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Archives for October 5, 2017

Selby Botanical Gardens showcases its master site plan design

sign for the Marie Selby Botanical gardens

Photo: Expedia

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has unveiled its master site plan for the 15-acre property, which is currently estimated to cost $67 million to complete.

Back in September 2016, Selby Gardens issued a request for proposals and 14 firms responded. The botanical garden ended up selecting Philadelphia-based OLIN to reimagine the historical property.

Opened to the public in 1975, Marie Selby left her property to the community wishing for it to be used as a botanical garden. Originally only five acres, the institution grew over time by purchasing nearby property.

Selby Gardens is known for its research and conservation of epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants without harming them, such as orchids, bromeliads and ferns.

Located in Sarasota, Florida, Selby Gardens is the most species-rich botanical garden per acre in North America. It is second to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew with its collection of liquid preserved flowering plants.

It also has the third largest collection of preserved bromeliad plants and the fourth largest collection of preserved orchids in the U.S. More than 200,000 people visit the gardens on a yearly basis and over the past two years, Selby Gardens has seen a 36 percent increase in visitors.

OLIN's plan for expanding

Photo: OLIN

The master plan will expand the garden’s green space by 50 percent within its current footprint and secure its scientific collection from future sea level rise.

“While we’ve known Selby Gardens had to contend with its aging infrastructure for some time, Hurricane Irma validated the need to move ahead sooner rather than later with this plan,” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens.

The plan involves the removal of buildings that are decaying and not historically significant, along with the construction of a five-story parking garage complete with a rooftop restaurant.

The removal of buildings and consolidation of parking will allow OLIN to expand the garden and open space. More intuitive and circuitous routes throughout the property are also included in the master plan.

The parking garage will hold more than 450 cars and will showcase the plants that the Gardens study. Solar panels, rainwater harvesting and green roofs will be integrated into the parking garage. A rooftop garden will also be used to provide the restaurant with some of its produce.

A new welcome center, learning pavilion and a greenhouse designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane are all additional elements in the master plan.

“This plan upholds our past and also ensures Selby Gardens’ future, which has significant scientific importance,” Rominiecki said. “It also allows us to expand on Marie’s original gift to the community of an oasis of green space in the middle of downtown Sarasota, but envisioned at the highest level. We are proud to be able to continue her legacy.”

A construction timeline has not been established yet, but the plan will be executed in three phases over 10 years.

OLIN will be leading a team of experts in architecture, exhibit design and environmental design. Overland Partners, Kimley Horn, Metcalfe Architects, eDesign Dynamics, David Sacks Landscape Architecture and Creative Preservation are all a part of the team.

“Once implemented, the state of the art green technology will make Selby Gardens an international model for urban design planning,” Rominiecki said.

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Beautiful home ideas headline clinics – The Register

Home and garden experts will present more than three dozen free clinics this Friday through Sunday, Oct. 6-8, at the Lane Events Center, 796 W. 13th Ave., in Eugene. Topics at the home-show workshops range from remodeling and new construction to more productive plantings of flowers and edibles.

Keynote presenters include Lex and Alana LeBlanc, hosts of HGTV’s “Listed Sisters” (see story, Page 14).

The seminars will be held on three stages:

Design Stage in the North Hall

Remodel Stage in Room 4 East off the South Hall

Project Stage in Room 4 West off the South Lobby

Friday, Oct. 6

6 p.m. “Organizing Tips for New Home Building Remodeling.” Design Stage; by Karen Wright, Wright Interiors.

6 p.m. “Fall Planting for Homegrown Fruit Berries.” Project Stage; by John Fischer, “The Relaxed Gardener.”

6:30 p.m. “Reinventing Your Home — Whole House Remodels.” Remodel Stage; Matt White, Neil Kelly Design/Build Remodeling.

7 p.m. “Garden Evolution: A Designer’s 25-Year Landscape Challenge.” Design Stage; by Vanessa Gardner Nagel, APLD, author of “Understanding Garden Design: The Complete Handbook for Aspiring Designers.” Book signings to follow.

7 p.m. “Installing Solar Before the Oregon Tax Credit Expires in March 2018.” Project stage; by Newt Loken, Solar Assist.

7:30 p.m. “Kitchen Remodels — Designs to Budgets.” Ten winners of $100 goodie bag. Remodel Stage; by Ericka Arowcavage, Signature Kitchen Design.

