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Archives for August 28, 2017

GRAHAM CARTER: Why garden when there’s cricket to follow?

NICE weather for gardening. If you like that kind of thing.

Personally, I am of the same mind as the person who described it as “talked-up housework that you have to do outside”.

It’s true that gardening is mostly tidying up, with a bit of horticulture thrown in.

And by horticulture I mean taking stuff out of pots and putting them in the ground in the often futile hope that they will live to see next week.

Of course, it has come to my attention that some people — as strange as this may seem — actually like gardening.

We have aunties who like it, for instance, but that’s obviously the kind of thing aunties were put on the earth for.

Then there is an old school friend of mine who has been running a garden centre for more than 30 years, and still loves nothing more than getting his hands in a bag of compost.

Not me.

So I have been disturbed to find myself spending more time in garden centres, over the last month, than in the whole of the rest of my life put together.

That’s because we are at the stage in the major landscaping of our (quite large) garden when we suppose we had better get some plants.

All the satisfying garden jobs, like killing slugs, concreting, building things and putting down turf, are out of the way, and now we need green things to fill some gaps and give it some colour.

We hadn’t really thought about this before, because the main thrust of the redesign was making it low-maintenance, even though we came to this conclusion via completely different routes.

My wife has got it into her head that, although it is 20 or 30 years away, we have to be prepared for when we will be too old to maintain it.

But the kind of gardening she now wants to avoid — planting runner beans, for instance — I never had any intention of doing anyway.

My way of thinking is: the less time you spend getting and keeping the garden up together, the more you have left to spend in it, sat in a deck chair or even the hot tub, with a drink in your hand, listening to the Test match.

So it is disappointing to find that with the South African tourists beaten, the West Indians thinking about going home, and autumn approaching, I am still being dragged round garden centres, as if I can offer useful opinions on which plants to buy.

My wife’s faith in my knowledge seems to be based on the fact that, when we were in secondary school, one of the lessons on my timetable was something called rural studies.

As far as I can remember, it consisted mainly of basic gardening tips, and as I can’t now recall a single thing that we were taught, you couldn’t say it was very successful or useful.

I know one end of a spade from the other, but not my onions.

The most bizarre thing about rural studies was that it was, for some reason — like woodwork, technical drawing and rugby — for boys only.

The girls did cooking and sewing instead, and although this obviously has massive benefits for millions of men in this country, for which we should be eternally thankful, I can’t say I really approve of the kind of gender stereotyping that leads women to the conclusion that men should do gardening, or should know much about it.

And what does all this tell us?

The epitome of Sod’s Law is not the toast that always falls butterside down, but God organising the gardening season to coincide with the cricket season.

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Jabco wins Rutgers Gardens’ national Hamilton Award






Every day, we share news from communities around Central Jersey.

Rutgers Gardens has named Jeff Jabco, director of grounds at Swarthmore College and coordinator of horticulture at the Scott Arboretum, as the 2017 recipient of the Hamilton Award, the horticulture award inaugurated last year by the Gardens.

The award will be presented to Jabco at the Rutgers Gardens Party on Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Log Cabin and Alumni Pavilion in New Brunswick.

The Hamilton Award recognizes “an unsung hero, a quiet leader, or patient mentor in the field of horticulture,” and was named for and inspired by former Rutgers professor and Gardens Director Bruce “Doc” Hamilton.

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Bob Lyons, chair of the Rutgers Gardens Advisory Board since 2014 and professor emeritus of plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware, expressed his excitement at the selection of Jabco as the 2017 recipient of the Hamilton Award.

“Few horticulturists have the respect and admiration from as many peers as does Jeff Jabco, who is nationally known and has a well-earned reputation for maintaining the exceptional aesthetics of the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College.”

Since 1990, Jabco has been the coordinator of horticulture at the Scott Arboretum, part of the 425-acre campus of Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, which appears on lists of the “most beautiful college campus” in the U.S. of several leading publications like Forbes, Travel and Leisure, and Garden Design magazine.

Jabco previously served southeastern Pennsylvania as a horticultural extension agent with Penn State University Cooperative Extension. He has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Penn State University and a master’s degree in horticulture, plant breeding and plant pathology from North Carolina State University.

He has taught generations of students, interns and garden enthusiasts who have passed through Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, where he has been an instructor for the past 32 years.

