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Archives for April 16, 2017

Create stunning planted containers with ease – Tribune

Updated 21 hours ago

In a few short weeks, it will be time to start planting garden containers with summer annuals and tropical plants. I’ve written about designing beautiful container plantings before but wanted to offer some extra tips and tricks for creating well-designed plant combinations.

Follow these five design “plans” to create garden containers with good proportion and balance. With them, you’ll achieve beautiful results.

1. Thriller, filler and spiller style

This design technique combines three heights of plants together to fill out a container on every available plane while still maintaining balance and proportion. This is a particularly valuable design plan for containers that are meant to be viewed from all sides.

First, a single “thriller” plant is selected for the center of the pot. This is typically a large plant with bold foliage, interesting flowers or some other eye-catching feature. Then, the space around the “thriller” plant is filled with a layer of “filler” plants to accent it. Finally, the “spiller” plants are placed around the outer edge of the container. These plants cascade, or spill, over the edge of the pot, draping it with colorful flowers or interesting foliage

2. Flat-backed style

This design technique is perfect for containers that are tucked against a building and are meant to be viewed only from one side. Rather than thinking about top-to-bottom layers like the previous technique, flat-backed style adds layers from back-to-front.

Begin by selecting a tall, upright, narrow plant for the back of the container. Position it a little off center, in the very back of the pot. Once you’ve planted this backdrop plant, select a slightly shorter plant to create the other half of the back layer. This plant should be more branched and less upright than the first plant.

After the back layer is selected, create a second layer of plants just to the front of it. The plants in this layer are slightly shorter than those comprising the back drop. The third and final layer at the front edge of the container consists of two or three low-growing plants that cascade over the lip of the pot.

3. Featured specimen style

This design technique is the perfect way to feature a single, unique, large-statured plant. I love to use it when creating containers that include a really special plant I want to show off.

With this design technique, the large-statured plant I want to highlight gets placed smack in the center of the container. Then, I surround this featured plant with a “skirt” of plants that compliment it but don’t distract from its beauty. These plants are low-growing or cascading and are chosen to highlight the central plant.

4. Monoculture style

There’s not much design involved in this style of container planting, but it makes beautiful containers. It involves using a single plant to fill a container. Whether it’s one plant, or three to five plants of the same variety, the container is filled with only one species.

I like to use this style with groups of containers of differing heights. Each container houses a different plant, but together, they make a cohesive collection.

5. Pot-hugging style

The final container garden design style I’d like to share with you is pot-hugging style. It involves using only extremely low or cascading plants in a container.

Though it isn’t for everyone, this design technique makes for some visually stunning displays. Perhaps it’s a big bowl of moss or a planter box filled with ground-covering succulents; the idea is for the plants to sit tight against the container. I find that with pot-hugging designs, the entire container becomes a focal point.

As you design and build your garden containers every year, keep these five design tricks in mind. With a little experience, you can build on these techniques and come up with some gorgeous combinations.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 622 Cabin Hill Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601.

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Ways to get out in the garden in the Valley this spring – Walla Walla Union





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Renowned Dutch garden designer eyes Belle Isle

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Bedding plants add color, beauty

“The cross is the lightning rod of grace that short-circuits God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of His love remains for believers.” A. W. Tozer.

“Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.” Watchman Nee.  

“God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’” Billy Graham.

As we celebrate Easter Sunday, it’s half-past April and we are given the opportunity to enjoy some great spring weather. Enjoy this day and prepare to get back out into the great outdoors this week as your landscaping ideas continue to develop.

Creative and effective landscaping with curb appeal completes the outdoor environment at your home. Everyone seeks to have a beautiful and attractive landscape that is functional, inviting and appealing. These spaces provide an area for you to enjoy with family and friends while experiencing an outdoor environment filled with fresh air and fragrant plants during the different seasons of the year.

