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Archives for September 9, 2017

Gardening: Top tips for growing dahlias in pots this autumn

WHILE everything else in the garden is fading, the blousy blooms of dahlias are still going strong. But how do you grow them in pots and what are the best varieties to try?

You can now buy much more compact plants, thanks to advanced breeding techniques. These will provide you with bushy plants with interesting foliage and flowers that hold themselves above the leaves. The dark-leaved cultivars are a feature in themselves.

Planting up

Plant tubers in John Innes No.3 loam-based compost and insert slow-release fertiliser tablets at planting time to keep the plant well fed. Use pots at least 30cm in diameter to give the tuber plenty of room to grow. As the shoots reach 10-12cm, pinch out the tops to boost bushy growth.

Feed and water

Remember that dahlias are really hungry plants, so will need regular feeding and watering; if they get too dry, they are susceptible to powdery mildew. Once in flower, deadhead regularly, which will keep them going and encourage them to produce more flowers.

Good types to try

It rather depends on the size of your pot, but if you want a dwarf form, D. ‘Roxy’ is a good bet as it has bushy deep burgundy foliage and vibrant deep pink blooms. Other small varieties that pack a punch include the deep orange ‘Bishop of Oxford’, with its dark foliage.

Anemone-flowered dahlias look elegant in pots. Try ‘Mystic Illusion’, which has rich dark foliage and striking yellow flowers that aren’t too tall and don’t need staking.

If you have a large pot, appreciate huge, showy blooms and are prepared to stake them, try the pink ‘Sir Alf Ramsey’. You may get only one flower per month but when you do, it will have been worth the wait.

Article source: http://www.irishnews.com/lifestyle/2017/09/09/news/gardening-top-tips-for-growing-dahlias-in-pots-this-autumn-1128767/

This week’s gardening tips: look for autumn wildflowers

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Article source: http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2017/09/this_weeks_gardening_tips_autu.html

Ellen Winter: Top tips to attract wildlife to your garden

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Ellen Winter reflects on a month of activity in and around the Stroud Valleys.

WHATEVER the size of your garden, here are some top tips to help you attract wildlife.

More tips can be found on Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s website.

1) Just add water! It’s essential, and even a small reliable source will bring in bees, birds, frogs and foxes.

Keep bird baths clean to prevent disease, and make sure ponds have sturdy plants at the edges so hedgehogs and the like can scramble out if they fall in.

Water butts and tanks should be kept covered to prevent animals falling in.

2) After water, food is the next thing to tempt most wildlife. Decide which animals you want to attract.

If you covet your neighbour’s goldfinches then a niger seed feeder might entice them.

However, for lovely scarlet tiger moths, a forget-me-not for their yellow and black caterpillars to munch on might do the trick.

3) A succession of nectar-rich flowers – from February’s snowdrops to December’s mahonia – via dame’s rocket, roses, cosmos and dahlias – will keep bees and butterflies coming to your plot all year.

Use single-flowered varieties so your visitors don’t have to work hard to get their reward of nectar and pollen.

4) Night-scented flowers such as honeysuckle and cherry-pie attract moths, so you might get some of Stroud’s fabulous bats.

These brilliant little animals eat thousands of insects per night, helping to keep your garden midges down!

5) Hedgehogs, slow worms and toads all eat slugs but like the cover of hedges and long grass to feel safe as they move around.

Try to connect your garden to the wider landscape via hedges, holes in fences and long grass at edges.

6) Finally, providing shelter in the form of bee and bug hotels might entice some wildlife to stay permanently and nest.

For more information, see the Wildlife Gardening pages at gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk

Article source: http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/15522030.Ellen_Winter__Top_tips_to_attract_wildlife_to_your_garden/

Bargain prices showing up now on garden items you’ll want next summer

Fall is in the air and it is time to hand out awards for the best of the summer garden performances.

The sunshine put on a big show this summer with home gardeners reporting bumper crops of tomatoes, peppers, figs, eggplants and other warmth-loving crops.

