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Archives for June 5, 2017

Straw bale gardening gained popularity a couple years ago; tips on what to plant and how

MILWAUKEE — Strawberries mean it’s summer! If you plant them now, you may get strawberries this year or not. Learn the different types of strawberries to help you choose the right one for your garden.

Straw bale gardening gained popularity a couple years ago. Get some tips on what to plant and how.

  • Days 1-3: Water the bales thoroughly and keep them damp.
  • Days 4-6: Sprinkle each bale with ½ cup urea (46-0-0) and water well into bales. You can substitute bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach

When you bought your hydrangea a couple years ago, the flowers were blue. Now they are pink. Find out why and what you can do to change them back to blue.

You can head to the Milwaukee County UW-Extension Horticulture page for more gardening information.

Article source: Launches 2017 Considered Design Awards Contest and its sister website have launched the annual Considered Design Awards contest, which honor the year’s greatest triumphs of home and garden design prowess and remodeling ingenuity, the Move, Inc.-operated company recently announced. Design enthusiasts and professionals in the U.S., UK and Canada (excluding Quebec) are invited to submit their own interior or outdoor design projects, in categories that span the entire home, between now and 12 a.m. PDT on June 22. Entrants can submit up to 10 photos and a description of their work.

“We’re excited to see what our readers, amateurs and professionals alike, have come up with in the home remodeling space,” says Julie Carlson, editor-in-chief of Remodelista. “Every year we’re impressed by the ingenuity and creativity of the submissions we receive; it’s our favorite event of the year.”


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After the submission period closes, four guest judges—Sheila Bridges, interior designer; Sam Hamilton, owner of March in San Francisco; Deborah Needleman, design editor; and Rita Konig, writer and interior designer—will select finalists for each category (detailed below). The winners will be voted on by Remodelista and Gardenista readers. The top vote-getters will receive internet fame, as well as a collection of books from the guest judges, plus Remodelista and Gardenista’s own books. Professional winners will also receive automatic entry into the websites’ architect/designer directory of recommended professionals.

Remodelista award categories include:


  • Best Bath
  • Best Kitchen
  • Best Living/Dining
  • Best U.K. Interior


  • Best Bath
  • Best Kitchen
  • Best Living/Dining
  • Best U.K. Interior

Gardenista award categories include:


  • Best Garden
  • Best U.K. Garden


  • Best Landscape
  • Best U.K. Landscape

Open to All:

  • Best Outdoor Living Space
  • Best Hardscape
  • Best Curb Appeal
  • Best Edible Garden

For more information, please visit

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Mount Arlington School students revamp rain garden

MOUNT ARLINGTON – Students at Mount Arlington Public School have spent the past few weeks working with scientists from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office and the Musconetcong Watershed Association to revamp their school rain garden and to create educational resources to promote rain garden management as a means to protect water quality for Lake Hopatcong.

Using funds from the New Jersey Sustainable Schools program and sponsored by PSEG, students engaged in classroom instruction and then applied their knowledge to redesign the rain garden on the school’s property, according to a release issued by the K-8 district.

The existing rain garden was originally installed as part of a joint project with the Highlands Commission, the Borough Green Team, and the school. After five years, the garden needed some maintenance and upgrading to provide a model for residents and businesses in the area to consider for installation on their properties. The original rain garden was highlighted as part of New Jersey Sustainable Hero’s Program where former Mayor Arthur Ondish was recognized.

Students along the way have learned the steps necessary to carry on project management. After reviewing the old design records, meeting with scientists, and inspecting the garden, the students designed a garden full of native species. The original rain garden needed to have some existing grasses split and some acorns had taken root this spring. They needed to do field measurements and create design drawings. They also had to make sure an utility mark-out was completed before digging to remove older mulch and before replanting.

Students also learned about team work and divided up some of the tasks such as engineering calculations, design diagrams, and botanical research.

Seventh grader Michael Stockstill undertook the engineering runoff calculations. Stockstill used GoogleEarth to get a snip of the school’s parking lots and did some field measurements of the parking lot dimensions. Using his scaled drawings and precipitation data, he then calculated how much runoff drains from the parking lots towards the garden.

