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Archives for July 2017

5 garden tips for the week starting July 8 – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Clippers at the ready

Keep geraniums and other flowering plants blooming throughout the summer and longer by deadheading (removing faded blossoms). Most summer annuals, perennials and roses will bloom more if old blossoms are removed as soon as they fade. And an additional dose of plant food will also boost blooming.

Harvest, then prune

Here’s the best way to keep your deciduous fruit trees low and productive: prune them as soon as you harvest the fruit. Top the tree at any height that works for you — about eight feet is practical. Remove strong, upright sprouts, but allow plenty of leaves to remain, because they will feed new branches that emerge in the next several weeks. And these late-summer/autumn branches will produce the bulk of next year’s crop — at a height that is easier to reach.

Skim milk beats mildew

If the foliage on your squashes, roses, crape myrtles and other plants develops powdery mildew, remember that the simple skim milk formula really does keep mildew away. Weekly spraying of foliage with a mixture of one part skim milk and nine parts water is a safe and inexpensive way to get the upper hand on this distressing disease. You could also use sulfur dusts or weekly sprays of products containing triforine in accordance with package directions, but the fat-free milk formula is less expensive, easier to find, and truly does an excellent job. Whatever you use, drench the plants thoroughly, on both sides of all the leaves, and stop spraying by mid-August or when the plant reaches peak bloom.

Smart idea for hollyhocks

Here is a way to work some fun magic with hollyhocks, which usually finish their annual flush of flowers by mid-summer. Cut back the flower stalks just above the ground. Then water and feed the plants right away, and continue watering regularly. This usually causes new flower stalks to develop, and the plants will actually produce a second flush of hollyhock blooms this autumn.

Here’s a good start

To start new plants from a favorite tomato, geranium, rose, lilac or almost any perennial, make a cut halfway through the underside of a long, low-growing stem, dust the cut with rooting hormone (such as Rootone), then bury it 6 to 12 inches deep. Allow 4-8 inches of the leafy end (beyond the cut) to stick out and continue growing. During the summer and fall many types of plants will form roots along the cut. Newly rooted plants can be severed from the parent and transplanted — in a month or two for soft-stemmed types, four to six months for others.

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Master Gardeners: Tips for using perennials in your garden | The …

“As young gardeners, we are enchanted with zinnias and marigolds. They last only one summer, but that satisfies us — until we discover that there are other flowers that don’t have to be planted year after year. These flowers appear on their own every year. These flowers appear — perennially.”

— garden writer Marty Wingate

Perennials are soft-stemmed plants that live for more than three years. They are very valuable in the garden and play a major role, as most of them are relatively cheap, grow quickly and can be increased easily. Like trees and shrubs, some perennials may live for many years. In addition, most of them are herbaceous, as they have soft stems that die back in the fall and grow again the following spring.

Since perennials are a permanent addition to the garden, you must select where you place them with great care. When planning your border or flowerbed, choose a location that gets plenty of sunshine and is well-drained. Begin in the spring; turn the soil over to a depth of 9 to 10 inches. Mix in organic material such as compost and enrich the soil so that its pH is between 6.0 and 6.8.

Herbaceous perennials may be used in a variety of ways. If space exists, whole borders or beds may be developed with them. An open, sunny position is best, since this environment will work for the majority of plants.

Most herbaceous plants flower for only three or four weeks each year; so, to stay interesting, plants with different flowering periods must be chosen. As a rule, taller plants should be placed at the back of the border, with the shorter ones in front or around the edge.

Many plants will suit a sunny border and a well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Among the taller varieties are phlox, hollyhock, mallow, bee balm, coneflowers, upright fuchsias (which may even be used as hedges), coreopsis and lavender. Some of the beautiful shorter perennials are bellflowers, asters, lady’s mantle, pinks, hardy geraniums and coral bells.

Don’t forget the perennial grasses. These come in a wide variety of colors, textures and heights.

