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Archives for March 31, 2017

Tips to creating a Japanese garden at home (photos)

During its half-century history, the Portland Japanese Garden has inspired homeowners to turn a part of their yard into one that hints of the horticulture in the island nation across the Pacific.

Beyond maple trees, Oregonians have installed graceful stone paths, contouring ponds, tranquil Zen-style raked gravel areas and plantings that showcase captivating colors in all seasons.

Some homeowners hire landscape designers who specialize in Japanese-style design. One of the most well known is Hoichi Kurisu, the former landscape director for the Japanese Garden Society who, starting in 1963, supervised the construction of the Portland Japanese Garden based on designer Takuma Tono’s vision.

A few years after the garden opened in 1967, Kurisu started the landscape design/build firm Kurisu International in Portland. Clients range from discerning homeowners to demanding city officials. All want contemplative outdoor spaces with features used in Japanese landscaping along with restorative and healing gardens.

The goal, according to the firm’s vision statement, is to harmonize light and shade, water and rock – opposites in Buddhist symbolism – and space with the senses.

Kristin Faurest, director of the Portland Japanese Garden Training Center, often helps people who enrolled in workshops to learn how to create a Japanese-style garden at home.

She offers this advice: “Creating a garden inspired by the Japanese tradition is not as simple as assembling a specified list of elements: stone lanterns and basins, rocks, bamboo, Japanese maples or pines. It is also about understanding the philosophical and aesthetic foundations of the art form.”

Faurest says Japanese garden design employs techniques for making a space seem larger than it is.

“Framing scenery outside of the garden, like a view of a distant landscape, can give the garden an added dimension,” she says. “The technique of hide and reveal – guiding the visitor through the elements of the garden in a way that selected views are opened at very specific points – is also important, as is a good sense of enclosure.”

She says that asymmetry also plays an important role.

“Even though Japanese gardens are intensely maintained, they’re meant to be representations of natural beauty,” she says. “The overall feel should be subtle, avoiding clutter, and prioritizing simple, beautiful materials that aren’t flashy and even maybe show age or flaws. Pay mindful attention to how the garden will evolve over time because a garden is a process, not a product.”

A Japanese garden path is not simply a way of moving around the garden without getting your shoes muddy, says Sadafumi Uchiyama, garden curator of the Portland Japanese Garden. Rather, it is a precisely designed element that directs you to certain points where the view is carefully constructed to be seen from that point.

Here are 10 elements that evoke a sense of a Japanese-style garden:

  1. An intentionally irregular stone path, which helps wanderers be “in the moment” and pay attention to where they are.
  2. Water dripping from a bamboo pipe and spilling over uneven, different size stones.
  3. Manicured, miniature junipers, maples or other bonsai trees in a carefully selected container.
  4. Clipped shrubbery, pruned trees and bouncy moss groundcover that create a sense of depth of space.
  5. A patch of raked gravel.
  6. A shed or small outbuilding used as a teahouse.
  7. A semi-circular wooden bridge.
  8. Cement lanterns near a path signaling changes in the landscape ahead.
  9. A bamboo fence
  10. Visually merging the end of the garden with distant hills or nature.

During landscape designer Kurisu’s decades of work, he has found that each environment is distinctive, drawing on the climate and culture of every place. “You want to make it unique,” he says.

If you don’t want to create your own Japanese-style garden, three residential properties that include Kurisu’s landscape work are currently for sale:

  • The John E. G. Povey House, a 1891 Queen Anne-style Victorian at 1312 N.E. Tillamook St. in the Irvington neighborhood, which is listed at $749,000. 
  • A two-story Mediterranean villa on 10 acres at 581 Fisher Road in Roseburg’s Garden Valley West, which is listed at $2.45 million.
  • An iconic peninsula property that includes a 5,542-square-foot main house with pagoda roof topped by blue ceramic tiles and a Robert Oshatz-designed studio, office and boat lift at 1900 Twin Points Road in Lake Oswego, which is listed at $7,999,000. 

