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Archives for October 26, 2017

Serenity Garden complete in Waynesville


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Garden Club of Michigan hosts ‘A River Runs’

GPN111347.jpgThe Garden Club of Michigan recently hosted “A River Runs ! A Garden Club of American Garden Show,” at The Rivers, Grosse Pointe Woods.

GPN111343.jpgThe public was invited to attend the Oct. 19 show, which featured dozens of award-winning displays in floral design, horticulture, photography and botanical arts.

GPN111345.jpgThe 106-year-old club has hosted shows since the 1930s, but more consistently since the ‘70s, and plans to continue its pattern of hosting shows every other year.

“It’s meant to share knowledge and education of the love of gardening and garden shows,” said Bliss Clark, this year’s honorary chairwoman and a third-generation GCM member who joined in 1976. “Know it, grow it, show it.

“It’s fun,” she continued. “It’s a happy day out with your mind not on politics, the mortgage, sick parents, sore knees, anything. You very seldom find unhappy, sullen people at a flower show … It’s what you would see in an art museum if it was any other media than plants.”

The show included seven classes of floral design exhibits, following themes of various rivers, from the Thames to the Amazon. Entries in Class 1, for example, used 30-inch hoops as part of the floral display, following the theme of The Potomac River, while Class 3 entries were asked to use the Seine River as inspiration for clothing made of 60 percent plant material.

Richard Thomas, who won second place and a novice award for being a first-time entrant, spent four hours building a dress using plant material.

“The title, ‘The Seine,’ means ‘net,’” he said. “They fished for their livelihood. This (skirt) is a net. The Madonna’s halo is a reference to Notre Dame. The symbols are mixed like a river goddess. A lover, a mistress, a Madonna … I had great fun doing it.”

Horticultural classes included cut specimens of annuals, perennials, vegetables and fruit, and container-grown plants. Most entrants had until the day before the show to turn in their entries, said Abby Peck, club co-president.

“Every person here has a story of how their plant is babied,” added co-president Cress Meier.

Photography entries were divided into five classes — rapids, sparkles, river banks, ripples and waterfalls.

Also following the water theme were botanical arts entries, new to the show this year. Classes included jewelry, embellishment and needle arts.

“All the jewelry is made from plant material,” said Patsy Gotfredson, publicity co-chair of the event.

“Artists worked with dried plant material to work up a composition to look like real jewelry,” added Peck. “The theme was ‘River Dreams.’”

For needle arts, entrants were given a blank canvas to design and needlepoint a scene, Peck said, following the theme “The River’s Edge.”

The embellishment class featured walking sticks, designed after the theme “Old Man River.”

More than 25 GCA-certified judges from out of state selected first, second, third and honorable mention in each class.

“It’s a lot of work,” Meier said. “It’s all art.”

Rounding out the beauty of the garden show were educational exhibits about conservation, which included information about Parjana, a storm remediation company, as well as Friends of the Detroit River and Alliance of the Rouge Communities.

“We want to educate people about invasive plants and how water is important,” said Candy Sweeny, conservation chairwoman. “Having a way to filter water through plants is a natural way of cleaning.

“Every little thing you do is important,” she continued. “We have one of the largest fresh water (supplies) in the world, so it’s important to protect it.”

Garden show attendees were treated to free kneeling pads at the conservation exhibit, but also were invited to purchase unique garden-themed items from a boutique.

“We have creative things for sale,” Gotfredson said, “local honey, local artists’ work, cute topiaries. It’s an opportunity for people to pick something up while they’re here.”

The next GCM show takes place October 2019. Clark encouraged anyone interested in entering the show to take a chance.

“If you know it’s coming up and you’ve got a good plant, you can enter and share it,” she said.

The show serves as part of GCM’s community outreach program, which also includes creating and donating holiday centerpieces to Meals on Wheels recipients and adding planters to Sunset Point on Belle Isle.

Clark said she’s thrilled the event was held at The Rivers for the first time.

“This venue has worked perfectly and has worked with us,” she said. “The judges gave us a commendation on the venue. They said what a wonderful thing for the whole community. If we’re fortunate enough to come back, we hope it will encourage even more people to come.”

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All-America Selections announces winners of “Foodscaping” Landscape Design Challenge

Downers Grove, Ill. – October 24, 2017 – This year, All-America Selections challenged the AAS Display Gardens to create a design based on the theme “Foodscaping – Interspersing Edibles in the Ornamental Garden.”

