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Archives for April 2, 2017

Check It Out: Dig into books to help garden grow

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at

It’s finally April — yay! I’m clicking my heels because we’re that much closer to summer, and summer means sun, patio suppers, sun, buzzing bees and sun! Am I tired of rain, rain, rain? Naaahhh. The moss between my toes doesn’t bother me one bit — just have to make sure I wear dark socks. Ha, ha, yes, the steady drip, drip, drip of rain has made me a tad loopy. But if it’s April, surely those May flowers are on their way, right?

Make sure your yard is in tip-top shape for all those gloriously sunny days ahead by reading up on lawn maintenance, garden prep, and anything that promises a bounty of green goodness once the wet season passes.

April happens to be “Lawn and Garden Month,” so it’s time to pull out those gardening tools and get busy. Gardens don’t plant themselves (unless you’re cultivating a dandelion garden), and lawns, well, they don’t magically trim themselves (unless you have a goat herd).

And for heaven’s sake, get the youngsters involved in yard maintenance, too. Most kids I know love to dig in the dirt, and while making mud pies is definitely a hoot, imagine their delight if their dirt-digging leads to flowers, or, gasp, food! A carrot or a tomato never tastes as good as the one you pick out of your very own garden.

Titles to make your garden grow:

• “All New Square Foot Gardening with Kids: Learn Together: Gardening Basics, Science and Math, Water Conservation, Self-Sufficiency, Healthy Eating” by Mel Bartholomew.

The planet needs more gardens, so help out this world by teaching the newest generation to till, hoe and plant.

• “Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives” by Evelyn J. Hadden.

If you’re really not that into mowing, and your neighborhood is goat-less, don’t fret. This fun title will allow you to discover plenty of grass-free alternatives.

• “Fairy Gardening 101: How to Design, Plant, Grow, and Create Over 25 Miniature Gardens” by Fiona McDonald.

Sometimes a tiny garden is just right. Keep your yard fairies and sprites happy by tending a wee plot of land.

• “Gardening with Foliage First: 127 Dazzling Combinations That Pair the Beauty of Leaves with Flowers, Bark, Berries, and More” by Karen Chapman.

Except for a few rhododendrons and a cluster of fruit trees my yard is basically foliage. So, I’m going to check out this title and do what I can to boost the natural beauty. Leaves, bark and berries? I’m golden.

• “How to Plant a Garden: Design Tips, Ideas and Planting Schemes for Year-Round Interest” by Matt James.

Gardening doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Just visiting a nursery can be an overwhelming experience if you don’t know what you’re doing. Trust me, I know. Randomness might be working out for you, but sometimes structure actually frees the spirit. Check out this informative guide and learn some solid gardening basics.

• “Lawnscapes: Mowing Patterns to Make Your Yard a Work of Art” by David Parfitt.

Tired of trying to keep up with the Joneses? Completely bowl over your neighbors by mowing with a plan. Up and down, back and forth are nice enough patterns (yawn — boring), but there is so much more you can do with that grass. Turn that swath of green into something worth talking about like a majestic eagle or a giant checkerboard. The canvas awaits you.

• “Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty” by Graham Rice.

If you look at your garden, and all you can think about is your dear Great-Aunt Euphenia (in other words, the bloom has definitely fallen off the rose), take heart. Gardener Graham Rice will help you to choose eye-catching plants with strong constitutions. Beauty and hardiness can go together.

• “Super Simple Butterfly Gardens: A Kid’s Guide to Gardening” by Alex Kuskowski.

Earlier I said the planet needs more gardens. Well, guess what? The world also needs more butterflies. Find out how to attract these winged beauties to your yard with the help of Alex Kuskowski’s kid-friendly guide.

Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at

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Longwood Garden’s revitalized Main Fountain Garden continues the legacy of Pierre du Pont

KENNETT SQUARE Dancing fountains topped with a flame, one reaching heights of 175 feet, fountains with amazing color possibilities are some of the new delights that visitors will experience this summer at Longwood Gardens. For those who wish for more serene moments there is a Grotto to meditate in and luscious gardens within the Main Fountain Garden as water flows through sculptured pieces.

Longwood Gardens will reopen their Main Fountain Garden on May 27. The fountain garden has been closed since October, 2014. The renovations are beyond the imagination of Pierre S. du Pont. du Pont opened the Fountain Garden in 1931 inspired by fountains and gardens in Europe and the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Paul B. Redman, President and CEO led the media tour as workers finished up the $90 million dollar revitalization project. The Main Fountain Garden will be revealed as part of Longwood Gardens Summer of Spectacle.

The project includes the preservation of du Pont’s original design with the complete restoration of the limestone fountains. Over 4,282 pieces of Italian and Indiana limestone were restored. Fifty nine of Marble and Serpentine and 814 pieces are new to replace those beyond repair.

