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Archives for April 13, 2017

This summer, find a cool spot at your home garden

Home garden design

Gardens are not just decorative elements for your home interiors, but also spaces that act as private corners for the individual or family to unwind, commune with nature, and enjoy the outdoors without trekking to a nature park. And the trend toward cultivating professionally landscaped, highly structured gardens indoors is here to stay. At the upcoming Salone del Mobile design and furniture fair, part of the Milan Design Week 2017, we see a dedicated track to garden furniture, highlighting the best and most cutting-edge in outdoor furnishings, accent pieces and decor.

A well-landscaped home garden needs to have three key elements in place: perennial plants that flourish all year through, irrespective of the tropical climate we experience in India; furniture to complement the greens, occupying a design sensibility that is neither too sophisticated, nor too rustic and is weather proof; and thirdly, a layout that will help homeowners navigate the space with ease, but also up-the-ante in terms of visual aesthetics.

Garden and indoor landscape design goes beyond arranging potted plants across the terrace or balcony, and involves long-term planning: What is the kind of usage you are looking at through the seasons and the day; the accessories, lighting, furnishing, and furniture that will go well with the landscape and also act as a natural extension to the house or apartment; do you want cladding, paint or decorative elements on the walls; a palette that will lend a touch of sophistication and warmth, but won’t overwhelm you post-sundown; and lastly, if the space is accessible for a variety of purposes such as parties, small get-togethers, cookouts, and what have you.

What about furniture and accessories? Should you go with wood, rattan, cane, or a contemporary concrete setting for its solid, clean lines and high-durability quotient? Knitted poufs, bold, patterned rugs and cushions, unique pillow shapes, crystal lamps and brassy candle stands are trending this year, in shades ranging from teal, aquamarine, and azure, to classic neutral palettes in beige, ecru, tan, and brown for that summery, island-inspired look. While the bright and colourful flowers in your garden will lend their unique charm to your bower, prints and patterns on your soft furnishing are as important in setting the look of your home garden: chevron, intricate geometry prints, and arabesque patterns continue to be trendsetters for home interiors.

Furniture and accessories for your home garden

Furnishing your home garden

Furnishing and accessories can transform an outdoor space from a green jungle into a sophisticated, manicured enclave that spells elegance at all times. Go for neutral, pristine white palettes and mix it up with colourful throws, rugs and cushions.

Furnishing your home garden


Synthetic rattan furniture, an upgrade from wood, are perfect for Indian summers. Whether a rounded sofa, L-shaped one or two-seaters, these can be arranged as per your space, in gradient shades ranging from black, brown, and grey, to beige and white, and come in attractive weave patterns that lend that touch of craftsmanship.

Garden Furniture from Schoenhuber

The Arena outdoor collection from Schoenhuber Franchi make for the perfect garden furniture. With smooth finish and curves, and plush seating options, these pieces will serve you well for that relaxed, lounge experience.

Luxdeco Crystal Hurricane Lamp

Luxdeco Crystal Hurricane Lamp

Martin Mostboeck - Arrow Cubist Modern Outdoor Planter

Martin Mostboeck – Arrow Cubist Modern Outdoor Planter

Plants for your home gardens


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These hydroponic kitchen gardens combine Nordic design & efficient growing technology

Tegren’s T-series countertop grow units promise low maintenance and fast growth.

With spring in the air here in North America, our thoughts often turn to fresh produce and the desire to grow some of our own food, but if you don’t have access to a yard or a community garden plot, it can be tough to accommodate those wants, and indoor growing and container gardening are pretty much the only solutions. But fortunately, the explosion in countertop growing systems is making indoor growing easier than ever before, and a new entry to the indoor gardening scene offers three different sizes, and several colors, of connected kitchen gardens.

Tegren, a Finnish company specializing in indoor gardening systems, has been making and selling hydroponic kitchen gardens since 2010, and has just launched a new model, the T-series, which promises fast growth, low maintenance, and ease of use, even for beginners. The T-series comes in three sizes, for three plants, six plants, or twelve plants, and incorporates what the company calls “Active Growing Technology” to deliver “the optimal combination of water and nutrients” for growth rates of up to three times as fast as in traditional gardening.

And because it’s a brave new connected world, there’s an app, of course, called Smart Gardener, that is said to adapt the lighting, the watering, and the nutrients to the current growing phase of the plants.