Bedding plants add color and beauty to the landscape. Plants that are tolerant of summer heat include salvia, torenia, wax begonia, coleus, ornamental pepper, as well as herbs such as basil, Mexican tarragon, and rosemary. Keep a lookout for harmful insects such as thrips, scale, and mites on ornamental plants.

Additional plants that offer various color qualities which help to beautify the landscape and grounds throughout the season and year include the following.

EverLast dianthus is double-flowered and characteristically mounded which earns its name from its ability to continuously flower throughout the season. This hardy dianthus blooms with vigor from early spring season to late summer season and is available in many colors including white, burgundy blush, lavender, lilac, and orchid. Plant them in full sun as they reach a height and width of 12 inches. EverLast dianthus work well in beds with lambs’-ears.

Electric Wizard hibiscus has swirling blooms which add a mystic, tropical touch to porches, patios, decks and gazebos. This new hardy hibiscus produces 9- to 10-inch wide clear pink flowers with a dark red throat boasting in red streaks and purple foliage shaped like maple leaves. This drought tolerant hibiscus makes a great landscape addition and grows 3 feet tall. Its small physique and large blooms make it a spectacular container planting. Grow it in full sun and it looks great planted or positioned near roses. Hibiscus is also called rose mallow.

Midnight Marvel hibiscus has huge deep-red flowers (8- to 9-inches wide) with dark purple maple-shape leaves.  It flowers from midsummer until frost and is a prolific bloomer in the heat of summer. Midnight Marvel prefers full sun to partial shade and will reach a height and width of 4 feet and makes a fabulous border planting. It looks great growing alongside turtleheads (Chelones).

Hypnotic hibiscus offers colorful blooms and colorful leaves as well. This hardy hibiscus has 11-inch diameter white flowers which are veined with rose pinstripes. In addition to its blooms, its characteristic purple maple-shape leaves are most fascinating. It prefers full sun and will grow 3 to 4 feet tall and makes an outstanding landscape plant. It looks great growing near roses.

Crystal Ball hibiscus has 11-inch wide deluxe white flowers and it will reach a height of five feet. This hardy hibiscus is bred with increased pest tolerance. It prefers full sun and looks great in a mass planting and with roses.

Heartthrob hibiscus has 8- to 10- inch wide, dark red flowers and its canopy is compact and well-branched.  This 4-foot tall hibiscus is a prolific bloomer in mid- to late summer and looks great in the landscape.  Heartthrob is deer-resistant and prefers full sun to part shade.  It looks great growing with asters.

Pardon My Purple monarda (also called bee balm) highlights fancy, nectar-rich flowers that attract such pollinators as butterflies and bees. Its fuchsia-purple flowers bloom in midsummer as it grows to a height of 12- inches. This tiny perennial is ideal for placing in the front of a flower border as dazzling edging. It prefers full sun and grows well with the butterfly bush.

Mercury Rising coreopsis is a brilliant red cultivar (most coreopsis varieties are yellow) blooming from early summer through early fall. Its small, wine-red flowers feature a golden button center and it looks awesome in beds and borders. Mercury Rising will reach 18- inches in height and prefers full sun, and it looks great planted near perennial geraniums.

Phenomenal lavender is very hardy and flowers in midsummer. It forms a mound of silvery foliage with long spikes of purple-blue flowers growing vertically from within its canopy. It works great in fresh bouquets and in dried arrangements. The lavenders prefer well-drained soils in full sun. Phenomenal will grow to 32- inches in height and looks good with roses.

Gone with the Wind belamcanda looks like an exquisite tall yellow iris that reaches upwards to six feet tall. This blackberry lily flowers all summer followed by the production of clusters of blackberry-like seed in the fall. It is a cross between the dwarf iris ‘Hello Yellow’ and the taller wild blackberry lily, which has orange flowers. This plant meets its southern exposure limitations in this area and prefers full sun. It looks good with coreopsis.

Remember, Earth Day is April 22 and Arbor Day is April 28 – so plan on doing something favorable for the environment at home or the office, whether planting a single tree or a bed of landscape plants.