The South wall, based on a traditional Italian garden hasn’t worked for over 25 years and an entire generation has never experienced it according to Redman.

The Main Fountain Garden was the last major construction project that du Pont designed and has dazzled many throughout the years.

“In October 2014 when it came time for maintenance and repairs of the project and when we began working on the planning for the revitalization on the Main Fountain Garden, we had several paths we could have taken, one path would be straight up ,pure renovation and preservation project. Preserving it in place as it was stone by stone and keeping the landscape as it was, “said Redman.

“There were very serious maintenance issues and an aging system used nonstop till 2014… Knowing this and what we were dealing with we made a decision, that wouldn’t it be great if we could achieve all these great engineering and maintenance goals, and build a system that eased the maintenance and bring in new technology,” said Redman

Redman continued, “Looking at our founder, his innovation and driving force and his legacy, we approached the main garden revitalization project with a new set of eyes, sensitivity to the past to preserve what was there and to have new features and experiences never seen before.”

The creation of a new mechanical and electrical infrastructure will allow for 141 individual controllable effects, 1,340 new jets and streams with the tallest jet reaching 175 feet and even a flame that erupts atop a ten foot tall water jet.

There are three new underground tanks holding 338,570 gallons of water. New linear feet of tunnels were added to create easier access for the 1,389 LED lights that will create infinite color combinations.

The garden design with boxwood shrubs and walkways lined with trees increases space and includes stairs on the east and west sides of the garden and an elevator allowing guests to access the Fountain Overlook. The Pumphouse Plaza will have café seating so patrons can eat feeling that they are in outside European garden. Walking down steps one will find a dimly lit Grotto for quiet meditation in a tranquil setting to get in touch with one’s spirituality through the serenity of flowing water and fountains.

The historic Pump Room and galleries will exhibit the original 18 pumps and mechanical systems that powered the fountains from 1931 to 2014. A tribute to du Pont, whose ability was not only to shape the future of Longwood Gardens, but continued to do so beyond his lifetime.

Summer of Spectacle Premiere Weekend is May 27 through May 29. Tickets go on sale April 3. On May 28 there will be a Fireworks and Fountains Show for ticket holders. Summer of Spectacle runs through Sept. 30 with summer concerts and six Fireworks and Fountains shows. For more information go to

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SKALICKY: Gardening with native plants – Opinion



Posted: Saturday, April 1, 2017 7:24 am

Updated: 7:25 am, Sat Apr 1, 2017.

SKALICKY: Gardening with native plants

Francis Skalicky is the media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southwest Region. (417) 895-6880

Christian County Headliner News – Ozark, Missouri


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.

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      Saturday, April 1, 2017 7:24 am.

      Updated: 7:25 am.

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      Invest in your nest: Ideas for inside your home and out at the REALTORS Home and Garden Show

      REALTORS Home and Garden Show

      REALTORS Home and Garden Show

      WEST ALLIS — Sunday, April 2nd was the final day of the 2017 REALTORS Home and Garden Show — billed as the nation’s longest running home and garden show, in its 93rd year.

      The REALTORS Home and Garden Show took place at the Wisconsin State Fair Park Expo Center from March 24th through April 2nd, and offered homeowners looking to “reinvest in their nest” ideas for both inside the home and out!

      According to the event’s website, the REALTORS Home and Garden Show featured more than 350 exhibitor booths with the latest interior and exterior products — all under one roof! Visitors had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with industry experts on landscaping, roofing, windows, decks, cabinets, tiling, plumbing, kitchens, baths, decorating, heating, cooling and more.

      Additionally, the REALTORS Home and Garden Show featured the following:

      Solutions Stage: Presentations from experts on topics like gardening, composting, landscaping, and more.

      Daily cooking demos

      Milwaukee Public Television Great TV Auction: Collection of art, antiques and collectibles — with more than 1,000 items on display.

      Garden market: Featuring garden ornaments, tools, pottery, plants and more.

      Admission was $8 for adults, and children ages 12 and under were FREE. Active and retired military members were also FREE with valid military ID.

      FOX6’s Evan Peterson was LIVE at the REALTORS Home and Garden Show on its last day, Sunday morning, April 2nd during FOX6 WakeUp News:

      CLICK HERE to learn much more about the REALTORS Home and Garden Show.

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      Rain gardens can help ensure a blue Lake Erie: Greg Malone (Opinion)

      Greg Malone manages the plant science and landscape technology program at Cuyahoga Community College. 

       Guest columnist Greg Malone manages the plant science and landscape technology program at Cuyahoga Community College. He has more than three decades of experience in horticulture and worked for the area’s largest composting and recycling company prior to joining Tri-C. He does his own yard work and plans to add a hydroponic garden this year.

