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Archives for April 21, 2017

Virtual technology can make landscaping easier

Just as virtual technology has become a common tool for anyone planning to repaint or redecorate a home, a growing array of apps can make landscaping easier too.

But know when to use them, and when it would be easier to pull out an old-fashioned pencil and a sheet of graph paper — or to seek out a professional.

“We’ve seen an increase in virtual interior design services within the last two years, so it’s only natural that this functionality would make its way to the exterior of the home as well,” said Stephanie Sisco, Real Simple magazine’s home editor.

A few of the more popular DIY gardening apps include Garden Designer ($9.99, from Artifact Interactive), Design your New Surroundings ($9.99, from Home Revivals), Garden Plan Pro ($9.99, from Growing Interactive), and Perennial Match ($4.99, from Harmony systems, Inc.).

“We have seen several hundred thousand downloads,” says Patrick Pozzuto, founder of the iScape app ($9.99, from Home Revivals LLC), aimed at both professional and home landscapers. Based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Pozzuto worked as a contractor before launching his app.

“Arranging plants using a touch screen is way easier than using your lower back to do it,” he says.

“But while the pros have been using apps for a long time now, home gardeners do encounter some hiccups sometimes,” he admits. “They don’t necessarily know what plant goes with what, and what areas it’ll grow in. And some people don’t have an artistic mind, and get into trouble.”

Dave Whitinger, executive director of the National Gardening Association, based in Jacksonville, Texas, warns that while some tech-savvy gardeners quickly get the hang of landscaping apps, the learning curve is steep, and they may be impractical for most home gardeners. The association, founded in 1971, helps put out the “Gardening for Dummies” book series (published by For Dummies) and hosts the website

“The reality is that while the virtual tools are great for a minority of gardeners, many more people find them far too confusing, and they get really frustrated,” he says.

Many home gardeners, he says, would be better off using a pencil and graph paper, with each square representing 6 inches, or whatever scale is appropriate for the particular garden.

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Historic Garden Week: Get ready to take in Garden View | Features …

A preview of Garden View, located at 1715 Sunken Road in Fredericksburg, Va. on April 17, 2017. The property will be on the 2017 Garden Week tour.

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Back in bloom: gardening tricks of the trade from Taunton area nurseries

With the tease of the warm weather last week people have been itching to get out and enjoy their gardens — the fresh spring air and vibrant colors radiating from the blooming flowers.

But per usual with New England weather, the temperature is temperamental, one day 80 degrees and sunny and the next in the 50s and cloudy.

For new gardeners this can be confusing. What plants should you buy when the weather fluctuates so much? What should you do with the plants you recently bought if it stays cold? And how do you even get started with gardening?

A couple of gardening experts, from local garden centers, shared some of their tips on creating a flourishing and blossoming garden.

“It’s all about the soil,” said Debi Hogan, who owns the Tranquil Lake Nursery in Rehoboth with her husband Warren Leach.

Hogan said before even buying plants it is important to know the area you are dealing with specifically by checking what kind of soil you have.

“Dig up a shovel full of your soil, put it in a jar and add water and watch what happens,” Hogan said. “If it settles within 24 hours then it is sandy soil.”

If the water is still a little murky, then it is loam, which is composed of sand and some clay. If it never really settles and is murky then it is clay which can be hard for planting.

Hogan said the type of soil determines which plants will work well and what to add to the soil to help plants thrive. She added that no matter what you should add compost.

“Compost, compost, compost,” Hogan said. “By adding compost it gives the richness soil needs.”

Another important factor to look at before planting, Hogan said, is how much sun the area gets.

“Full sun plants need six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day,” Hogan said. “Keep in mind if there is a tree above the area (that hasn’t grown its leaves yet) that it will provide shade in that area later in the season.”

Hogan and her husband have owned the nursery for more than 30 years. The center has examples of creatively designed gardens and plants that range from small to trees. They offer workshops at their nursery for gardeners, including pruning workshops, garden design consultations, vegetable garden basics and spring flowers combinations.

But without a doubt one of their biggest draws is when the eight acres of daylilies and irises are in bloom, creating a sea of color.

Those flowers haven’t bloomed yet, but there are some plants beginning to blossom. Hogan specifically pointed out the delicate white flowers feathering out from the magnolia trees.

While the dainty flowers were beautiful she said they were lucky there was not a frost, because if there was and the baby magnolia trees were left uncovered their flowering buds would die.

“We’re not frost free yet,” Hogan said. “We won’t be frost free until mid-May.”

