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Archives for October 2017

Fall Gardening Check-In With Charlie Nardozzi

Winter is coming but that doesn’t mean you’re done in the garden.

Charlie Nardozzi, horticulturist, author, and host of the Connecticut Garden Journal on WNPR will join us with gardening tips for the fall.

Scientists are already saying this year will be one of the hottest on record. How has the changing climate impacted New England’s growing season?

And with that in mind, when should you start planting bulbs? And what’s the best way to handle  all those leaves on your lawn?

What gardening questions do you have?


  • Charlie Nardozzi – Horticulturist, author, and host of the Connecticut Garden Journal, which airs on WNPR on Thursday afternoons at 3:04pm.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

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Spray or drip irrigation: Which way is best for your garden?

Experts tackle readers’ garden questions.

Q: Wife and I are arguing about proper way to water our plants. We have a small orchard, garden and extensive landscaping with palms and sagos. When I water late in evening or early morning, I spray the whole plant. Wife says to only direct water to base or ground and not water branches or leaves. Which is better? I’m especially concerned about our sago palms as we have several of them, both in pots and in the ground. Neither of us thinks it’s good to spray whole plant when direct sun is hitting the plant.

Steven Parks, Granite Bay

Sacramento County Master Gardener Carmen Schindler: Your wife gets the kudos for being correct. Ideally, plants should be watered in the soil using a drip irrigation system around their drip lines (the outer circumference of the tree or shrub canopy). If using a spray system, adjust sprinklers or install deflectors to prevent the trunks from getting wet.

Follow these best tips for all plants, including trees:

▪  Apply water to the soil around the base of a plant, avoiding the trunk or branches.

▪ Mulch, mulch, mulch! A layer of three to four inches of mulch will reduce water evaporation and weeds, and protect roots from heat.

▪  Water infrequently and deeply to encourage deeper root growth, which results in plants with greater drought tolerance.

▪ Use a drip irrigation system, grouping plants with similar water needs together on one valve.

▪  Occasional spraying of foliage to remove dust or an insect infestation is beneficial.

The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at the University of California, Davis, UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and Ewing Irrigation have devised a unique watering system called the Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption (TRIC). TRIC is a kit that homeowners can put together themselves for about $100 for one large tree. For more information, visit the CCUH website at

In addition, too much or too little water can damage landscape plants. Inadequate water causes foliage to wilt, discolor and drop. Prolonged moisture and poor drainage can result in smaller leaves, dieback or limb drop, and susceptibility to root rots, mineral deficiencies or toxicities, wood-boring insects and other pests that eventually can kill plants. Excessive moisture smothers and kills roots, leading to discolored and dying foliage.

Maintain adequate, but not excessive, water in the soil to ensure plant survival and good growth. Examine plants regularly for symptoms of water stress. Monitor soil moisture around each plant’s root zone and adjust irrigation according to seasonal needs. Soil around young plants during hot weather may need to be monitored daily; every few weeks may be adequate when monitoring around mature trees during more favorable weather.

Just before dawn or early morning is generally the best time to irrigate. Evaporation is lower during these hours and usually there is little or no wind to disrupt the pattern of the sprinklers. In addition, water pressure is more favorable during this period. Irrigating in the evening also can minimize evaporation, but avoid overhead sprinkling if foliar (leaf) diseases are a problem because leaves will remain wet longer than watering at dawn.

For additional tips on good irrigation practices, go to the UC ANR website at For information on watering the backyard orchard, visit the UC Master Gardener Program website at

Carmen Schindler is a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener for Sacramento County.

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Top tips from architects, interior designers and surveyors


1pm: Introduction to The Irish Times Home Design Theatre followed by The quantity surveyor versus the architect : head-to-head discussion between Patricia Power of the Society of Charters Surveyors Ireland and Declan O’Donnell, founding partner of ODKM Architects. Hosted by Irish Times interiors expert Alanna Gallagher.

1.45pm: Dave Dempsey of Noel Dempsey Kitchens in Wicklow chats about What’s Cooking in Kitchen Trends.

2.30pm: Muriel Simpson of interior designs firm House Garden talks to journalist Frances O’Rourke about how best to stage your home for sale, with all the expert tips and tricks of the trade that will help get you the best price for your property.

