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Archives for May 20, 2017

Carol Klein’s Top Gardening Tips!

As Carol Klein prepares to co-host coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show, she offers her top tips for spring gardening

Carol Klein

Ahead of next week’s extensive Chelsea Flower Show coverage on BBC1, Gardeners’ World’s Carol Klein, who will co-present the show, shares her tips with TV Times for what you should be doing in your own gardens at this time of year…


1 Do the ‘Chelsea Chop
“If you have perennials like phlox take the plant down to about eight inches with a sharp pair of secateurs. You could do the whole plant or alternate stems and then they will branch out and you will get the flowers a bit later than usual and you will get more of them.”


2 Deadhead your daffodils and tulips
“It has been a great year for these but take the heads off now if you haven’t already. Don’t chop the foliage down though, even though it might look messy. It will soon go and the bulbs need those nutrients from the old foliage and you get better flowering next year.”


3 Put out your tender plants
“We should be frost-free now so it is worth taking a chance to put out your tender plants from cosmos to squashes. You can use newspaper to insulate if you need to – it is just as good as fleece – but weight it down if it is windy.”


4 It’s not too late to start some things from seed
“If you’ve forgotten about seeds, hardy annuals like poppies and love-in-a-mist are great to be sown directly now. Just clear a patch of ground and sow it through a border and they will grow later this year.”


5 Earth up your potatoes
“You should be putting extra compost in and take it right up the shoot to give you a bigger crop. If you haven’t got your potatoes in yet or if you haven’t got a garden you can plant them in special fold-up bags and use compost. Push them in and pot them up when they start coming through.”

The Chelsea Flower Show airs on BBC1 and BBC2 from Sunday


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Growing strong: Tips and tricks for beginner gardeners in Regina

Some seasoned gardeners already have seeds in the ground, but the general rule of (green) thumb is to get plants in after the May long weekend, according to a local longtime Saskatchewan grower.

Grow Regina’s Ian Monteith shared his tips and tricks about what beginner planters need to know as they move into the growing season. 

Why should you plant? 

Gardening isn’t a chore — rather, it’s the greatest activity in the world, in Monteith’s eyes. 

“You’re never going to find a stressed gardener,” he said. “It’s a relaxing hobby.”

Gardening is a chance to try something new, and Monteith said it brings people together, especially if it’s done in a community garden, like Grow Regina’s at 3500 Queen St.

“It’s kind of like cooking, because you can try out different things all the time,” he said. “It’s always a discovery and you get to meet people, too.”

Grow Regina Ian Monteith  community gardens

Ian Monteith urges new planters to get in touch with their local plant nursery or garden centre if they have questions. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

He said there are gardeners from all over the world, including Somalia, China, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh, who have plots in Grow Regina’s community garden.

“Everybody here is contented and happy working in their plots.” 

Gardening can also be turned into a family affair. Kids don’t have to be left out of the garden, Monteith said, noting it’s a healthy activity. 


Monteith says radishes are a great crop for new gardeners, especially kids, to start with. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

“I had my first garden when I was five years old,” he said. His father built a radish patch for him out back, and he’s been hooked ever since.

“Anybody can grow radishes, so if you have children that’s a wonderful thing to start them off with.” 

What should you plant?

Monteith said you can grow virtually anything found in a supermarket, but some vegetables will fare better than others. 

“There’s no shortage of things that you can grow,” he said, listing potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce and beans as popular choices.

He cautioned against growing watermelons and cantaloupes, because he’s seen several people try without success. 

“Tomatoes are probably one of the most popular crops and there’s lots of different varieties and lots of different favourite ways gardeners have of growing them.” 

Garden tool garden pitch fork community Ian Monteith

Asparagus is a perennial that can produce vegetables for years. However, it is a commitment because it can take two or three years to start producing, Ian Monteith said. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Don’t be afraid to ask somebody at your local nursery or garden centre ​about what’s likely to produce. At the very least, Monteith said, the internet and books are full of great tips. 

What tools do you need? 

A garden fork, a good rake and a hand trowel are the basic necessities when it comes to tools. 

“Beyond that, you don’t need a lot,” Monteith said, adding a handy water source on site is also helpful. 

The amount a gardener will need to water the plants depends of the weather, but Monteith said plants generally need at least one to two inches of water per week.