For this challenge, AAS provided the gardens with Winner seed from the last five years. They also had the option to incorporate any older AAS Winners from the past 85 years. Gardens not only had to create and execute a design based on this year’s theme, but also had to generate publicity about the challenge and AAS Winners as well as submit photos documenting their creations. Many gardens were so successful growing their edible AAS Winners that they donated their produce to local food banks and food pantries.

Click here to see rules and regulations for the Landscape Design Challenge.

Gardens were divided into three categories based on the number of visitors per year:

Category I: fewer than 10,000 visitors per year
Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year
Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year

All-America Selections recognizes and thanks the contest judges who are industry experts in the field of horticulture and landscaping:

Jeff Gibson, Landscape Business Manager, Ball Horticultural Company
Bruce Hellerick, Director of Technical Services, BrightView Landscape Services
Barbara Wise, Author and Sales and Marketing Manager, Crescent Garden


Category I: fewer than 10,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner: University of Wisconsin Spooner Ag Research Station, Spooner, Wis. The culmination of a multi-year landscape design project resulted in a beautifully designed new series of gardens highlighting both old and new AAS Winners at the UW Ag Research Station. A central pinwheel garden and nearby vertical and container gardens used AAS Winners to show visitors how they could mix edibles and ornamentals in their home gardens. Spooner went one step further in their Monarch and Pollinator Sanctuary Garden and included native versions of many AAS plants.  Not only were the judges impressed with the overall designs in the gardens but also how garden staff and volunteers promoted the contest with their newsletter, workshops, events and multiple media outreach.

Second Place Winner: Master Gardeners Association of Tippecanoe County (MGATC), Lafayette, Ind. The MGATC took advantage of existing flower beds to concentrate on mixing and matching veggies and ornamentals in-ground, in containers and in raised beds. One hanging basket included tomato Fantastico, Profusion Double Hot Cherry zinnia and feathery fennel Antares. In raised beds they layered ornamentals and vegetables using South Pacific Scarlet cannas followed by Candle Fire okra, Profusion Double Deep Salmon zinnia then a row of lower-growing Artwork broccoli, Katarina cabbage, Konan kohlrabi, Prizm kale and Red Kingdom mizuna. A thorough and impressive 6-page article in the local Lafayette magazine brought many guests to the gardens with questions, enabling them to further their motto of helping others grow.

Third Place Winner: Kenosha County Center AAS Display Demonstration Garden, Kenosha, Wis. In the category of “Good Ideas to Copy” Kenosha wins hands down! They did a great job incorporating edibles into their Demonstration Garden and used unique “containers” such as an obsolete satellite dish, an old Papasan chair and other unusual items to hold their plantings. To further the theme of “AAS Recipe for Success” Kenosha County adorned many containers with cooking utensils and displayed AAS Edible Winners of interest. AAS Winner Butterscotch squash grew in straw bales with signage stating: “Don’t bale on squash!  AAS winning squash adds vitamin A and fiber to your diet!” Patio Choice Yellow tomatoes grew in a sink – “Sink your teeth into an AAS winning Patio Choice Yellow tomato.” And their Lawnchair Learning educational series caught the judge’s eyes. Ingenuity, creativity and innovation really showed through this summer in Kenosha County!

Honorable Mention, “First Year Participant”: Miami University Hamilton Conservatory, Hamilton, Ohio.

Honorable Mention, “Historical Reference”: Jennings Park Master Gardener Display Garden, Marysville, Wash.

Honorable Mention, “Edible Sampling”: Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens, Oriskany, New York. 

Honorable Mention, “Food Bank Donation”: Southwest Indiana Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens, Evansville, Ind.

Honorable Mention, “Use of Display Garden Sign”: The Community Arboretum at Virginia Western, Roanoke, Va.

Honorable Mention, “Providing Recipes for AAS Winners”: Rogers Farm Demonstration Garden, Old Town, Maine.

Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner: Purdue Extension Marion County Demonstration Garden, Indianapolis, Ind. This garden is located on the Indiana state fairgrounds where Master Gardener volunteers interact with 13,000 visitors during the 17-day fair. Over 300 visitors participated in the “spin the wheel and find the plant” game for younger gardeners to discover AAS edibles that are suitable for foodscaping. The lush, healthy foodscaping design featured Candle Fire okra, Aji Rico and Hot Sunset peppers (to name a few) in the main ornamental garden. They also used three AAS pumpkin Winners (Pepitas, Super Moon and Cinderella’s Carriage) as ground cover around a newly planted ornamental tree (genius!). A lunch and learn lecture on the topic of foodscaping further explained the concept featuring AAS edibles in easy take-home messages. Attractive signage on the concept of foodscaping featuring AAS edibles was also used in and around the garden.