Saturday, Oct. 7

10:30 a.m. “Edible Winter Gardens Lasagna Composting.” Project Stage; by John Fischer, “The Relaxed Gardener.”

11 a.m. “How to Get the Designer Look — Using Lex’s Room Recipes.” Design Stage; by Lex and Alana LeBlanc, stars of HGTV’s “Listed Sisters.” Autographs to follow talks.

11 a.m. “Need More Space? New Multi-purpose Solutions.” Remodel Stage; by Keith Cobb, HiddenBed of Oregon.

11:30 a.m. “Fall Planting of Ornamentals.” Project Stage; by OSU Extension Master Gardeners.

Noon. “How to Select the Right Contractor — Personality Process.” Remodel Stage; by Forrest Castile, Castile Construction
and David Moir, Moir Construction.

12:30 p.m. “Renovating a Tired Garden.” Design Stage; by Vanessa Gardner Nagel, APLD, author of “Understanding Garden Design: The Complete Handbook for Aspiring Designers.” Book signings to follow.

12:30 p.m. “Moles, Voles Gophers — Driving You Crazy? Tips to Regain Your Sanity Yard.” Project Stage; by Grant Williams, Ultimate Pest Control.

1 p.m. “Outdoor Space Remodeling: Making Rooms in the Landscape.” Remodel Stage; by Jon Clark Lytton Reid, Rainbow Valley Design Construction.

1:30 p.m. “2017 is the Final Year of the Oregon Residential
Solar Tax Credit.” Project Stage; by Brett Moser, Advanced Energy Systems.

2 p.m. “Re-think Your Smaller Home and Stay Put.” Design Stage; by Christine Brun, ASID, interior designer, syndicated columnist and author of “Big Ideas for Small Spaces” and “Small Space Living.” Book signings to follow.

2 p.m. “Selecting Quality Granite Quartz Countertops — What, How, Why Who?” Remodel Stage; by Laureen Youngblood, American Home Stone.

2:30 p.m. “On the Hunt for Groundcovers — Why Your Garden Must Have Them.” Project Stage; by Mary-Kate Mackey, award-winning garden writer.

3 p.m. “Kitchen Remodeling Essentials.” Remodel Stage; by Stefanie Rotella, Neil Kelly Design/Build Remodeling.

3 p.m. “Interior Design — Finding Your Style.” Prize: one winner of a pair of lamps. Design Stage; by Jessica Hardman, interior designer, La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery of Eugene.

3:30 p.m. “Do it Yourself Ductless Heat Pump Installation.” Project Stage; by Rick Gregg, The Heat Pump Store.

4 p.m. “The No Demo Reno — Redesign Without a Mess.” Design Stage; by Lex and Alana LeBlanc, stars of HGTV’s Listed Sisters, Autographs to follow talks.

4:30 p.m. “Mini-Pies with Master Food Preservers.” Project Stage; by OSU Extension Master Food Preservers.

4:30 p.m. “How to Make a Lifelong Home — Aging in Place with AARP Home Fit.” Remodel Stage; by Michele Scheib, AARP.

5:30 p.m. “Are You Ready to Remodel?” Design Stage; by Matt White, Neil Kelly Design/Build Remodeling.

6:30 p.m. “Kitchen Remodels — Designs to Budgets.” Ten winners of $100 goodie bag. Remodel Stage; by Ericka Arowcavage, Signature Kitchen Design.

Sunday, Oct. 8

10:30 a.m. “Gardening with Native Plants.” Project Stage; by OSU Extension Master Gardeners.

11 a.m. “The No Demo Reno — Redesign Without a Mess.” Design Stage; by Lex Alana LeBlanc, stars of HGTV’s “Listed Sisters.” Autographs to follow talks.

11:30 a.m. “Going Ductless.” Project Stage; by Ryan Gregg, Ductless Application Specialist, The Heat Pump Store.

Noon. “Custom New Homes: The Design-Build Approach.” Remodel Stage; by Alec Dakers and Tobin Newburgh, Rainbow Valley Design Construction.

12:30 p.m. “Interior Design — Finding Your Style.” Prize: one winner of a pair of lamps. Design Stage; by Jessica Hardman, interior designer, La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery of Eugene.

12:30 p.m. “I Open at the Close — Great Late Plants for Autumn.” Project Stage; by Mary-Kate Mackey, garden writer.