Grow Regina Community Gardens YARA

Monteith said it’s not too late for those who haven’t planted yet. ‘The rule of thumb is after the long weekend in May,’ he said. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

He said gardeners should also be mindful of how much sun their plants will get. 

Monteith has his garden in a 10-by-30-foot plot, and said the best thing for a beginner to do would be to start out small. 

Don’t try to take on too much. Grow things that are appropriate for this hardiness zone,” he said. 

What about the soil? 

“Condition the soil, because in Regina, most of our soil is clay gumbo so you’re kind of starting off with bad soil or difficult soil to work.” 

That means mixing in compost, sheep or steer manure, or peat moss, and working it to build it up.

‘You put some seeds in the ground and you give it water and some things are going to come up.’
– Ian Monteith, Grow Regina 

As for fertilizer, Monteith said its use is debated amongst gardeners.

“Gardeners all have different ways of doing things,” he said.

“You’ll find what works for you.” 

Some gardeners refuse to fertilize, some stick with manure, and some are diligent about putting a balanced fertilizer down in the trench. 

Garden tools Regina community garden

Ian Monteith picks off the bottom leaves of the tomato plant seedling, scrapes one side of the stem with a knife and plants it on its side, so it grows roots out of the stem and strengthens the system. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

“You can get by with a lot of different sorts of feeding regimens, and don’t worry about it too much, ’cause you put some seeds in the ground and you give it water and some things are going to come up.” 

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A roundup of gardening tips

Today’s column will address three completely separate issues, so apologies ahead of time if things seem to be a little disjointed.

First, let’s take a quick look at an interesting muscadine grape insect problem. As long as they’re pruned properly on an annual basis, muscadine grapes are about as reliable and trouble-free as any home fruit crop we can grow in eastern North Carolina. However, unusual problems will show up from time to time, including abnormal growths caused by the grape tumid gallmaker.

Among woody plants such as trees, shrubs and woody vines, most galls are formed by gall wasps, gall midges or gall mites. Damage to the host plant is usually minor, so relatively little research has been carried out on biology and control.

According to an NC State information note on the subject (Galls on Oaks, ENT/ort-05), the galls are caused by powerful enzymes given off by the immature gall-forming insects as they grow and develop. Plant tissue can be altered even to the point of replication of chromosomes, without cell division. The visual result is a fascinating array of different forms, shapes and colors, depending on the insect species involved.

There is no need to spray insecticides for the grape tumid gallmaker, but you should definitely remove with pruners or by hand any galls that you locate on your vine. Galls can occur on the leaves, stems, tendrils and blossom buds, and can result in injury if the population is allowed to grow unchecked.

Secondly for today, Extension entomologist Steven Frank has been fielding a lot of questions lately regarding the use of neonicotinoids on milkweed, and the potential risk to monarch butterflies. His recently posted article “Will Neonicotinoids on Milkweed Hurt Monarchs?” is important reading, as there is a great deal of commentary on the internet and elsewhere that is not rooted in science. For example, one interesting point I’ve heard from NC State entomology staff recently, and which definitely goes against the prevailing tide of internet discussion, is that neonicotinoids are generally not active against caterpillars.

However, if you do have concerns about this situation, please review Frank’s article at

Finally, in a recent N.C. Urban Forest Council newsletter, N.C. State extension horticulture specialist Barb Fair tells us that we are in the midst of a serious shortage of landscape plants that is likely to continue for years.

The problem originates in the market crash of 2008 and 2009. During those years and afterward, demand for landscape plants diminished to the point that everyone from liner producers to field growers was forced to make difficult decisions about excess inventory. Large amounts of nursery stock were simply destroyed, because there’s still a cost to getting plants out of the field even to just give them away.

With the rebounding of the housing and financial markets, demand for new trees and shrubs has increased, but supply is falling far short of current and projected demand.

I’m uncertain as to what extent this has already become noticeable at the local garden center level, but there’s no question that the shortage will become more and more evident this year and next. Landscape contractors and homeowners will often find themselves settling for smaller trees at higher cost; or paying a premium for extra-large stock that had been sitting in the fields or container nurseries waiting for the economic dust to settle.

Either way, please don’t blame the garden centers, as they’ll just be playing the cards they’re dealt.


