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Archives for July 31, 2017

School Garden Has Families Learning, Growing Together

By Kelsie McCrae

In the center courtyard of Frederick Douglass Elementary School lies a monstrous garden that has become not only a source of fresh produce, but of lessons for students and parents alike.

When the school opened in 2012, the courtyard had just a few raised garden beds, but it’s now an expansive garden that fills the quarter-acre space.

“We call it the heart of our school,” said kindergarten teacher Marykirk Cunningham, who also oversees the garden. “We have the kids say ‘our garden’ so they know it’s for everyone.”

It’s known as the Garden Lab. Aptly named, it’s considered just as much of a learning space as any of the classrooms that surround it. Students’ work begins the first week of the school year, as they create a plan for planting, maintaining, harvesting, cooking and even composting crops.

Students in each grade plant and care for their own raised bed, and their teachers use it as a teaching tool. Earlier this year, third-graders learned about Native American farming methods by planting squash and potatoes. Fourth-graders used what they had learned in science and history to grow cotton. Kindergarteners cared for milkweed plants to create a safe space for monarch butterflies.

Cunningham said students retain hands-on lessons best, and the Garden Lab has become the go-to spot for instructors teaching every subject area.

It also serves as a place where students can relax. Lavender, lamb’s ear and rosemary are just a few of the plants that make up a sensory garden where the school’s special education students can experience a wide range of soothing smells, textures and colors. It also includes rocks that double as seats perfect for quiet reading time.

“Some people say, ‘oh I don’t know if I can help. I don’t have a green thumb,’” Cunningham said. “But we encourage them to even just come and sit and enjoy the quiet of the garden.”

Cady Fallon, a rising first-grader at Frederick Douglass Elementary, holds up some grass hoppers she found in the garden. [Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now]

Cunningham came to Frederick Douglass when it opened five years ago with almost 20 years of teaching experience, but she also came armed with knowledge about gardening. She helped create the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Seeds of Change exhibit in the 1990s. Gardening has always been a family affair, she says. Her father, Bob “Pop” Goodhart, is a horticulturalist who worked as the landscape advisor and director of the Grounds at Christopher Newport University for a decade.

Now retired, Goodhart serves as her sidekick in the school garden. He works alongside students and parents, and runs a blog and podcast to update Frederick Douglass families on what’s growing in the Garden Lab and offers tips about how to grow produce at home.

Frederick Douglass parents, including Leah Fallon, have become just as invested in the Garden Lab. Her family is one of a half dozen who volunteers to care for the garden over the summer. Since Fallon’s daughter, Cady, first began working in the garden as a kindergartener this past year, she now asks to eat vegetables.

[See a photo gallery from Frederick Douglass Elementary’s Garden Lab here.]

“When I ask her what she wants for dinner, she says ‘salad.’ She always wants to eat what we bring home from the garden,” Fallon said. “For my family, it’s been about introducing veggies and learning about bees and butterflies. My younger daughter has been able to learn from her older sister.”

“…It’s made me want to start my own garden,” she added. “And Pop has taught me how to do it sustainably.”

In the summer months, the families tending the garden can take home what they harvest. But during the school year, the students pick fruits, vegetables and herbs and deliver it to the school cafeteria. Cafeteria manager Cathy Wilson helps the students decide what to make with the bounty, to be served during lunch.

“We’re garden to table,” Cunningham said. “Food―and gardens―bring people together.”

Even the fundraising effort for the Garden Lab is really a community effort. Students collect, package and sell seeds from the garden. They come up with creative marketing plans to sell as many seed packets as they can, with all the proceeds going back to improve and maintain the garden.

The school’s PTA also allocates about $500 for the Garden Lab each year, and Cunningham applies for grants to fund garden-related projects beyond that. She thanked businesses and organizations that have helped with this effort, including the Walmart in Sterling, Whole Foods Whole Kids Foundation, and the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District.