1 p.m. “A Remodel Design Process Built for You.” Remodel Stage; by Forrest Castile, Castile Construction.

1:30 p.m. “Compost — Start, Maintain Use.” Project Stage; by OSU Extension Master Gardeners.

1:30 p.m. “Best Ideas for Small Homes: Design Plus Space Solutions that Work.” Design Stage; by Christine Brun, ASID, interior designer, syndicated columnist and author of “Big Ideas for Small Spaces” and “Small Space Living.” Book signings to follow.

2 p.m. “Bathroom Remodeling Essentials.” Remodel Stage; by Magda Zafer, Neil Kelly Design/Build Remodeling.

2:30 p.m. “Drying Fruits Vegetables — Healthy Snacks the Easy Way.” Project Stage; by John Fischer, “The Relaxed Gardener.”

3 p.m. “How to Get the Designer Look — Using Lex’s Room Recipes.” Design Stage; by Lex and Alana LeBlanc, stars and hosts of HGTV’s “Listed Sisters.” Autographs to follow talks.


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Garden design heads east

Sezincote House in Gloucestershire



MORE gardens in Britain are having a makeover inspired by the Mughal empire – perhaps in the hope of an Indian summer.

Asian families and owners of historic sites across the UK are having a Taj Mahal-style theme to their outdoor spaces, according to experts.

Charlie Dimmock, Harry and David Rich

They said the designs, inspired by the 14-17th century emperors, often include a water foun­tain, arches, diamond shapes and dividing the space into smaller sections for plants and flowers.

The mix of Islamic and Hindu styles was fea­tured on BBC show Garden Rescue last month. Darshna and Noyon, a couple from Harrow in north London had their small courtyard garden transformed with patterned blue and white tiles, a fountain and wooden archways.

Parks and country estates have also adopted a Mughal theme – among them are Lister Park in Bradford, Yorkshire; Sezincote House in Glouces­tershire and nearby Daylesford House, which has a triangular swimming pool next to an orangery and citrus trees.

Other sites include The Indian Room at Larmer Tree Gardens in Wiltshire and Trematon Castle in Cornwall, which boasts a south Asian-style gar­den around a swimming pool.

Dr Toby Musgrave is a tutor at Learningwithex­ and runs online course The History of Garden Design, which covers Islamic and Mughal gardens.

The design project from BBC TV show, Garden Rescue

He said Mughal-inspired spaces have featured in TV shows like medieval drama series Game of Thrones with The Alcázar Garden of Seville, Spain.

Dr Musgrave told Eastern Eye: “A Mughal-in­spired garden is based on the description of the gardens of paradise that are set out in the Quran.

“The garden design will focus on a central wa­ter feature that feeds four perpendicular rills (ca­nals) that represent the rivers of life and that di­vide the space equally into four quarters. Hence the name char bagh or four beds.

“The planting will feature shade-giving trees, fruit trees and lots of brightly coloured and scent­ed flowers.

“This design would be easy to recreate, espe­cially in smaller urban gardens where the space lends itself to more geometric designs.

“Different coloured paving or tiles could be used to represent the water dividing the area and scented plants and trees can be grown in pots or raised beds.”

He added: “Mughal-inspired gardens are all over the UK. From the Ismaili Roof Garden in Kensington, which can be viewed as part of the London Open Gardens scheme, to the Islamic Garden at St Mary’s the Virgin School in Cardiff.”

Experts say the eastern theme is popular among couples because it can be used in small outdoor spaces.

The Indian garden in Lister Park has a fountain, arches and streams along straight lines.

Ian Wood, principal manager for parks and green spaces at Bradford Council, said: “The garden is widely accepted in the country as quite unique in its design, we are very proud of that aspect.

“It’s a simple, clean design, it’s quite elegant and formal at the same time.

“It’s 130 metres long, 30 metres wide. It is di­vided up with the water, the rills [stream], foot­paths broken down into sub-gardens culminating in the pond with a larger foundation.

“To replicate this design in a garden at home would be quite easy to do.

“As long as you have a soothing flow of water or a fountain at one end, you can replicate it on a small scale.”

The project on Garden Rescue had a budget of £2,500, which was spent on banana trees, tiles and the remote-controlled water feature.

It was designed by presenter Charlie Dimmock and landscape designers Harry and David Rich.

Noyon, a project manager, said of his new gar­den: “It’s like an exotic paradise. It is spectacular.”