— Janet Eastman

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A winning garden design

Phillip's winning gardenImage:
Phillip Withers’ award-winning garden (Supplied)

Landscape designer Phillip Withers’ garden ‘I See Wild’ took gold show at the Melbourne International Garden and Flower Show this week.

He gives Tim Entwisle and Jonathan Green a private tour and shares some hacks for creating gardens in small spaces. And Croatian horticulturalist and chef Zack Horvatin explains why he fell in love with indigenous edible plants.

Catch us via iTunes or the ABC Radio app

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City of Aiken eyes facelift for Richland Avenue West

It’s one of the main corridors ferrying cars into Aiken’s historic district and downtown, as well as serving as a direct route to North Augusta and Augusta.

But in recent years, Richland Avenue West through the Kalmia Hill community has become distressed in other areas. Shuttered businesses and vacant lots filled with weeds have become increasingly common.

Aiken leaders want to change that.

During a work session Monday, Aiken City Council members asked the planning department look into ways to spruce up the heavily traveled road. Ideas suggested included increased landscaping, a buffered median, more sidewalks and street lighting.

The issue arose at the request of Councilman Dick Dewar, who said he’s been contacted by several businesses along Richland Avenue West. They all have the same message.

Although the work session agenda identified all of Richland Avenue between Vaucluse Road and Gregg Avenue, Dewar said he was primarily concerned with the stretch lined with businesses.

Dewar said about a dozen businesses have signed onto a petition asking for greater attention to Richland Avenue West. In 2015, the section between Gregg Avenue and Vaucluse Road averaged 12,500 vehicles per day, according to the most recent S.C. Department of Transportation figures.

“It is a vital part of the community. They (businesses) just feel left out,” Dewar said. “We ought to take a look at what we can do.”

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon agreed.

“It is an issue. I’ve been approached by some of the property owners, as well,” Osbon said. “It’s an important entryway into our (city).”

Although there are several vacant businesses along Richland Avenue West, there have been some signs of rejuvenation in the private sector.

Sonic Drive-In in the 1200 block of Richland Avenue West is currently in the process of remodeling. The refurbished business will feature a double drive-thru and is scheduled to reopen in May, according to company officials.

Cook Out still has plans to build a fast-food restaurant in the Kalmia Hill area, as well. It submitted plans in 2015 and now has an approved site plan, said Aiken Planning Director Ryan Bland.

The restaurant will be built in the 1800 block of Richland Avenue West on the site of the old McDonald’s, next door to Knight’s Inn, Bland said.

Cook Out-Aiken Inc. closed on the property Oct. 26, 2016, paying $175,000 for the parcel, according to Aiken County property records.

A-Town Wings opened along Richland Avenue West in late 2016. Other businesses receiving upgrades in recent years include CVS, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Workout Anytime.

Richland Avenue West also borders the old Aiken Hospital and County building. Aiken County is currently trying to find a buyer for the properties.

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More Parking, Street Lights, Garden Landscaping Coming To 41st Ward

 Crews work on the Cumberland Avenue bridge over the Kennedy Expressway.

Crews work on the Cumberland Avenue bridge over the Kennedy Expressway.
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CHICAGO — Neighbors who voted for infrastructure improvements in the 41st ward got surprising news from Ald. Anthony Napolitano Tuesday: Every project listed on the ballot will be funded this year.

Of the more than 1,200 constituents who took part in participatory budgeting this winter, a plurality voted to spend just 60 percent of the Napolitano’s discretionary spending budget — the minimum option listed — toward street resurfacing, which is enough to pave about nine city blocks.

That leaves the rest of the $1 million budget to split among all the other projects listed, which include landscaping, new street lights and traffic safety improvements.

“Feedback has been through the roof from people who are floored that our first participatory budget isn’t going to exclude anybody’s ideas,” Napolitano said Tuesday. “We’re excited that it’s all going to get done.”

Participatory budgeting has been increasingly used by city aldermen to give residents more input into which infrastructure projects should be put on the front burner.

Napolitano brought the process to his ward for the first time last November, hosting public meetings to draft ideas for possible projects.