One thing you must keep reminding yourself is that plants will grow. Just when you think all your plants are in perfect proportion to one another, they go and grow up on you. Pretty soon, everything looks overcrowded. What do I do? Divide it. Move it.

When choosing perennials, it’s also important to consider blooming time, flower color, foliage, light requirements and which plants grow best in our area. It’s fortunate that most of our gardens include so many different microclimates and soil conditions that we can find a place for a wide range of plants. Remember, a tall maple tree can provide enough shade to allow you to plant that favorite shade-loving hosta underneath. This past spring, we took down a mock orange tree. The sunshine poured in, and we are now able to plant the coreopsis we love so much.

There’s no denying that most of us go to a nursery, fall in love with a plant, plop down our money, and then takr it home and try to find a spot for it. Eventually maybe I’ll get to the point where I begin choosing plants by matching how their characteristics will fit in my garden.

Every garden needs perennial evergreen shrubs and small trees. Why? Because they add variety in color and texture. They allow you to have something to add interest to your winter garden after all those herbaceous perennials die back. A few possibilities are barberry, skimmia, daphnes, camellias, and yellow- and red-twig dogwood.

Don’t hesitate to ask a staff person at your favorite nursery for help. Most are extremely knowledgeable. If a plant doesn’t work where it is planted — either because it is not doing well or you decide you don’t like the color of the flowers or the foliage — move it! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different plant combinations.

Kathy Eko, who lives south of Elma, has been a WSU Master Gardener since 2010.

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Choosing the right spot for artwork in your garden – Observer

For many landscape designers and homeowners, a garden isn’t complete without the right art. But how do you find the right spot for a piece of outdoor art and choose the plants to complement it?

The first step is finding a work that really speaks to you, and then “allow the art to help define the landscape,” says landscape architect Edmund Hollander. He recommends working with an artist or gallery, when possible, to create a relationship between artwork and garden.

“It’s really not so different from the relationship between a house and its surrounding landscape,” he says.

Susan Lowry, coauthor with Nancy Berner of “Private Gardens of the Bay Area” (The Monacelli Press, October 2017), says art in a garden should enhance its surroundings. “Scale, texture and light all play off the object, and there is also an emotional content that influences how we see the garden itself,” she says.

Less is more, she cautions: “We have seen many a garden ruined by too many extraneous voices jumbled into the frame.”

The most common mistake when placing art in gardens, Hollander warns, is “sticking a work where there’s too much other stuff. It’s as if a museum hung a painting on a wallpapered wall instead of on a white one.”

So experts recommend that works be placed against quiet backdrops like evergreens, hedges or lawns.

Karen Daubmann, associate vice president for exhibitions and public engagement at the New York Botanical Garden, has helped design plantings around works by glass artist Dale Chihuly and others. The principles for selecting and showing art in a home garden are similar, she says.

“It’s nice to go for something as a larger focal point – something you can see from your window and enjoy all year round, and then some smaller works that you only discover up close,” she says.

“And when you’re decided where to place something, don’t forget to look up. It’s a nice surprise to look up and see a pergola, chandelier or lantern.”

Most important, Daubmann says, is to choose art you really love. “Chances are, if you’re placing it in a garden you have designed and planted yourself, it will work, because it’s the same aesthetic,” she says.

Keep in mind when and from where the work will be viewed. From the kitchen window? The living room? If you’ll be viewing it at night, consider lighter colors, she says.

“White glass or white flowers make for a great moonlight garden, while dark blues will tend to get lost in the evening,” Daubmann says. “A mossy, shaded garden can be spiced up quite a lot with light colored art.”

And the artwork doesn’t have to be expensive. “I sometimes find wonderful pieces in antique shops or at barn sales that really spark my imagination,” Daubmann says.

Hilary Lewis, chief curator and creative director at The Glass House, Philip Johnson’s iconic house and surrounding landscape and structures in New Canaan, Connecticut, helps plan the installations there.She says works should be visible from various parts of the property, should feel like an extension of the landscape, and should draw people in.