The donations and grants have helped fund a new feature each year, including a fully stocked garden shed, a long table that can seat an entire class, and a lattice wall that an with an espalier apple tree that will produce three different varieties of apples at once.

“Our next goal is skin protection [from the sun]. We want to get a pergola with a shade cloth to go over our table,” Cunningham said. “After that, we want to focus on wind and solar energy” by installing solar panels and windmills, she added. She also hopes to install a water feature to teach students about alternative energy sources.

She believes that something magical happens when kids work—as well as play and learn—in the dirt. It creates a mutually beneficial relationship between the kids and the plants.

“Just getting their hands in the dirt helps kids learn,” Cunningham said. “We have plenty of garden tools, but the best tool of all is the finger.”

Kelsie McCrae is a summer intern with Loudoun Now. She’s studying English literature, leadership studies and business administration at Christopher Newport University. She is an alumna of Loudoun School for the Gifted in Ashburn.

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Flooded garden? Tips on safely using its produce

Manitowoc County has seen higher-than-normal rainfalls this summer, much like other parts of Wisconsin. Luckily, we have not experienced large flooding — but many areas in the county and state have experienced standing water and isolated flooding issues.

After flooding, gardeners often raise questions about the safety of consuming produce from gardens that were under water for a day or two. How concerned gardeners have to be about using garden produce after a flood depends, to a large degree, on how “clean” the flood water was or whether it was likely to have been contaminated with sewage, river or creek water, farm runoff or industrial pollutants.

The most conservative answer — one that eliminates any and all risks — is that gardeners should discard all produce that was touched by flood water.

However, if flooding occurs early, there will typically be weeks left in the growing season, and gardeners will likely wish to salvage some crops.

The following are tips for considering what can be salvaged and what must be discarded from a flooded garden:

Flooded produce must be evaluated carefully before it is consumed. (Photo: Courtesy of UW Extension)

• Produce can be cooked to ensure safety. This is the best choice if anything that was touched by flood water will be served to those most at risk for serious consequences from microbial food-borne illnesses: young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

Note: cooking will not eliminate the risk posed by industrial pollutants.

• Discard all produce that is normally consumed uncooked (raw), including all leafy vegetables such as lettuce or spinach, regardless of how mature the plants are. It is not possible to clean these crops, as they have many ridges and crevices that could contain contaminated silt or bacteria.

• All soft fruits that are ready to harvest, such as strawberries or raspberries, should also be discarded unless they can be cooked; they, too, are impossible to thoroughly clean and cannot be safely consumed raw.

• Other produce may be salvaged depending on the crop and how far along it is in the growing season.

In general, any produce where the edible part was directly touched by flood water presents a potential risk to health if consumed. This includes produce that was submerged or splashed by flood water.

The ability to salvage crops that will be eaten raw with minimal risk depends on the source of the flood water, time to harvest, and whether potential contamination will have been internalized into the plant tissue.

One starting point for evaluating the safety of produce from flooded gardens is the National Organic Program guidance to farmers wishing to harvest produce from soil fertilized with non-composted manure. The NOP requires a 90-day period before harvesting edible material from plants grown in soil fertilized with non-composted manure, but where the manure has not come in contact with the edible material.

NOP standards require a 120-day period before harvest of edible plant material that had direct contact with non-composted manure.

Research suggests that contamination from non-composted manure should present a more significant health risk than contamination from flood waters.

• Early season crops that are to be harvested within a few weeks after a flood, and that remain above flood waters, should be safe to eat if cooked or peeled.

Examine any produce carefully before harvest. If it is soft, cracked, bruised or has open fissures where contamination might have entered, throw it out.

Intact produce can be eaten, but should be rinsed with clear tap water (DO NOT use soap) followed by a brief soak (2 minutes) in a weak chlorine solution of 2 tablespoons bleach in a gallon of water. Finally, rinse the produce in cool, clean tap water.

Peel or cook these items thoroughly before eating. Take care to prevent cross contamination in the kitchen. Change the bleach solution if the water is no longer clean.

