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Archives for April 25, 2017

Garden designer Martyn Wilson has chosen to use his industrial …

Martyn Wilson’s 2017 garden design for Hampton Court Palace Flower Show with which he is supporting Oxfordshire charity Ucare.

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The Headley-Whitney Museum’s A Garden Affair takes the art of the …

The Headley-Whitney Museum will welcome guests onto the grounds Thursday through Sunday. Attendees can visit vendor kiosks, tour museum galleries and grounds, enjoy lectures and programs ,and sample local food trucks. The event benefits exhibitions, programs and education at the museum.

The fête kicks off from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday with cocktails and appetizers prepared with local produce. The event marks the reopening of the museum’s iconic Shell House. Inspired by 17th- and 18th-century European shell grottos, the building has been closed since 2011.

Garden-related lectures are planned for Friday and Saturday. Ben Page, a Nashville landscape architect known for his historically inspired work, will present an informal talk about garden design at 10 a.m. Friday. The New York Times best-selling author Andrea Wulf will discuss the lasting impact of America’s first settlers and their gardens, and sign copies of her book, at 6 p.m. Friday. Scientist, author and arborist Tom Kimmerer will speak on the conservation of Kentucky and Tennessee woodland pastures at 10 a.m. Saturday. French garden architect Philippe de Boncourt will share his process of transforming impression into interpretation into garden design at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The event runs daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the museum, 4435 Old Frankfort Pike. Tickets start at $10 for lectures, demonstrations, activities and garden vendors. Go to for tickets and more information.

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Rooftop garden competitors give final proposals

The Gallagher Theater hosted the finalists of the Student Union Rooftop Garden Competition on Thursday, April 20, as teams presented their final presentations.

Teams were given 15 minutes to present the entirety of their garden followed by a 5-minute question and answer with the judging panel.

The final six teams came from an original lineup of 24 groups of five students representing a range of departments and schools around UA. Students from agricultural sciences, engineering, business and design all brought their perspectives and expertise to the planning of the Student Union Memorial Center (SUMC) rooftop garden.

At the beginning of the semester, SUMC administration created a competition for students at UA to team up and design an all-inclusive development and production plan for a garden built on space allocated by the Student Union. Competitors were free to get creative as they liked as long at the garden produced food for the Campus Pantry and union restaurants.

Decisions had to be made about every aspect of the garden including labor scheduling, harvest planning and nutritional analysis. Each group brought different perspectives the choices in front of them.

RELATED: Student teams pitch plans for Rooftop Garden Competition

When it came to choosing a growing technique, teams had limited options. The two prominent choices were a soil-based garden or a hydroponic garden. The latter relies on a nutrient rich irrigation system passing through the roots at all times. 

However, one team included a method of gardening that judges didn’t expect to see. Team 2, made up of Chetan Bafna, Alex Garcia-Ramirez, Maria Marzano and NaRayah Runyon, designed a “fogponics” greenhouse. Fogponics takes advantage of a soilless system like hydroponics, but by exposing crop roots to a nutrient rich fog, gardeners will be able to use 70 percent less water than the already low-water hydroponics approach. 

“Fogponics is relatively new,” said Garcia-Ramirez, a senior studying biosystems engineering, mathematics and mechanical engineering. “We would be conducting research in this garden”.

One aspect of the garden that saw many different approaches was labor scheduling. 

Teams were told to design the garden with a budget of $50,000, including the first year’s labor and maintenance cost. While most teams chose to create two or three student part-time positions lead by a gardening expert, Team 13 proposed a different solution. 

Team 13 was made up of members from UA’s Students for Sustainability (SFS) organization. They described their labor plan as “Student led, student fed,” conscripting volunteers from SFS and other environmentally-conscious organizations.

RELATED: Rooftop garden competition highlights the future of food production

Growing properly nutritious food was also a focus. 

“People between the ages of 19 and 30 aren’t getting half of what they need,” said Catalina Fernandez-Moores, a junior studying biosystems engineering and mechanical engineering and a member of Team 7.

The main goal for the Rooftop Garden Competition is to help alleviate food insecurity on campus. However, it also presents a great opportunity for students to better educate themselves about where their food comes from.

“This project is what I call phase two of the Campus Pantry initiative, that is the soil and roots of where the idea came from,” said Todd Millay, director of the Student Unions.