Heat-loving annual flowers, such as sunflowers, geraniums, petunias and zinnias, also had great performance, but only if you remembered to fertilize and water, water, water.

Hanging baskets of fuchsias suffered this summer in many gardens because of not enough water. On warm days, container gardens stuffed full of plants required watering both morning and evening.

If your baskets look sad and dreary with crispy leaves and few blooms now, this is the time to dump them into the compost pile and start fresh with the new season.

Best Plant in a Starring Role Over a Hot Summer

One plant that did well as hanging basket in the hot sun is called Scaevola or Fan Flower. The best variety is named Whirlwind from Proven Winners.

The thick succulent leaves help this draping bloomer with blue, fan-shaped flowers survive full sun, hot days and gardeners that forget to water.

It is an annual, so it will not survive the winter, but if you have plants or hanging baskets that failed in the heat this summer, remember the name Scaevola Whirlwind fan flower when shopping for plants next spring.

The forgiving nature of the fan flower means that when you see it wilt you can revive it with water, so forgetful gardeners get a second chance.

Fan flower earns a round applause — grow it and you’ll be a fan as well.

Best Supporting Role for Container Gardens in the Sun

Self-watering containers — buy them now at bargain prices. Gardeners can now leave home for a long weekend and come back to find their potted flowers and veggies did just fine while they were gone.

September is the month to order self-watering containers as summer ends and these popular pots go on sale. Their light weight means they are easy to move and ship right to your door.

Look for pots made to last with no wooden parts that can rot or ceramic parts that will crack.

There are several choices in self-watering containers, but the ones that work the best and store the most water are larger containers with deep reservoirs.

Although originally designed for growing vegetables in raised beds, the newest version of self-watering containers have plenty of style and are sold online by Gardeners Supply (www.gardenersupply.com.)

These containers have a updated contemporary design, and one that works especially well is made from galvanized metal (weather proof!) and uses cotton batting wicks to draw water up into the potting soil – but only when the plants are dry.

Gardeners Supply also offers a more classic container style that is tall and narrow and includes the self-watering design. The columnar shape with various color options is a perfect form for flanking a front door or dressing up a formal area of the garden.

After a hot, dry summer these containers win the award for supporting the blooming stars of the garden.

Best Costume Design for a Patio Performance

Cushions, pillows and rugs dress up your outdoor space — and don’t need water.

So let’s be practical. Not everyone can keep hanging baskets and potted plants watered and looking good especially during a dry summer. Perhaps the best investment for pretty patios are colorful cushions, umbrellas and outdoor rugs.

You can warm up your outdoor space with hot orange and bright yellow fabrics or cool it down with aqua blue and soft greens, go tropical with hot pinks and bold prints or add drama with black and white geometrics. For a classic look, pick cushions and rugs with wide navy and white stripes.

A patio just doesn’t look dressed without some outdoor fabric.

September is the month to invest in bargain outdoor furniture and update those colorful cushions and accents — just be sure you store your patio wardrobe out of the elements as soon as the rains arrive.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.

Bloomin’ Bingo

Win plants and prizes at the Bloomin’ Bingo benefit for Thurston County master gardeners from 7-9 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. SE in Lacey. Marianne Binetti will be the master of ceremonies, so you’ll learn garden tips as you gamble. More info is available at www.mgftc.org. Space is limited.

Article source: http://www.theolympian.com/living/home-garden/marianne-binetti/article171611002.html

Garden Tips: Get ready to celebrate the Year of the Daffodil – Tri

Monkeys, dogs, pigs and dragons. All of them have their years in the Chinese calendar.

Come on down, daffodil, it’s your turn.

The National Garden Bureau (NGB) has declared 2017 as the “Year of the Daffodil.”

The NGB was started in 1920 to “educate, inspire, and motivate people to increase the use of plants in their homes, gardens, and workplaces.” This non-profit organization’s goals are the same today. Each year the NGB picks one type of easy-to-grow bulb, annual, perennial, and edible plant on which to focus their efforts. This year, it’s the daffodil.