Sixth graders Madalyn Pflug and Ashley Zheng’s research recommended native species and created a plant matrix to identify plant heights, bloom time, color, and water requirements. Sixth grader Jolie Parisi used in-house software to create a project map.

Currently as the site work begins, students are also engaged in creating a video documenting the original installation as well as their newer extended upgrades. Upon completion the video will be made available to share with community members. The students are also creating an educational website on rain garden design.

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Free garden design workshop planned Wednesday at Patrick Ranch – Chico Enterprise

A free workshop on basic garden design is being offered by the Butte County Master Gardeners 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesday in Pat’s Barn at the Patrick Ranch Museum, on the Midway between Chico an Durham.

Eve Werner from Eve’s Garden Design will describe the steps in the process that professional landscape architects use to develop beautiful, cohesive, lower maintenance planting designs.

Hint: buying the plants is the last step.

Registration is required at

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Clues for ‘curb appeal’ include pristine landscaping: Heloise

Dear Heloise: We are getting ready to sell our home, and first impressions count, right? We decided to upgrade its “curb appeal.” There are lots of small details of the house and front yard that we focused on to get the whole house looking great. Here are some ideas we used:

Pink flamingos and other yard art are tacky and do not appeal to the general public. Dump ’em.
Lighting is critical. Lights not only brighten the house, but add to safety. Low lighting can create a dangerous walking situation at night.
The lawn absolutely must be pristine, trimmed neatly, lush and green, flowers planted evenly, and trees should be cut back away from the house, but they should not look raw.
Crisp new paint on the front door is an eye-catcher.
New house numbers look great, and also are necessary for guests and emergency personnel to find you.
Newer-washing the driveway and sidewalk eliminates years of grime, can reduce oil spots and generally makes things sparkle.

Ask your Realtor for more hints and ideas to boost your home’s curb appeal. These hints helped us tremendously, and made the sale of the property quicker and easier. — Brenda and Dan in Dallas

Dear Heloise: A big help when going to the vet with our dog is to bring an old rubber bathmat to use on the cold and slippery stainless-steel exam table.

If the dog is not happy or is fighting being up there, at least he is not slipping and sliding all over the place, and he is easier to hold for the exam.

I have been doing this for 15 years. — Candace in Hagerstown, Maryland

Dear Heloise: The stunning bright green of wheatgrass looks beautiful in white containers, and it is easy to grow, cheap and readily available. My nursery has it, and pet stores and big-box stores carry it, too.

My cat started eating it. At first, I was concerned, but I called my veterinarian, and he assured me that wheatgrass is perfectly fine and healthy for animals to consume. — Ramona R. in Chicago

Dear Readers: Got a deep wrinkle on clothes that you want to banish quickly? Sponge on some white vinegar, use a pressing cloth and press with a warm iron. Voila! Like magic, it’s gone! — Heloise

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; Fax: 210-435-6473 or send email to

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Going by the book to create a landscape that’s good for California


As Southern California gardeners select drought-friendly plants and keep water conservation in mind, it would be wise to not forget about maintenance.
For those with questions about organization and upkeep or who simply like doing things by the book, there are plenty of options, including the recently released “California Friendly: A Maintenance Guide for Landscapers, Gardeners and Land Managers,” by Douglas Kent.

For Kent, the book is not about sales. In fact, through a first-ever collaboration among the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Metropolitan Water District and Southern California Gas Co., the books are free. Hardcovers are offered when you sign up for a Be Water Wise class. Or you can download the book at The idea is to provide information that helps gardeners create a space that is beautiful and sustainable for the long term.

Many homeowners listened to the clarion calls to conserve water, ripping out more than 170 million square feet of thirsty green lawns during the past eight years, Kent said. They replaced the grass with “California-friendly” landscaping. Yet, for many, maintaining those landscapes hasn’t been easy, resulting in sad-looking and ecologically challenged yards.

Couple that with pronouncements about the lengthy drought being over and the lifting of some water restrictions, and concerns rise that people will revert back to more familiar water-wasting options.

That shouldn’t happen, Kent said. Water reliability is dependent on everyone using wisely.