The following infrastructure projects were listed on the ballot, and will be all be funded this year, according to Napolitano:

• “Community garden landscaping” at Harlem and Avondale avenues, along the 6600 block of North Oliphant Avenue, and at Caldwell and Estes avenues

• “Business district improvements of existing ornamental tree grates and landscaping” around the intersection of Devon and Central avenues in Edgebrook

• “Added landscaping and ornamental tree grates” along Northwest Highway between Raven Street and Harlem Avenue

• Repaired and repainted street light poles along Higgins Avenue between Sayre and Harlem avenues, along Harlem Avenue between Fitch Avenue and Howard Street, along Harlem Avenue between Foster and Bryn Mawr avenues, and along Touhy Avenue between Harlem and Ozanam avenues

• “Additional lighting for shared space” around the Oriole Park Public Library and Oriole Park Elementary School, 5424 N. Oketo Ave.

• A fence “for safety of kids utilizing [the] play lot” at Grandparents Park, 5445 N. Chester Ave.

• Diagonal parking along Ionia Avenue between Minnehaha and Central avenues for the “safety of residents utilizing the combined [Edgebrook Public School] and park space”

• A “pedestrian refuge island” at the intersection of Avondale and Devon avenues “to ensure safety of residents crossing the busy intersection near Olympia Park”

• A security camera at Balmoral and Oketo avenues to monitor Oriole Park, 5340 N. Olcott Ave.

A total of $440,000 is being budgeted for all the projects, including $40,000 from the ward’s “reserve” discretionary fund not originally up for participatory budgeting, Napolitano said.

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The advantages of native plants

Whether you have a small yard in the city or a large acreage in the country, native plants can give you options to grow on.

Native plants are good choices for landscaping for a variety of reasons. For some people, choosing native species is about connecting with nature on a more personal level. Others opt for natives because they have a limited time to devote to landscaping projects. For some, it’s both reasons. More and more people are discovering that the plants that occur naturally in our prairies, forests, wetlands and glades can give us excellent landscaping ideas about what we can do around our home.

People land learn more about using native plants at the Native Plant Sale and Workshops that will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (April 1) at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Springfield Conservation Nature Center. In addition to featuring a number of regional businesses that will be selling native plants, this event will also feature several guest speakers that will discuss benefits of incorporating native plants into landscaping strategies.

Many of the grasses and flowers that adorn our yards are exotic species – plants that were brought here from other parts of the world. Maintaining the beauty of these plants is often a high-maintenance job. Many exotic species require high amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides or some other type of labor-intensive chore that takes more of your time – and money – than you had originally intended. In many situations, native plants – the trees, flowers and grasses that were here to begin with – can be just as beautiful to look at and a lot less trouble to grow.

There are many benefits associated with a well-planned, diverse native landscape. One of these is wildlife attraction. The songbirds, butterflies, small reptiles and mammals that you go to parks and other public facilities to see can often be enticed to your backyard with the proper plantings. These plants provide food, nesting and other habitat essentials needed by these animals. Those instinctual needs will draw a variety of wildlife to specific plants whether those plants are growing at a nature center on in your backyard.

As mentioned above, native plants usually require less care than exotics. The reason for this is simple; millions of years of evolution have adapted these plants to the conditions found here. That means they’ve grown accustomed to the soil, weather patterns, insect pests and other factors that affect plant growth in this region of the country. Exotic plants have few of these inherent adaptations and, in some cases, can only be sustained through extensive “life-support” procedures such as heavy watering, fertilization and pest-control applications.

In many cases, once native flowers and grasses get established in an area, homeowners don’t have to worry as much about weeding, either. Remember, these plants were holding their own in our local soil millions of years before we came along. Their large root systems and effective seed dispersal systems are effective at sustaining their populations.

Native plants come in many shapes, colors and forms. Those interested in growing indigenous plants have a variety of flowers, shrubs, grasses, small trees and large trees to choose from. The best natural landscaping plan is one that involves a mixture of plant types, but if space for plants is limited – that’s still all right. Native plants can work for you whether you have 10 acres on the edge of town or a single flowerbed along the edge of your driveway.