Now is the perfect time to talk about this cheery spring flowering bulb because gardeners should be getting ready to plant daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs soon. However, before we discuss the bulb of the year, we need to discuss why spring flowering bulbs are planted in the fall.

Spring flowering bulbs are considered hardy bulbs because in temperate climates like ours they spend the winter in the ground. Not only do they endure the cold, they require a certain amount of it to enable their bloom in the spring. Generally, daffodils need about 13 weeks of cool soil temperatures (35 to 45 degrees) before they can flower in the spring.

This chilling requirement and the need to develop a root system for growth in the spring is why it is important to plant bulbs in the fall when the weather and soil turn cooler (60 degrees). This typically occurs in our area in mid-October. If you plant too early when the soil is warmer, the bulbs may sprout and start growing. As a result, the early sprouting bulbs may not have enough energy to develop an adequate root system to support the flowers and leaves next spring. Plus, early sprouting bulbs are more vulnerable to freeze damage.

Have you noticed that bulbs are already on the shelves of many garden and big box stores? Go ahead and buy your spring flowering bulbs now while there is a good selection, but wait for cooler weather to plant them. Until then, store your bulbs in a cool dark place.

If your bulbs come in sealed plastic packages, transfer them to labeled brown paper sacks along with their photos and descriptions. This also gives you the opportunity to inspect the bulbs for fuzzy mold and rot. Get rid of the bad ones or return them. The papery skin or “tunic” around the bulb is nature’s protection from bruises and cuts. Do not remove it.

Now back to the bulb of the year. Daffodils are native to the meadows and woody forests of Spain, Portugal, France and Austria. They reached the shores of North America via early pioneers who planted them as reminders of the homes and gardens left behind. Daffodils are still popular today because they are easy to grow, they persist from year to year, and they multiply.

I am not a daffodil expert, but the American Daffodil Society has 13 different daffodil classifications. When it comes to daffodils, I am a traditionalist and prefer the classic bright yellow trumpet daffodils with their long trumpets surrounded by petals, such as the Mount Hood, Marieke and Dutch Master. I also like jonquils that have one to five often-scented smaller flowers per reed-like stem, such as Derringer, Intrigue and the cute miniature jonquil Sweetness.

Start shopping now for your favorite daffodils and tulips because fall should be coming soon. I hope.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

Article source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/living/home-garden/marianne-ophardt/article172087582.html

How the 1 percent gardens Gardening with a checkbook in the Hamptons

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The rigors of vegetable gardening, for most people, are humble and gritty: planting, weeding, dirtying knees, working up a sweat and maybe straining a back muscle or two.

But here on the gilded acres of Long Island’s East End in New York a different skill set often applies: hiring a landscape architect to design the garden, a gardener and crew to plant and pamper the beds and sometimes even a chef to figure out what to do with the bushels of fresh produce. All that’s left is to pick the vegetables — although employees frequently do that, too.

The hardest-worked muscles may be in the hand writing the checks: These lavish, made-to-order gardens can cost as much as $100,000, said Alec Gunn, a Manhattan landscape architect whose firm designs high-end residential, commercial and public-works projects throughout the country.

“And it is not the plants that are driving the cost,” Gunn said. One 2015 project of his in Southampton with a six-figure price tag includes an underground irrigation system, a potting shed, an orchard and a meadow for a cutting garden. Many gardens require expensive hedges or other barriers to protect them from ocean winds and the ubiquitous deer.

The bespoke vegetable garden, these days almost always organic, has become a particular object of desire in the Hamptons. More clients have commissioned elaborate gardens this summer than ever before, say members of the support staffs who toil on them.

“I put in 10 by July,” said Charles R. Dayton, the owner of an East Hampton landscaping company whose ancestors have owned and worked land here since 1640. “I get a kick out of it.”

About 500 farms remain on the fertile East End, even as more mansions crop up each summer on former potato fields. And the kitchen garden has been a tradition on Long Island estates since the 19th century. But today, growing your own produce is a much different enterprise on what has become some of the world’s most expensive real estate.

