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Archives for July 27, 2017

Tablescaping: Adding some garden beauty to the dining room

Tablescaping is an art form that brings nature into the dining room, providing a feast for the eyes. You can cut your own garden flowers and greenery to make a centerpiece for your table — and then keep on getting creative.

“Adding nature to your table will enliven your guests’ experience as they take their place for a meal,” said Tobey Nelson, owner of Tobey Nelson Events and Design in Clinton, Washington. “A table that is embellished with beautiful natural elements can turn a pleasant dinner into a special occasion.”

“Add a few stems of lovely greenery such as ferns or hosta to smaller vases along or around the table,” she suggested. “Place a sprig of an herb such as rosemary or a blossom on a napkin or plate to bring your tablescape alive.”

Maybe you have small pots of succulents or herbs on your patio? Incorporate them too, Nelson said.

“Sometimes a creative idea for the garden works nicely on a table setting, too. Think sweet little teacups planted with succulents, or small terra cotta pots with little herb plants,” she said. “These work well to beautify your table and make cute patio decorations through the summer — or great little gifts for your guests.”

No need to relegate cutting flowers to their own patch in the garden, she continued.

“Weave them into your landscape. Plant a few cosmos between shrubs,” she said. “Peonies, a popular garden plant, are great as cut flowers, and their foliage is beautiful in a vase. Lots of vines are great in arrangements.”

Tablescaping with plants from your own garden adds a personal touch to the dining experience.

“A lot of times you can personalize by using native flowers that emphasize the area in which you live,” said Kaleb Norman James, who owns a wedding and floral design company in Kirkland, Washington. “Or something that a bride and bridegroom can display at their wedding dinner that they’re proud of — flowers that tie in to who they are, where they’ve been or what they’ve done.”

Even the smallest details count.

“I love to look into the elements that may be overlooked,” James said. Rarely does he use a plain white napkin, for instance: “Look for color or patterns or some type of decorative element like a flower.”

Tablescaping is more than a floral centerpiece, he said. “It’s tying in a lot of different pieces. The flatware, glassware, linens, table numbers and place cards that fit a theme.

“Try to add some additional custom things on top of that,” James said. “Fruit or something depicting the season. Little trays with grapes flowing onto the table. Or berries in silver compotes or bowls.”

In winter, add candles, geodes and crystals for a glamorous touch, he said.



For more about keeping cut flowers and flowering plants, see this University of Minnesota Extension Fact Sheet:

You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick(at)

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Planting Design Basics Part Four: Is my yard ready to plant?

Our conclusion to this series on Garden Design Basics leads you through the final steps needed to create your new landscape. Eager as you may be to get your plants into the ground, this ultimate preparation phase is as important as all of the others. To save time and money, we recommend that the last thing you do is go shopping for plants!

Timing: The time of year you plant affects plant success. Most natives, in fact most plants in general, thrive best when planted in our cool seasons, fall through early spring. Milder temperatures and (fingers crossed) rain, allow them to establish sturdy root systems that will help them tolerate the summer heat. Plants that are completely cold-hardy in our area can be planted at any time during our cool seasons. For plants that are marginally hardy, install in early fall as very cold temperatures may stress these new plants. (Bulbs, in particular iris, are an exception to the cool-season planting rule, as they do best when divided and replanted in late July or early August.)

Infrastructure: Before digging any holes for plants, complete the installation of your infrastructure, including all hardscape, irrigation lines, and drainage facilities. Build berms, install focal point(s), pour concrete, place landscape rocks; all of this comes before the living elements are added. Planting beds can be outlined with rocks at the same time as planting, if the rocks are relatively small and placing them will not disturb the plants.

Irrigation: Before planting is also the ideal time to test your newly installed or revamped irrigation system: make sure that flow and volume are correct, and that emitters for hydrozones (if included in your design) are properly sized. Resources for learning more about drip irrigation include the Butte County Master Gardener website (

Soil Preparation: Critical to plant survival and success is the health of your soil. We touched on soil structure and type briefly in Part One of this series. (The ideal soil ratio is 25% air, 25% water, 5% organic matter, and 45% mineral matter.) Now it is time to consider soil tilth, which means the physical condition of the soil, especially in relation to its suitability for growing plants. In its ideal healthiest state, soil is alive with millions of organisms per teaspoon. Within that teaspoon live 100 million to 1 billion bacteria, several yards of fungal filaments, several thousand protozoa, and from ten to several hundred nematodes. Our job as gardeners is to ensure that the inhabitants of the soil food web are fed and cared for. Their needs are the same as those of any living being: air, food, water, and protection from abuse.