• Plants where fruits have set (tomatoes) or where flowers are evident (broccoli/cauliflower) at the time of flooding present an undefined risk.

Before consuming these crops raw, consider the source of the flood water, the time since contamination and the health of the tissue.

Always discard any tissue that is bruised, cracked or otherwise blemished.

Washing fresh produce with clear water, followed by a brief soak in a dilute bleach solution (see above) and then rinsing before eating or peeling will help to reduce any remaining risk.

Underground vegetables such as beets, carrots and potatoes that are still early in their growth (at least four to eight weeks from harvest) should be safe if allowed to grow to maturity.

Root crops (i.e. new potatoes) that will be consumed within a month after flooding should be washed, rinsed and sanitized as directed above before cooking thoroughly.

Note that beets may be peeled after cooking, if desired.

Melons and other fruits that will be eaten raw should not be consumed. Recent food-borne illness outbreaks linked to melons suggest that these low-acid fruits may not be safe even if surface sanitized.

Late-season vegetables that result from flowers produced on growth that develops after flood waters subside should be safe. This group of vegetables includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, cucumbers and other similar vegetables.

To increase safety, cook these vegetables thoroughly, or at least wash them well and peel them, if possible, before eating.

Flood-damaged garden produce that is otherwise unfit for eating should not be canned or otherwise preserved.

Garden produce that would be safe to consume after washing, sanitizing and cooking (see above) may be safely canned.

Because the low temperature of home dehydrators does not destroy high numbers of bacteria, do not attempt to dehydrate produce from flooded gardens.

Never sell produce from a flood-damaged garden at a farm market or farm stand until you are sure all contamination has been removed from the garden, usually a period of at least one month after the last incidence of flooding.

Check with the Division of Food Safety of the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection at 608-224-4665 if you have questions about market sales of garden-flooded produce.

Barbara Ingham and Steve Ingham are with UW-Food Science and Kya Diehl is Manitowoc County UW Extension Family Living Educator.

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Creating a legacy of landscape restoration: Guided prairie tour set near Withrow Aug. 16

Pictured is a controlled burn on the Thatcher prairie in May Township. Jyneen Thatcher will give guided tours of her self-grown prairie Aug. 16. (Submitted photo)

When Jyneen Thatcher decided to make a mid-life career change, she wasn’t quite sure where her new path would lead her.

She enrolled in the landscape architecture program at the University of Minnesota, with an interest in natural resources restoration.

“Most of the other students in the program were designing artistic features for urban landscapes,” she said, laughing. “Meanwhile, I was off looking at the woods and prairies.”

After finishing her degree, Thatcher experimented with different jobs, searching for the right fit. She worked as a garden designer, first for a small landscaping company and then for a large design firm, and spent time at the regional office of a federal agency as well.

When she began volunteering at the Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District (now Washington Conservation District), she finally found her niche. Two years later, she joined the organization and began to expand existing programs to help local landowners restore habitat on their properties.

In her position, Thatcher sometimes met with landowners who were interested in converting old farm fields back to prairie. She herself owned six acres of land near the border of Hugo and May Twp., just north of Withrow Elementary, and she realized that her property was the ideal location for a demonstration restoration project.

“Back in 1999, there weren’t as many programs to assist landowners as there are today,” she said. She and her husband, Steve, received a small grant through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) of the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) that paid for less than 10 percent of the project.

“We received about $120 per acre, when the actual restoration cost is more like $1,800 an acre,” she said.

Thatcher hired a local farmer to plow, spray and disc-seed, but she planned and planted the prairie herself and has done controlled burns to manage the prairie on her own, as well.

“I wanted to do most of the work myself, so that I would have the experience to talk to other landowners about what to expect in their projects,” she said.

Now, 17 years later, the Thatcher prairie is maturing nicely. It is dominated by grasses, with a few bursts of color, such as the compass plant that shoots up with the summer’s heat and blooming flowers over the septic system. Over the years, Thatcher has used a combination of hand-pulling and herbicide to spot-treat spotted knapweed and reed canary grass that have invaded portions of the prairie, especially in the northeast corner where the land is wet. Prescribed burns have mostly kept the other weeds at bay.

