Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for October 17, 2017

Madison Garden Club Flower Show Draws Crowds

MADISON, NJ – The scent of fresh flowers wafted through the air Saturday as a crowd of people buzzed around the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building for a public viewing of Rose City: Preserving the Past and Protecting the Future, a flower show and competition hosted by the Garden Club of Madison.

Hundreds of floral arrangements inspired by a Madison landmarks including Rose City greenhouses, Museum of Early Trade and Crafts, Bottle Hill, Drew University Forest, Madison Community Garden and others were on display for judging at the event.

Displays were evaluated by the “rigorous” standards of the Garden Club of America, and fit into one of three categories: floral design, photography and horticulture.

Sign Up for E-News

A children’s exhibit for young ones in attendance featured ladybug habitats decorated by local boys and girls as part of a summer workshop sponsored by the Garden Club of Madison.

“The show celebrates Madison’s vibrant history, especially its contributions to horticulture, education, architecture and environmental conservation,” said the Madison garden club, which this year celebrates its 95th anniversary.

The purpose of the flower show is “to set standards of artistic and horticultural excellence, to broaden knowledge of horticulture, floral design, conservation, photography and other related areas and to share the beauty of a show with fellow club members and with the public,” according to Garden Club of America judging standards.

Here are some of the show’s top-rated displays:

IMG_20171014_130306_1 (1).jpg

A floral design inspired by the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts won best in show. Designed by Nancy Kalal of the New Canaan Garden Club, the display is Kalal’s interpretation of a deconstructed patchwork quilt.

“Each hood masterfully expresses the elements and principles of design and collectively creates a masterpiece,” said the judges. “A 21st-century interpretation of an age-old craft.”

Kalal received the Harriet DeWaele Puckett Creativity Award “in recognition of a uniquely skilled and creative response to an imaginative schedule.”



Andrea Khoobiar of the Garden Club of Madison won second place in floral design for her Twombly Mansion-inspired dining display, a tribute to the Twombly family of Madison, who “often entertained from the veranda, viewing vistas of park lawn, terraces and formal gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.

“Avid environmentalists, had the Twomblys lived today, they would have taken an organic approach to outdoor entertaining,” said Khoobiar. “This is an homage to that imagined lifestyle.”

IMG_20171014_132434 (1).jpg

Peg Codey of the Garden Club of Madison won second place in photography in the Early Environmentalists class—a color photograph displaying wildlife in or near water—for her snapshot of a blue heron wading through swampy wetlands.

This category pays homage to Marcellus Dodge and Geraldine Rockefeller, “who were instrumental in preserving the land now known as the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge,” said the Garden Club of Madison.

“The sharp focus lends itself to a well-composed, dramatic image of a great blue heron,” according to the judges.

Codey received the Ellen Judd Photography Award for this work, “a photograph of exceptional artistic composition and technical expertise” that honors “an outstanding photographer who shared her love and passion with her fellow club members.

She was also awarded the Garden Club of America Novice Award in photography.


Garden Club of Madison members Barbara Landy and Elaine Arciszewski took home second place in the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey category for floral design, a decorative display that incorporates flowers mentioned by Shakespeare.

“Through its productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics,” said the Garden Club of Madison.



Andi Stephenson and Betty Leitner, also of Madison, won third place in the Shakespeare class.

“A playful use of contrasting colors and textures,” said the judges.


In horticulture, Madison dominated the awards.

Virginia Campion won first place for her single pink rose, inspired by Rose Garden Park, and Diane Anton took home second.



Anton attained several other awards, including first place in container-grown plants, for which she received the Mary McDaniel Award “for an outstanding entry in a horticulture class by a member of the Garden Club of Madison to honor a distinguished horticulturist who inspired many with her knowledge and love of plants.” 



Anton also was awarded third place for her Bottle Hill hydrangeas.

