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Archives for August 26, 2017

This is only a (gardening) test – The San Diego Union

Besides reading, language, math and the optional essay writing, the College Board SATs have added a brand new section: gardening. I’ve been fortunate enough to have obtained a copy of the test questions.

Clarence Schmidt

I really care about our students, their successes and the future of global horticultural life. I’m confident they all can surpass my test score of … well, um… OK, so I fell a little short of being “Good Will Hunting” smart.

So, let’s dig in.

Annual: A plant that blooms, produces seed and croaks in one year. Many plants we call annuals may be perennials in warmer locations such as our beautiful Poway. Many vegetables are annuals, including beans, cucumbers and squash.

Biennial: A plant that lives two growing seasons. It produces leaves in the first and flowers in the second. Parsley is a biennial plant.

Perennial: A plant that grows and flowers for years. It may die back to the ground, but will grow again the following season. Perennial vegetables include artichoke, asparagus and rhubarb and herbs such as bee balm, chives, oregano and mint.

Kohlrabi: As we all know, it is a German turnip and relative of cabbage. It’s also a biennial vegetable, which means that people eat it only once every two years. Maybe a little more often in Germany, where they refer to it as “Superschmelz.” I don’t eat anything with the word “schmelz” in it.

Botany: Plant biology. A botanist is a scientist who specializes in the science of plant life. According to the International Botanical Congress, botanists study about 410,000 species of plants. Botany originated as herbalism, the study and use of plants for their medicinal properties.

Horticulture: The science of cultivating and propagating plants. This includes gardening, plant conservation, landscaping, garden design and maintenance. Horticulture is different from agriculture. Horticulture is done on smaller scale using small plots of mixed crops rather than large fields of single crops. Also, horticulture includes a wide variety of crops whereas agriculture focuses on one primary crop.

Organic gardening: An ecological technique that uses no chemical or synthetic fertilizers or conventional pesticides. The idea is to feed the soil so the soil will feed the plants. Only materials derived from living things (i.e. leaves, composts and manures) are used.

Inorganic gardening: Matter other than plant and animal (carbon-based), often of mineral origin.

Loam: According to USDA Forest Service, it is a rich soil material that contains 7 to 27 percent clay, 28 to 50 percent silt and less than 52 percent sand. It’s considered ideal soil for gardening and agriculture. Using the principles of advanced fuzzy math, you might be able to make this equal 100 percent.

Systemic: A chemical absorbed directly into a plant’s system to either kill feeding insects on the plant or, to kill the plant itself.

Cashew: The sound of a nut sneezing.

pH: A measure of soil acidity or alkalinity. It’s a measure of the amount of lime (calcium carbonate) in your soil. The ideal pH for most vegetables is between 6.2 and 6.8, while herbs prefer a pH near neutral 7.0.

Alkaline: Soil with a pH higher than 7.0 on a scale of 0 to 14. Soil pH affects the availability of nutrients to plants. Often referred to as “basic” or “sweet” soil, it contains a lot of sodium, calcium and magnesium. Adding sulfur to the soil will lower alkalinity levels.

Acidic: Soil with a pH lower than 7.0. Often referred to as “sour” soil. Most plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Some acid loving plants like azalea, camellia and citrus will do fine with a pH between 5 and 7. Adding garden lime to the soil will raise the pH level of acidic soil.

Collywobbles: Stomach pain. Using it in a sentence, “Taking the SAT gave me the collywobbles.” Also, indigestion caused by eating too much kohlrabi.

Schmidt, a Poway resident, has been gardening for over 40 years.

Article source:

Antiques add personality, focal point to garden | Northwest Herald

This April 19, 2009 photo taken in a private garden in rural Belgium shows an antique birdbath being used to focus attention on an array of blooming bulbs. Garden antiques can be made of wicker, metal or stone and range from pergolas to fountains, outdoor furniture to gates. Adding antique collectibles to the landscape blends gardening with history. It can be richly rewarding. (Dean Fosdick via AP)

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 most commonly are 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 whether 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 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.

Article source:

What’s new at the 2017 Berlin IGA? Top British garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith reports

There are lots of places to eat and drink and all the facilities you would expect, but the design of the area around the show gardens is uninspiring; the individual gardens in their hornbeam boxes, 30m by 15m, lie about like so many abandoned suitcases. Despite this reservation, it makes a good half-day visit and one you could combine with a trip to see other gardens and horticultural happenings in the city. 

At one extreme, you can take a train to Potsdam to see the astonishing Sanssoucci Palace, the summer home of Frederick the Great. But also don’t miss some of the remarkable community gardens that have sprung up around the city, whether it’s the celebrated and valiant foothold that has been established on the Templehof airfield by hundreds of gardening locals, or the engaging and quirky Prinzessinnengarten, by a roundabout in Kreuzberg. It has cafes, bars, a little nursery and more things made out of nuts or beeswax than you would have thought possible.

Article source:

New Zealand: Exciting developments ahead for central Christchurch

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Allison Watkins: Get ready for the flurry of fall gardening

September is a busy month to work out in the yard and garden, so as soon as temperatures start to cool down a bit be sure to make a to-do list of everything that needs to be done and enjoy working in the milder weather.

First, pre-emergent needs to be applied in September on established lawns to prevent annual cool season weeds from popping up. As long as label directions are followed, pre-emergent won’t harm existing, well-established plants, but don’t apply anywhere that seeds or new plants will be planted within the next few months.

Fall is also time to plant cool season vegetables in the garden – winter crops such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, spinach, etc. can be started September through November.

For landscape beds and patio planters, replace summer annuals as they start to fade with fall annuals, but hold off on the pansies and snapdragons until it cools down even more.

Autumn is the best time of year to plant shade trees and shrubs, so if any new woody plants are needed, start planning on what and where to plant. For a list of recommended trees and shrubs for the area, visit and click on the “Horticulture” tab.

Spring may be a long way off, but now is the time to prepare for a showy, colorful spring by planting bulbs and wildflower seeds. Spring blooming bulbs such as daffodils and wildflowers such as bluebonnets should be planted in the fall to have the best conditions for good establishment. For existing daylilies and irises in the yard, fall is a good time to dig and divide them if needed.

For more landscaping ideas, join the Concho Valley Master Gardeners for their sixth annual Fall Landscaping Symposium. This annual event is a great opportunity for anyone interested in landscaping and gardening to learn and be entertained.

It will be held 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Texas AM AgriLife Research Center at 7887 U.S. 87 N. Pre-registration is required, and the deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 6. Cost is $30 and includes lunch and refreshments.

The symposium will feature renowned horticulturists Bill Adams talking on “Tomatoes and Garden Photography,” Felder Rushing on “Yard Art and Slow Gardening,” and Steve Kainer on “Landscape Water Features.”

Visit to sign up, or for more info, call the Extension Office at 325-659-6528.

Allison Watkins is the Tom Green County Extension horticulturist. Contact her at


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Article source:

It’s a jungle in there! Man creates exotic paradise garden with banana plants and palm trees… in his backyard in LEEDS

  • Nick Wilson, 57, has spent 20 years creating his dream garden in Yorkshire
  • It takes the keen gardener eight hours to maintain it every single week
  • He spent £2,000 constructing a ‘jungle lodge’ and £150 a year on new plants

Chris Brooke for the Daily Mail



From the front it is just an ordinary semi-detached house.

But hidden behind Nick Wilson’s surburban home lies a tropical wonderland.

The bamboos, palms, banana trees and lush greenery would not be out of place in a steamy Far Eastern jungle.

There is even a wooden ‘jungle lodge’ to complete the garden’s exotic feel.

Secret garden: Nick Wilson, 57, has created this stunning jungle garden at his home in Leeds, Yorkshire

Where the wild things are: The tropical garden is filled with banana trees, bamboo plants and palm trees

The tropical garden even has a wooden hut in the middle of it where Mr Wilson can entertain his guests

When Mr Wilson, 57, and his wife
moved into their house in Roundhay, Leeds, 25 years ago their back
garden was simply a long and narrow lawn.

The prospect of many hours of mowing inspired the software salesman to transform the turf into something far more interesting.

He planted various shrubs every year, put down timber walkways and constructed ponds which he filled with koi carp.

Over two decades the foliage thrived
and grew to fill the 85ft by 30ft garden. Mr Wilson built the thatched
lodge six years ago at a cost of £2,000.

The best things are worth waiting for: Nick Wilson shows his neighbour Sue Tuffin around the garden which has taken him 20 years to complete

Adapting: Despite temperatures in Yorkshire often dropping below freezing in the winter months, Mr Wilson says his tropical plants manage to British weather surprisingly well

Delivery: Mr Wilson transporting gunneras ready to plant in his exotic garden

Transformation: The garden started off as a regular back yard before its metamorphosis

This Sunday he is opening the space
up to the public as part of a ‘garden trail’ designed to inspire
visitors with ideas  of how to transform a small piece of land.

Visitors would be forgiven for thinking they have been whisked away to the South Pacific rather than a suburb in West Yorkshire.

Mr Wilson, who spends about eight
hours a week maintaining his greenery, said: ‘I’m not overly bothered
about mowing lawns. I had always wanted a garden with wooden walkways
and koi carp and lush planting.’

Towering over the jungle: Nick Wilson’s outdoor hut has views across his garden

Under construction: Nick Wilson has spent years – and thousands of pounds – constructing his garden paradise

As well as bamboos and palms, a variety of ferns, gunneras and hostas combine to create the tropical effect.

The garden copes well with the northern climate, except the banana plants, which are kept inside during winter.

Mr Wilson added: ‘There is no special skill. It’s basic carpentry skills, a bit of pond digging … and putting plants in.’

Transformation: The keen gardener used wooden blanks and poles to give his paradise an authentic jungle feel

Early stages: The hut is pictured halfway through being constructed before the roof was put on top of it

Hard graft: A small digger in the back of Mr Wilson’s garden levels the ground so the foundations of his hut can be laid down

Article source:

Native Hawaiian plants nurtured for education and industry

A combination landscape-design and research project is sprouting in the middle of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources researcher Orville Baldos and his students have planted three kinds of native Hawaiian plants around Varney Circle.

UH Mānoa graduate student Aleta Corpuz was part of a group of students assisting Baldos with installing irrigation and cultivating ʻIlima, ʻĀweoweo and Pacific lovegrass.

“This definitely is important so we can show the different natives that we can use in the landscape and also to increase awareness to other people so they can see the possibilities of utilizing natives within their landscapes and gardens,” Corpuz said.

UH Mānoa senior Rachelle Carson added, “People forget that native plants can be used in landscaping. Native plants can be beautiful. ʻIlima has beautiful flowers. ʻĀweoweo has great leaves on it, so I think itʻs good.”

Besides adding to the daily enjoyment of the campus community, the new plantings provide living examples of native dry coastal and dry forest plants for educational purposes. They will also allow Baldos and his students to collect valuable data for the landscape industry. According to the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaiʻi, landscaping is one of the stateʻs fastest growing and largest segments of the green industry with an economic impact of more than $520 million annually and full-time employment of more than 11,000 landscape professionals.

“By having this demonstration site, the landscape industry can take a look at what other plant materials are available,” said Baldos, “Then eventually they can expand their landscape plantings and have more variety in the landscaping.”

While the project may be important to industry, it is also deeply personal to some.

Corpuz explained, “This is important to me because I, as a native Hawaiian, I want to increase the awareness of the native Hawaiian plants and the ability of people to utilize them.”

Article source:

‘Water-wise’ versus ‘drought-tolerant’: What does all the terminology really mean?

Ever notice the cacophony of terms Southern Californians use to describe sustainable gardens?

What is “drought-tolerant,” “drought-resistant,” “drought-adapted,” “xeric,” “water-wise,” “native,” “Mediterranean,” “dry summer,” “sustainable,” “environmentally friendly” and more?

Confusion multiplies when landscape professionals and retailers use terms inconsistently, even disagreeing on what they mean. As a non-professional, get it wrong and it means wasted time and expense.

Here’s a guide to terms and the plants that can help you:

Terms to know

Drought-tolerant, drought-adapted, drought-resistant:

Mostly interchangeable, these terms mean much the same thing. Such plants survive in average or less-than-average rainfall in your region, yet what is drought-tolerant in Oregon or Ohio won’t necessarily be in Southern California. So for Southern California gardens, you need to look for those plants that are drought-adapted to Southern California.

This means a plant that tolerates our six-month summer dry season once established, says Carol Bornstein, director of the Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County: “[It’s] evolved in sync with [our] climate’s characteristic pattern of cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers.”

She says things get a bit complicated when we have a winter drought, winter being when we typically get the vast majority of our annual rainfall; in Los Angeles we are always in a summer drought, she notes.

Examples of Southern California drought-tolerant plants: Yarrow, Indian mallow and artemisia.

Among the drought-tolerant plants: yarrow (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)


Native plants occur naturally in an environment and were not put there by us; they benefit and support their eco-systems and locale.

“Natives have co-evolved with local above- and below-ground organisms, animals, insects, birds, amphibians and soil-dwelling microorganisms for millennia, not just a few hundred years,” said Jodie Cook of Jodie Cook Landscape Design.

Planting a “California native” garden is a current buzz concept. Yet not all California native plants are drought-tolerant. If water-savings are key, check to make sure if it survives well on low water.

And don’t confuse California natives with naturalized plants brought here by humans and happy in their new space, such as the California pepper tree, originally from South America. Generally, these “native” plants are not an issue, though a small subset are considered invasive, (pampas grass, vinca and Mexican feather grass are examples) quickly taking over their new environment and poorly affecting eco-systems. Take care to not plant these, experts say.

Examples of California native plants: California fuschia, matija poppy, manzanita.

Manzanita, an example of a California native plant. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


In terms of plants, Mediterranean refers to five similar climate regions: California, the Mediterranean basin, South Africa’s cape region, central Chile’s western coast and Australia’s southwest and southern regions.

Plants from these Mediterranean climates survive longer periods of moisture stress and on less frequent moisture, says Bob Perry of Perry and Associates Collaborative.

“Such plants have evolved with thicker foliage, leaf hairs, light colors, and have oils that combine to lock in moisture and resist drying out,” he explained.

Adding to the soup of terms is a relatively new one: “summer-dry.” Some landscape aficionados hope to replace the term “Mediterranean” with the more broad and accurate “summer-dry,” which would include a naming of all of the five regions, not just the European.

Examples of Mediterranean plants: Alstroemeria, lavender, senecio.

Lavender is a Mediterranean plant that survives long stretches of dry weather. (Jack Taylor / Getty Images)

Established vs. non-established:

A simple enough concept that most nonprofessional gardeners often overlook, to great detriment. An established plant has grown its root system from its former fussed-over nursery pot life into your yard’s soil. New plants must get acclimated and grow a new root system to survive without additional supplemental water.

What people often do through confusion, explains Cook, is purchase a “drought-tolerant” plant, plant it in dry soil and think it will survive because it is “drought-tolerant.”

“Provide a gradual transition to maturity once they’re in the ground,” she urged. “Roots should stay moist and not be allowed to dry out for two to three months. It’s best to plant low water needy plants in seasons other than summer; October being best, as rains do much of the watering for you.”

Sustainable, California-friendly:

These are buzz-word concepts to promote plants and techniques that support the environment’s welfare. Yet a sustainable yard in Southern California does not necessarily mean planting only California native plants.

It also promotes no pesticide use, natural soil regeneration via composting and mulching, and capturing and using water at its most efficient.

An even newer concept to replace them is the “Watershed” approach, according to Pamela Berstler of G3, Green Gardens Group. This approach has four basic standards: building healthy living soil, capturing rainwater on site, selecting climate-appropriate plants and using irrigation efficiently and only when necessary, she explains.

“The principles that have been used to manage large-scale watersheds are now being applied to the very smallest scale: a roof, a front/backyard, a neighborhood, etc. [It] allows you to use water-wise, drought-tolerant, climate-appropriate techniques, and defines the actions in a way everyone can understand.”

Microclimate and hydro-zoning:

Sometimes confused, these are similar terms though not the same. Microclimate is a smaller area within a larger, general climate zone that has its own unique climate. A city can have a microclimate from a large regional area, a yard from the larger city and an area inside your yard from its plant neighbors.

“Understanding microclimates is a key to the success of most gardens,” Perry said. “What is the sun and heat exposure, and how will it affect the plant’s need for water in order to stay hydrated and cool?”

Hydro-zoning is an irrigation term. It’s a technique that groups plants together based on needs, mostly regarding water. Planting low-water plants with those that require more water is wasteful and causes stress on one of the plants; plant them in harmony with like-water needs.

Example of properly hydro-zoned plants: Buckwheat, salvia Clevelandii, wooly blue curls.

And finally …

If all this sounds complex, that’s because it is. Some 8,000 plants are climate-appropriate in Southern California, according to Berstler.“We’ve used and heard the word ‘drought’ for years, but now it can’t be ignored,” says Johanna Woollcott, of Wild Gardens LA. “Now we have to think of it in all caps: DROUGHT. It’s truly a thrilling time to be in the industry as everything about how we approach gardening is different. It’s a more complicated approach to landscapes than in the gardens of our childhood. If you want to be successful you need to educate yourself, or hire someone with knowledge to do it for you.”

Mike Evans of Tree of Life Nursery thoroughly explains watering schedules for Southern California drought tolerant new plants


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Fostering good gardening habits at a young age

Gardening is not just something your adult customers can get involved in; it’s also the perfect activity for children of all ages.

While it may seem out of the ordinary to design a landscape with children in mind, many customers are trying harder and harder to incorporate a little bit of outdoor activity and a love of nature into the lives of their children.

The next time you meet with a customer who has small children, discuss with them some of the benefits gardening can have on them and the myriad of outdoor possibilities ahead.

How gardening affects the brain

With so many scientific principles at play into the everyday garden, this gives parents the chance to use gardens as teachable moments. According to PBS Parents, studies have shown that children who participate in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not.

Seeing nature at work can also help spark their curiosity and get them asking questions about sun, soil, critters and more. Incorporating a few math lessons – such as measuring the correct amount of soil, counting out vegetables or flowers produced and more – into the activities can also be beneficial.

To help encourage more reading and writing elements into these activities, recommend the idea of having the children keep a photo journal. This gives kids the chance to either draw the plants they see, photograph them or write little snippets about what they see.

If your customers have a vegetable or herb garden, remind them of the multitude of nutritional benefits the brain-building vitamins from these plants can give.

How gardening affects the body

Along with vitamins that help boost the brain, vegetables add to the overall health, wellness and growth of a child’s developing body, and the act of gardening itself holds many benefits.

Children enjoy being able to play and have hands-on learning experiences, so letting them get down and dirty in the garden can actually help stimulate their immunity and improve their overall health.

According to PBS Parents, the lack of childhood exposure to germs increases a child’s susceptibility to allergies, asthma and autoimmune conditions by suppressing the development of the immune system.

Gardening also helps provide kids the benefits of sunshine, fresh air and physical activity, which PBS Parents says has been shown to help kids stay calm and focused.

How gardening helps emotionally

In this high-tech world, kids are exposed more and more every day to screen time, and this can also keep them from establishing connections with other children and family members.

When children spend time outdoors in the garden with siblings or parents, it helps promote team building and communication skills. PBS Parents says that taking time to plan a garden out, harvest or care for what’s planted and discuss the outcomes as a family can help give children a sense of responsibility, mindfulness and purpose.

Letting kids get a firsthand look at sustainability practices such as recycling, composting, collecting rainwater and more can also help foster a deep love and sense of respect and responsibility to care for the planet.

How gardening can help with real estate and portfolios

With a yard that is not only beautiful but also kid-friendly, your customers are sure to get more bang for their buck by spending more time outdoors enjoying your masterpiece, and it could also help your customers attract buyers if they are in the market to sell their home.

“To one degree or another, all landscapes must have a children’s component, especially in a residential market,” says Chris James, owner of Chris James Landscaping in Midland Park, New Jersey, and a consultant for Vander Kooi and Associates, a landscape consulting company. “Whether the client has small children or not, he eventually will be selling his home. If you don’t consider the child component, you are limiting the pool of potential buyers.”

Professionals also recommend including pictures of child-friendly landscapes in their portfolios.

“When prospective clients see photos of children enjoying these spaces, they can imagine their children enjoying them too,” says Bob F. Brzuszek, an Associate Professor for the Department of Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University.

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