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Archives for October 4, 2017

Ikea has debuted an indoor farm that grows greens 3 times as fast as in a garden

LOKAL_photo_Rory Gardiner_4Rory Gardiner

Ikea is known for its flat-pack kitchen tables, islands, and cabinets.

Now the home-furnishings retailer is experimenting with products that allow people to harvest food at home.

Space10, Ikea’s innovation lab, has designed a prototype of a mini-farm that can grow greens and herbs indoors.

Called Lokal, it uses a hydroponic farming system — allowing crops to grow on trays under LEDs in a climate-controlled box. Space10 debuted the device in September at the London Design Festival in Shoreditch.

Check it out below.

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Fall Garden Design at Hillwood


Photo by

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens is hosting Gardener’s Focus: Fall Design on October 5th October 12th from 2:45 to 3:30 pm.

(Photo by:
Jessica Bonilla

Part of the magic of Hillwood’s gardens is how constantly (and quickly) things change! Focal points around the estate change seasonally. Join Jessica Bonilla, head gardener, to learn more about this fall’s seasonal plantings.


Jessica Bonilla is the head gardener at Hillwood. Joining the team in 2009, she and her staff are responsible for all aspects of garden upkeep. With nearly twenty years of experience, she started her career in commercial landscaping and in 2000 became head gardener at a private estate in Rochester, NY, where she also ran her own landscaping business. 


Advance reservations are available for members only, by calling 202.686.5807.


Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens is located at 4155 Linnean Avenue NW.




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Tamsin Slatter shares how Vectorworks helps those in garden design

photo of tamsin slatter

Tamsin Slatter

When Tamsin Slatter began using Vectorworks around 10 or 11 years ago, she had been taught to believe that design software could not be creative when it came to garden design

Slatter, U.K. director of customer success for Vectorworks, originally had worked in the corporate world of IT before she retrained as a garden designer, where only hand drawing was taught. After starting her own practice, she came upon Vectorworks and fell in love with the product.

“I love the idea that I could create 2D and 3D at the same time and all the boring parts, all the numbers it would just give those to me,” Slatter said. “The reason why I went for it all those years ago was the ability to create planting plans with ease and I could run a report saying how many plants I’d used.”

As Slatter continued to advance her skills in Vectorworks, the company approached her about creating the getting started guide for Vectorworks Landmark. She is also now the Vectorworks trainer for The London College of Garden Design and provides the e-learning online course materials for the Oxford College of Garden Design and other design colleges.

Slatter writes regular tutorials for Vectorworks Service Select subscription service and recently her company, Design Software Solutions, was acquired by Vectorworks to serve as its office in the U.K.

“With more than ten years of experience helping users make the most of their investments in Vectorworks software, Design Software Solutions has provided significant input to the growth of the U.K. market while also providing valuable support and training materials,” said Biplab Sarkar, CEO of Vectorworks. “Tasmin and Adrian Slatter and their dedicated team have the right mix of experience and passion for our products to help us to provide top-quality support for our existing community of designers and resellers in the U.K., while expanding our user base even faster than we have to date.”

Vectorworks helped Slatter structure her design process and allowed her to manage more than one project at a time compared to hand drawing, which a problem she often hears from customers in the U.K.

“One woman could cope with about six projects at a time,” Slatter said. “Her business could only be her. She couldn’t grow. She took on Vectorworks and I trained her and within a year they had 29 projects and were opening another office.”

Slatter says she recommends Vectorworks to landscapers because the software is powerful, yet easy to use once you’ve got a grasp on how the tools work.

“It’s also the ability to reuse resources,” she said. “You can reproduce things; you’re not having to repeat yourself. I like style of drawings that looks really good and it’s possible to have your own style in the software.”

Some of the tasks that Slatter points out as easier in Vectorworks are counting things as the software is able to keep track of what has been used and designers can collaborate with others regardless of their file types.

Slatter encourages those who are new to Vectorworks to just play with it.

