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Archives for September 18, 2017

SEPTEMBER GARDENING TIPS – FROM OUR EXPERT

We can’t believe we are already halfway through September! Summer is now starting to feel like a distant memory. Although the weather is a lot damper and colder, it is the perfect time to get any little jobs completed before the winter season hits. This could include work such as planting up your borders with bulbs or caring for your lawn.

 

Harvest:
When it comes to harvesting, it helps to be prepared. Fruit can be stored from late autumn to late winter.
· Mid-season apples can be keep for four to eight weeks
· Quince should be used up within a month
· Depending on the storage conditions, pears can be stored between two weeks and three months
Tip – If fruit has not ripened, put it in a bowl with a banana and will ripen quickly due to the ethylene gas they produce.

 

Wildlife:
Keep an eye out for the last few signs of for animals who will soon disappear into hibernation, such as the hedgehog. There is also the option of creating sections where these adorable animals can hibernate in your garden, if you create the required accommodation. This is well worth doing as hedgehogs in particular eats lots and lots of slugs, an enemy of any keen gardener!

 

Maintenance:
Ensuring you do the basic garden maintenance at this time of the year is important to keeping your garden clean and tidy. Mowing the lawn, edging, cutting the hedges, punning the plants, weeding and hoeing are just some of the simple jobs you can do to keep your garden looking smart and presentable.
If you would have any questions or would like to enquire about any work we could provide for yourself, maybe you would like a nice vegetable patch or fruit trees so you can start harvesting next year? Would you like us to come and provide yourself for some regular or one off maintenance then please feel free to give the office a call.

 

Preparing your lawn for winter:
The best time to give your lawn a pick-me up is September. This allows the grass to be revitalized, after the excessive wear that summer can bring, which will ensure they are fit enough to get through winter. It is important to tackle any moss, then improve the drainage by pushing a garden fork into the ground, as far as you can, then top-dress the turf. Finally, feed the grass to perk up your tired lawn.

 

Kitchen garden:
A good idea for this time of the year is caring and planting up your vegetable patch. Having a vegetable patch is a brilliant idea as it allows you to produce your own products. Here are a few things to do in your vegetable patch at this time of the year.
· Plant autumn onion such as Swift and Troy
· You can dig in a green manure or dig in some well-rotted animal manure.
· Lift squashes, to avoid rotting and aid ripening
· Dig up any potatoes remaining before they are slug damaged or late blight

 

September Handy Hints:
If you have a pond, it is a good idea to get this netted now, before the leaves start to fall, as fishing out leaves is not a pleasant task!
Keep on deadheading your roses and dahlias until the first frost hits so your garden looks as good as possible and the flower as long as possible.
Look in to your servicing your garden equipment; clean the machine, replace the oil and air filter over winter and sharpen or replace the blades on your hedge cutters and mowers.
Although there is plenty to do, make sure you enjoy any nice days, of which there is bound to be some.

 

Jason Harker

JASON IS A PROFESSIONAL GARDENER AND LANDSCAPER, AND OWNER OF JHPS-GARDENS LTD.
HE REGULARLY WRITES A PIECE FOR OUR WEBSITE, PLUS THE SENTINEL NEWSPAPER,
AND IS A GO TO EXPERT ON BBC RADIO STOKE’S GARDENING PROGRAMME.

 

 

 

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Article source: http://www.stonegazette.co.uk/2017/09/september-gardening-tips-expert/

How to prevent and remove sweat stains

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Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/home-garden/how-to-prevent-and-remove-sweat-stains/articleshow/60732189.cms

How to remove wallpaper without much difficulty

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Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/home-garden/how-to-remove-wallpaper-without-much-difficulty/articleshow/60732275.cms

It’s Garden Thyme! with Natalie Gentry, of Chesapeake City

This month I had the pleasure of visiting the home garden of Natalie Gentry of Chesapeake City. Natalie has been gardening her entire life with the guidance from her greatest inspiration — her mom. When this vibrant and charming lady is not hosting large family gatherings by her pool or helping to organize community events, she can be found tending to her magnificent gardens at her childhood home she now shares with her husband, Jeffery, their dog, Colby, and cat, Cookie.

Natalie and I spoke a little about what she has growing throughout the seasons, a new project she hopes to accomplish and the tools most useful to her. Additionally, she shared a few tips to help you in your home garden. I hope you enjoy Natalie’s garden story!

Tell us a little about what inspired you to begin gardening.

