that represent us.” 

A Dan Rutherford-designed double surprise – a revolving wall in Fendalton opens to a new section of garden and the ...

A Dan Rutherford-designed double surprise – a revolving wall in Fendalton opens to a new section of garden and the mirrors extend the space.

Play with lighting

Instead of throwing light onto things, Dan creates interest by putting lighting through plants and objects. “Sculptures are excellent for that, or you could put lights inside a hedge or inside a tree, or put a light really close to a stone wall so you can see the texture.” 

The sound of water

Hide a water feature rather than show it, Dan suggests. “To me it’s all about sound. We’ve got a real affinity with water. It’s very evocative.” 

Art of illusion 

Mirrors can be used to both visually extend a garden and hide unattractive views or areas. “You want it to look as if you’re looking through to a beautiful piece of garden, when in fact you’re getting a reflection of the garden you’re standing in,” he says.  

 – NZ House Garden

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Ground Covers: The Beautiful Carpet of Garden Design

By Mary Frost, The Gardening Tutor

Lamium MaculatumYou created your garden space but something is missing. You chose lots of plants with different forms and colors that complement each other but something just doesn’t feel right. Maybe looking at your garden makes you think of polka dots. Perhaps all that’s missing are swaths of low growing plants to bring it all together, the way that a carpet can unify the interior design of your home.

Generally, the term “ground cover” can be used to describe plants that are under a foot in height and closely planted together to cover the soil. This category includes ground hugging plants that grow less than six inches high and spread. Many of these low growers slowly spread and are easily controllable. Others can be highly invasive and become a headache later when you try to remove them. While still other low growing ground cover plants reach a mature size instead of continuing to grow on indefinitely.

Reading plant labels can help you avoid accidentally planting a spreading ground cover that takes over your entire garden. When a plant description says, “spreads easily”; “spreads by rhizomes”; “fast spreader” or “aggressive”, be wary. Some ground covers spread by growing along the surface of the soil and then setting down shallow rootlets. These are generally easier to control than plants that spread by underground rhizomes (think Bermuda grass).

The following list of low growing spreaders have the potential to add some interest to your design, either in texture, color or both. Although the list is not all inclusive, you may find some descriptions that help you choose the best ground cover for your garden. Included at the end is a short list of ground covers to avoid completely or use only in a container setting.

Prefer Full Sun:

Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ – The darling of the winter garden. The chartreuse color and rough texture of this plant really looks amazing during our rainy season. Because it spreads by shallow rootlets, you’ll need to give it a shower from the hose a couple times a week in summer to keep it looking good in the heat.

Rubus folfei – Give Rubus just enough water to do well and not regular water, unless you want to encourage it to thickly cover an area. The evergreen foliage turns reddish in fall.

Veronica umbrosa ‘Georgia Blue’ – If you like lobelia in summer, you’ll like this blue flowering plant with foliage similar to lobelia. Blooms in late winter to early spring.

Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ – has ghostly, blue-green color. Stachys b. ‘Countess Helen von Stein’ has larger leaves with a more green tint and is said to flower less than ‘Silver Carpet’. Both can be hit hard by winter temperatures and their foliage can become moldy. Clear away the unsightly foliage as we near spring and your plant will become beautiful again.

Silene uniflora – Blue-green foliage with some trippy, white, balloon shaped flowers make this plant a showstopper.

Prefer Light Shade:

Rubus Folfei Lamium maculatum – Although Lamium m. can die completely back in winter, the delicate leaves with silvery colored variegation are stunning. Lovely pink flowers are a bonus!

Vinca minor ‘Atropurpurea’ – This Vinca (unlike Vinca Major) spreads slowly and has purple flowers.

Silene dioica ‘Clifford Moor’ – variegated yellow and green leaves with pink flowers in spring. Low care, slowly spreads and can add brightness in a shade garden.

Contain these! The following ground covers are each beautiful in their own way but beware of planting them in ground. Sometimes aggressive ground covers can look amazing in a container but be careful that it doesn’t spread by seed blown into your garden or by escaping out through the drainage hole.

Dymondia margaretae – Dymondia is an awesome ground hugging plant that can add enticing texture and variegation to your design. The downside is,  keeping it weed free can be time consuming to accomplish.

Lamium galeobdolon (Yellow archangel) – Once established, it will take over your garden whether you water it or not.

Vinca major – Can take over your garden. Better to plant Vinca minor!

Persicaria capitata – “no irrigation needed” ground covers. Beautiful Scary!