For inspiration, experts suggest visiting sculpture gardens, museums or botanical gardens.

“There are lots of sculpture gardens of all kinds around these days, and the combination of landscape and art, when done right, can be very inspiring,” Hollander says.

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Gardening Q & A: Not again! What’s going on with my tomatoes? Also, how effective are plants as mosquito deterrents? – Virginian

Last summer, I fielded a few questions from readers whose tomatoes were very slow to ripen. And now my wife reports that our tomatoes have slowed to a crawl. Given the recent weather in the 757, I would hazard to guess that high temperatures could again be the culprit.

Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana have concluded that when temperatures reach 85 to 90 degrees, ripening essentially stops. No magic cures here.

But another issue – one where I can again personally share my experience (a bad one) – is early blight. In mid-June, my plants were stricken with this disease. I began to carefully strip the plants of infected leaves, destroyed the leaves, and hoped this would, at best, delay the progression. And I believe it did, as well as being assisted by dry weather most of this month.

At any rate, according to reports from back home, the tomatoes are hanging in there and playing their role in keeping the BLTs – the world’s greatest sandwiches – coming.


Q. I’d like to remake my yard into a haven for butterflies, and I’d like to make it as hostile to mosquitoes as I can. Are these mutually exclusive? E. Gladstone, Exmore

A . No, these are not mutually exclusive, but, regarding mosquito control, ethnobotanical studies have confirmed the use of plants – by humans worldwide – for thousands of years to deter insects.

In developing countries, plants are bruised and hung in homes, extracts are burned as fumigants and essential oils are applied to the skin and clothes – this recorded in writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

In the developed world, there is great interest in using plant-based repellents, as they are perceived to be safe, natural and effective. The efficacy of these, applied topically, is mixed. For example, citronella extract, at 5 to 10 percent, is as effective as DEET initially, but loses its efficacy after two hours. The essential oils of most plants are highly volatile, and thus their action is short-lived.

Garden Design Magazine reported seven plants that are good mosquito repellents: lavender, marigold, citronella grass, catnip, basil, rosemary and scented geraniums. It touted their ability to “keep those uninvited mosquitoes out.”

Rodale’s Organic Life adds sage, peppermint and citrosum to the list. Numerous other sources make similar claims.

Unfortunately, the efficacy of plants in the landscape as mosquito repellents appears to be little to none. A study at the University of Guelph in Ontario compared a potted Citrosa plant to Deep Woods Off (DEET is the active ingredient) and found that the potted plant posed no deterrent to mosquitoes. Plants release significant amounts of their essential oils only when the leaves are crushed.

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Nevertheless, the use of these compounds, applied topically, is promising. Again, the volatility of these oils may render their effectiveness short-lived, but depending on species, some can be anywhere from 30 to 60 percent as effective as DEET in deterring mosquitoes.

term of the week

Adventitious roots – Roots that arise and develop on some organ other than a root, like stems or sometimes on leaves. Often found at the nodes of stems on climbing plants to assist in climbing. Their formation makes it possible to propagate many types of plants. Often they are abundant on horizontal underground stems. The roots that develop on stem cuttings and on layered plants are, by definition, adventitious.

and one more thing (or two)

Last week’s quiz question asked what popular Hampton Roads landscape plant and which mango relative both produce a panicle.

Answer: crape myrtle and poison ivy.

Jim Zimmy has a 6-foot Ficus that has outgrown his home and needs a new one. if interested, contact him at

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Barry Fugatt: Linnaeus Teaching Garden designed with volunteers in mind





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Input sought on future Alameda redesign

………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ……….

Future improvements to Alameda Boulevard, from the Interstate 25 frontage road west to Edith Boulevard, will likely include a wider roadway with bicycle lanes, landscaping and some sidewalk work.