My mom has always been my greatest inspiration and nurtured my love of gardening. She got her love of gardening from her grandmother who was from the Ukraine, who later moved to Chesapeake City. My great grandmother was a wonderful gardener and was known as the “Queen of Hydrangeas” and is the inspiration for our gardens.

Growing up, my mom and I worked side-by-side creating the very gardens I tend to today. When my mom moved 10 years ago, I dug up most of the yard and shipped a lot of the plants to her in Tennessee and brought all the other plants to our house in town.

When my husband and I moved back to this house a little over two years ago there were not many plantings left, so we dug up all our favorite plants from the old house and brought them home again. I’ve enjoyed recreating all the garden beds with the help of my mom. She always has new ideas for projects and has a good eye for what works in the garden. She frequently offers advice and is always right. We still talk about gardening on a daily basis. She will always be my inspiration!

What would we find growing in your gardens throughout the seasons?

Throughout the seasons you’ll find many perennials, such as tulips, snowdrops, daffodils, hypericum berries, hosta, Chinese anemone, cleome, peony, foxglove, phlox, lilies, clematis, hydrangea, coneflower, black-eyed Susans, sedum and knock-out roses. Later in the season the elephant ears are stunning. They fill up the landscape and add a tropical feel to the garden beds and the planters around the pool.

I also plant a nice variety of annuals in pots and in the ground, such as coleus, impatiens, zinnia, sweet potato vine, popcorn plant, dianthus, purple hyacinth vine, petunias, portulaca, hibiscus, concord blue streptocarpella and bougainvillea vine. The herbs I have planted around the pool are sage, rosemary, lavender and basil. A few of my absolute favorite plants are my hydrangeas because of the memories they bring, the dahlias — especially the one named “Natalie G.”, the white lily because I received its bulb while I was in the audience during a screening of “The Martha Stewart Show” more than 10 years ago, Persian shield for the interesting color, dragon wing begonia for nibbling the leaves which have a nice lemon taste and lambs ears, ferns and dusty miller for their texture and color.

To attract butterflies and hummingbirds, I favor statice, salvia, honeysuckle, mandevilla and lantana. I also have planters brimming with interesting varieties of succulents. The boxwoods, hollies and magnolias lend green all year long and offer a nice supply of materials for making holiday wreaths for friends and family.

Do you have any new projects planned for next season?

Yes I do! We have a tree in the front yard that has a circular bed planted around it filled with daffodils. I’d love to remove the tree, rototill the ground to create a larger circular bed and fill the space with more unusual flowers and plants that bloom with each season, such as dahlias, alliums and cosmos. A couple of other goals I have are to concentrate on adding a few evergreens to the landscape and to learn more effective ways to deer-proof the gardens.

A good tool can be a gardener’s best friend. Which are must-haves for you and your mom?

One of my favorite tools for digging in a container or the ground is a sharp square-metal garden hoe, hand forged in Montana by Tuli Fisher. His products are really nice and make great gifts. My other must-have tools are a small child’s spade which is good to have on hand because it gets into nooks and crannies and is easy to maneuver. Having a good shovel and a wheelbarrow (I have three) help to save the back. A good hose is also very helpful.

My mom’s must-have tool is a pickaxe. She finds it useful to dig new garden beds. She also keeps a shovel in her car because “you never know when you are going to come across a great plant to dig up”.

Would you like to pass along any tips to help other gardeners succeed in their home gardens?

Plant what you like and select a location where it would do best. Mix annuals and perennials. To get more bang for your buck, buy plants that reseed themselves or multiply, such as cleome, phlox, hosta and iris. Buy at the end of the season even if the plants look horrible, by next year they’ll be beautiful. Consider adding interest to your garden by including plants with different textures and shades of green. Think of your plants as an investment and don’t give up on them if they are ravaged by deer, pests or weather, just move them to a new location and give them time to recover. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to design a garden. Think of your garden as a painting and “paint” with the colors of the plants.

Dee Marotta travels the Cecil area in search of gardeners to feature for It’s Garden Thyme! She asks about their methods and shares what she learns here. If you’d like your garden featured, Dee would love to hear from you. You can reach her at: itsgardenthyme@gmail.com or 410-287-5816. You can also find her on Facebook: It’s Garden Thyme.