Hogan said for people who have already bought flowers that need warm weather, they should not plant them outside yet but instead keep them inside, cover them during the cold nights if already planted or get plants that are suitable for the weather.

“Pansies are a great option right now because they are cold tolerant,” said Steve Vilasboas, one of the owners of the Garden Patch. “They can take the weather fluctuation.”

About 10 miles away from Tranquil Lake Nursery, the Garden Patch on Ingell Street in Taunton was filled with smaller plants in vibrant shades of pink, yellow, purple, orange and red.

“I always press people to get fertilizer,” Vilasboas said. “You’ve got to fertilize, you have to feed it to keep it looking good and healthy.”

Vilasboas said he has been working with flowers since he was about 12 years old and grew up in the area. He is a co-owner of the Garden Patch which has a location in Taunton and one in Raynham.

“Something that works great here are containers,” Vilasboas said. “Container gardening is easier to maintain. Also based on what flowers you have you can place it in the sun or in a shaded area.”

The Garden Patch offers container classes regularly where people can come in and put together a container of their own. They are guided on what plants and flowers work well together, beautiful color combinations and the different kinds of techniques for creating a garden in a container.

“It is something great for people to put right on their front step,” Vilasboas said.

The Garden Patch not only helps people with their containers but they also fill the 34 sidewalk pots in downtown Taunton to help beautify the downtown area and bring some color outside of the shops.

“We donate over 50 hanging baskets as well,” Vilasboas said. “We really want to give back to the community.”

“People are ready to buy flowers.”

“A lot of people just want to see some color. I think people love color. It makes them happy.”

Both Vilasboas and Hogan stressed the importance of maintaining a garden it by watering it and giving it nutrients.

“Weeding is one of my favorite things to do. I know people usually don’t like weeding but because of it I get to be in the garden and get to look closely at what is happening,” Hogan said. “I like seeing the different plants in each season.”

For more information on Tranquil Lake visit For more information on the Silver City Garden Patch visit their Facebook page @gardenpatchsilvercity.

Hogan shared one last must-have that she suggests people add to their garden.

“A seat,” Hogan said. “It is never a bad idea to add a seating area so you can get a good look at your garden and really enjoy it.”

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Business Scene for the week of 4/19/17


Couple of busy, entertaining nights upcoming at the Main Street Sports Bar Lounge in Quincy. On Thursday, April 27, it’s dinner and music featuring a Thai meal with music provided by Greg Willis, Johnny Walker and special guest Chase Ramirez.

Then on Friday night, April 28, Stockton’s funnyman Rio Hillman — just kicking off his “30 No Days Off Comedy Tour” — will headline a show featuring several other comedians from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Seating for this hilarious private show is limited, so it is suggested you get your $10 tickets in advance.


Tanya Miller

Tim O’Brien of Coldwell Banker Kehr/O’Brien Real Estate welcomes Tanya Miller to his property management services team. Tanya brings a background in overseeing hospitality cleaning services and organizational management for their rental programs. “Her enthusiasm for our property management services is quite infectious and has already been making a buzz about town as she meets with restaurant and recreation business owners to introduce herself while replenishing our brochures about our services,” said Tim.


Carol’s Café at Prattville is opening for it’s 46th season with a Lake Almanor Area Chamber Mixer on Thursday, April 27. Owner Carol Franchetti says she will officially open the café for the season on Friday, May 5, just in time to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. During May the popular family eatery will be open Thursday for breakfast and lunch and Friday through Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Brian and Sarah Smith are pleased to announce they have moved their business, Chester Auto Body Glass, Inc, to 543 Chester Airport Rd. Their new facility features a new and advanced frame rack and measuring system, new paint booth with a sterile paint mixing room, secured customer parking, 24-hour video surveillance and lots more space including a roomy and comfortable waiting area with a complementary hot beverage station.


Karen Williams from Quincy was the lucky winner of Crescent Country’s Grand Golden Egg worth $50. Owner Lisa Forcino said she had a terrific turnout for her 23rd annual spring fling event.


This month, Todd Kuraisa begins his 16th season at Little Bear RV Park in Blairsden. He said he bought the business when he was 26 when, as he put it, he thought he knew it all and quickly found out he knew very little about the business. “Making mistakes is the best teacher I ever had, still is to this day. It was both humbling and a blessing in disguise as it propelled me to grow as a man and an entrepreneur. I couldn’t be more grateful for all the friendships forged. It’s by far the greatest aspect of owning this park, the personality and energy of our guests is second to none,” Todd said.