But before any of these improvements are adopted, highway engineers and planners want to hear from the public about their concerns and ideas during a meeting that will be held Wednesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

The museum, at 9201 Balloon Museum Dr. NE, lies just north of the Alameda corridor. The open house format meeting is being sponsored by the City of Albuquerque in cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

Lead project manager, Andrew Varoz, an engineer with the city’s Department of Municipal Development, said he anticipates that the improvements will include a widened roadway with three lanes of traffic in each direction, on-street bicycle lanes in each direction, median landscaping, wider sidewalks for specific sections primarily on the north side of Alameda, and an extension of the multi-use trail on the south side of Alameda from Balloon Museum Drive to at least Jefferson, and possibly farther east.

During the meeting, a preliminary design report will be delivered and public comment and ideas will be solicited before a final design report is issued, Varoz said.

“This is still in its infancy at this point,” he said, noting that the final design may take another two years to complete and construction may not begin until sometime in 2021.


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“This is a huge project and it will have to broken up into two phases,” Varoz said.

Phase one will be from I-25 frontage road west to Jefferson. That phase will mostly be funded with federal money and some contribution from the city. Phase two is from Jefferson west to Edith. Funding for this portion is still up in the air, he said.

The total cost of the corridor project is estimated at $15 million, although that depends on how many of the improvements are incorporated, Varoz said.

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10 profitable small businesses you can start with $100 or less

Are you feeling the tug of entrepreneurship?

Does the idea of starting a business fill you with excitement?

You want to set your own hours, be your own boss, work from home (or maybe the beach) and have no limit to the money you are making.

Sounds like a dream.

But how do you get started if you don’t have any prior business experience? What do you do if you can’t think of any business ideas?

I recently asked my friend, Anton Klingspor, that question.

Although only 17 years old, Klingspor is the general partner at Indicina Ventures, a startup incubator that develops the ideas of our next thought leaders, as well as Gen Z’s entrepreneurial types.

We bounced some ideas off of each other and came to the conclusion that, while no one can guarantee your success, starting a profitable business is a lot simpler than you may think (notice I didn’t say easier) and can be done for less than $100.

Want some ideas on how to get started? Then read on.

1) Online tutoring

Did you ace the SAT? Were you a math or science whiz in college?

If so, then online tutoring may be the way to go. You can start out charging $40/hour for your services and increase the price as you find more leads and have more satisfied customers.

2) Tax preparation

While this may take a tax season or two before you can officially start your own business, simply go online and search “tax preparation no previous experience” and you will likely find dozens of potential jobs that you can start completing on the side.

Once you have the hang of things, you can go out on your own and slowly but surely build up your own business.

3) Cleaning services

While it may not be a grand job, if you are really strapped for cash, or want a little extra income to fund your more expensive business idea, then starting a cleaning service is a great way to make the extra money you need.

All you need to is a vacuum, some floor cleaners, and a car and you are in business (literally).

4) Outdoor services company

We live in a day and age where most people HATE hard labor.

If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then this presents a wonderful opportunity for you.

Buy a ladder and start cleaning gutters and windows, buy a lawn mower and start handling landscaping, or, just buy some gloves and start pulling weeds.

Your options are limitless and depending on the area you live in and the gear you have available, this is a great way to start making an extra $1k+ a month.

5) A copywriting agency

Ok, so this is another one where you will need a little bit of experience under your belt before you can really start your own business.

However, if you can master freelance copywriting, transitioning into owning your own firm is very doable.

Head to Upwork this weekend and apply for a few gigs. You may be surprised how far this skill can take you.

6) Drop shipping

Drop shipping is one of the most attractive side hustles to start and with good reason.

It doesn’t require much capital to get going and if you become an effective bargain hunter, you can easily start turning a multi-five-figure profit each month.

7) Personal training

If you have a good physique then consider getting involved in the world of personal training.

The test for your certification is relatively inexpensive, and while it is necessary to work at some of the higher end gyms, you do not need to take it to land your first few clients.