Tom Glasgow is the Craven County Extension director. Contact him at





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Spring garden planting tips

Wide-row planting of lettuce. iGrow photo

By David Graper
SDSU Extension Horticulture Specialist

Many gardeners have been already been out and planting in their gardens. Now is a good time to get started with some of those cool season plants like peas, lettuce and radishes that we can grow from seed. It is also a time when it is usually warm enough to transplant cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and related plants that can tolerate cool temperatures and even some light frost. Soil temperatures warmed up significantly last week with the high temperatures, wind and dry weather but did decline considerably with the cooler temperatures, rain and even snow that many people saw late last week and weekend. Keep in mind that the average last frost date for many areas of the state is not until the 3rd week in May.

Most warm-season vegetables prefer soil temperatures that are near 70°F or greater. It is easy to check your soil temperature by using a simple dial or digital probe thermometer, like an instant-read thermometer that you would use to check the temperature of food when cooking. You might notice that warm season vegetables like tomatoes have developed a purplish coloration to the stems and leaves. This is an indication that the cold and/or wet soils did not allow for adequate uptake of phosphorous resulting in the deficiency symptom for phosphorous.

Traditionally vegetable seeds are planted in rows in the garden, usually spaced far enough apart to allow room for the rototiller to get down the rows without damaging the plants. However, garden space can be used more efficiently in many cases if plants are grown much closer together. This is particularly important if you have a small garden plot. You will just have to do a more hand weeding instead of using a rototiller. On the other hand, if a space is filled with a vegetable plant, it is less likely to allow room for a weed to grow. Denser planting works especially well for low growing plants like lettuce, radishes, or carrots that grow well close to each other, do not get very bushy and are easy to harvest. This close-spaced planting is common in raised beds where you try to use every bit of that bed to produce food. You also make the bed narrow enough, usually no more than 4’ wide, so that you can reach into the bed to tend or harvest the vegetables without actually stepping onto the soil in the bed. This is often referred to as square-foot gardening.

Most of the time people will make rows in their gardens before planting their vegetables. The simplest method is to use some twine and a couple stakes. Put one stake at each end of the row and pull the twine tight. Then use a hoe to make a furrow, following the twine between the two stakes. When you are done, move both stakes over the desired amount then make the next row. This method works well but can be rather time consuming. An alternative method is to make a row marker by bolting cultivating shovels or similar stiff piece of metal, to a 2×4 or larger piece of wood, spaced out at the row width you want. I made mine to work with my rototiller, allowing some extra room for plants on each side of the rototiller tines. Then add a handle and some braces and you are ready to make multiple rows at a time. The one I made makes four rows the first time you use it. Then I turn around and put the outside shovel in the last row and use it as a guide to make three new rows, next to the first ones. It works really well if the soil is freshly tilled and not hard or too rocky. The only real problem I have with mine is that it is too big and heavy. It is a real chore to pull it across the garden but then again, I just made four rows at one time, so I accomplish quite a bit each time. I take a break from making rows to plant the ones I just made before making more. Only make as many rows as you need at one time so that you can plant into a freshly made row that will have nice moist soil in it to speed germination.

Follow the seed label for planting instructions for each of the different vegetables you are planting. Larger seed, like peas and corn can be covered with a garden rake about an inch deep after planting. Smaller seed should only be covered with about ¼ to ½” of soil so don’t overdo it. If you have really heavy soil, consider covering very fine or small seed with peat moss or potting soil to give it a better chance of germinating and getting established. It is often difficult to see how thickly you plant fine seed so try to carefully sprinkle it by “feeding” it between your fingers as you keep your hand moving over the row. Some small seed are available in a pelleted form, which makes them easier to seed and more visible in the row. If you plant your seed too thickly, you will probably have to go back later and thin out the extra seedlings.

If you are planting transplants, it is a good idea to harden them off for a week or more, prior to planting them in the garden. This hardening process is meant to help better prepare them to establish and grow in the garden where temperature fluctuations are more extreme, there is considerably more sunlight and wind as well. Start by placing the cell packs or pots out in a partially sunny location. If chilly nighttime temperatures are forecast, bring them back inside for the night, perhaps just set them in the garage overnight, then put them back outside in the morning when it warms up. If you still have one of the little red wagons around, just put your plants on it so you can easily roll it inside your garage for cold nights and bring it back out in the morning when it warms up again. After a few days, move them to a location where they will receive similar sun exposure to that of the location where they will be growing permanently. Be sure to keep watering them as needed. Those small cells can dry out very quickly as the transplants get larger.