3.30pm: Want to upgrade your kitchen without breaking the bank? Architect, interior designer and regular Irish Times columnist Denise O’Connor of Optimise Design is on stage to show just how it’s done.

4.15pm: Gardening guru Fionnuala Fallon comes fresh from the garden with tips on how to grow your own seasonal cut flowers. Enhance your garden and cut your florist bill in one presentation.

5pm: Ditch the magnolia. Sarah Drum and Lisa Marconi of indie furniture retailer and interior design practice Dust talk to Irish Times journalist Orna Mulcahy about using strong colours and bright paints effectively. No more whiter shade of pale.


11.30am: Find out how incorporating the Chinese principles of feng shui could bring positive energy into your home with expert Nina Kati. It could change your fortune, cookie.

1pm: Love vintage and antiques? Find out how to use them to best effect in your home as Róisín Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty Design (KLD) shares top tips .

2pm: Got a building conundrum? Now’s your chance to get it sorted with the help of quantity surveyor Patricia Power from RTÉ’s Room to Improve.

2.45pm: Dream home design on a bootstrap budget? If that sounds too good to be true, don’t miss TV3’s Anna Daly as she explains just how it’s done.

3.45pm: Siobhan Lam of leading lifestyle and interiors store April The Bear talks Instarooms, showing us how social media is not just capturing but creating some of the hottest new interiors trends.

4.30pm: Classics don’t age and they won’t let you down. Carol-Anne Leyden of CA Design talks about the furniture design classics that work in every room.


11.15am: Who says neutrals have to be bland? Get a fresh new take on neutral palettes as Martina Tolarova of La Maison Design shows how to shake them up to best effect for Irish homes.

12.15pm: Got a question about a building conundrum that’s driving you nuts? Catch up with Noel Larkin of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland to find the most effective solution to your property problems.

2pm: Dream home design on a bootstrap budget. TV3 presenter Anna Daly shows us how to create the home of your dreams when your budget is more of a nightmare.

3pm: Irish Times’ consumer specialist Conor Pope and the Permanent TSB team tell us how, when, why – and whether – to release equity from our homes.

4.30pm: Swimming in stuff? De-clutter with ease thanks to top tips from Sarah Reynolds of Organised Chaos, the country’s best known professional organiser for both homes and businesses.


11.15am: Find out out how to decorate the house this Christmas in a way that’s not just festive but stylish too, with the help of the design team from home furnishing store Harvey Norman.

12.30pm: Want your house to be a showstopper? Wicklow-based interior designer Collette Ward, the creator of this autumn’s Ideal Home showhouse, talks about creating that show house effect at home.

2pm: Interior designer and specialist colour consultant Orla Kelly offers step-by-step tips to making the right colour choices for your newly built home.

2.45pm: TV presenter and fitness guru Kathryn Thomas comes back from her travels to share the simple steps that can lead to a happier and healthier home.

3.30pm: Experts Regina Rogers Fallon and Ciara Drennan from iconic Irish paint brand Colourtrend show how to choose the perfect paint tone for different rooms.

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Wreathmaking 411: What you need to know – Visalia Times

Don’t you just love this time of the year? While we still have the warmth of the day, the nights are cooling down. 

The sky turns to gold and the sounds of the day seem softened by the cooler temperatures, especially after the long heat of summer. This is the time when my creative heart turns to wreaths for every gate and door.

I feel compelled to celebrate Summer transitioning into harvesting Fall with all its color and glory. sound like a revivalist, and maybe there is a little in me as I revive the tradition of swathing our doors to welcome friends and family.

More: Plan your winter garden with these tips

Healthy soil makes for a healthy garden

Artichokes taste good, look beautiful in your garden

Cacti is king in new garden designs

We all know that fall is a good time to prune shrubs, so why not make wreaths from the clippings instead of filling your green waste can? With a sharp pair of nippers and a long-handled pruner, survey the premises for likely materials. I even check out the neighborhood (asking permission first, of course!).

Keep in mind you can make wreaths, garlands OR swags with your findings, so cut a length a little longer than you think you might need. You might have a theme as you prowl around looking for likely materials, but if you’re like me, you might like to work “on the fly.” I prefer working with available materials as I find them.  It gives me more creative license to weave together this year’s “look.”