Some people shy away from native plants because they thing a landscape centered on native plant species will have a rougher, “woolier” appearance than the well-manicured flowerbeds to which they’re accustomed. That’s not necessarily a fair criticism because people can still control the neatness of their plantings. Just because you have native plants doesn’t mean you can’t mow, weed-eat, edge and do other aesthetic maintenance procedures that are done with non-native plantings.

No registration is required for the native plant event at the Springfield Nature Center. For more information, call 417-888-4237. The Nature Center is located at 4601 S. Nature Center Way.

The Grow Native Program, a joint effort of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, also contains good information about how native plants can fit into your backyard plants. Information about this program can be found at your nearest Missouri Department of Conservation office or at

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Great Gardening: Proud moments from Plantasia

How interesting it was last weekend to meet hundreds of you at Plantasia, the garden and landscape show of PlantWNY.

I began to make notes, collecting questions and looking for trends. Then I asked other landscapers, experts, and “plant people” what questions they were hearing.

At risk of sounding overly proud of the Western New York horticultural community, I will say that if folks couldn’t get good answers at Plantasia, maybe there isn’t a good answer.

From the speakers to the not-for-profit educational booths to the professional (CNLP) community, the show offered a wealth of resources for learning about gardening.

Here is my cumulative impression of what the gardeners and homeowners of WNY are thinking about.

The concerns comprise three categories: (1) questions driven by the specific plants and hardscape elements in the displays, (2) timing questions: when can we prune, plant, buy, divide our plants, and (3) problems and worries about struggling trees, shrubs or garden plants.

Attention-getting plants

Overall I thought (and heard remarked) that the plants this year looked better than in the past – and this is one of the challenges for early spring shows.

Most flowering shrubs and small trees came from an Ohio nursery that specializes in “forcing” plants (causing them to bloom out of normal timing). Most perennials and annuals were grown in Zittel’s and W.D. Henry’s greenhouses in Eden. Some firms such as Menne and A Growing Business, as well as Niagara County Community College students, grew or forced their own plants.

Large trees grown at Akron Tree Farm or Domes Tree Farm were donated and trucked in by Dore Landscaping or Chevalier Outdoor Living. And many more businesses contributed.

Some plants that received the most attention surprised even the landscapers who placed them in their displays.

Jeannette Hanlon of Dore Landscape Associates answered questions all day about a darling (but tiny) gold Sambucus – actually an elderberry shrub cultivar. The annual or houseplant begonia “Escargot” got equal attention at that booth and at Tripi’s Landscaping display.

While the Tripi’s creative design depicted the Industrial Age (the show theme being “Gardens through the Ages”), the sweet little begonias, hydrangeas and rhododendrons kept stealing attention.

Paul Reamsnyder of Spectrum Landscape Services quickly learned that his questions of the week were: “What is that cute little evergreen?” (a special dwarf spruce) and “How do I make my hydrangea blue like that?” (Referring to an attractive deep blue Hydrangea macrophylla; he explained repeatedly about the sulfur products needed to acidify soil to keep some types of hydrangea flowers blue.)

Roger Restorff’s mini garden held two much-noticed plants: a Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica) with darling dangling white flowers and fine textured leaves, and a Viburnum carlesii (Korean spicebush viburnum), with large pinkish white flowers.

At Mischler’s booth (theme: gardens for the ages of human beings), succulents were most discussed: “How often do you water them?” (Rarely.) “Can they go outside?” (Some.)

At Lockwood’s booth Hellebores won the day, requiring a zillion explanations that they are shade-preferring, deer-resistant, long-lasting and they really do bloom at this time of year – earning the name Lenten rose. But they’ve been inside, so harden them off gradually; plant later in May.

A creative wall using fallen logs by A Growing Business, landscape company. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

Hardscape and decor

Landscape professionals sell hardscape as well as plants, and we saw a variety of stone, concrete and even log walls and paths, several pergolas, and one gorgeous treehouse. Restorff’s most noticed structure was a pondless water garden, with a wonderful waterfall sound, that people liked because it’s so self-contained – no spill, no runoff.