Article source:

An Insider’s Guide to Philadelphia

While we Philadelphians might be known for our aggressive sports fandom and proclivity toward a steak “whiz wit” on a fresh Amoroso roll, the City of Brotherly Love offers so much more. With the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of Paris, and one of the most lauded orchestras in the country—not to mention the “best pizza in America” (more on that later)—Philly is an underappreciated cultural hotspot. From gorgeously curated specialty shops and an electric food scene, to an impressive public collection of Picassos and a vast library of American history, this town, my hometown, is a place worth visiting. Below, the best places to stay, see, shop, and eat in the 215.

Where to Stay
A bevy of options both new and old abound when it comes to lodging in Philly. Lokal Hotel, an up-and-coming design-driven spot located in the heart of historic Old City, offers only six suites. Each room is highly curated to the Philadelphian experience with locally sourced artisan goods; staying here feels like stealing away for a few nights at a chic friend of a friend’s on holiday. Hotel Palomar is another eclectic (and eco-friendly) offering, housed in a former 1920s Art Deco building just blocks from Rittenhouse Square. Its sister spot, Hotel Monaco, is another funkily outfitted space with great service situated not far from Lokal in the historic district—close to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Betsy Ross House. It also happens to be pet friendly, so Fido can run up those Rocky steps with you too, if you feel so inclined. In search of luxe five-star glamour? The recently restored Rittenhouse Hotel and Spa has been a mainstay in the area since the dawn of time, with exceptional service and a delectable massage menu to boot.

Lokal Hotel in Philadelphias Old City

What to See
You can’t tackle all that Philly has to offer in 48 hours; there’s just too much to do. On the museum front, the recently relocated Barnes Foundation boasts one of the most impressive collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early modern paintings in the world. Including significant works by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Rousseau, the Center City campus, built in 2012, is a must-see. Equally as special is the arboretum located at the Barnes’s original home in Merion, Pennsylvania, nestled in the heart of Philadelphia’s suburban Main Line. Similarly, the Rodin Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) offer exceptional exhibits and historic pieces, including The Thinker, the famous bronze Rodin sculpture. Be sure to walk down to Boathouse Row, behind the PMA. Particularly in the springtime, when crew season is in full swing, it’s a perfect spot for a picnic.

Barnes Foundation

If you’re visiting during a temperate month, go to Chanticleer Garden, a stunning oasis located in Wayne, Pennsylvania. It’s set on the grounds of the former Rosengarten estate and was once deemed ”America’s most inspiring garden” by Garden Design. The Morris Arboretum, owned and operated by the University of Pennsylvania in Lafayette Hill, is another family-friendly outdoor favorite. The Franklin Institute is an ideal experience for science nerds, perfect for both curious children and adults alike, and the highly acclaimed Philadelphia Orchestra, located inside the architecturally important Kimmel Center designed by Rafael Vinoly, is an out-of-body experience for the aurally inclined.

Where to Shop
Rikumo is arguably the most lauded of boutique stores in all of Philadelphia. Helmed by husband-and-wife team Kaz and Yuka Morihata, Rikumo brings the most gorgeous Japanese textiles, ceramics, teas, and more to a tiny, light-filled shop on Walnut Street. (They offer a pretty extensive selection online too if you aren’t planning on visiting anytime soon.) Meadowsweet Mercantile in Old City does vintage best, offering a highly curated selection of worn denim and concert tees paired with simply understated home decor and thoughtful gifts, while city staples Joan Shepp and Knit Wit have been offering luxury brands and sportswear for more than 40 years.

Home goods at Rikumo

In the interiors department, Conversion on Third Street in Old City is a Brooklyn fever-dream come to life. An eclectic offering of new and reclaimed furniture mixed with varied kitchen decor and accoutrements shows off the best of Philly’s handmade scene. You can even make a custom piece here if inspiration strikes. Select Shop 215, located just across the street, is a delightfully curated home goods space carrying everything from palo santo incense and unique fragrances to notebooks, paper goods, and prints ready to be framed. Ulises, an art bookstore located in the North Philly area of Fishtown, is part store and part venue, with selected readings, signings, and events held in the minimal, chic space. On the other end of the spectrum, Terrain in Glen Mills and the Little House Shop in Wayne offer the best of old-school Main Line decor: Think Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. English garden planters, charming home decor items, and a bevy of plants, flowers, and trees can be found at the former, whereas Scalamandré pillows, sets of vintage silver, and elevated luxe essentials like custom-monogrammed Matouk towels take residence at the latter.

