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Archives for October 10, 2017

The Cadillac Garden Club celebrates 25 years





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As the gardening world embraces native plants, a city plot undergoes its own evolution

With a millstone-like fountain as its focal point, Barbara Downs’s garden is full of native and other plants, and plenty of fall color. (April Greer for The Washington Post)

“Holy cow! I think it’s a monarch,” says Barbara Downs, 74, as an orange-and-black butterfly flicks across her mature Georgetown garden. “We have lots of swallowtails, but I think it’s a monarch.” The excitement of this experienced gardener is clear. Little by little, for nine years, she has been adding native plants to be ecologically responsible and to attract birds and butterflies, such as the monarch, which has lost much of its habitat through pesticides.

Downs, whose garden has been featured on several Georgetown Garden Tours, is not alone in her effort to plant more natives. “People used to say, ‘What’s a native?’ ” says Kirsten Johnson, president of the Maryland Native Plant Society. Founded in 1992, its membership has increased dramatically since then as plant nuts — everyone from backyard gardeners to nursery owners — have championed plants native to their regions. “We used to be happy if eight people showed up for our field trips,” Johnson says. “In the last five years, we’ve had to limit the numbers on our 50 trips. They often fill up within 24 hours.” Now, she says, most gardeners not only know what a native is, but they also know that deer, development and invasive species (such as kudzu and porcelain berry) are the three major threats to them.

Downs, an artist and community volunteer, is a case in point. In 1988, when she moved from one Georgetown house to her current 1905 Georgetown townhouse, she asked a former neighbor and landscape architect, the late Jim van Sweden, to design her front and back gardens. “I was impressed that his gardens needed no pesticides,” she says. His Washington-based firm, Oehme, van Sweden Associates, pioneered the forward-thinking New American Garden style, which champions four seasons of garden interest. The firm has always used natives and eschews lawns in favor of swaths of perennials and grasses. When Downs’s gardens were installed in 1992, the New American Garden look was at the cutting edge of design.

Originally, the gardens were filled with sun and included several natives, including leatherleaf viburnum, bottlebrush grass and oakleaf hydrangea bushes. “I look forward to that hydrangea’s dark red leaves each autumn,” she says. The beds in front remain sunny, and Downs has replaced a Chinese witch hazel with a native witch hazel that shows ­persimmon-edged leaves before they drop. To this mature, streetside area, she has added the deciduous shrub summersweet: fragrant in bloom, attractive to butterflies and golden in its fall foliage.

Deer-resistant bottlebrush grass has seed heads that resemble a bottlebrush. Providing texture to shady areas, it works well under deciduous trees. (April Greer for The Washington Post)

The sunny street side of the house features a native witch hazel, summersweet and oakleaf hydrangea. (April Greer for The Washington Post)

In the long, 1,600-square-foot garden behind her den, two neighboring trees — a mulberry and a native river birch — gradually turned the area shady. Downs used the changing condition to introduce native plants and trees. “They make everything so much more interesting,” she says. With them, she has gained a new plant palette, and those plants have added texture to her layered and painterly garden. “It’s all about texture. I like a relaxed look,” she says, standing in the middle of a garden so densely planted that no mulch is needed, only an occasional dressing of organic soil conditioner to keep the earth from becoming compacted. “Natives also bring more life,” she adds.

“Native plants increase the food chain and the web of life,” explains Johnson. “People love to see the butterflies [they attract], and birds feed on their caterpillars.”

Mountain witch alder (Fothergilla) in Barbara Downs’s garden. (April Greer for The Washington Post)

In Downs’s garden, birds flock to the berries on the summersweet in front. Behind the house, they enjoy berries of a dogwood, the leatherleaf viburnum and an American cranberry bush. A deciduous mountain witch alder (Fothergilla) stands almost four feet tall, with burgundy fall foliage and fragrant spring, bottlebrush-like flowers that draw both butterflies and birds.

For a decade, Downs has used Sheila A. Brady, vice president of Oehme, van Sweden Associates, as her landscape architect. Brady was the lead designer of the Native Plant Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, which opened in 2013 with about 73,000 plants representing 454 different native species. Brady says she and Downs are passionate about including natives, “and we understand that by doing so, we simultaneously support wildlife and biodiversity. We wanted to select the right plant that fits contextually, ecologically and aesthetically.”

Shade-tolerant natives now punctuate a long, curvilinear stone path, whose year-round focal points include classical sculpture and a bubbling, millstone-shaped pink-granite fountain filled on an autumn day with robins. These undulating borders include American ginger, foamflower, coral bells and various ferns, such as feathery lady fern, as well as marginal shield fern and Christmas fern, both evergreen for winter interest in this city garden.

“I’m trying to replace the Liriope with Iris cristata [dwarf crested iris] as an edging plant,” says Downs, “also Carex plantaginea [seersucker sedge], both great textural plants.”