Just make sure that you actually know what you are doing before you start advising other people on how to live a healthy lifestyle.

8) Consulting

If you have considerable experience and expertise in a field, then you can start consulting today.

All you need is a website, a few social media platforms, and your first three potential clients and you will be off to the races.

It will be hard work and you will have to prove yourself to your clients before they will give you money for your advice, but if you can learn the ropes quickly, the consulting business can be a highly profitable and enjoyable world to be in.

9) Logo design

Do you have an eye for design?

Then hop on Fiverr and start applying for logo design gigs.

Once you have gained some traction with your craft, apply for a job with 99designs or start your own design firm.

10) Online lessons

If you have a talent that other people want, for example, the ability to play guitar, code websites, or give great public speeches, then you have a whole world of opportunity open for you.

Running online lessons for something you are passionate about is a great way to make some quick money and have fun while doing it.

Wrapping things up

Starting a business does not have to be complicated.

It will be hard, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can get something started this weekend for less than $100 that could potentially turn into your dream company.

So go ahead and give one of these ideas a whirl, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

Good luck, and maybe I’ll see you on the cover of Forbes one day soon.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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I wore blue light blocking glasses for a week and I have no idea if they worked

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At Home: 6 Topeka demonstrations gardens to explore | The Topeka …

Demonstration gardens come in various shapes, sizes and descriptions, but all have a theme and a purpose to demonstrate and teach various gardening styles and techniques. 

K-State Research and Extension in Shawnee County has six Master Gardener demonstration gardens, with two more planned.

Here’s some information about the existing gardens:

Native Plant Garden, near the entrance of Cedar Crest at the northwest corner of S.W. Fairlawn Road and S.W. Cedar Crest Road.

The informal garden is home to about 55 perennial plants that are native to the Kansas landscape. It’s a purposely minimum care garden — no watering, no fertilizing and minimal ground disturbance — and it’s constantly in bloom.

The garden also is registered as a monarch way station. Many plant labels have Quick Response codes for information about the plant. The garden includes a geocache for descriptive information.

Perennial Garden, across from the Native Plant Garden at Cedar Crest.

A visit to the garden offers numerous examples of perennials to plant in your own yard. Learn what to plant for a three- or four-season display. You can get many landscaping ideas with perennials that thrive in Kansas weather and can be woven into interesting garden shapes and landscape accessories, such as boulders, fencing and arbors.

Vegetable Garden, S.W. 21st Street and S.W. Topeka Boulevard, south of the Kansas Expocentre parking lot and near the locomotive.

From annuals to perennials and vegetables to herbs, with a few fruits and berries mixed in, Master Gardeners demonstrate how you can grow and harvest a backyard bounty with this garden. Various garden methods are practiced to demonstrate growing your own food, whether you have a small space or a large garden plot.

Raised beds, vertical gardening, drip irrigation, mulching and composting are some of the techniques employed in the demonstration vegetable garden. And watch the large Master Gardener storage container bloom to life around Aug. 15, when artist John Sebelius transforms it into Topeka’s newest mural as part of the ArtsConnect Topeka Mural Project.

For more information on the mural project, visit

Prairie Star/Prairie Bloom Garden, right of the entrance of the Shawnee County Extension Office, 1740 S.W. Western Ave.

If you want to see plants considered to be the best of the best, visit this demonstration garden. All plants have been chosen and tested in the Kansas State University bedding plant research trials.

It has been said that if a plant can thrive in the extreme Kansas climate, it can thrive anywhere. Both annuals and perennials are tested over multiple years for their vigor and spectacular blooms. The garden is in full bloom now, so visit it numerous times before winter arrives.

A complete list of Prairie Star/Prairie Bloom plants can be found on the Extension website at

Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, left of the entrance of the Shawnee County Extension Office.

“Xeriscape” means dry landscape. The technique uses native plants and other drought-resistant varieties to conserve water. Once a xeriscape garden is established, it should thrive on normal rainfall. Xeriscape gardens should be well-drained so periods of heavy rainfall don’t have a negative effect on the landscape.

