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Archives for October 28, 2017

Ask the professionals: five simple rules of garden design

It's tempting to focus on the plants, but garden designers say to get to know your soil and site first.

It’s tempting to focus on the plants, but garden designers say to get to know your soil and site first.


“Look at what you have got – do you need to improve it?” garden designer Trish Bartleet says. “New gardeners tend not to spend enough money on soil preparation, they are so desperate to get the plants in the ground.”

You don’t need to dig over the soil endlessly, she suggests, but for every plant she buys, she tries to buy at least two bags of compost. Home gardeners might be using homemade humus of course, but it’s still a good rule of green thumb to layer on some more every time you plant something new.

Investing in your soil at the start will also save you money over time.

Scandi-sleek garden design relies on simple lines and a clean white background, with wood used to add warmth and texture.

Scandi-sleek garden design relies on simple lines and a clean white background, with wood used to add warmth and texture.

A jaw-dropping church conversion
A reno worth waiting for
Spanish style in the Mount 

It is always hard to sell that concept to newbies, garden designer Robin Shafer says, since they invariably wanted to spend all their money on plants.

“It’s perhaps not as exciting to invest money in soil and drainage, but it really does pay off!”

It’s particularly important if you are starting a garden around a newly built house, she said. Usually the land on a building site has been scraped back to compacted clay, and nothing will thrive if planted straight into that. Excavate the garden areas and design a subsoil drainage layout about 400mm under the finished level, then fill with good-quality top soil.


The tiny terrace garden design trend reflects the small smalls in which people live - but multi-level gardens allow for ...

The tiny terrace garden design trend reflects the small smalls in which people live – but multi-level gardens allow for maximum use of space.

“We all think we have the skills to simply turn up to site and make a sketch,” designer and broadcaster Tony Murrell says. “But use a registered surveyor! I insist to my clients that it’s the only way to go.”

Designer Karen Wealleans also stresses how important it is to know your site first. “Do not buy one single plant until you have worked out the structure and levels of your outdoor areas!” 


Modern rustic garden design includes timeworn timber elements, as in this garden featuring reclaimed scaffold boards.

Modern rustic garden design includes timeworn timber elements, as in this garden featuring reclaimed scaffold boards.

Not buy them, you understand. Just think about them. Do your research first to make sure that what you are planning to plant will behave as you expect. 

You need to be sure the plant will suit your conditions – the level of sun and shade on offer, whether it’s wet, dry or coastal and so on. Consider the size and shape it will eventually become, whether it’s evergreen or deciduous, and research how susceptible it is to pests and diseases, designer Barbara Garrett says.

If you like the style of your neighbours’ gardens, consider using similar plants, Bartleet suggests. “It will help extend the scale of your garden,” she says. “We call it a ‘borrowed vista’.” 

The layers and levels garden design trend takes its cue from traditional Japanese and Chinese gardens.

The layers and levels garden design trend takes its cue from traditional Japanese and Chinese gardens.


In the excitement of owning a new garden, new gardeners often take a pick ‘n’ mix approach and end up with a large number of wildly different plant choices, many of them unsuitable for the situation.

Robin says that new gardeners need to think of the plants as building blocks and use them structurally to create walls and spaces. “View your plant selection as you would furniture choices,” she says. “Think of them as the paint or wallpaper for ‘garden rooms’. In your house you would not choose a different wallpaper for each room, but would use a restricted palette to give the whole finished project a sense of co-ordination and cohesiveness.”


Avoid trends like “like yuccas and river stones,” says designer Nigel Cameron. “Someone came up with this combination a quarter of a century ago and in most situations it looks as good as low-riding jeans.”

 – NZ Gardener

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English garden growing year by year

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Mass Hort to host symposium on ecological garden design

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Massachusetts Horticultural Society will host a symposium on ecological gardening design and techniques at their home, the Gardens at Elm Bank.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Massachusetts Horticultural Society will host a symposium on ecological gardening design and techniques at their home, the Gardens at Elm Bank.