Two landscape architects said clients this summer had asked that their vegetables be picked, packaged and put on the Hampton Jitney for use in city kitchens. (The cost, $25 to $50 a parcel, is often more than for a passenger.) One gardener, Charlene Babinski, said she had installed a “juicing garden” for her client’s favorite liquid diets.

Then there are the hostess gifts and holiday honey for guests. “One client asked me to make 27 baskets of vegetables to give to her friends,” said Paul Hamilton, a Montauk farmer who plants and maintains seven luxe gardens.

Christopher LaGuardia, a landscape architect based in Water Mill who designs raised beds with black locust wood for vegetables and herbs, said his clients were interested in reducing their carbon footprint by producing vegetables that don’t need to be trucked in. “Plus, they are contributing to biodiversity, pollinators,” he said. “We discourage the big lawn.”

But others liken the professionally tended garden to a vintage car or a Hinckley yacht — yet another means of flaunting wealth.

“I think people have just run out of status symbols,” said Steven Gaines, whose 1998 book, “Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons,” tracked the peregrinations of its richest and most colorful residents. In the years since the book was published, said Gaines, who lives in Wainscott, in East Hampton, “it’s all gotten more intense — the competition has taken over in all sorts of peculiar ways.”

“God has given you too much money when you have someone else tend your vegetable garden,” he said.

For Alexandra Munroe, the senior curator of Asian art at the Guggenheim Museum, the roughly 5,000-square-foot vegetable garden — she calls it the Farm — just outside the 1928 neo-Palladian home she shares with her husband, Robert Rosenkranz, is “the center of the meal.”

“We feast here,” Munroe said, gesturing toward the flower-fringed vegetable garden nestled on a rise overlooking Georgica Jetty, on West End Road in East Hampton. In addition to a pool and tennis court, the property includes a billiards terrace and croquet green; a hedge of Rosa rugosa protects the garden from winds.

Hamilton plants, weeds, hand-waters and harvests the vegetable garden, while four other gardeners work on the remainder of the 5-acre property, which has perennial beds, a meadow and woodland gardens designed by Munroe, who hosts self-guided tours.

She is known to get her hands dirty. But when she arrives at the house for the weekend, there is often a basket brimming with the garden’s harvest, arranged by Hamilton or the estate manager, Robert Deets.

“There is no greater thing than eating produce that’s still warm from the sun that has never seen a refrigerator,” Munroe said.

One thing it is not is cost effective. “It’s a bad trade,” he said, chuckling, referring to his vegetable garden and orchard, designed by landscape architect Stacy Paetzel, who recommended South Bay quartzite for the steps leading to the knoll-top garden and installed galvanized hardware cloth for the cedar fencing. A potting shed will include a soapstone sink and Moroccan tiles, and a raw concrete dining table will sit under a black cherry tree.

At least one vegetable garden of a high-profile Hampton resident is modest. The TV journalist Katie Couric grows a few plants each of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes in a 10-by-20-foot area facing the tennis court at her East Hampton home. She plants and harvests the patch herself, with the help of her landscaper.

Cooking the vegetables for her daughters and sharing the bounty with friends, she said, is “a real treat for me.”

“Sometimes I bring produce to friends because I hate the idea of it not being used,” she said, adding with a laugh, “but I don’t do canning — that’s not my jam.”

If there is a gardener with star quality here, it may well be Paul Hamilton. The seven vegetable gardens he plants and maintains help supplement his other pursuits: playing guitar in a gypsy jazz band, surfing and farming 2 acres that supply his clients and a stand in the Springs section of East Hampton, not far from Jackson Pollock’s former home.

Hamilton, 57, who looks a little like James Taylor, is something of a guru for his wealthy clients, but he has a low-key style. He works barefoot, sometimes in an unbuttoned, well-worn shirt, sometimes with the help of his two sons and stepdaughter. There’s a palpable difference between his bohemian bearing and his bejeweled clients. But he accepts it pragmatically.