Another tree event is bringing further opportunity. The neighbors’ towering Southern magnolia recently came down, so sun-loving natives are a new option for Downs. Topping her list are the Virginia bluebells she admires at the nearby Volta Park, where she and her Georgetown Garden Club have been involved and which sports natives such as inkberry, bloodroot, coneflower and false indigo.

American ginger on the left and seersucker sedge on the right, gradual replacements for Downs’s Liriope. (April Greer for The Washington Post)

When contemplating future natives for Downs, Brady says, “As we add plants over the years, we will be careful to maintain the sense of mystery in the garden — when you look out the window or wander along the steppingstone path, it’s not clear what’s beyond the fountain; boundaries are blurred.”

Any addition would only further the mystery of this multilayered garden, increasingly enriched by the beneficial insects, birds and butterflies its native plants support.

More from Lifestyle:

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These stunning plants all have one thing in common: A taste for blood

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Colorful guests pass through 5th annual Art in the Garden event

Lincoln, NE



Showers early, then cloudy in the afternoon. High 47F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%..


Clear skies. Low 33F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.

Updated: October 10, 2017 @ 6:54 am

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Five gardening tips for October

Five gardening tips for October

We’ve teamed up with the experts at the Royal Horticultural Society for their top tips for the garden for the month.

What is the average weather in October?

We look at averages using the 30-year average (1980-2010). Using this we can see changes in temperature, rainfall and sunshine hours in October compared to earlier in the year. Maximum temperatures average at 12.8 °C in October compared to 16.5 °C, whilst minimum temperatures average around 6.2 °C, more than 2.5 °C cooler than the average minimum in September (8.8 °C).

When looking at average sunshine hours, it drops considerably in October, when we find an average 92.5 hours of sunshine, compared to September with 124.7 hours of sunshine, and August (163.0 hours).

You can see a big jump in average rainfall in October, with the average up to 127.1 mm compared to September’s 96.4 mm.

Find out more about climate records, including breakdowns for the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and even your region, on our UK climate averages page. The change in weather will have a definite impact on the plants in the garden – here’s the experts at the Royal Horticultural Society with their tips on what to do in the garden in October.

1. Plant evergreens

Plant evergreen shrubs this month while the soil remains warm. Read more tips about planting trees and shrubs.

2. Cover plants before frosts

With an increased likelihood of frosts with the minimum temperatures dropping, all tender plants should be under cover before the first frosts. Find out more about frost damage.

3. Harvest apples and pears

Gather apples and pears as they become ripe and begin to fall.  Be alert for windy weather that may shake fruits to the floor and bruise them. Light autumn frosts won’t harm apples or pears. Find out more about fruit harvesting.

4. Get out and enjoy the beauty of autumn leaf colour

 Enjoy autumn colour as deciduous trees begin the process of severing their leaves.  Bright warm days and chilly nights result in the best autumn colour. Find out more about the factors that affect autumn colour.

5. Tend borders and clear spent plants

Gardeners with stiff sticky clay soils can press ahead with tending borders, clearing annuals and spent vegetable crops and with digging before winter rains set in and make the soil too wet to handle or stand on. Read more about gardening with clay soils.

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Start planning your spring garden now

Seeing daffodils always brings back wonderful childhood memories of running into the kitchen with a fistfull of flowers for my Mom.  She quickly put everything aside, then put them in a vase for the kitchen table.  Seeing the flowers made us feel that winter was almost over and springtime was just around the corner.

Fast forward to 2017, and that same excitement is still inside me but now includes buying different bulb varieties, plus planting them in my garden beds and containers.  Have you planted your bulbs yet?  Well if not, here are a few helpful gardening tips.

In our neck of the woods, now through November is the time to plant spring bulbs.  You might wonder, why plant them in the fall?  Because it allows bulbs to form a strong root system, plus it satisfies their cold requirements before they emerge in spring.

What to plant? There is a wide selection and variety of spring bulbs that play well together – daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocuses, alliums and others.  Keep in mind that most varieties of hyacinth and tulips do not last long in the Valley because our summer soil temps are a bit too warm.  They will look great the first spring, then bloom poorly the next year, and often will not return at all by the third season.

Before planting the bulbs, give them a good inspection.  Make sure they are firm and avoid bulbs that are withered, mushy or have moldy spots.  The larger the bulb for its type, the more flowers.  Small bulbs will have smaller or fewer flowers, but if you can be patient, they will mature in 3 to 4 years.

Remember the old gardening rule – “right plant for the right place.”  Most flowering bulbs prefer full sun and well-draining soil.  If your bulbs are early bloomers, they can be planted under deciduous trees since the leaves on the trees will not be out yet.  Think about intermingling them with perennials, such as daylilies and hostas which will cover the bulb

foliage when it begins to die back in the spring.  For the greatest impact, plant bulbs in clusters of five or more, rather than sticking a single bulb in the ground.