Second Place Winner: Jardin Daniel A Seguin, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. Jardin Daniel A. Séguin made a very deliberate point to promote All-America Selection (AAS) winners and demonstrate to visitors that mixing edible and ornamental plants is a winning approach. Three areas were in this year’s challenge: the roof, the wall of the eco-friendly horticulture Pavilion, and ground level beds. By exploiting different surfaces, the garden showed an innovative approach to horticulture, demonstrating its full potential, including Canada’s largest edible green wall composed of more than 1,300 plants, made up mostly of AAS Winners. The AAS Display Garden was clearly identified with signs and identification tags. In addition to allowing visitors to identify their favorite plants, this information has an important pedagogical value for the students of the Agriculture Technology Institute of Saint-Hyacinthe who produced the winning plants in their classes. The AAS garden has been a source of discoveries throughout the summer with visitors capturing thousands of images and provoking many a “Wow” from visitors as well as from the contest’s judges.

Third Place Winner, Tie: Green Bay Botanical Garden, Green Bay, Wis. Green Bay reinvented the term Foodscaping and called their project “Ediscaping” and exclusively used AAS Winners dating from 1939 to the present.  In their children’s garden, they utilized 5 different beds to demonstrate multiple designs mixing ornamental and edible varieties.  One bed used Queen Sofia marigold as a centerpiece then arranged tomatoes in a diamond pattern around the flowers. Another bed featured Bright Lights Swiss chard and Prizm kale arranged in half-moons with other edibles and ornamentals creating a medley of color.  Lastly, another bed had a “heat” theme featuring rows of hot peppers, including Emerald Fire and Flaming Flare.  Ornamentals such as Zowie!™ Yellow Flame zinnia and Ring of Fire sunflower completed that bed.  All produce was harvested from these beds by ASPIRO, an organization creating opportunities for people with disabilities to reach goals, connect community, and achieve independence.  Almost 300 pounds of produce was donated to Paul’s Pantry, a local food pantry.

Third Place Winner, Tie: Shell Park, Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Shell Park in Oakville, Ontario has created an AAS Display garden that has become the main attraction as you enter the park’s garden. It has increased the number of visitors who come to ask questions, learn and get ideas for their own gardens.  Through companion planting and installation of a multi-tiered wall they were able to educate the public on new ways to garden with vegetables. They found and explained how companion plantings (ex. tomatoes and peppers) increased growth and crop yield. A multi-tiered wall created from recycled materials was filled with a combination of edible and ornamental plants. It displayed an easy way to maximize plant material while saving space in a smaller garden. It also reduced the damage caused by animals and adapted the space to be more accessible. The perennial pollinator plantings from last year’s contest attracted a greater bee population which benefited this year’s growth. Due to a large crop yield, Shell Park donated a large amount of vegetables to a local street mission that provided meals to the community.

Honorable Mention, “Overcoming Challenges”: St. John’s County Arboretum, St. Augustine, Fla.

Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner: Dow Gardens, Midland, Mich. Dow Gardens Children’s Garden is a vegetable and flower display garden allowing guests to see and interact with the edible and flowering plants (yes, it is ok to pick and eat!). This year, the garden had 30 varieties of AAS Award Winning plants grown to create its dynamic, colorful and eye-catching display.  The meticulously planned and tended rainbow bed was planted around the famous Sir-Ham-A-Lot the Pig. Many AAS winners (South Pacific Scarlet canna, Fresh Look Yellow celosia and Jam ‘N Jellies Blackberry vinca) were used and included Dolce Fresca basil for the green strip of the rainbow. Another combination of Gretel eggplant and Prizm kale bordered the bed with pops of Warrior bunching onion to create a vertical flare. The Garden hosts numerous programs throughout the summer including a Growin’ Gardener Program in which 84 families enroll to get hands-on experience growing vegetables and annual flowers.   

Second Place Winner: Norseco at the Botanical Garden of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In the same vein of the pollinator challenge last year they installed 35 varieties of All-America Selections winners using as many vegetables as flowers to demonstrate the beauty, utility and pleasure of including vegetables in a development of foodscaping. Trellises and climbing structures were installed in the garden then all AAS Winner varieties were clearly marked and accessible.