What to Eat
Arguably saving the best for last, Philly is, at its heart, a food town. Home of famed restaurateurs like Marc Vetri (of the perennially perfect Vetri) and Stephen Starr (of Buddakan, among others), not to mention countless beloved BYOBs, the burgeoning community of chefs has made Philly a veritable contender on the list of best food cities in America.

The old school Palizzi Social Club in South Philly, originally founded in 1918, is a red sauce joint done right, and “the best pizza in America” (according to Bon Appétit) can be found at Pizzeria Beddia. But while the Italian American culinary roots run deep in Philadelphia, it’s not only veal piccata and spaghetti and meatballs: The immigrant experience is at the soul of dining in Philly, where an amalgamation of different cultures, eras, and flavors comes together to create culinary magic. Zahav and Dizengoff, two Israeli restaurants helmed by Chef Michael Solomonov, boast hummus so airy you’ll feel as if you’ve landed on a za’atar-seasoned cloud, while Nam Phuong and Café Diem offer up some of the best Vietnamese in the tristate area.

Hummus and Pita at Zahav

If it’s carbs you’re craving, Hungry Pigeon and High Street on Market rule the artisan bread and pastry game, while Di Bruno Bros., a speciality store on Chestnut Street, reigns supreme in the meat and cheese arena. For good old-fashioned comfort food, the chocolate chip cookies and matzo ball soup at the Famous 4th Street Delicatessen on Fourth and Bainbridge can’t be beat; neither can the fried chicken at Federal Donuts, the ice cream sundaes at Franklin Fountain, or the extensive brunch menu at Honey’s. Lastly, you’ll certainly need some of that famous Philly coffee to power you through your stay: Hit up homebred pride and joy La Colombe to get it straight from the source, or Rival Bros. Coffee for a more down-to-earth experience with your morning (or afternoon) cup of joe.

Article source:

What is your gardening style?

I have always been somewhat conflicted about human’s role in nature. I grew up with a 40-acre woodlot on our farm and always liked the wild woods I experienced as a kid. So I came to gardening with a mixed viewpoint. I wanted to garden somewhat on the wild side, but I know that nature does not always organize itself in pleasing ways to humans and this is certainly true of our gardens. Gardens, if not well planned and tended, can become a wild tangle or a weed patch.

I was forced to garden on the wild side when I had an extensive landscape, I only had time to make rounds every three years to prune and rejuvenate most ornamental shrubs and trees. Those areas definitely got a little wild. I was never tempted to do topiary, but I certainly appreciate the results of those who can spend the time it takes to maintain green elephants or other plant carved animals or forms. Of necessity, I annually kept roses, fruit trees and grapes well pruned for production.

Our choices of garden design styles and types are numerous. We can plant gardens of California native plants or drought tolerant Mediterranean plants that are well adapted to our dry summers. The home I recently purchased features a native plant garden in the front. There is no lawn to mow, but some deadheading required. The biggest challenge is getting to know the plants’ names and needs as I am not knowledgeable about California natives. This challenge keeps my brain active to learn new garden plants and their care.

In terms of garden styles there are cultural styles endemic to certain regions. Therefore, we have Chinese gardens, English, French and Italian gardens and within there are subsets such as Italian Renaissance gardens, English Cottage gardens and Victorian gardens. A Japanese garden is designed with an appreciation and respect for nature. The use of light and dark shades, texture, space and form, rocks, ponds are all used in a unifying mode. Japanese gardens have been around for 1500 years and have evolved over time, but always have respect for nature as the dominant theme. There is a Japanese garden near my home that I admire each time I drive by. One has to admire the beauty of a well planned, well planted and well maintained garden in any style.