Thoroughly water the cell packs or pots of your plants before you are going to transplant them to the garden. Dig holes for the transplants large enough to easily accommodate the root ball. Planting into a freshly tilled garden soil is advantageous in that the transplants will be able to more easily grow roots out into the soil and it is easier to dig the holes. If you used a hoe or “row maker”, as described above, that will probably have created a large enough and deep enough furrow to plant your transplant. (The furrow will also act as a water reservoir to moisten a larger area around the new plant.)

Carefully remove a transplant from the cell pack. Usually pushing it up from the bottom will free it from the cell pack. If you just pull on the stem, you might damage the stem. Take a look at the root ball, if it looks to be a very dense mass of roots, use your fingers to break it apart a little bit. This will encourage new roots to form more quickly, but do not damage the roots too much in the process. Generally, plant the transplant at about the same depth as it was growing in the cell pack. Firm the soil around the root ball. Lay taller tomato transplants at an angle to allow more of the stem to be covered. That covered portion of the stem will form roots to help support the plant. Next plant the next transplant from the pack, spacing them out appropriately, usually about 12 – 18” for cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower and about 24 to 36” for larger plants like tomatoes.

Finally, carefully but thoroughly water in the plant. If you want, use some water-soluble “starter” fertilizer in the water to help give the plant a boost. However, I suggest that you really only need mix it at about half-strength. This watering step is important, even if the soil feels moist. It helps to fill in the soil around the plant and give the roots a better growing medium in which to spread out. Keep watering the newly planted transplants every few days for the next few weeks unless it rains. It is going to take a while for new roots to form to allow the young transplant to take up more water to support its growth. Until that happens, it will still be mostly relying on the original root ball for most of its water needs.

Late May Tree Care Topics

By John Ball

SDSU Extension Forestry Specialist

Now that the growing season is in full-swing there are numerous treatments to be applied. These treatments are necessary to protect the plant from pest problems. Waiting until you see symptoms of an infestation or infection is usually too late for effective treatments.

Now that buckeyes are blooming, bronze birch borers are emerging from infested trees. Bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius) is a native insect that attacks birch. It is a close relative to the emerald ash borer so they both make a D-shaped hole as the adult emerges from the tree. The time to treat birch trees is now as the female beetles are finding places on the bark (usually near a branch union) to lay their eggs. Spray the bark with an insecticide containing permethrin as the active ingredient with a second application in about three weeks. It’s too late to use insecticides containing imidacloprid as a soil drench to kill newly hatched larvae because those need to be applied in the fall. If the canopy has dieback back more than about 40% the tree too far gone for treatments.

Bronze birch borers colonize almost every birch species with their favorites being Asian and European species such as the cutleaf European white birch. The river birch is very, very rarely attacked by bronze birch borer and can be considered a borer-free alternative to other species.

Cedar-apple rust galls on the junipers have expanded during the past week and this is an indicator to begin treatments to protect susceptible apples and crabapples from cedar-apple rust. The galls form on the junipers (cedars) and release spores that infect the apples and crabapples. The infection on apples and crabapples results in discolored foliage and fruit and premature drop of the leaves. Fungicides containing Myclobutanil as the active ingredients can be applied beginning now and repeat three more times at 7 to 10 day intervals. Captan, a common fungicide for apple scab is NOT effective against cedar-apple rust.

Codling moth adults are flying and laying eggs on the newly forming apples. Once the larvae hatch, they will burrow into the developing apple, usually near the base of the fruit, resulting in a trail of brown, powdery frass through the apple. This frass often exudes from the entry hole. The treatment is usually Malathion, though there is much evidence that carbaryl (Sevin) provides better control. The first treatment begins about 10 to 20 days after petal fall, as the fruit just begins to form and then three more applications spaced about 10 days apart. This treatment will also control plum curculio, an insect that cannot usually get through the tough skin of an apple but the egg laying leaves the fruit dimpled and distorted. The picture to the right shows bird pecks (the large hole) and plum curculio damage (the dimples).

The other option is bagging the individual apples using the Japanese fruit bags when the apples reach about ½-inch diameter. This is no guarantee of control as the fruit may become infested before that size but they do provide reasonable control of this pest and many others as well as improve the shine to the fruit.