“We have a huge amount of training content,” she said. “Use the resources out there; get out there and connect with other users. As well as formal training there is so much available.”

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Garden Docs: Tips for growing better sunflowers

Alan N. of Santa Rosa asks two questions: When it’s time to cut down my sunflower plants, can I chop up the whole plant and dig them back into the soil to add organic matter, or do I need to toss them? Second, I’ve seen some beautiful colored sunflowers, other than the typical yellows. Where can I purchase those unusual varieties?

It would be great if you could incorporate the flower heads, stalks and leaves, back into the soil to add organic matter when the plants are done and the gardening season is over. Most gardeners tend to plant pretty much the same kind of plant in the same place every gardening season. People like certain plants in certain spots because they like that plant — its color, height and other characteristics. But sometimes planting the same plant in the same spot every year causes plant pathogens to build up in that particular area in the garden, which can then cause the host plant to become infected. If the plants are diseased and you didn’t know/see it, you’ve then incorporated the diseased plant material back into the soil. That’s not good. Look carefully at each plant to make sure it is free of disease. Don’t incorporate the diseased sunflower plants to the soil where you plan to grow sunflowers next year. If a plant is diseased, dispose of it.

As for where to get unusual and beautifully colored sunflowers? One place to look is, which develops these new selections. For more than 40 years, sunflower geneticist Dr. Tom Heaton has been developing ornamental sunflowers for the company, which has an incredible array of varieties it sells directly to the home gardener.

Every sunflower is the result of at least 7 years of careful research and plant breeding that Heaton undertakes every season. Thousands of plants are grown each year in their breeding plots. Every single plant is followed from germination through flowering with data meticulously recorded for important traits that determine the type and quality of flower that the customers desire. The astounding range of colors and petal forms from sunflower is owed to their passion to create new flowers. When they are convinced that they have created yet another “new” sunflower that growers and gardeners will appreciate, pure source seeds are multiplied by their staff in strict isolation from other sunflowers before being offered for sale.

The company’s latest develop is the first white sunflower. Procut White Nite and Procut White Lite will be released in November for next summer’s growing season. Burpee’s is featuring a white sunflower called ‘Coconut Ice’ and Baker Creek has an heirloom Italian White sunflower.

Dana Lozano and Gwen Kilchherr are garden consultants. Send your gardening questions to The Garden Doctors, at The Garden Doctors can answer questions only through their column, which appears twice a month in the newspaper and online at

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Garden Q&A: Protecting dahlias

My dahlias are still blooming like it’s summer. How long does this go on? Since they can’t handle winter, how do I protect them?

Dahlias are jewels in the garden until frost. Do not wait until soil freezes to dig up the tubers or you’ll be left with mush. After the first frost or when leaves yellow, work with a spading fork or shovel, loosening soil around them, then removing tubers gently. Avoid cutting tubers, as rot can set in. Clinging soil should not be washed off. Cure by spreading and drying them in shade for one to three days. Store in sawdust or peat moss, slightly dampened, in a cool damp place such as a basement or garage at about 50-55 degrees. Check occasionally and dampen if they appear to be shriveling.

Starting about mid-summer the last few years, our pin oak’s leaves start browning along the edges. At first, it was only some of the lowest leaves, but now more leaves are doing it. The tree looks great each spring, though now a few of the low branches are dead. Is this normal or serious? I’d say one-third of the tree is now affected.

Bacterial leaf scorch is a serious disease, usually slow-developing, with no cure. The bacterium is spread by common insects such as plant hoppers. It infects low interior leaves first, moving outward to branch tips and progressing upward into the crown. (A drought problem, on the contrary, would start at the top and progress downward.) Dead branches should be removed. Though antibiotic treatments and fertilization have been shown to prolong the life of infected trees, an infection as advanced as your tree’s would not be helped. Search bacterial leaf scorch on the HGIC website. Oaks are of prime importance in the ecosystem. Consider replacing your pin oak, a member of the red oak family, with an oak in the white oak family, which is more resistant to bacterial leaf scorch and more drought tolerant.