Jyneen Thatcher officially retired four years ago, though she remains active in conservation efforts around the East Metro, including serving on the Citizens Advisory Committee for Brown’s Creek Watershed District.

This summer, she and other members of the advisory committee are taking turns hosting a series of informal, outdoor education events in their yards so local community members can see what prairies, woodlands and shoreline plantings look like in real life.

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, Thatcher is inviting folks to join her for a guided tour of her prairie, during which she will identify native and invasive plants and talk about what to expect during a restoration project. There are mowed trails through the tall grass to walk on, and the Thatchers have “loaner” walking sticks available for people to use if needed.

There will also be information available about watershed district cost-share grants and Conservation District assistance to restore prairies and woodlands, control erosion and reduce runoff pollution.

“It is so gratifying to see how people are appreciating wildflowers nowadays,” Thatcher said. “They are good for pollinators and good for water quality.”

Visit the Thatcher prairie on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at 12999 Keller Ave. N. in Hugo. RSVP at

Angie Hong is an educator for East Metro Water, Contact her at 651-330-8220 ext. 35 or [email protected]


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The Art Of Fine Gardening

Legendary North Shore landscape architect Craig Bergmann reveals his passion for the art of the garden. – craig bergmann’s Gardens of 900
Lake Forest, IL. Roses and Delphinium in full bloom. PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT SHIGLEY, GINA GRILLO LINDA BRYAN

Nature has always inspired Craig Bergmann, he has felt challenged by the natural world as a contemporary artisan using plants, stone, and wood as the elements of his creative palette. His art practice, working in garden and landscape design, puts him in constant dialogue with the landscape, architecture, horticultural truths and the grand imposition of weather.

Bergmann is Founder and President of Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, Inc. (CBLD). Located (since 2010) at 900 North Waukegan Road in Lake Forest, on the historic A. Watson Armour Estate of Elawa Farm, the site has become a living and working complex for Bergmann and his husband, interior designer Paul Klug.

Bergmann’s landscape architecture firm maintains a unique approach of conceiving of each garden design from plan to reality—providing three tiers of service—from design, to installation, to garden care and maintenance. This philosophy allows ultimate artistic and quality control, ensuring the integrity of each original design, or in Bergmann’s words, “allowing us to control our gardens’ destinies.”

Gardens of 900
Layers of color and texture, from back to front: Popcorn Senna, Giant Allium, Salvia, Evening Primrose, Spirea.
Photograph by Scott Shigley

This contemporary landscape visionary was raised in Glen Ellyn and takes pride in his 40 percent Algonquin Indian heritage, and the fact that he is not happy unless he is outside. Growing up, Bergmann’s father, (who he describes as having a mundane office job), would recite the Mantra, “I am taking my frustrations out on the garden.” Although Bergmann’s artistic collaboration with nature began humbly, first in boyhood, playing in the woods, mowing lawns, and tending to and planting perennials in neighbors’ gardens—nature also became a source of excitement and adventure.

As Bergmann regales a story of the unmasking of a mastodon skeleton in a neighborhood pond near his childhood home, one realizes that this is a signifying tale, a turning point of sorts, confirming that if nature could reveal a dinosaur head in his own “backyard,” then it must hold the promise of many wonders.

Then, another turning point, in 1980, during his junior year at DePaul, while earning his degree in biology and working in a flower shop, Bergmann received his first residential garden commission from a patron who recognized his talent. Since then, abiding by the laws of nature, his reputation has sprouted and grown by word of mouth and proof of work, leafing into words of praise and evolving into a thriving creative business.

Gardens of 900
The sun sets over the west garden in late June.
Photograph by Scott Shigley

Now after 35 years, Bergmann is known nationally, and works primarily with clients across North Shore communities and the Midwest region of the Great Lakes. Intent on quality and aesthetic craftsmanship, he oversees all designs of his horticulturally educated staff of 70 in summer and 40 in winter, maintaining 150 projects per year, each requiring 3-6 months from conception to installation.