Todd Fetzer’s Timberline LLC teamed up with the English Gardeners (theme: back through the ages to Stonehenge and Roman arches) and produced an impressive keystone arch – a circle of dry tapered millstone, dependent upon gravity and principals of physics – really amazing engineering then and now.

They spent many hours explaining that and answering questions about the Stonehenge facsimile: “Is that real stone?” (Yes) and “What does that weigh?” (Ten tons).

Landscape lighting (Luminated Landscapes) added much excitement with colored light projection, and the kids won’t forget walking on those moving pickles or over a fish-filled ocean. Fire was also a theme, although safety regulations didn’t allow the creative fire pits or lanterns to be lighted.

Among gardener’s props and treasures, many competed for notice: huge metal flowers, painted birdhouses, shovels, pruners and – best of all – Russell’s steel dinosaurs. Never mind that the business is Russell’s Tree and Shrub Farm; now they are “that dinosaur place!”

When, why and how?

On one particular day I was asked, and answered, five times about pruning roses.

So I went to the WNY Rose Society booth to compare our answers. Richard Giese, consulting rosarian, offered thorough and clear info (short version): Prune most tea roses quite short in April (when forsythias bloom), cut out the small twigs, anything pointing inward, and leave mostly pencil-sized or larger stems. (We both advised to go to a class or read a book.)

Here are some other questions of the week, most to be discussed as spring progresses:

• When can we start planting? Is winter over?

• Why doesn’t my hydrangea bloom? And when should I cut it back?

• What about that blight that’s getting my … tomatoes/ pine tree /maple trees /impatiens?

• When should I prune my … smoke tree/clematis/ grapes/“bushes” around the house?

• What can we do about the bumble bees – they’re now endangered!

• Will we lose our cherry blossoms like D.C.?

Still looking for general trends in people’s interests, finally I approached the Master Gardener information booth. Those dedicated volunteers answer questions on the spot and research and follow up with replies later. And they even log the questions by topic, making my quest easier.

Except … there was no one big area of concern.

Our public’s interests are broad and varied, and our gardeners are much smarter than average (unbiased view here). In part that’s because of our wealth of horticultural resources, experts, organizations and professionals – well represented at Plantasia.

Good job, everyone!

Sally Cunningham is a garden writer, lecturer and consultant.

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Portland Japanese Garden Opens New Cultural Village

Designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, the Portland Japanese Garden’s new $33.5 million Cultural Village features three brand new buildings and a massive courtyard, which acts as a gateway to the five original gardens.

The Portland Japanese Garden officially unveils its new Cultural Crossing expansion project Sunday.  

The $33.5 million expansion includes a new garden entrance, gallery, teaching space, café and nearly 18-foot-tall Japanese castle wall. The Cultural Village is made up of three brand new buildings and a massive courtyard, which will act as a gateway to the five original gardens.

The courtyard will be used as an exhibition space for musicians and Kabuki theater performances starting this summer.  

The street-level entrance to the garden now features a welcome center on southwest Kingston Avenue. Ascending pathways stretch from there to the Cultural Village further up the hill. 

The garden has seen a steady increase in visitors over the past decade with the number climbing to 400,000 last year.  

“With the growing attendance at the garden, and only 5 1/2 acres, we realized that the peace and tranquility of the garden itself, which is the foundation of the garden, was being impacted,” Steve Bloom, Portland Japanese Garden CEO, said.  

Renowned architect Kengo Kuma designed the Cultural Village.

Renowned architect Kengo Kuma designed the Cultural Village.

Laurie Isola/OPB

Bloom said the garden is considered one of the most authentic anywhere in the world outside of Japan. The new structure is the first public commission in the U.S. designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. 

Kuma also designed the stadium that will be the centerpiece of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.  

He said he was attracted to the Portland garden because the original designer managed to combine what he calls the “Japanese spirit” with Portland’s unique landscape. 

Kuma worked with garden master craftsman Sadafumi Uchiyama to add 3.4 acres of usable space to the garden’s 9.1-acre facility.  

Uchiyama said the garden’s architecture, carpentry and landscaping are all meant to act as teaching tools for visitors and students.