Houttuynia cordata – This aggressive spreader has variegation that is tinged with pink and red. Plant this in a container to safely enjoy the splashes of color and crisp scent. Houttuynia dies back completely in winter, only to spread underground and come back, seemingly everywhere, in spring.

 Mary Frost is the sole proprietor of The Gardening Tutor, a hands-on, individualized gardening instruction and consulting service. You can sign up for FREE monthly gardening tips at and see more tips on The Gardening Tutor YouTube Channel and Facebook page. For more information contact Mary at or 707.545.6863

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Residents and businesses share ideas about work on East Overland





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Garden show offers taste of spring this weekend – Quad

ROCK ISLAND — Nearly 190 vendors from throughout the Midwest will bring the Quad-Cities a taste of spring this weekend at the Quad City Conservation Alliance Flower and Garden Show at the Quad City Expo Center, 2621 4th Ave., Rock Island.

The show will give attendees a feel for spring, said QCCA Expo Center director Robert Junker. It will feature vendors and displays of flowers, garden items and landscaping ideas.

“Flowers aren’t really growing anywhere right now in the Midwest, so we have people show flowers and what they can do,” Mr. Junker said.

“People come to see the flowers because it’s spring time,” he said. “Plus, you get an early taste of spring and you’re helping your community out,” he added.

This year’s event begins with a preview party from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are available online at for $20 or $25 at the door. 

“What you get for that is a preview of the flower and garden show that people have been working on for two weeks to culminate into this weekend,” Mr. Junker said. “We’ll also have some music as people get to experience the gardens.”

The show’s 18 different gardens will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8, or $1 for children 6 to 15 years old. Younger children get in for free. 

Friday is Senior Day, with senior admission $6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Proceeds from the show help fund various conservation projects within a 90-mile radius of the Quad- Cities, according to Mr. Junker, who said the show has raised about $2 million during its 20 years.

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Energy Adviser: Soil content critical for native plants

It’s tough to draw a line in the dirt and say plants before this date are natives and those after it aren’t. There is no exact date that defines what a Pacific Northwest native plant is.

If you need a rough dividing line, it falls somewhere after 1824, when David Douglas explored and cataloged plants of the area for the London Horticultural Society, and before 1836 when immigrant wagon trains first rolled west.

“Once the Oregon Trail opened, settlers brought all kinds of seeds,” said Julie Carlson, master gardener and volunteer at NatureScaping in Brush Prairie. “Washington is known for apples, but the settlers carried apple seeds and planted them here.”

Nearly 200 years later, some of these newer arrivals have become invasive, such as Japanese knotweed, Scot’s broom, and Himalayan blackberries that easily overtake native habitats.

“Native plants evolved to attract native wildlife and wildlife has adapted to native plants,” Carlson said. “That’s especially true of pollinating insects.”

This makes them better suited to the area. Wildlife and pollinators have a long history of mutual interaction with native plants. They also have adapted to our wet winters and dry summers and repel harmful insects, organisms and diseases better than non-natives, and are suited for our soil.

While there are 3,000 plants native to Western Washington, fewer than 300 or so are suitable for residential use, according to the Washington Native Plant Society website,, where you can find descriptions of many species. Other places to research are the WSU Master Gardener Program, and local nurseries selling native plants. Searching also turns up information on native plants for our area.

Once established, native plants need less water, fertilizer, and pesticide than non-natives do. According to the EPA, homeowners apply 20 times more chemicals an acre than farmers. Planting natives reduces the chemicals flowing into groundwater and makes yards safer for kids and pets.

Placing native plants in the right location with the right soil is important to their success, Carlson said. Homeowners planning to make a significant investment in landscaping with native plants should have their soil tested to find if it meets the needs of the plant. “Too often, housing projects scrape much of the soil off leaving mostly clay,” she said. “Knowing what’s in your soil is the first step toward establishing natives around you home.”

Soil tests show the acidity or alkalinity (pH) of your dirt, as well as its nutrient value. Washington State University Extension recommends a Portland company, AL Western Agricultural Laboratories. According to its website, AL charges $36 for a test and report including recommendations and graphic charts. Recommendations may include how to bring the pH of your soil to the level needed for natives.

For properties with multiple micro-cultures, wet and shady, or sunny and dry, more than one soil test may be needed. The test results can help DIY landscapers and gardeners know where to put their plants. “I cannot say too often ‘put the right plant in the right place,’ ” Carlson said. “A moisture and shade-loving native won’t do well in the sun no matter how much you water it.”

