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Archives for September 16, 2017

From narcissi to irises: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on planting bulbs

The miniature varieties are far better. They grow to around 9in or 12in high and the foliage that needs to be left intact for six weeks after flowering is not nearly so messy or hard to deal with as that of the taller types.

The dwarf and miniature varieties can be planted now in clusters of six to 10 bulbs about 4in deep and an inch or two apart. Choose from a wide range of varieties. I’ve yet to find a single one that I don’t like.

If your garden could do with a shot in the arm next March and April, now is the time to think about it. When it comes to value for money, nothing beats these heralds of spring. 

They’re magic!

Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and Tip Of The Day every weekday in the Daily Express. For more information on his range of gardening products visit

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Local Garden Column: Ergonomics can ease the pain

Gardeners of all ages often experience pain and discomfort resulting from the work they do while gardening.

Ergonomics can help gardeners be more efficient and effective with their work by combining gardeners’ abilities with the requirements of their gardening work.

Ergonomics uses scientific information about people and the work they do to help avoid pain and injury by using correct posture and positioning. The following information gives ideas about how gardeners can be more efficient and avoid pain and injury.

There are three keys to taking care of your body during gardening. First, you must think about what you need to do to prepare. Next you will need to know about proper body positioning during your gardening. And last, remember to take frequent breaks while working.

To prepare for your gardening, do a 10-minute warm-up activity such as a brisk walk around your yard or assembling gardening equipment and supplies. Drink plenty of water before and during work to avoid dehydration and help your body work efficiently.

Also be sure to stretch the muscles you are working before and during work. Additionally, purchase tools that are of good quality and permit a comfortable grasp and a thumbs-up position.

Proper body positioning is important to avoid undue stress on your body and avoid pain and injury.

Sally Townsend is a master gardener volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. Look for more gardening tips in the Observer-Dispatch or online at

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Types of garden in your home | Home & Gardening Tips – Times of …

Herb Garden

Herb garden consists of culinary or medicinal herbs, and often has ornamental designs. In fact, herb plants are often underrated as potential design elements in land scaping.

  • Mint and creeping thyme can be used very well as ground cover between stepping stones.
  • Lavender can be used as a landscape design in rock garden, border planting and cottage garden.
  • Corriender and Oregano, as edging plant, ground cover and rock garden plant.
  • Sage is recommended to be used as an ornamental border.

In fact, herbs are worth growing for their pleasant aromatic foliage, some for the beauty of their flowers. This is apart from garnishing salads, perking up flavors of bland vegetables or adding flavor to meats by nipping off a few leaves, when wanted. Calendula and Borage add color to herb garden.

Cultivation practices of most herbs are like sensitive winter annuals. Once planted in proper soil, they grow well and don’t require too much daily care. Herbs grow well in pots and beds. Always use pre dampened potting soil and container in proportion to the type of herb, one is choosing, so that it dosent get root bound, very fast.

  • Bay leaves needs at least four to six hours of sunlight daily.
  • Chives grow better in a garden than a pot. Its purple flowers look beautiful, when bunched together.
  • Parsley is a good indoor herb.
  • Lavender requires little care if the soil drains out well and isn’t excessively wet. It is bug resistant, needs little fertilizer, support and pruning.

Water Garden

The beauty of water garden lies in glimpses of water surfaces, pool appearances and freshness of plants around the margins. In creating water gardens, first thing to find out is what are the possibilities of constant supply of fresh water and means of disposing off the surplus water. Stagnant water is foul, eye sore and dangerous to health

A water garden need not be confined to traditional form of a water pond, having fish and fauna. It could be a watercourse, fountain or simply a container containing few floating plants.

Plants that can be grown are

  • Water lily’s (nymphea)
  • Water Hyacinth
  • Lotus ( nelumbium speciosum)
  • P Patera ( typha latifolia)
  • P Arum Lily
  • P Umbrella Plant
  • P Water Lettuce

Use bio- filters or copper sulphate to keep your water clean.