“Look, this is the economy out here,” he said. “These projects, these houses, are how most of us make a living.” With the blessing of those who hire him, he delivers surplus produce from their gardens to the East Hampton Senior Center.

Teaching the next generation to appreciate growing one’s own food is important for Babinski, a professional gardener whose family began operating a farm stand in Water Mill in the early 1970s.

“When a child pulls up a carrot from under the ground for the first time, you can’t beat that smile,” she said.

But Babinski said she had seen the initial excitement of a vegetable garden fade for some clients.

“They lose interest, though, after they’re planted,” she said. “It’s the same thing with the chickens. They say, ‘I have to have chickens, so I can tell my friends,’ but they end up giving the eggs to the help.”

Article source: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/unknown/how-the-1-percent-gardensgardening-with-a-checkbook-in-the-hamptons-20170909

See How Los Angeles Design Firm Commune Created Domestic Bliss

Jennifer Doebler and Pat Kelly were looking for a new adventure. In 2009, the pharmaceutical executives decided to decamp from their Greenwich Village apartment in Manhattan and begin a new life with their two young daughters, Scarlett and India, in Berkeley, California. The couple had loved the Bay Area for years, and they were eager to trade the mean streets of New York City for the verdant hills and famously progressive milieu of Berkeley. “We wanted something genuinely different for our family, and this seemed like the perfect place to raise the girls,” Doebler explains. “Plus, Berkeley has lots of great old houses that hadn’t been messed with in the 1980s.”

An online search led the couple to the perfect setting for their reimagined vision of domestic bliss: an archetypal Northern California redwood home built in 1915 in First Bay Tradition style, a vernacular dialect synthesizing elements of East Coast Shingle style, American Craftsman, and English Arts and Crafts. Doebler and Kelly enlisted Liesl Geiger-Kincade of Manhattan’s Studio Geiger Architecture to bring the stalwart residence up to snuff, including stabilizing its foundation (Berkeley is located in an active earthquake area), in a sympathetic renovation that hews closely to the original design. Once that yearlong process was complete, the family packed up their things and headed west.

In the reading nook, Dachshunds Bernhard and Poppy lounge atop sheepskins by grand splendid. Hartmann Forbes matchstick blinds; Daybed with shearling bolster by Commune; pillows by Adam Pogue for Commune; vintage walnut side table and Turkish rug.

Despite the many virtues of First Bay Tradition—quality craftsmanship, volumetric brio, organic connections to the landscape—a sort of brooding gloom remains endemic to the architectural style. “Bringing light into this house was our first order of business,” recalls Roman Alonso of Commune, the Los Angeles design firm tasked with creating the home’s interiors. “Some of the rooms were like caves, so we had to banish the darkness before even thinking about furniture.”

Doebler and Kelly had long been attracted to Commune’s aesthetic sensibility, where unpretentious bohemian chic meets a vivid, contemporary spirit. “We’d bought a couple pieces of furniture from their website a decade ago, and I had a lot of Commune images on the inspiration boards that I’d assembled for the house,” Doebler explains. “After our first meeting with Roman, we knew we’d found the right collaborator,” Kelly explains. “The touchstones for this project—from Wiener Werkstätte to Scandinavian design—emerged naturally from our conversations.”

But first, the light. Alonso and his team installed discreet solar tubes above the entry, atrium, and staircase. In the shadowy dining room, a paper with a shimmery gold-foil ground now covers the walls, and wavy-pattern mirrors line the backs of the original redwood cabinetry for added sparkle—the latter is a trick they picked up from the work of architect and designer Josef Hoffmann, who cofounded the Wiener Werkstätte in 1903. In another nod to the Austrian master, Alonso and his clients selected Hoffmann’s classic Moldauer sconces of brass and silk to join the chorus of floor and table lamps that illuminate the capacious living room. Out of respect for the house, they generally avoided ceiling fixtures.

Abstract c1, by Steven Johanknecht; $2,000. Communedesign.com

“There’s nothing precious or showy about this place. Everything is geared toward the comfort and ease of the family,” Alonso explains. “You see that in the living room, which is essentially the family room. That’s where everyone reads and relaxes every day, where the kids do their school projects and practice on their instruments. We built in plenty of storage for all that stuff so that the living room works equally well for entertaining,” he adds.