“Smart Gardener app offers you plant specific programs for the different plants you grow. You Control your T-series kitchen garden through the Smart Gardener and you can even create your own plant programs if you so wish. You don’t need any prior experience to succeed. Maintenance takes only minutes a month – Smart Gardener app tells when to add more water, change it and add nutrients.” – Tregren

Tregren T6 kitchen garden© Tregren
Instead of relying on a proprietary growing medium or seeding method, Tregren says the units can handle pre-grown plants (starts), seeds, or cuttings, and can accept an existing plant pot, or use rock wool, peat pots, company-supplied seed pods to grow vegetables or herbs from seed. Tegren doesn’t specify the type of lights on the T-series, but looking at the images and video, they must be LEDs, which are efficient and have a low electricity draw, but the weakest point of this growing system appears to be the fact that the lighting arms aren’t adjustable, which might be an issue with certain plants.

“We are very excited about the T-series as the initial feedback from consumers and retailers has been overwhelming. The comment made by the purchase director of one of the largest European retail chain summarizes it all, “Tregren’s T-series will do the same for urban gardening that iPhone did to mobile phones.” This didn’t surprise us as Tregren is known for its user-friendly and versatile products that have made us the market leader in many European countries. We believe that the superior functionality of the T-series combined with the best benefit/ price ratio will start a new era and bring indoor gardening for the masses.” – Jyri Timonen, CEO of Tregren

To launch the T-series, Tregren has turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund the production costs of the new units, and backers at the $56 level will receive the T3 unit sometime in October of 2017, backers at the $81 level will receive a T6 unit, and those pledging $106 will receive a T12 unit (all dollar prices are approximate, as rewards are actually priced in Swedish Krona). Learn more about the company at

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VIDEO: A behind-the-scenes look into the making of Longwood Gardens’ historic 600-foot Flower Garden Walk

Everyone knows Longwood Gardens for its dazzling garden design, but what people rarely have a chance to see is the lengthy preparation and time it takes to prepare the exhibits.

“We start the design a year out–so right now–I have already designed next spring’s plantings. It is a matter of building on those designs from year to year,” said April Bevans, Senior Gardener

During peak bloom, The Flower Garden Walk boasts more than 125,000 tulips, making it Longwood’s historic 600-foot walk of thousands of seasonal blooms.

“The Flower Garden Walk is planted in color blocks, the very first boarder is all blue, the second is all pink, the third is red, orange, yellow and the last boarder is all white,” said Bevans. “It is always planted that way, summer, spring, winter, and fall.”

The Flower Garden Walk is designed to help inspire and continue spreading the beauty and art of nature, but creating this masterpiece is no easy task.

“[The walk] has about 130,000 bulbs planted,” said Bevans. “Which takes a crew of eight to 10 about two weeks to plant.”

Longwood Gardens, Spring Blossom is open now until May 26th, 2017. 

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Landscaping for beauty and efficiency


For those of you lucky to have an outdoor space or two to design, the pleasures are great but the challenges many. It takes money, care and most importantly, thought, to design a garden that is beautiful yet does not gobble up too many resources and is relatively easy to maintain. For those of us in drought plagued areas like San Diego, our circumstances do limit our choices, but planning wisely will bring great results.

First, some basic ideas to keep in mind. The same principles apply when designing a garden or any work of art. We need to think about color, texture and composition. With such a vast variety of plants to choose from, we can select a personal palette. To amplify interest, think of mixtures of species— grasses, cacti, perennials and ground covers to include in your garden.

The ground may be flat but you can create an interesting topography with berms and rocks. Remember to think of how to direct whatever rainfall may occur into your water-wise design. Using nature and then enhancing it is the key to a successful garden. You can create levels with your plan and also with the plants you choose, adding height and volume with trees and shrubs.

It is wise to select plants that are drought resistant and local varieties that are adapted to soil and climate. These plants are hardy and rarely require additional fertilizers and pest controls. Be cognizant of each plant’s requirement for sun or shade and place them appropriately. Limit turf grasses as these require significant water and choose native grasses instead.

In designing your garden composition, think big to small. Trees should be selected and planted first, as they are not to be moved and are foundational to your space. Remember not to place them too close to the house; four feet away would be the minimum. These distance considerations should be made for patios, decks and swimming pools too. You don’t want to compromise the structure of these elements.