Third Place Winner: Boerner Botanic Gardens, Hales Corners, Wis. Boerner utilized a trend-setting chevron-style garden design to highlight this year’s theme of Foodscaping. A trellis grown with 1991 AAS Vegetable Winner Kentucky Blue Pole Bean and South Pacific Scarlet canna around the base anchored the points of the chevron. In each of the stripes of the chevron, healthy and lush vegetables and ornamentals were grown side-by-side. Artwork broccoli grew as a backdrop to MegaBloom Pink Halo vinca and Pretty ‘N Sweet peppers were accented by Asian Garden celosia.

Each of these contest winners are profiled on the AAS website, under “Display Gardens

A complete collection of photos from all contest entrants can be found on the All-America Selections Flickr and Facebook accounts.

For more information about the contest winners or how to participate in 2018, contact Diane Blazek, All-America Selections.

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Morristown community forum looking for more participation

Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 6:00 am

Morristown community forum looking for more participation



A group of Morristown community members are wanting residents to attend a meeting next week that will help decide specific details on a new park that they hope to install as a result of a gift from Blue River Community Foundation.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Morristown Town Hall to continue plans for a pocket park, a smaller park that can be used by the community as a meeting place, with potentially a gazebo or benches, Dede Allender, a Morristown resident, said.

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City to upgrade parks

Expanding Rasmussen Park is one of the ideas being considered in the downtown parks planning effort.Angie Landsverk PhotoThe footbridge linking Rotary Riverview Park to Schwenn/Lions (Hidden) Park has been closed for several years.Angie Landsverk PhotoSchwenn/Lions Park is the original site of Waupaca Foundry. This park is also called Hidden Park.Angie Landsverk PhotoSerenity Park, located along the Waupaca River and behind the Waupaca Recreation Center, is included in the planning effort.Angie Landsverk PhotoRyan Peterson, a landscape architect at RDG Planning amp; Design, discusses the common themes of the planning effort during a recent open house.Angie Landsverk Photo

Connecting downtown with Waupaca River

By Angie Landsverk

The city of Waupaca plans to improve the community’s connection to the river running through its downtown.

“This came out of the downtown visioning committee. That’s why we’re here,” Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson said during a recent open house on the front lawn of City Hall and the public library.

He was referring to the plan to reconstruct and redesign Main Street.

Last April, RDG Planning Design unveiled the proposed redesign of Main Street.

The city hired that firm in early 2016 for the Main Street reconstruction and redevelopment plan.

The infrastructure under the street is more than 100 years old.

The reconstruction of the street, from Badger to Water streets, is scheduled to begin in 2021.

The project will include new utilities under the street, with concrete currently being proposed for the street itself.

It will also include new curb and gutter, decorative concrete sidewalks, new street lights, benches and landscaping.

The plan the firm presented to the city identified the Waupaca River as an underused asset.

As a result, city staff recommended a Rotary Riverview Park plan update.

The park is located along the Waupaca River on Cooper Street, behind Main Street.

Last May, the Waupaca Common Council approved a $75,020 budget to update the park’s plan.

RDG Planning Design, as well as SEH Engineering, are involved in the work.

SEH Engineering is also a consultant for the city’s Main Street project.

While the area being updated centers on Rotary Riverview Park, it also includes the other parks in the downtown area.

Those parks are Rasmussen Park, Schwenn/Lions (Hidden) Park, Serenity Park and Washington Park.

Ideas for parks
During this month’s open house, ideas a city steering committee has developed thus far to enhance and connect downtown to the river were presented.

Those ideas include a riverwalk/boardwalk, canoe/kayak launch, memorial plaza for veterans, climbing wall and the addition of speed bumps on Cooper Street.

Other ideas include paving the challenge trail along the Waupaca River, expanding Rasmussen Park and creating a formal garden in that area with a fire pit and pergola, having a community garden or plaza in Hidden Park with improved play elements in the park and also establishing and enhancing the urban prairie in Washington Park.

One particular aspect of the plan in which input is sought is related to a footbridge over the river and its placement.

The current footbridge linking Rotary Riverview Park to Hidden Park has been closed for a number of years.

Keeping a bridge there, having one instead by Sessions Street or not having a bridge at all are ideas.
The city wants input on that subject.