“(The book) covers the key aspects of managing a modern landscape: irrigation and working with recycled water; water, fertilization and regeneration requirements for hundreds of plants (most native); natural strategies for weed and pest problems; and managing storm water-capture opportunities, including rain barrels,” he said in an email.

The book is comprehensive — with chapter after chapter of do’s, don’ts and advice — and there are also answers to some important questions. How often should you water? How can you handle natural pest control? How can you manage various surfaces and runoff? Which grasses, perennials, shrubs, succulents and cactuses work and, better yet, how do you take care of them properly?

Consider the book a guide and resource.

“Creating and maintaining landscapes takes all kinds of people: Owners, managers, contractors, vendors and specialists are vital to a landscape’s success. But it is the men and women in our gardens that ultimately get the job done — the people who get their hands dirty hauling manure, scraping their skin reaching for a weed and enduring harsh weather to preserve beautiful spaces,” he wrote in the book’s dedication.

Kent wants gardeners and consumers to think beyond plant lists and irrigation practices and accept the belief that treating the Southern California landscape correctly directly affects its health and vibrancy along with the people who live here.

He is trying to do his part, working with Ecological Land Management in Orange and writing five other books, including “Firescaping” and “Ocean Friendly Gardens.” In addition, he is the spokesman for the SoCalGas seminar “Energy Smart Landscaping” and teaches land management at Cal Poly Pomona.
The environment is a topic close to his heart. Landscape irrigation should be considered a luxury, and one managed carefully, he said.

“Why I do what I do is truly a mystery, but I can tell you what I tell my parents when they ask when I’ll get a real job — California is changing rapidly and all of us are standing at a unique point in time. We can change its future. Right now we have the resources, time and will to create a healthy California. That hasn’t always been the case,” he said. “I am not only committed to a sustainable California, but a livable, enjoyable and fun state, too. Landscapes will play a central role in that future.”

The public agencies haven’t developed the programs specific to the book, but they’re being worked on, Kent said. The MWD provides books at its turf removal classes.

And he will be conducting his seminars July 12, Sept. 27 and Nov. 29 at the Southern California Gas Co. Energy Resource Center in Downey, 9240 Firestone Blvd. If hardcovers still are available, they will be distributed there. To register, call 800-427-6584.

“ ‘California Friendly’ is as important to the funding agencies as it is for the public,” he said. “Each agency maintains California-friendly landscapes at their facilities. The book was originally designed to help these three have greater levels of success, but as anyone who has driven through Southern California has seen, many property owners are laboring.

“Landscapes that are aesthetically, economically or ecologically ineffective undermine the entire conservation movement,” he added. “Just a couple months into the project we wisely decided to write a book for everyone.”

Together, Southern Californians can create a beautiful, thriving and sustainable future.

“That’s what it’s all about — having a healthier, more friendly California,” he said.


Landscaping seminar

What: Storm water management
When: July 12
Where: Southern California Gas Co. Energy Resource Center, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey
Cost: Free
Information: 800-427-6584,, search “sign up for technical seminars”


Los Angeles Department of Water and Power: ladwp.cafriendly
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California:
Southern California Gas Co.:, search “residential rebates”

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Gardening tips for boomers, millennials

PLATTSBURGH — An award-winning garden expert with roots in this region shares tips adaptable for Baby Boomers and Millennials in an upcoming talk.

Garden lecturer, designer and author Kerry Ann Mendez will talk about “Stunning Flowering Shrubs and Groundcovers for Right-Size Flower Gardens” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, at Clinton Community College’s Stafford Auditorium.

The Kent-Delord House Garden Club is sponsoring the talk.



Though Mendez has lived the past three years in Kennebunk, Maine, she was made in upstate New York.

“I lived most of my life right outside of Saratoga Springs,” said Mendez, who has appeared on HGTV and in numerous magazines, including Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate and Better Homes Gardens.

“That’s really home. I went to school districts in Queensbury, N.Y., grew up there and graduated from Queensbury and worked for 30 some odd years in the Ballston Spa area near Saratoga Springs.”

She also lived five years in Lake Placid and knows Zone 3 gardening challenges firsthand.