Visit the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden and see the things you can use to beautify your landscape without increasing your water bill. A registered monarch way station is attached to the xeriscape garden on the west side of the Extension Office.

Woodland Garden, north of the Garden House in Ted Ensley Gardens at Lake Shawnee, S.E. 37th Street and S.E. West Edge Road.

The garden is lush with shade and woodland plants growing under the canopy of large trees. Challenging landscaping enhances the appeal and serenity of the garden as it follows the west shoreline of Lake Shawnee. A vibrant butterfly garden, seated arbor and stone bench are a few of the gems found in the largest demonstration garden in Shawnee County.

Two additional demonstration gardens are in the planning stages. A Backyard Garden, demonstrating creative possibilities to challenging landscapes, is planned east of the Prairie Star/Prairie Bloom Garden. A Community Garden is planned next to the Vegetable Demonstration Garden.

Video slideshows and an interactive map of the demonstration gardens can be found at


Brenda Jarboe is a nutrition educator, coordinator for the Community Garden Network for the Shawnee County Extension Office and a Shawnee County Master Gardener.

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In the Garden: Beth Mort of Zinnia Designs helps people grow productive gardens – The Spokesman

Beth Mort has been around gardening for as long as she can remember. Not only does she enjoy growing bountiful gardens, but teaching others how to do this as well.

“My mom and dad always kept a good-sized garden,” she recalled. “I caught my love for gardening from them and have never turned back because eating fresh food changes your whole perspective.”

When she headed off to Evergreen State College, she majored in botany.

“I probably would have gone down that track if I’d been able to find a full-time job,” she admitted.

She later earned a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Eastern Washington University. But the turning point in Mort’s life occurred when two instructors from Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead on Orcas Island gave a daylong workshop on permaculture, which is the development of sustainable agricultural ecosystems. That led her to complete an intensive Permaculture Design Certificate course at the homestead.

In 2015, she founded Zinnia Designs, with the goal of helping people produce a yield on their property.

“I’m more focused on edible landscaping but can also teach them how to set up and grow a dye garden or raise fiber-producing animals,” she said. “I want to show them how to be productive on their land in a way that is sustainable.”

She begins by having clients answer a short questionnaire.

“It’s a great way to get people thinking about the big picture: their vision of what their yard could be, what they perceive as obstacles, and what they want to get out of it,” Mort said.

If they decide to proceed, she does a site assessment to look at every aspect of their yard, including the factors they can control and ones they cannot. This includes itemizing which enhancements the yard will need, such as mulching, soil improvement, where to locate animals, the use of water, and choosing the best places to plant.

Once Mort has gathered the information she needs, she works on a conceptual design plan.

“I create a base map that includes a sector analysis of how sun, wind, water, animals and people move through the space, and zones denoting how the areas of the property are used and accessed,” she said.

Another service she offers is two-hour training sessions on skills such as growing edible crops, flowers, beekeeping, raising chickens or making compost.

“Building their confidence is No. 1,” she said. “Giving them the basic foundation and vernacular so they can start asking the right questions – and find what they’re looking for – is really important.

“Working with people and gardening together is an extension of that,” she said. “I want them to be comfortable working in the soil, getting used to working with plants, and to address problems rather than just reacting to them.”

Mort also grows and sells cut flowers at the Thursday Market in the South Perry district, located at 924 S. Perry St. In addition, she has established a “bouquet CSA” (community-supported agriculture) program through her companion venture, Snapdragon Flower Farm.

She believes strongly in the principles of permaculture and practices what she preaches.

“Permaculture includes us in nature, and nature in us,” she said. “It is a very logical, thoughtful and observant way of living in your space. It is a joy knowing that people want to grow things and interact with their landscapes.”