When selecting plants at the nursery, be mindful of their appropriate climate zone, how large they are likely to grow, the soil they will need to thrive. If you decide to incorporate bamboo, be aware of the different types and their tendency to grow fast and wild, possibly overwhelming your yard.

Your garden will likely attract wildlife, some welcome, some not. If you’d like hummingbirds, bees and butterflies to stop by, select those plants that will attract them. To deter unwelcome visitors, make sure fences cannot be breached. If you’d like to enjoy your garden in the evening, make sure to incorporate lighting into your design.

Your garden can be magnificent or it can be a sorry mess. Overall, the most important factor is water. The need for lots of water can be mitigated by making the right choices of water-resistant plants, and making the most of the water we do get, with correct placement and water catchment systems. With proper planning, even water-starved areas like our own can produce stunning verdant spaces.

Start digging and good luck landscapers!

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Home+Garden show kicks off season – Sentinel

Home+Garden and RV Show

Home+Garden and RV Show

Visitors carry plants at the seventh annual Home+Garden and RV Show at the Stroh Center on Saturday.

Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 9:04 am

Home+Garden show kicks off season

By BILL RYAN, Sentinel-Tribune Garden Editor


Many of those attending the seventh annual Home+Garden and RV Show at the Stroh Center on Saturday were looking for ideas for their gardens. They were widely available.

A weeping cherry tree was the dominant feature of the North Branch Nursery exhibit.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017 9:04 am.

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Consider investing some green in your landscaping to increase your home’s worth

A raised patio created by Country Nursery, Inc., of Wayne, Nebraska, is shown.

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Oklahoma City area home and garden notes

To submit items, call Melissa Howell at 475-3770 or send email to Reference “Home and garden calendar.” Please submit items at least 10 days before publication.


•Central Oklahoma Bonsai Society, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36. Program is a discussion on nebari root systems by Alex Barr. Visitors welcome.

•Oklahoma City Council of Garden Clubs, 10 a.m. Friday, Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36. Coffee is at 9:30 a.m. Program is on rain barrels by Steve Bouse. Visitors welcome. Call 427-2133.

•Central Oklahoma Beekeepers Association, 7 to 9 p.m. April 20, Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36. Visitors welcome.

•Red Rose Garden Club, 12:30 p.m. April 24, Wickline Methodist Church, 417 Mid American Blvd., Midwest City. Program is on vermiculture by Master Gardener Patricia Welty. Lunch provided. Visitors welcome. Call 715-3745 or email if you will be attending.

•Oklahoma Horticulture Society, 7 p.m. April 25, OSU Agriculture Resource Center, 400 N Portland.​

•Oklahoma Organic Gardening Association, 7 p.m. April 28, OSU Agriculture Resource Center, 400 N Portland. Joe Burford, from Ecological Sciences and Planning Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will talk about “The Organic Outlook in Oklahoma.” Green table is at 6:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. Call 755-2139.


•”Flowers, Flowers Everywhere!” 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Commonwealth Urban Farms, 3310 N Olie Ave. Learn about the easiest flowers to grow in central Oklahoma. Flower seedlings will be available for sale. Cost is $5 upon arrival.

•”Oklahoma Proven: Award-Winning Plants for Your Oklahoma Garden,” 6 p.m. Wednesday, Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36. Free. Public is welcome.

•”Front Yard Gardening,” 11 am to noon April 15, Commonwealth Urban Farms, 3310 N Olie Ave. This practical workshop will demonstrate how to turn your front yard into an edible haven of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Cost is $5 upon arrival.

•“Pruning,” 1:30 to 3 p.m. April 20, Oklahoma County Cooperative Extension Service, 2500 NE 63. Not all branches are forever. Trees are not perfect and need to be trained. Cost is $5. Call 713-1125.


•Spring Daylily and Plant Sale sponsored by the Central Oklahoma Hemerocallis Society, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36.

•Garden Party sponsored by the Cleveland County Master Gardeners, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 15, Cleveland County Demonstration and Teaching Garden, southwest corner of Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 601 E Robinson, Norman. Stop by the greenhouse for the Cleveland County Master Gardeners annual plant sale. Free. Go to, or call 321-4774.