Continue to think in terms of native and sustainable plants in the landscape rather than those with invasive characteristics. Keep your hanging baskets and potted plants refreshed with water and food. Remember to feed and water the songbirds, and give your pets the care they need. Also, be on lookout for children playing and bicyclists riding along the streets and roadways throughout our communities as the weather continues its warming trend. And remember to safely share the road with motorcycles. Drive alert and arrive alive. Don’t drive distracted or impaired, and don’t text while driving. Help the homeless every chance you get. Let’s keep everyone safe while enjoying this spring season! Happy Easter!

Many thanks to all who read this column which is an effort to provide each reader with timely and useful information. It is a small contribution on my part in “paying it forward” to my readers. In keeping with this thought, many of you know that we are planning our annual mission trip to the Peru this summer. We are currently raising funds to help finance this mission trip (discipleship journey). If you feel led to do so and would like to donate to this cause, please make a check payable to Heritage Church and mail to Eddie Seagle, Peru Mission Team, 108 Tallokas Circle, Moultrie, GA 31788. We would appreciate your prayers for a safe journey as well, and many thanks to each of you.

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25.

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North End garden in Palm Beach honored for its innovation and beauty

In 2013, Sue Efron had very definite ideas for the landscape that would surround her new West Indies-style home. She wanted her mid-island gardens to be both tropical and eco-friendly at the home she shares with husband Paul.

“Sue had a clear vision of what she wanted regarding design, color and texture,” recalls Keith Williams of Nievera Williams Design, with whom she collaborated on the project.

In addition to winning an Award of Merit for Environmentally Sensitive South Florida Landscape Design in 2014 from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Efrons’ eco-friendly garden at 240 Kawama Lane is the recipient of the 2017 Lesly S. Smith Landscape Award. The Smith award which was presented Thursday by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach and it The honor recognizes excellence in landscaping in keeping with the character and traditions of the town.

 Alexander palms rise on either side of gravel path lined with container plants. Finding the right plants to keep watering to photo
Special to the Daily News

Special to the Daily News

Alexander palms rise on either side of gravel path lined with container plants. Finding the right plants to keep watering to … read more

Relating the planning process for the garden, Williams recalls getting an unexpected requirement for his very hands-on client.

“She asked that I keep her water bill under $500,” he said. “That wasn’t a request I’d ever had before.”

In researching the idea, Williams learned much about the latest technology in water conservation. He has now incorporated what he learned into all his designs, particularly for innovative watering systems.

In addition to installing underground drip irrigation, Williams also restricted turf grass to the backyard for the family dog. The zoyszia grass proved problematic because of brown spots from the pup’s use, so Williams recently installed a border of palmetto grass close to the house.

Moreover, he used native plants extensively throughout the design.

“Texas sage requires no maintenance, and I love firebush which attracts butterflies,” he said. “We’re careful to use exotics that are drought tolerant and will withstand wind and salt.”

Eco-consciousness hasn’t diminished this landscape’s lush appeal, however. Visitors would never guess this verdant retreat was a water-sipping example of conservation.

“The whole backyard is like a tapestry of foliage textures from all the tropical plants,” Efron says. “However, I think the front entrance is the most special thing about the garden.”

The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach evidently agreed.

“While well-manicured lawns are strongly associated with properties in Palm Beach, we found the design for the Efron property to be so refreshing,” says Amanda Skier, executive director of the foundation. “The lush landscape grass presents both a fresh approach and an environmentally sensitive one.”

Skier also appreciated the reference to the island’s history.

“The use of crushed coral, a traditional material, for the hardscape pays homage to the past in an informal manner befitting of a modern landscape design” she said. “Also, the plant varieties are a departure from the norm.”

In lieu of grass, Williams heeded a request from Sue Efron and designed the entrance using patterned gravel and succulent beds — choices that again require minimal watering. Containers help define the space.

