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Archives for August 24, 2017

Hints from Heloise: Gardener enjoys relaxing, fun hobby, offers tips …

Dear Heloise: Gardening is a relaxing and fun hobby for me. I’ve come up with my favorite gardening hints:

  • My spade and shovel get a quick spray of silicone lubricant — this allows the dirt to slide right off.
  • A good way to add nutrients to the soil is with Epsom salts, which are made of magnesium and sulfate. A small amount (less than a tablespoon) mixed in the watering can will do the trick. (Don’t use table salt.)
  • Ask the neighborhood coffeehouse for some used coffee grounds. They nourish the soil, too — and usually are given away free!
  • Plastic forks upright in the garden can deter critters.
  • I can start seedlings in a cloth shoe rack with dirt in each pocket.
  • I cut the arms off an old sweatshirt and wear the sleeves when I’m pruning the roses. The heavy material protects my arms from thorns.
  • Compost is always in season: eggshells, veggie clippings, shredded newspaper and cotton fibers.

I hope your readers will find these hints useful! — Helen T. in California

Need to read

Dear Heloise: I love to read. I read everything — newspapers and books, books for school and learning and history, and fun books about my favorite superheroes!

My parents even taught me to love poetry and biographies. Reading out loud is a fun family activity. We sometimes end up in stitches, but we learn a lot. We’ve replaced our TV time with family reading time. My sister and I have so much fun.

I recommend reading for everyone, especially over the summertime! — Ryan N., age 13, in Chicago

Flag hanging

Dear Heloise: I find a multitier skirt hanger useful for hanging small seasonal flags. Each tier holds them by season, and there are no wrinkles or fold marks. — Joan W., Eatontown, New Jersey

Finer liner

Dear Heloise: After my car is detailed, clean and pretty on the inside and outside, I line my cup holders with cupcake liners. This keeps the cup holders clean! — Holly W. in Pennsylvania

Just cruisin’

Dear Heloise: I’ve served as chaplain on many cruises and recommend four useful hints:

  • Get to the port city one day ahead of time to avoid travel delays.
  • Buy the cruise lines’ air package. If there is a problem with a delay at the end of the cruise, the cruise line will help rearrange flights home.
  • If you want to avoid the expense of excursions, go to one of the taxis lined up at the port; ask what the fee would be for two hours (or whatever time you want) to see the best things in that port city.
  • Don’t complain! Some people have one foot on the ship and still have one foot on the gangplank, and they already start to complain. — J.K.C. in Nebraska

J.K.C., I loved your suggestions, especially the last one. Just sit back and relax on a cruise. Go with the flow, and have a great time. — Heloise

Head to the mall?

Dear Heloise: I’m wondering how your readers feel about shopping malls? When I was a kid, I loved spending time at the mall with my friends; some malls had carousels, ice-skating rinks and movie theaters, and they all had wonderful food courts with delicious choices of eats. But now so many malls are going out of business.

In San Antonio, we still have malls that are doing well, but off-price stores and shopping online are gaining in popularity.

Will your readers always go to the mall? Do you like the energy there? The service? The people? It was convenient to have all the big stores under one roof, and years ago, I used to walk in the mall for exercise. That was fun.

The salespeople in the kiosks outside of the stores can be pretty pushy, but I’ve learned to just say, “No, thank you.”

Is the shopping mall becoming a thing of the past? Hopefully not! — Jana B., Helotes, Texas

Readers, what do you say about the shopping mall? I’ve done many book signings in many malls over the years — a great place to come together! — Heloise

Wax on, wax off

Dear Heloise: My daughter gave me two beautiful scented candle jars (cinnamon and vanilla). Most of the wick and wax is almost used. The jars are beautiful, and I wish to keep them. How can I safely remove the remaining wax? — Mom in Florida

What a lovely daughter! And kudos for wanting to repurpose the jars. Tuck the jars in the freezer for about an hour. Carefully place a table knife at the edge of the wax and wiggle it gently. The wax should pop off! — Heloise

‘S’ or ‘C’

Dear Heloise: I’m sure there are a lot of talented folks who design containers, so it has always amazed me that they fail to recognize that people who wear glasses usually don’t wear them in the shower.

Shampoo and conditioner bottles are ordinarily the same size. How about a giant “S” and “C” printed on the bottles? — Marian L., Omaha, Nebraska

The learned word

Dear Heloise: While my kids (ages 8 and 10) are out of school for the summer, I am having them read for an hour per day. I set a goal for them to find one word they are unfamiliar with. I challenge them to learn the meaning of the word, and then the context the word was used in.

