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Archives for August 6, 2017

WHY wins Edinburgh’s Ross Pavilion contest with design featuring undulating roof gardens

American studio wHY has won a competition to design a new events pavilion overlooked by Edinburgh Castle, with plans for a series of glazed pavilions topped by wave-shaped roof gardens. 

wHY partnered with Edinburgh office GRAS on its design for the £25 million Ross Pavilion, which was selected ahead of proposals by six other teams, including BIG, Adjaye Associates and Sou Fujimoto Architects.

The winning design, called Butterfly, proposes pavilions with a gently undulating terrain extending over the top, to ensure views of Edinburgh Castle remain the main focal point of the gardens.

This pavilions, which will house a visitors centre and a cafe, would be topped by an undulating promenade that provides access to Princes Street, one of the city’s main shopping streets.

The Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens competition was organised by The Ross Development Trust and Malcolm Reading Associates.

It asked entrants to design a pavilion to replace an existing bandstand within the gardens, to host key events in Edinburgh’s calendar including Hogmanay celebrations and the Edinburgh International Festival’s closing fireworks concert.

The winning team also included Groves-Raines Architects, ArupStudio Yann KersaléO StreetStucoCreative ConcernNoel KingsburyAtelier Ten and Lawrence Barth.

The jury was unanimous in its selection of the design, praising it as “a beautiful and intensely appealing proposal that complemented, but did not compete with, the skyline of the city and the castle”.

“They demonstrated an impressive collaboration which respects and enhances the historical context and backdrop of the castle and the city, whilst creating new heritage and increasing the green space within the gardens,” said jury chair Norman Springford. “All of which were key aspects for us all and respected the importance of the space within a world heritage site.”

The jury also specially commended Sou Fujimoto Architects and William Matthews Associates for their team’s design, which featured a ramped pathway encircling a public green.

New York- and Los Angeles-based wHY was set up by Kulapat Yantrasast in 2004. Yantrasast and the practice’s landscape design director Mark Thomann led the project for the Butterfly pavilion.

“wHY is built around an ecology of disciplines, the convergence of ideas, experience, nature and people,” said Yantrasast. “The Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens represent this convergence and this was the perfect ground to further our approach to design.”

The firm also recently completed work on the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles and Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan.

Plans for the Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens will now be open for public consultation, with construction works expected to begin in 2018.

Article source:

Gethin Jones reveals he still keeps in touch with his ex Lucy Mecklenburgh – despite having a new girlfriend

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Good to Grow: Follow the sun to see how it affects your garden – Charleston Gazette

Congratulation gardeners, you’ve made it to August. It’s that time of year again: hazy hot and humid, the three H’s that define summertime in West Virginia.

In any climate, the extremes in temperature limit what plants you can grow more than anything else, and in West Virginia, nothing is more extreme than the heat. I don’t want to be out in this, and if the hanging baskets and the potted plants are any indication, the flowers don’t either.

In the greenhouse industry we call it the summer doldrums. In the time of year between July 4 and fall, sales fall off and people give up, go inside and crank up the air conditioning.

And I don’t blame them. You may think I’m going to give some inspirational speech, send out a rally cry and try to convince you to go outside and pull those weeds or plant some trees. I’m not.

There is something you can do however, and it’s easy. Look out the window with a glass of cold lemonade in your hand and observe. It sounds simple, but studying your landscape and scrutinizing your planting decisions are the difference between a good gardener and a novice. Right now is a critical time to observe and think.

So what is there to observe in the middle of August? Well, I am drawn to the shade. Follow the shade.

Simple enough, but it’s something most people don’t think about when they plant their flowers.

The optimal planting zone in any yard is the east side of the house. Most plants open their stomata to breath in the cool morning air when the ground is still wet from dew. They close their stomata in the evening heat to conserve moisture. Therefore morning sun and evening shade is the best place to put your most precious plants, the fragile stuff and the things you intend to nurture.

Inversely, the western-facing beds are hard places to live. They get full sun in the hottest part of the day and no sun in the prime morning photosynthesis time.

The south side is the harshest place to be. Full sun all day long with no breaks is miserable. Plant a shade tree. If that is not an option, there are some alternatives.

One approach is the parking lot look. There are plenty of shrubs that can withstand the extreme heat. Knockout roses and Russian sage are the first things that come to mind — also junipers, barberries, yews, boxwoods and ornamental grasses. But none of those are native, and if you’re like me, you don’t want your garden to look like every Mickey D’s in the Midwest. There are better options.

One of my favorite flower combinations for these harsh beds is daisies, yarrow, black-eyed Susans and coneflower. I tend to plant them everywhere I go. When you plant those four flowers together in the harsh sun on the south or west side of your house, you will have beautiful and beneficial blooms from spring to fall with little maintenance. There are other options of course: sedums, lilies and cleome irises are all good, old-fashioned standards for full sun beds.

The north side of the house is where things get fun. A lot of people think full shade is hard, but there are plenty of full-shade options: ferns, hostas, lily of the valley, coral bells, pachysandra, Lenten roses, astilbes, laurels and rhododendrons are a good place start.

I’d say you’re only limited by your imagination, but that is not true. You have to work within the environment you’ve got. So look out the window, and watch what environmental constraints you have in your yard. As always, work with Mother Nature, not against her, and you can have a beautiful garden, even in the summer heat.

Alex Cole is a native of Fraziers Bottom who’s been landscaping all of his life and currently lives off the grid in a small, solar-powered cabin he built on a 217-acre farm that has been in his family for six generations. Alex has expertise in permaculture design, maintaining vegetable gardens, repairing riparian zones and creating all new perennial and pollinator gardens. Reach Alex at

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Vão Arquitetura organises São Paulo boutique around indoor garden

An opening in the roof sheds light on this concrete-lined boutique in São Paulo, which Brazilian studio Vão Arquitetura has designed around a lush indoor garden.

The Acolá store, located in the Pinheiros area of the city, is set inside a peculiarly shaped townhouse, which gets narrower towards its rear.

Before their renovation, the Vão Arquitetura team described the three-storey space as being damp and dark – with only four windows running along its main facade.

Bringing light into the property became their main mission, and they did so by creating an opening in the roof and partially removing the upper-level slab.

“The desire to bring light into the store guided the first design decisions of replacing a part of the compromised structure with a glass ceiling and visually integrating the levels through partial demolition of the upper slab,” said the architects.

“In addition to lighting the entire store, the cover provides for the exchange of natural ventilation that, added to the internal garden, brings great thermal comfort to the space.”

Visitors enter the store at street level where they are met with an open shopping space with polished concrete floors and wooden fixtures.

In the middle of this floor there is a free-standing volume encompasses a shelving unit to display books and accessories, as well a changing room area.

The changing area has two pivoting doors, which can be moved to split the space up into as many fitting rooms as needed.

“The fact that it is a free volume, without touching the ceiling or walls, allows the circulation between these environments to be fluid and uninterrupted,” said the architects.

A staircase towards the narrow, rear end of the store leads customers upstairs to a mezzanine level, via an indoor garden.

This floor, accessed by a wooden walkway, houses a bathroom and an office area for staff. Huge windows on the store’s facade allow for plenty of natural light.

Throughout the entire store, Vão Arquitetura opted to use a simple material palette made up of wood and metals – reflective of Acolá’s approach to clothing design.

“The decision to use them in a natural state is related to the clothes produced by Acolá, which are largely natural fabrics with craft techniques of dyeing and stamping,” said the studio.

“All the woodworking that uses the demolished peroba rosa wood, as well as parts of the metalwork, were made in the fashion stylist’s farm in the countryside, using local machinery and labour,” it continued.

Architects are increasingly integrating plants into homes, shops and restaurants in the form of glazed atriumswalls covered in flowers and indoor courtyards filled with trees.

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Channing House transforms rooftop into terrace garden

Residents at Channing House in Palo Alto soon will be able to enjoy the outdoors from the building’s rooftop. The retirement community is set to open two new terrace gardens this month as part of a major renovation of the second floor.

The rooftop gardens are a welcome addition for residents of the massive, block-long complex, which has been short of outdoor garden space since opening its doors in the early 1960s. Channing House residents now will be able to step off their elevator and onto turf adorned with large pots of roses, grape vines, lavender, thyme and pomegranate, lemon, lime, palm and olive trees.

Space became available for the gardens — as well as for 16 new apartments and new common areas for Channing House residents — in late 2015 when the assisted-living residents and skilled-nursing patients previously occupying Channing House’s second floor were moved to a newly constructed Health Center adjacent to the main building and connected by an indoor corridor.

Workers gutted the entire second floor, said Kim Krebs, who worked on the renovation project and is now marketing director at Channing House. The renovation was completed in three phases: first, the apartments, which were occupied last year; second, the common area — which includes medical offices, a beauty salon and activity rooms — and finally, the rooftop gardens.

The new open-air gardens extend to each end of the second floor and are divided in the center by the indoor common areas.

The garden project was a longtime dream of some residents, who formed a committee to help make it happen. Three members, who worked for years, were recently joined on the project by a couple — both professional botanists — who moved to Channing House last year.

“One of the things we all think about as we leave our own homes is leaving our gardens behind,” said Lee Newman, who led the residents’ committee.

When Newman and her husband, longtime Palo Alto residents, were choosing among potential senior communities about five years ago, she said she was attracted by a large architect’s drawing of Channing House’s anticipated second-floor garden — “a very nice garden area with a big fountain and all kinds of people doing various things on the deck.”

Initially, a landscape designer engaged by Channing House encouraged the residents to “think big,” prompting Newman to go out and get a book on New York rooftop gardens and dream of the possibilities. But the grand hopes were dimmed after engineers warned of weight-bearing limits to the Channing House rooftop.

“The challenge turned out to be just the structural limitations of the space — it was never really meant to hold super gardens and large parties,” Krebs said. “Having the input and buy-in from the structural engineers was crucial to make sure we had safe environments.

They had to do some inserting under the surfaces to shore up the weight load,” she said.

Committee members pressed ahead with a scaled-down version, ultimately engaging San Francisco landscape architects Smith Smith.

The resulting rooftop gardens — visible from above from all west-facing residents of Channing House — include pathways lined by the potted plants and surrounded by artificial turf. The gardens also feature small fountains, grape arbors and seating.

“Ever since I moved to Channing House, I’ve taken care of the outside plants of one kind or another,” said 8-year resident Janet Creelman. Creelman, who keeps many potted plants on her own balcony and has worked on maintaining plants in the front parking lot of Channing House, also has cared for the plants of residents who have died or moved away.

“So when they formed a committee, naturally I was on it,” she said. “We worked with two or three different landscape designers and finally we found these people from San Francisco. They’re very good, and they gave us a very good plan.”

“It’s really fun just digging in the dirt,” said committee member Joan Jack, who also has cared for potted plants around Channing House. Jack said the new terrace gardens will transform an area that was previously just a flat off-white rooftop.

The new gardens will be professionally maintained, Krebs said.

As with any project designed by a committee, “the final result does not necessarily represent everyone’s views,” Newman said. “But I think most people will be pleased with the fact that they have something green outside. We have something living outside and something that will seasonally change outside, and I think that’s just a healthy part of retirement.

“As we age and our life becomes smaller and more confined, to be able to look out and, in our case, to actually be able to walk yourself or take a wheelchair or a walker out and be outside is just a real plus,” she said.

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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New report makes case for preserving Inglis House in Ann Arbor

Built in 1927 for Detroit industrialist James Inglis and his wife, Elizabeth, the house resembles a French chateau.

The report calls it “a relatively unaltered example of a French Eclectic style house and gardener’s cottage surrounded by a landscape designed to enhance the setting of the house as well as facilitate Elizabeth Inglis’ plant propagation and garden designs.”

It has been owned by the University of Michigan since 1951 and used over the years as a guest house for distinguished visitors ranging from the Dalai Lama to President Gerald Ford. 
UM, which received the property as a gift from the family, is now trying to sell it, which has caused some controversy.

City officials, historic preservationists and neighbors have expressed interest in establishing historic district protections to ensure the house won’t be demolished to make way for new development if the property changes hands.

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Ask a Master Gardener: How to find local gardening info

A. Welcome to northern Minnesota! We asked Extension master gardeners in St. Louis County for ideas for books and other resources to help you get growing.

A couple of people suggested books by Melinda Myers, such as “Month-by-Month Gardening” for Minnesota and Wisconsin and “Minnesota Gardener’s Guide.”

Several people mentioned “Annuals for Minnesota and Wisconsin” and “Perennials for Minnesota and Wisconsin” by Don Engebretson and Don Williamson.

Other favorites include “Landscaping with Native Plants of Minnesota” by Lynn Steiner, “Trees and Shrubs for Northern Gardens” by Leon C. Snyder and Richard T. Isaacson, and “Growing Perennials in Cold Climates” by Mike Heger and Debbie Lonnee.

You might also get some ideas from Northern Gardener magazine, from the Minnesota State Horticultural Society.

The St. Louis County Extension office offers a gardening calendar for Minnesota with helpful tips, as well as other publications on everything from “Ornamental Grasses for Cold Climates” to “Fruit Varieties for Northern Minnesota.” (

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Building trades program takes hands-on learning to another level

The city-owned home at 1309 S. 10th St. sits vacant. Its cement foundation is crumbling and portions of the second-story floor sag under foot. But soon it may become a hands-on classroom and, later, a home to a low-income family.

The Burlington city council will decide Monday following a public hearing whether to gift the property to the Burlington School District for educational purposes for the high school’s building trades program. Superintendent Pat Coen brought the idea to the city awhile back, and community development and parks director Eric Tysland, who showed Coen the house, said the council seems supportive of the arrangement.

Burlington High School juniors in the program will spend three class periods each school day at the site, doing everything from plumbing and electrical work to carpentry and drywall.

“So (students) really get an idea of all the different trades that are out there,” Coen said, explaining the goal of the project.

He came up with the idea for students to do the gut renovation to improve upon Burlington’s property-poor status.

“Property values go up, tax rate comes down,” Coen said. “It’s very, very grassroots. It’ll take about a decade” for the change to become apparent.

Larry Caston, a city code inspector and director of the Abandoned Properties Program, said the city has acquired 11 vacant houses in the past year. Not only does the city lose out on property taxes for these homes, but each of the properties costs the city between $500 and $1,000 in abatement work per property per year, Caston said.

“This is one of the most wonderful ideas I’ve seen for a school project.”

Larry Caston, city of Burlington code inspector

The city took possession of the South 10th Street home Feb. 7 after responses to nuisance calls, abatements, and utility and water records revealed the property to be abandoned. Caston said the man living in the home had died, and everyone listed in the title and in the man’s will were contacted about the property. He said the process takes about nine months.

Coen hopes to get a house for the students to fix up each year, something Tysland said he could see happening so long as the program is successful and the city is able to acquire properties suitable to the program’s needs.

The two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom home on 10th Street will be no small undertaking. In addition to the windows that must be replaced and plumbing, wiring, floors and walls that must be redone, the students will do more intensive repairs inexperienced contractors might normally balk at, such as resetting a floor joist and repairing the foundation wall, which has cracked and shifted to the point of separating itself from the house in some places.

“There will be, no doubt, a lot of problems. But we want that,” Coen said, as it will give the students more learning opportunities. He said the project also will help the students realize the importance of not letting homes go unmaintained.

Community involvement

There to help the students with the undertaking (in addition to their teacher, a former Navy platoon sergeant who served in Iraq) will be trade union members and an interior decorator. Inmates at Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison have offered to make and donate new kitchen cabinets.

Scott Zaiser of Zaiser’s Landscaping also has volunteered to show the students how to tame and landscape the about 3,500-square-foot yard without removing the tall bushes that shield the house from the street, giving it a country-in-the-city feel.

“This could be an incredibly cool yard,” Coen said.

A two-car garage sits on the west end of the property. Its dirt floor will be replaced by concrete, allowing students to learn how to pour it, determine the time it takes to set and the science behind why it gets hard.

Renovations aren’t cheap, especially ones this big, but the Southeast Iowa Regional Economic Development Commission has volunteered materials and money for the project, and Cray, Goddard, Miller, Taylor Chelf, LLP will provide no-charge legal work. Great Western Bank also has pledged to donate toward the project.

“A lot of people are just stepping up, saying, ‘This is the right thing to do. Let’s get it going,'” Coen said. “But, to be honest, they will reap benefits exponentially.”

Southeastern Community College will contribute as well. SCC President Michael Ash isn’t sure exactly how yet, but he’s excited nonetheless.

“It’s an opportunity to have a real positive impact in our community,” Ash said.

Coen said the project will help produce new trade businesses in the area as some students will realize their ability to manage worksites and run a crew. It also will create a skilled-trade workforce that will be able to help with future renovation and construction projects, which will require more purchasing of materials and thus help boost the economy.

Caston, who has done contracting work and has seen his fair share of rundown houses, pointed out many BHS students someday will buy an older home and said the experience they gain from renovating the house will help them realize how they can improve upon “an existing structure, where everything’s not plum, level and perfect.”

“This is one of the most wonderful ideas I’ve seen for a school project,” he said.

Before work can begin, however, the house must be cleared of the former resident’s belongings, which are scattered throughout its six rooms. Among the items are a piano, an eight-track player, clothes and photographs.

Much of what was left behind will be thrown out or recycled before the start of the school year. The photos, however, will be displayed in the job trailer to remind the students of the importance of what they are doing.

“You have to help them understand the level of connection that construction people have to a home. You’re not just building this cool house, you’re building a home in which people have memories,” Coen said, holding a picture of a young woman he picked up off the floor. “You look at it, there’s somebody’s mom, somebody’s sister.”

Another photograph shows more than 50 people gathered around an elderly man in a wheelchair who lost his legs.

“Every one of those people probably walked though that house at some point and hugged that old codger,” he said.

From house to home

Once the work is complete, the district will work with area churches to select an low-income, single-parent family to live there.

There is one bedroom downstairs and two adjoining rooms upstairs. Because one of the upstairs rooms can be accessed only through the other room, they cannot be considered separate bedrooms, but Coen said the work will be done in a way that will accommodate two children.

Although still in the preliminary planning stages, Coen said the family likely will be able to live there for three years, so long as the children show up to school on time and are well cared for. The parent also must engage in some form of education, whether it be working toward obtaining their high school equivalency degree or enrolling in classes at SCC, as well as work toward financial stability.

Coen said he hopes by the end of that time period, the resident will have been able to get themselves in a position to purchase their own home. After the first family moves out, another will be selected to live there.

Senior year

This year’s juniors will be able to advance their building trade skills further next year when they build a new house. The goal had been for this year’s seniors to do so by working alongside construction crews at Deer Point Estates, a 34-lot family neighborhood development project with homes ranging in value from $180,000 to $275,000. A portion of those profits would have gone to the district.

It would have been built near Southeast Iowa Regional Airport. Ryan Nagrocki of Midwest Realty Group, the man behind Deer Point Estates, however, decided not to pursue the project, saying it would have cost 25 percent more than what had been estimated. Instead, he is pursuing another development project called Westpoint Estates, this time in West Burlington, so Coen is looking for other opportunities for students to build.

“As much as I’d like to help them, I’d like to focus my resources on Burlington,” Coen said, later adding, “It’s sad (the school district’s) ability to strengthen Burlington has been diminished… in this instance.”

Nagrocki said he still plans to move ahead with Deer Point Estates in Burlington, though it won’t be for another year or two. Rather than just single-family homes, the development also would include duplexes and triplexes. 

Reach Michaele Niehaus with story tips, suggestions or documents at or (319) 758-8149.

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Imagine if more followed Manteca Garden Club’s lead

The Manteca Garden Club is determined to enhance the community one project at a time.
Several months ago the club contacted the city about putting in new landscaping at the Maple Avenue Plaza in downtown Manteca where a large swath has been barren for years.
Manteca Garden Club President Paula Elias noted that club member Tom Powell is meeting with Cody Ross of the city staff to draw up plans to re-landscape the plaza.
That’s not all. The club has approached the city about enhancing the landscape in the Manteca Library courtyard now that the wrought iron fencing has been put in place.
This is on top of a number of other undertakings in the past several years including new landscaping around the library, purchasing crepe myrtle trees for East Union Cemetery, re-landscaping part of the Tidewater Bikeway and planting additional trees at Woodward Park.
“It would be wonderful to have other organizations partner with us in our city beautification projects,” Elias noted.
Given Manteca is less than 10 months away from its centennial, what better way to kick off Manteca’s second 100 years than to have civic, service, youth, and other organizations “Adopt Manteca” to give public spaces new life and appeal.
The late Clarese Anderson — who also was a member of the Manteca Garden Club — two decades ago got tired of seeing weeds on large parcels on Manteca’s major streets. She was able to corral individuals with tractors after clearing it with property owners to disc lots one year in early winter. She then enlisted Scouts and several service clubs to spread hundreds of pounds of California Golden poppy speeds.
The first year the blooms were limited. But in the second year — and several years thereafter — sections of Main Street and Yosemite were ablaze for up to four weeks with golden poppies.
While Anderson’s approach had a limited impact as it dealt with wildflowers and addressed vacant lots, a wish list could easily be created of public property that could be improved with small projects that clubs could handle either on their own are partnering with another organization.
The goal would be to make Manteca’s public spots more appealing to not just residents but visitors as well.
Anderson was a firm believer you could improve Manteca one small step at a time. It is what the garden club has been doing for years. Imagine the possibility if other groups step up to tackle small projects as the Manteca Garden Club has done.
Elais notes the Manteca Garden Club relies on proceeds from its annual May garden tour for the funds to do such projects as well as for underwriting college scholarships and help schools with student gardens. The tour is made possible by residents opening their yards for the tour, businesses donating raffle prizes, and people attending the tour. The garden club can be contacted through facebook or at

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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Do’s and don’ts of getting your green thumb in Northern Nevada – The Record

Gardening is growing increasingly popular everywhere as people are trying to eat healthier and become more self-reliant with food sources, and getting your hands dirty is good for the mind, body and soul.

However, Northern Nevada’s high desert extreme climates and soils can prove to be challenging for even a seasoned gardener. So, with green thumbs and good vibes in mind, here are some tips from local experts who have made it work:

What trees, shrubs and perennials are most popular?

Trees, shrubs and flowers can accentuate your property and add shade on those hot summer days, but it’s important to know that different trees and plants excel in different environments.

In business for 43 years, Greenhouse Garden Center and Gifts in Carson City carries a wide range of plants for any type of gardening or landscaping needs — all chosen for their ability to withstand and excel in the Reno, Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley environments.

The Center tends to carry deciduous plants and trees because they retain more moisture and are less likely to burn in a fire, unlike junipers and spruces.

“We carry lots of types of trees, but some of our favorites are big shade trees like the Autumn Blaze Maple and the Pacific Sunset Maple help people with cooling their homes,” says Greenhouse Garden Center Owner David Ruf.

“Hackberry does well on really tough sites that take a lot of wind,” he adds, as well as Autumn Purple Ash, which succeeds in places like Lake Tahoe where there is more moisture.

Ruf says a number of birch trees in the valley areas are borer-resistant, and they accentuate a home, such as the Heritage Birch that is long-standing and has peeling bark. The Heritage Birch is one of Greenhouse’s most popular trees because it’s wispy, white and beautiful.

Some of people’s favorite shrubs for the area include the Burning Bush, which turns a fiery red in the fall, or the Forsythia, which blooms a bright yellow in the spring. Meanwhile, the Butterfly Bush blooms all summer long, and many viburnums are rabbit-resistant.