“Our work is done a third in our heads and two thirds on the ground.” Bergmann says. “There is a reason that our company logo is ‘The Art of Fine Gardening,’ we are making art with the most successful of our projects.”

Little Orchard Garden by cbld
Lake Forest, IL. A parterre–a traditional formal garden element.
Photograph by Linda Oyama Bryan

Bergmann believes that in today’s mechanized product driven world, having a reason to go outside to see something that you are proud of, or that you aspire to, on your way to the car, or on your way to work is vital. “A garden,” he says, “can change your life.”
At the intersection of art, nature and space at the “Gardens at 900,” one finds evidence of Bergmann’s love for English Country style intermingled with a contemporary structural aesthetic. The landscape is adorned with plantings that reflect the 1917 era of David Adler’s architectural design. Masses of roses—Gallica, Bourbon, Alba, Moss, and Musk—ranging from pink to red to white to brilliant yellow grace the orchard. A varietal selection of plants with traits of the old-style plants with modern amenities allow for the practicality of less maintenance and disease resistance. A 60-foot border of Salvia Wesuii in the deepest Indigo blooms for months during summer along the face of the Blue Border. Clematis vines of purple, red, burgundy, and blue grace the iron fences of the Motor Court and drape through old lilacs, weigela, and arborvitaes in the gardens.

Bergmann is a board member of the Midwest Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, a regular lecturer at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Garden Committee Chairman on the Elawa Farm Foundation Board (the farm is owned by the City of Lake Forest), and consulting Landscape Architect of the City of Lake Forest.

Craig Bergmann in his garden.
Photograph by Gina Grillo

Nature continues to be Bergmann’s guidepost. “I learned early on,” he says, “that any time I get too big for my britches…, or off the path wondering what’s next, nature is there saying, ‘just ask me.’”

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Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden construction to begin September 1

On September 1, the University of Georgia State Botanical Garden will begin breaking ground on their newest specialized area, the Alice H. Richard’s Children Garden. Koons Environmental Design of Athens will be leading the renovation process in the two and a half acres making up the garden.

Richards, the woman the garden is dedicated to, was a large supporter of the garden and served as a charter member of the State Botanical Garden Board of Advisors until her death in 2007. According to the garden’s website, Richards was a mother of seven children and a grandmother of 24. Richards placed a great value on nature and “desired a place […] where children could experience the beauty of nature in an area all their own.”

To honor Richard’s wishes, Koons plans to include several hands-on and educational attractions within the garden.  Edible landscapes, an underground adventure area, a “Theater-in-the-Woods” and a pond and bog area are among the many features that are expected to be incorporated into the garden.

According to the UGA Botanical Garden’s website, “Children will learn as they explore an underground root system, see the forest from a bird’s eye view, recognize a cloud structure, climb up a spider web, discover a new vegetable or investigate the hidden world of worms.”


On September 1, the University of Georgia State Botanical Garden will begin breaking ground on their newest specialized area, the Alice H. Richard’s Children Garden. (Photo/Kaley Lefevre) 

The funds for the garden were acquired from UGA’s fundraising alongside the garden’s board of Advisors. In honor of her passing, Richard’s family also donated $1 million to the garden’s construction. Between the donation and fundraising, the board has raised nearly $4.3 million to be put towards the project. A Georgia Funder crowdfunding page was also launched in March for local citizens to donate to. The garden is expected to require approximately $5 million total.

This specific garden within the Botanical Gardens is expected to welcome approximately 50,000 children per year once completed. Other expected visitors include teachers-in-training and individuals from UGA conducting research.

“I am delighted with our choice of design firm and construction manager for the project,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, in a UGA news release. “It is clear to me that the entire team-garden staff, university architects, UGA leadership, and the designer and construction manager-are all thinking about this project in the same way. We are all excited to create something unique and rooted in the creativity and sense of place in Athens.”