The symposium will empower home gardeners to become the stewards of their landscape. Presenters will introduce you to the basic principles and benefits of ecological gardening. Attendees will discover ways to welcome birds and other wildlife, improve your soil, techniques to select the ideal native plants for your growing conditions, how to monitor and manage invasive plants, and so much more.

The symposium will run from 1-5 p.m. For more details and to register please visit Registration is $40 for Mass Hort members, $60 for general audience.

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Foster + Partners’ First Public Garden Design to Feature in Norton Museum Expansion

Foster + Partners First Public Garden Design to Feature in Norton Museum Expansion,  Foster + Partners
© Foster + Partners

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida has announced plans for the first-ever public garden designed by Foster + Partners as part of their $100 million expansion project. To feature a variety of native sub-tropical plantings and gathering spaces, the garden is envisioned as “a new social space for the community.”

“From the beginning, we have conceived of the Norton expansion as an opportunity to create a New Norton—one that embraces its original design, while also creating a more welcoming and inviting campus,” said Lord Norman Foster.

“In our masterplan, it was important for us to define the Norton’s sense of place—in this case Florida’s lush subtropics. To do so, we conceptualized a museum within a garden. We are creating verdant spaces for art and programming that extends the museum beyond its walls.”

 Foster + Partners

 Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners First Public Garden Design to Feature in Norton Museum Expansion

 Foster + Partners

+ 5

Fitting into the 6.3-acre campus masterplan, the new landscape will feature a series of Art Deco-inspired pavilion circling a central courtyard to create shaded corridors linking “garden rooms” along the southern axis of the Museum. Lush plantings will frame individual spaces within the Pamela and Robert B. Goergen Garden, which will house 11 notable art works gifted by the the couple to the museum including contemporary pieces by Keith Haring, George Rickey, and Mark di Suervo.

At the center of the plan, the “great lawn” will serve as an open-air venue for the Museum’s “Art After Dark” program and other events, performances and screenings. Inspired by a historic banyan tree planted on the museum’s opening in 1941 (which will anchor the new museum entrance to the west), Foster + Partners have also included a “mature garden” featuring eighty-two mature trees whose canopy will immediately interact with the expansion’s curving roof structure.

 Foster + Partners
© Foster + Partners

Other planned elements including a new entry forecourt featuring a reflecting pool and a monumental, 43-foot-tall, semi-reflective metal canopy cantilever 45 feet out from the building facade. An opening in the canopy will gesture toward the 85-foot-tall banyan tree.

New interior spaces that will interact with the garden include the 210-seat Stiller Family Foundation Auditorium; the Jane and Leonard Korman Room; and the Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Restaurant, with outdoor dining space located on the John and Marjorie McGraw Terrace. The 3,600-square-foot, 43-foot-tall Ruth and Carl Shapiro Great Hall will connect all these spaces, offering gathering and relaxation spaces with lounge seating, a coffee bar, piano and book carts.

 Foster + Partners
© Foster + Partners

The expansion will also include 12,000 square feet of new gallery space for seasonal exhibitions and the Museum collection and the William Randolph Hearst Education Center, which will more than double the current amount of educational facilities. Other projects related to the masterplan include the restoration of six 1920s-era houses located south of the garden to serve as studios for artists-in-residence and the new Director’s Residence.

Construction on the project is already well underway, having topped out in June of this year. The project is slated to open to the public in February 2019.

Learn more about the expansion project in our previous post, here.

News via Norton Museum of Art, Foster + Partners.

Foster to Break Ground on Norton Museum Expansion in Florida

UPDATE: Foster + Partners Norton Museum of Art expansion will official break ground tomorrow, February 6, following the Norton’s annual Gala celebrating its 75th anniversary. The project, which will transform the museum’s West Wing, increase gallery space by 35 percent and add a new auditorium, great hall and education space to the building, is expected to complete in 2018.