With a plan in place, it’s time to dig!  Yes, you can use a trowel or other gardening tools, but let me give you some advice – buy a bulb setter.  It makes planting a whole lot easier. 

How deep to dig? A good rule of thumb is to plant bulbs two to three times as deep as they are tall.  Many garden tools (bulb setter) have built-in measurement markers.

Which end is up? Plant with the pointed side up (the stem) and roots down.  If you really can’t tell, plant the bulb sideways and let Mother Nature sort it out.

In absence of a soil test, bulbs at planting should be fertilized by one of two methods.  The first method is to mix a slow-release complete fertilizer, according to label recommendations, into the rooting area. The second method is to mix bone meal in the rooting area with an application of quick-release fertilizer. Water thoroughly and cover your bulbs with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to help retain moisture and heat. Through the fall and winter, you need to worry about watering your bulbs only  if we are experiencing a dry season.

Doesn’t everyone love a free buffet?  So to keep squirrels and mice from digging up and munching on the bulbs, plant either animal-resistant bulbs or stake down a wire mesh over the beds and remove it once the shoots appear.

With these helpful tips you should be ready to plant some spring bulbs and create your own garden of lasting memories.  Happy gardening!

Lyndall Noyes-Brownell is proud to serve as co-chair of the Black Mountain Beautification Committee and is a Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener. She also is the webmaster for and cares for plant containers in Black Mountain.



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Five decor trends that are making a comeback | Home & Gardening …

If you are someone who is fond of warm, comforting and old-fashioned styles, especially when it comes to doing up your home, its definitely time for you to rejoice. The upcoming year, 2018 is expected to see some old, overdone and overused decor styles making a comeback with a vengeance and once more, to grab its position in the limelight.

Though trends and style are ever-changing and ever-evolving concepts, many will agree that the bottom line will continue to be the same always — any kind of decor works only when it can make a house feel like home.

Here’s looking at a few dated trends that are expected to be a hit next season…

Metal and more

Using brass in fixtures, table lamps and furniture accents has been around forever, and this trend is surely not going anywhere soon. So pick up stylish chandeliers, floor lamps in shiny golden metal and usher in some bling at home. Adding small doses of brassy goodness to your home can actually bring in a dash of festivity.

Choosing monochrome

The sheer sophistication of monochrome will always ensure that it never goes out of style. The statement a stark black and white decor can make is unparalleled and will appeal to you if you are a follower of the minimalist style. This decor trend is holding on to its position at the top for a long time presumably.

Extra-large luxe

The luxury of space might not really be for many Mumbaikars who are cooped up in studio apartments; however, big and extra-large furniture is sure to take up space in the top hottest decor trends list for the coming year. If not all, opting for at least one statement x-large piece of furniture could help you be in vogue.

Golds and greens

The avocado green was a big hit in the 70s. Home decor professionals say that this colour is all set to take up center stage once more. You could choose to use it on walls or furnishings, all the while balancing it with golds. Bright golds and yellows can make your home look brighter and warmer all the while adding a certain fresh charm to the room.

Framed forever

Displaying a cluster of pictures all over one wall has been done to death. But the fact that filling a wall with pictures that matter to you will never really go out of style. Gallery walls are expected to make a comeback next year, say experts.

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14 Master Gardeners’ Secrets to Growing the Rose Garden of Your Dreams

Some bugs sting, bite, or even carry disease. Learn to recognize these dangerous insects to protect yourself and your family.

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Gardeners trade plants, tips at fall swap

Steve and Irene Sowula, of Lake Station, are avid gardeners who enjoy a greenhouse in their backyard. Always on the lookout to expand their hobby, they regularly visits area plant sales and plant swaps. This year’s Fall Plant Swap, sponsored by Lake County Parks at Deep River Park, was no exception.

“I always have excess in my garden each year,” Irene said. “I usually have quite a bit to bring to this event.”

More than a dozen gardeners looked over tables that containedplants, trees and ground covers.

“The variety at this plant swap is always interesting,” said Rose Braun, of Hobart. “No one else offers something like this.”

Midday Fix: Garden tips from Tony Fulmer – WGN

Tony Fulmer, chief horticulture officer

Chalet Landscape, Nursery Garden Center
3132 Lake Avenue

Tony’s blog:


Creeping charlie, a difficult lawn weed to control, can be managed by wetting the area well one day and following up with a hand rake the next day to separate the stems from the soil and pull it out. After a hard frost, you can apply Weed Beater Ultra in lawn areas.

If you want to keep growing basil into the fall and winter, you’ll need a lot of direct sun and moisture. Remember, it’s a tropical plant.

You can also bring the green indoors after outdoor growing season by adding succulents to your surroundings. Place them in direct sunlight in a porous container and take care to not overwater or over-fertilize.

To weed or not to weed? A weed is any plant growing out of place. If you don’t’ want it and didn’t plant it, you can consider it a weed and remove it. Remove weeds by pulling them by the roots.

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