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Archives for September 25, 2017

How Bunny Mellon Re-invented the White House Rose Garden

During the summer of 1961, the president and Jackie spent most weekends
at his father’s compound in Hyannis Port. The couple and their children,
Caroline and John junior—accompanied by the Secret Service—would
frequently take the family boat, the Marlin, to cruise the short
distance to the Mellon estate for swimming, sailing, and lunch. On
Sunday, August 13, after attending the 10 A.M. Mass at St. Francis
Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Hyannis, President Kennedy, his wife and
daughter, and their friends went to lunch at the Mellons’.

Katharine “Kay” Graham and her publisher husband, Philip, who was
struggling with severe depression, had rented a house on Cape Cod that
summer. Bunny called to invite them to come to lunch with the Kennedys.
“I’m sure she didn’t need us, but I was excited,” Graham wrote in her
autobiography. “I pleaded with Phil to go and he hesitantly accepted.”

“We were all waiting on the Mellons’ beach in Osterville when we saw
the president’s boat approach, with the press boat following,” Graham
recalled. “Jack and Jackie jumped off and came in to the beach.”
Graham brought a camera to capture the occasion.

Jackie had called Bunny earlier that morning with a request. “Jack’s
going to ask you to do something for him,” she told Bunny. “Promise me
that you will do it.”

“He wants you to design a garden for him at the White House,” she

“Where?,” Bunny asked.

“Beside his office.”

Kennedy had just returned from a state visit to Europe with stops in
France, Austria, and England, where he had admired the magnificent,
historic gardens. He wanted Bunny to create the perfect outdoor stage
set as the backdrop for his presidency, and for every president to come.
He envisioned not just a mere garden but rather an American symbol that
would serve as an elegant and welcoming vista.

President John F. Kennedy and Bunny Mellon

President John F. Kennedy and Mellon plan the Rose Garden while on Cape Cod, August 1961.

The request from the president was simultaneously unnerving and
exhilarating. Bunny projected aloof self-confidence, but she was, at the
core, deeply insecure. She had longed to attend college, but her
autocratic father had turned down her request, urging her to focus
instead on finding a suitable husband. She compensated by becoming
voraciously well read. She had spent her life in the shadow of two
famous and accomplished men—her father, businessman Gerard Barnes
Lambert, and her philanthropist husband—and lately she had become
known as the woman standing beside Jackie Kennedy. Here was Bunny’s
chance to step into the spotlight.

“I was sitting on my bed looking out at the sea,” she wrote in an
unpublished reminiscence. “How could I cope with a garden of this size?
Technical things like drains, water pipes, etc. must be considered and
drawings made. . . . I had never had any formal schooling in landscape
design, which would have helped now.” She worried that she wasn’t up to
it, but she roused herself with thoughts of her maternal grandfather,
Arthur Lowe, a Massachusetts cotton-mill owner who had encouraged her
interest in gardens and paid more attention to her than her parents did.
She remembered her grandfather’s solemn advice: “We are all part of
this country and if we have something, however small, to contribute to
it, we must.”

“As an amateur, I questioned my ability to design a garden of such
importance,” Bunny later wrote in the journal White House History.
“Paying little attention to that doubt, [the president] bubbled
with enthusiasm, with fascinating details of how he wanted a garden to
appeal to the most discriminating taste, yet a garden that would hold a
thousand people for a ceremony. What gardener could resist? I agreed, on
the spot, to meet in September.”

Outside the Oval Office stands a venerable magnolia tree planted by
Andrew Jackson in memory of his late wife, Rachel. The rest of the
landscaping at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has changed significantly
through the years, reflecting the trends and tastes of the inhabitants.
In 1902, President Teddy Roosevelt’s wife, Edith, installed a nostalgic
Colonial garden with paisley-shaped beds of sweet peas, jasmine,
wildflowers, and daisies. After Woodrow Wilson took office, his wife,
Ellen, had those beds demolished. But she died in 1914, before her
ambitious new design could be installed. Wilson’s second wife, Edith,
oversaw the plot’s transformation into a sophisticated rose garden with
clipped privet hedges.

But by 1961 the media-savvy President Kennedy believed the garden looked
forlorn and outdated. He wanted to apply his campaign slogan—“We Can
Do Better”—to the White House grounds. Under the existing design,
long rows of hedges broke up the roughly 9,000-square-foot West Garden,
limiting the number of people who could stand during ceremonial
functions or be seated at outdoor dinners. Kennedy wanted to be able to
use the space, rather than just gaze at it from his office.