The entire UGA State Botanical Garden encompasses nearly 313 acres and has been continuously updated and changed since it was first set aside by UGA in 1968. Since then, the garden has been used for countless research projects as well as enjoyment for families and children of all ages.

Upon completion of this kid-friendly garden and activity area, UGA hopes to see an increase in young visitors who participate in the garden. The Alice H. Richards children’s garden is expected to be completed and open to the public by early 2019.

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The 34th Annual Fall Atlanta Home Show and Outdoor Living Expo will be Sept. 8-10

The 34th Annual Fall Atlanta Home Show and Outdoor Living Expo will open its doors Sept. 8-10 at the Cobb Galleria Centre, 2 Galleria Parkway in the Cumberland area. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 8-9 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 10.

Over 300 exhibitors will showcase some of the newest and most innovative interior and exterior home improvement products and services, along with a special collection of garden design ideas, tools, hardscapes, outdoor furniture, spas and water features for home landscapes.

Headlining the roster of speakers on the Reliable Heating Air Home Show stage will be HGTV’s “Cousins,” Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri, who will entertain attendees on Sept. 9 at 1 and 3 p.m. with an interactive presentation on Planning and Preparing for a Renovation. The two will take questions from the audience during their presentation and chat with attendees afterwards.

Realtor Egypt Sherrod, host of HGTV’s “Flipping Virgins,” “Property Virgins” and “Urban Oasis,” will take the stage on Sept. 9 at 2 p.m. and Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. to share her views on Real Estate Investing and Smart Upgrades for your Home. One lucky attendee will win the grand prize of a seven LED fixture outdoor lighting package provided by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Atlanta. The Fall Atlanta Home Show and Outdoor Living Expo is Georgia’s largest fall home show and is a SEMCO Show.

“The Fall Atlanta Home Show is really two shows in one,” said Michael Schoppenhorst, president of SEMCO and director of the Atlanta Home Show. “Our home exhibitors will feature the most updated ideas for kitchens, baths, media rooms, living spaces, storage areas and those crucial home systems like electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning. In the outdoor living area, attendees can explore ideas for porches, decks, outdoor kitchens, landscape lighting, patios and gardens. It’s easy to comparison shop and many exhibitors will offer special Show-only discounts to attendees. We invite members of Atlanta’s housing industry — Realtors, contractors, interior designers, landscapers, etc. — to enjoy the Show free of charge on Friday, Sept. 8. They just need to show a business card at the entrance for complimentary admission, courtesy of PMCPros.”

“Our speaker line up for the Reliable Heating and Air Home Show Stage is outstanding,” Schoppenhorst said. “Real-life cousins Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri, hosts of HGTV’s “Kitchen Cousins” and “America’s Most Desperate Kitchens,” as well as the popular podcast, “Home with the Cousins,” are known for their kitchen redesigns, but they also design whole-home renovations and have expanded their media presence through live-streaming video and podcasts. Atlanta’s own Egypt Sherrod is a nationally known home space expert through her HGTV shows, guest appearances on all of the major TV networks and NAACP Image Award nominated best-selling book, “Keep Calm … It’s Just Real Estate.” All three will be available following their presentations to meet attendees and answer questions. We’re also pleased to welcome first-time Atlanta Home Show Speakers Reggie and Roger Ramos of Tucker-based Grow with the Flow LLC. They will share how they are converting unused lawn space into certified naturally grown produce gardens. The complete speaker schedule can be found at”

One of the show’s most popular exhibits and gathering spaces will be the Backyard Beer Garden designed by Georgia Landscape and presented by Marietta-based Red Hare Brewing. Adults age 21 and older can sample craft brews, while exploring ideas for their dream backyard with landscape professionals and bidding on silent auction items. The $5 tasting fee and auction purchases support Hope Atlanta, the programs of Travelers Aid to end homelessness in the community. The Show also includes live radio broadcasts, including “The Lawn Garden Show with Walter Reeves” and “The Home Fix-it Show with Dave Baker” on Sept. 9 on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB.

