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Archives for October 2017

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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Columbia looks to remake housing project into a more upscale $60 million destination

COLUMBIA — One of Columbia’s oldest public housing projects now is empty, surrounded by wire fencing and being pulled down brick by brick.

Gonzales Gardens, opened in 1940 to provide affordable homes for both U.S. Army personnel from Fort Jackson and local residents with lower incomes, is being replaced in a project that is estimated to cost at least $60 million.

More than 250 residents have moved elsewhere in the city, either into other public housing projects or private developments via a voucher program.

“Attractive landscaping will make Gonzales Gardens a beauty spot,” promised a 1939 brochure for the project. But in recent decades it mostly looked like what it was: row after row of public housing.

Its replacement is intended to be more upscale with a neighborhood feel that combines public housing, private homes and special facilities for the elderly.

That change is expected to take several years to complete, as it did when the Columbia Housing Authority demolished Hendley Homes overlooking Williams-Brice Stadium and gradually rebuilt the area as Rosewood Hills, a process that took more than six years.

A similar redevelopment was done at Celia Saxon Homes on Harden Street.

All Columbians deserve better than the outdated housing at Gonzales, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said.

Building a better complex that will boost the neighborhood and welcome residents of varied incomes is the right move even if it disrupts people’s lives during the process, he said. Not only was the design outdated but the facility was crumbling and had issues such as asbestos and mold.

“The traditional public housing from the mid-20th century needs to be replaced,” Benjamin said.

He praised the housing authority for the job it had done to relocate the residents of Gonzales, one of the oldest public housing projects in the country. They will have an opportunity to move back in the future if they wish, he said. The end result will be a development that “brings new life to a neighborhood that desperately needs it,” Benjamin said.

The process at Gonzales, along Forest Drive near Two Notch Road, could be accelerated if the city gets a $22 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That would allow the redevelopment to go forward in larger phases instead of smaller steps as money becomes available, said Nancy Stoudenmire, director of planning for the city housing authority.

Nationwide competition for the grants is intense, Stoudenmire said, but Columbia has some points in its favor: The site will already be clear for the work, and the city also can tout its success in places such as Rosewood Hills.

In 2000, the housing authority demolished Hendley Homes, a similar set of multifamily buildings along Rosewood Drive that had opened in 1952.

In its place came about 160 units of housing, including single-family dwellings, and both duplexes and a high-rise building designed to accommodate the elderly. Nothing about it to the bystander identifies it as a project focused on public housing. The tasteful row houses and landscaping make it look like other urban in-fill development.

The project itself, however, took years and wasn’t completed until 2007. To start construction on the redevelopment, it was necessary to displace all of the families living in Hendley’s 300 units.

They moved out, and very few of them moved back, according to Stoudenmire. People moving out of Hendley relocated to 26 different zip codes around the Midlands and state. They were aided by the housing authority voucher system, which allowed many of them to move into privately owned housing and receive a payment that covered more than half of their rent and utility bills.

This allowed them to find new homes that they liked without feeling any lingering stigma of living in public housing, Stoudenmire said.

“For a lot of people, they really liked that,” she said.

The residents forged ties in their new communities despite many having fond memories of the Hendley community, Stoudenmire said. Their children enrolled in new schools, and their new homes often were closer to jobs.

“It’s just like anybody who goes and moves,” she said.

A much higher number of those displaced by the work at Gonzales Gardens have chosen to relocate elsewhere in the public housing system than did at Hendley, Stoudenmire said. Of the former Gonzales households, 106 moved elsewhere in public housing, while 147 are using a voucher to live outside the public housing system.

One factor is the long tenure of Gonzales, with some residents having lived there for decades.

“A lot did not want to move out of the safety net of public housing,” she said.

Others did use it for a limited amount of time as a stable place to live and save money, then used it as a platform to move up and out, she said.

“People loved living in Gonzales Gardens,” she said.

Like Rosewood Hills, the new complex at Gonzales Gardens will include some housing sold on the private market. The hope is that the newly developed project will appeal to young professionals who are looking for downtown housing, perhaps including some who work across the street at Providence Hospital, Stoudenmire said.

At Rosewood Hills, the market for the available houses looks strong. The three-bedroom units on the market are valued between $170,000 and $210,000, with one house selling in July for $207,500, according to the Zillow real estate website.