In fact, incorporating public education was the subject of many questions posed by the judges for the competitors. 

“Our overall goal is to beautify and educate the campus,” said Nicholas Tritz, a junior studying civil engineering. Tritz and the rest of Team 3 made education an integral part of their presentation.

Education is what it all comes back to in university initiatives, and the Rooftop Garden Competition is no exception. In January, Millay and the Office of Student Engagement had hopes for the opportunities that could come from a simple utilization of space.

“The thought was ‘Can we get students engaged in this, really blow it up, make it a big deal so that students can be participating in growing food for their fellow students,” Millay said.  

Now, four months later, dozens of students have dedicated their time and energy to seeing this competition out to its full potential. 

“We’ve learned more in this competition than we ever did in any class,” said Joseph Lewandowski, a senior studying mathematics and Spanish.

To get a look at what the Rooftop Garden will look like in the fall, come to the final ceremony in Gallagher Theater on Thursday, April 27th from 5-7:00 pm. First, second, and third place winners will be announced. This event will mark the beginning of the next phase of this initiative, that will eventually become a permanent garden at the SUMC.

Follow Chandler Donald on Twitter.

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Let’s get growing


A major source of gardening inspiration is only a few days away. Michigan State University Extension’s 14th annual Let’s Get Growing garden show takes place Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Alpena Mall and always serves as a seasonal highlight for those who appreciate gardening.

“After 14 years, the Let’s Get Growing garden show has become a spring staple in Alpena,” said MSU Extension representative Mary Dunckel. “After a long winter, both experienced and novice gardeners get excited about getting their hands in soil, watching the grass green-up and the buds break into flowers.”

Nearly all local garden related businesses and organizations will be under one roof at the Alpena Mall for the show. On average, the event attracts approximately 800 people or more each year.

“The show provides the perfect opportunity to get answers to any garden related questions, to get landscaping ideas and to purchase something special for Mother’s Day,” Dunckel said.

The mall is expected to be filled with at least 20 vendors, plus a bake sale by the Remembering Our Children group. Both the Alpena Farmer’s Market and the Alpena Garden Club will have a strong presence. Those attending will get an opportunity to check out large and small garden equipment as well.

As sponsors of the event, MSU Extension also will offer helpful information.

“The MSU Extension display will feature our Smart Gardening material which offers practical and affordable tips for the garden and landscape,” Dunckel said. “Dr. Sarah Rautio, an Extension horticulture educator, will be on hand to answer gardening questions and to share her Smart Gardening tips to deter deer from gardens.”

Even with the Northeast Michigan weather having started to warm up, some spring flowers blooming and yards greening up, it remains too early for planting though there still are plenty of gardening-related tasks to tackle. Dunckel said that according to the Michigan State Climatologist Office, in Alpena the percent probability of a temperature of 32 degrees or lower drops from 75 percent on May 22 to 50 percent on May 31 and 25 percent on June 9.

“Now is the perfect time to prepare the garden for planting and to scour gardening catalogues and nurseries for ideas,” she said.

She also highly recommends attending Saturday’s Let’s Get Growing event for plenty of inspiration.

Diane Speer can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5691. Follow Diane on Twitter ds_alpenanews.

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Murrieta festival to highlight water conservation – Press

A free Community Water Conservation Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Murrieta Community Center.

Sponsored by Partners in Water Conservation, a coalition of water agencies in western Riverside County, the event will offer information about retrofitting outdoor irrigation equipment, water-saving garden friendly plants and water-wise landscaping ideas. There also will be master gardeners available to answer questions.

Eastern Municipal Water District’s water-saving mascot, Dewie the Dragon, will make an appearance and a children’s theater show will begin at 1 p.m. The festival also will offer face-painting, water-wise activities and crafts for children.

Vendors will provide demonstrations and information about water-efficient technologies such as weather-based irrigation controllers, moisture sensors and drip irrigation systems. Each participating water district will have information regarding their respective rebate programs.

The first 100 guests will receive a gift. The Murrieta Community Center is at 41910 Juniper St. Information: 951-928-3777, ext. 3322.

Partners in Water Conservation consists of Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Water Resources, Southern California Edison and the Eastern Municipal, The Metropolitan, Rancho California and Western Municipal water districts.