The new buildings will house a Japanese garden teaching program for both amateur and professional gardeners. Many of the artisans who were involved with the construction of the Cultural Village will stay on as instructors.  

Uchiyama said he expects students to come from all over the world to take classes in Portland.  

The garden and the Cultural Village will be open for members Saturday. The public is invited to visit the new facilities beginning Sunday.

Starting this weekend, general admission to the garden will also increase from $9.50 to $14.95.

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Discounted rain barrels/compost bins available this spring

The city of Medford is offering a discount on compost bins through April 14, and rain barrels through April 15

The City of Medford is offering residents a limited opportunity to purchase compost bins and rain barrels at a significant discount again this spring. The City of Medford is partnering with the Great American Rain Barrel Company in Hyde Park, MA to offer rain barrels as part of a conservation and sustainability program. 

“We are bringing Rain Barrels to residents to help manage rising water costs, save vegetation from drought conditions and help our community protect its aquifers,” says Alicia Hunt, Director of Energy Environment, City of Medford. “We want residents to use rain barrels because they are an effective way to collect and save water.”

Residents that use a rain barrel collect as much as 1500 gallons in a season. This will save existing or new landscaping when a dry spell hits and supplement outdoor water usage, which spikes during the growing season. Rain barrels are also important to reduce runoff.  Runoff from homes and developments can harm the rivers and lakes in Medford because they flood storm drains and discharge pollutants. They are chlorine free and an excellent source of water for plants and gardens.

Barrels are easily connected to the downspouts and fill quickly. The Great American Rain Barrel Company recommends one barrel for every 100 square feet garden. Multiple barrels are easily linked together for additional collection and storage.

Medford chose the Great American Rain Barrel Company because of their durability, functionality and tried and true reputation. The barrels are offered in three colors; Forest Green, Earth Brown or Nantucket Gray at the low cost of $69 – all 40 percent off the retail price of $119. This price includes an additional $10 savings because the town is handling the distribution.

To take advantage of this offer please visit, click on “Community Programs” and look for “Medford” or contact via email, or phone (800)251-2352.

Prepaid barrels must be picked up: Medford City Hall Parking Lot, 85 George P Hassett Drive, Medford, MA 02155 from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26. Deadline for purchase is April 15 at 5 p.m. If you have any questions, please contact Suzanne Gebelein at (800)251-2352 or email her at

The City of Medford is also offering compost bins as at a discounted price. Composting reduces the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of via incineration. Compost improves the soil, decreasing the need for chemical fertilizers when gardening and landscaping. Composting also decreases dependence on fossil fuels because food scraps will be broken down by fungi and bacteria.

The compost bins offered are the Earth Machine model by Orbis Corporation and can be purchased for a limited time through the City at $45 each (they regularly retail for $110). Each Earth Machine compost bin has an 80-gallon capacity, twist locking lid, a harvest door for easy compost removal, vertical and horizontal ventilation, is made from recycled content, BPA free and has a UV stabilizer for added resistance to deterioration from sunlight.

These compost bins can easily be ordered through Medford’s website, visit  for instructions. Compost bins must be picked up behind Medford City Hall on Wednesday, May 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. Deadline for purchase is April 14 at 5 p.m.

If you have any questions, please contact the Medford Office of Energy and Environment at 781-393-2137 or email us at

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Celebrate National Garden Month with The Espoma Company

For the second year, The Espoma Organic Company will collaborate with The Edible Schoolyard Project to raise awareness of organic gardening

(PRWEB) March 30, 2017

As spring weather has many hoping to get outdoors, there’s nothing more special than learning where your food comes from, how to grow it, and how to care for the Earth. Kids can experience these and explore a new hobby when they get outside and get growing.

To celebrate, The Espoma Company is touting the health benefits of fresh, organic food by sharing tips on the company’s Facebook page during the month of April.

Espoma is teaming up with The Edible Schoolyard Project to spread the message on social media. Espoma will also make a donation to the organization to support the nonprofit’s mission of creating and sustaining organic gardens and landscapes that are wholly integrated into a school’s curriculum, culture and food program.