Ryan Peterson, a landscape architect at RDG Planning Design, told those in attendance the area has three unique characteristics.

It has the Main Street backyard, the ability to connect the downtown parks and the opportunity to restore the prairie, he said.

Peterson said many involved in this park plan update spoke about activities taking place in Rotary Riverview Park that give the park a negative perception.

That topic also came up related to Hidden Park.

Peterson thus explained Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.

It involves using design concepts to help reduce crime and improve site perception.

These concepts include natural surveillance, natural access control and territorial reinforcement.

Natural surveillance involves using lighting, landscaping and public activities to increase visibility.

The natural access control concept is about using natural measures like open fencing, signage and easy access to public areas to create a perception of risk for offenders while guiding legitimate users to an area.

The territorial reinforcement concept creates a clear line between public and private spaces.

This concept includes programming the space so the public develops a sense of ownership in it, whether through regularly scheduled activities, frequent visits or maintenance.

Rick Wolter said he has spent a lot of time in Main Street’s backyard since he and his wife, Tammy, bought the building at 112 N. Main St.

“Everything affects everything,” he said.

Wolter said an impetus needs to be created so people want to go downtown to live and spend money there.

Jenson noted they need to make sure any improvements made to the parks do not take time away from his department’s other operations in the parks.

Peterson said the impact on the Parks and Recreation Department staff will be looked at.

“The plan is probably for a 15, 20, 25-year period,” Jenson said.

Some ideas will be a priority and done right away, while others will be put away for later, he said.

Jenson said the city is about a third of way through this planning process.

Citizens are encouraged to provide input throughout the next few months, he said.

“We will be having our next committee meeting in December and will likely have one more public input meeting in late winter or early spring,” Jenson said.

He encourages city residents to email him at and to attend the next public input meeting to share input about Rotary Riverview Park and the other downtown parks or to ask questions about the process.

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Fresh Landscape and Garden Launches a Website for Home and Garden Specials

(MENAFN Editorial) (October 25, 2017) For those planning for a new look to their garden and landscape, they can get the best products and ideas from Fresh Landscape and Garden. This service has launched a new website to help people get all the information they need over the web.

In addition to providing gardening and landscaping ideas, the new website also offers yard ideas and landscaping ideas regardless of whether a homeowner looks for a natural landscaping or some useful and creative ideas for the same.

For those looking for garden ideas, they can get the best ideas to make fire pits, fences, outdoor dcor, outdoor fireplace, fire tables, and spa, jacuzzis and saunas. They can get to know the best products available in the market so that they can make the best selection based on their requirements.

The founder of Fresh Landscape and Garden states: we invite you to come and learn and grow in knowledge as we share all our tips on landscapes and gardens today. The best ideas and collection of patio, furniture, seeds and plant is also available for gardening enthusiasts at this website.

About Fresh Landscape and Garden:
Fresh Landscape and Garden started its journey with the interest towards gardening and landscapes. The intention is to share the knowledge with others through the new website.

For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Lois Agbor
Manager, Public Relations
Name: Fresh Landscape and Garden


Contact Information

  • Name: Lois Agbor Company: Fresh Landscape and Garden

    Telphone: — , –

    Address: Email:


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    Longboaters reshape gardens after Irma

    As Hurricane Irma made its way toward Longboat Key, residents prepared the obvious parts of their homes.

    They lined the doors with sandbags, installed hurricane shutters, moved furniture to higher ground and secured important identification documents as they prepared to evacuate.

    But outside, their plants started blowing in the wind.

    Fortunately, Hurricane Irma left only minor damage on the island. However, gardening and landscaping around the Key took a hit.

    Residents around the island shared similar sentiments: Their homes were more important than their gardens.

    But now that Irma has come and gone, residents have had time to assess their landscaping and make a plan for the next storm.

    The Longboat Key Garden Club cares for the butterfly garden in Bicentennial Park. Between the heavy rain in August and Irma, the garden suffered some damage. Leaves and debris littered the garden and weeds sprouted.

    “We did not have the opportunity to do our typical care for that garden,” Garden Club President Susan Phillips said. “The rain fed the plants to extreme growth in weeds and established plants, but the newer plants and the smaller plants were completely underwater, and they just didn’t survive.”

    Following Irma, club members pruned, weeded and cleared grass that was covering the bricks, removed seven damaged plants and added 17 healthy and flowering plants.