Kitchen Garden

Kitchen garden is a seasonally used space, away from the rest of the residential garden – the ornamental plants and lawn area? An area consisting of vegetables, herbs, flowers and some fruits grown together. In designing a personal kitchens garden, Imperative is to firm up the types of vegetables, herbs that are being used regularly, in your personal cooking. For limited space, one can use containers as well as climbers. Always make the kitchen garden in a sunny spot, near a water source, close to your kitchen. If space is a constrain use step down design to maximize sunlight to every plant.

Some easy vegetables that one can grow are tomatoes, spinach, radish lettuce, fenugreek, gourds, beans, chilly, and cabbage. Fruits that can be grown in pots are guava, papaya, lemon, and pomegranate.

Rock Garden

Also known as rockery or alpine garden features extensive use of rock/stones with crevices. Plants that grow here tend to be small and prefer a well-drained soil, and less water. Rock garden should look natural and not superimposed. It can be made in open sunshine or partial shade.

Wide range of plants called’ Alpines’ can be grown successfully, like achillea, alyssum, azalea, begonia semperflorens, dianthus, gazania, linum, primula. Perennials like – phloxs, saxifraga, verbena can be grown too. In addition, one can grow cacti, succulents, seedum, miniature roses, lantana and ferns.

Indoor Gardens

Indoor gardens help us stay in touch with nature, in a sense ‘bring the outside, indoors’. Houseplant foliage is of various, sizes, shapes and colors, and have reduced fertilizer requirements. Indoor plants mostly are evergreens, and they require moderate sunlight. The amount of light at any given location would vary according to time of year (angle of sun, day length), window curtain, wall color and location itself.

While lack of sufficient light results in poor plant growth, excessive light can be harmful, making leaves bleach, scald or even dry. This can also happen if gradual moment of plants is not done from inside to outdoors or vice versa. Some of the houseplants are aglonema, chamaedorea, monsteria, ferns, dracaena, philodendron and dieffenbachia.

Flower Garden

Flower garden is a combination of plants of different heights, colors, textures, fragrances to create interest and delight to senses. Mostly grown for decorative purpose. Plan your garden in three strata- trees, shrubs and ground cover. Have raised beds, borders, walkways for the plants.

Observe the amount of sun/shade, temperature and soil condition in your garden. As different flowers come up, at different times of the year, one should think about the time, when you want your flowers to bloom and for how long. One can have them bloom, all at same time or one can stagger it throughout the growing season.

Interesting part of planning your flower garden is that you can set up thematic sections, like butterfly garden, bird garden, wild life garden, rose garden, perennial garden, shade garden, water garden and cacti garden.

Mughal Garden

Mughal garden design originated in Mughal era and is influenced by Persian garden style. In these gardens, significant use is made of rectilinear layouts within walled enclosures, with pools, fountains and canals. Examples Shalimar Gardens at Lahore/ Srinagar, Pinjore Gardens and Taj Mahal.

Sunlight and its effect are an important factor in structural design. Textures and shapes were specifically chosen by architects to harness light. Trees and trellises largely feature for shade. Pavilions and walls are structurally prominent too. A form of underground tunnel below the water table, named ‘Qanat’ is used to irrigate the garden. This gardening style attempts to integrate that which is ‘indoor with outdoor’ by creating arches between outer and inner area.

Written by Harpreet Ahluwali from Earthly Creations

(Images: Shutterstock)

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This week’s gardening tips: pollination celebration, collecting seeds and more

Known as red spider lilies, hurricane lilies or naked ladies, Lycoris radiata blooms this month with clusters of red flowers arising on bare stems from the ground. When the flower stalks of this traditional Southern bulb have faded, trim the stems to the ground. Watch for the narrow, dark green, silver-striped foliage to appear, and be sure not to cut it back during its growing season this winter and spring.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. Email questions to or add them to the comment section below. Follow his stories at, on Facebook and @nolahomegardenon Instagram.


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Make a statement: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips to create a garden featuring modern art

Stately gardens use terraces, outbuildings, pergolas and walls to divide green spaces into a series of views and focal points.