“Kids learn how to make healthier food choices when they grow their own,” says Jeremy Brunner, Vice President of The Espoma Company. “And the best organization they can learn from is The Edible Schoolyard Project. We are thrilled to be working together once again to help kids and families understand where food comes from and how they can grow their own organically.”

Access to healthy and organic food is vital to families everywhere. To raise awareness, Espoma is sharing 30 tips in 30 days on the benefits of gardening. Each tip will be posted daily on Facebook and Twitter. The conversation will cover everything from soil testing and seed starting to planting and kid-friendly recipes.

Check Espoma’s Facebook and Twitter pages for 30 days of expert organic gardening tips this month and learn how to have a lush, healthy garden.

Visit to learn more about the initiative or for more information, tips and resources.

The Espoma Company has been the pioneer in natural gardening solutions since 1929. Espoma provides an extensive selection of natural products that work in harmony with nature and are safe for people, pets and the planet. The company produces products to cover the nutritional needs of plants and to grow beautiful lawns and gardens. Visit for more information and tips about organic gardening.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

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Home & Garden

Snail, slug season

Keep watching for signs of snails and slugs. They have ravenous appetites, and they’re nocturnal, so you might not notice their feeding until your crops are spoiled. Who would suspect that they even climb citrus and stone fruit trees to feed on the tiny, tender new fruits. And this early activity leaves unsightly brown scars on the fruits later. Apply snail baits on and around trunks before flowering is finished. Reapply snail baits every ten days for a month or two to kill new hatchlings and new move-ins from the neighborhood.

Harvest game plan

Continue harvesting winter crops and citrus. Remember, you don’t need to pick all your oranges, lemons, and other citrus when it first ripens. Most citrus fruits will hold on the tree — and become even sweeter — for several months. So harvest what you can use and let the rest of the fruits get sweeter. Then as more and more start to fall off, you can harvest the rest of the crop and share it.

Feedings for orchids

As new shoots arise and grow on cymbidium orchids, feed the plants regularly with nitrogen fertilizer until July. (By regularly, I mean in accordance with package instructions.) New roots develop quickly at this time, taking in the nitrogen and other nutrients to build pseudobulbs. In July, switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer, which will prepare and condition the plants for next season’s blooms. If you use liquid plant food, which is ideal for orchids, feed at dilute strength with every watering, about twice a week.

Refresh, renew

Refresh woody herb plants such as rosemary, sage, and tarragon by pruning off some of the leafy stems to maintain size and shape. Don’t cut into bare stems, however, because they won’t grow back. It’s a good practice to tip-pinch new growth frequently during the growing season, both to harvest herbs that can be used in cooking, and to shape the plant. You can also add new herbs to the garden — chives, parsley, thyme, as well as new rosemary, sage, and tarragon.

Low-water options

If you’re considering low-water landscaping, drought-resistant shrubs include Australian fuchsias (Correa), California lilac (Ceanothus), cotoneasters, crape myrtle, pineapple guavas, dwarf pomegranates, lantanas, manzanitas, pyracantha, rosemary, and verbenas (an especially good ground cover). These perennials also thrive with low water: Achillea (yarrow), Anaphalis (Western pearly everlasting), Artemisia (includes Dusty Miller, wormword and sagebrush), Asclepias (colorful milkweeds), Coreopsis (a type of daisy), daylily, Dianthus, Echinopsis (flowering cactus), Eryngium (spiny coriander), Gaillardia (blanket flower — sunflower relatives), Lavandula, Potentilla (Shrubby Cinquefoil), Salvia, Santolina (Lavender Cotton), Sedum, Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks), Stachys (Lamb’s Ears), thyme, and Veronica. Now for the annuals: Alyssum, Cosmos, Gazania, Geranium, Helichrysum (small-flowered daisies), marigold, morning glory, Phlox, Portulaca, Thunbergia (Black-eyed Susan vines and shrubs), Verbena, Vinca, and Zinnia. Look them up online, or ask to see them at your local garden center, so you can choose the ones you like best.

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