    “It’s beautiful now, and we have used the lesson of this storm”

    “It’s beautiful now, and we have used the lesson of this storm,” Phillips said. “The plants that had more survivability we’ve kept and put in more of those in hopes that if there is significant rain later or even next year, we have plant materials that are going to survive and be able to take the flooding conditions that they had to go through during this big summer storm.”

    In the future, Phillips recommends buying Florida-native plants.

    “They are Florida native for a reason,” she said. “They’ve survived. The plants have evolved through time, and in the Florida environment to weather the temperature, salt and rain that is typical of Florida weather patterns.”

    Over at Westchester Condominiums, some plants suffered from wind and saltwater damage. Palm fronds littered the lawn. A large tulip tree and Washingtonia Palm were ruined.

    Usually, Freddie Baribault and a few other Westchester residents prune the palms ahead of hurricane season. But they were waiting until September this year. Baribault said there isn’t much to be done in gardening preparation for a hurricane because it’s hard to know from which direction it will hit.

    Fortunately, she said, the group chooses plants wisely.

    “We mostly plant plants that are indigenous to our area, using annuals only for color during the winter months, so our loss was minimal,” Baribault said.

    Baribault said she hopes to increase the indigenous plants around the property now. The entrance, which usually has annuals planted around it, will feature more indigenous plants like hibiscus.

    “We found that by plantings things that would normally grow there we were much better off because you’re getting salt blown in from the gulf, and a lot of these annuals, being from the north, do not like salt or wind.”

    On the bay side, Gordon and Vicki Lyons returned home to find their backyard damaged.

    The awning over their outdoor shower was ripped off, and the gazebo that stood next to their swimming pool was blown over.

    “It’s still lying on its side like a big bush instead of a gazebo,” Vicki Lyons said.

    Ahead of Irma, the couple moved pots and the pool furniture inside. They took their porch swing down as well.

    “We did the things that we knew might become missiles blowing against the house,” Lyons said.

    But despite the damage, they said they didn’t know if there was anything more they could have done to prepare for Irma. Like many others, their minds were preoccupied with the expectation of a high storm surge.

    And just as they had focused on prepping their homes before the storm, the residents shared similar feelings after Irma moved out of the area. Their homes survived, and now they have time to mend their gardens.

    “We’ve both been so thankful that we had a home to come back to that I don’t even like complaining about it because you see what happened to other people in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands and Houston,” Vicki Lyons said. “We’re pretty fortunate.”


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    Grants give native gardens a lift

    OPEN INVITATIONBrian Stark of Thousand Oaks inspects his bird-friendly front yard. Stark, who converted his front lawn four years ago with the help of a grant from the local Audubon Society, says that the native bird-friendly habitat has attracted 22 different species to his yard. Photos by DIANNE AVERY/Acorn Newspapers

    OPEN INVITATION—Brian Stark of Thousand Oaks inspects his bird-friendly front yard. Stark, who converted his front lawn four years ago with the help of a grant from the local Audubon Society, says that the native bird-friendly habitat has attracted 22 different species to his yard. Photos by DIANNE AVERY/Acorn Newspapers

    White crown sparrows, house finches, mourning doves and migrating warblers. For Brian Stark of Thousand Oaks, bird watching has become a way of life.

    DINE- IN OR TAKEOUT? A female housefinch approaches a bird feeder in Starks front yard.

    DINE- IN OR TAKEOUT?— A female housefinch approaches a bird feeder in Stark’s front yard.

    The 51-year-old homeowner landscaped his front yard four years ago using bird-friendly flora he bought with help from the Conejo Valley Audubon Society. Since then, he’s noticed more than 20 bird species frequenting his yard, not to mention a reduction in his water bills.

    Stark, the director of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, said he and his wife, Amy, had talked about “going native” with their front yard for years when he saw an Audubon Society grant advertised in the Acorn. The grants are available to residents of Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Simi Valley, Moorpark, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Camarillo.

    The couple applied and received $200 to jump-start the conversion. Instead of a dead lawn, his front yard now features valley violets, black and purple sage, Indian mallow and mountain mint.

    The society is accepting grant applications for the fifth year in a row, and Stark urges other homeowners to apply.

    “I’ve become a bit of a nerd about this,” he said. “I can’t remember ever seeing this many species of birds before.”

    Dee Lyons is the conservation chair for CVAS, a local nonprofit dedicated to bird watching, nature education and the conservation of natural habitats.