“Jeff is a teacher with a passion for his discipline. His classroom style is engaging and gregarious, in an enthusiastically tempered way; he makes all students feel immediately welcome whether his classroom resides outside amongst the plants or within the conventional four walls,” said Lyons.

Quiet Jabco may be, but his dedication to and renown in the field of horticulture speaks volumes, said Bruce Crawford, director of the Rutgers Gardens since 2005.

“I’ve met Jeff on several occasions. In spite of the beautiful gardens that he oversees and continuously enhances at the Scott Arboretum, to wide acclaim, he always presents a calm, low key and very approachable demeanor,” Crawford said. 

Crawford praised the Rutgers Gardens Advisory Board’s award selection committee for choosing a candidate who “certainly embodies all the professional qualifications and passion necessary to be a recipient of its national horticulture award.”

“Like Doc, who inspired the Hamilton Award, Jeff is more than happy to share his knowledge and passion about plants and enjoys mentoring interns, testimony that one of my former students who interned at the Scott Arboretum shared with me on numerous occasions,” said Crawford. 

The Hamilton Award was unveiled in 2016, a banner year for Rutgers Gardens. It celebrated its centennial anniversary and also became the latest ASHS Horticultural Landmark, joining an elite group of horticultural sites like the New York Botanical Garden, the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., and Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia, which received the society’s first Horticultural Landmark designation.

The Horticultural Landmark designation has “raised the profile of Rutgers Gardens as a leading public garden” in New Jersey and the region, said Crawford.

A largely self-sustaining operation, Rutgers Gardens is open 365 days a year and is one of the few botanical gardens in the U.S. that does not charge an entrance fee. It hosts a wide range of public activities to help provide support for the care of over 180 acres of maintained and natural areas.  

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Antiques can add personality and a focal point to a garden – Observer

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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Tropical Gardening: The majestic mini Madeira Islands

Between the Azores Islands to the north and Canary Islands to the south is a minuscule group of islands. We decided to spend a couple of weeks exploring them.

Located just off the North African coast of Morocco in the Atlantic at latitude 32 degrees, the Madeira Islands are host to visitors from Europe and Africa, but not many folks from Hawaii. So we thought it would be a great place to explore for new landscape ideas.

The islands are warm with temperatures in the 60s during winter and 70s to 80s the rest of the year. With about 250,000 residents living on an island a little smaller than Molokai, the main island of Madeira has faced problems of drought and overpopulation. Many Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii came from here and the Azores.

The name came from Madeira wine, which was popular at the time in England and was often served with cake. There are two inhabited islands and a scatter of uninhabited desert isles and rocks of volcanic origin.

The highest peak is almost 9,000 feet, with subtropical forest and even cloud forest and tree ferns that make it feel like a bit like Hawaii.

The capital city of Funchal does not seem as big as it is since it hasn’t gone high-rise like Honolulu. The old part of the city has structures up to 500 years old. Toward the west of its harbor and not visible from the historic city center is the Lido, which is being developed into condos and apartments and pushing out traditional banana farms.

Even though the islands were discovered more than 500 years ago and now has a large population, the low terracotta tile roofs and cobble stone streets on the slopes of the island give the place a feeling of antiquity. Life is tranquil and the impact of cars is minimal compared to Oahu or even Kona.

Narrow mosaic tiled streets and the numerous tree-lined pedestrian promenades further enhance the casual lifestyle. Alii Drive by Kailua Bay would be ideal for these types of landscaped promenades and would take a minimum of effort if we worked together on the concept.

Funchal is on the dry south side of the island. The north side is much wetter as are the mountains. Numerous waterfalls pour over cliffs to create delightful natural swimming pools.

Madeira was created by a large shield volcano more than a million years ago, and the rough and rugged coastline in some places is reminiscent of the coastline from Pololu to Waipio.

Terraced banana plantations grace the rich volcanic slopes around the island. Thousands of tons of bananas are shipped to Portugal annually. Other fruits common are mango, loquat, passion fruit, peach, plum, grape, avocado and citrus.

One major problem we observed was the death of thousands of Canary Island date palms because of the accidental introduction of the red palm weevil from North Africa. This pest not only kills date palms but many other palm species as well.

There are no sandy beaches on the island, but pebble beaches lead to exquisitely clear water with temperatures about 75 degrees.

We are seeing many species of palms and subtropical fruit trees in the lush landscape but rarely coconut palms. The winter temperatures make the climate marginal for coconut palms but warm enough for royals, ptychospermas, chamaedoreas and many others.