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How to plant a hummingbird garden

Hummingbirds captivate spectators with their beauty, grace and peculiar flight patterns. There’s something almost magical about spotting one in your garden. However, if you’re not offering favored conditions, the tiny Houdini will disappear as quickly as it came.

Hummingbird sightings don’t have to be a rare occurrence. An abundance of food, water, nesting sites and perches will attract them to your garden.


The first thing you want to consider if you are planting a new garden is location. Hummingbirds are drawn to openings in the forest and forest edge, so they are drawn to suburban and rural gardens that offer a mix of trees, shrubs and stretches of lawn. Situating your garden near different landscaping elements will make it more attractive hummingbirds who discover your property.

When choosing your location you should also consider situating it near a window or patio door, so you have a good view.

What to plant

Many plants can attract hummingbirds to your garden. The most successful plants have red, tubular flowers, as they alert hummingbirds to a good food supply. Hummingbirds are also attracted to orange and pink flowers, but find yellow and white blossoms less attractive.

While color and shape are important to consider when planning your garden, it’s even more important to select native plants for your yard and garden. Fortunately, there are plenty of native hummingbird plants that provide a reliable source of nectar.

Exotic flowering plants, such as Japanese and Tartarian honeysuckles, are attractive to hummingbirds but can invade neighboring fields and woodlands.

Native hummingbird plants

The following plants, suggested by The National Gardening Association and cross-checked using the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant database, are native varieties that attract hummingbirds.





You can also choose to include some fuzzy plants to make your yard even more desirable to nesters as hummingbirds like to line their nests with soft plant fibers. Two favorites are cinnamon fern and pussy willow, but you can also choose to leave some thistle or dandelion in your yard.

Planting tips

Here are some additional tips from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for selecting and planting your hummingbird garden:

  • Select plants that bloom at different times of the year to provide nectar from the beginning to the end of hummingbird season.
  • Plant patches of the same species to provide larger quantities of nectar.
  • Prune your plants to encourage flower production.
  • Plant vertically by using trellises, trees, garden sheds, or other structures to support climbing vines or add window boxes, wooden tubs, or ceramic pots to create the same effect with a variety of preferable hummingbird plants.
  • Avoid insecticides and herbicides as hummingbirds can ingest poisons when they eat insects and flower nectar.
  • If your garden does not include trees or shrubs and there are none nearby, position perches within 10 to 20 feet.
  • Include some sort of water source. Hummingbirds enjoy garden misters, drip fountain devices and small waterfalls.

Activity cycle

The best times to attract hummingbirds to your garden occur during midsummer after young hummingbirds fledge and during fall migration. By understanding their annual activity cycle, you can plan your garden better and attract hummingbirds with ease.

Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension offers a step-by-step guide for planting for hummingbirds throughout the season.

Additionally, you can track hummingbird migration at to get a better idea of when they will visit your garden.



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Looking Back on Southside: Leaving a Thumbprint

The month of April brings with it a kind of “newness” to all things and a sign that spring has finally sprung. A change in scenery as well as a change in temperature welcomes the lover of the outdoors. April is also known to host Virginia’s Historic Garden Week which Bassett Historical Center was honored to take part in last year, 2016. The Center was a canvas not just for local and family history that week, but also for the breathtaking arrangements that were housed here by local Garden Club members.

When April turns the corner, many of us remember a prominent landscaper who left his thumbprint on many gardens throughout the Commonwealth. This well-known person was a man by the name of Charles Freeman Gillette. Born in 1886 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, he developed an early fascination and talent for landscape architecture serving as the apprentice for Warren H. Manning. Gillette quickly established and was known for an original regional style known far and wide as the “Virginia Garden”. He was known to take special consideration with every aspect from house paint colors to outdoor accessories when integrating architecture with his landscape design.