Article source: http://www.cecildaily.com/spotlight/article_3808f249-c500-5128-b4c4-1f3ffba08c7f.html

Gardening: Create a Texas-style cottage garden with these tips – Austin American

While a cottage garden contains many different plants, it should include groupings of the same plants to provide interest and impact. Repetition adds sophistication, pattern and rhythm. Pleasing arrangements and groupings of colors create harmony in the garden. Avoid chaos by planting in odd numbers — landscape design principles advise the use of 3, 5, 7 plants, with exceptions for large, focal-point specimens.

Article source: http://www.statesman.com/lifestyles/home--garden/gardening-create-texas-style-cottage-garden-with-these-tips/WjD7cjS3YPssyGPoQN6RrO/

blancas moran designs a family house in mexico city using natural stone and timber

the AA315  single family house, designed by architect blancas moran, is located in the west of mexico city and is part of a third generation of architectural interventions in a residential neighborhood created in the 1930’s. when the client acquired the plot, a 1950’s house occupied the center of the site, however, once evaluating different scenarios, the client decided to demolish the existing building and commission a new project. after the demolition of the existing building, the  60 year old trees surrounding the previous house were revealed, dictating together with the orientation of the plot, the L-shape of the project.

the entrance corridor

 

 

blancas moran decided to exploit the condition and agreed with the client to design a house that could open and live as much as possible to the green exterior, aiming to create a garden with a house instead of a house with a garden. the architectural brief is organized in three levels. the first level features the social  areas ( living room, dining room, family room, terrace, toilet, kitchen and lobby), the second includes the private areas (master bedroom, small bedrooms, guest room, TV room) and the basement has the services (laundry room, garage, gym , technical areas).

garden façade at night

 

 

all the programs featured on the first level are open to the garden. only specific areas like the dining room, the family room and the kitchen require a specific degree of privacy. the house’s main staircase is located in the double height corner of the L-Shape serving as a connection between the social and private areas of the house. the second level takes advantage of the L-Shape to divide the private areas into three sections. the left  wing is occupied by the master bedroom with a bathroom and dressing room, the right with is occupied by the two smaller bedrooms and the TV room and the corner of the L-shape includes the stair lobby and guest room. this arrangement guarantees the privacy of the bedrooms and creates a meeting point for the family in the crossing of the two wings. 

garage

the master bedroom’s en-suite bathroom

the defining staircase

entrance corridor

since the clients requested low maintenance materials for the house, the architects decided on natural stones and timber in different degrees of character

the dining room

the bridge between the bedrooms

lobby

garden façade during the daytime

pool terrace at night

 

 

project info:

 

project: aa315 house  – single family house
location: mexico city, mexico
project team: alejandro bernardi gallo, beatriz peschard mijares, abel blancas morán
photographs: rafael gamo 
lighting design: luz en arquitectura
structural design: alonso asociados 
landscape design:  entorno taller de paisaje
woodworks: grupo hagan
completion: 2017

 

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynn chaya | designboom

Article source: https://www.designboom.com/architecture/blancas-moran-aa315-single-family-house-mexico-city-09-18-2017/

Local community things to know and do for the Pasadena area for Sept. 18, 2017 – The Pasadena Star



SAN GABRIEL VALLEY

Free garden designers event

Armstrong Garden Centers will hold a meet-the-designers event at 10 a.m. Sept. 23 at the La Canada and Monrovia stores.

The event will feature an opportunity to meet with a garden design expert. Armstrong’s team of designers will give an overview of available services, show off portfolios of previous work and answer general landscape design questions.

No registration required.

For more information on Armstrong Garden Centers and gardening tips, visit www.armstronggarden.com.

PASADENA

Public hearing on water rate changes

Pasadena Water and Power will hold a public hearing regarding upcoming water rate changes at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 the Pasadena City Council Chambers.

PWP wants to update residents on two important water rate-related changes being proposed: A new water rate structure — how it charges for water; and adjustments to water rate — the prices it charges.

Customer input and feedback is requested at the Pasadena City Council public hearing.

The Chambers are at City Hall, 100 Garfield Ave.

For more information, go to www.cityofpasadena.net/waterandpower/WaterRates/.

DUARTE

City seeks community photos for inaugural contest

The city is holding its inaugural “photography contest” now through 30 and invites all Duarte residents to participate.

Photographic submission must capture an image that best represents the city: landscapes, architecture, people, and more. Photographic submissions must be both emailed to igarcia@accessduarte.com before 5 p.m. Sept. 30 and shared on Facebook/Instagram by using the hashtag #DuartePhotoContest.