With offices in Chester and Susanville, Bruce Homme is in his 29th year serving Lassen and Plumas counties with Homme’s Landscape. He encourages homeowners to start thinking of their landscaping projects. From small to large projects, Bruce can give you ideas to fit your budget adding that you don’t have to do everything all at once. He said you could plan your master project and do sections or phases each year as your budget allows.

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D-49 students create outdoor learning center for future landscaping class

PEYTON, Colo. (KKTV) – On Friday morning, students from District 49 at Falcon High School, along with landscaping experts, worked to create a new outdoor learning laboratory.

It’s all part of a curriculum that is expected to begin next school year. The purpose of the project is to create open-air classrooms for landscaping classes, preparing students to begin their landscape career immediately following graduation.

“I realize not every student is going to go to college, and there are students out there who do you go to college and incur huge amounts of financial aid, financial debt to live in mom and dad’s basement,” said agriculture teacher, Dave Kranz. “Here, we have a great opportunity for students to get outside, get in, get their hands dirty and realize that a good hard day’s work can actually pay really well.”

The materials and labor are all made possible by donations, totaling about $47,000.

About 10 students and 25 landscape professionals helped with the project. Throughout the day, four irrigation systems will be installed, helping students learn installation, repair and water management technologies. A large garden will also be planted, along with a 400 sq. ft. area for hardscapes.

“I honestly love it,” said 10th grader, Amanda Brandt. “I’ve been working in gardens and all that my whole life, most of my life anyways, and we’re just learning how to work with plants.”

The project was made possible by The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, which partners with high schools in Colorado each year around Earth Day to help with landscaping programs.

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Karel Edgar flourishes in landscaping business, part-time work for state conservation department


Karel Edgar, owner of Ready to Grow

It’s a busy time of year for area native Karel Edgar as she heads into the spring and summer months at the helm of her landscaping business, Ready to Grow.

“Spring is the time when it picks up a lot,” she says.

Edgar gained an early appreciation for the outdoors from her grandparents.

“I’ve always been an outdoor person,” she says. “My grandparents used to take us to the Current River when I was a kid. They had a cabin down there, so we spent all our summers down in the Current River. My grandpa’d take me fishing and my grandmother, she taught me about gardening.”

She now lives in her grandparents’ home on a 2-acre lot in Cape Girardeau, where she grew up gardening alongside her grandma.


Butterfly weed

“When they moved in there in the early ’50s, they put in huge gardens; my grandmother had probably a half-acre garden,” she says. “… My grandmother taught me and my sister how to garden as I was growing up.”

With that experience and a long history working for the Missouri Department of Conservation and at Trail of Tears State Park, Edgar decided to incorporate her knowledge of plants and the outdoors to create Ready to Grow in 2012.

“I’d been kind of dabbling with [landscaping] back and forth for a long time, especially since my son was born; he’s 11 now,” she says. “… I had a hard time finding a job that I could get my schedule to work around him so I’d still be able to see him. So it just kind of happened that I came up with the idea [for Ready to Grow], and I kind of went with it.”

The business started small, but she says it has grown consistently without any real promotion.

“I started out with a little booth at the farmers market, and we did little garden beds, like portable garden beds for people that live in apartments,” Edgar says.

She sold the planters, herbs and small items and promoted the landscaping aspect of the business.

“So that got the word out a little bit,” she says.

She decided to continue her studies at Southeast Missouri State University and started taking horticulture classes to brush up on her skills and knowledge.

“Because I’d always had the biology side of everything, and I took plant taxonomy and botany, and it’s a little bit different than planting ornamental,” she says.

Through her business, Edgar offers anything from planting a tray of flowers to redesigning an entire landscape. She also offers seasonal maintenance and consultations.

Edgar, who will turn 40 in July, has been working at Trail of Tears since she was 19. She began her tenure with AmeriCorps, a program based out of Southeast. She then performed environmental education at the park for two years to earn money for schooling.

“I also worked there as a seasonal naturalist for a couple of years,” she says.

She continues to work in part-time roles with the Missouri Department of Conservation and with Trail of Tears.

During the wintertime, Edgar works at Trail of Tears, performing tasks like removing exotic species of plants, trail construction and maintenance and prescribed burns, where certain parts of forest are burned to control the brush level.

She says there is a plan for every burn, which always has a big crew to make sure it’s safely executed.

“It’s very dependent on weather and there’s very certain parameters that we have to meet to be able to go out and actually set one of these burns,” Edgar says. “The area can vary from 5 acres up to 1,000 acres sometimes, so there’s a lot of people there involved in that.”