Consider acacia flower buds with their gray feathery foliage.  They are so graceful with movement.  Toyon, full of fall red berries, or pyracantha (warning – thorns!), or nandina are winners for a door wreath. Wax-leaf privet has purple berries and mixes elegantly with silver dollar eucalyptus and citrus leaves or kumquat branches with the fruit still on.

Don’t allow your imagination to stop there!  Consider all the beautiful fall branches turning shades of red or gold. Forage for branches and seedpods.  For greenery, grevilleas, evergreens, and magnolias.

What about long wild rose runners (thorns can be clipped off) with rose hips? Prickly seed balls from sycamore or liquid amber, either natural or sprayed with silver or gold paint. Fresh bay leaves or cinnamon sticks add a fragrant note to your masterpiece.

Take a trial walk to look for good mixes. Then get clipping and gathering. Once you’ve depleted your own yard of available materials, go visit friends to “shop” for clippings.

To give yourself a great start have a few things ready.  Fill a bucket with water and add a cup of sprite or a lemon-lime soda (no diet here, clippings need the sugar), ½ teaspoon of bleach and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every gallon of water.

This will serve as a preservative for your cuttings. As soon as you have a clipping, hose it off to remove any dirt or bugs, then let the foliage dry as the clipping sits in its bucket of preservative. If stems are woody, smash the ends well with a hammer so the stems can absorb their preservative food. Greens should sit and sip in their buckets over-night (best) or at least several hours.

If you have a wreath form–either wire, straw, or Styrofoam, this job can be easier to mold your shape. Don’t forget to wear your gloves! Also have floral wire or fishing line and a glue gun. 

Start by securing the larger heavier greenery first.  Then start layering and filling in the spaces with small branches, leaves, twigs, berries, pine cones, nuts, moss, or even fruit (either real or plastic). Add some ribbon, and voila you have created a masterpiece!

Weave and mix to your heart’s desire.  Let your imagination soar to create a glorious Fall welcome to your home.

Got questions?

The UCCE Master Gardeners will be available to answer your gardening questions at the following venues in October:

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21:  Hanford Lowe’s, and Visalia Orchard Supply

11 a.m. to 2 p.,m. Saturday, Oct. 28:  Hanford Orchard Supply, and Luis Nursery in Visalia.

You can also find us every Saturday from 8 am until noon at the Farmer’s Market in the Visalia Sear’s parking lot on Mooney.

For answers to all your home gardening questions, call the Master Gardeners in Tulare County at (559) 684-3325, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 and 11:30 am; or Kings County at (559) 852-2736, Thursday Only, 9:30-11:30 a.m; or visit our website to search past articles, find links to UC gardening information, or to email us with your questions:


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NH Club Notes: Bow Garden Club taking poinsettia preorders

BOW — The Bow Garden Club’s eighth annual holiday poinsettia sale offers large red, white or pink poinsettia plants with foil pot covers for gift-giving or display purposes.

The plants, grown by D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, may be preordered through Friday, Nov. 10, and will be available for pickup at the Old Town Hall, 91 Bow Center Road, on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 9 a.m. to noon unless other arrangements are made with the seller.

Eight-inch pots with three poinsettia plants are $23; 10-inch pots with four plants are $33. All proceeds will benefit the club’s scholarship and civic beautification programs.

To print an order form, go to or check the Baker Free Library’s bulletin board or contact Joyce Kimball at 229-1990 or Club members also can take orders.

Conservation district to host annual meeting

The Cheshire County Conservation District will host the N.H. Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting and Working Lands Conference on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 2 and 3, at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Keene.

The conference theme is “Supporting Farms Forests to Ensure a Healthy Environment.”

This gathering will bring together community members and conservation partners from across the state to celebrate the year’s success stories and look ahead to furthering conservation progress in 2018.

On Nov. 2, a session from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. will feature highlights from each of the state’s 10 conservation districts as well as updates from statewide and national conservation partners. Lunch will be provided. From 5 to 9 p.m., a cash-bar cocktail hour of locally sourced wine and beer will be followed by 2017 community awards, a conservation art exhibit, Cheshire County highlights from the year, and keynote address and book signing by author David Montgomery. Monadnock Food Coop will provide a locally sourced three-course banquet dinner.