The stonework forms the year-round architectural backbone of the garden, with flowers providing fine detail and seasonal variations.

Hard landscaping works on a small scale, too, and most gardens have some architectural features, such as patios, paths, decking, walls and fences.

Tubs, arches or a pergola are good ways of adding to the picture, and a summerhouse or gazebo makes a focal point.

But for real impact you need a few character pieces.

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Garden Tips: Washington pears a tasty fall treat – Tri

Did you know that Washington State leads the country in pear production? Our state is well known for its production of apples and cherries, but in 2014 it led the U.S. in pear production by growing 832 million pounds of pears. Oregon came in second, growing 432 million pounds.

While there are over 3,000 cultivated varieties of European pears (Pyrus communis), only ten of these are grown commercially in Washington and Oregon. These ten fall into two categories: summer pears harvested in late summer (August) and winter pears harvested in early fall (late August through September). European pears are native to western Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.

Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia), native to eastern Asia, are not considered in Washington’s pear production statistics. While relatively new to the U.S., Asian pears have been cultivated since the eighth century in Japan and for more than 2,000 years in China. When it comes to taste, Asian pears are generally described as crisp, juicy and sweet.

Ophardt RGB columnist.jpg

In my formative years, canned pears were the only pears I ate. More recently, fresh pears have piqued my culinary interest. I am trying to learn more about the unique flavors and uses for all the top European pear varieties. My current favorites for fresh eating are the popular sweet and juicy Bartlett and Anjou pears along with the scrumptious Comice. Varieties with firmer flesh, like Bosc and Anjou, are best for cooking.

If you are most familiar with canned pears, you may have found the almost rock-hard firmness of fresh pears at the market perplexing. European pears are picked when mature, but before they become ripe and soft. This allows them to develop better flavor and texture and makes shipping easier. If left on the tree to ripen, they develop an objectionable gritty texture. (Like apples, Asian pears are best ripened on the tree before harvesting.)

You can ripen pears at room temperature on the kitchen counter. This takes about three to ten days, depending on conditions. You can speed up the process by placing the fruit in a brown paper bag with ripe bananas or apples. These ripe fruit give off ethylene gas which stimulates the ripening process.

It is important to keep a close eye on your ripening pears because they ripen from the inside out. If you let pears become overripe, their cores become brown and mushy and their flesh less flavorful. If perfectly ripe, the flesh at the stem end will yield to the gentle pressure of your thumb. When the rest of the pear becomes soft, it is overripe. Ripe pears can be stored for about three to five days in the refrigerator.

Getting pears to ripen is tricky business. Most cultivars, except for Bartlett, Seckel, and Bosc, require a month or two of “chilling” or cold storage (32 degrees) to enable proper ripening. Pears purchased at the grocery store have already been chilled. However, if you grow your own pears or get them directly from an orchard, you need to be aware of the cold storage requirement of some varieties.

Fall is coming and I can hardly wait to try more tasty Washington pears. How about you?

If you want to know more about harvesting and storing pears and apples, consult the Oregon State University fact sheet “Picking and Storing Apples and Pears” at

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

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RHS launches Schools Garden Design Contest

Nearly 800 school pupils across the UK will be taking part in a ten-week garden design competition from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) that kicks off next week.

The competition will see teams of 12-14 year-olds develop imaginative designs for a new garden for their school or local community.

Back for a second year, the Green Plan It Challenge will be launched at eight regional events over the next few weeks, from Edinburgh to Bristol.

Dr Mike Maunder, the director of life sciences at the Eden Project and Olivia O’Brien from Growing Underground, London’s first underground farm, are among the horticulture professionals providing pupils with insider tips and inspiration at the launch events.

Each school team of six will also be paired with an industry mentor, such as a landscape architect, head gardener or plant scientist, who will work with them throughout the project and provide an insider’s glimpse into the powerful benefits of plants to people and places.

The groups will choose a space and carry out research before developing their ideas into 3D models. The finished designs will be judged at regional events in December where one winner from each area will be decided by a team of industry assessors.