Native plants can also save energy. Planting native trees and plants strategically can cut your home’s energy use. A well-planned landscape can reduce the summer air-conditioning costs between 15 percent and 50 percent for an unshaded home, according to the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“The key to native plants’ success is finding an environment where they will thrive — and using lots of compost,” Carlson said.

For more ideas related to landscaping and home improvement, mark your calendar for the annual Clark Public Utilities Home Garden Idea Fair, April 28 to 30. Details at

Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.

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America in Bloom: four areas of focus

I would like to address the second criteria for America in Bloom.  This criteria addresses the landscaped areas.

This criteria is explained as considering the overall design and suitability of landscape, turf and ground covers; use of native plants; the overall design and suitability for location/use; good use of design principles (such as balance of plant materials and constructed elements, harmony, color, texture and slope); sustainability; integration of landscapes, lighting, site features or sculpture;  maintenance (weeds, mulching practices, edging; site rejuvenation and rehabilitation); efforts in strategic planning; community gardens, children’s gardens and public gardens and zoos.

The four areas of focus are, again, municipal, business, residential and community involvement.

In the municipal category, the focus is on overall design and planting of landscape, turf and ground covers, environmental management of sports fields and turfs, quality of landscape maintenance, sustainable management, naturalization and eco-design in government locations.

In the business category, the focus is on overall design and planting of landscape, environmental management of turf and ground covers, and quality of landscape maintenance.

In the residential category, the judges view the overall design and planting of landscape, environmental management of turf and ground covers and the quality of landscape maintenance.

In the community involvement area, they review the volunteer involvement in funding, planting and maintenance of landscaped areas and the participation of committees, councils and advisory boards in future planning.

Areas of interest in our community included the Community Garden sponsored by Dr. Lowzowski, Kids America, the dog park, Himbaugh Park and Clary Gardens, and the Old Park Hotel Site.  The judges also evaluate the general appearance of residences, entranceways to the city and signage announcing the same.

Tim France is the president of the Coshocton is Blooming Committee. The committee will be entering Coshocton into the America in Bloom competition this summer for the first time since 2014. The contest is a national floral and landscaping competition where Coshocton will compete against similar sized communities nationwide.

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On Tap this weekend: Wine, gardens and barbecue

The first week of spring ushers in a number of outdoor activities, from the 9th Annual Wine and Seafood Festival at Lakeridge Winery to a garden fair at the Lake County Extension’s Discovery Gardens and the BBQ Cook-Off in Umatilla.

Here’s what’s on tap for the weekend.

9th Annual Wine and Seafood Festival

Local artists and crafters will display their work Friday through Sunday at the 9th Annual Wine and Seafood Festival at Lakeridge Winery, 19239 U.S. Highway 27 in Clermont. Lakeridge wine, beer, soft drinks and a variety of seafood specialties will be available for purchase, along with complimentary winery tours and tasting. The festival is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Cost: $5. Details: 352-394-8627 or

Landscape and Garden Fair

The Lake County Extension Service hosts its 6th Annual Landscape and Garden Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the center’s Discovery Gardens, 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares. Activities include expert speakers, kids activities and vendors selling landscaping materials and plants. Details:

7th Annual BBQ Cook-Off

Umatilla Athletic Boosters are presenting the 7th annual BBQ Cook-Off from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Cadwell Park, 1 Cassady St. in Umatilla. Gates open at 3 and tasting begins at 5 p.m. Fourteen teams will be vying for cash prizes and trophies in the cook-off. Umatilla sports teams will provide iced tea, lemonade, water and drinks. Sign up for a blind draw corn hole tournament with cash prizes at 1:30 p.m. and first throw at 2 p.m. Entertainment includes 50/50 and basket raffles, face painting, balloon toss and mini doughnuts. Be sure to catch the hog calling contest with a $25 first prize. Boosters will host a beer and wine tent and Kona Ice will be there. Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for students and free of ages 4 and younger.

5K Color Run

The Umatilla High Band is hosting a 5K Color Run from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at North Lake Community Park, 40730 Roger Giles Road. There is face painting and an $8 barbecue lunch. Cost: $30 adults, $25 students and $20 ages 10 and younger. Register at

Leesburg Saturday Morning Market

Shop with local farmers, craftsmen, bakers and artists at the Leesburg Saturday Morning Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at Towne Square, 501 W. Main St. in Leesburg.


It’s all about the kids at KidFest from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Belk Store of Clermont, 270 Citrus Tower Blvd. Activities include music, games, goody bags, police officers, firefighters, fire trucks, Pegasus the miniature horse, Andy Armadillo the mascot from Texas Roadhouse and a fashion show.