The Working Lands Conference is Nov. 3 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., offering workshops on topics such as water conservation and climate change, wildlife habitat, and farm and forest profitability, as well as an optional cover crop bus tour and military veterans networking session. Breakfast, snack and lunch will be provided.

Tickets are $75 for the two-day event; $50 for Nov. 2 only; and $30 for Nov. 3 only. Cheshire County residents may attend the Nov. 2 evening banquet for $20. Scholarships to cover the cost of the Working Lands Conference are available to Cheshire County farmers (use promo code FARMER) and N.H. military veterans (promo code VETERAN).

For more information and to buy tickets, go to

MMRG’s plans ‘CC Mixer’ next week in Wolfeboro

WOLFEBORO — Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) will host its fifth annual “CC Mixer” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Wolfeboro Town Hall, 86 S. Main St.

Speaker Steve Whitman of Resilience Planning and Design will give an overview of the resources developed for MMRG’s new conservation action plan, “Our Home, Our Land, Our Tomorrow.”

The program also will feature networking, information-sharing and brainstorming by conservation commissioners and municipal officials from MMRG’s seven service towns: Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield and Wolfeboro. Members of the public interested in learning about the conservation planning process are welcome, too.

The evening will begin with networking and light appetizers, followed by a roundtable about existing and proposed town conservation initiatives. After Whitman’s short presentation, break-out groups will look at maps and brainstorm possibilities for implementing the Conservation Action Plan.

This event is free, but preregistration is required. For more details, call MMRG’s education coordinator Kari Lygren at 978-7125 or email

Windham club’s program on NH grand resort hotels

WINDHAM — The Woman’s Service Club of Windham will meet Wednesday, Nov. 1, at Windham Town Hall. A luncheon at 11:30 a.m. will be followed by a program at 12:15 p.m. and then a business meeting.

The NH Humanities program, “The Grand Resort Hotels of the White Mountains: Architecture, History, and the Preservation Record,” will be presented by architectural historian Bryant Tolles Jr. He will discuss the history and architecture of the grand resort hotels from the pre-Civil War era to the present. The primary focus will be the surviving hotels: the Mount Washington, Mountain View Grand and Balsams.

The program is free and open to the public. To attend, RSVP at

For more information, contact membership chairman Sue Violi at 889-0578 or go to

Sandown Garden Club members clean roadsides

SANDOWN — Sandown Garden Club members recently donned bright yellow safety vests and formed teams to clear litter from the sides of a 1.7-mile stretch of Main Street (Route 121A), one of the club’s community service projects.

Club members volunteer to clean the roadsides twice yearly, in spring and fall. This activity has earned the club two signs that mark this stretch of roadway. The signs are provided by the N.H. Department of Transportation Adopt-A-Highway Program.

For more about the nonprofit club, visit

Amoskeag Questers plans Lincoln living history talk

DERRY — Amoskeag Questers will host “A Visit with Abraham Lincoln,” a living history presentation by Steven Wood, at 10 a.m. Wednesday Nov. 1, at the Marion Gerrish Community Center, 39 West Broadway.

The program, which is free and open to the public, tells the story of Lincoln’s visit to New Hampshire in 1860.

Derry club’s program on interior houseplants

DERRY — The Derry Garden Club will meet at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at the Derry Boys and Girls Club, 40 Hampstead Road.

Guest speakers Jack Wagoner, a master gardener, perennial manager and garden designer, and Melody Soucy, greenhouse manager at Lake Street Garden Center in Salem, will discuss interior design with houseplants and how to beautify your house. They also will create a multiplant container and will bring sample floor plants and terrariums.

A raffle and a silent auction also are planned. A soup and salad luncheon with dessert and beverages will be provided.

For more about the club, go to

Send submissions for Club News to

NH PeopleLifestyle

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Want a low-water garden that’s pretty? Brentwood club has answers

ANTIOCH — How to design a yard around drought-tolerant plants is the topic at a Brentwood gardening club meeting next week.