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John Begnaud: Dry landscape can still be beautiful

Face it: We live on the edge of the desert sometimes and on the edge of the Edwards Plateau or Rolling Plains sometimes. Years vary with rainfall, but we will have wet years and dry years. “Expect the best, be prepared for the worst” is a good saying when applied to West Texas weather and landscape planning.  

A recent trip to the Baja California region, which is a desert climate except for hurricanes, gave me some great ideas for including dry landscapes or no-irrigation areas in our West Texas landscapes.

We all have areas that are difficult to water, hard to maintain or even seldom seen by anyone. These areas should be considered for a no- or low-water landscaped area.

No-water or low-water areas can include cactus but do not have to be void of attractive plants that are adapted to the occasional rain. We have so many plants that can survive here on rainfall alone, and they are not all full of thorns or ugly.

It may be a challenge to find a supply of such adapted plants. Our local nurseries and garden centers are offering a better selection of drought-hardy plants every year. The market is dictated by what the consumer will buy, so educating yourself on what works and looks good for your landscape is important.  

The use of rock in dry landscapes is an art. Making it look natural while functional is a talent. The good thing is there are numerous examples of the use and placement of boulders, rock mulches and dry river beds. Features such as these become the anchors of a dry landscape. The plants are placed after the hardscape is installed.

If the dry landscape is not a showcase for a plant collection or display garden, the most important rule is to keep it simple. We tend to overdo landscapes with too much going on. Think of how natural landscapes are sculpted by the elements, especially water and wind out West.  You can always add more stuff!

Keeping a desert landscape interesting involves the use of varying heights of plant material as well as contrasting and complementing textures. The use of grasses, especially when gravel and boulders are used, is a great contrast in texture and often occurs naturally and is expected by the eye.

We all have different interests and levels of creativity. This is very true with landscapes. Water conservation landscaping will be with us forever, even in wet years.

John Begnaud is a retired Tom Green County Extension agent for horticulture. Contact him at

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No ice skating on Boothbay Common

There will  be no temporary ice rink built on Boothbay Common or at any adjacent location this year. During a much anticipated Oct. 25 public meeting with the Boothbay Civic Association, selectmen and local ice rink committee, it was announced the municipal rink would remain at the fire station.

When the agenda item came up, discussion was short.

“There is really nothing to talk about. The ice rink committee said they don’t want to move,” said BCA President Pam Wiley. The ice rink has been located at the fire station for 12 years. The committee, an independent group responsible for setting up and maintaining a rink, is one of several organizations that receive a financial contribution from the BCA.

During the Oct. 11 meeting, selectmen discussed a Joint Economic Development Committee proposal to create a lit, temporary ice rink on Boothbay Common as part of the Boothbay Festival of Lights. The JEDC hoped a more visible location would attract more visitors from Gardens Aglow and Boothbay Festival of Lights into the region’s shopping, restaurants and inns.

Two weeks ago, selectmen began preliminary discussions with BCA members and ice rink committee members. During the meeting, one committee member volunteered to paint a rink outline on the Common. Initially, the proposal also had support from local businessman Paul Coulombe. He had mentioned in a Boothbay Register article a willingness to participate in a community effort to construct a temporary Boothbay Common ice rink or build one on his property nearby. But Coulombe has apparently changed his mind. 

“He told us he’s not interested in doing anything at all,” Wiley told selectmen.

Coulombe didn’t attend the meeting. The Boothbay Register was unsuccessful in attempting to reach him for a comment.

In the two weeks since selectmen began discussing a Boothbay Common ice rink, board members have heard from numerous residents about the proposal.

“This has really created a lot of talk in town. I’ve been hit from both sides,” said Selectman Steve Lewis.

In other action, selectmen approved removing a dying tree on the Boothbay Common. Project engineer Steve Sawyer reported changes in the roundabout project resulted in a tree slowly dying. The tree is now 18 inches higher than the root system.

“It’s just a matter of time before it dies. We can either remove it now or wait until spring, but we’d have to tear up paving to do that,” said Sawyer of Sebago Technics, a South Portland engineering firm.