Then the next day, we talk about yesterday’s word, and set upon the task of finding a new word to learn!

We are having fun reading, learning and sharing! — Mary H. in Pittsburgh

Letter of laughter

Dear Heloise: Why is it that in school, teachers tell you, “Keep your eyes on your own paper” and “No talking,” and then when you get out in the real world, people tell you, “Network!” “Meet and greet!” and “If you want to be like this person, do what he does!”?

A paradox indeed! — Glenn C. in New York

Soap story

Dear Heloise: The marketplace seems to be flooded with products labeled “shower gel” and “body wash.” Are these actually soap, or is this a clever advertising gimmick? Do you use bar soap with them? How do you choose? — L.T., Omaha, Nebraska

L.T., great question, and there is a difference! Both shower gel and body wash are liquid soaps, and bar soap is a solid, but all are used to clean your skin.

Women, especially, tend to prefer liquid soap over bar soap, primarily because liquids lather more, there is a wide choice of fragrances available, and liquid body cleansers typically have more moisturizers than bar soap, so they are less drying to the skin.

The liquids also might have a shimmery ingredient added to make your skin “sparkle.”

Here are two differences between the liquids: Shower gel typically is thicker in consistency than body wash, and it is more densely fragranced, so the scent of shower gel may last longer on your skin.

Manufacturers of shower gels and body washes recommend using a sponge or lather-builder to maximize suds. Rinse and dry the sponge thoroughly between uses. Have two to rotate.

Bar soap can be a breeding ground for bacteria, although this is not a major concern — the bacteria washes away when you rinse. Ultimately, the decision is yours — there are lots of choices out there. — Heloise

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Everyday Cheapskate: Keep that garden growing in the fridge; reader tips

If you suffer the heartbreak of flabby celery, asparagus and herbs despite your best efforts to keep them fresh and lovely — at least for as long as it takes to use them up — one simple change in the way you store them could make all the difference. You’ll read that and so much more in today’s post, all courtesy of your fellow EC readers!

FRESHER LONGER. You are right about treating asparagus, celery and fresh herbs like cut flowers to preserve them, but you left out the step I learned during a brief spell in the floral trade: Trim the bottoms of the stalks first. Even when the bundles have been sitting in water at the grocer’s, they were left dry in transit and will have dried up enough at the cut ends to close off a lot of the capillary passages. Trimming to fresh green lets more water be pulled in to keep the stalks alive. I usually do that as soon as I get home; this helps to revive any stalks that have gotten a little flabby. — Will

(The exception to this is green onions, aka scallions, which should be stored in a plastic bag in a refrigerator crisper drawer. — Mary)

ROUGH IT UP. Instead of spending time and money to replace and install new wiper blades, renew them: Pinch a piece of sandpaper between your thumb and forefinger. Run the sandpaper along the edge of the rubber blade, first on one side and then the other. This will renew the surface so it efficiently wipes the windshield. You can do this two or three times before a blade is completely spent and requires replacement. — Walter

CONDITIONER FOR SHAVING. I always have too much hair conditioner because I use very little compared to my shampoo. That means we always seem to accumulate half-full or mostly empty conditioner bottles in our bathroom. Add to that, I don’t like using soap (too drying) or shaving foam (too expensive) to shave my legs and underarms. I discovered that using conditioner works great as a shaving lotion! It makes for very smooth shaving, and my legs are soft and silky afterward. — Mary B.

BLANKET ROLLS. Most of us have heard about rolling your clothing when packing a suitcase. I also roll my blankets when storing them in my linen closet. They take up less space, and you can easily see each blanket and pull them out when needed. — Jeannine

WHERE ODORS HIDE. I remove the rubber gasket above the garbage disposal on a regular basis so I can clean its underside. That’s where particles of food accumulate and contribute to garbage disposal odor. Keeping it clean helps eliminate those odors. — Fran

HAIRSPRAY OVERSPRAY. If your bathroom mirror, countertop, wall, woodwork or floor get covered with hairspray like mine do, spray the surface with ordinary rubbing alcohol, and then follow with a damp cloth to wipe it away. That will remove the hairspray overspray — even a stubborn accumulation — and leave the areas sparkling clean. — Justine

FLIP ‘EM OVER. Store sour cream, cottage cheese, jelly and sauces upside down in the fridge to retain freshness and prevent mold. It’s a simple principle: The content of the jar creates its own seal against oxygen. — Morgan

Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Ste. B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740.