And finally, if you want to hang jugs of bad smelling liquid to attract codling moths and repel unwanted visitors at the same time consider mixing molasses and water in a 1:7 solution with a few drops of dishwashing soap. Pour this solution into a one-gallon milk jug with the top cut out of it and hang from the tree. The fermenting mix is attractive to codling moths (as well as wasps and critters) and they may prefer this to your apples. It also creates a mess if you bump the bucket while mowing your lawn.

The new shoots are expanding on spruce so it’s time to apply a fungicide to protect against rhizosphaera or stigmina needlecast. These are the most common foliage diseases of blue spruce. These diseases causes the older foliage to turn yellow by midsummer and then purplish-brown. Usually small black fruit bodies can be found in the spring lining the stomata along the needles. Stigmina needlecast fruiting bodies have fuzzy edges (as pictured above) while rhizosphaera fruiting bodies are smooth (as pictured to the right). The disease results in premature needle drop and a thin and discolored canopy. The disease can be managed by an application of chlorothalonil now and a second application in about two weeks. If the needlecast is due to Stigmina the applications may have to continue every 10-days till August. It is important to treat the entire canopy, not just the lower branches when treating for Stigmina.

Mark your calendars

Tree Pruning Tree Health Workshop. Friday, June 2nd, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00p.m. (CST), Murdo City Park. Speaker: Josh Larson, Community Forester, SD Dept. of Agriculture Resource Conservation and Forestry Division. This is a hands-on training session so bring along your hand pruners or small folding hand saws if you have one. The event is sponsored by: Jones County Conservation District, South Central RCD and Modern Woodmen.

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This week’s gardening tips: Best types of fill to use for soil subsidence

This week’s gardening tips: Soil subsidence may require fill to be spread over the lawn. This is especially common on the south shore. Filling can be done now through August. Use a sandy soil, like pump sand or river sand (avoid spillway sand due to weed issues like torpedograss). Where the fill is deeper than 2 inches, you may have to replace the grass.

Apply paint or shade cloth to greenhouses to prevent heat buildup. Fans should run just about constantly.

Mid May is the last chance to apply many of the broad leaf lawn weed killers before the weather gets too hot. Buttonweed is particularly troublesome, and it’s easier to control now while it’s young. Try using Ferti-lome Weed Free Zone. If you need to do weed control when temperatures are in the upper 80s and 90s, penoxsulam (Green Light Wipe Out, Ferti-lome Dollarweed Control Plus and other brands), metsulfuron (MSM Turf and other brands) and imazaquin (Image) can be applied all summer. Weed killers like Weed Free Zone can be applied just to the patches of weed (spot treatment) rather than the entire lawn.

If you’re having problems in your garden, be sure to get the proper diagnosis and determine what, if anything, should be done. For help, contact your local LSU AgCenter extension horticulturists at gnogardening@agcenter.lsu.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.


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Garden Tips: 3 new gardening gadgets that really work – Tri

I am willing to try new garden gadgets and products if they sound like they will make some aspect of gardening easier, save time or are a big improvement on what is already available.

They also cannot be outrageously expensive for the value they provide. Here are some new nifty items for gardeners that I heard about recently.

Bigfoot Slippers

These “indoor overshoes” are made of a felt-like blend of quarter-inch thick recycled wool and polyester. They are designed to go over whatever footwear you are wearing when you come inside the house with the purpose of avoiding tracking in mud, dirt or snow.

They are designed to easily slip over your boots or shoes and have a heel flap that can be flipped up to secure them if needed.

The slippers are washable. What I like about Bigfoot Slippers is that they make it easy to come inside for something and then go back out without the tedious task of removing your dirty shoes and putting them back on again. For more information go to:

Root Slayer Shovel

Radius is well known for their ergonomically designed garden tools with its patented O-handle grips on longer garden tools and its trademarked Natural Radius Grip on hand tools.

Its thoughtful tool design has the intent of allowing gardeners to “garden more and hurt less.”

The Root Slayer, a multipurpose shovel, is a new addition to the Radius line of digging tools and has won the Direct Gardening Association’s 2017 Green Thumb Awards for the Most Innovative Garden Tool.

The Root Slayer has the recognizable O-handle and a strong inverted V-shaped carbon steel blade. The blade has a sharp tip and saw-tooth edges specifically designed for digging and cutting through tough or woody plant roots.