      Rain provides water and nourishment for our lawns and landscapes, rehydrating the parched earth drop by drop by drop. Regular precipitation represents a vital and essential component to maintaining a green planet.

      But as the saying goes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

      Rain pours down so heavily during some storms that the landscape cannot absorb it. When this water hits impervious surfaces such as roadways, sidewalks and rooftops, the runoff can create a torrent that overwhelms the region’s system of storm sewers and catch basins.

      This surge of water and all it carries — including pollutants like fuel, antifreeze, oil, lawn chemicals, rooftop particles and even animal feces — often ends up bypassing treatment systems.

      That means contaminated water flows unchecked into local streams and, eventually, Lake Erie. This has contributed to the algae blooms that have tainted our Great Lake in recent years and grown into a health hazard.

      Addressing this issue is the force behind multimillion infrastructure projects by local and regional water treatment authorities.

      But individual homeowners can make a difference, too.

      Adding a “rain garden” to your landscaping creates an area to intercept the flow of water and capture it long enough to filter into the ground. The feature looks like any other in your yard. The key, though, is the placement, design and plant selection.

      Select a location where water typically flows after a storm. Look for spots where rain spills off the driveway into the lawn, for instance, or where a gutter downspout empties.

      Once the site is selected, it is time to build. The rain garden area should be excavated to a depth of 8-12 inches and filled with a sandy soil, which can be made by mixing sand and compost with new topsoil. Removed soil can be placed on the downhill side of the garden to create a shallow reservoir.

      When selecting vegetation for your rain garden, look for native plants able to withstand short periods of wet conditions and prolonged periods of dryness. Look for something prolific and hardy that will establish quickly and require minimal fertilizer and pest control products.

      Ideal options include cardinal flower, purple coneflower and bee balm, all plants that should be available at local garden centers and nurseries.

      Using rain gardens in the landscape is an attractive way to reduce pollutants in our waterways and lake. Widespread use of the practice could have a major impact on storm runoff and pull the plug on this regional problem.

      So try this “green” solution to help keep Lake Erie blue.

      Have something to say about this topic? Use the comments to share your thoughts, and stay informed when readers reply to your comments by using the Notification Settings (in blue) just below.

      Readers are invited to submit Opinion page essays on topics of regional or general interest. Send your 500-word essay for consideration to Linda Kinsey at Essays must also include a brief bio and headshot of the writer. Essays rebutting today’s topics are also welcome.

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      April Gardening Tips

      April is Gardening Month in Wayne County! Now is the time to get out and enjoy gardening! Below are some tips for what to do in the garden during April.


      • Mow your turf at the correct height.  Bermuda at 1 to 1.5 inches, St. Augustine at 2 to 3 inches, centipede at 1 to 1.5 inches and zoysia at 1 to 2 inches.
      • This is the month to begin fertilizing bermudagrass and zoysia lawns. Apply nitrogen at a rate of one pound per 1,000 sq. ft. This equals 6 lbs. of 16-4-8 per 1,000 sq. ft.
      • Wait until next month to fertilize centipede and St. Augustine lawns.
      • Water and fertilize carefully — applying too much water and fertilizer encourages large patch, a destructive fungal disease of lawns.
      • If you have not soil tested in the past two years, do so this month before fertilizing to see if additional nutrients or lime are needed. Soil tests are free from April 1st to December 1st.

      Trees, Shrubs and Flowers

      • Prune spring-flowering plants, such as forsythia, azalea, and spirea immediately after flowering.  If you wait until summer or fall to prune, you will remove next season’s flowers.
      • If your annuals are flowering vigorously when you plant them, remove at least half of the flowers to give the plants a good start on root, leaf, and flower growth.
      • Newly planted trees require regular watering through their first summer. Apply 2-3 gallons per inch of trunk diameter to the root ball at least once a week if it does not rain.
      • Newly planted flowers will benefit from liquid fertilization the first few weeks, in addition to slow release fertilizer applied at planting time.
      • House plants can be gradually brought outdoors by the middle to end of the month, and any overcrowded plants can be divided and repotted.

      Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs

      • Prepare garden beds before planting. Till in compost and fertilizer. Add lime ONLY if recommended by soil test reports.
      • Set out young pepper and tomato plants in mid- to late April. Wait a few more weeks before setting out cold sensitive eggplant and basil plants.
      • Keep an eye out for Colorado potato beetle larvae on potato leaves.
      • Direct sow seeds of green beans, limas, field peas, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, winter squash, and sweet corn.
      • Harvest garden peas, sugar snaps, and snow peas every few days.
      • Thin fruit on apple, peach, and pear trees to increase fruit size, prevent limb breakage and reduce insect/disease problems. Fruit should be thinned when they are about the size of a nickel.