Bunny was initially baffled by the prospect of creating a visually
elegant stage set, using trees, flowers, and hedges to serve as a
backdrop for state occasions. She brought Perry Wheeler, the landscape
architect favored by Georgetown society, along on her first visit to the
garden, and the two of them sat on a white bench under Andrew Jackson’s
magnolia tree. As they mulled the possibilities, the president stepped
out of the Oval Office. “What do you think can be done?” he asked, as
Bunny later recalled. “Have you any ideas?” Put on the spot, Bunny was
vague, saying that she would have to think about it. To convey that she
was serious about the project, she sent the president a copy of Thomas
Jefferson’s gardening notes. A few weeks later, on a chilly October
night, Bunny strolled by Manhattan’s Frick Collection, on Fifth Avenue,
just a few blocks from her East 70th Street town house. She noticed that
the autumn weather had stripped the spacious garden’s three large
magnolia trees bare of leaves, but the stark branches reaching toward
the sky retained a sculptural appeal.

“I had often admired these trees before, but this evening they had a
special importance to me,” Bunny later wrote. “Their pale silvery
branches with heavy twigs seemed to retain the light of summer. I knew
the pattern of growth would continue to give form in winter and would
catch raindrops as well as tufts of falling snow.”

“We would see her out there in the rose garden—a little figure with a
bandana around her head.”

She could suddenly envision how the West Garden might look if all four
corners were planted with magnolia trees, which would unify the space
and soften the edges. “On either side of the large lawn there could be
a border 12 feet wide in which to plant smaller trees, roses and other
flowers,” she wrote. Even though she could now imagine the
possibilities, the prospect of moving forward was daunting. Perry
Wheeler agreed to help, but this was a project that would require the
resources of the National Park Service.

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Hearth Architects completes family house in Shiga with tree-planted atrium

This family house in Japan’s Shiga prefecture was designed by local studio Hearth Architects around an indoor garden, which is planted with a tree that extends towards a skylight.

Kyomachi House is located in Koga, a city in the southern part of the Shiga Prefecture. The residence is set within the former boundary of the town of Minakuchi, which was merged with four other towns in 2004 to create Koga city.

The town dates back to the 14th century, when it was established as one of the station posts along the route from Kyoto to Edo, called the 53 stages of the Tokaido.

Hearth Architects, which is also based within Minakuchi’s old borders, designed the two-storey residence for a plot where two roads merge on the southeastern side.

To make the most of this sunny spot, the architects created a double-height void for an indoor garden.

A skylight in the roof tops the curved patch of soil at the centre of the space, which hosts a variety of plants and the tree, and is flanked on one side by gravel.

The tall rough rendered walls around the garden provide the residents with privacy from the street, with two openings that offer natural ventilation.

One of these is placed at the front of the house and fitted with a gridded screen wooden screen that offers glimpses of the tree from the road. The other, set at the side, hosts a wooden bench, which is sheltered by the overhanging roof that wraps the residence.

The inner walls of the garden are also fitted with openings to offer views from the spaces inside towards the garden and access to daylight.

As the deciduous tree sheds its leaves in the winter it will allow more light into the residence, and when it flourishes in the summer it will offer shade.

“It plays a role as sunshade in leafy summer and as letting the sunshine in non-leafy winter,” said the studio. “The clients can enjoy the change of the seasons and time through the symbolic tree.”

“There is a symbolic deciduous tree in the inner garden, which is visible from anywhere inside.”

One of these openings includes a sliding glass door that connects the garden to the family dining room, where wooden flooring mimics the wood-lined ceiling.

The kitchen is set to the rear of the space, with a set of steps that lead to the white-painted lounge. There is a narrow clerestory window in this room and a window to street with a ledge where the owner’s children can sit.

Wooden panels are arranged to create a gridded pattern on the floor, while furnishings include a built-in sofa and storage cabinets.

A staircase lit by a two-storey window cut into the front of the house leads to the first floor, where the two children’s bedrooms overlook the void.

Also on this level, the master bedroom opens onto an indoor balcony overlooking the garden. From the balcony, a second window fronted with a slatted shutters  faces the street.

Other recently completed Japanese residences include a home with a footprint of just 60 square metres and a property made up of a cluster of nine cuboids.

Photography is by Yuta Yamada.

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Landscape architecture students to shape peace garden design

Postgraduate students from the Manchester School of Architecture will this week work up proposals for a peace garden that could be created at Lincoln Square.

The previous garden was removed from St Peter’s Square in 2014 to make way for improvements such as the second city tram crossing. The redevelopment of Lincoln Square in Brazennose Street has been provisionally identified as a suitable site for the peace garden.