The decorative mix in the living room typifies the laid-back yet sophisticated ambience that pervades the home. Along with custom-made Commune sofas, there are vintage French, Danish, and Swedish furnishings, Indian cushions, a 1960s Brazilian armchair from the couple’s New York apartment, and an expansive brass-and-walnut coffee table by Alma Allen. “We weren’t looking to do a slavish reproduction of an Arts and Crafts home, but we still wanted to honor that spirit,” Kelly says.

Notable departures from period orthodoxy include the graphic, hand-painted floors of the kitchen and breakfast room as well as the squiggly Vivienne Westwood wallpaper that covers the mudroom. “The Westwood paper, which I love, was something that Jennifer had put up before we signed on to this project. It works so well because it adds a punchy, modern jolt to all the serious wood,” Alonso observes. “We wanted this house to remain true to its Berkeley roots, but we had to be careful to avoid clichés. This is a warm, inviting home for a young, contemporary family, not a TV-show version of what Berkeley life is all about.”

Article source: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/see-how-los-angeles-design-firm-commune-created-domestic-bliss

Nearly 17000 plants take form at Delaware Botanic Gardens

Planting has begun at the new Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek.

The first third of a 2-acre meadow meticulously planned by Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf – known for the High Line and Battery Gardens in New York City, the Lurie Gardens in Chicago, and other high-profile gardens in London and Barcelona – is being created on former farmland.

“For (Oudolf) to come to Sussex County and put one of his iconic meadows here in the middle of Delaware … it will be a real magnet for people to come here to make Dagsboro a destination,” said Delaware Botanic Gardens President Ray Sander. “It’s a very positive economic benefit.

The meadow will ultimately contain 65,000 plants, 85 percent native to Delmarva but including some exotics that are pollination-compatible with the natives. Completion of the planting is expected in 2018.

The first phase of planting, which will continue through September, involves a third of the meadow and includes 17,000 plants of 54 varieties. A buffer of native grass species is also underway.

Plants were specifically chosen to make the meadow seem “less designed,” Oudolf said.

The blooming perennials and grasses inside the meadow are being planted in tightly spaced blocks. As the plants mature and propagate, they will take on a naturalistic, tightly mingled appearance that will discourage weeds, said the garden’s Chief Horticulturalist Gregg Tepper.

The phase one plants will mature by Autumn 2018, Oudolf said. Phases two and three will be planted in Summer 2018.

The meadow has an organic shape, with curving paths crisscrossing through it.

Three low, grassy mounds will provide an elevated perspective of the meadow and provide spaces for special events like weddings, Sander said.

“The whole layout is so that people can meander through the garden,” Oudolf said. “Every turn is another perspective. Straight lines only focus you on the end, and we don’t want that. We want people to discover something at every turn.”

Plants were chosen that will bloom or go to seed at different times of year, providing not just spring-summer beauty, but also fall colors and “good winter skeletons,” Oudolf said.

Planting is being done by a small army of volunteers. Many are with the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs, but some botanists came to deliver plants from nurseries at University of Delaware and University of Maryland and stayed to help, said Executive Director Sheryl Swed.

Negotiations have been ongoing since last winter to get this variety of specialized plants within the limited budget.

A key is meticulous planning and engaging volunteers, top experts and contractors that believe in Oudolf’s vision and are willing to work within the gardens’ financial limitations, Sander said.

In addition to the meadow, the 37-acre gardens will include 12 acres of managed woodland. Half of that is already complete, with winding paths crossing its low hills from the meadow down to 100 feet of waterfront on Pepper Creek.

The woodland also will celebrate the native plants of the peninsula.

“It’s an idea garden for those that have woods, plus it’s a habitat and it’s a buffer zone for rain and water and conserving resources,” Tepper said.

The plans also call for an outdoor living classroom adjacent to the meadow, an education and visitors center and a restaurant with views of the meadow, Sander said.