It is notable that a great deal of effort is put into landscaping streets and the many parks. The proper maintenance practices on the island are obvious. Any areas capable of supporting trees and flowering vegetation are fully used and properly maintained.

We plan to visit the much smaller and drier island of Porto Santos with its miles of golden sand beaches and a small population of 5,000 inhabitants. Porto Santos discoveries will be covered next week.

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Can a Mountain Brook man transform our neighborhoods?

Stewart Welch, Founder Welch Group 

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections and past Chairman of Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, ONB, and CAP.

Let’s turn Birmingham around. Click here to sign up for newsletter. There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

Today’s guest blogger is  Stewart Welch.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

I describe Jay Craig as a Mountain Brook man–but that’s neither fair nor accurate.

Yes, Jay and I both attended Mountain Brook High School, but when he graduated, he left Mountain Brook never to return.

He currently resides in Sherman Heights near Ensley and lives a humble life congruent with his neighbors.

In college, Jay studied landscape architecture and later became an Urban Designer for the City of Birmingham.  Having lived through the sixties in Birmingham, Jay developed a heart for helping those who most need help… people living in our lower-income communities.

He had ideas on how to bring communities-in-conflict together.  At one point, he literally risked life and limb to test those ideas in battle-torn Bosnia.

Jay worried about gentrification

In 1980 Jay opened a park rental on Highland Avenue called Loveable Skates and then published a monthly tabloid called The Southsider.

Through his publication he became aware of the commercial revitalization of Five Points South and Highland Avenue. He feared that gentrification would cause the artists, musicians, and other free spirits to have to move.

He watched in dismay the balkanization and poverty of Birmingham and decided to devote his life to develop a plan to help others.

Jay Craig 

Jay goes to Bosnia

After getting a UN Press Pass through The Southsider, Jay flew to the besieged city of Sarajevo. Everyone in Bosnia knew Birmingham’s history and that gave him a little “street credit'”

He met with planners, architects, and government, religious, and military leaders from Sarajevo collecting maps, plans, and taking over 1,000 photographs showing the condition of the buildings and streets.

With these materials he started teaching classes at universities on how to rebuild war torn communities in ways that would unite people.

In Birmingham he learned there was no peace without justice, but in Sarajevo he learned there was no peace without unity and no unity without justice.

His goal was to figure out how the rebuilding process could unite people that were currently in a brutal ethnic cleansing war.

He had to smuggle the maps and plans out of the country and was told it would be very dangerous-the maps and photographs were illegal for citizens to carry.

Once, soldiers surrounded him at gunpoint and put guns in his face. They accused him of being a journalist-fearing he’d write bad things about Sarajevo.

He survived and came back home with a new appreciation for the power of unity and the catastrophic results of disunity.

Jay’s determined to help lower-income communities find pathways to a better life.

To accomplish his plan, Jay felt he needed to get to know the people of these communities on a first-name basis. So ten years ago he moved into one of those communities to explore his ideas on a small scale.

A simple–but ingenious plan

Jay’s over-arching idea is to transform each community into its own business model.

Many of these communities have numerous abandoned homes and empty lots that are owned by the State of Alabama due to non-payment of property taxes.  These properties can be purchased for a minimal amount.

The idea is to have the neighborhood ‘corporation’ purchase the properties with low interest (or no interest) loans from third-party investors who are also interested in helping our lower-income communities.

This land would be used to develop organic food and flower gardens or plant nurseries.  Many of the community residents either have part-time jobs or no job at all.  They would provide the labor and participate in the profits as the goods are sold to local restaurants or other customers.

In the restaurant business, there is a huge movement towards organic farm-to-table dining and Jay’s strategy plays well into that theme.

As these neighborhood workers learn new skills, Jay plans to launch a home landscaping company.  For homes that can be repaired, the community would repair them and set up a rent-to-own program so that others in the community can see their dream of home ownership come true.

To further ‘connect’ these communities, Jay incorporates youth activities which focus on building self-esteem and the belief that every person has value and can achieve their own dreams through planning, discipline and execution.

Jay Can’t Do This Alone

Jay is one of the most courageous and big-hearted people I’ve ever met.

While this is one man’s vision, it can’t be done by one man alone.

Jay needs help both within the lower-income communities and from folks from more affluent communities.