Kelly Marshall, an expert in garden design, will talk at 7:30 p.m. Monday to Delta Informal Gardeners at Brentwood Community Methodist Church, 809 Second St.

Visitors are welcome.

The Clayton resident has turned her own quarter-acre garden into a certified wildlife habitat, studied garden design through UC Berkeley Extension, and for the past 12 years has run a business that specializes in helping clients save water by choosing native and drought-tolerant plants.

Marshall will give a PowerPoint presentation and discuss how she uses her favorite native plants to turn open space into a garden — plants that will be for sale after the meeting.

Delta Informal Gardeners meets the fourth Monday of each month.


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Waynesville Arboretum Project begins second year

The first project of the town of Waynesville Arboretum has celebrated its first full year of growth and blooming. Those who walk along the gravel path between the skate park and the dog park will pass over a new bridge and come to the Serenity Garden.

The garden was a collaborative effort between the Mountain View Garden Club, and Jonathan Yates, town of Waynesville outside facilities manager, and his assistant, Bill Litty.  

The concept of a creation of an Arboretum was presented to the Waynesville Board of Aldermen and Mayor Gavin Brown in the spring of 2016.

The sole purpose of the project is beautification of the park area and education to the public about botanical life there.

Excavation of the Serenity Garden began in July 2016, and within three months the garden design, purchase, and planting of young trees and shrubs were completed.

The plantings all made it through the winter and are now showing their identities in full bloom. There is a garden bench for sitting next to the sound of running water from the Shelton Branch stream.

The Mountain View Garden Club is now maintaining the garden to keep it looking perfect.

Now that the first garden is completed, the Waynesville Garden Club will start the next project — a pollinator garden.

The garden will be located near the Recreation Center and will serve to attract and support butterfly and insect life, as well as provide information about these essential members of the cycle of plant development life and survival.

The horticulture department students at Haywood Community College are growing the plants for the pollinator garden.

Money for these projects comes from the small garden budgets. In-kind contribution of labor and equipment has been provided by the town of Waynesville.

It is anticipated that the Arboretum project will continue to develop for many years to come. The project ties in with the town of Waynesville’s new long-range plans to extend and enlarge the present greenway between the Hazelwood area of Waynesville through the Waynesville Recreation Park on to Junaluska.

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Madison’s Canterbury Apartments are sold

By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

David and Karen Griffith, who own 26 properties throughout Morgan County, purchased the Canterbury Apartments, the first apartments ever to be built in the county, from owner Betty Ervin, 83, a prominent business owner in Madison.

“We appreciate all the contributions the Ervin Family has made to Madison’s business community,” said Fred Perriman, mayor of Madison.

“Betty Ervin is known as a strong, successful business woman.  She led her family through tough economic times.  She couldn’t have picked anyone better than Karen and Dave Griffith to build upon her legacy.  The Griffiths see housing issues in the community and are finding ways to address them.  The city looks forward to a good relationship.”

The Griffiths are looking forward to taking over the Canterbury Apartments. “We want to help bring affordable quality housing to the community. It’s something Madison simply does not have enough of,” said Karen Griffith.

“We are really focused on reaching that mid-income level range, to provide people in that range housing options they can both afford and want to live in.” The Griffiths plan on slowly updating and renovating the apartment complex. The first round of updates will be in the form of landscaping and exterior improvements.

“We have had rental properties in Morgan County since 1995. We have built our business on providing well maintained, safe, quality places for our tenants to call home,” said Karen Griffith. “Through the past 20 years, we have added to our residential holdings every year. We own, manage, and maintain residential, commercial and undeveloped property.

The acquisition of the properties from Mrs. Ervin provides us a new opportunity to add our energy and vision to another segment of rental properties in Madison. There is a need for quality 2 bedroom/1 bath residences in Morgan County, and we look forward to transforming the apartments over time. We will begin work on the landscaping and exterior of the buildings soon.” Canterbury Apartments, located on Sulgrave Road in Madison, is a 16-unit apartment complex that was built in the 1970s by the Ervins. Betty Ervin continued to manage the property after her husband died 22 years ago.