Last year’s winners included a team from Swanlea School in Whitechapel, East London who designed an inventive balcony garden for people living in inner-city blocks of flats with little outdoor space. Their design was brought to life this summer at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Andrea Van-Sittart, RHS head of community outreach, said: “The Green Plan It Challenge is designed to support young people to develop a host of new skills including teamwork, creativity and problem-solving, as well as providing an insight into some of the fantastic career possibilities within horticulture.

“Schoolgoers are often not aware of the importance of plants to our everyday lives and the project lets them explore this, resulting in some amazing ideas.”

She added: “It’s testament to the industry’s commitment, that over a hundred professionals will be sharing their passion and love for their jobs with the next generation of gardening experts.”

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Create fairy gardens with children to foster a love of gardening

Gardening can be an enjoyable activity for adults and children alike and encourages creative thinking and can make for an eco-friendly activity as well. 

Adding a touch of whimsy to gardening can make it that much more attractive to children, which is why fairy gardens have become so popular. Fairy gardens can be designed in outdoor gardens or in containers that children can enjoy indoors. Here are six steps to get your fairy garden up and running.

1. Choose your container or location.

Decide where to place the fairy garden. Hollowed-out tree stumps are both contained and outdoors, and kids may feel like the fairies inhabited this neglected area of the yard and made it their own. Otherwise, use containers you already have, such as old pots, hanging baskets, picnic baskets or cookie tins. Wooden birdhouses with their roofs removed also can make for clever places to house the gardens.

2. Choose a theme.

Fairy houses can take on any theme their creators prefer. Themes help children decide what to include in their gardens. For example, a seaside retreat may work well with little reclining chairs, sea grasses and succulents. You can then complete the theme by adding some seashells and colored stones.

3. Draw up your design.

Before securing anything in the container or digging into your garden bed, sketch out a garden design. This gives you an idea of how the finished product will look. Even before planting, gently place plants and other components in their spots and move them around accordingly until you find the desired look.

4. Choose plants with similar needs.

Mixing plants that have different requirements can make it challenging to care for the fairy garden, so select plants that require similar levels of sunlight, water and soil conditions. Herbs are a smart choice, because they stay small and are easily maintained. 

5. Don’t forget a fairy dwelling.

You will need to add a house for the fairies to inhabit. Small birdhouses can work, but you also can consider old teapots, bird-nesting boxes or even homemade houses assembled out of bark and twigs. Use your imagination, and the garden will take on a life of its own.

6. Invite the fairies.

Children can invite fairies to take up residence (fairies often show up at night and tend to remain unseen) or create their own fairies using craft materials.

Fairy gardens are a fun way to introduce children to gardening. Once families get started, they may want to create entire fairy villages.  


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Late bloomers are worth the wait – Washington Times

Late bloomers put the flash into fall gardens. Just when summer’s show is coming to a close, asters, Japanese anemones, sedums and other fall bloomers begin to light up the garden. While daylilies and daisies performed all summer long, these late bloomers were simply waiting their turn. When the time finally comes, they dazzle until frost arrives.

Summer gardens are giddy and glorious, but fall flowers have a different character. They’re somehow richer. They’re more precious, too — you waited a long time for them, nurturing the plants through the summer, so they’re deeply rewarding. Like the bright, fresh weather, they’re invigorating: Change is in the air.

Lots of well-known perennial flowers are among the most steadfast and sparkling fall bloomers. Chrysanthemums, of course, are traditional fall favorites. Sedums, which are extremely drought-tolerant, soldier through the summer and come into vigorous bloom in fall, attracting butterflies to their large flower heads. Monarch butterflies, in particular, visit sedums on their migration path to Mexico.

Early fall is also the season of asters of all kinds and colors, with flowers like clouds of beautiful blues and pinks. Toad lilies produce their freckled, orchidlike blooms on long, arching stems in fall, lighting up shade gardens. Ornamental grasses send up their spectacular inflorescences, shimmering in the autumn light as the days grow shorter.