Steve Roman, Friends of Manchester Peace Garden’s spokesman, said: “We have been in discussion with Manchester City Council for several years and submitted a prioritised list of city centre sites in which we would like to see the Peace Garden re-established.

“After we addressed the council executive Sir Richard Leese last October, he stated that Lincoln Square would be the location for the new peace garden.”

The Friends of Manchester Peace Garden, which was established to source a site for another peace garden, and design practice Planit-IE, have briefed students on the project. Criteria includes commemorating Manchester’s communities that have campaigned for social justice; addressing challenges of climate change, urban density and liveable cities; and re-conceiving the garden as a space of regeneration.

Fox added: “Our students come from a diverse range of backgrounds and considering the instability of global politics and the recent Manchester arena attack, this appeared to be a project of particular relevance to us.”

While the students’ designs will not be used as the final plan for the peace garden, Fox said their ideas and concepts may help influence the council and developers as proposals for the space move forward.

In 2001 the Mayor of Hiroshima invited Manchester City to become a Vice-President City of Mayors for Peace, due to its involvement in promoting a nuclear weapons free world, and in 2005 the council adopted an official peace policy includes “promoting social inclusion, social justice, good citizenship and peace between the peoples, cultures and faith communities that it serves”.

The plaques, memorials and statues from the St Peter’s peace garden are in storage and the Friends hope that some will be re-sited in the garden alongside new artwork, poetry and imagery. Also proposed are the existing Lincoln Square statues, with the planting of gingko trees being grown at Dunham Massey which the Mayor of Hiroshima gifted to the city.

Designs will be unveiled and judged by a panel at a private presentation and prize-giving ceremony on Friday 29 September.

Brazennose House, which will offer 93,000 sq ft of offices, is a key part of the Lincoln Square redevelopment. Planning for the centre piece was designed by 5plus architects and approved in 2016, and is developed by MG Real Estate and Marshalls CDP.

The council is said to be in talks with the developers regarding the peace garden.

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Fall lawn care tips

Spring and summer may be the seasons most often associated with landscaping and lawn care, but tending to lawns and gardens is a year-round job. If lawn and garden responsibilities dip considerably in winter, then fall is the last significant chance before the new year that homeowners will have to address the landscaping around their homes.

Fall lawn care differs from spring and summer lawn care, even if the warm temperatures of summer linger into autumn. Homeowners who want their lawns to thrive year-round can take advantage of the welcoming weather of fall to address any existing or potential issues.

· Keep mowing, but adjust how you mow. It’s important that homeowners continue to mow their lawns so long as grass is growing. But as fall transitions into winter, lower the blades so the grass is cut shorter while remaining mindful that no blade of grass should ever be trimmed by more than one-third. Lowering the blades will allow more sunlight to reach the grass in the months ahead.

· Remove leaves as they fall. Much like apple-picking and foliage, raking leaves is synonymous with fall. Some homeowners may wait to pick up a rake until all of the trees on their properties are bare. However, allowing fallen leaves to sit on the ground for extended periods of time can have an adverse effect on grass. Leaves left to sit on the lawn may ultimately suffocate the grass by forming an impenetrable wall that deprives the lawn of sunlight and oxygen. The result is dead grass and possibly even fungal disease. Leaves may not need to be raked every day, but homeowners should periodically rake and remove leaves from their grass, even if there are plenty left to fall still hanging on the trees.

· Repair bald spots. Summer exacts a toll on lawns in various ways, and even homeowners with green thumbs may end up with a lawn filled with bald spots come September. Autumn is a great time to repair these bald spots. Lawn repair mixes like Scotts® PatchMaster contain mulch, seed and fertilizer to repair bald spots, which can begin to recover in as little as seven days. Before applying such products, remove dead grass and loosen the top few inches of soil. Follow any additional manufacturer instructions as well.

· Aerate the turf. Aerating reduces soil compacting, facilitating the delivery of fertilizer and water to a lawn’s roots. While many homeowners, and particularly those who take pride in tending to their own lawns, can successfully aerate their own turf, it’s best to first have soil tested so you know which amendments to add after the ground has been aerated. Gardening centers and home improvement stores sell soil testing kits that measure the pH of soil, but homeowners who want to test for nutrients or heavy metals in their soil may need to send their samples to a lab for further testing.