Selectmen didn’t vote on approving the tree removal, but rather all four in attendance, Lewis, Dale Harmon, Kristina Ford and Michael Tomacelli, all gave verbal approval.

“I think the board is going to be ‘hung’ for this because we said no trees would be cut and the Common would be left alone. It’s turned out to be anything but the truth. The tree is going to die so I’d rather haul it out now than do it after there is a brand new sidewalk,” Harmon said.

Sawyer also reported the Route 27 Improvement Project was ahead of schedule and under budget. He also addressed concerns made by a Back River Road resident about the condition of Boothbay Common. Tim Utley had concerns that more trees would die if town officials continued letting vehicles drive and park on the Common. 

Utley described summer events like arts and crafts fairs and Farmers’ Markets as endangering Boothbay Common trees. Sawyer understood Utley’s concern and cautioned him and other residents to realize the construction project isn’t finished.

“We’ve got a few more months before it’s finished,” Sawyer said. “In time you will see how the plan is forming. We haven’t put in the sidewalk or curbs around the Common, which will address the problem you’re talking about.”

Selectmen are also proceeding with seeking applicants for a new landscaping committee. Selectmen want an advisory board of about 12 members to make recommendations for roundabout landscaping. 

The project has virtually no budget for landscaping, according to town officials. The town is seeking assistance from Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and Boothbay Region Garden Club to donate and care for landscaping. Selectmen want to appoint a committee by year’s end.

Selectmen tabled a permit for Dover Used Car Parts/Junkyard. Town Manager Dan Bryer reported the junkyard grounds – enclosed by a fence constructed out of old garage doors – are basically in the same condition they have been in for the past five years.

But Utley complained about the junkyard’s condition. “The least you can do is make them put up a fence and maintain it which would protect us from visually seeing it,” he said. Selectmen plan on driving by the Dover Road business prior to voting on permit approval in two weeks.

Selectmen approved a permit for  Deborah and Robert Barris III of Arrowhead Road to extend a pier on their property. The board voted 4-0 approving a six-foot by 150-foot extension of the current pile-supported pier. The couple will replace a float with two 10-foot by 20-foot floats oriented perpendicular to the shore. This will allow a Boston whaler to access the float at all times, according to the applicants. The Barrises will also add a four-foot by four-foot landing at the pier’s landward end, a kayak rack and storage box.

Selectmen will meet next at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8 in the municipal building’s conference room.





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Healing Garden encourages wellness

With flowing waterfalls and calming springs, the nearly completed addition to Morrison Cancer Center’s Healing Garden will soon convey hope and cleansing to all affected by cancer on campus.

A public tour of the new $100,000 addition, which partially faces Kansas Avenue on the east side of the cancer center campus, will take place from 10-11 a.m. Saturday at 815 N. Kansas Avenue.

Funding for the large scale project was provided by the Spady-Perkins Landscaping Fund established by the late Dick Spady, who chaired the ML board 12 of his 22 years as member, and a gift from the Beirow Family Foundation.

Vlcek Gardens of Chapman helped guide the project, with hands-on labor provided by Mary Lanning board member Mike Allen and hospital landscaper Kip Zalman. Staff and administrators at the hospital also helped with finishing details of the project.

“This new area will provide calming garden views for our patients in the new oncology wing of the Morrison Cancer Center,” Zalman said. “On the other side, a large waterfall welcomes visitors to the cancer center. This is just the kind of project that Mr. Spady would have loved.”


Mary Lanning Healthcare landscaper Kipp Zalman talks about plans for the extension of the Healing Garden outside the Morrison Cancer Center Tuesday.

Mary Plock, chief development officer for the hospital’s foundation, called the addition “a great success story for the Foundation because the donors we worked with planned ahead to make this absolutely beautiful addition possible.”

Plock said the garden additions will beautify the campus not only for cancer patients, but for those passing by on the side facing Kansas Avenue.

“For those of us streetside, this side of the waterfall will encourage wellness and well being,” Plock said. “It’ll encourage people to get out and walk around the campus.”