AIR: Compaction is the bane of healthy soil. It reduces space for air and water movement and creates anaerobic conditions (which in turn attract and feed detrimental bacteria, fungi, and protozoa). Try to protect your soil from heavy foot traffic and heavy equipment during hardscape installation. Lay down wide boards to distribute the weight more evenly in areas that experience a lot of foot and wheelbarrow traffic. Keep heavy equipment use to a minimal, restricted area if possible.

FOOD: Organic compost and mulch provide nutrients to soil. Nutrients from organic mulches are leached into the soil through rains and irrigation, while organic composts are manually incorporated into the soil itself. Composted organic materials improve air and water movement, improve soil structure, reduce surface crusting and soil erosion, and increase water absorption and infiltration. Organic mulches reduce soil erosion, reduce annual weeds, and reduce evaporation and runoff. Good examples of organic mulches include leaves and the various sizes of wood chips.

WATER: The texture of soil directly affects its ability to holding or shed water. Soils with a high proportion of clay drain poorly, creating waterlogged environments that are hard on the roots of most plants, and also on the organisms which thrive in healthy soil. Soils that are too sandy allow water to run through them before a plant can extract nutrients and moisture. Amending either soil type with compost can help: adding compost to clay soil increases aeration and water infiltration; adding compost to sandy soil increases its water and nutrient holding capacity.

PROTECTION FROM ABUSE: Compaction is not the only form of soil misuse. Erosion is a culprit as well: overwatering bare soil can cause runoff and reduce the nutrients in the soil. Applying mulches and/or incorporating groundcover plants can protect soil from eroding on a slope. Create mini-berms around plants on slopes, and add terraces to steep yards during the hardscape phase of garden preparation. Neglect is another form of abuse! Check plants on a regular basis to catch pest infestations or signs of stress. Irrigation systems need regular check-ups too, as small rodents and problems with water pressure can wreak havoc on water lines and emitters.

Weed Control: After hardscape installation and before planting, consider sheet mulching, an effective and long-lasting method to control weeds, particularly in a new landscape. Details are available here: (enter sheet mulching as your search term). In sheet mulching, layers of newspaper and/or cardboard are covered with a thick layer of shredded or chipped bark, suffocating even the most persistent weeds. Plant holes are then dug into the covered area per your garden design. In general, applying mulch at a recommended depth of four to six inches will help control weeds. And hand pulling, early and often, will save you time and grief down the road.

Now you can go shopping. Happy Gardening!

This series of Real Dirt articles summarizes the presentation Butte County Master Gardener Eve Werner created for the Butte County Master Gardeners Spring 2017 Workshop Series. Please watch our website for our Fall 2017 Workshop Series. For more information about the Butte County Master Gardener Program, please visit

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Treasure Garden Introduces New Stardust Shade Design

This press release is submitted and shown here in its original form, unedited by Furniture Today.

July 26, 2017 – Baldwin Park, Calif. — Treasure Garden, award winning manufacturer of outdoor umbrellas, shade and accessory products, announces for the 2018 season the addition of its latest shade design, the Stardust. A unique shade solution, the Stardust boasts a contemporary star-shaped canopy inspired by geometrics as well as celestial bodies. The 10’ pop-up umbrella is a shade product that can serve as an outdoor work of art delivering as much drama as shade.

“With the Stardust, we have taken a market umbrella and reinvented it into a more cutting edge, contemporary star- shaped shade alternative,” said Candy Chase, national sales manager, Treasure Garden. “This ‘out of this world’ designed umbrella is sure to complement any upscale outdoor setting with its distinctive look.”

With the introduction of the Stardust, Treasure Garden, answers the trend in artistry of shade design. An easy to use “pop up” lift system with a stainless steel pin makes the Stardust attractive to hospitality and residential buyers alike. The umbrella’s eight ribs extend to the canopy points creating the star design. Offering 65 square feet of shade coverage, the Stardust carries a 3 year warranty. With both commercial and residential applications, the Stardust is available with a silver anodized or black finish and hundreds of durable canopy fabric options from the full complement of Treasure Garden textile selections.

Along with Treasure Garden’s full complement of 2018 introductions, the Stardust will be on display in the Chicago Merchandise Mart, Showroom 1655 during the 2017 Casual Furniture Market, September 12 – 15, 2017. For more information about the products of Treasure Garden, contact 888.821.8868. .