He needs funding; he needs shared ideas; he needs encouragement.

He needs to build a community of support around him to help him bring his dream of helping improve the lives of those living in lower-income communities.

His plan for community action is to create a successful business model in one neighborhood and then replicate that model across Birmingham; then across Alabama; and, who knows… across the country.

Let others know about Jay. Share this piece on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to get involved, contact him at

Stewart Welch, III is founder of The Welch Group, a fee-only investment management and financial advisory firm serving clients throughout the United States.  He was a high school classmate of Jay Craig and is providing financial support for Jay’s vision through The Welch Group Foundation.

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Energy Pipeline: Tech Talk — Is your new idea worth pursuing? Mining oil/gas Patent databases

Every oil/gas company is constantly looking for new ideas that offer a competitive advantage, especially ones that can be patented.

A sound business practice is to review the patent database to be sure the idea can be implemented without infringing on the intellectual property rights of others. To perform this review, an intellectual property expert would be hired to prepare a Freedom to Operate (FTO) opinion, which would cost at least $20,000 to $30,000 (“Freedom to Operate: Knowing if you will likely infringe a patent”, G. Quinn, IPWatchdog, June 27, 2017).

The FTO opinion is an evaluation of the result of a data mining process and the outcome should provide actionable intelligence. This distinction is addressed in an article ( “IP Landscaping – Creating a Conceptual Fabric of Information”, E.P. Raciti, Intellectual Property Today, June 2014) which states:

“… divorced from context is meaningless. Fitting the data to a story is what transforms it into information. Information properly interpreted become actionable intelligence.”

In 2000, a new, powerful tool (Patent Landscapes) was developed to provide a higher level and broader view than FTO opinions of patents, state of the art, and competitive activity in a particular technical area within a specific geographic region. This output delivered data in a context that included visual relationships among the various patents related to the technical area of interest. The above article describes the utility of this new tool:

“The results of a patent landscape can be used both offensively and defensively to inform early stage research and development decisions, assist with internal patent portfolio strategy, identify third party roadblocks or licensing opportunities, and gauge competitor positioning. But unlike a geographical map, IP landscapes have no counterpart in reality by which to gauge their accuracy. While an error in a road map or GPS database can lead to misinterpretations or errors in execution, a poorly executed IP landscape can lead to faulty choices that could not only be costly, but also require precious months or years to unravel.”

The outcome of the landscaping tool is only as good as the competence of the analyst to formulate the inquiries of big data (i.e., patent databases throughout the world) and understand the details of the subject technical area. Substantial information on patent landscaping and examples of application in many technical areas is available in reports of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and numerous commercial websites (“10 Powerful Simple Patent Landscaping Techniques”, ACCLAIM IP, Patent Search Analytics Software).

Patent Landscape for Driverless Car Technologies

Since most readers are familiar with driverless car technologies, the patent landscape map for this technical area is provided as a simple example in Figure 1 which is from “Patent Landscape Report on Autonomous Car-Control Mechanisms/Driverless Car”, GridLogics, April 13, 2016.

The basics of the presentation are:

» the rectangular base map represents the scope of various mechanisms used in a driverless car.

» the patents represented by dots are colored-coded by company.

» specific technical clusters are positioned near each other based on degree of relevance based on information contained in the patents.

» the colored areas are contours based on number of patents.

A general reading of this patent landscape could conclude: maximum patent activity is related to mechanisms involving wheel speed sensors and stability with cruise control being the next active patent area. Traffic jam assist and blind spot detection are areas of low patent activity.

Mapping of Emerging Trends in Oil and Gas Technologies with Commercial Potential

Recently, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) published a comprehensive report overviewing the patent activity in the shale oil and gas subsector of the oil and gas industry (“Patent Landscape Report. Shale Oil and Gas” CIPO, Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, 2016). For this report, the invention database between 2000 and 2012, which contained over 4,000 published patent families, was analyzed. By convention, a patent family contains all the patents related to a single invention.

This report provided two landscape maps which are combined into a complex map (Figure 2). Two overlays are placed on the basic contour map.

» A dotted line is placed along the valley between the elevated areas of patent clusters related to exploration and development/production.

» Colored ovals enclose highest patent areas by major international companies.

As mentioned above, the results of a patent landscape can be used both offensively and defensively to inform early stage research and development decisions as well as other related business decisions. For example:

» Schlumberger and Halliburton dominate the technologies related to exploration (i.e., drilling and well formation) with direct completion in drilling well formation.