Then there are other specialty gardens like container gardens, water gardens, pollinator gardens or raised bed gardens. We may engage several garden types in one landscape. Many of us nurture some container grown plants and perhaps some raised beds for vegetables, some flowers for butterflies and a water feature as well. Water gardens can vary from a small fountain or pond to elaborate pump operated streams with water falls, fountains and ponds of Koi carp and various aquatic plants.

Raised beds can be of varying heights and for those who are disabled or have special needs; the raised bed can be at a height to permit easy access from a wheelchair for planting and harvesting. Raised beds can be constructed from a variety of materials. The choice comes down to preferences, availability and cost. Many have been constructed of redwood, cedar or other naturally rot-resistant wood. Though lasting a long time, these eventually will need to be replaced. Raised beds can also be done more permanently in stone, steel, concrete, cinder blocks or bricks. For more information on pros and cons of materials for raised beds see:

Recently, I constructed two new raised beds with concrete blocks for growing winter vegetables. Raised beds have the advantage of draining better in the winter, warming earlier in spring, easier to cultivate, avoiding soil compaction and provide for a change of soil if the native soil is stony, heavy clay or sand that is less desirable for growing plants. Some say they keep pests at bay, but in my experience don’t count on that.

If you don’t have room for a garden because you have a small backyard or live in an apartment, then perhaps a community garden will work for you. Community gardens have increased greatly in recent years. There are over 18,000 community gardens in the USA and Canada. Renting a small plot in a community garden provides an opportunity to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables. Community gardens increase human interactions and build friendships and cooperation and provide a connection to a more natural environment. Some community gardens are tended communally and the bounty is shared among the participants. For more information on community gardens see the American Community Gardening Association website:

Whatever your gardening style; may your garden days be happy ones.

If you have a gardening related question you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website:

Article source:

From drab to fab: Make your house better with staging and furnishing

This staged living room sets an emotional tone through well-placed textures, colors and aesthetics. Photos courtesy of Dressed Design.

Picture yourself walking into an unfamiliar living room with beige walls, family photos of people you don’t know, a brown, overstuffed sofa, and a typical wood coffee table. Now, erase that vision, and walk into a living room popping with a metallic light fixture radiating from the ceiling; a fire blazing in the stone hearth; a soft, cream-and-brown hide spread across a wide-plank wooden floor; a plush throw blanket over a sleek leather sofa; and a glass coffee table showcasing an abstract art piece and hardcover books. Which living room draws you in the most?

Staging Effects

With more than a thousand homes for sale in Park City, a savvy marketing tool is gaining momentum in a big way. It’s called “staging,” and it’s been helping Park City homes, like one on Main Street that sat stagnant on the market for 375 days, sell in two days, after its internal makeover.

“Staging,” in its most basic term, is the enhancement of interiors by employing fine interior and exterior furnishings, artwork, rugs, textiles, objects and accessories to transform what is perceived as empty or unfamiliar, uninspiring spaces into decadent designer homes. Staging also can include interior and exterior painting; kitchen and bathroom upgrades; affixed lighting upgrades; sound and electrical enhancements; and landscaping.

Staging transforms an empty great room into a living area in which buyers can easily visualize themselves relaxing, reading and enjoying the mountain lifestyle. Photo courtesy of Dressed Design.
Gray tones are currently trending. The custom silver mirror on the wall, and the candleholder, accent the gray chairs and rug. Photos courtesy of Dressed Design

A home with well-placed, well-planned, appropriately sized and styled furnishings and décor lends itself to:

  • Expand the perceived square footage of the home,
  • Grant the best layout and traffic flow in each room,
  • Create the perception of the “dream lifestyle,”
  • Provide light where rooms, areas or hallways are dim,
  • Create the impression of a happy, successful home with the proper emotional “cues,”
  • Generate more calls and overall stronger interest from brokers,
  • Bring in substantially more buyers to see the home, which usually results in more offers,
  • Increase the offer prices on the home, often creating competing bidding on homes,
  • Give buyers the increased “value-added” to purchase a “designer-furnished, move-in-ready home,”
  • Expedite the success and speed of the sale, creating a win-win for sellers, agents and buyers.