The backside of the waterfall includes a pond that will eventually include fish, turtles, frogs, and birds. Additional planting of perennials will eventually accent the rocky pond/waterfall element, which Zalman said offers differing views from the hospital’s seven ground floor cancer patient infusion bays. Zalman was able to draw inspiration for the project from his bachelor of arts art degree from Hastings College.

He said the labor-intensive project took roughly two months to complete on the side facing Kansas Avenue.


Water flows around a rock in the waterfall that was built on the east side of the Morrison Cancer Center at Mary Lanning Healthcare as a part of the Healing Garden.

Additional work will include putting up a fence along the backside to limit public access to those with business on campus. He said it is the largest water-inclusive project he’s tackled on campus to date.

The long-term vision for the project is to connect it to the wellness garden already on campus, then tie in a third garden with a future addition to form a loop that connects all three gardens for lengthy stroll opportunities.

“We hope the garden encourages a sense of tranquility for our patients,” Zalman said. “Our entire campus is designed with the grounds being part of the healing process. We want to provide not an institutionalized feel, but a calm, relaxed setting. It accomplishes a lot of our goals as to provide privacy for our patients and multiple views from every infusion bay. The east-facing falls is for the public to have its own features to enjoy.”

Stones and trees utilized in the project were hand-selected by Zalman from locations in Kansas and Colorado. Working with 12 thousand pound boulders presented a sizable challenge in the tedious and precise project, he said.

“We had a pair of excavators with some excellent operators to us move the larger boulders,” he said. “We have bigger gardens on campus, but this was probably the most intensely managed installed garden.”

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Mitzel new president of Horticultural Society

As a young boy, Frank Mitzel had a penchant for growing plants. Raised in a small neighborhood outside of Detroit, he cared for and maintained a 430-square-foot garden that was an abundant source of food for his entire family and some nearby neighbors. It was only natural that Mitzel’s innate talent led him to become a professional landscape designer after earning a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Texas AM University.

A resident of Verrazzano, a community between Santaluz and Fairbanks Ranch, Mitzel spent his most of his 35-year landscape career designing in California, Florida and Michigan. 

Now, the San Diego Horticultural Society is benefi

Frank Mitzel

ting from Mitzel’s sage wisdom since he recently accepted a three-year term as president of the organization. Mitzel is no stranger to SDHS — he’s been a member for the past 17 years.

Currently, the organization has more than 1,000 members.

What interested him most about SDHS was its horticulture educational efforts, he said. 

“We try to inspire and educate the people of San Diego County to grow and enjoy plants and to create beautiful environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes,” he said.

As president, Mitzel’s goal is to connect with other members in the San Diego area who have a love of horticulture and landscape design. He’s also quick to point out that landscape design has changed considerably over the years — particularly in Southern California.

“We have gravitated towards drought-tolerant landscape design, eschewing or limiting lawn areas and advancing to drought-tolerant landscaping, which is more environmentally sound,” he said.

Mitzel said the variety of succulents is tremendous, and they are evergreen year-round. The vast majority of succulents bloom and each has its own textures and colors.

“Many succulents are very architectural in their form,” Mitzel said. “They also are compatible with so many of our drought-tolerant plants and native plants.” 

Mitzel is looking forward to the SDHS annual garden tours in San Diego in April 2018 — considered the most extensive garden tours in San Diego. This year, the tours will take place in Encinitas.

For those unable to wait until April for their inspirational horticulture fix, Mitzel said visits to the local San Diego Botanic Garden and Balboa Park are always great choices. Mitzel said another favorite excursion outside of San Diego is Lotusland near Santa Barbara, the botanical garden designed by the late Madame Walska.

To become a member of SDHS or attend its $15 monthly meetings held on the second Monday of every month from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Congregation Beth Israel, visit

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Gardening: Tips for storing tender bulbs, corms and tubers

Although we haven’t had a killing frost so far, you should be preparing to winter-store those beautiful tender perennials — the cannas, the dahlias, the gladioli and others.