» Idemitsu has a strong presence in two technical areas positioned in development/production with different direct competitors in each area.

If your new idea falls in an elevated area of patent clusters, then the possibility of patent infringement is high and the opportunity for commercialization of your idea may involve an arrangement with companies already holding patents in these technical areas. To a lesser degree, infringement concerns could be present on any of the elevated, non-blue areas.

Conversely, if your area of interest is in the blue area, then there should be opportunities commercialize your patentable idea. As a corollary, the blue areas present opportunities for new ideas. For example, most of the exploration side is nearly covered with elevated landscape due to patent activity while there is a major blue bay in the development/production side along the dotted line that has received little patent interest.

Possible Patent Landscapes for Rocky Mountain Oil Fields

Patent landscapes provide key information on emerging technologies with high commercialization potential and opportunities to create barriers for entry of competitors.

A limited search of patent landscape map found only a few related to the oil/gas industry: shale oil and gas technology (presented in this column) and desalination which could be relevant to produced water treatment technologies.

It would be of interest to prepare patent landscapes for technologies related to key issues in Rocky Mountain oil fields, a specific region. These visualizations could help identify technical areas where: company patents are basically in the same patent family and arrangements could be made to jointly to advance existing technology and where new technology is needed. Candidate technical areas could include:

» technologies for management of drill cuttings.

» technologies for management of produced water.

» technologies for horizontal drilling.

» technologies for remediation of petroleum contaminated soils and waters.

» technologies for treating flowback water.

Obviously, a list of firms in the Rocky Mountain Region with capabilities to prepare patent landscape would be very useful.

— For over 50 years, Gary Beers has worked in numerous fields of environmental science as a consultant, regulator and educator. This career included senior management positions with major consulting, nonprofit and public, organizations. He has founded several successful firms to capture emerging resource management markets. One of the his latest ventures, EnviroScienceINFO, provides content for public media.

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No plant is an island

Are your plants looking lonely, surrounded by small patches of high-maintenance bare soil? If they look like they’re suffering in solitary confinement, maybe they are.

Many plant and landscape experts have begun thinking of plants in terms of communities, instead of as individual specimens. They recommend that home gardeners look to the wild for inspiration.

“Thinking of plants in terms of masses and groupings, as opposed to objects to be placed individually in a sort of specimen garden, is what most young people are really responding to now,” said Brian Sullivan, vice president for landscape, gardens, and outdoor collections at the New York Botanical Garden.

The shift in landscaping toward looking at plants as interrelated species gained prominence almost a decade ago with the opening of the High Line, a public park built along an old elevated rail line in New York, Sullivan said.

In a move considered radical at the time – but replicated in parks and gardens across the country since then – the designers of the High Line went with a wilder look, with plantings resembling roadside grasses and wildflowers more than a traditional garden.

Many horticulturalists and landscapers say such gardens – with consideration of how plants benefit one another, and birds, insects and other wildlife – look better for more of the year, and are more functional and self-sustaining.

For landscape designer Thomas Rainer, co-author of “Planting for a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes” with Claudia West (Timber Press, 2015), his epiphany began when he pulled over to the side of a road one day and really looked at what was growing naturally there.

“I’d been puzzling over how we can reach this holy trinity of beauty, low maintenance and functionality in landscaping,” said Rainer, who has designed landscapes for the U.S. Capitol grounds, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the New York Botanical Garden, as well as gardens from Maine to Florida. “Looking more carefully at this weedy neglected patch at the side of road, I saw that it was way more biodiverse than I’d ever dreamed.

“I counted 23 species in just one tiny section. It was kicking my garden’s butt in terms of biodiversity. If you look at the way plants grow naturally, it’s completely different from the way they grow in most parks and gardens.

If you look at functioning communities of plants, they really maintain themselves.

“We have this peculiarly American habit of adding 2 or 3 inches of mulch a couple times a year, but green mulch – ground cover – happens naturally if we let it.”

He reminds home gardeners that “there’s a huge range of self-spreading, less-sexy plants that create the conditions for stability for the upright plants, and require almost no maintenance whatsoever.”

Aesthetically, too, the right ground cover adds dimension to the more dramatic plants around it, making a landscape visually interesting throughout the year, he points out.

Those interested in adopting this approach can start by seeing bare soil as the enemy.