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Fall planting is just around the corner

The recent weather is a reminder that autumn is just around the corner. Autumn is a good time for many gardening activities before Old Man Winter arrives and we move many of our activities indoors.

Even though autumn is still a few weeks away, it’s time to get busy with fall planting activities. Until recently, most gardeners thought fall was time to tuck in a few more bulbs and put the garden to bed. But now, fall is recognized as a good time to do nearly everything in the garden.

While fall is well defined by the calendar, the planting period is a season of its own that extends from early September to mid-October. Because planting hardy spring bulbs and renovating perennials works well in this period, it’s logical that woody plants can also be moved or planted. With some exceptions, most can.

The main concern regarding fall planting is that new plants have enough time to establish their roots before soil temperatures cool. Site conditions — available moisture and warm soil temperatures — are among the determining factors.

Mother Nature usually plants in the fall. But she uses tough winter-hardy seeds that survive the cold and germinate the following spring when temperatures are warm. I doubt if she ever considered digging an entire plant in the fall or setting-in an entire container grown plant this time of year. Nevertheless, if you understand what happens to a fall-planted tree or shrub, you can work with nature to provide optimum conditions.

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Proctor’s Garden: Tips for combatting critters

Every garden faces threats from insects and mammals. How you deal with them is important.

The Japanese beetle is currently public enemy number one. Long a problem on the East Coast and Midwest, it has finally invaded metro areas gardens after its initial accidental introduction to the Cherry Hills area.

A voracious eater, the Japanese beetle attacks many plants and is especially fond of grapes, cannas and roses. The damage on leaves can be spotted and diagnosed by its lacey appearance.

The beetle starts life as a grub in lawn turf. One method of control is to introduce counter measures into your lawn. Milky spore will make the grubs sick, beneficial nematodes act as parasites on the grub. The best control will happen when everyone with a lawn introduces milky spore and beneficial nematodes.

Once the full-grown beetles emerge, control includes hand-picking the beetles. They are black with an iridescent sheen and are about a third of an inch long. If you are quick, they can be snatched and dropped in a jar of soapy water.

If you decide to use pesticides, be extremely careful. You don’t want to kill off beneficial insects such as bees. Neem oil can be used as a spray and doesn’t have any detrimental effects to the environment. The chemical dusts Sevin and Eight provide some control as well.

The powder should be dusted only on leaves–not on flowers–since it can kill bees. The active ingredient in Sevin goes inert within four days so if it is used, it must be reapplied regularly.

In my garden, the fallback weapon of choice is soap. A teaspoon of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap in a quart bottle of water will kill many traditional pests such as white flies, aphids and spider mites. When the soapy spray hits them, the soap dissolves their hard exoskeletons and they literally melt away. Many of our grandmothers used this idea when they emptied their dishpans of soapy water on their vegetable plants in their gardens.

As for mammals that consume your plants, adequate fencing is the only reliable solution. Without that, gardeners use pepper sprays, coyote urine and other tactics to thwart deer, elk and rabbits. Researching what these animals generally prefer not to eat is also a smart move. As for squirrels, which many gardeners rail about, I feed them. I’d rather they eat some stale crackers or squash than to play havoc in the rest of the garden. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV

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Goings-on at the gardens and thereabouts

Well, folks, there is a lot of planning and preparation going on for your fall pleasure! Did you know that?

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) once said, “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” Jekyll was a well-known and popular British horticulturist, writer and garden designer. 

According to Wikipedia, “she created over 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States, and wrote over 1,000 articles for magazines such as Country Life and William Robinson’s The Garden. Jekyll has been described as ‘a premier influence in garden design’ by English and American gardening enthusiasts.” That sure sounds an awful lot like our Master Gardener program — albeit on a much smaller scale!

Here are the upcoming events you should mark on your calendar:

The Edible Yard Symposium and Tours, Sept. 8-9 — Registration is from 8:30 to 10 a.m. On Friday, Sept. 8, registrants can tour two very outstanding gardens and landscapes in our county beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing to noon. You can go to one or both. From 2 until 4:30 p.m., the next garden tour with special presentations will be at the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Gardens (102 Tam Road and State Highway 75 North). In addition to the tour, you will see the latest feature in our garden — a rock fountain by none other than our Hard Hat crew! Cost for this day is $20.

On Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Walker County Storm Shelter, registration is from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. After the 9:30 welcome, you will get to hear four dynamic and very knowledgeable speakers present their ideas on creating an Edible Yard. What is this, you might ask? Well, come listen! Dr. Mark Vorderbruggen (of “Foraging Texas” fame), Judy Barrett (herbalist and author), Angela Chandler (local and national garden writer), and Joseph Johnson (Texas AM Gardens manager and former director of horticulture at Shangri La Botanical Gardens in Orange) will speak and address your questions. You will also see outstanding vendors, a chance at door prizes, a silent auction, new friendships and included with your $60 registration is lunch and snacks. The second day ends at 4 p.m.

So how do you get to enjoy this fantastic opportunity? Go to our Walker County Master Gardeners Facebook page and click on the first (pinned) posting which will take you to Eventbrite where you may register with a charge card. If you are not on the internet, call or go to the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Office and there will be forms available. We hope to see you there!

Fall Plant Sale, Sept. 23 — Our expert plant sale organizers along with propagation gardeners, the Hard Hat team, demo garden managers, greenhouse overseers, and so many others (we have a great team) are very busy. So please come out to 102 Tam Road from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and see the benefits to you of all their hard work. And checkout the fall/winter plants. It’s also a perfect day to ask our Master Gardeners questions about your own gardens and landscapes, and LEAF-PRO, a tried and true method of gardening!

Butterfly Festival, Oct. 28 — We changed the timing of this yearly event to better accommodate the Monarch butterflies traveling to their winter resort in Mexico. Hopefully there will be more of them than usual, and hopefully it will be a cooler day than usual. Plan a perfect day in the outdoor, covered learning center for the family to come out for games and the tag and release of the Monarchs. Butterfly and pollinator experts will be on hand for questions. We will have a crafts table (with some new crafts), face painting, treasure hunt, and much more. We will also have milkweed seeds available — host plant to the Monarchs — for a 50 cent donation to our building fund. This event starts at 10 a.m. and lasts until 2 p.m., with the tag and release at noon.

So, there you have it. The Walker County community and beyond is cordially invited, and Master Gardeners will be ready for all the fun and education we have to offer. Another quote from Gertrude Jekyll is, “The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” Why not allow your area Master Gardeners to pass on our lessons to you?

FYI: For more information on the Walker County Master Gardeners, please call (936) 435-2426 or go to  The WCMG Facebook page is a bounty of useful gardening information and citizens are encouraged to peruse it often.

Additionally, The Walker County Extension Office is now on Facebook at The page has been established to provide updates and information to Walker County residents and landowners on a timely basis. 

If you have any questions about the information in this article or any of the Extension programs, contact the Walker County Texas AM AgriLife Extension Office at (936) 435-2426.

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Antiques can add personality, focal point to a garden

Adding antique garden ornaments to the landscape blends horticulture with history. One-of-a-kind pieces will personalize your property, and over time may grow into something richly rewarding — financially as well as artistically.

“Really outstanding good old pieces such as a swan bench, unusual large decorative urn or piece of sculpture will continue to go up in value, but really more important to my client is the same artistic pleasure that placing a certain piece in their garden gives to them,” said Aileen Minor, owner of Aileen Minor Garden Antiques Decorative Arts in Centreville, Maryland.

Some of her garden antiques have been installed in the U.S. Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and in private collections around the United States, Germany, England and France.

The definition of “antique” is somewhat elastic but generally applies to objects more than 100 years old.

“What makes a piece worth collecting? I would say rarity, design detail, all original parts and age,” Minor said.

Garden antiques are most commonly made of wicker, metal or stone, and range from pergolas and gazebos to cemetery headstones and fountains, from ironwork, fencing and gates to outdoor furniture and windows.

Family heirlooms certainly qualify.

Each person has his or her own idea about what constitutes a collectible, said Troy Rhone, owner of Troy Rhone Garden Design in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Typically, I look for pieces that are over 120 years old and have a unique history,” Rhone said. “I’m not as concerned about the price because I’m usually looking for a specific item for my gardens.”

Rhone studies each piece to determine if there are markings to determine who made it, signs of wear and tear, and areas that might deteriorate quickly.

“Not many pieces can stand the test of time when exposed to weather, so using pieces that have proved their sustainability is something most people are drawn toward,” Rhone said.

Many people shape their garden antique collections around a theme. Some may want to match a Victorian-era setting, highlighting the looks of their home and neighborhood. Others simply want practical antiques spotted tastefully around their landscape.

“Collectors do collect pieces based on forms such as antique hitching posts or interesting sculpture,” Minor said. “But more often they are looking to find unusual pieces such as a fountain for a focal point in a garden, or are looking for an attractive antique or vintage bench or settee for seating in their garden.”