A focus will be educating the public not just about these plants, but how to translate the horticultural and design concepts to their own homes, he said.

A groundbreaking ceremony in December 2016 was attended by former Gov. Jack Markell and Carla Markell. Funding for the gardens was raised through grants and multiple fundraising efforts following a $750,000 kickoff grant from Longwood Foundation.

Delaware Botanic Gardens is slated to open in 2019.

MORE: On the path to plans at Delaware Botanic Gardens

MORE: Dogfish Head to sponsor botanic garden ‘living classroom’

Article source: http://www.delmarvanow.com/story/news/local/delaware/2017/09/08/dbg-oudolf-meadow/644015001/

Major-line fights in the 5th Ward: Amanda Alexander bids for a return to office as GOP nominee – Lockport Union

Amanda Alexander knows a few things about serving on the Common Council.

A Republican who’s running for the 5th Ward alderman seat, Alexander served as 2nd Ward alderman in 2008-2009, before redistricting put her neighborhood in the 5th Ward.

She is running a three-way race with incumbent 5th Ward Alderman Richard E. Abbott and newcomer Michelle Roman, both Democrats. But her first battle comes Tuesday, when she has a primary contest with Abbott for the Republican line. 

The primary race is important for Abbott and pivotal for Alexander. Alexander went after the GOP ballot line only, while Abbott has the Independence and Conservative lines in the November contest. (Roman has the Working Families, Women’s Equality and Reform lines and is battling Abbott for the Democratic line in a primary race.)

Alexander suggested that, as a former alderman, she is best suited to avoid outside pressure and only advance resolutions that benefit residents. She pledged to carefully research the ramifications of resolutions before voting.

“I think having that experience, it would be a lot easier for me now for actually representing my constituents,” Alexander said. “And I think I would look into things more in-depth. A lot of times things are pushed through quickly.” 

A Somerset native, Alexander graduated from Barker Central School and earned an associate’s degree in therapeutic recreation at Erie Community College. She spent the 1980s and 1990s working in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and then caring for her own children, before enrolling at Niagara County Community College to obtain a dual degree in ornamental horticulture and business.

After graduating from NCCC in 2000, she worked in landscaping and later started a charter boat service, Liberty Excursions, with her husband, Nicholas Alexander. She also works as a respite assistant at Hope House for Community Missions.

Alexander has been a Lockport Parks and Flower Partners volunteer for over 15 years and has been a volunteer Flight of Five lock tender and tour guide. She serves on the Community Services Board for the Niagara County Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Subcommittee and as public relations chair of the Niagara Arts Guild.

The biggest issues she sees facing Lockport are drug addiction, vacant housing and homelessness. She believes education and awareness could help with substance abuse problems, as well as closer coordination with the county’s drug task force.

“Some people don’t seem to realize there’s a problem, but there is. And it seems to be getting (worse) all the time,” she said.

Alexander wants to see bold new ideas for addressing the issues, noting some cities have had success with simply giving vacant homes to the homeless.

“These are just ideas,” she said. “I don’t know if any of them would work. But I think we have to start thinking outside the box.”

Alexander also wants to see more street cleaning and paving, more meetings between aldermen and their constituents and council members who follow up on the promises they make to voters.

“I would like to be more in touch with our community,” Alexander said. “Even if it was something I wasn’t able to accomplish, I’d like to let them know the reason for not being able to do what they needed.” 

Article source: http://www.lockportjournal.com/news/local_news/major-line-fights-in-the-th-ward-amanda-alexander-bids/article_734c893d-91d5-505a-abed-4c043bd273e4.html

Landscape-materials company remakes first of its 30 stores in Colorado and Arizona as part of effort to reach …

Littleton, CO, Sept. 07, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Colorado will be home to the ultimate retail outlet for DIY enthusiasts and landscapers as Pioneer Landscape Centers launches the first of its new homeowner-centric store remodels with the grand re-opening of its Littleton location this weekend.
 