Fall lawn care provides a great reason to spend some time in the yard before the arrival of winter. FH178225

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Volunteers are sought for garden project at Mary Vagle Nature Center in Fontana – Fontana Herald

Mary Vagle Nature Center

Mary Vagle Nature Center

The Mary Vagle Nature Center in Fontana will be hosting a Volunteer Garden Project on Sept. 30.  (Herald News photo by Alejandro Cano)

Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017 8:13 am

Volunteers are sought for garden project at Mary Vagle Nature Center in Fontana


Local residents are invited to be a part of National Public Lands Day (NPLD) with the Volunteer Garden Project at the Mary Vagle Nature Center on Saturday, Sept. 30.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 11501 Cypress Avenue in southern Fontana.

All participants must pre-register by visiting or call (909) 349-6994 by Friday, Sept. 29.

Volunteers for the Garden Project will help rehabilitate California-native plant gardens, receive tips for landscaping and learn about water-wise gardening.

During NPLD, the Mary Vagle Nature Center is in partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which provides knowledge through programs that participants can apply to improve the quality of their lives along with the health of the planet.

For more information about the Mary Vagle Nature Center, visit

  • Discuss


Sunday, September 24, 2017 8:13 am.

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Fontana seeking volunteers to help rehabilitate native plant gardens

FONTANA It’s a chance to help the community and be part of and learn about nature.

On National Public Lands Day, Sept. 30, the city of Fontana is seeking volunteers to help from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mary Vagle Nature Center, 11501 Cypress Ave.

All participants must pre-register by visiting or call 909-349-6994 by Sept. 29.

Volunteers for the garden project will help rehabilitate California-native plant gardens, receive landscaping tips and learn about water-wise gardening.

During NPLD, the Mary Vagle Nature Center is in partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). The NEEF provides knowledge through programs that participants can apply to improve the quality of their lives along with the health of the planet.

From America’s neighborhood parks to its extraordinary national parks, public lands are the people’s property. With one-third of land in the public hands, National Public Lands Day provides an opportunity for everyone to ensure public lands remain beautiful for all.

For information about the Mary Vagle Nature Center, visit

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This week’s gardening tips: flowers to plant now

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Top of the plots: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on starting your allotment

You might also want a walk-in polytunnel or greenhouse for out-of-season crops. Put it up now as you’ll be too busy in spring. 

Once the groundwork has been done it’s worth marking out beds, one for each of the main groups of plants. Put down paths of gravel, bark or paving slabs so it’s easy to walk around when wet, then start working out your cropping plan.

If you’ve never grown your own before, play safe for the first year or so and stick to reliable vegetables in small quantities spread throughout the year, or you’ll be swamped with stuff you can’t use – it’s usually lettuce – followed by nothing at all.

And I have two tips. Firstly, look for opportunities to economise on essential purchases. You can save a fortune on seeds and fertilisers by joining an allotment association or gardening club that has a bulk-buying arrangement with suppliers or which arranges for discounts at garden centres.

Secondly, if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to cultivate the whole patch first time round, sow clover. You can keep this mown – and it improves the soil – until you are ready to bring the area into use.

It might seem a lot, but come spring it’ll be all systems go and you’ll be glad you pushed ahead.  

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Local Garden Column: Tips on drying herbs from the garden

How should one go about drying herbs that are harvested from their garden?

The best time to harvest your herbs is when it is a sunny day, mid-morning after the dew has dried, but before the essential oils in the plant have dissipated.

Once the herbs are picked, rinse them with water and pat dry. Long stemmed herbs can be tied in small, loosed bundles. These bundles can be hung upside down in a well-ventilated location such as an enclosed porch or spare room where they will not be exposed to direct sunlight. To protect the herbs from collecting dust, take a large paper bag and place around the herbs and close the bag around the stems with string to hold the bag in place.

Herbs that have short stems can be dried on a rack. Make sure they are spread out and turn them each day so they do not mold. It will take about two weeks for herbs to dry completely.

For information, check out Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County’s Home and Garden Fact Sheets at Look up Harvesting and Preserving Herbs fact sheet.

Holly Wise is a resource extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. Look for more gardening tips in the Observer-Dispatch or online at

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Gardening tips for October

Listed below are many wonderful October garden tips. The jobs are not over yet!


1. Light frost is not harmful to all garden plants. Cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi develop milder flavor when exposed to frost.

2. Mums can withstand repeated light frosts and still bloom beautifully.

3. Apples will be OK, but only if you don’t handle the fruit while they still have frost crystals. It is a myth that apples need frost to develop good flavor. Pick them as soon as they are ripe.

4. Pumpkins have almost no frost tolerance. They must be harvested or covered in the garden when frost is forecast. Often they’ll turn orange if they are not completely ripe when picked. Leave several inches of stem when you cut pumpkins from the vine. Wipe them clean with a damp, slightly soapy rag. Put them in a warm, sunny room for about a week to “cure” them, and then transfer them to a cooler, dark location.