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5 ways to boost your home value with lighting

This article is sponsored by Dulles Electric

For most Americans, owning a home means more than just having a place to sleep and live. Home ownership is also a significant source of wealth.

Since 2007, the average U.S. homeowner’s net worth has ranged from $159,000 to more than $221,000, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances. A popular pastime of many homeowners is upgrading and improving their property to increase its value.

In the rush to enhance kitchens and bathrooms with the latest countertops and tile, many homeowners overlook one of the simplest home upgrades which provides a big return for the expense: lighting.

If you want a home improvement project that adds value but doesn’t require a second mortgage, here are some lighting ideas.

Add room elegance

Consider replacing boring room lights with an eye-catching chandelier, recommends Teri Cettina, writing for More than any other feature, chandeliers can add a unique, elegant touch to a room. Designs like those by Schonbek — available at Dulles Electric — offer hundreds of options at affordable prices. It is easy to find something in your budget that will still wow your guests.

Chandeliers don’t need to be restricted to living rooms and dining rooms either. They can add a spa-like ambiance to master bedrooms and baths.

Beautify the bathroom

If your bathroom has overhead lights, consider replacing them with wall-mounted lights to add warmth and value to your bathroom, recommends Around your mirror you need even lighting that doesn’t create side shadows. Keep in mind that high wattage bulbs make small spaces feel larger and soft lighting brings warmth to empty spaces.

Don’t forget the kitchen

Countertops, cabinets and flooring get all the attention when upgrading kitchens. Yet without proper lighting, the room will never look or function as well as it should. Kitchens are workspaces. A single, central overhead light simply doesn’t provide adequate illumination when you are looking in the back corner of a cabinet for pumpkin spice.

“Many designers divide kitchen lighting into three categories: general lighting (for overall illumination), task lighting (for detailed tasks) and accent lighting (for setting a mood or illuminating glass-front cabinets),” according to information from

When the right fixtures are in place, the site recommends adding dimmer switches for flexibility and high-quality bulbs to maximize lighting efficiency.

Go natural

Open window shades, blinds and curtains to let in as much natural light as possible. Natural lighting makes your home appear open and airy. If your home has skylights, that is a nice bonus. If not, sun tubes are a less-expensive option, reports Joseph D’Agnese in an article for This Old House.

These smaller, tubular skylights use reflective material to funnel natural light from a globe-capped hole cut in a rooftop down through a ceiling fixture and into a room. You can even use them to brighten areas like hallways and entries where traditional skylights aren’t practical. As a bonus, the additional natural light can help reduce your electric bill.

Go outside

Exterior lighting can enhance the curb appeal and value of your home if lighting is part of a comprehensive landscaping plan. When you drive through a neighborhood at night, chances are the homes that stand out most are those where lighting plays an important role. Lighting should highlight structural features like pathways, fire pits, water features, fencing and more. If you have outdoor patios, decks or other outdoor living spaces, those should also be included in the overall lighting and landscaping design.

Lighting can change the mood of a room or even make a room seem larger or smaller. It can enhance color and increase functionality. For more ideas on how you can make your home more beautiful and increase its value with great lighting, contact a trusted, local lighting expert.

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Novi Home Show features new products, ideas at Suburban Collection

If you go If you go

• The Novi Home Show

• 2-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13-15.

• Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Ave., Novi.

• Tickets: $10 ages 13+, $9 seniors 55+, free for 12 and younger.

• “$5 after 5” admission available on Friday and Saturday.

• Parking is $5.

Showcasing home and landscaping trends for 65 years, The Novi Home Show offers home improvement products and services for every type of project imaginable, decorating and landscaping exhibits as well as experienced businesses available for consulting or hire.

The show, Oct. 13-15 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, features a variety of exhibitors including siding professionals, landscapers, builders, kitchen and bathroom remodelers, waterproofing experts, countertop installers, basement refinishers and more.

One of the highlights of this year’s show will be an appearance from Boyce Thompson, author of “The New, New Home,” who will demonstrate innovative home products for 2018, many of them easy for homeowners to install.

“I try to find new and exciting products or something that might change the way you use a product,” he says. “So I’m not just looking for something that might be a little more energy efficient or easier to use but I want to fundamentally change the way people live at home.”

Thompson, who will make appearances at 15 different home shows all over the country this year, has another book coming out in February, “The Anatomy of a Great Home,” which he’s been working on for more than three years.

“The book will feature 60 of the most magnificent homes designed over the last 10 years,” he said. “The idea is to highlight lessons that anyone else can use. So what is it about these great homes that resonates for everyone?”

Thompson says one popular topic of discussion at these home shows is the security of connected home products.

“This fall I’ve been bringing a product called CUJO,” he said. “A lot of people are worried about getting hacked and CUJO is a smart firewall that gives you the same type of security in your home that you would find in a business.”

From smartphones to laptops, CUJO secures all devices against hacks and web threats. CUJO also allows homeowners to control what their children access online and keep them safe.

While at Novi, Thompson will demonstrate his picks of the Top 10 innovative products for the home and feature these cutting-edge technology products in a special area at the show.

Some of the innovative items Thompson will showcase include the Ohmni robot, with artificial intelligence. WITH a screen for a “face,” this telepresence robot offers personal connection to older parents or loved ones when you can’t be there, via real-time video chat.

“The robot is easily maneuverable from a computer or smart phone, so you can check in and engage with family at the dinner table, kitchen or anywhere,” Thompson says. “I’ve been tracking these robots for the last two years and they keep getting pushed back in development. But finally, one has hit the market.”

Home Show attendees will be among the first in the country to see the life-sized robot in action.

Other products Thompson will highlight include:

• Auto-mow: An automower from Husqvarna works like a robot vacuum cleaner, but for your yard. Controlled from your smart phone, this automated lawn mower will get the job done without any pushing.

• Smart valves: Cutting-edge sensors that detect leaks and shut off gas and water valves while alerting you via smart phone.

• Audio speaker lights: These speakers from Sony are actually LED lights doubling as Bluetooth speakers.

• Oven knows best: Imagine an oven that recognizes what you place inside and adjusts time and temperature accordingly and perfectly. This counter-top convection oven does just that.

Visitors also can tour manufactured home models with gorgeous open floor plans, incredible kitchens and luxurious master baths from Michigan Manufactured Housing Association member manufacturers.

The Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan’s Super Surplus Sale features items donated by HBA members including appliances, cabinets, countertops, décor items, doors, ceiling fans, light fixtures, furniture and more. A portion of the proceeds from the Super Surplus Sale will benefit Habitat for Humanity-Oakland County.

• If you go: The Novi Home Show runs 2-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13-15, at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Ave., Novi. Tickets are $10 for ages 13 and older, $9 seniors 55 and older and free for ages 12 and younger. Parking is $5. Special “$5 after 5” admission available on Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit

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Matthew Leston Rollins, 32

WRENTHAM — Matthew Leston Rollins, age 32, passed away on Oct. 1, 2017. He was the son of William W. and Paula L. (Leston) Rollins of Wrentham.

Matthew was born on January 17, 1985, in Stoughton. He attended Wrentham elementary schools, Hillside School in Marlboro, the King Philip High School in Wrentham, receiving his GED, and attended Dean College in Franklin. Matthew was employed as an assistant manager at U-Haul Moving Storage of Attleboro. He formerly worked as a fisherman for Alaskan Leader Industries in Alaska’s Bearing Sea and was a crew chief for Gardens to Grow Landscaping Company in Norfolk. He enjoyed fishing, cooking and gardening.

He was the beloved son of William W. and Paula L. Rollins of Wrentham and grandson of Lena M. Leston of Walpole. He was the brother of Holly Rollins-Corrick and her husband James Patrick Corrick and uncle to their daughters Neve and Mila of Missoula, Mont., and the brother to Wesley F. Rollins and his wife Stephanie and uncle to their daughter Shelby of Lake Wylie, S.C. He was also the caring brother of Kaylee M. Rollins of Sharon.

Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend a Funeral Service on Saturday, October 14 at 11 AM at the Roberts and Sons Funeral Home, 30 South Street, Foxboro. Interment will follow at Centre Cemetery, in Wrentham.

For additional information contact 508-543-5471. To leave a memory or comment, visit the funeral home web site at

In lieu of flowers donations in Matthew’s memory may be made to HMEA (Horace Mann Educational Associates), Attention: Plainville Day Habilitation, 8 Forge Park East, Franklin, MA 02038 to benefit the program that supports Matthew’s sister Kaylee and her peers.

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A spa, outdoor kitchen and fireplace anchor this backyard makeover in Nipomo

Susan and Michael McMillan were blessed with a large backyard — more than a third of an acre in the Trilogy development in Nipomo. The couple had visions of lush Mediterranean gardens, like the ones they strolled through in Europe.