      — Jessica Strickland- Wayne County Horticulture Extension Agent

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      This week’s gardening tips: evaluate yard drainage, watch out for powdery mildew

      Mark your calendars for the Spring Garden Show at the New Orleans Botanical Garden April 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and April 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show includes plant and garden product exhibits and sales, educational programs, music and more.

      After recent rains, now is an excellent time to evaluate drainage conditions in your yard. Where did the water drain away quickly? Where did it puddle? What areas still have standing water or are very wet? This can be invaluable information when considering what plants to put in various areas.

      As tall-growing herbaceous perennials and annuals begin to grow, they may need to be staked. Stake these plants before they begin to fall over, look unattractive and possibly damage other plants around them.

      It’s very important to pull up cool-season annual weeds, such as henbit, bedstraw and chickweed. These weeds are setting thousands of seeds that will plague you next winter if not removed now.

      Powdery mildew, a fungus disease that attacks a wide variety of plants, can begin to show up this month. The disease appears as a white, powdery spot or area on foliage or flower buds. This disease can damage the foliage and cause flower buds to abort. Control with chlorothalonil or other labeled fungicides.

      Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

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      Gardening tips workshop to be held | News, Sports, Jobs …


      Monday at Webster County ISU Extension

      The Webster County ISU Extension and Outreach Office is offering the workshop “Spring Gardening Tips” at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the Outreach office in the Crossroads Mall, 217 S. 25th St. Please call the Webster County ISU Extension Office at 576-2119 to register for this workshop.

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      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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      Garden Tips: Choose shade trees wisely – Tri

      I am often asked to recommend a good shade tree for area yards. Before I can answer, I need to know the questioners’ expectations. Do they want a tree with bright red or orange fall color? Do they want a tree that is not prone to troublesome pest problems and one that will tolerate the summer heat? Do they want a tree that does not have invasive or shallow roots? Are they concerned about leaf litter in the fall? There is no perfect shade tree that will meet all the desired characteristics.

      Size is important. If shade is important, do you want a large shade tree that grows to a height of 70 to 80 feet, such as red oak, Norway maple, and red maple? Or do you want a more medium-sized shade tree, such as linden, ginkgo or river birch that only grow to 50 to 60 feet tall? Before selecting any tree, know how tall and wide it will get and determine where you will need to plant it for casting shade where it is needed? Do you have the space?

      In the “old days,” native species of trees that reached the hefty heights mentioned were the only ones available at nurseries. Now, thanks to plant breeding and selection, we can find trees that reach more manageable sizes for the typical home and lot. For example, the ‘Red Sunset’ maple, a red maple from J. Frank Schmidt Son Co. (JFS) wholesale nursery in Oregon, grows 45 feet tall and 35 feet wide. Another JFS red maple is ‘Scarlet Sentinel.’ It has a more upright form and grows 40 feet tall and 20 feet wide. It works well for narrow spaces, but is not going to produce as much shade.

      Rate of growth is also important. There is a temptation to plant a tree that will grow fast and produce shade quickly, such as a weeping willow, hybrid poplar, or silver maple. Resist the temptation. Fast growing shade trees tend to have massive invasive root systems that can interfere with septic systems, irrigation lines, and sewer lines, as well as raise driveways, walkways, patios, and even building foundations. Most fast growing trees also have weak wood that is prone to breakage and rot. Many also create excessive litter, are predisposed to insect pest problems, and are short-lived.

      Heat tolerance is crucial in our region. It gets excruciatingly hot and sunny here during the summer. Not all trees are tolerant of heat. Most local nurseries carry shade trees that can reasonably tolerate the local summer weather, but heat tolerance must be checked when buying from big box stores or on-line. These sources may offer excellent trees that are not well adapted to our region.

      Other characteristics to check when selecting a shade tree are tolerance to the alkaline soil that predominates in our region, potential insect and disease problems, litter problems, and seasonal interest.

      I suppose you want me to stop dancing around and the answer the question. What shade trees would I recommend for our area? My favorites are the ones I have planted in my current and past landscapes. At the top of my list is ‘Dura-Heat’ river birch, Betula nigra. It is heat and drought tolerant and resists bronze birch borer, a troublesome boring insect that attacks birches. It also has a relatively fast rate of growth, buttery yellow fall color, and interesting apricot colored papery bark. My other “favs” include ‘October Glory’ and ‘Red Sunset’ red maple; ‘Autumn Blaze’, a red and silver maple hybrid; ‘Greenspire’ littleleaf linden; and red oak.

      A shade tree is an investment of money and time. Do your homework and choose wisely.

      Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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