    Lyons said the group started offering grants five years ago to promote bird-friendly blooms and bushes throughout Ventura County.

    Due to the proliferation of exotic plants in local landscaping, she said, bird populations have struggled with a loss of food and habitat. Restoring native plants restores native species.

    Lyons said since the society began offering the grants, they’ve helped more than 100 homeowners landscape their yards. This year, she hopes to help another 25.

    “It really does make a difference,” she said. “Every little yard helps.”

    Besides creating additional bird habitat, the Starks’ yard conversion has benefited the area socially by motivating neighbors to convert their own yards to native plants, said Karen Rusch, publicity chair for the Audubon Society. “ (It’s) a conversation topic in the neighborhood,” she said. “Their yard offers inspiration.”

    Along with the $200, grant recipients receive free design advice from local gardening experts.

    To be eligible, applicants must: have some lawn or outdoor area available for replacement, have the property owner’s written permission, be in one of the municipalities listed above and be ready to plant in November or December this year.

    Stark said the grant didn’t cover the entire cost of his yard conversion but it gave him a head start with plants, design and planning. While he suggested homeowners apply for the Audubon Society grant, he also recommended gardeners practice patience when it comes to waiting for a native yard to grow mature plants.

    “The first year it sleeps. The second year it creeps. The third year it leaps,” he said.

    The Conejo Valley Audubon Society is accepting grant applications through Tues., Oct. 31. Apply at

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    Program focuses on garden photography

    The Eureka Sequoia Garden Club will meet Friday at the Humboldt County Agriculture Center, 5630 S. Broadway in Eureka. The meeting starts at 11 a.m. with the program and will adjourn at 1:30 p.m. A sack lunch will be served at noon. Refreshments and dessert will be provided; bring your own sandwich.

    Friday’s program speaker is Gary Todoroff, a professional photographer from Eureka. His topic will be “Garden Photography.” He will show some of his images of flowers and also offer new techniques for photographing gardens. Everyone is encouraged to bring a camera to the meeting.

    Todoroff has been taking pictures since he was 11 and has been photographing people and landscapes of the North Coast since 1971. He has worked with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard and his commercial and aerial photos have appeared in many national publications, as well as being featured in public galleries and spaces and in private collections.

    Along with many local publications, his work has been published in Lonely Planet, Barnes and Noble calendars, Old House Journal Architectural Magazine and on covers of “California Hiking” and “California Camping” by Avalon-Foghorn guidebooks. As a volunteer for the Coast Guard Art Program, Todoroff has documented air and boat stations from Hawaii to Boston. Additionally, he has taught classes at College of the Redwoods.

    At noon, following Todoroff’s program, owners of the October “Garden Jewels of Eureka” will be presented with certificates recognizing their landscaping. Garden Jewels recipients this month — all located on Williams Street in Eureka — include Ed and Eileen Davenport, Tom and Gretha McMurray, Grace Kerr and Jessica Bishop, Jerry and Nancy Heyne and Pam Long and Paul DeMark. These winning landscapes were featured in the Oct. 12 Home+Garden section of the Times-Standard.

    The Eureka Sequoia Garden Club, founded in 1967, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this

    Year. It’s a member of the California Garden Clubs, Inc. and Humboldt District, California Garden Clubs, Inc. For more information about the Eureka Sequoia Garden Club, call President Maria Krenek at 707-443-9472.

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    With hurricane debris piles gone, here are some turf repair tips

    Most neighborhoods are experiencing brown spots. Big brown spots where debris was once piled up for weeks to maybe months. How long you see the lingering spots depend on what you do.

    Maybe you could wait and hope the grass fills in. This might happen if you can detect yellowish green runners or new turf shoots starting to sprout. Where the piles were lose and some turf survived these areas may fill in or their own. Or they could grow weeds.

    Residents with big brown splotches in their turf can help them turn green by filling the voids with patches of sod or plugs. Sod gives the best coverage and hides weed seeds that might be ready to sprout. If you choose sod, loosen the soil prior to adding the new turf. You may also need to remove some soil to help the sod match up with the level of the existing good turf or sidewalks.

    Plugs are an option for the small areas that can fill in quickly. Usually plugs are spaced eight to ten inches apart. You can find plugs at local garden centers or if you only need a few, cut them out of existing established turf in your yard. Make these into about six inch squares for replanting in the open areas eight to ten inches apart. One more option is to cut sections of sod into plugs and use these to fill the brown spots.