•“Earth Kind” landscaping seminar, 5 to 8 p.m. April 21 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 22, Oklahoma County Cooperative Extension Service, 2500 NE 63. The objective of the two-day seminar is to combine the best of organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles to create a horticultural system based on real-world effectiveness and environmental responsibility. Cost is $100. A landscape design consultation will be offered on April 23 for an additional $75. Call 713-1125.

•Oklahoma Gardeners Association Plant Sale, 9 a.m. to noon April 29, Urban Mission, 3737 N Portland. Many different new and unusual varieties will be offered as well as the old standbys. “Pass-along” plants from association members also will be offered. Experienced gardeners will be on hand to answer questions.

•Urban Herbs: Herb Sale and Workshops, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29, Park House Events Center, Myriad Botanical Gardens, 125 Ron Norick Lane. Cost is $15 per workshop or $60 for an all-day pass. Proceeds benefit the Myriad Gardens Volunteer Program. Register by April 25. Call 445-7080, or go to for a schedule of the day’s events.

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Remembering Margaret’s Garden

It has been nearly six years since Oak Hill icon Margaret Wilson Thomas died at age 89, but her spirit lives on throughout Fairfax County, including on her former property.

This spring, instead of flowers, new homes are popping up in the former five-acre flower garden that artists flocked to for nearly 50 years before Thomas’s death in May 2011.

The property has now been turned into a subdivision named Iris Gardens and the street is named Margaret Thomas Lane.

Thomas, known to many as simply the “Iris Lady,” moved to Oak Hill with her husband George in 1963. They bought 33 acres off Lawyers Road in Oak Hill, including the 1880s farmhouse that Thomas lived in for the remainder of her life.

In 1973, the couple sold all but 5.4 acres, which included the farmhouse, and decided to use the land exclusively for gardening. After her husband died the next year, Thomas decided to dedicate the rest of her life to cultivating irises, a fondness she had acquired early in life.

The garden became affectionately known to many as Margaret’s Garden.

In 2006, the unique flower garden was listed by the Cultural Landscape Foundation as one of 18 noteworthy endangered U.S. gardens. The foundation said the garden was endangered because of Thomas’s age and the uncertainty of its future. In 2008, Thomas said she took out a reverse mortgage on the property to pay property taxes, which were in excess of $7,000 per year.

That same year, the Friends of Margaret’s Gardens, a nonprofit group formed in 2002, attempted to preserve the area as a park but failed when the county declined to add it to a Park Authority bond.

Throughout her life, Thomas cultivated and developed more than 2,000 varieties, or “cultivars,” of irises, as well as hundreds of peonies and day lilies. She sold them to residents, who planted them in their own gardens.

“I really want to preserve this property as a park, but I can’t afford to give it away,” Thomas said in a 2008 interview. Thomas also said she was offered $4.5 million for her property in 2003 by developers, but turned them down because she wanted to preserve her garden.

When she died, the property was left to her son Steve Thomas, who allowed the flowers to be dug up by county residents and businesses before selling the land.

As a result, in addition to the new subdivision being named for Thomas and her irises, many of the Iris Lady’s flowers still live on now at many private residences; at Herndon Centennial Golf Course, and outside St. Thomas Neumann Catholic Church.

“We currently have many of Margaret Thomas’ irises out front as part of our landscaping,” said Mark Gosselin, facilities manager for the church. “There are also many parishioners who took some home. We even have two framed paintings and photos of irises that came from Margaret Thomas’ house, here inside the church. Personally, I think of Margaret every time I drive by the old garden property on my way home.”

Gene Fleming, director of golf at Herndon Centennial Golf Course remembers going to the garden to personally select plants for the golf course. “I was out there myself with spades and shovels, digging in the dirt,” he said. “I remember unearthing the redbud tree nearest her farmhouse. It now sits just behind the 18th hole and is currently in full bloom.”

For many who still have them, the flowering plants from Margaret’s Garden hold sentimental memories, as do the untold number of fine art paintings that were conceived there.

“We have two plants from her garden, a stunning yellow bearded iris and a traditional purple bearded iris that never fail to remind me of the paintings of Claude Monet,” Herndon Town Council member Grace Wolf said. “Often, I would drive by her garden in full bloom and imagine I was in Giverny, and not on Lawyers Road.”