Gillette is known for planning and designing many historic gardens in Virginia. Helping to revamp the Kenmore garden, which was once the home of Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis of Fredericksburg, Gillette served as the landscape architect for the Garden Club of Virginia on this project in the early 1920s. Gillette’s plans were also used when the gardens were restored at Montpelier, the home of James Madison. His work may also be seen on the campus of Washington and Lee University in the landscape of both the Lee Chapel and the Lee House garden. These mentioned gardens just begin to scratch the surface of the work that he did during his life, but let’s mention a few that may fall a little closer to home.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Stanley were both very impressed with the work of Charles Gillette. So much so that Gillette, along with Earle Sumner Draper, served as the landscape architects that designed the grounds of Stoneleigh over an astounding thirty-one year period. Both Mr. and Mrs. Stanley were actively involved in all aspects of the design and installation, and thanks to their granddaughter, Lizz Stanley, we have copies of both the correspondence between Gillette and the Stanleys during this process as well as copies of many of Gillette’s blueprints of the landscape plans here at the Center. When Thomas B. Stanley was elected Governor of Virginia and the Stanleys moved into the Governor’s Mansion in 1954, it did not take long for Mrs. Stanley to realize that the garden behind the Mansion needed serious attention. She called, once again, on Charles Gillette to give the garden a serious facelift. Brick walkways, a formal balcony, and a terrace were added to the landscape to give it just what was missing. This so-called renovation project took nearly two years to complete – just in time to be featured on the 1956 Virginia’s Historic Garden Week tour.

Other examples of Gillette’s design work locally, including private residences, civic institutions, religious and educational affiliations are in various areas of this County. For Stanleytown the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh H. Chatham was listed. In Bassett, there are residences that were landscaped by Gillette, one of which was the home on Ridgewood Road built by Mr. and Mrs. H. Russ Barnes. Other residences in Bassett were those of Mr. and Mrs. J.P. McClellan, Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morten, Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Prillaman, and Mr. and Mrs. G.R. Hart. In the Ridgeway area, Drewry Mason High School is listed as having Gillette’s landscaping used in 1959.

In the City of Martinsville, some records show also that Gillette’s landscaping architectural work was done for Mr. and Mrs. George W. Box, Mr. George Heaton, Mr. and Mrs. Victor C. Lester, Dr. Donald W. Richman and Mr. and Mrs. G.T. White. The new First Baptist Church (1955-1959) prior to the first service in January 1960, Boxley Farms in 1956, and Martinsville General Hospital in 1946 had Gillette’s landscaping touch encompassed in their areas.

In researching for this article, we found it astonishing that Charles F. Gillette “never drew a plan in his whole life. It was always his ideas that someone else put down on paper”. However, every plan drawn in his office bore the name of “Charles F. Gillette” in the corner.

Charles F. Gillette continued to beautify Virginia until his death in 1969. Even after his death, his touch on Virginia’s landscape remains.

(Used in this article were “Historic Virginia Gardens: Preservation Work of the Garden Club of Virginia 1975-2007” by Margaret Page Bemiss; “Genius in the Garden” by George C. Longest; files from the Gillette Papers at the University of Virginia; “Landscape Interpretation: a Method for the Adaptive Reuse of an Historic Site” by Lizz Stanley and files at Bassett Historical Center.)

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See 7000 tulips blooming at Brookby Estate’s restored historic gardens

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Aquinas College is inviting the public for a first look at the restoration work being done at the historic Chinese Gardens at the Brookby Estate, 250 Plymouth SE.

Aquinas College, which has been restoring the estate grounds, will sponsor a rain-or-shine open house to celebrate the restoration from 11 a.m. – 2p.m. on Saturday, April 29. Admission is free but guests are asked to register at:

The gardens, designed by the Olmsted Brothers, with acclaimed landscape artist, Percival Gallagher, were completed in the early 1930s for lumber baron John W. Blodgett Sr. and his wife, Minnie.

Aquinas, which assumed ownership of the estate in 2011, has been restoring the grounds since last year with the assistance of the Kent Garden Club and Katerberg VerHage, a West Michigan landscaping company.

So far, the path from Fisk Lake to and around the estate’s Chinese Garden have been restored along with the entry court.

The Chinese Garden, which was anglicized in the 1940s, was named for the Chinese theme that can be seen throughout the interior of the manor house.

Last November, Aquinas science faculty, biology students, volunteers from Kent Garden Club, AQ grounds crew, and staff from Katerberg VerHage planted 7,000 tulips that are now in bloom. 

Following the blooming of the tulips, the Chinese Garden will be restored to its original plan, with over 1,700 varieties of flowers and plants being planted in late May.

Brookby Estate was built by John W. Blodgett Sr. and stayed in the Blodgett family for decades, until Edith Blodgett sold it in the early 1990s. In 2011, Sam and Janene Cummings donated the estate to Aquinas College, where it serves as home to the college’s president.

Historic gardens at lumber baron’s estate get restored to original splendor

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