Making Hendley Homes into Rosewood Hills has been a boon to the larger neighborhood of Rosewood, Stoudenmire said.

Redevelopment projects such as City Roots urban farm and the new brewpub in a historic hangar at Hamilton-Owens Field were given a boost by the improvement at Rosewood Hills, she said.

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Ellen DeGeneres reels in a new spot on the Carpinteria coastline

Ellen DeGeneres, who has history when it comes to fixing up and selling homes, appears to have found her next project. The daytime talk show host and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, have purchased a home in Carpinteria for $18.6 million.

Set along roughly 80 feet of sandy beach, the gated estate centers on a shake-sided main house of about 6,000 square feet. A matching guesthouse, lighted clay tennis court and plunge pool share the site, which is more than an acre.

The main residence, built in 1979, has been extensively remodeled and features light wood floors, vaulted ceilings and walls of windows that bring ocean views inside.

A step-up living room, a dining room, an open-plan kitchen, four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms are among the living spaces. Another bedroom and two bathrooms lie within the guesthouse.

Putting a garden to bed

CLIFF HAVEN — The growing season has stuttered to an end but a gardener’s work is never done.

Linda Noyes offered up fall-gardening tips at a recent Ladies of Cliff Haven meeting.

“My expertise with flowers,” said the retired educator and Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteer.

“That’s where my passion is. I have much of my yard that can be flowers as possible. I live in the middle of Beekman Street. My back is shaded because I have a wall of huge, huge cedar trees. My shade flowers in back yard. Then in the front, I make use of the sun as much as I can.”

A varied border lines one side of her driveway, and the other side is line with day lilies.

“I love day lilies, so I have been accumulated day lilies and trying how can I get them all and still have a little bit of lawn,” Noyes said.


Now is the time to divide perennials.

A rule of thumb, spring-blooming perennials should be divided in the fall and fall-blooming perennials divided in the spring.

“There are some exceptions to that, for example day lilies,” Noyes said.

“They are pretty hard and can be divided at anytime. I’m dividing day lilies right now, and I’ve divided them right in the middle of summer. It doesn’t matter.”

Some flowers are not divisible.

“They just don’t like it like lupines, they really have a hard time with that,” Noyes said.

“Poppies, so for getting extra plants the best thing is to gather the seed and just throw the seed down and see how that goes because they just don’t tolerate it.”

The peony is fussy, too.

“Fall is the time to divide the peony,” Noyes said.

“What I would do is cut it down, to the foliage, off to about six inches and then dig it out and really make sure you have a good clump. You want to put it in the ground so you that can see the crown. The crown of the plant is where the stem starts coming up. You’ll notice it. It’s kind of bumpy. And right now, you’ll see little sprouts on it like buds. You want that exposed from the ground. You don’t want to cover that up. Give it a good watering so those roots really get established the rest of the fall and all winter long.

The nutrients are going right into those roots.”


The best time to divide plants is on a cool, cloudy day. Divisions should be at least six inches in diameter for a substantial clump.

“Sometimes, you have to be ruthless with them,” Noyes said.

“I use something called a hori knife. You can get it at a garden supply store. It chops right through it. I’ve seen people use reciprocating saws to cut through hosta roots. Sometimes, you will see natural divisions like if you’re wanting to divide your irises. This is a good time to divide irises, too. Just cut that whole clump off and put it on a tarp. You can look at the rhizomes, and you can see what ones are kind of shriveled up, which ones are rotted and cut that out.”

Keep the more robust rhizomes for transplanting. When planting, keep a little bit of the rhizome above the surface.

“They will flower better,” Noyes said.

“It’s just unusual and unique to irises.”

Dahlias are bulbs and should be dug up before a hardy frost and the ground gets too frozen.

“When you dig them up, you can separate them out,” Noyes said.

“You want to store them in a cool, dry place, preferably in a bag that has some holes in it so some air can get in there. Even if you see them start to get dry, mist them with a little bit of water. Just check them periodically. Some people, I don’t want to bother with that and they just buy new ones next year. They use them as an annual. Some people will do that.”


Don’t add fertilizer this time of year but do add compost.

“I will buy compost in bags,” Noyes said.