Let’s Hang On!

The Let’s Hang On! Frankie Valli tribute stage show with hits from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will be at the Clermont Performing Arts Center, 3700 S. Highway 27 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $27 to $46. Details: 352-394-4800 or

History Hike

Learn about the first inhabitants of Lake County with a History Hike from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at PEAR Park Gateway, 26701 U.S. Highway 27 in Leesburg. Free. Reservations: Justin Pouliot at 352-516-7011 or

Voices from Vietnam

There is a reception and book signing from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art, 1 W. Orange Ave for Charlene Edwards: Voices from Vietnam Art Exhibition at the . The exhibition features the photographer’s depictions of Vietnam paired with stories from both sides of the conflict. The exhibition is on display until May 6.

Clermont Comedy Series

The Clermont Comedy Series presents standup comedian Dean Napolitano with Catherine Maloney and William Rodriguez from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday at Clermont Performing Arts Center, 3700 S. Highway 27. Beer and are wine available. Cost: $15. Details: 352-394-4800 or

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Native plants in the yard offer benefits to gardens, gardeners: program

When yardwork pits people versus nature, neither wins. But working in concert with nature to turn a yard into a natural habitat not only helps the area bees and butterflies, it also makes gardening easier for the homeowner, according to a program offered last weekend at Plum Creek Nature Center in Beecher.

Called Conservation@Home, the event is part of an ongoing program organized through the Forest Preserve District of Will County in conjunction with the Conservation Foundation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, according to Lynn Kurczewski, director of visitor services at the forest preserve.

Native plants can be just as beautiful in home’s manicured landscaping as the exotic annuals and perennials more commonly found at big box stores, she said.

Guest speaker Kelsay Shaw owns the Possibility Place Nursery, 7548 W. Manhattan-Monee Road, Monee, which specializes in native plants and trees.

5 garden tips for the week starting March 11

Spring forward

Remember, daylight saving time begins tonight. Even though we lose an hour by setting our clocks ahead (and it takes a week or so to adjust to the time change), we get more daytime light to enjoy the garden. And it’s also time to plant summer garden vegetables: cilantro, corn, root crops, squashes and specialty items from seed; vigorously growing peppers, tomatoes, and other veggies from pony-packs. Plant tomatoes deep, leaving only the top inch or 2 sticking out of the soil, because the buried stem will form extra roots, making the plant stronger and more productive. Also plant summer flowers: impatiens, nasturtium, periwinkle, sunflower, lobelia, mimulus, celosia, petunia, marigold, salvia, verbena and more.


Plant new citrus or avocado trees this month or next, while they are safe from frost and still have ample time to grow and adapt for next winter’s cold temperatures. Select specimens with vigorous growth and healthy deep green leaves. It’s tempting to buy OK-looking plants with fruit already on them, but such plants may have been stressed in the container and may take many years to set new fruit again when planted in the garden. Do not feed new transplants for about six weeks.

Ground-level work

Plant or prune ground covers to clear away dead portions and to stimulate new growth. Do this for ice plant, ivy, potentilla, wild strawberry and even ferns. If you are looking to put in ground covers, drought-tolerant choices include coyote bush, creeping coprosma, gazania, Mexican evening primrose, rosemary and verbena. African daisies, gazanias, Mexican evening primroses and verbenas provide great color, too.

Time to act

Prevent wormy apples at harvest time by stopping codling moth larvae now, before they enter the fruit. Adult moths lay eggs that hatch soon after flowers fade. When the tree stops flowering, spray with carbaryl or malathion every 10 days for about six weeks. Then in May, when a second batch of new moths emerges in the neighborhood, start spraying again every 10 days for another six weeks to guarantee worm-free fruit.

Water plan

Repair or replace faulty sprinkler valves and spray heads. Adjust automatic sprinkler settings for springtime watering needs: usually watering once or twice a week is sufficient this month and maybe next, but after that your plants will need more frequent irrigation. Be sure to add extra watering during Santa Ana winds and on hot days.

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Edible gardening: 5 top tips for growing your own food

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and roma tomatoes don’t just pop up overnight without a little labor.

Planting a successful garden can take weeks of planning before you even put the first seed in the ground. But with key preparation, it won’t be long before you’re topping your salads with fresh veggies and herbs from your own backyard.

Here are five things you can do in advance to keep the garden gods happy (and ensure you’re in favor with the flavor gods too).

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