“Thanks to an improving economy and a competitive real estate market, many people are choosing to improve their homes through upgrades, additions and landscaping,” said Schoppenhorst. “And, because the home improvement industry is robust, there are excellent job opportunities available for skilled professionals. In fact, Georgia’s Department of Labor is predicting the state’s largest percentage increase in available jobs for 2018 will be for ‘specialty trade contractors’ such as electricians, construction workers and plumbers. To help inform our attendees about education and job opportunities, we have invited representatives from the Technical College System of Georgia to participate in the Show and let people know about the various degrees, diplomas and certificate programs available at Georgia colleges in such areas as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, construction management and much more. We will also have members of NARI Atlanta (the National Association of the Remodeling Industry) on hand to talk about career opportunities in the Atlanta area.”

General admission tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the Show’s entrance and online at Children age 12 and under and adults age 65 and older with ID are admitted free. Military personnel and first responders receive a free ticket with the purchase of one general admission ticket with ID. Free, on-site parking is available for Fall Atlanta Home Show visitors.

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Markleville woman follows her own path to beautiful gardens

MARKLEVILLE — When it comes to gardening, Sue Keglovits has always been a rule breaker.

“Around 2000, I just decided I wanted to be a master gardener,” she said. “The first thing they tell you is don’t plant a garden away from the house, so that’s the first thing I had to do.”

Keglovits started with a rustic fenced-in flower garden filled with perennials such as black-eyed Susans, blackberry lilies and coneflowers.

As she added more flower beds around her house, she broke yet another rule.

“They tell you not to overplant, but I overpack my gardens and I know that,” she said with a chuckle. “I can stand on the deck when they’re all blooming, and it’s unbelievable all the colors that are packed in here.”

Marked with a green Hoosier Homestead sign, her property has been in her family since 1832.

“My third great-grandfather bought the first 40 acres at $1.50 an acre,” she said.

Although she didn’t grow up on the property, she remembers visiting the house as a child. The house, which was built in 1899, became hers in 1986 and needed extensive work because it had been a rental property for several years.

“This place when I moved in was unbelievable,” Keglovits recalled. “There were holes in the floors, holes in the walls, indoor/outdoor carpet glued to the floor, and the previous occupants had left eight dogs here when they left and left the doors open.”

She had her work cut out for her, both on inside and outside the house.

“I probably moved in here six months after I got the house. I was alone so I learned plumbing and flooring and wall patching,” she said. “When I moved here there were so many weeds, I didn’t even know that tree was in the yard.”

These days, Sue and her boyfriend, Jerry Fisher, scour flea markets and auctions looking for unique items to include in the landscaping.

One of the most unusual pieces on display is the front of an antique Model T, which has been mounted to the side of an outbuilding and includes a fountain that spills out of the grill area into a small pond.

Sue admits she’s the idea person while Jerry’s the one who implements her plans.

“I think it, and he does it,” she said.

Among Jerry’s other creations is a rustic wagon fashioned out of reclaimed wood from the original carriage house on the property, a planter made from a wagon and a sewing machine base, and a birdhouse created from a gas can.

While Sue’s landscaping may be busy with eye-catching antiques and bursting with blossoms, she enjoys the quiet, unhurried pace of living in the country.

“It’s just so peaceful and so roomy and no neighbors,” she said. “I like the old house and the old milk house and the old buildings. I wouldn’t trade it for a brand new place.”

Sue’s advice to beginning gardeners is to keep things simple.

“If you’re somewhere where you know you’re going to stay, use perennials,” she advised. “Use things that you know are going to grow here, like your coneflowers and black-eyed Susans.”

And don’t forget to enjoy your garden and to share with others, she said.

“I like all the colors and the smells and watching it grow. The fascination of putting something in the ground and seeing what comes up. And then I like giving them away. I love giving them away.”

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