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Rangoli designs and their importance

Brightening up the festival celebrations, Rangoli is also believed to be harbinger of good luck. This art form is native to Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Also known as Alpana, rangoli patterns are created on the floor using coloured rice, flowers, coloured sand or paints.

Rangoli art is a traditional form of welcoming good luck and its popularity has remained unaffected over the years. Rangoli competitions are one of the most popular activities during festivals. Rangoli is a spiritual distribution of colours and thus is considered a harbinger of good luck. Most of the rangoli designs maintain symmetry like a yin and yang symbol or a swastika. And, worldwide, across all religions, symmetrical designs are considered as a symbol of prosperity, luck and growth.

Indian is land of many languages and hence this art form has different names in different regions.

Kolam in Tamil Nadu:

Kolam was traditionally drawn using rice flour or chalk powder. With modern times, use of synthetic coloured powders is also used. Native to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerela and some parts of Goa, traditionally, the main purpose of Kolam was not decoration. Earlier, Kolams were drawn in coarse rice flour so that the ants would not have to walk too far for a meal. Along with ants, Kolam encouraged harmonious existence by setting an invitation to birds and other small creatures for a meal.

Mandana in Rajasthan:

Named after the popular art of Mandana paintings, this kind of Rangoli is native to the areas of Rajasthan. Mandana is drawn to protect health, welcome gods and mark the celebration of festivals. Mandana is basically drawn using chalk powder. Women draw this beautiful piece of art form with the help of a piece of cotton, a tuft of hair or a rudimentary brush made out of a date stick.

Chowkpurana in Chhattisgarh:

Popular for its kaleidoscopic designs, Chowkpurana is drawn using dried rice flour or other forms of white dust powder. Although there are numerous traditional Chaook patterns, designs have evolved over the years depending on the creativity of younger generation. Considered auspicious, Chaook also signifies showering of good luck and prosperity in the family.

Alpana in West Bengal:

The word Alpana is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘alimpana’. Alimpana means ‘to plaster’ or ‘to coat with’. Traditionally, women of the house made alpana before the sunset. Strictly drawn in white colour, to draw an alpana that stays for longer duration, fabric colours along with a portion of glue can be used. Other natural colours that can be used are green and red – green to be obtained from leaves and red from sindoor.

Jhoti in Odisha:

This traditional art is known as Jhoti or Chita in Odisha. Unlike in other areas, jhoti can also be drawn on walls as well and is traditionally a line art drawing. The white colour os obtained from a semi-liquid paste of rice flour to draw this traditional line art. Apart from several designs and patterns used in jhoti, small foot marks of goddess Lakshmi are a must. It is highly symbolic and meaningful. Jhoti was drawn by women of the house to establish a relationship between the mystical and the material.

Aripana in Bihar:

Aripana patterns are integral to almost every celebration in a Bihari household. Drawn in the courtyard or the entrance, any ritual or celebration is considered incomplete without aripana in Bihar. Traditionally, aripanas were drawn to make the cultivated land fertile and fruitful by magical performances. Made with fingers, the delicate designs are made with the help of rice paste or pittha.

Muggu in Andhra Pradesh:

Known as Muggupindi, these rangoli patterns are drawn with a mixture of calcium or chalk powder. During festivals, the mixture is made of rice flour as an offering to ants, insects and sparrows. This gorgeous traditional art is transferred over the generations.

The emergence of this creative art can be attributed to Hindu mythological literature works. The word rangoli is a derivation of the Sanskrit word ‘rangavalli’ and signifies a creative expression of art by the means of colours. Rangoli is also considered a lucky omen. However, traditional rangoli designs were two-dimensional; the modern three dimensional designs are attractive too.

It is the freehand art that makes it more creative and fun. A traditional design can find a modern parallel depending on the creativity of the artist. Modern-day rangolis look mesmerizing with the inclusion of various embellishments. Flowers, petals, glitters, paints and stickers make the art form even more beautiful. Special patterns are created on the festival of Diwali and when the rangoli is decorated with lighted diyas, it looks stunning.

This traditional art form has seen a modern transition too and at various rangoli competitions are making use of this art to communicate about a social message and create awareness on the social issues. Women empowerment, female feticide, rape and environmental misbalances are few issues that have gained popularity over the years.

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St. Lucie County Master Gardener to share container gardening tips

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