“I had seen the gravel gardens while we lived in England,” Efron explains, “so I wanted to replicate them using echeveria and Mondo grass, which I love.”

But, again, the plant choices proved a challenge: “Some of those plants didn’t survive,” she says.

Evolving as gardens always do, the front beds were replanted with aloes and sedums into hardier, yet still striking patterns.

“The challenge is finding the right materials,” said Williams. “I needed a ground-cover that would do well in sun and shade, so we used variegated minima.”

Efron is also evolving as a gardener. She recently attended a lecture by Edwina von Gal, founder of Perfect Earth Project, which promotes toxin-free landscapes. She’ll be working with von Gal on her summer home in Larchmont, N.Y., but is applying the same philosophy here in Palm Beach.

“Why are we planting ficus hedges when the whiteflies require so much spraying?” she asks.

Another lesson this dedicated garden enthusiast has learned is just how fast things grow in the subtropics.

“My husband says my nickname is ‘Chain Saw Sue,’ ” she said. “We’re actually having to take trees and hedges down, because they’re blocking out so much light.”

As she learns to make her beautiful garden more self sustaining, Efron appreciates the recognition of the hard work she and Williams have put in.

“I’d like to be awarded for being a good steward of my property as well,” she said.

 Homeowners Paul and Sue Efron posed wtih garden designer Keith Williams, right, before a presentation Thursday of the Preservation Foundation of photo
Special to the Daily News

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Homeowners Paul and Sue Efron posed wtih garden designer Keith Williams, right, before a presentation Thursday of the Preservation Foundation of … read more


240 Kawama Lane

Homeowners: Sue and Paul Efron.

Landscape architecture: Nievera Williams Landscape Architecture; Keith Williams, landscape designer and principal; Mario Nievera, principal; Cory Meyer, project manager and associate.

Architecture: Smith and Moore Architects; Peter Papadopoulos, architect and partner.

General contractor: Wittmann Building Corp.; Paul Wittmann, principal.

Landscape contractor: Armstrong Landscape Design Group; Frank Hutcheon.

Civil engineer: Gruber Consulting Engineers Inc.; Chad Gruber, principal.



The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s Lesly S. Smith Landscape Award is named in honor of the foundation trustee and former Palm Beach mayor, whose husband, the late Ambassador Earl T. Smith, helped establish the nonprofit group.

The award honors landscapes in keeping with the character of Palm Beach while but original and forward-thinking. Technically bestowed on a landscape, the award is accepted by the homeowners and designers.

The foundation awards three other honors at regular intervals to recognize architecture that meets criteria similar to that of the Smith award: the Robert I. Ballinger Award, honoring historically sensitive renovations of large estates; the Polly Earl Award, honoring similar renovations of small-scale properties; and the Elizabeth L. and John H. Schuler Award, honoring new architecture.

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Garden-to-Table Tips for Growing and Cooking Your Own Produce

(StatePoint) Nearly 50 percent of fresh fruits and 20 percent of fresh vegetables in the US are imported, according to This means that your food traveled long distances to get to your plate. To better enjoy fruits and vegetables, many families are now growing their own at home.

Want to know exactly where your food is coming from and have the freshest possible flavors within arm’s reach? Bring “farm-to-table” dining into your everyday life by creating your own garden. Follow these tips to grow and harvest fruits, veggies and herbs at peak ripeness to enjoy in simple, healthful meals.

Room to Grow

When starting a garden, it’s important to have a plan. Find a spacious area with plenty of sunlight to help plants take root and flourish — whether that’s in your backyard or a nearby community garden. For cooler climates, raised garden beds are highly recommended. These allow fruits and vegetables the space needed to expand their roots and hold in water. For hot, arid climates, create an in-ground garden, as it holds in moisture better, requiring less irrigation.

Selecting what to grow is your next challenge. Herb gardens are perfect for those with limited experience or limited space. Herbs like basil, cilantro and chives are easy to maintain. Most herbs can withstand changing climates, meaning you can cook with fresh herbs year-round, adding them to nearly any meal to increase depths of flavor and allow you to “play” with your food.