Estate sales, auctions and antique dealers are good places to look, Rhone said. “They can be a great resource when searching for a specific item. Most of the time it’s pretty easy to have shipping arranged.”

Living at a time when so much is mass-produced, it’s nice to have something that no one else has, Rhone said.

“That is easily accomplished with an antique that was handmade,” he said. “No one else is likely to have that exact piece so it allows a space to have individuality, which is what makes one garden stand out from the rest.”

Secure them, though. High-end antique pieces are prime targets for thievery.

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Head to NYC to Explore 6 Stunning Designer Gardens

Check out how designers transformed these unique spaces.

Most garden visitors probably wouldn’t expect to see a coastal-inspired landscape on the 15th story of an apartment building and a restored estate garden covered in the same tour, but visitors will have the opportunity to see both as part of The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s fourth annual Garden Dialogues series.

The series of tours travels from coast to coast, profiling some of the country’s exceptional gardens designed by contemporary leaders in the field. Unlike many garden tours, the designers not only will be on site for the tours, but they also will be leading them, giving visitors unique insights into the design processes and dialogues that happen involving the client, the designer and the site. Let’s take a look at six gardens featured on New York’s tour.

NYC Metro Garden Dialogues

The Cultural Landscape Foundation, original photo on Houzz

Midtown Sky Garden

Designer: Hank White and Aaron Booher of HMWhite

What it is: 6,500-square-foot (603.8-square-meter) living roof on the 17th floor of an office building

The architects at HMWhite have created an outdoor oasis for employees at the Western Publishing Building high above midtown Manhattan. An area that had been an unfinished utility space with gravel and roof pavers is now a landscape that supports native grasses, butterflies, birds and outdoor brainstorming sessions.

“The primary role of the garden design was to bring the garden world inside on a daily basis, thereby transforming an urban worker’s expectations of what an office environment ought to be like,” says landscape architect Hank White. Perennial plantings surround the building on the north, south and east sides, giving workers a rich view, even from inside, and creating a sense of enclosure and protection from overpowering city views. An extensive network of boardwalks within the perennial grasses makes it easy for employees to bring their meetings outside. Intimate seating areas frame the views and are sheltered by surrounding grasses.

Drought-tolerant prairie grasses, wildflowers, spring-flowering bulbs and crabapple trees make up the majority of the planting. The landscape architects created a planting base using a limited number of cool- and warm-season grasses. They interspersed summer-blooming native perennials and spring-flowering bulbs to counterbalance the color and texture of the predominantly grassy landscape.

The architects worked within the existing structural infrastructure to create subtle undulations in the landscape using lightweight geofoam. Inside and out, the mounding grasses dramatically contrast the building’s stark midcentury architecture. All the plants grow in a shallow, lightweight medium that the roof can support.

Grasses on the roof include: Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis), Prairie Blues little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’), wavy hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), Blonde Ambition blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’) and Mega Blue big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii ‘Mega Blue’).

The textural matrix of grasses and wildflowers was designed for year-round interest. The design won a Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Award of Excellence.


The Cultural Landscape Foundation, original photo on Houzz

The Gillman Garden

Designer: Victoria Fensterer of Victoria Fensterer Landscape and Garden Design

What it is: Courtyard and pool area of a historic farmhouse

Landscape designer Victoria Fensterer reimagined an existing pool, making it a more natural shape and surrounding it with boulders plus lush, tropical plants and a pavilion. She planted smaller evergreen plants alongside mature ones, and the pool now looks like a natural water feature in a secluded clearing.

Evergreens provide interest year-round and screen the property to create more privacy.


 The Cultural Landscape Foundation, original photo on Houzz

Urban Aerie

Designer: David Kamp of Dirtworks Landscape Architecture

What it is: 1,500-square-foot (139.3-square-meter) patio on the 15th story of an apartment building

“It was one of those typically New York rooftops,” says landscape architect David Kamp of the penthouse roof garden — bare, with clay tiles and little else. The homeowners had recently had a home built for them on Long Island, which immediately inspired Kamp. ”When she mentioned the beach house, I immediately thought of the barrier beaches,” he says.

Though the two settings couldn’t be more different, the plants need to stand up to similar conditions — extreme sun and wind — and Kamp also liked the idea of creating similar experiences with a coastal garden on the roof. “We tried to create intimate spaces and midscale views,” he says, much like what happens with dunes at the beach, even though the views in the city are very different.

Kamp planted winterberries (Ilex verticillata, zones 3 to 9), serviceberries (Amelanchier sp, zones 2 to 9) and native grasses. “Birds love the berries off the serviceberries,” he says, and bees frequent the many spring blooms. Two cedar planters in the deck’s center hold the serviceberries, while lightweight fiberglass planters around the perimeter hold the beach grasses.

Though Kamp was limited by the building’s structural requirements when it came to where he could place heavy objects, the planters he laid out frame smaller nooks and create views similar to those of the dunes of the coast. Along the perimeter, the fiberglass planters meet the ground plane with a gravel divider, giving them an almost floating appearance, and then the floor plane transitions to a customized cedar decking.

As the trees have matured, the views they frame have become even more pronounced and isolated.

Kamp custom designed the cedar decking to accommodate the desire of one of the homeowners to go barefoot. He spaced the planks especially tight, 3/16 of an inch apart, and beveled the edges. The wood’s tight grain minimizes the occurrence of splinters. ”The idea that you won’t catch your toes and lose the moment is why you need to sweat the details,” Kamp says. Water drains through these level cedar planks onto a clay patio that is pitched to drain.

Surprisingly, when Kamp ended up actually seeing the beach house, the landscape wasn’t at all how he pictured it — it was a suburban lawn. He ended up redesigning the beach garden using plants and details from the roof terrace. Manhattan’s growing season is about two weeks ahead of Long Island’s, he says. When the homeowners are in New York and then go out to Long Island, they can catch both gardens blooming.


The Cultural Landscape Foundation, original photo on Houzz​

M. Bakwin Estate

Designer: Michael V. Ruggiero of MVR Landscape Garden

What it is: 50-acre estate

This estate in Westchester is on quite a different scale than the rest of the landscapes featured on this tour. Landscape architect Michael V. Ruggiero painstakingly restored 10 managed landscape acres on a site with more than 50 acres over the course of several years, during which time he also lived on the property, and they have been maintained and improved by onsite gardeners over the years. The gardens accompany a Tudor-style home, built in the 1930s and continuously inhabited by the same family since.

The estate was built on a series of rocky outcroppings, which Ruggiero worked to restore and emphasize, removing overgrown invasives and other unkempt plants that had overtaken the garden over the years. Mature woodlands were thinned to create beautiful views of the wetlands and the ephemeral light in the distance. A main walk runs through the site, with small nooks and crannies off to the side of the path for guests to venture into and discover. “The space just seems boundless,” Ruggiero says.

Ruggiero says these gardens are much different than estate gardens of the same era and scale. Instead of formalized garden rooms that lead sequentially into one another, the gardens at the M. Bakwin Estate flow fluidly from one to the next. Though there are distinct outdoor spaces, it’s difficult to pinpoint where exactly one ends and the other begins. “It’s a landscape garden,” Ruggiero says, referencing the English estate gardens of Capability Brown and other such garden designers, and it highlights the natural features of the site in its design. A deer fence, installed beneath ridge lines to obscure it, runs around most of the landscape to keep browsing deer away.


The Cultural Landscape Foundation, original photo on Houzz

Brooklyn Heights Townhouse

Designer: Robin Key of Robin Key Landscape Architecture

What it is: 1,875-square-foot (174.2-square-meter) backyard

“When we first came, there was really nothing there and it was totally overgrown,” says landscape architect Robin Key of this Brooklyn Heights backyard. A thicket of mature trees shaded the backyard and added some privacy from the 15-story building directly behind the house, but many trees were in poor shape, and their roots were competing for space.

After thinning out some existing trees with the help of an arborist, Key designed two water features to block some of the ambient noise that occurs in an urban garden. “They do a wonderful job of masking that air conditioning sound,” Key says.

The interior floor adjacent to the backyard is porcelain tile, which Key carried to the first level of the patio as well. She blended modern moments with a little bit of a traditional twist to keep with the age of the house — the concrete wall surrounding the first-level patio also has a cap. Moving from the remodeled 19th-century brownstone into the landscape,“you really do feel like you’re walking into a blended space,” Key says.

She installed bluestone pavers on the next level of the backyard that had been left in a stack by a previous owner. Using the bluestone gave the urban garden a wonderful texture, she says. “The Weed”, a sculpture by one of the homeowners, adds a fun element on the bluestone-paver level.

The bluestone didn’t quite cover the entire backyard, but Key didn’t want to mix more bluestone with what she found on the site.

At the farthest end of the backyard, she made the flooring wilder and more woodland like. Staggered pieces of ipe and moss create a cozy and natural space that gets away from the hardscape and more into a landscape setting.


The Cultural Landscape Foundation, original photo on Houzz

Pool Farm

Designer: David Seiter of Future Green Studio

What it is: Restaurant’s rooftop deck

The Pool Farm combines two unlikely ingredients: urban farming and a rooftop pool. In this kitchen garden and private dining area for the midtown Manhattan restaurant The Press Lounge, an unused pool finds new life as a sheltered and productive food garden for the restaurant’s chef.

Landscape architect David Seiter salvaged ipe wood from the restaurant’s remodel to create something of a decking system that softly cascades from the pool deck down into the base. Herbs and veggies that align with the restaurant’s cuisine fill out the built-in planters and vertical garden, arranged by size and planter depth.

Little mementos, like the original pool railing, steps and swimming depth, remind diners of this garden’s previous life.

Related: Outdoor Chairs to Seat the Entire Party


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Savannah leaders, residents discuss West Bay Street project at first of 3 forums

City officials are looking to revitalize a high-traffic stretch of road that divides an area of increasing investment and one of Savannah’s most impoverished communities.

The city is expanding the first phase of a downtown street improvement initiative to include the West Bay Street corridor west of the Historic District. Initially, the project only focused on Broughton, Bay and River streets from East Broad Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The city is now planning on extending the West Bay Street improvements westward from MLK to Warner Street, near the base of the viaduct. Project elements may include new sidewalks, landscaping, on-street parking, lighting and site furniture.

On Tuesday, the Coastal Georgia Center hosted the first of three public meetings planned to gather public input on the project. The other workshops will be held in October and December and an online public survey will also be launched to collect additional input.

The meeting was led by EDSA principal Kona Gray. EDSA is an urban planning, landscape architecture and urban design company based in Fort Lauderdale.

Gray outlined his team’s research so far for streetscaping the area West of MLK, outlining EDSA’s goals for a sustainable and aesthetically pleasing area.

He said the specifics of the project are still up in the air, and he asked crowd of about 25 residents to help. On the wall of the CGC conference room, the residents were asked to place green stickers on posters depicting scenes from Savannah and beyond. Each poster included items pertaining to seven categories: history, arts, transit, events, interaction, connectivity and the city’s gateway.

The item that received the most dots was an elevated walkway.

After, the room was opened for discussion. Gray asked the audience to fill out a survey regarding what they hoped, broadly, the West Bay streetscaping would accomplish.

He polled the audience, asking how long each person had lived in the city by a show of hands. The largest group had lived in Savannah their whole life.

Gray then asked each table to come up with an answer to the question: “What does Savannah mean to you?”

The room gave diverse answers.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said, “Savannah is a place of warm smiles and friendly hellos, great food and relaxed, welcoming neighborhoods.”

James Devine said, “Savannah is where history is the backdrop to a diverse set of lifestyles, expectations and friendliness.”

Georgie Brown said, “It’s home.”

EDSA will take the ideas presented in this meeting and create a 50 percent completed conceptual design, which will be presented at the next public meeting in October.

The ideas from these meetings will then be used to create a complete conceptual design for the project, which will be presented to the public in December.

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Herzog & de Meuron reveal mountaintop campus project in LA

Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron have revealed new renderings for a new headquarters for the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Herzog de Meuron)

Plans call for minimal,
low-slung structures perched above native landscapes. (Courtesy Herzog de Meuron)

The complex will be connected via a linear park as well as a collection of public paths. (Courtesy Herzog and de Meuron)

The project will be marked by subdued structures articulated mainly in raw concrete and untreated wood. (Courtesy Herzog and de Meuron)

(Courtesy Herzog de Meuron)

Herzog and de Meuron’s proposal calls for taking up only 10% of the site,
leaving the remaining areas as natural habitat. (Courtesy Herzog de Meuron)

Herzog and de Meuron’s proposal calls for taking up only 10% of the site,
leaving the remaining areas as natural habitat.
(Courtesy Herzog de Meuron)

Swiss architecture firm Herzog de Meuron has revealed renderings for a new 447-acre mountaintop campus for the Berggruen Institute, a policy-focused consortium of think tanks funded by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

The complex—made up of a collection of subdued structures that occupy only roughly 10% of the overall site—is being planned to include a private residence for Berggruen’s family, 15 scholars’ residences, and a series of gardens strung along a publically-accessible linear park. The campus is anchored on its southern end by a low-slung research center with views towards Downtown Los Angeles. The campus will be located on a mountaintop that was formerly used as a landfill; the project site consists of a portion of the mountainside that was scraped and flattened in the 1980s in order to cap the landfill. That previously-disturbed 32-acre section of land will contain the development in its entirety, with the remaining 415-acres of the property persisting in a more-or-less natural state.