Susan Mulvihill is co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook” with Pat Munts. Contact her at and follow her at View this week’s “Everyone Can Grow A Garden” video at

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Expert gardeners, volunteers dig opportunity to grow a haven

The volunteer gardeners at First Central Presbyterian Church are getting help from the masters.

Not THE Master — they already got that help in the form of inspiration to beautify their little corner of the world at North Fourth and Beech streets.

More recent help came from members, and people working toward membership, of Big Country Master Gardeners, which is affiliated with the TexasAgriLife Extension service located at the Taylor County Expo Center. 

The Master Gardeners agreed to certify the church community garden as a qualifying project for interns and people needing volunteer hours for the yearly renewal of their certification. But getting needed hours isn’t the only reason Master Gardeners are working on the project alongside church members.

“I like to volunteer to help people out,” said Gilbert Rodriguez, a frequent volunteer at the garden. 

Rodriguez likes helping out so much that he volunteers at several local community gardens and served as a greeter this week at the Texas State 4-H Horse Show at the Expo Center. 

As for the First Central Presbyterian Church garden, Rodriguez has a simple job.

“Whatever needs doing,” he said. 

As a merry band of volunteers toiled last Monday, an unusually cool morning, chief gardener Danielle Delhomme suddenly applauded, pointing to a “cute little cucumber” that was just beginning to grow. 

Nearby, another plant was sprouting nicely. 

“I think this is okra,” Delhomme said. “It’s either okra or a sunflower.”

The garden on the corner was the brainchild of Delhomme, a member of First Central Presbyterian who welcomed the addition of the Master Gardener volunteers. They join church volunteers who provide all kinds of assistance, from weeding to planting to donating plants. Some offer specialized help, such as retired electrician Norm Ward and Steven Daniel, owner of RH Concrete Solutions. 

Delhomme, a member of the Master Gardeners, caught the attention of the association when she mentioned the church project to another member, Julia Mink, who lives south of Sweetwater. Mink drives to Abilene as often as possible for the Monday and Thursday morning work sessions.

On Monday, she gently tapped mulch into her work area, a section of the landscaping along an edge of the garden.

“Danielle has just fallen in love with this little nook,” Mink said, explaining why she was giving it special attention. 

The Master Gardeners approve one project, complete it, then move on to another. Their first project in the community garden is to turn a 60-foot stretch of land along North Fourth Street into an area for pollinator beds to attract bees and for some landscaping such as  the nook worked by Mink.

Sandy Shaw, project chairperson for the Big Country Master Gardeners, said Delhomme showed her a map of the garden as she envisions it–a combination of keyhole gardens, contained gardens named for their shape, to grow vegetables, landscaping, benches, a stone cross-shaped fountain, labyrinth, and arched framework that someday will be covered with vines.

“The scope of the project is amazing to me,” Shaw said. 

Working on it is a joy for the volunteers, she said, as they meet people from the community who bring a lunch and enjoy the garden, even in its incomplete state. 
Knowing the church across the street is responsible for transforming the former vacant lot into a welcoming garden is inspiring to Shaw, even though she isn’t a member of First Central.

“It’s very uplifting,” she said.

Delhomme pointed to various spots and envisions what it will look like someday. Red oaks and live oaks have been planted on the perimeters to someday offer shade. 

“It’s a 50-year project,” Delhomme said. “I won’t get to see it.”

But she can dream. Delhomme remembers what the vacant lot looked like just two years ago. On her birthday, May 22, 2015, the first hole was dug and a live oak tree was planted.

“It was just out on this big grassy lot,” she recalled. 

In those two short years, the garden has taken shape, with landscaping coming in nicely and keyhole gardens producing vegetables for neighbors and for the church’s food pantry.

Even occasional passersby, especially people enjoying a morning or evening walk, can take pleasure from the garden. Knowing that people will enjoy the garden for years to come is another incentive for volunteers like Mink, who drives from Sweetwater, to keep coming back.

“It’s just a nice, peaceful area,” she said.






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