Look for a cool storage area. Somewhere dark, dry but that never freezes. Avoid storing near hot things like furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, radiators and such. Too hot or too dry is just as damaging as too cold.

Make sure the area and the storage containers are accessible. Once a month you should check the stored plants — look for rotting, shriveling, pest damage, anything out of the ordinary. Throw out the rotting items, soak, dry and restore the shriveling ones and treat for pests as you find them.

Each plant has its own needs:

A visit to a couple’s garden, plus some gardening tips as temperatures dip

A little bit o’ heaven is how I would describe the garden of Bill and Evelyn Watkins. It’s packed with intensive plantings of annuals, such as cosmos, nigella, Brazilian bachelor button, milkweed, Texas sage, zinnia, coleus, and hybrid red salvia (also known as Salvia splendens). The latter reseeds itself.

As Evelyn describes them, the annuals are self-sowing once established. All she does is “edit them” each spring for the desired results. Perennials like passion vine, sedum, larkspur, black magic elephant ear, and a wonderful textural chenille plant that looks like a pink caterpillar are just a few of the collection.

Fairy container garden

Under cover on the patio sits a shelf filled with various types of begonias, kept for cuttings to give to friends who come to admire the garden. Terra cotta pots loaded with seasonal color strike a pose, drawing one’s eye to various points along the path, up the steps, and throughout the garden.

Every possible inch of dirt is covered with plants of some sort. Vincas, native to North America, reseed prolifically. Cotoneaster is sculpted into the front steps; thyme and sedge cover the paths. Passion vines ramble at the edge of the formal hedge in the back, chewed up by the hungry caterpillars that will change into the Gulf fritillary butterfly. The milkweed was full of monarch caterpillars on the day I visited. Terraced stone beds full of caladium and elephant ears, which Evelyn says she pulls up like weeds, and formal shrubs for sculpture and a water feature for sound all draw you deeper into this garden.

With a passion for caladium bulbs, Evelyn digs the bulbs each fall and replants them every year. My favorite container garden was called a “fairy garden,” loaded with tiny little bells on wires meant to ding if the “fairies” were close. The garden is a true sanctuary, devoted to butterflies and bees, natural sounds, and beauty.

October can be busy in the garden. Leaves fall, and we turn them into mulch. Asparagus can be bedded down now with at least 2 inches of mulch. Herbs should be harvested now, before that first frost. If you are new to the area, we expect frost by early November, but there is no promise on this, so you need to prepare for it now. Follow the weather forecast and be prepared for sudden temperature drops. Protect your tender plants in the vegetable garden as needed.

Bring in your houseplants, and develop fall and winter container gardens now so their roots can settle in before it turns cold. Collect seeds from your annuals if you wish to replant them next spring. Bulbs can be planted by the end of October. You will learn a great deal from bulb catalogs. (I love the John Scheepers’s bulb catalog.) Certain perennials seeds, including coneflower, larkspur, foxglove, poppies, and stock, need cold weather to germinate, so sow them soon.

It’s a good thing that I don’t have to rely on my garden to feed me through the winter. I do rely on the seasons to shift, the daylight to shorten, and the deep dark of the winter to settle in on me.

Quoting from Paul Pitchford, author of “Healing With Whole Foods,” “The mysterious forces of the Earth create moisture in the heaven and fertile soil upon the Earth.”

The garden is mysterious. As the leaves drop and the nights chill, I find I am looking for ways to make life easier. Caring for a garden and observing its mysteries has been an enduring joy. As Evelyn says, “We learn by doing.”

We put our heart and soul into our garden; it’s a way of self-expression.

See you in the garden.

Kathy Slayter is a Greenville Realtor and Clemson Certified Master Gardener who is passionate about growing, cooking, and eating her homegrown food. Contact her at

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Olive Garden: Tips for saving money

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It’s no secret that going out to eat can be expensive. And actually, there’s evidence that dining out is pricier than ever before. Still, who wants to give up going to restaurants?