“I have cried over this sale, even though I am glad to sell it. It’s like part of my family—like one of my kids. It’s just sad and I haven’t gotten used to it yet,” said Ervin. But Ervin hopes that as she passes the torch to the Griffiths, that they will revamp the Canterbury Apartments and make them better. “I hope you do twice as well as we did with it,” said Ervin to Karen Griffith. Betty Ervin and her late husband, M.P. Ervin, moved to Madison in the early 1950s as a young married couple from humble beginnings.

They opened a small produce store in town and eventually, two liquor stores, two conveniences stores, a BBQ buffet, a car wash, and rental properties. According to Ervin, she worked relentless to become successful in life.

“My husband never got a good education but he had a brilliant mind and good ideas. The Lord blessed him with the ideas and I ran everything. I worked day and night, seven days a week sometimes, and didn’t take vacations for years,” remembered Ervin. “I have worked sick and right after having a baby. I kept the books and I could cut meat just like a man. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I loved it. I love people and working with them. I have always tried to be faithful and fair to the people working for us or living in our properties,” said Ervin. Now that Ervin has one less commitment, she is hoping to spend her days relaxing and maybe even travelling.

“I don’t care much for travel, but I have always wanted to go to two places, the Grand Canyon and Ireland. I also love my cabin up in the mountains of Blairsville,” said Ervin. Ervin has persevered through some tough years, losing two children in the last couple of years, experiencing two house fires, and a business fire. “You have to be a strong person to get through all that,” said Ervin.

“I’m not gonna give up. I have never given up on anything in my life,” said Ervin. “I tell people all the time, don’t ever say you can’t and don’t ever give up.” She attributes her strength to her faith, which she found in the 1950s during a Billy Graham Crusade. “It changed my entire life,” said Ervin. “God has always answered my prayers, so I know everything will turn out just fine.”

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Bazaar offers tasty food and holiday ideas [West Friendship]

Fall fairs and festivals are beginning to fill up locals’ weekends. Mark your calendar for Nov. 11, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. when Saint James United Methodist Church presents the 10th Annual Holiday Bazaar and Flea Market. Saint James is at 12470 Old Frederick Road in Marriottsville. Holiday decorations, tasty treats, baked goods, hot breakfast and lunch fare plus craft vendors galore. The Camp Hope Christmas Room is always a favorite with gently-used holiday and household items. Interested craft vendors should contact Janet at 410-442-2020.

Congratulations to West Friendship Elementary music teacher Amy Syversen’s October band musicians of the month. The talented students include Jacob Adams, Serena Venginickal, Arianna Roman, Jaden Adams, Heidi Schwaiger, Avery Saylor, Aadi Doshi, Jaden Song, Calgary Fowler, Morgan Swidersky, Sam Switzer, Arianna Benjamin, Gabriel Summerfield, Hannah Norman, Rushil Patel, Sanah Ahmed, Nathan Ekman, Emma Langner, Tyson Rauscher, Sebastian Alonso and Evan Rayburn.

Eight buildings worth of construction and landscaping equipment are part of the loot during the Fall Machinery Auction on Oct. 21 at 9 a.m. at the Howard County fairgrounds. Roy Gregory and associates promise something for everyone during this huge sale, five acres worth actually, which includes lawn and garden equipment and machinery, cars, boats, golf carts, snow plows, antique woodworking tools and more.

You’ve seen it on HGTV now come check out the marvels of small house construction during the Mid-Atlantic Tiny House Expo at the Howard County fairgrounds in West Friendship. The exhibitors and vendors will be ready to go on Oct. 28 and 29 beginning at 10 a.m. Everything from tiny houses on wheels to yurts.

Private Japanese garden is ‘piece of art and piece of history&rsquo…

BELLEVUE, Wash. — The koi pond is clouded with algae. Invasive cattails obscure the arching bridge between garden and lake.

But a noted Seattle-area landscape architect sees in the neglected, private garden on Bellevue’s Phantom Lake a legacy of the culture and history of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest, including their internment during World War II and the rebuilding of their lives when they returned home.

Seko Garden, the home and grounds of Joan Seko and her late husband, Roy Seko, could be sold next spring. Joan Seko, 80, can no longer care for the 4-acre property with its hillside Japanese garden sloping down to the lake. She’s purchased a condo about a mile away.