The first-place winner will receive a one-year membership to the Duarte Fitness Center and a $50 gift card. The second-place winner will receive a $25 gift card and the third-place winner, along with the other two winners, will have their photo featured on the city’s social media platforms.

The winners will be announced at the Oct. 10 Duarte City Council meeting at 7 p.m.

Winners must submit proof of Duarte residency (i.e. by bringing a utility bill), before Oct. 10. For more information, go to www.accessduarte.com or call City Hall at 626-357-7931, ext. 267.

Pomona

City celebrates Community Day at Fair

Temple City will celebrate its community at the Los Angeles County Fair on Sept. 21 at the Fairplex in Pomona.

A community member will be honored during the “Heroes Ceremony” at 3 p.m. followed by a community parade starting at 5 p.m. around the fair with school bands, community members and more.

The Los Angeles County Fairgrounds are at 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona.

Temple Citians, past and present, are eligible to receive a discounted $8 entry fee for the city’s Day at the Fair, by presenting a special coupon at the gate or use a special code when buying tickets online.

For the coupon or code, go to the city’s website at templecity.us.

For more information, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 626-285-2171, ext. 4510.

To buy tickets online, go to www.lacountyfair.com.

— Staff reports

Article source: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/events/20170917/local-community-things-to-know-and-do-for-the-pasadena-area-for-sept-18-2017

Preparing for Conference Season

For most contractors interested in professional growth, learning more about their industry, checking out new equipment, and just getting away to think about their company’s future, attending an industry conference is usually in the cards. And with many national conventions just around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to provide some practical ideas to maximize your attendance.

Whether your specialty is concrete, asphalt, roofing, electrical, masonry, excavation, general construction, decorative concrete, iron and steel, mechanical, sheet rock, striping, sealcoating, landscaping, plumbing – OK, I’m getting tired noting all of the incredibly important specialties there are in construction. You get the idea.

No matter your construction focus, attending an annual conference is not only a great idea, it can and often does provide you with profit-increasing and production-improvement ideas. However, exactly how much you get from attending a conference is greatly dependent on how you prepare. So, consider a few ways to increase and enhance your next learning experience at a convention or conference late this year or early next.

1. Please…review carefully the educational opportunities

It still amazes me how many contractors just plan on going to a convention and will sign up for “something” once they arrive. Not only is this poor planning, it speaks volumes about how that contractor runs his or her business or project. Most of the national conventions provide a pre-convention syllabus about the education classes offered, when demonstrations will be provided, and which suppliers will be showing. I give the attending an “A+” for coming to the convention but an “F” for failing to plan ahead and having a strategy for what they want to gain.

2. Divide and conquer

Once you have studied the convention offerings, consider who you will be sending to the conference and split up your team to attend a wide variety of meetings and demonstrations. While there may be some classes or demonstrations that would be good for all of your folks to attend together, with so much in the offering at a convention it might be wise to gain a wider base of information by splitting up your “goers” to attend different sessions and then bring the information back to the team.

3. Pick attendees selectively require expectations be set

Attending a convention for the first time is especially exciting for most attendees. However, putting a first-time attendee in a city like, say, Las Vegas, can be like taking a child into a toy store. With all of the other “temptations” that can be experienced outside the convention alone, you would be wise to get your folks specifically matched up with those classes they need.

Attending a conference should be viewed as an honor and one that will produce positive results for both the individual attending and your company. After selecting those individuals who will be attending the convention and after having chosen those sessions the individual will be attending, have the same individuals identify what their goals or expectations are for learning. They should write this down for you, keeping a copy for themselves.

Having sent employees to conferences in the past myself, here are three questions I always incorporated into their going to a convention. They were told that when they returned from the conference, that they would present to me their answers to the following questions:

  1. What did you learn overall?
  2. What did you learn that would improve your individual work?
  3. What did you learn that would improve our company?

To really answer these questions they would have needed to first attend each session and then take good notes on the session’s learning points.

4. Conduct a daily convention “debrief”

If you are attending the same convention with any of your workers, get a daily debrief by having a short meeting, before going to dinner, to allow everyone to update one another on the classes they observed, their take-aways and learning points, and how they can see any lessons learned helping the company. This is a great way to keep the interest alive, place a bit more accountability on each person to listen with more focus during the classes attended, and begin to think in terms of application. You can still have the employees provide a presentation based on the questions presented in #3 above, but having daily “debrief” can generate better learning.