Radius notes that with this shovel you will not need a hatchet, pry-bar or saw for cutting through roots. It is certified to be 150 percent stronger than similar shovels on the market and it comes with a lifetime guarantee. You can find it on for about $50.

Roundup Precision Gel

Gardeners have been using Roundup and other glyphosate containing products for years to kill weeds. Using glyphosate is perilous because it can kill any plant.

Because it is often tricky to apply glyphosate as a spray to offending weeds without risk of getting it on nearby garden plants, various application methods and equipment have been devised, including foams, paintbrushes and wiping devices.

Last year I found Roundup Ready-to-Use in a trigger spray bottle that allows you to spray a stream or a foam of the glyphosate on weeds. I like using the foam because it is less likely to drift and it is easier to see where I have already treated.

New this year is Roundup Precision Gel. This lets you apply glyphosate in gel form via a container that works just like a gel deodorant applicator.

To apply, you just touch weed leaves with the gel. The gel application permits more precision and should be useful in keeping desirable plants safe in difficult situations.

At a cost of $15 per 5 ounce container, it is a bit pricey, but it may be worth it if you can avoid accidental damage to ornamental plants. It is for sale at many local nurseries, garden centers and hardware stores.

When I hear about more new products, I will share them with you too.

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

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Winter Garden considering framework designs for East Plant Street Corridor

WINTER GARDEN –– While Ocoee and Apopka seek to create pedestrian-friendly areas modeling Winter Garden’s downtown, Winter Garden seeks to expand its own. During the May 11 City Commission meeting, leaders introduced design plans detailing the framework that, if adopted, would guide development fronting East Plant Street and surrounding areas.

The framework will establish building standards for any future growth in the corridor situated between South Dillard Street and State Road 429, essentially expanding its downtown and creating a gradual transition that reflects downtown’s character.

The city’s Character Area Plans were drafted to ensure future developers and property managers understand the overall vision targeted for the corridor.

Some goals for the character area according to the proposed ordinance — for which a vote was postponed during the meeting — are to create a more pedestrian-friendly transportation network, a stronger sense of place and a front-door gateway to Winter Garden and Ocoee’s downtown areas; and to encourage high-quality and high-value economic development. 

The character area establishes three overlay zoning districts: the East Plant District, Gateway District and Packing Plant District, each of which have its own development standards that align with a desired character. 

There are eight building types permitted within the character area. Each has a maximum story limitation, schematic example, regulations and required standards. However, the city may grant exceptions via allowable waivers, according to the plan documents. The ordinance also states the city recognizes the constraints of meeting some standards for certain projects and may approve required deviations.


Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]



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Chelsea Flower Show: Alan Titchmarsh on the greatest show on Earth

The experience of standing right next to a speaker at a concert might not be the first thing you associate with gardening, but DJ Zoe Ball has used the sensation to inspire her Listening Garden. Working with writer, broadcaster and designer James Alexander Sinclair, the garden will feature three water troughs containing large steel trays full of gravel.

As a deep bass sound plays beneath the ground, patterns will emerge on the surface of the water and the gravel will dance to the vibrations. The garden will also feature lush green planting, including three trees and a high perimeter hedge. Zoe says: 

“I appreciate time out from busy days by escaping into the garden or the countryside, amongst the flowers and the wildlife, the smells and sounds. So what an absolute treat to work with James on the listening garden.”

When the boat comes in 

Another unusual garden that’s well worth a visit is the The IBTC Lowestoft Broadland Boatbuilder’s Garden. Hoping for a medal in the Artisan Garden category, the garden is inspired by the discovery of an 900-year-old oak boat on the Norfolk Broads in 2013.

Gold medal-winning designer Gary Breeze has designed the garden that aims to draw attention to the need to preserve the fragile environment and the boat-building skills that help to shape the Norfolk and Suffolk wetlands. The boat stands on a small jetty surrounded by plants and trees native to the dykes that crisscross the grazing marshes.

The garden features some edible plants including peas, garlic, kale, chives and plain cole. Half of this lovely garden is aquatic and semi-aquatic to attract wildlife. 

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WWII vets do memorial landscaping

GREENFIELD — As temperatures climbed into the 90s Thursday morning, two World War II veterans, who turn 90 in July, were busy with rakes and cutting tools, cleaning brush and trimming shrubbery surrounding a memorial marker in front of the Greenfield High School ballfields.