In reality, the yard was generic: “Lots of grass, simple plantings and no lights,” described Susan McMillan.

A backyard reboot was in order.

The couple worked with Addison Landscape and Design and Sun Pool Construction to produce an elegant yet functional outdoor living space with Old World character. The result exceeded their expectations — and made a splash in the design world. Their backyard design won two first place awards for excellence in landscape design and construction from the California Landscape Contractors Association and also won “best residential project.”

Just like an interior project focuses on rooms with distinct functions, the re-landscaping began with three components: A spa, outdoor kitchen and fireplace area. Consistent materials run through all three for a cohesive look. This includes Old World-style veneer stone and interlocking concrete pavers in a natural, organic shape. Custom cast concrete makes up the spa coping, fireplace mantel, hearth and outdoor kitchen countertop.

front yard Addison Landscape McMillian

To break up all of those hard materials, Addison Landscape incorporated small planter beds that contain dwarf Italian Cyprus and blue fescue grasses. A waterfall ledge turns the spa into a dramatic water feature and adds another organic element to the hardscape.

A new yard, with its young plantings and immature trees, can lack vertical interest. So Addison Landscape built a trellis over the outdoor kitchen. This establishes the area as a focal point and also creates some much-needed height.

The team also brought in several field-grown olive trees that “provide height and movement,” said McMillan. The day a crane lifted the trees over the house was a show for the entire neighborhood. “At the end, we all clapped,” she said.

Lighting puts the final touch on the outdoor space, adding ambience at night. LED up-lights dramatically highlight trees. Copper LED path lights illuminate walkways and perimeters. And the kitchen turns into a resort-style bar at night with under-counter lighting.

Smaller conversation areas take advantage of under-used corners of the yard and allow more seating options for guests. One is a bistro set and water feature. On the other side, four lounge chairs encircle a fire bowl.

The couple chose their patio furniture for both looks and function.

cover fireplace Addison Landscape McMillian

Related stories from The Tribune

Many pieces are dead-ringers for indoor furniture, but built with weather-resistant materials. They stayed away from big coordinating sets, choosing instead a mix of wicker and iron “so things would not be too matchy-matchy,” said McMillan. All pieces are pulled together by a similar dark finish, as well as fabric with red accents.

The outdoor kitchen is equipped to feed a crowd. The couple chose a large grill, a Fire Magic E790 because “that baby can grill a lot of steaks,” Susan said. Side burners are set several inches from the grill to accommodate large pots. A large counter acts as a serving area and has access to electrical outlets for blenders and crock pots. Underneath, there is ample storage for barbecue tools.

The couple was so pleased with their backyard, they asked Addison Landscape to redesign their front yard as well. New elements include dry-stack retaining walls, a Mediterranean-inspired plant palette, and a collection of rustic cast concrete pots with succulents near the front entry.

The McMillans are finding themselves outdoors more often, and inviting more guests to join them. Recently, they wandered outside onto their covered patio to enjoy a late summer thunderstorm. Susan says that the patio gives them the “feeling we are in a Tuscan courtyard,” but with all the comforts of home.

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Archtober Building of the Day: Brooklyn Grange Farm

This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here.

Today’s Archtober Building of the Day tour took us to Brooklyn Grange, located on top of Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 3. Once we had assembled on the 11th floor, with its sweeping views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, Gwen Schantz, co-founder and CEO, took us around the intimate yet extraordinarily productive farm. Schantz, who heads the farm’s landscaping division, revealed not only the specific agricultural details of the farm but also how they have managed to turn urban agriculture into a viable business model.

Brooklyn Grange’s roots date to 2009, when Ben Flanner, now president, quit his job in finance to open Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn. One year later, joined by Schantz and other partners, he opened the organization’s permanent foothold in Long Island City; they soon after added the location in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The organization has since become a worldwide leader in urban agriculture efforts.

Central to Brooklyn Grange’s mission is to do more than just grow food. Schantz went so far as to describe it primarily as an educational center, facilitated by City Growers, an educational nonprofit that Brooklyn Grange (which is for-profit) founded but has since spun off. Schantz emphasized that it would be extremely difficult to turn a profit solely by selling produce, but that Brooklyn Grange stays financially feasible by designing gardens and landscapes and hosting events. Rather than seeing these aspects as a necessary evil, Schantz described them as equal to the agriculture department. Brooklyn Grange’s goal, she said, was to show that urban agriculture can be a viable enterprise—a goal which has been amply met.