The couple ran Bush Garden restaurant for 44 years, from 1953 to 1997, in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, where it became a center of Japanese-American celebrations, political fundraisers and one of the country’s first, and still beloved, Karaoke bars.

Koichi Kobayashi, a landscape architect who worked on the restoration of the Seattle Japanese Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum in the 1970s, is trying to rally support to find a buyer for the garden who would restore it and open it to the public. He said real-estate agents have told him that the 1950s ranch-style house and garden, valued at about $1.3 million, likely would be leveled and a new lakefront home built on the site.

“I don’t have much time,” Kobayashi said. “I’ve seen a lot of gardens wiped out.”

Little-known legacy, Kobayashi had an office for his landscape-design business in the Chinatown International District, near Bush Garden. He ate there often, he said, and was friends with Roy Seko, but never knew about the Bellevue garden.

He learned about it only five months ago, while he was researching gardens built at Japanese internment camps, including Minidoka, in Idaho, where many Seattle-area families were imprisoned during the war.

Among them were several men who would be influential in Seattle-area landscape design and the construction of local Japanese gardens: Fujitaro Kubota, who built the 20-acre garden that is now a Seattle park and historical landmark; Richard Yamasaki, one of the builders of the Seattle Japanese Garden; and Roy Seko.

Roy’s father, Kaichi Seko, was imprisoned at a different camp, suspected of being a spy because of airplane drawings by his then 14-year-old son. He was released after the rest of the family had returned to Seattle. Once he rejoined them, he founded the Bush Garden Restaurant, bought the Phantom Lake property and hired Yamasaki to help him and Roy Seko build the garden.

The garden features many elements common to a Japanese stroll garden,including a cascading waterfall, three ponds, sculpted and pruned trees, stone lanterns and wandering paths.

Yamasaki installed the rockery and bonsai plants that over the years have become overgrown. Kobayashi said he particularly admires the craftsmanship around the waterfall feature, with its tall, craggy rocks. Roy Seko later installed a pump that circulated lake water that spilled over the rocks and flowed through the descending ponds.

Because of its residential setting, Kobayashi said, it illustrates the variety of Japanese gardens in the Pacific Northwest.

Following Kaichi Seko’s death in 1966, Joan and Roy Seko moved into the Phantom Lake home with Roy’s mother, Suye Seko, where they raised five children and continued to make additions to the grounds, including an arching bridge on the lower pond that Roy built in the family garage. In its prime, the garden was featured in Sunset magazine and The Seattle Times Pacific Magazine.

Joan Seko remembers that in the two weeks before her husband’s death in 2004, she set up a hospital bed in the living room so he could look out over the garden and lake. She said hundreds of people visited to pay their last respects.

But she is not sentimental about the garden. She said she remembers her mother-in-law calling in tears while it was being built. The elder Mrs. Seko said her washing machine was broken and her husband wouldn’t buy her a new one. “He’s paying for rocks,” the mother-in-law said.

Joan Seko also remembers plucking pine needles by hand from the sculpted trees to maintain their form, and rushing out with her husband in the middle of a snowstorm with brooms to keep heavy snow off the trees. all part of the garden’s near constant upkeep.

She pointed to grass now growing in the garden’s gravel walks. “There’s no end to the weeding,” she said.

She appreciates the recognition the garden is now getting, and would like to see it saved but said she can’t wait around for a grand plan that may never materialize.

“I’m old. I can’t keep it up. My kids won’t let me get up on a ladder anymore.”


Kobayashi estimates it would cost between $5 million and $10 million to purchase the property and restore and improve the garden. That cost also reflects his ultimate vision — to have a traditional Japanese residence designed and built on the property to replace the existing house.

“The goal is to make the property so unique and precious that no one would want to destroy it,” he said.

Kobayashi said that in the garden he can see the hand of the three men who designed and built it, Yamasaki, Kaichi Seko and Roy Seko, and in that collaboration, their pride in their Japanese heritage and their ability to create landscapes of beauty and tranquility after an experience that he called “the most bitter of their lives.”The garden, he said, is “a piece of art and a piece of history. It would be sad for all of us to lose it.”

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