“There isn’t much bare soil at all in the wild,” Rainer said. “Every inch is covered and there are various levels of plants all packed in together.”

He recommends getting on your knees and examining your garden from a rabbit’s perspective, then planting the bare patches with groundcover, ideally native, like sedges or even low perennials, many of which do well in the kind of dry, shaded areas that tend to be where the bare patches are found.

“There’s been a huge rise in popularity of sedges, which come in a range of colors like icy blues or apple greens that can really set off the bright pinks of an azalea,” he said.

Sullivan, at the New York Botanical Garden, said that “with the style we’re talking about, the plants are in interconnected masses, so they are functioning communities sharing the same space.”

“One could be a trillium, a spring flower that somebody might see in March or April,” he said. “When that finishes, somebody might see a fern or a carex. Each plant takes the place of another during different seasons, so there’s never an empty moment. When the ephemerals finish, the perennials start to come up, the grasses, the sedges. And something else might come up in the late part of the season.

“So there’s a sequence. The garden changes but the gardener only does the job once, by the planting.”

Another fun thing to do is to step back and let the plants seed themselves for a season, Sullivan said.

“Just watch and see what pops up, as opposed to planting every season,” he said.





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Secret Gardens of West Chester Tour set for Sept. 9

WEST CHESTER Ever wondered what other local garden owners are doing to make their gardens so beautiful and inviting? Now is your opportunity to find out. On Saturday, Sept. 9, Barclay Friends will host its 13th Annual Secret Gardens of West Chester garden tour of private gardens and plant sale. The tour and plant sale will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and give a fun peek into gardens of local West Chester property owners.

“This year, the tour will feature 15 gardens of local home owners including Barclay Friends, which is home to six lovely gardens for residents of our community,” said new executive director Linda Sterthous, who joined Barclay Friends in July.

Not only will gardening enthusiasts enjoy visiting gardens, but their ticket purchase also supports Barclay Friends horticultural therapy program for residents of the senior living community. “Gardening is naturally therapeutic,” said Barclay Friends horticulturalist Cheryl Bjornson. “Our therapy program gives residents the opportunity to connect with the environment, while eliciting memories and socializing with others.” Residents’ gardening activities also assist other community providers such as the Chester County Food Bank; Barclay Friends donated about 750 pounds of fresh produce over the past two years from its raised beds.

Renee Talley, owner of the West Chester based landscaping company Flowers More, has been a tour-goer as well as the event’s presenting sponsor. Her garden was featured on the 2010 tour and will be featured on this year’s tour after two years of preparation. She says, “The tour is a gardener’s reunion. You get to see garden elements change each year. One of the most intriguing aspects of this event is that you will see gardening ideas on the tour that are obtainable for the local gardener. Take some ideas and run with them!”

Renee has provided gardening services to Barclay Friends for 10 years. One of her most memorable moments at Barclay Friends was landscaping the front of the building. She sat inside looking outward at the gardens through the windows. “I wanted to look at the gardens from the residents’ perspective to help meet their needs.”

This perspective is echoed by Linda Sterthous: “Barclay Friends values include adapting the environment to the resident – not the resident to the environment; we are committed to a person-centered approach here.”

Renee is particularly passionate this year because a number of her neighbors are participating in the tour that she feels has united her neighborhood. “The tour is a spontaneous outpouring of love for West Chester, Barclay Friends and gardening.”

Tickets are $20 in advance of the event and $25 the day of the tour. For more information, visit or call 610-918-3429

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Rock gardens are the answer to maintenance free landscaping | House Calls with James Tully

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Follow along with Action News Anchor James Tully

Contractor Julie Daniels is showing us some quick landscaping for anyone who really doesn’t want to keep up with the maintenance of a garden.

Contractor Julie Daniels is showing us some quick landscaping for anyone who really doesn’t want to do any landscaping.

“If you’re not the green thumb this is probably for you,” Daniels said.

She put in this rock garden outside her home and it’s practically maintenance free.

“We’re going to start with this, it’s what laid under all of the rock here.”
Julie pointed to a double thick roll of durable liner, which will prevent weeds from growing up through the rocks.

Always cut an extra piece than what you need and trim the extra later.

Use landscape pins to hold the tarp into place and then shovel rocks on top.

Items you’ll need: Rocks, double thick durable liner, landscape pins, shovel and scissors.

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