5. Gather speaker’s contact info ask for extra handouts

After almost 25 years of speaking at construction conventions and conferences, I am still amazed at how many contractors and their workers who “sneak in and out” of classes. Why a contractor would pay hundreds of dollars for classes and then not be more assertive to find out more information about helping his company is beyond me. While not all contractors are comfortable with communication, the environment at a construction-themed conference is full of the same contractors, all who want to be better, or they wouldn’t be attending. Losers don’t attend such conferences, thinking they know it all anyway.

Don’t be shy about approaching the session speakers. That’s what they are there to do, assist you. Ask them questions that may not have been addressed or that you wanted to ask privately. Ask the speaker for their recommended articles and books to acquire.

6. Create a list of learning points prioritize

I’ve told convention goers for years that they need to list out all of their learning points from attending a convention and then prioritize the items. Why? When most contractors attend a convention, especially for the first time, they can leave the conference with hundreds of ideas. Confusion and frustration can set in as a contractor tries to determine where to start. In fact, the frustration is similar to a mosquito buzzing in to a nudist colony…sort of hard to tell where to get started first.

Another point on prioritizing items learned: Look at working on your first three to five items on the list. To think you and your company can work on 15 to 100 items in one year is just foolish. Look at how to make the best three to five tips part of your company THIS YEAR, then you can move to the next three to five the following year.

Now, as you work on implementing the first three to five tips and you find you’re moving further ahead than you first imagined, then certainly take on the next few and begin working on implementing them.

7. Build a library of workbooks expect others to checkout

Depending on the size of your company, you may not take everyone to a convention. From those who do attend, however, use their workbooks and create a library for other workers to checkout the workbooks to review. In fact, several contractors I work with have engaged those who attended the workshop to teach it as best they could to those back home who were not in attendance. This certainly places a bit more accountability on those who attended the conference, but it’s a great way to make attending the meetings more important.

Sending your employees to a national or regional construction convention is a waste unless you build more into the expectations. The days of sending workers to conferences and treating it like a “perk” or vacation will yield you nothing in return. While convention hotspots such as Las Vegas, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, etc., are certainly relaxing places to visit, placing greater importance on learning and holding people accountable to providing some output of information upon their return will provide you with a great “R.O.E.”…Return on Education!

Send as many workers as you can to your next national convention…just be sure to use as many of the tips shared in this article to help maximize their learning and your future results!

Article source: http://www.forconstructionpros.com/business/article/10834941/preparing-for-conference-season

Folsom comes together big for Community Service Day | Folsom …

Telegraph photos by Bill Sullivan
More than 2,800 volunteers participated in some 50 different service projects Saturday during Folsom’s fourth annual Community Service Day.  This annual major city-wide event mobilizes thousands of volunteers of all ages and interests to complete projects throughout Folsom that make a positive, lasting impact.   From packing military care packages and writing them thank you cards, to beautifying community gardens, landscaping projects to the task of local waterway clean up, beautifying historical sites and much more.The event is made possible by a collaborative effort between the City of Folsom, the mass of volunteers and numerous dedicated area businesses who sponsor the event, including the Folsom Telegraph.Watch for our coverage and photo page in the Thursday edition of the Folsom Telegraph and view over 80 images from select projects throughout the day at www.folsomtelegraph.com.

Councilman Steve Miklos speaks to the volunteers before sending them out to the streets of Folsom Saturday morning.

Joe Gagliardi, CEO of the Folsom Chamber of Commerce and wife Maureen head out to particpate in the various projects along with numerous city officials, business owners and some 2800 residents.

Volunteers head out to thei more that 50 projects from Lakeside Church

Folsom Prison had a collection site for used bicycles which are restored for area children and those in need annually.

Fire Chief Felipe Rodriguez (right) works with volunteers from Intel and the Folsom Cordova Unified School District in Willow Creek.

Robert Goss trenches through Willow Creek to clear the invasive plantlife that has covered the area.

Felipe Rodriguez, Folsom Fire Chief was one of the many volunteers, along with family and co-workers paticipating in Community Service Day. Rodriguez was working in Willow Creek to clear the invasive plantlife that has covered the area.

Robert Goss of Folsom Parks and Recreation in Willow Creek.

Volunteers help the Folsom Historical Society clear the property in lot of the Historic Chan House that recently closed escrow to become and new museum site.