5. Bring tomatoes and peppers indoors before.


1. Fertilize your lawn now to give a big boost next spring. Use a standard high nitrogen lawn food. Late fertilization will not interfere with dormancy. The air may be cold, but soil temperatures remain warm enough to keep roots active.  They’ll absorb the nutrients causing grass to turn green earlier next spring and grow thicker.

2. Prevent snow mold now, by raking the lawn so it doesn’t mat down which encourages snow mold development. If the leaves aren’t too deep, run a mulching lawn mower over them several times to cut them into tiny pieces. They will filter harmlessly through the grass to the soil, recycling nutrients as they break down. If there are too many leaves to chip up, use them as mulch or turn them into compost.

3. Spot spray for broadleaf weeds such as plantain and creeping Charlie early in October.

Temperatures must be in the 50s or higher, with no rain for a day or two. Repeat the application in 10-14 days, if weather conditions are still favorable. Choose days with little or no wind, to avoid spray drift onto desirable plants.

4. Many insects and spiders will be drawn to your home’s warmth as outdoor temperatures drop. To limit their entry, clear up leaves and plant litter by the foundation and caulk any visible cracks or holes.


1. If you grow ornamental sweet potato vines in containers for their beautiful chartreuse or burgundy foliage, when you empty the container you may find nice tubers! As long as the vines were not sprayed with pesticides not labeled for use on edible plants, you can cook them. You could also start the tubers indoors as a houseplant!

2. Clean out container gardens as soon as plants are frost damaged. Compost the plants, scatter the soil over your compost pile or add it to garden beds. Clean the containers using a 10 percent bleach/90 percent water solution to prevent any pathogens next year. Store garden containers in a garage or basement where they will stay dry. Freezing and thawing moist pots can crack and break them.

3. You can store favorite geraniums in pots over winter. Put them by a basement window or under fluorescent lights if there is not room by a bright window upstairs. Water often enough to keep them from shriveling. You can try storing them bare root in paper grocery bags in a cool basement, but you need to cut them back and replant them in early spring to get them ready to go outdoors once frost danger has passed.


1. Wait to cut back perennials until their foliage is frost-damaged. As long as they are green and healthy, they’ll continue to photosynthesize and store energy in the roots. If you prefer to leave them for winter interest, you can cut them down in early spring.

Spring flowering bulbs

1. Plant spring flowering bulbs outdoors this month. Water the soil well, and then cover the area with 3-4 inches of mulch. Continue to water weekly if rainfall is sparse. Bulbs that aren’t planted in time can be forced for indoor bloom this winter, but there is no point in storing them to plant next year as they will never bloom normally.


1. Shorter days and cloudier weather means far less light for tropical houseplants indoors. They’ll grow more slowly, so will need little fertilizer until days get longer again. The exception: plants growing under fluorescent lights or by windows that are sunnier once the trees are leafless. If they grow actively, continue to fertilize them for strength.

2. Giant amaryllis bulbs may be started every 3-4 weeks to provide a continuous show of color throughout the winter. They need no cold either, but take about 6-8 weeks from potting before they bloom.

3. Plant tulips, hyacinths, and mini-daffodils in shallow containers to force for winter bloom. It takes about three months in cool dark storage followed by 3-4 weeks in a bright location, so bulbs started mid October should be blooming by mid-February.


1. Yellow or brown needles on the inner portions of pines, spruce, arborvitae, and other evergreens are not a cause for concern. Often you won’t even notice fall needle drop unless you look carefully, but sometimes it will be quite obvious. It is part of the normal growth cycle. Conifers develop new needles each spring-and sometimes through summer – but then lose their oldest (inner) needles every autumn, creating natural mulch. These fallen needles also make excellent mulch for bulb beds, flowering perennials, and vegetable gardens. You needn’t worry about acidity.

Garden sanitation

1. Remove all infected fruit and foliage from gardens and flower beds. Good sanitation reduces the amount of inoculum (disease-causing organisms) that can overwinter, reducing the likelihood of disease next year. Healthy foliage may be left to trap insulating snow, and then removed next spring before new growth begins, or it may be put into a compost pile this spring. Do not compost unhealthy foliage/plants.

I hope you have enjoyed these wonderful October hints from the University of Minnesota Extension’s website:

Don’t work too hard. This is a wonderful time to be in the outdoors. The efforts you expend this fall will reap many benefits next spring.

Janice Hasselius, originally from Aitkin, has been a University of Minnesota Master Gardener since 2000. She regularly volunteers for writing, teaching classes, and demonstrations on gardening subjects through the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

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