The marker was placed there by the Veterans of Foreign Wars/VFW Greenfield Post 417 on Nov. 11, 2003.

Working in the bright sun, Ron Powers and Bernie Schatz of Greenfield were trimming back the bushy rhododendron, which was on the verge of engulfing the stone, and restore the newly sandblasted “ruptured duck” WWII emblems that hold small American flags near the stone.

The nicknamed “ruptured duck” pins were awarded to honorably discharged veterans during World War II. The insignia is actually meant to depict an eagle bursting through a button, but the joke that it looked more like a “ruptured duck” took hold.

At one time, there would have been others helping out. The Greenfield VFW had 47 members, Schatz and Power recalled, but recently Post 417’s charter was taken away when its numbers had dwindled to four.

“We’re going to clean this stone and replace the white (gravel stone) around it,” explained Powers, an Army veteran. “We’re doing it for the guys,” he said.

Schatz, a Navy veteran, brought the two flag-holders back to see how they looked against the cleaner landscape.

An Eisenhower Green Ash Tree behind the marker is still too young to provide much shade, and the men said they’re looking for planting ideas, to brighten up the commemorative spot.

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On Gardening: Design resilient plant communities

In a recent column, I referred to a book by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West: “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes.” Rainer and West present landscape design ideas that are worth applying in home gardens, and indeed in all kinds of gardens. Their ideas are intended to result in gardens that are “more robust, more diverse, and more visually harmonious, with less maintenance.”

The ideas presented in this book ring true to nature and good sense, and require planning and knowledge of specific plants to put into practice.

This column cannot replace reading the authors’ thoughtful review of familiar landscaping practices, and groundbreaking recommendations, but we can consider their essential messages.

Rainer and West indicate that good planting design results from harmonious relationships of plants to place, plants to people, and plants to other plants.

The first of these relationships recalls the “right plant in the right place” axiom, which often refers to locating the plant where it will have the soil, exposure, and moisture that it needs to thrive. To these aspects of place, the authors recommend locating plants in the grassland, woodland/shrubland, or forest environment that is their natural home. A garden, as a built environment, should look and function like a “distilled version” of one of those archetypical landscapes.

Consideration of the relationship of plants to people addresses the visual appeal of the landscape. The authors state that plant communities need not be limited to a naturalistic style and can exist within any other style. There are too many garden styles to list, but the basic idea is that the gardener can develop any preferred style and still maintain the plant’s relationships to place and other plants.

Rainer and West feature the relationship of plants to other plants, and write about the “levels of sociability” of plants. In nature, some plants grow as individuals, or in groups of various sizes, or in large areas. For example, plants that tend to grow separately from other plants would be candidates for containers, and some plants propagate cross vast numbers in large fields (see photographs of this year’s “superbloom” of wildflowers).

The authors recommend combining plants in interlocking layers, as they occur in natural plant communities. This approach allows plants to support each other, form a diverse and lush garden (as distinct from swaths of a single variety), and provide natural mulch that retains moisture and blocks entry of weeds and invasive plants. They categorize plants in four layers:

• Structural/framework plants — trees, shrubs, upright grasses and large-leafed perennials that form the visual structure of the planting (10-15 percent of the total)

• Seasonal theme plants — mid-height plants that dominant the scene when in bloom, and provide supporting companions to the structural plants when not in bloom (25-40 percent)

• Ground cover plants — low, shade-tolerant plants that cover the soil, control erosion and provide nectar (50 percent)

• Filler plants — short-lived species, e.g., annuals, that fill gaps and add short seasonal displays (5-10 percent)

The authors describe this plant community approach collectively as resilient gardening. The benefits include growing healthy plants, minimizing maintenance (always a popular objective), and providing a systematic approach to developing an attractive, full grouping of plants.

I have been vaguely dissatisfied with a garden that separates plants from other plants by mulch. Developing layered plant communities will require reviewing plants already in place, searching for new plants for the needed layers, and allowing time for growth. The authors have not provided tidy “recipes” for plant communities because there are too many possible variations, including personal preferences, to put in a book. Instead, they have left the design process to each interested gardener.

Enjoy your garden, and consider learning about—and developing—resilient plant communities for your garden.

Tom Karwin is past president of the Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, president of the Monterey Bay Area Cactus Succulent Society, and a Lifetime UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). Visit for links to information on this subject, and send comments or questions to

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