Mendez was recipient of the Gold Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for her horticultural accomplishments in 2014.

She has lectured internationally, to botanical garden and arboretum staff in 16 states; Master Gardeners symposia in 15 states, including the 2015 International Master Gardeners Conference; and professional nursery and landscape associations in eight states.



She established her business, Perennially Yours, in 1995.

“Basically, I took a hobby that I loved and decided to try to make a business out of it. I love gardening, and I said, ‘Hmmm, can I actually make a business out of it?’

“And that’s what I did.”



Mendez has authored three popular gardening books, including “The Right-Size Flower Garden” (St. Lynn’s Press, 2015), which focuses on exceptional plants and design solutions for busy and aging gardeners.

When she talks right-size flower gardens she is referencing gardens and landscapes that fit changing lifestyles.

“For instance, maturing gardeners who may have less energy, ability and time to continue to maintain larger gardens that they had maybe 20 years ago,” Mendez said.

“How do you incorporate plant material that actually now works harder for you than you do for them?

“Really hardworking plants give lot of color, require less time and energy and benefit the environment and are pollinator friendly and low water.”

She and other Baby Boomers in their 60s and older seek plants that can still enjoy but are not as labor intensive as when they started their gardening journey.



The Millennials comprise the largest demographic group in the United States.

“They now outnumber Baby Boomers,” Mendez said.

“Millennials more and more are moving to urban setting, the city setting, so they need plants.

“They’re really busy with their lifestyle. They need plants that also work harder for them but are also more compact, that can fit in smaller garden spaces.

“Again, that will match with many Baby Boomers that are downsizing space.

“They need plants that give incredible color and beauty but they are smaller scale and easier to manage. That’s what I’m talking about, plants that fit changing lifestyles.”

Certain flowering shrubs and groundcovers not only fit their needs but don’t require a lot of fertilizer or water.

“They will be more sustainable,” Mendez said.

“They will require less input in order to survive and also benefit pollinators.”

Plants for smaller spaces or containers can still have great flower power. 

Their demands are less, which foster more environmentally friendly endeavors.



Shrubs and ground covers can work in a climate colder, and the pairing can produce a stunning, low-maintenance landscape.

Mendez is a huge fan of panicle hydrangeas, a flowering shrub.

“This species or group of hydrangeas, most of them are hardy for Zone 3,” she said.

“They require very little water, and they don’t set their flower buds until the spring, after the danger of our wacky winters. They bloom in the spring after all that wicked cold weather has happened.

“Mophead hydrangeas can be tricky in colder climates.”

Barrenwort (Epimedium) is her choice for a ground cover for dry shade under maple or pine trees.

“This plant flowers in the spring,” Mendez said.

“The flower color ranges from white, yellow, purple, peach, and orange, so there’s a lot of flower color and a little delicate flower on an on wiry stem.”

The barrenwort is a fluttery flower that dances on spring breezes.

“They have very attractive leaves for the rest of the season,” Mendez said.

“They can handle dry fall conditions. The leaves are overlapping. You don’t get weeds in there. It’s a great weed-suppressant ground cover.”



Her forthcoming and fourth book, “The Budget-Wise Gardener,” will be published by St. Lynn’s Press in February 2018.

She reveals all the tricks of her trade to create gorgeous landscapes without breaking the bank.

“This book is all about how to save money for buying the best for less,” Mendez said.


Email Robin Caudell:




WHO: Kerry Mendez lectures on “Stunning Flowering Shrubs and Groundcovers for Right-Size Flower Gardens.” 

WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 7.

WHERE: Stafford Auditorium, Clinton Community College, Plattsburgh.

ADMISSION: Advance tickets are $15 and are available from Kent-Delord House Garden Club members, at Cook and Gardener, 139 Tom Miller Rd., Plattsburgh; Kent-Delord House Museum, 17 Cumberland Ave., Plattsburgh; or by calling Ginny Brady at 593-3530. No tickets will be sold at the door. 

BENEFIT: Proceeds will fund the purchase of authentic period plants for the gardens and the maintenance and reconstruction of architectural features, such as the historic grape arbor, decorative picket fence and garden pathways, all of which help tell the story of three generations of the Delord family.


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