Ninebark and Barberry shrubs offer contrasting colors against the shades of green and gray Nevada landscapes that help to liven up a property, and Russian Sage and Spirea are smaller, colorful autumn bloomers.

Perennials offer a whole different selection of color that bloom throughout the season. A popular one for this region is the Red Hot Poker (also referred to as the “Traffic Lights” perennial, due to its greenish bottom, yellow middle and red hot top).

Agastache and Hyssops are also gaining in popularity; even though they’ve been around for a long time, they are relatively new to a lot of people in this region as local horticulturists are figuring out how to propagate it.

Want to grow berries in Northern Nevada?

As owner of the biggest berry farm in Northern Nevada, Jacobs Family Berry Farm, Jack Jacobs accepted the challenge 15 years ago of trying to grow in the region’s challenging microclimates.

The Lampe family originally owned the Gardnerville property since the 1880s. Back in the 19th century, they produced alfalfa, grains, milk, butter and eggs, which they would haul to places like Bodie and Virginia City.

However, when Jacobs purchased the land in 2002, he wasn’t much into alfalfa farming because of its low production value. He also realized no one else was really growing berries, and he soon turned the alfalfa field into a berry farm — despite everyone saying he couldn’t grow berries in Gardnerville.

“The climate is very different — we have a shorter, dependable growing season,” says Jacobs.

He talked to people and researched to determine some of the best varieties of berries he could grow at the farm, and subsequently planted 1,000 bushes of blackberries, raspberries and even three different varieties of black raspberries that still exist. He keeps 16 different varieties in total.

“A lot of people have no idea there are so many varieties of berries,” Jacobs says.

Although he recently finished pruning and tying the berries for this summer’s harvest, he says the work doesn’t stop there.

“People have no idea how much labor is involved,” Jacobs says of producing the berries and selling them off.

Berries only have a shelf life of a couple of days, and some days five plants will produce berries, whereas other days he’ll get fruit off of 200 plants. One of the biggest challenges of berry farming is moving them in peak production.

“The wonderful part of growing berries is that it takes an entrepreneur approach, and is a constant learning process,” he says.

For example, Jacobs employs a beekeeper who keeps hives to help pollinate bushes and keep berries from flowering. Each berry has around 100 drupelets (tiny seeds) that would not produce fruit without the bees.

However, with trial and error, he learned that you can’t water the bushes too much — otherwise it will dilute the nectar and not attract the bees.

Many times berry plants can get viruses from too much water, so being close (but not too close) to the Carson River and using a drip water system along with the dry climate accentuates a better berry growing season.

There aren’t really bugs that affect Jacobs’ berries (except for the occasional bird or grasshopper stepping on them — which don’t hurt the berries anyways), so he doesn’t have to use any pesticides or spray chemicals. However, deer, bunnies and the occasional bear may pose a problem.

With it being a family farm, his kids and grandchildren all help plant the bushes, and the berries are all handpicked. Jacobs and staff graze through all the plants daily, and they keep a Farmer’s Almanac of data on how his berry varieties produce each season.

“We often get people who come to the farm who try to grow berries, and it doesn’t work because they don’t have the time to dedicate to it,” Jacobs says. “I try to get them to understand that there are a lot of different varieties, and the berry bushes need a lot of attention.

“You have to have the time to commit to it. I think it’s even more complicated than tending a rosebush.”

How to plant a vegetable garden that produces

There is definitely a difference between what vegetables grow best in Northern Nevada and what people want to grow in this climate, says Wendy Hanson Mazet, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) Horticulture Coordinator.

In her years of gardening experience and teaching others how to plant gardens, Mazet finds that onions and garlic do amazingly well in the spring and fall, while squash thrives in the summer.

Peas and beans are also popular Northern Nevada crops, but Mazet says you should grow the plants you are most likely to eat. Tomatoes are favorites, but tend to give gardeners the most headaches because of their short growing season — and, if the weather gets too hot, tomato plants will grow but not set fruit.

“You may get it in the ground in the spring, but then 70 days later, we’re in July at 90-degree weather and the tomatoes don’t ripen,” Mazet says.

She recommends experimenting with leafy crops like kale, chard and lettuce, as well as carrots, and plant them in February or March. By May or June, gardeners will have missed their window because when the weather warms, the veggies bolt (flower) or die.

However, you may be able to get away with planting direct-seed beans, squash, melons, cucumbers or corn in June, as well as putting out your transplants of peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and okra.

“The big thing is to know what you like and plant at the right time,” Mazet adds.

Another thing to understand is much space you have with which to work.

“A lot of people like to grow pumpkins, and they may have space for small ones, but it all comes down to what people like to eat and how often they eat it,” she says.

Mazet noted that what makes Northern Nevada more challenging to grow is the wide variety of microclimates in regard to air temperature.

Plus, Nevada soils also range in alkalinity, and each area (even different parts of a neighborhood) can host a range of soil textures. Mazet has seen rock and clay mixtures in Southwest Reno and off of the Mt. Rose Highway, whereas an intense rocky and slimy clay texture exists off of Robb Drive.

Another area of the North Valleys has sandy soil that drains well but contains issues in keeping it moist, while Donner Springs has “a beautiful sandy loam soil,” says Mazet.

Carson City soils may be porous and sandy in some areas or offer fine granite mixes to grow in, while at Lake Tahoe, the soil is nice for planting but you should be more concerned about how to protect your plants from the weather (like putting hoops over garden beds to guard them from snow).

At end of day, weather and location reign supreme

Since plants hate frost and freezes, Tahoe-Truckee gardeners should consider growing short season plants and especially stay away from squash and cucumbers if one expects a cold snap to come.

“One guy recently rented a plot in a community garden and was so excited to plant it,” Mazet says. “We were concerned that he planted too early, and unfortunately when he got his vegetable bed in, one night it froze.

“The next day, there were holes everywhere that his tomato plants used to be.”

Mazet also suggests that if you’re moving into a new area, pay attention to what your neighbors are growing and what type of tools they’re using to get their desired outcome.

Personally, Mazet keeps three medium-sized gardens on her Washoe Valley property, but admits that her horses and trees take the priority on space.

Her gardens contain 20-30 different tomato plants, squashes and zucchini. She says she doesn’t have the room for melons, but will sometimes grow small watermelons.

“I grow a lot of broccoli, kale for the chickens, peppers, carrots, onions, eggplant and cucumbers,” she says, adding that what her family doesn’t eat will be donated to local food kitchens.

For someone wanting to plant a garden at his or her new home, Mazet’s main piece of advice is to wait.

“If you haven’t lived in your home through a growing season and there’s not an established garden already planted, then wait,” she says. “Put things in containers inside and monitor the weather for a year. Talk to your neighbors and see if they’ve experienced any late freezes.

“Always pay attention to the weatherman and take into consideration what is happening at your house.”

If you decide to plant early, be willing to jump out there to protect your plants when the weather changes and be OK with starting over if you lose your garden — it’s all a learning process.

To grow, or not to grow?

Use the following gardening guide for vegetable planting this spring and summer across Northern Nevada, as published by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Visit; target=”_blank”Bold” for more tips, to sign up for classes and much more.

Plant after May 15 (frost-tender vegetables)

Celery — plants

Green beans — succession plantings through June

New Zealand spinach

Sweet corn — plants or seeds, succession plantings through mid-June

Plant 1 to 2 weeks after May 15 to June 15 (cold-sensitive vegetables)

Beans, lima

Super sweet corn — plants or seeds

Cucumber — plants or seeds

Eggplant — plants

Melons — plants


Pepper — plants

Pumpkin Squash

Sweet potato — plants

Tomato — plants

Plant Mid-July to Sept. 1


Carrots (mid-July)

Chinese cabbage (late July to mid-August)



Lettuce (mid-August)

Peas (July 1 to mid-July

Radish (mid-August)

Spinach (mid-August)

Turnip (early July)

Plant in October for next summer harvest

Garlic — cloves

Onions — bulbs (spring planting best)

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