Staged to Sell

Companies like Dressed Design have assisted the sales of more than 25 Park City homes in the last 12 months. Though real estate sales are booming, there’s still plenty of competition. Therefore, sellers seeking a competitive edge are finding staging a valuable marketing tool to take a home from a comparison purchase to an “emotional, must-have” purchase.

In this room, staging invites families to spend time playing together. This home in Old Town sold seven days after it was staged. Photo courtesy of Dressed Design.

Outdated mountain furnishings that recall the days of “Smokey the Bear” can be transformed to Smokin’ Hot with proper selection and placement of designer furniture, artwork, fine rugs, chandeliers and pendants, plants, antiques, custom mirrors, collectable books, landscape photos and accessories, such as luxury bed linens or bathrobes.

Many sellers view staging as a short-term, high-yield investment — in other words, a smart business move. Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars to purchase furnishings and hope buyers want to move into a fully furnished home, which may or may not suit their taste, sellers use companies like Dressed Design to “stage” their Park City homes, because, as it turns out, it’s less expensive to essentially lease the furnishings (and offer them to the buyer for purchase) than to actually buy the furnishings permanently.

Bench chairs add a casual feel to this dining area, which is partially separated from the living room by a glass fireplace. Photo courtesy of Dressed Design.

Staging is influential because professional interior designers, trained in layout, form, flow, function, unify a home into a harmonious, desirable living space. It helps buyers visualize their own lifestyle in the home, as well as sets a specific, desirable emotional tone.

Staging is indeed raging in Park City. From fun and funky bunkrooms to formal living rooms, grand dining areas, designer kitchens and sexy “after-hours” lounge and bars, staged homes prompt buyers to vividly picture themselves comfortably living in a specific property.

Staged homes aren’t just for buyers. We hope visiting Dressed Design’s 3,000-square-foot office in Park City, or local staged homes, will inspire a wealth of ideas for current homeowners to fold into, or refresh, their own home interior design. (Also, check out Handle Restaurant for more design ideas from Dressed Design professionals.)

Article source:

Holiday Fresh: Garden club luncheon features Birmingham designer

Whenever Ginna Parsons posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

Article source:

Skaneateles’ Mirbeau Inn & Spa looks to open more French-inspired resorts

Skaneateles, N.Y. — Mirbeau Inn Spa, which opened its first French-inspired resort in Skaneateles in 2000 and plans to open its third next month near Albany, is eyeing more expansions in the Northeast.

Mirbeau said Monday it has refinanced, through MT Bank, its maturing mortgage on its 34-room Skaneateles property, freeing capital for new investment in Skaneateles as well as additional Mirbeau-branded developments across New York and the northeastern U.S.

Owners Gary and Linda Dower opened their second resort, the 50-room Mirbeau Inn Spa at The Pinehills in Plymouth, Mass., in 2014. And they plan to open their first day spa concept, Spa Mirbeau, at the Crossgates Mall in the Albany suburb of Guilderland Nov. 15.

Mirbeau CEO Michael Dal Pos said the company is looking for “other opportunities in the northeast to expand the Mirbeau brand.”

“We are actively pursuing additional Inn and Spas and Spa Mirbeaus and we should be ready to make announcements in the near future once plans become final,” he said.  

Mirbeau and MT Bank did not disclose details of the refinancing, but they said it was an important step in expanding the Mirbeau brand. 

“Since it opened in 2000, Mirbeau Inn Spa has offered its guests an opportunity to unwind and relax at a world-class resort getaway in picturesque Skaneateles,” said Allen Naples, MT Bank Regional President for Central New York. “It has become an important driver for the tourism industry in Central New York and across Upstate.”

Designed to look like an elegant French countryside inn, Mirbeau in Skaneateles sits on 10 acres off Route 20 on the western edge of the village. Its landscaping featuring ponds, gardens and trees was inspired by Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France. Each of its rooms feature, among other things, a fireplace and large over-sized French-style soaking tub and large European tiled walk-in shower.