# # #

Pictured: Treasure Garden Stardust Pop-Up Umbrella

About Treasure Garden:

Since 1984, Treasure Garden has manufactured the widest selection of shade products in the world. Treasure Garden offers more than 25,000 choices of shade umbrellas and accessories including designer outdoor rugs. Treasure Garden is a multiple winner of the Manufacturer of the Year Award for Shade Products by the retail membership of the International Casual Furnishings Association. (ICFA)

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M. Adaline Jyurovat: The uncivil civic project along Boulder Creek

I don’t recall the public clamoring for a complete destruction of the civic plaza, including landscaping, sidewalks, trees, bushes, bridges, and all traces of the past. There is no sense of place, or sense of respect for place.

Does children’s participation in this process make it unassailable? Did they help design the massive bridge of concrete and rusted steel (replacing a wooden one) — which appears best fit for military bases or prisons? Did the children see in advance what bridges would replace the previous wooden ones (now disappeared) and walk across both kinds to experience which they preferred? Were they provided an animated fly-through of uprooting of the plantings along the creek, the sidewalks, the wooden bridges, trees? Were they shown how much debris would be created in this destruction, where it would be going, and to what future environmental affect?

Did those children get to see the historic, whimsical Pooh Garden sculptures from the public library, during the child inclusive design process? The Pooh sculpture garden (which was later neglected) was created by art students at CU, circa 1961. (Completed in 1961, west of the municipal building, was a subtle architectural gem of a library by Boulder architect James M. Hunter, with a delightful Pooh Garden, including sculptures, a gate with Pooh Bear climbing it, charming landscaping, all of which should have won national awards.) Everything that made that library notable, including its historic facade, no longer exists. Now the same can be said of the landscape between the library and the muni building. The mentality that “new is better” seems to reign supreme.

Not long ago, native peoples camped and hunted along the banks of Boulder Creek as they used banks of rivers and streams for eons. Do you colonists know the history of native peoples’ displacement from Boulder? They camped all over this town, along the banks of Boulder Creek, and collected medicine from the hillsides. This civic project is making sure there is no trace of them left. No one knows what artifacts might have been along the creek banks since the enormous bulldozers disrupted the soil deeply, then spilled some of it into the creek.

Was there an environmental impact statement and archaeological survey done by certified authorities? Where are studies that show the cost of all carbon emissions from the project demolitions? They must include the emissions of the many contractors traveling from across the metro area.

The creek banks are being ravaged by earth movers and “redesigned.” Show us the types of experience the staff members have with redesigning natural creek habitats. Where are the past successes over the last hundred years, redesigning flood plains? How does this project improve the floodplain, while using very wide swaths of concrete bike highways to redesign it? Was the Army Corps of Engineers consulted (one of the most destructive, polluting, corrupt agencies on the planet)?

This looks like a war on the environment, war on a sense of place, war on the historical commons, war on the common people (what is left of them). The well paid administrators in this city seem to prefer associating with criminal Wall Street bankers, ignoring public concerns about that, sabotaging Occupy, destroying the historic commons — all at the expense of nature, common sense, public welfare and conservation. In my opinion, the design process exhibited in Boulder’s new civic project is impoverished and terminally destructive, despite the high cost.

Who, specifically, decided Boulder needed another super project when nothing was radically wrong with the civic area before? Who gets wined and dined during the process? This has people’s egos written all over it — something monumental that can be put on resumes, when they are ready to participate in another nationwide search and move up the ladder somewhere else. This is how Boulder became so trendy, and devoid of soul. We need to have local people who are accountable to the voters, the general public, not to appointed officials, contractors or real estate developers. The City Council defers to the staff instead of to the people.

What will it take to consider the next seven generations, the rights of nature, the precautionary principle — first, do no harm? These ideas are nowhere to be seen or discussed. They are not on the City Council radar. I think that is intentional.

M. Adaline Jyurovat lives in Boulder.

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Pet pleasing garden designs

Plenty of Western Australian homeowners share their outdoor spaces with their pets, but our furry companions often have their own landscaping ideas.

Whether it’s trampling through your freshly planted flowers or digging up the lawn, the natural instincts of pets often can’t be helped.

However, design can go some way to curbing these destructive behaviours.

South Metropolitan TAFE Animal Studies Lecturer Ken Storrs, who specialises in animal behaviour, said creating a stimulating and enriching environment was important for pets.

For dogs, he recommended changing up the environment to prevent it from becoming boring.

“Engage the sight, sound and smell,” he said.

“This means plenty of toys, tunnels, plants they can eat or even roll in and noise from toys, the mulch underfoot or the rustle of leaves.”

For troublesome diggers, Mr Storrs said it was important not to deter them from releasing their natural behaviours.

“You can control natural behaviours by giving designated areas for digging, such as a sandpit,” Mr Storrs said. South Metropolitan TAFE Horticulturist and Lecturer Catherine Storrs said when grass was dug up it needed to regenerate quickly to prevent it becoming a sandpit.

“I have found the best turf is Santa Ana,” she said. “It requires a lot of maintenance to stop it from thatching, but this is what makes it perfect for big dogs, as it repairs quickly.”

Meanwhile, a trend for outdoor cat enclosures has emerged in a bid to protect native birds and other wildlife.

“Cat enclosures with access to outside and inside not only control your cat’s natural behaviours, but are beneficial to the health and wellbeing of your cat,” Mr Storrs said.

Mrs Storrs added that plants and equipment to climb made cat enclosures more stimulating, while a mix of sun and shade was important.

For homeowners looking to design a leafy outdoor area, there are some plants that fair best in gardens with pets.

Ornamental plants are durable, pet-friendly and quick to recover from boisterous behaviour, making them a great choice for pet owners. These include kangaroo paws, banksias, grevilleas and smaller species of eucalyptus. While plants are great for the aesthetic of the garden, they’re also great for creating a more enriching environment for pets.

“Herbs are essential for the smell and to eat when they want some greens,” Mrs Storrs said.

“Wormwood and mints are also great for preventing flea infestations.

“For the cats, plant nepeta cataria catmint and nepetia faassenii catnip.”

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A creative’s space in up-and-coming Inglewood

Completely rebuilt this year, this live-work space in Inglewood’s Arts District has unbridled living space for creative types plus a few extra perks: a rain shower, dutch doors and vaulted ceilings with skylights. But the real prize is in the backyard, where manicured gardens and landscaping by Jack Price Design fill the quarter-acre of grounds.

The details

Location: 404 Warren Lane, Inglewood, 90302

Asking price: $1.325 million

How To: Kill Ivy

How to Kill Ivy


Characterized by its showy, star-shaped foliage, English ivy (Hedera helix) might seem a fine choice for landscaping as a potted plant, ground cover, or groomed exterior wall accent—but don’t let down your guard just yet. Left unchecked, the evergreen perennial can become an invasive enemy to your yard. Ivy knows no bounds: It grows quickly in all directions, both horizontally and vertically, clinging to other vegetation and depriving it of all sunlight. If the vining plant doesn’t smother and kill trees, shrubs, and grass, it’ll infect them with rot or disease. If you’ve already seen such destruction, save your property from the aggressive greenery by following these steps for how to kill ivy and prevent its return.

– Gardening gloves
– Brush cutter
– Gardening shears
– Herbicide made with glyphosate, imazapyr and/or triclopyr
– White vinegar (optional)
– Spray bottle (optional)

First things first: Protect yourself and your plants. To do so, suit up in gardening gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and pants—exposed skin may be bothered by the oil that ivy secretes. Then choose a day with the right forecast to ensure no mishaps during chemical treatment. Topical chemicals used for killing ivy are only effective when the temperature is somewhere between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also want to work on a day with minimal wind in order to prevent any chemicals from blowing onto nearby gardens and landscaping.

How to Kill Ivy


Detach the ivy from the surface it’s covering, whether across the lawn or up a tree.

For ivy on the ground, mowers may shred the leaves but generally aren’t effective for attacking the vines. You’ll need to use a tough brush cutter or a long, sharp pair of gardening shears to separate ivy from the ground. Working in small sections a couple of feet wide, cut straight through the ivy’s vine system where it meets the earth. Then roll up each section like a rug, tugging and clipping with the shears or brush cutter along the way to entirely detach all pieces of ivy. Repeat as needed until all ivy has been sectioned and rolled. A word of caution: Ivy only needs one remaining vine to take root again, so take your time and don’t leave any pieces attached to your lawn.

For ivy on trees, there’s no need to detach every strand on the trunk. In fact, since ivy adheres strongly to a tree’s bark, removing it may harm the tree. Instead, concentrate only on detaching the three to five feet of foliage closest to the bottom of the tree, where the vine connects to its roots. Or, if the ivy doesn’t reach the ground, concentrate on the bottom two or three feet of the climbing vines. Separate the ivy from the tree with sharp shears, and take care not to cut into the bark—that will only weaken the tree further.

Bag up the ivy and throw it away. If you leave your detached ivy in clumps on your property, it can quickly snake its way back into the ground or up a tree trunk, undoing your hard work. (It can even take root in your compost pile, so do not don’t try to compost ivy!)