Plans call for minimal, low-slung structures perched above native landscapes. (Courtesy Herzog de Meuron)

The linear site is organized with the private residence at its north end, the scholars’ residences at the center, and the linear park and research center at its southern tip. The research center—dubbed “the Institute Frame” by the architects—consists of a rectangular structure containing a large courtyard at its center. The building is lifted 12 feet off the ground and contains a variety of indoor-outdoor connections along the elevated sections. The Frame’s courtyard will contain natural landscaping, a spherical 250-seat lecture hall, and a large reflecting pool, among other components. The frame structure will also house visiting scholars in a collection of apartments, with plans calling for 26 scholars-in-residence units and 14 visiting scholar units. The Frame Institute will also contain meeting rooms, study spaces, offices, artists’ studios, media spaces and dining and reception areas, according to the release.

Regarding the pared-down architectural approach, Jacques Herzog of Herzog de Meuron told the Los Angeles Times, “We want to use the spheres in the purest possible way, to make them almost immaterial. Not an expression of new technologies or a heroic engineering solution. They shouldn’t show any sign of effort or structural expression. We were just interested in this idea of the purity of the form—in its innocence, so to speak.”

Herzog and de Meuron’s proposal calls for taking up only 10% of the site, leaving the remaining areas as natural habitat. (Courtesy Herzog and de Meuron)

In a press release announcing the project, Nicolas Berggruen stated, “By building our campus here on the Pacific coast, we hope to advance the position of Los Angeles as a world center for ideas, linking the East to the West. By commissioning this visionary design from Herzog de Meuron, we demonstrate our intention to make an important contribution to the architecture of Los Angeles and the world.”

The complex will be connected via a linear park as well as a collection of public paths. (Courtesy Herzog and de Meuron)

Gensler will work as the executive architect on the project, with landscape design to be performed by Michel Desvigne Paysagiste and Inessa Hansch Architecte. Although the project has already begun initial planning review, a timeline for the project has not been released.

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Johnston’s Miller Nursery tackles landscaping, fire pits and more

More than 50 years ago, Miller Nursery took root as a local landscaping business offering a small selection of shrubs and trees. When owner Jack Miller retired in the ‘80s, Pete Click took over and added shade houses and other shade structures.

Then in 1995, longtime employee Jim Poulson purchased the business and expanded it significantly. A new watering system was installed, and the shrub and perennial selection grew. The business not only functioned as a landscaping company, but a full service retail nursery.

Miller Nursery grows 90 percent of the container trees that it sells. The shrubs are procured from suppliers across the country that arrive regularly during the growing season. Almost all of Miller Nursery’s perennials are grown at the nursery, too.

“While we work predominately with residential customers, probably 20 percent of our business is commercial,” nursery manager Jeff Westphal said.

Westphal spoke with the Des Moines Register about the business.

Q: What types of projects does Miller Nursery tackle?

A: We do a lot of foundation landscaping, tree planting, patios, walkways, retaining walls and firepits.

Q: So not just greenery projects?

A: We have a full-scale landscape operation which includes hardscapes.

Q: How many employees do you have?

A: During our busiest time in the spring and summer we have 18.

Q: What type of a selection do you have?

A: We have a wide variety of ornamental trees and larger shade trees. We have everything from small ornamentals to large, three-inch caliper shade trees. We have a large variety of shrubs and popular, beautiful perennial plants.

Q: What’s the most popular plants?

A: For shady areas, hostas. Coral bells are incredibly popular, as are day lilies, butterfly weed and milkweed. Succulents always sell well.

Q: How do you tackle a project with a client?

A: We’ll meet with them and jot down their ideas, take measurements and snap some photos. Then our design team develops a plan. Once the owner signs off, we’ll get going. We want an owner to embrace it, so if they need to make changes, that’s what we’ll do.

Q: When’s your busiest season?

A: Early spring to late fall, most specifically April, May and June. We pick back up again in fall with tree plantings.

Q: What do customers love about your business?

A: We have very knowledgeable employees in our garden center who enjoy plants and know a lot about them. Some have graduated from the landscape architecture program at ISU and others are enrolled in it. We have some who have been here a long time, too.

Miller Nursery

LOCATION: 5155 NW 57th Ave., Johnston

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays

BUSINESS HISTORY: Miller Nursery was founded in 1966 by Jack Miller as a landscaping business in Johnston.

OWNER: Jim Poulson

CONTACT THEM: 515-276-7505,, Facebook @ Miller Nursery

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