Besides chowing on tasty food, going out to eat is a go-to way for many people to socialize, and doubles as an easy way to get out of cooking and doing the dishes.

If you’re looking for ways to dine out without breaking the bank, we have you covered, at least when it comes to one popular restaurant chain. Check out this list of 10 clever tips that can save you some serious cash at Olive Garden.

Whatever you do, please remember to tip your server. These people work hard for a living and just because you’re getting a discount or a freebie doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a full-price tip.

1. Get a free appetizer or dessert.

A common savings strategy when going out is to skip extras like appetizers and desserts. But let’s be real—that kind of takes the fun out of it.

To have your cake and eat it too at Olive Garden, all you need to do is sign up for the Olive Garden eClub. You will receive a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert (up to a $10 value) with the purchase of two adult entrees. Yum!

2. Dine during an off time.

Of course, it’s tempting to go during the lunch rush or around a traditional dinnertime, but if you can work your schedule to dine between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m., Monday-Thursday, you can take advantage of Dinner Duos.

This promotion gets you a select entree, along with unlimited soup or salad, plus all the breadsticks you can handle, for just $8.99.

3. Pay $1 for your kids to eat there.

Olive Garden has been known to run some seriously great promotions for kids, including offering $1 kids’ entrees with the purchase of an adult meal.

This promotion comes and goes, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for the next time Olive Garden runs this deal (or something similar).

Also, you should know that Olive Garden often has great buy one, get one free deals on entrees. Though this specific deal is expired, it could come back around!

4. Taste wine for free.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Olive Garden actually has a pretty legit wine list. As a bonus, the restaurant allows customers to sample their wines at no charge. These samples are about 1-ounce pour, so you won’t get an entire glass. But hey, it’s something right?

And, according to The Krazy Coupon Lady, some Olive Garden locations actually let you bring your own wine. This definitely doesn’t apply to all locations, however, so you’ll want to call ahead first and find out if this applies to your local Olive Garden.

Server: Here's your Moscato Flight! I'd highly suggest pairing with th– Us:

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5. Get a free dipping sauce.

Olive Garden Rewards is the restaurant’s loyalty program. A part of the program, you accumulate points each time you dine. Eventually you can cash in those points for free items or gift cards. Upon signing up, you’ll automatically get 100 points, which scores you a free dipping sauce, such as marinara or alfredo.

📱: new Angry Alfredo sauce, who dis?

A post shared by Olive Garden (@olivegarden) on

6. Go on your birthday.

If you choose to celebrate your birthday at Olive Garden, you can count on a free dessert. Sign up for the eClub to get in on this annual perk.

Good weather and 🍓 cheesecake. All you could possibly need.

A post shared by Olive Garden (@olivegarden) on

7. Cut your meal in half before you get it.

Everyone knows restaurant portions give you way more food than you need. If you ask your server to box up half of your meal before it’s served to you, you’re less likely to go overboard. This way, you’ll get two meals for the price of one. Besides, who needs a full meal with all those breadsticks and salad?

Comment "I love breadsticks" if you love breadsticks.

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8. Stock up on gift cards for the holidays.

Throughout the month of December, and again in mid-April, the restaurant offers a free $10 gift card when you purchase a $50 gift card. Consider your holiday shopping done!

olive garden gift card photo

9. Get the never-ending pasta bowl.

OK, so I know I just suggested saving money and calories by cutting your meal in half, but on the other hand, if you’re carb-loading for a race (or are just super-hungry—no judgment!) the never-ending pasta bowl is a pretty great deal. Starting at just $9.99, you can fill up on unlimited servings of over 100 combinations of pastas, sauces and toppings.

10. Make copycat recipes at home.

OK, so this one feels like cheating, but it’s totally Olive-Garden-approved! Have some fun in the kitchen and save dough at the same time by whipping up some of your favorite menu items with exact recipes provided by the restaurant.

This story originally appeared on Don’t Waste Your Money. Checkout Don’t Waste Your Money for other great tips and ideas to make the most out of life.

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