Select a herbicide made with glyphosate, imazapyr, triclopyr, or some combination of the three chemicals, all of which target the ivy roots. If you prefer a more natural approach, you can substitute white vinegar in a large spray bottle instead. Application for either is fairly simple: Thoroughly cover the whole area you’ve freed from the ivy with the liquid. If working on a tree, also cover the bottom foot or so of the vines remaining on the tree.

Herbicide alone isn’t necessarily the best way to kill ivy, because the waxy cover on ivy leaves blocks the chemical from properly attacking the root system. But by applying the deterrent soon after removing ivy from a tree or ground (Step 2), you can increase the commercial or DIY herbicide’s effectiveness.

Every two or three weeks, examine your property and make sure ivy vines haven’t popped up again. If you spot any new vines, pull them out with a gloved hand and gardening shears (Step 2), then a repeat spray with your herbicide or white vinegar to spot-treat the stems (Step 3).

TAMING THE BEAUTY: If you purposely grow English ivy as part of your landscaping, you must follow some strict guidelines in order to prevent it from overrunning the place. Keep the vines contained by surrounding them with mulch and trimming the edges whenever they begin to creep. Ivy can be a charming addition to any yard, but containment and maintenance are critical if you want to keep your other vegetation thriving alongside it.


Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.

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Creating a peaceful backyard water garden

water garden full of colorful lilypads

Photo: yoshio9989/Flickr

Water features have been popular items to have in a landscape for years now, but something customers may not think of asking about is a water garden.

Unlike water features that just have water with plants surrounding it, such as fountains, water gardens actually provide an environment that can sustain and promote plant life growth within it.

For example, instead of your customer just having a pond installed in their landscape with plants placed around it for looks, why not talk to them about adding in aquatic plants that can grow inside the pond?

Adding water gardens in the landscape can help your customers relax at the end of the day by giving them a very natural and peaceful place to go.

While water gardens may have a reputation for being high-maintenance, we’ve have a few tips that are sure to help your customers get the most out of their water garden experience.

Start simple

If your customers are not quite ready to jump headfirst into a large water garden project, that’s okay. Talk to them about starting small and building more or expanding later down the line.

A small fountain with aquatic plants inside can be a great starter pond, and it can still give off the ambience your customer are searching for. Adding a few small plants around it then making the surrounding area fit the scene can create a beautiful little piece of paradise without taking up a large portion of the yard.

Make it a natural design

When it comes to designing a water garden, always keep nature in mind. Try to keep the design as close to ponds found in nature to help create a more natural topography. This idea applies to the visual and functional aspects of water gardens.

Water gardens that have a naturally flowing course, ripples, broad pools in naturally low spots and small cascades in deeper areas harken to waterways found in nature, while those with artificial hills and waterfalls tend to come across as gaudy.

Some water gardens can even incorporate small sandy beaches and small boulders around the edges, such as a scene found by a mountain stream.

Blur the edges

Having the rubber or plastic edge of the pond visible can destroy the peaceful and natural illusion you are going for, so be sure to keep the edges out of sight.

One way to keep the edges out of view is to create a flagstone lip that overhangs the pond liner by an inch or so. Using plants along the border is also an attractive way to hide edges, and it gives customers the chance to have a few more beautiful plants around the yard.

Using the plant method can also help with the natural look of the water garden, and it will help it blend in with the rest of the landscape. 

Add shade and aeration

Having the area shaded will help your customers enjoy their water garden more, and it will help keep the water clear since algae growth is driven by the sun.

Keeping the water from becoming stagnant is another important task for water gardens. Aerators, waterfalls or bubblers help keep the water moving and allow oxygen to feed the aquatic life cycle. This keeps decomposing plant matter from forming and clouding up the water.

Create diversity with plants and fish

Different types of plants will thrive in different levels of water, therefore you should consider adding in at least one of each type of aquatic plant: marginal, emergent, submerged and floaters.

Having a few of each type will help maintain balance in the garden while also adding balance to the water’s chemistry and keeping turbidity at bay. Marginals are used from zero to 12 inches deep, emergents are used from 12-24 inches deep, submerged are used from 24-36 inches deep and floaters live on the surface.

To keep the plants from becoming unruly, consider putting in aquatic benches or planting strips at the appropriate depths to place the plants in.

Along with plant life, water gardens are known for having their fair share of fish around. Fish not only keep those pesky mosquito larvae at bay, they also help keep nutrients cycling by eating the algae.

Different fish will need different amounts of attention, so check with your customers about how much time they want to dedicate to fish care before choosing which, if any, will inhabit the water garden.

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