As we walked around the farm, Schantz described the its physical makeup. The farm uses a soil mix of 50 percent is expanded shale, which is put in a kiln and broken up slightly to be porous, almost like coral. This allows small organisms to live in the soil, a central aspect of organic farming. The other 50 percent of the soil is a compost mix sourced from mushroom farms in Pennsylvania. Schantz said that Brooklyn Grange have found they can grow almost any crop in about a foot of soil—a surprisingly thin layer.

That is not to say that they do grow any crop. Brooklyn Grange focuses on more profitable crops, primarily lettuce. However, since selling directly to the community is an important part of Brooklyn Grange’s mission, and since crop rotation is a key aspect of organic farming, they do plant other crops as well, such as tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli. During the off-season, employees organize events and work on the other elements of the farm.

According to Schantz, the roof of Building 3 is perfect for a farm, as it was used to support extensive Navy training installations and is therefore extremely strong. To create the farm, a large hose connected to a mixer truck sprayed the roof with the first layer of soil. To augment that original soil, Brooklyn Grange regularly brings additional soil up in the freight elevator, another useful original feature. Along with the mushroom farm compost, other compost mixes come from Brooklyn Navy Yard tenants such as chocolate makers Mast.

Brooklyn Grange does far more than grow food. It keeps bees at hives around the city, too. It serves an essential function by absorbing rainfall, relieving the burden on the city’s overtaxed stormwater management system. It educates schoolchildren from around the city about food and farming. It designs other landscapes. It hosts events ranging from dinner parties to weddings. And, most importantly, it has shown that you can make a business out of urban agriculture.

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Prune reblooming azaleas after spring flowering

Q: When do you prune Encore azaleas?
Sandi Grimm, Gainesville

A: This is an understandable question because reblooming azaleas (Encore, Bloom-A-Thon, etc) can have flowers on them for most of the growing season. The answer is to prune, if needed, after the first flush of flowers in spring. There’s plenty of time after that for them to form their summer buds as well as buds for the fall flowers that are so beautiful now.

Q: I planted 40 impatiens plants in a bed this past spring. The flowers did very well for most of the summer. In early fall, the plants started to drop leaves and flowers, exposing the stalks. There is a gray powder on the leaf backs. Is this downy mildew? Can I plant pansies in this bed?
Tim Adkinson, Forsyth County

A: Your description exactly describes this fatal disease’s progression. Impatiens downy mildew continues to have an impact on greenhouse growers and gardeners across the country. Once a bed is infected, you can’t plant impatiens there for several years. One theory is that the process of breeding impatiens to produce lots of flowers lowered the plant’s resistance to downy mildew. It is a very specific disease, so it won’t affect your pansies at all. Remember that New Guinea impatiens, coleus, or Sunpatiens could grow in that spot next year without problems.

Q: I have a four-year-old blueberry bush I need to transplant to a new location. Is this possible?
Steve Whitley, email

A: Blueberries have very fine, wide-ranging fibrous roots. This is normal for plants that have to scavenge for nutrients under trees in nature. Their root system does not grow very deep. One good way to move a blueberry plant is to rake away the mulch underneath and then soak the soil with a drip hose for several hours, making it soggy. With a spading fork you can explore where the roots run and then lift them out of the soil with your hands. When you are finished you’ll have a wide pancake of a root system. In the plant’s new home, dig a hole ten inches deep and sized to fit the root system. Mix the removed soil 1:1 with peat moss. Put the blueberry into place and cover the roots with your soil mixture. Lift the plant so the trunk is in the soil at about the same level as it was originally. Soak the roots and soil with water, add more soil mixture and level it as needed. There is no real need to add fertilizer but you can add a handful of starter fertilizer if you like. Fertilize in March with an organic product like Holly-tone or Milorganite. Your blueberry will never realize it was moved.

Q: What is the best height to mow centipede and bermuda? I generally mow them at 3 1/2 inches.
David Fowler, email

A: Both centipedegrass and bermudagrass do best when mowed around 1 1/2 to 2 inches high. When you mow higher, the grass won’t grow as a densely as it should and you may have a thatch problem. The recommended height may necessitate you mowing the bermuda more than once per week. A five-day schedule is usually adequate.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.

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