Farm with Flavor

Having access to a variety of fresh produce lets you expand your menu at home while keeping it healthy. Many items found in simple salads, like carrots, tomatoes, radishes, lettuce and other leafy greens are considered “beginner crops.” Certain berries are also easy to cultivate. If you’ve ever tasted a ripe, just-picked strawberry or a fresh, juicy tomato, you’ll know that it’s worth the effort to grow these items yourself!

Mix it Up

Having a high-quality blender, like the Vitamix A3500, can make transforming your harvest into vibrant meals easy. Vitamix machines can be used to chop, purée or juice any ingredients that may come from your budding garden.

Put new spins on old family recipes. Next time your kids ask for spaghetti and meatballs, try Spaghetti with Roasted Vegetable Sauce. Made with fresh, garden ingredients, including Roma tomatoes, carrots and fresh basil leaves, this robust sauce will become a staple in your weekly meal rotation. You might even want to try it on top of spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles to take advantage of more nutritious, fresh-grown produce. Try something new and create Sweet Potato Soup with Seared Tomatillos using fresh jalapenos, poblanos and tomatillos from your garden. Or dress up a less-than-exciting salad with a brightly flavored Strawberry Vinaigrette, using fresh strawberries and herbs.

Growing greens (plus reds, yellows, oranges, purples and blues) gives you peace of mind in knowing exactly where your meals come from, and the pride of nurturing something wholesome.

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Creative Gardening Tips for the Spring Season

(StatePoint) Gardeners often focus on the science of their hobby: how much water and sunlight their plants need and how to improve soil quality and keep pests at bay. But there can be a lot of artistry behind the craft as well — from how you harvest and enjoy flowers to how you convert unused spaces of your home into a viable indoor edible garden.

Put your creativity to good use this spring season by gardening with style.

Indoor Gardening

For those who don’t have an outdoor garden or yard, the dream of enjoying your own freshly picked fruits and vegetables may seem out of reach. However, the nooks and crannies of your home can be creatively rendered into productive growing zones. And experts say that nearly all homes can support indoor gardening.

“Whatever the size of your home, there will be a selection of edible plants you can grow indoors, as long as you have some natural daylight filtering in,” says Zia Allaway, author of “Indoor Edible Garden: Creative Ways to Grow Herbs, Fruit and Vegetables in Your Home.” “The areas where plants will grow can be windowsills, beneath a skylight or even in a dark, unlit area if you install grow lights.”

In “Indoor Edible Garden,” a highly visual guide full of practical tips and stylish ideas, Allaway offers step-by-step directions for everything from creating suspended shelves and hanging jars for growing herbs to mounting edible orchids onto bark and displaying them on walls. She points out that those embarking on indoor gardening should first evaluate the level of time they can commit.

“Just remember that unlike other projects in the home, such as decorating and cooking, all gardening projects require some aftercare. So, if you have a busy schedule, choose crops that will tolerate less watering and feeding.”

Flower Arranging

While your flower garden is likely a beautiful work of art in and of itself, you can spread the joy by harvesting your flora and bringing the beauty indoors. Floral arrangements add vitality to any interior space.

“For me, every arrangement starts with the container. Think about what mood or style you want to evoke, and remember, anything can be a container as long as it can be made watertight,” says Rachel Siegfried,” author of “The Flower Book: Natural Flower Arrangements for Your Home,” which explores 60 flowers, bloom-by-bloom in portraiture, including quick-reference profiles and tips.

Siegfried recommends that, when selecting flowers for your arrangement, pay attention to shapes, textures and colors to achieve good balance. Start with a primary focal flower and build out with a couple of secondary focals, a final flourish, and foliage.

For her part, she relies on instinct. “I get a ‘buzz’ when I find a good combination,” she says.

From flowering bouquets to spicy pepper plants, apply creativity to your gardening this spring.

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