Volunteers help the Folsom Historical Society clear the property in lot of the Historic Chan House that recently closed escrow to become and new museum site.

Volunteers help the Folsom Historical Society clear the property in lot of the Historic Chan House that recently closed escrow to become and new museum site.

Volunteers help the Folsom Historical Society clear the property in lot of the Historic Chan House that recently closed escrow to become and new museum site.

Pioneer Village was one of the many clean up sites

The local train museum got a fresh coat of paint on the trim.

Community Service Day attracted local media coverage. Locally media representatives not only covered the event but also participated and sponsored it, including Folsom TV, pictured here interviewing local railroad historican Bill Anderson, as well as the Folsom Telegraph and Style Media who all covered, sponsored and participated in the day.

Landscaping and clean up took place at Mercy Housing.

The day included hard work and much fun was had by the volunteers.

Volunteers enjoyed a hearty lunch at various sites as many local businesses and service clubs donated food.

The Twin Lakes Food Bank was a hub of activity as volunteers delivered and sorted thousands of pounds of food that came in from a commmunity food drive

Volunteers enjoyed ice cream served by the Pink Ice Cream Cart at the Twin Lake Food Bank to cool off.

Workers build garden boxes and new fencing in the Twin Lakes Food Bank community garden.

The day came with hard work by all and fun at the same time.

Watch for coverage and photos in the September 21 edition of the Folsom Telegaph Newspaper.

Article source: http://www.folsomtelegraph.com/article/9/17/17/folsom-comes-together-big-community-service-day

Conifers for the Win: Planning for Your Winter Garden

click to enlarge

  • Courtesy of Rocky Dale Gardens
  • A mix of conifers at Rocky Dale Gardens in Bristol

When I bought my home in Burlington nine years ago, a huge selling point was the gardens. Both front and back yards were terraced with stonework, and the previous owners had planted loads of perennials, a phalanx of privacy-creating cedars, a magnificent magnolia and a peach tree that actually bears fruit.

Though the place was already lovely, I began to fantasize about changes I wanted to make … and quickly came to the conclusion: Who am I kidding? I don’t have time for this.

So I hired a gardener. And when we met, the first thing she asked me was, “What do you want to look at in the winter?”

Huh? I’d been thinking more tulips, more colors, maybe another fruit tree…

“Well,” she explained patiently, “we have a lot more winter than summer.”

True enough. So she schooled me on the virtues of conifers, plants that produce cold-weather berries, and shrubby things that reveal intriguing shapes when their leaves are gone. In other words, plants that look good with snow.

Soon after, we headed down to Rocky Dale Gardens in Bristol, her nursery of choice. I purchased three distinctively different conifers. I couldn’t tell you their botanical names, but one is tall and thin with long, small-needled branches, another is “weeping,” and the third is mound shaped.

And, indeed, they have made my backyard more interesting through the long winter. Snow clings prettily to their needles. Birds like to hide in the taller ones, when not darting out to the bird feeder nearby. And the trees’ placement blocks the neighbors’ otherwise unobstructed sight line into my kitchen.

One thing, though? Two of the vertically oriented conifers were supposed to be dwarf varieties. But they did not get the memo; both have become much taller than I expected and are now jostling each other for space. (That gardener moved out of state, so no help from her.) I thought “dwarf” meant they would stay small — a scale appropriate to my modest backyard.

“They’ll keep growing if you don’t prune them,” Ed Burke informed me with a chuckle. “If a tree stops growing, it’s dead.” The landscape designer is the owner of Rocky Dale, where I recently returned to find out more about winterscaping — and what to do about my crowded trees.

Burke bought the nursery in 2004 and still maintains his longtime landscaping business in Minneapolis; nursery manager Amy Rose-White has been there 20 years. Both are delighted to walk through their lush gardens and wax passionate about plants of any kind. In this case, I wanted to talk conifers.

“The winter garden has always been a focus of landscape designers,” Burke said. “In Vermont, we have so much snow that the herbaceous plants really don’t hold up.”

That said, he pointed to a contorted beech (Fagus sylvatica “Tortuosa”), as well as winterberry (Ilex verticillata), a holly native to Vermont that has edible — for birds and small mammals — red berries. “In this climate, that’s the No. 1 deciduous plant,” Burke noted.

We looked at trees with twisty, or contorted, shapes, which can appear like sculptures against a snowy backdrop; and weeping trees with gracefully drooping branches. Trees with interesting bark can also complement a winter landscape, Burke pointed out. I spotted a lovely Japanese maple, one of which my yard already has. Its red leaves are a gorgeous contrast with the prevailing greenery now, but the tree admittedly isn’t much of a looker in the winter.