Fall flowers deserve special consideration in a garden’s design. It’s nice to grow them along paths or in flower beds close to the house, where you can’t miss them — or you can plant them around the perimeter of the garden, where you’ll be drawn outside in the crisp fall days to appreciate their contribution to the new season. Make room for them among summer-blooming annuals and perennials, where they’ll provide structure and texture all summer and then extend the season — giving your flower beds plenty of color and interest all the way to frost.

Garden shops stock good supplies of mums and asters, as well as an increasingly interesting selection of other fall bloomers, perfect for flowerpots for the front porch or patio. They’re typically sold in larger containers than spring flowers, so they make a big impact as soon as you plant them. Plants in quart-size nursery pots, or larger, can also be planted right in flower beds to fill in bare spots where summer flowers have faded. They will need a little attention to watering if it doesn’t rain, but in fall, cooler temperatures reduce evaporation of moisture from the soil, and even newly planted flowers really shouldn’t need much pampering.

A well-designed and nicely situated garden has layers of color and texture, from the flower beds to the treetops. In fall, the blazing reds, rich russets and intense yellow colors of changing leaves on trees get much of the attention, but the trees actually tend to produce their show quite late in the season. Shrubs with great fall flowers fill the middle layer, and they start their show in September. Panicle hydrangeas, with their cone-shaped flower heads, look like living bouquets in a garden. Caryopteris, a small shrub (sometimes called blue mist or bluebeard), is covered with flowers in fall: It seems to glow in the light. Early fall is a perfect time to walk around a garden shop looking for shrubs with autumn interest. You might spot Bloomerang lilacs, Encore azaleas, or Bloomstruck hydrangeas, which all produce a fresh round of showy flowers in early fall. Roses usually put on a strong fall display, too. Their colors are brighter in cooler fall weather, their fragrance is more intense and the blooms last longer.

Don’t forget the details. A few pansies or violas here and there in the garden bloom reliably through the fall, and even weather the winter in many areas. Their bright, charming faces will draw you outdoors in all kinds of weather. Fall-blooming crocus, tucked into a spot along the front walk, will greet you and your guests with an unexpected and welcome flash of purple. The charming, reflexed petals of hardy cyclamen flowers in a shade garden look like exotic little butterflies.

Early fall is way too soon to give up on the garden. The days are growing shorter, and summer’s flowers are fading, but autumn has its own colors and cadence. Make sure some of the season’s fireworks go off in your backyard.

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Hudsonville City Commission OKs bid for Chicago Drive enhancements

The Hudsonville City Commission has approved a bid for a project designed to transform a busy, noisy stretch of highway into a welcoming entryway.

A bid of $722,560 from Katerberg-Verhage Inc. was accepted during the Sept. 12 City Commission meeting. The work will include landscaping and other enhancements along Chicago Drive, which bisects the city and adjoins its southern downtown area.

According to the city’s website, the improvements will include the planting of pine trees along the north side of the road to help screen the railroad tracks.

In the median and on the south side of the road, decorative concrete and a variety of plantings will be used to help calm traffic through the downtown area and to draw motorists’ eyes to the business district on the south side of the roadway.

The city received three bids for the Chicago Drive landscape enhancements project. All three bids came in significantly higher than the city’s original projected estimate of $640,000.

The bids received were from Epic Excavating, $867,399; Kamminga Roodvoets, $847,973; and Katerberg-Verhage, $833,255.

City Manager Patrick Waterman said that immediately after the bid opening, design consultant M.C. Smith was asked to contact the lowest qualified bidder and seek out possible scope reductions or cost-saving ideas that would bring the project closer to the original budget.

Several options were identified that resulted in a savings of $130,695, bringing the total cost down to $702,560, plus a $20,000 contingency fund.

The items and their associated cost savings included the use of scored concrete in the median instead of stamped concrete ($53,662), decreasing the amount of topsoil removed ($49,100), reducing the number of planter pots in the Service Road median ($7,608) and reducing the number of trees along the north side of Chicago Drive ($7,737).

The commission also voted to approve a construction contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation that will allow the construction and maintenance of the improvements.

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