She says the controlled burns are just that — controlled. The flames are typically low level and special precautions are taken so the fire on the designated area doesn’t spread.

“It’s not like fighting wildfire, but it’s still really interesting,” she says. “Usually the purpose is different for each burn unit, but usually it has to do with restoring an area to what it once was before human intervention.”

Another purpose of the burns is to rid the landscape of invasive plants not native to Southeast Missouri.

The main invasive plants seen in Missouri are autumn olive, an invasive shrub that was introduced in the 1950s, and bush honeysuckle.

Locally, Edgar says native plants are a growing trend in landscaping.

“Yeah, there’s a big interest in it now, especially with the attention that’s being given to pollinators and bees and monarch butterflies,” she says.

She says monarch butterflies rely primarily on milkweed plants as their food source and to rear caterpillars.

“They won’t lay eggs on any other plant, so if you want monarch butterflies, it helps a lot to plant milkweed species,” she says. “… I try to push as many native plants as possible, especially for pollinators.”

Edgar says she tries to be as organic as possible, avoiding chemicals that could avoid bees or other pollinators.


Karel Edgar, owner of Ready to Grow

“The closer you can get to Southeast Missouri-sourced plants, the better it is for the pollinators,” she says. “… If you can plant a few things here and there that will help them out, it beautifies your garden and helps the pollinators … and the birds, too.”

In the past five years, Edgar says her business has grown more than she expected, and she hopes to see that growth continue.

“The growing process has been interesting for me because I’ve never run a business by myself before, but I love it because it gives me flexibility,” she says. “… I’m going to stick with this as long as I can and learn to grow with it as it grows.”

And when it comes to partnering with local businesses, Edgar says she likes to focus her business on small businesses and woman-owned businesses.

“I work with a lot of women,” she says. “We kind of hold each other up.”


Karel Edgar, owner of Ready to Grow

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Bringing splendor back to Columbia’s historic gardens

As soon as you walk through the gates onto the grounds of the historic Hampton-Preston Mansion, it’s like stepping back in time.

You can almost envision wealthy ladies strolling about the grounds of the grand mansion that was maintained (or tended to) by enslaved workers in the early 1800s. Or hear the giggles of young women who strolled by the fountain while attending college there in the early 1900s.

In the 1830s, Mary Cantey Hampton and her daughter Caroline Hampton Preston transformed the four acres surrounding the antebellum home into regionally acclaimed gardens, boasting an assortment of native plants as well as flowers, plants and shrubs from all over the world.

“In the mid-19th century, this was one of the most prominent gardens in the South,” said Robin Waites, executive director of Historic Columbia.

But time diminished the splendor of those gardens, which eventually became a parking lot and a tumble of weeds.

Historic Columbia, with funding from the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation and support from AgFirst, the Palmetto Garden Club and volunteers, is transforming the gardens back to their past glory.

“We want to ensure the landscape around the building helps tell the story of the building itself,” Waites said.

The 12-year project, which started in 2006, includes period appropriate landscaping for the 14 acres surrounding six properties maintained by Historic Columbia. Work began on the Hampton-Preston gardens in 2012, and is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The Hampton-Preston grounds project is different from other Historic Columbia properties, not just because of the four acres involved, but because there are letters, magazine articles, photographs and postcards available to show landscapers how the gardens looked in their heyday.

“Our goal is to re-create the 1840s-1860s gardens,” Waites said. “It was an eclectic and dynamic garden …with this property, we do have documents that allow us, with the greatest extent of certainty of all our sites, to recreate the gardens that were here.”

Because of the Hamptons’ wealth and tendency to exploit that status in the gardens, there will be an assortment of plants displayed.

“It’s not what you would call a native garden,” said Evan Clements, director of grounds for Historic Columbia. “This was a prestige garden. They were wealthy people.”

The project includes installing an urban arboretum densely populated with trees, re-establishing historic pathways and plant beds, introducing period-appropriate plant materials and garden structures, and repairing the perimeter wall.

Once complete, there will be 20,500 square feet of new pathways and 55,000 square feet of newly irrigated planting space. Historic Columbia has more than 50 trees that have or will be planted, including varieties ranging from dogwoods to a monkey puzzle tree.

The garden also includes a replica of the original fountain designed by Hiram Powers, and a gazebo in the Henry Michael Powell Memorial Children’s Garden. While the gazebo wasn’t part of the original landscape, the Hamptons did use many structures, such as arbors, on the grounds.