Contact Rick Moriarty anytime: Email | Twitter | Facebook | 315-470-3148

Article source:

Prince George gateway project adds landscaping, lighting along I …

Gardens at Exit 45

Gardens at Exit 45

PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, VA — Prince George County leaders unveiled the $1.2 million gateway project along Interstate 95 that was two years in the making and includes new lighting, landscaping enhancements and huge garden spires.

An estimated 40,000 vehicles travel through that area on I-95 each day – a number higher than the 36,656 resident who live in Prince George County.

Now, travelers passing “The Gardens at Exit 45” will be greeted by two 47-foot-tall glass architectural spires that flank the roadway. Leaders intend for the structures to help create a threshold to the commercial district.

The design calls for 139 trees, 363 shrubs, and nearly 3,000 perennials along the exit ramp and at the intersection with South Crater Road. As travelers exit I-95 at night, the trees along the southbound ramp are accentuated by 28 lights.

Gardens at Exit 45

The towers are made of glass, one along each side of the entranceway to the district. Colonial garden spires were the design inspiration for these central features in the 32,000 square-foot gateway plan.

The spire finials are highlighted by four lights, and internal illumination of the spires comes from four color-changing LED flood lights.

County leaders launched a targeted effort to restore the corridor, because they said this area was a major hub for tourism in the past, but had fallen into decline in more recent years.

Gardens at Exit 45

“The Gardens at Exit 45 is expected to stimulate local job growth and increase our tax revenue for the county by attracting visitors and travelers alike,” said Percy Ashcraft, County Administrator for Prince George County.

The $1.2 million cost for the project was shared equally by Prince George County and The Cameron Foundation, who is working with several localities across the Tri-Cities area to develop distinctive community gateways. The Gardens at Exit 45 is the first such project to be completed.

“Gateways can contribute significantly to creating a unique sense of place that is important to promoting tourism and investment in a community,” said Cameron President J. Todd Graham. “By working together with the local governments on these projects, we are combining our efforts to generate large-scale impact,” he added.

Article source:

It’s time to swap out your summer flowers for fall and winter

Autumn has fallen upon us, which means it’s time to start planting your fall seasonal plants for the colder temperatures to come.  These could be violas, pansies, snapdragons, or a number of other fall-friendly flowers.  Around this time, some of your summer flowers may still look good, but they’ll need to be sacrificed in order to get the new flowers started and settled for the season.


When planting pansies, make sure your soil is loose with organic matter; they do not do well in hard, heavy clay.  Sometimes it’s easier just to simply add a good potting soil right on top of the bed.  Remember, young plants have tender stems, so be gentle handling them, and make sure not to plant them any deeper than they are growing in the tray.  These plants appreciate fertilizer, so add some while you’re planting to give them all the nutrients they need to thrive.

If you want a nice, full look in your garden, try spacing them no farther than six inches a part.  A thin layer of mulch is okay to add on top, and don’t forget to water them.  Follow these steps, and in just an afternoon’s time you can have your summer plants out and your fall plants in, ready to keep your garden beautiful for many more months.


Have a gardening question?  Use the form below to ask the folks at Bennett Nurseries.  We may feature this in an upcoming Garden Tips segment!


Article source:

Want to start a garden this fall? Try these planning tips

Fall is a great time for planting in Texas. Temperatures are starting to cool (a little bit anyway), and with average rainfall patterns, we still see quite a bit of rain to help newly planted flowers, trees and shrubs establish. 

But instead of rescuing that discounted plant at the box store or impulse-buying something that catches your eye at your local nursery, try planning before you plant.

It might seem simple, but a little thought upfront will do wonders to turn those problem areas of your landscape into the pride of your garden.


The first step is to inventory what you have. What plants work? What plants struggle? 

Now look at those problem areas in your landscape. Is it the bare dirt area underneath the big shade tree, where grass used to grow? Maybe it’s a section of a flower bed that sits in full sun that always seems wilted, needing a little bit more water. Or it might be that area where you’ve crammed in all the plants you’ve “rescued,” but nothing seems to fit and it looks more mess than success.

It’s time to find the right plant for the right place. Start small, working on those problem areas, and grow from there as you gain confidence and your budget allows.

Article source: