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Archives for August 20, 2017

Washington Gardener Magazine’s 10th Annual Tomato Tasting at the Silver Spring FreshFarm Market

It’s ‘Big Boy’ vs. ‘Mortgage Lifter,’ hybrid vs. heirloom, the tomato wars have just begun. Everyone is sure that their tomato pick is the tastiest. Join Washington Gardener Magazine at the FreshFarm Market in downtown Silver Spring, MD, on Saturday, August 26 from 10am-12noon for a Tomato Tasting. Best of all, this event is FREE!

Farmers at the market will contribute their locally grown selections — from super-sweet ‘Sungold’ to not-so-pretty ‘Cherokee Purple’ — and we’ll explore which tomatoes make the short list of favorites. We’ll have tomato gardening tips, tomato recipes, tomato activities for kids, and much more. All to celebrate one of summer’s greatest indulgences — the juicy fresh tomato.

Tip: Your tomato taste voting ballot is also your entry into our prize drawing for a basket full of gardening goodies. The drawing is at 12noon, so be sure to fully fill out your ballot by 11:45am and then stick around for the prize announcement as you must be present to win.

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Time to try a few penny-pinching tips | Home and Garden |

Marianne Binetti

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5 garden tips for this week, Aug. 19-25 – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Morning watering is best

Hopefully we all know that judicious watering is absolutely essential this time of year. Keep in mind that container plants dry out quickly, and citrus and avocado trees need regular soil moisture for fruit to develop properly. It’s always best to irrigate as early in the morning as possible so water has a chance to seep into the soil. Try never to water on a hot or breezy afternoon, because much of it evaporates without helping your plants.

Harvest time

Harvest late stone fruits, midseason apples and various grapes. Late peaches and nectarines are especially yummy. Thompson Seedless grapes are super sweet by now; so are Concords. The second round of figs is beginning to ripen also. Check and harvest daily to outdo the green fruit beetles, which are harmless to humans and pets but feast for a few weeks on soft fruits, and there is no way to stop them — short of catching them yourself.

Great grapes

Keep an eye on ripening grapes to make sure you get your share before the bees and birds do. Of course, they are wonderful fresh fruits, but you can do other things with grapes as well. For instance, separate individual berries of seedless types and put them in containers in the freezer for great frozen treats. Control excessive or unwanted growth by pruning the longest shoots back part way now.

Color your world

Now is the best time to select colorful flowering trees for your yard, while they are flowering and while there is time for the roots to get acclimated before winter settles in. Summer blooming trees include Crape Myrtles, which come in many colors; Floss Silk Tree (Chorisia speciosa) with its fragrant rich pink hibiscus-like flowers; Gold Medallion Tree (Cassia leptophylla) with bright yellow blooms; Jacaranda with blue flowers; and Magnolia with fragrant white flowers.

Summer showoffs

“Naked ladies” have awakened from summer slumber and can be seen dancing in many gardens throughout Southern California for the next few weeks. Known officially as Amaryllis belladonna, these pink trumpet-shaped blooms emerge almost overnight in late summer atop 18-inch-long stems with no foliage to cover their graceful form. What’s more, they’re full of perfume and have a wonderful fragrance. Not long after these flowers die, long green leaves emerge and stay throughout winter and spring. Then they go completely dormant in early summer, and that’s the best time to transplant them.

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Garden Club of Virginia hosting two-day fall symposium

Event will feature conservation and horticulture lectures, horticulture and floral design display and a garden boutique

RICHMOND — Garden Club of Virginia will celebrate autumn with a fall symposium featuring two days of conservation and horticulture lectures, a horticulture and floral design display, and a garden boutique on Sept. 26 and 27. The events will be held in several venues within walking distance of GCV’s headquarters on Franklin Street in downtown Richmond with the public invited.

The grand ballroom at the John Marshall Hotel will be the site of the horticulture show. This space has a wrap-around mezzanine balcony from which visitors may view numerous specimens in 47 classes illuminated by three Swarovski crystal chandeliers. Prize-winning dahlias, roses, zinnias and asters are just a few of the perennials and annuals that will be judged.

This inaugural event will allow the public to meet with experts in the field and ask questions. A “Sip, See and Shop” will entice all to the boutique, inspiring novice and expert growers alike.

Authorities on conservation and horticulture topics will give free lectures on the afternoon of Sept. 26 in the Marshall Ballroom at the John Marshall Hotel.

In the meantime, just down the street at the c.1845 Kent-Valentine House, the antebellum home of Garden Club of Virginia, visitors are invited to view judged floral arrangements decorating the stately mansion which is rarely open to the public.

“Being able to experience the talents of our members in such a historic atmosphere will be a special treat for everyone,” notes Jean Gilpin, the Symposium’s chairman.

Tickets are still available for Flower Arranging School on Sept. 27, a popular annual event normally available only to GCV members. Renowned party planners and floral designers Tricky Wolfes and Kathy Rainer, owners of Atlanta’s Parties to Die For, will share colorful stories while informing attendees of current industry trends, useful party planning tips, and entertaining flower arranging demonstrations. This event will take place at the Bolling Haxall House, an Italianate mansion that is home to the downtown Woman’s Club. The $50 per person fee includes a continental breakfast and requires pre-registration.

Founded in 1920, the Garden Club of Virginia exists to celebrate the beauty of the land, conserve the gifts of nature and challenge future generations to build on this heritage. The 3,300-member organization presents educational programs, funds the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic gardens and landscapes, and provides financial support for community conservation and beautification projects, for research fellowships in landscape architecture and environmental studies, and for projects in Virginia State Parks.

“September is a time of renewal following summer vacations. Fall gardens emerge and floral design becomes a higher priority,” Nina Mustard, president of the nearly century-old non-profit explains. “The Garden Club of Virginia wants to share our knowledge and enthusiasm with the public. We want everyone to be inspired.”

For more information and registration for the GCV Flower Arranging School on Sept. 27, visit

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Aurora community plants a garden in memory of 7/20

AURORA – Some hard work and a whole lot of love — those were the tools used to plant a memorial garden in Aurora on Saturday — more than shovels and garden hoes. People planted flowers in memory of those lost after the Aurora theater shooting on July 20, 2012.

The city donated the land. Businesses donated the plants. On Saturday, more than 50 people donated their time. Some lost friends and family. Some worked with first responders. Some just came for their community.

“It deeply affected our community, our city,” said Tony Krenz, public information officer for Aurora Fire Rescue, “Closer to me, it [affected] a lot of my friends at the fire department.”

Krenz and others said the garden will act as a light and a symbol of love.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said Aurora resident Michelle Ruble. “It just really puts a positive spin on a tragedy that happened in Aurora.”

Ruble was there working alongside her friend Heather Dearman. Dearman is the Vice Chair of the 7/20 Memorial Foundation. Her good friend Ashley lost two children that day. 

“We all rallied around her back in 2012, and we still do,” Dearman said. “Being involved in the memorial is so helpful and so healing…it makes you realize that good outweighs evil.”

Tom and Kitty Barg came all the way from Rochester, New York, to help with the garden. They lost their nephew, Alex.

“[He] always had a smile…very cheerful…always hugs,” said Kitty Barg.

“It keeps his memory alive,” said Tom Barg. “It’s nice. Just a place to reflect and feel good.”

Thirteen benches will be placed in the garden — representing the 13 that lost their lives.

A sculpture will also be put in the garden. The design will be announced on August 26. People can come plant flowers then, too. It will be installed in the spring of 2018.

© 2017 KUSA-TV

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Emily Ford combines history, science and design in her role as Glensheen Mansion’s head gardener

Glensheen head gardener Emily Ford in one of the estates gardens. 

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4 landscape design strategies that save you money

The creativity and experience you invest in when hiring a landscape designer can pay big dividends. Sometimes, however, you may want to take a more hands-on approach, whether it’s for monetary reasons or because you enjoy getting in the dirt. Paying for a design consultation is helpful, but there are many professional strategies you can use yourself, leading to an attractive, functional space that is kind to your budget.

You can perform a DIY soil composition test by picking up a handful of damp soil, squeezing it in your fist and then releasing it.

1. Do soil tests. A soil test can guide your plant choices while helping you get to know your landscape in ever deeper ways. What can a soil test tell you? Everything from the composition to nutrient levels to pH. All this information will help you make plant decisions as you match plants to the landscape they are more likely to thrive in.

I’m not a fan of amending soil if you don’t have to — it may only be a temporary fix and can be expensive. Instead of putting down deep roots, some plants will meander around in the amended soil level where it’s more friendly. Over time this will make the plants less resilient, especially native plants, and less likely to thrive.

RELATED: How to Do a DIY Soil Test at Home

2. Fix any drainage issues if they could undermine structures. How water flows through your property is one of the first things to consider, whether you’re doing a makeover of a small corner or redoing the entire landscape. Specifically, you should note whether the water runs toward or pools near a home or other structure, and whether it is washing away a hill or driveway.

Choosing the right plants for these areas to help water infiltrate deeper levels of soil while keeping it in place will help, but sometimes a more radical change is needed to ensure your property is safe. The changes might include bringing in soil, using gravel for a dry streambed or employing drain tile.

3. Consider more planting. Retaining walls, pergolas, fireplaces, paths and other hardscape elements can be wonderful landscape additions, and they also can be expensive, unless you’re especially handy.

Before going straight to hardscape, consider how a planting design might elevate the current lay of the land. A low area that occasionally collects water might be a perfect spot for a rain garden or bioswale. A sloped stretch of the yard might be accented with taller shrubs on top with drifts of grasses, sedges or other undulating perennials enhancing the curved nature of the landscape. If you’re lucky enough to live near a grove of trees, consider extending that feature into your landscape by planting new trees and shrubs.

Also think about how plants could become hardscape elements in their own right. Consider using shrubs or tall grasses as a living fence in an area where you want privacy. Ground covers such as thyme or shortbeak sedge (Carex brevior, zones 3 to 8) can be used to make a pathway through the space. A clump of trees could grow in to become a natural pergola, or an arbor or trellis covered in vines could fit the bill.

4. Make a detailed plant list. Make your plant list after you know your soil type, have solved site issues and have a design plan in place. It’s a good idea to have several options for each plant type you might want to use in an area. For example, choose three shrub possibilities for a living fence. Consulting with local designers can help, as well as county and university extension offices, native plant societies and botanical gardens.

Create a database of plant images, horticultural information (such as soil and light needs, and mature size), and any other information and ideas that come your way. When researching plants, use the Latin name, as common names can frequently refer to multiple plants and won’t take you to the more science-based growing information you’re looking for. Trust me, doing this legwork and getting to know the plants in a methodical way will reap benefits down the road as your landscape matures.

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Badin Council examines changes to median

In the August meeting of the Badin Town Council, the board discussed changes to a median at the corner of N.C. Highway 740 and Falls Road which would alleviate traffic congestion.

Town Manager Jay Almond displayed printouts of three different suggestions to redo the median. Two of those proposals would extend the median to not allow cars turning off N.C. 740 to immediately turn left into the parking lot of the Badin Mart.

One plan would convert the existing median to one with landscaping under three feet but would not extend its length.

Another plan would add the same landscaping, but also include yellow traffic sticks similar to those located next to Don Montgomery Park in Albemarle, which would extend past the entrance way for the store on Falls Road.

A third, more expensive plan, would create a brand new concrete median down the middle of the road past the same entrance.

The estimate of the second plan is around $13,000, but the third plan would cost a great deal more.

Almond made two suggestions regarding the median, saying the second option would not “break the bank,” and it would also “restrict congestion” at the location, noting when cars turn right on Falls Road and then try to turn left into the parking lot, if cars on the other side of Falls going onto N.C. 740 are stacked up, congestion would occur.

He added any changes would first have to go through the North Carolina Department of Transportation since the intersection involves a county road and not just a Badin town road.

“If the DOT were to install a medium there today, they would do the extended version or the one with the posts, not allowing an immediate left off the highway,” Almond said.

Mayor Anne Harwood asked what the council needed to do to move forward on the project. Almond answered he needed to meet with the DOT.

When asked by Councilman Ryan Hatley if the Town Council needed to pick a design, Almond said they could pick one or bring all three designs and “see where (the DOT) would go with it.”

Mayor pro tem Deloris Chambers asked about having someone from DOT speak to the board about the project, which Almond said could happen for the October meeting of the town’s zoning board or for the next scheduled council meeting as well.

Councilman Ernest Peoples asked about another median project on Roosevelt Street where Dewey and Sumpter streets meet.

Almond said the council had a good opportunity to use funds from the Keep Stanly Beautiful grant to be able to complete the Roosevelt project. The opportunity to apply for the grant will next happen in September, which Almond said he “hopes they see worthwhile to fund.”

Currently, four trees have been added to the sidewalk on Roosevelt thanks to funds from the KSB grant. Additional plans would add striping to allow for angled parking to the storefronts on that street, along with concrete areas to round out the edges of the road on either side of the corners of Sumpter and Roosevelt and Dewey and Sumpter.

A stopline for Sumpter Street has also been planned along with a crosswalk across Roosevelt between the median. Trees will also be added to the median.

The board asked Almond to meet with the DOT.

To submit story ideas, call Charles Curcio at (704) 982-2121, ext. 26, email or contact him via Twitter (@charles_curcio).

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Program improves neighborhoods’ looks and connections

Scott Smith, with Simplified Facilities Group Inc., installs tongue-and-groove boards on a house being repaired Saturday in Elyria.


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Hanover Receives Funds for Park

Hanover — The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation has donated $50,000 to help create a public park on School Street that will offer downtown visitors a place to rest and relax while showcasing sustainable landscaping techniques.

The School Street Park — as its designers, local landscape architects, gardeners and a public-private volunteer group of town officials are calling it — will be located on an empty town-owned lot between School Street and the municipal parking lot behind Hanover Town Hall.

“Anybody can learn from what we’re doing here,” Larry Litten, a gardener and Sustainable Hanover Committee member who helped plan the park, said in an interview on Thursday.

Conceptual drawings show a hard-pack oval path linking together flower beds, benches, mulch beds, a children’s play area and a rain garden.

Litten said organizers envisioned the School Street Park as one of several recreational areas to be located on both public and private land, all of which would utilize sustainable landscaping techniques.

The flower beds, for instance, would show aspiring gardeners the ecological benefits of promoting native pollinators. The rain garden, located around a town sewer grate, would filter out toxic runoff from the nearby parking lot before it reaches the water system.

Each feature would have learning materials nearby, Litten said, including a sign with a QR code — an image that, when scanned by a smartphone, would connect visitors to more information.

Litten, who lives on School Street, said he also hoped this and future parks would bring community members together. The Sustainable Hanover Committee and other organizers are looking for volunteers to help maintain the park, he said, and already some local businesses have agreed to donate employee volunteer hours.

“It would be a community-building exercise,” Litten said, “as well as a beautification and education resource.”

The currently empty town-owned parcel is located between a private residence and the Edgerton House, an Episcopal campus ministry at Dartmouth College.

Town Manager Julia Griffin said the 0.28-acre parcel, assessed at $164,000, “formerly housed our old community center and is now a rather under-inspired public space.”

Project organizers said the total cost, including expenses covered by the Byrne donation, would be about $88,400. The town will provide the land and site preparation, and the Sustainable Hanover Committee and other organizers will provide the plants, benches and signage.

“Ideally, the park will be constructed next spring,” Griffin added, though Litten said the timing would depend in part on how quickly the park planners could raise money.

Litten said sustainable landscaping practices already were catching on in his neighborhood, where several residents have started implementing those methods in their own gardens.

Other potential sites for sustainability parks are in the Sustainable Hanover Committee’s sights, but none are yet solid enough to identify, according to Litten.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at or 603-727-3242.

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