There also are some pre-existing, established live oaks and magnolias that were popular in the area at the time, but were not part of the Hamptons’ gardens. But most of the landscape will reflect the plush setting that invited visitors from throughout the South.

“We’re trying to mimic what was here before,” Clements said. “There will always be something interesting going on.”

One goal is to attract visitors, those who may come and enjoy lunch on the grounds, bring children to frolic along the paths in the Children’s Garden, or those who want to rent the grounds for special events. The gardens also can be used as an outdoor classroom.

“We love having people bring their chairs and have lunch out here,” Waites said. “We want to make it more accessible.”

When complete, the garden will have signs identifying plants and trees, with an app or tablet program for self-guided garden tours.

The Hampton-Preston Mansion will remain accessible and open during most of the rehabilitation. No work is taking place in the front portion of the gardens, which includes the welcome gate and entrance, Welcome Garden, Fountain Garden, Butterfly Garden and the Henry Michael Powell Memorial and Children’s Garden.

Want to know more?

To learn more about the rehabilitation, visit

The gardens are free and open to the public to enjoy during normal Historic Columbia hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday: 1-5 p.m. Sunday) Private guided tours of the gardens are available for groups of 10 or more with advance registration.

Volunteer in the gardens

Historic Columbia has volunteers who, among other things, help maintain the gardens.

Interested in volunteering? There will be new volunteer training at 10 a.m. Monday at the Robert Mills Carriage House, 1616 Blanding St.

Training kicks off with an orientation session introducing Historic Columbia’s sites, programs and events. Additional training will be provided as new volunteers choose their roles within the organization. Historic Columbia is looking for volunteers willing to donate six or more hours a month.

▪ To register, visit, email or call (803) 252-1770 x 24.

▪ If you cannot come to the orientation, you can still become a volunteer by emailing or calling (803) 252-1770 x 24.

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Gardening column: Rid your property of mole runs with these tips

Q: There are so many mole runs in the yard this year. What can we do to get rid of them without using chemicals or killing them?

A: Following are a few ideas of how to rid your property of them safely — maybe not always successfully, but safely. Also, I’ve included the last resort suggestion at the end:

• Moles are active day and night throughout the year, but once the soil thaws in spring they become more active near the earth’s surface which explains all those runs you and a lot of us are seeing in our lawns and gardens.

• Most of their activity is in the early morning during the spring when the soil is soft and damp from the dew or after rain showers. But don’t be fooled, they may also be at work day or night according to how busy your property is with children, you in your garden, pets roaming around in the morning hours.

• When hot dry summer weather arrives, they go to burrows that they’ve made that are deeper (and cooler) in the ground.

• Their nests are four to 16 inches below ground, and will probably be in protected areas under such things as trees, stumps, large rocks, even fence rows.

• Nests can be identified as slight enlargements of the tunnel and these are padded and made comfortable with grass and leaves. They forage for food from the nest areas which explains some of the winding, crisscrossing runs you are finding on your property.

• Since their nests are in protected areas, trapping them along those borders is often successful.

• If you decide to use mole traps it will require patience since you will be working by feel so be careful to follow the directions to the letter and success just might be yours.

• Many folks use grub bait on the lawn thinking that if we eliminate grubs from our lawns and gardens the moles will go elsewhere. Grubs as it turns out is only a small portion of what moles eat. They also like earthworms and other animals that live in the soil.

• Since you indicated you didn’t want to use the harsh methods such as spearing the little guys there is another non-toxic method that might work for you.

• With your shovel, locate the nest if you can, then shove the blade of the shovel into the run blocking the moles ability to get back into the nest after foraging.

• Some mole hunters get so good at this, they are able with another shovel to see movement of him trying to get back in and scoop the little guy right out of the ground.

• Some folks have dogs and cats that help eliminate moles. They see the movement and smell their musk and dig them right out of the ground. If you find you have such a dog, let him or her run the area and see how it goes.

• Maybe the best way to eliminate them if you have a lot of mole activity every year would be to locate and block the soil with fencing planted deeply along those fence rows and other areas so they can’t build their nests.

• There are of course toxic chemicals on the market. Also methods of all sorts that some homeowners have tried that were mainly unsuccessful but many of which were harmful and dangerous for an untrained person to use.

• Rather than try any of those suggestions from a friend or neighbor, I would recommend hiring a professional and letting them handle it safely.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to She also answers gardening questions with horticulture educator Ricky Kemery noon-1 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month on “The Plant Medic,” a radio show on 95.7fm. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.

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