Among the mature trees on the Rocky Dale property are clusters of tall and handsome spruces, firs and pines. “There are many varieties of blue spruce,” Burke said. “Some weep, some crawl, some are contorted. White pine has softer needles, so snow doesn’t gather,” he added. “Others, with stiff needles, are better snow collectors.”

Two other trees I took note of were Alaskan cedar, with a straight trunk and pyramidal form; and the Korean fir, which is fuller and denser and has two-toned needles. The latter evergreen is said to be slower growing and compact, and I’m thinking it would have been a better choice for my yard.

But here’s the thing about plants: They can be thinned out and taken out, moved and replanted elsewhere, if their roots are not too deep. “Overall, early spring is best for [moving] established trees,” Burke advised. “The roots are more compact. But don’t plant them too close!”

As we walked around the three-acre property, it was clear he looked at landscape as something to alter. I always thought trees were forever (unless they got diseased or struck by lightning); to Burke, removing or relocating just about any plant is no big deal. A new flower garden here, a hedge there, a clearing for events such as weddings. Solving a crowding problem with a pair of not-too-intimidating trees started to seem easy.

Along the way, Burke offered some general thoughts about conifers. For starters, “They’re generally the most expensive plants in the nursery,” he said, suggesting you should study up to make the right choice for your yard. “The key is selection. Know the growth habit of the tree. Plant perennials and shrubs around it — they can be moved when the tree gets larger,” he said.

“We’re known for our conifers,” Burke continued, “though about half of our business is perennials. We find with conifers people can become collectors. They really just keep giving.” To that point, he handed me an informational sheet listing numerous varieties, along with their qualities and details about care and feeding.

Plants are not the only story in a yard, though. Homeowners should also consider hardscaping — that is, stonework, weather-resistant sculptures, fencing or other features that form the architecture of the space. I’ve installed a number of concrete sculptures by a local artist, each of which presides over a section of my garden — and contributes to the winter view. One of them, however, is about to disappear under that weeping conifer. Somebody will just have to move.

How to Plant a Conifer

click to enlarge

  • Courtesy of Rocky Dale Gardens
  • Winterberry

Fall is a good time to plant a tree — up until mid-October in most Vermont locations. You’ll want to be able to keep the roots well moistened before the ground freezes. After you’ve selected the right tree for your yard, and taken into account soil and drainage conditions, follow these steps to give your tree a healthy head start.

The hole

Choose your site and then dig a hole that’s two to three times wider than your tree’s root ball — but not deeper than the ball’s height. One of the most common planting mistakes is to go too deep.

Loosen the soil on the sides of your hole, but not the bottom. If your soil is heavy, create a small mound at the bottom to raise the root slightly higher than ground level. You want water to drain away from the trunk.

Handling and planting

If your baby tree was grown in a container, remove it and tease the roots apart with your fingers or a tool. If your tree root is balled and burlapped, leave it in the burlap prior to planting. Lift the tree by its root ball or container, never by the trunk.

Center the plant in your hole. If it’s in natural burlap, pull back the fabric from the top third of the root ball. Synthetic burlap and twine should be completely removed. If the root ball has a wire cage, use a wire cutter to remove the top two-thirds once the root ball is in the hole. Do not leave any material around the trunk.

Filling the hole

First fill the hole with water two or three times, waiting each time for the water to drain. Mix the soil you dug out with one-third organic matter and add it to the hole. Water again, and add more soil mixture when it settles. Do not compress or tamp down the soil.

Create a large bowl shape around your planting — this will hold water. Mulch this with two to four inches of shredded leaves or bark. Do not pile mulch against the tree trunk.

Watering

Again, it’s important to keep your soil moist, but not drowning, before winter. If your tree’s root ball came from a lightweight container mix, it will dry out faster than the surrounding soil. But if your yard has heavy clay soil that doesn’t drain well, be careful not to overwater. If you can, leave a hose at the base of the tree for an hour, with pressure at a trickle. This should allow water to fully absorb into the soil. Rain will do this job for you, but if it’s dry, keep an eye on your new planting and water as needed.

—Info courtesy of Rocky Dale Gardens.

Article source: https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/conifers-for-the-win-planning-for-your-winter-garden/Content?oid=8180588