“Our 6-acre Littleton Landscape Center is the first step in what is an exciting next chapter for one of the nation’s preeminent landscape-supply companies where do-it-yourselfers and professionals will find direct-to-customer savings and the best product selection in the industry,� said CEO Sagi Cohen.
 
“We will continue to be the first choice for contractors, but we’re really focusing on expanding our offerings for homeowners – we want them to feel comfortable coming in on a weekend with their family, to find inspiration, and to have the time and help to discover exactly what they want,� Cohen said. “This new store concept is dedicated to outdoor living, which includes everything homeowners will need to turn their yard into an outdoor space that can become an extension of their home.�
 
In addition to a re-imagined retail approach that increases convenience and choice for homeowners and contractors, the transformation includes a name change from Pioneer Sand to Pioneer Landscape Centers, modernized logos and branding featuring bright and vibrant blues and an updated website with increased emphasis on the customer experience.
 
The grand re-opening of the Littleton Pioneer Landscape Center, 8189 W. Brandon Dr. (south of C-470 off of Santa Fe Dr.), will be Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9 and 10. Visitors can enter to win a free fire pit, enjoy special discounts , and enter to win concert tickets courtesy of 103.5FM The Fox. The entire family will enjoy a grill out, face-painting, crafts, and many fun-filled activities.
 
The Littleton Pioneer Landscape Center is the first of 30 Pioneer retail outlets in Colorado and Arizona to undergo a transformation that highlights outdoor-living products and landscaping materials while improving the shopping experience for homeowners and speeding the buying process for contractors.
 
Product highlights include: decorative rocks, artificial turf, outdoor lighting, paver systems, natural stones, mulch and soil. Homeowners will also discover a nearly 3,000-square foot outdoor Pioneer Marketplace and Inspiration Center featuring the most popular hardscape and landscape products in the area, from decorative rocks and boulders to fire pits and planters, and discounts of up to 50% on some of our most popular products in a Manager’s Special section. And new electric carts allow Pioneer experts to offer their expertise and answer questions while touring homeowners through the distribution center.

Homeowners will also find professional staff whose focus on superior customer service means they are willing to do anything from helping with project ideas to loading customers’ vehicles. 
 
Changes at the Littleton Pioneer Landscape Center aren’t just for homeowners. A new contractors “Fast Lane� will cut the time to order, pay for, and load materials down from about 25 minutes to 10 minutes or less.
 
“Contractors know what they want and need to get in and out and get back to work,â€� Cohen said. “The ‘Fast Lane’ allows the contractors to get what they need in a hurry while homeowners can explore as long as they need to and not feel rushed.â€�
 
As the owner and operator of two productions facilities, 23 quarries, and a fleet of nearly 200 trucks, Pioneer eliminates the middle man and provides unmatched choices.
 
“Restaurants would call what we do ‘Farm to Table,’ and homeowners who visit us are going to discover what the professionals already know: That approach allows us to carry the largest product assortment in the industry — much bigger than any other DIY or big box store,â€� Cohen said. “Landscape and hardscape is what we do for a living — and we can do it better than anyone else.'” 
 
Pioneer plans to expand the Marketplace and Inspiration Center concept to each of its stores this fall, starting with outlets  in Colorado Springs (5000 Northpark Dr.) and Chandler, Arizona (1123 E. Willis Rd.).
 
COMPANY BACKGROUND
Established in 1968, Pioneer has become the leading fully integrated manufacturer and distributor of hardscaping materials in the western United States. With 30 retail locations across Arizona and Colorado, 23 quarries, and two production plants, no other landscape materials company is better suited to crafting outdoor lifestyles for everyone — from homeowners to contractors.
 
Every Pioneer location is tailored such that any person can come away with great ideas to help them imagine and create a personal outdoor paradise of their own. All locations carry over 3000 landscape product materials with an extraordinary variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Our top quality products assist contractors and homeowners tackle any size project.

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Article source: http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/Landscape-materials-company-remakes-first-of-its-30-stores-in-Colorado-and-Arizona-as-part-of-effort-to-reach-homeowners-1002353986