“I do add leaves. I’m always on the lookout for maple leaves. I have been known to go all over the city. I shred them because maple leaves decompose the best. I have all oak leaves that go into my yard, and they are the longest to decompose. Compost always and water everything that you do divide or even transplant. Just keep watering. We’ve been really dry, so I’ve been watering constantly because you don’t want your plant to dry out. And you want your plants to be successful all winter, so if they have a good, deep-root watering, they will make it through the winter much better.”

Her rhododendrons were absolutely gorgeous this year.

“It’s hit and miss,” she said.

“This year, the bloom was unbelievable. I had hardly any green leaves but then other years, it’s been sparse like my lilac tree. I have a lilac tree that is built into my stone patio. I keep it trimmed so it looks like a bonsai configuration. Some years, I have great lilacs and some years, not so great.”


A rule of thumb for putting down mulch is to not put it down too early.

Mid-November is a good target date.

“The way our weather is going, it could be late November,” Noyes said.

“Leaves are great to use because they always add organic matter as they decompose. Organic mulch is great for anything.”

Now is a good time to plant shrubs and trees because they have the fall and all winter long to develop root systems.

“Then in the summer, when we got those drought conditions they will be able to tolerate it better,” Noyes said.

“The only proviso with that is when you go to nurseries, you have to really look at what you are buying because some of them may have been delivered in the spring and have been sitting there all summer.”

Make sure roots are free and not circling around the tree.

“Then, when you’re planting trees or shrubs, you want to put the mulch down but you want to make sure the mulch is not touching the bark of the tree and not touching the crown of the shrub,” Noyes said.

“You want to keep that free. Your root ball should not be covered so much with mulch.”


Out with planting trees and shrub in deep holes.

“Now, the wisdom is not to plant it so deep,” Noyes said.

“You want it as deep as your container root ball but what you do want to do is make your hole wider, two to three times wider, because you want those roots to spread out.”

She puts compost in her hydrangea holes but she mixes it in with native soil.

“If you take the compost and just throw it in, the roots are no dummy,” Noyes said.

“They are going to want to stay with that beautiful compost, and they are not go out into the native soil so much. So, you just don’t want to load your hole up with compost and say done. You want to mix it with native soil, and then back fill it and then water it carefully. Deeply.”

Email Robin Caudell:




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Fall tips for your vegetable garden

I planted a vegetable garden for the first time this year and would like some advice on what to do this fall in preparation for next year.

— Riley Gray Morton Grove

Warm-season plants like tomatoes, beans and peppers are winding down now, so go ahead and remove them once they stop producing. The unusually warm weather — including warm nights this fall — have kept these plants going later than in a normal year, when the first average frost at the Garden is Oct. 15.

If you previously seeded any cool-season vegetables like lettuce (it’s too late to do so now), leave them in and continue harvesting until a hard freeze stops them. Go ahead and compost plant debris if it is free of disease. Most home compost piles do not generate enough heat to kill disease organisms, so discard any diseased plant material.

Cut back on irrigation and remove flammable materials

The autumnal equinox is behind us, and winter looms. Time to do some clean up in the garden, get the winter planting done, and get ready to ease into the slow lane.

  • Although we sometimes have downright hot days, the overall evaporation rate is slowing as the days grow shorter and the nights cooler. That means you can start reducing your irrigation schedule or, depending on what you’re growing, cut it off completely.
  • If we don’t have any rain in the next few weeks, water your trees and shrubs to a depth of about 12 inches, once this month.
  • You probably don’t need any more incentive after watching the destruction of Wine Country, but you really need to do some fire protection around your home. Prune low-lying branches on shrubs, and clean the eaves to remove leaf buildup. If you have flammable plants close to your home, you might want to get rid of them.
  • Shred pine needles, and use them as mulch beneath irrigated, acid-loving plants, or compost them. Trim away dead woody plant parts, and while using oak and redwood leaves beneath those trees as mulch is a good idea, you’ll need to shred them first if you live in a high fire danger zone.
  • Plant spring bulbs — daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths — this month and next. Chill tulips before planting.
  • This is the week to plant garlic and shallots for harvest next summer.
  • If you aren’t growing winter crops this year, considering planting a cover crop to protect your beds and improve their fertility. Plant legumes or grains, or a combination of both.

The Contra Costa Master Gardeners contributed to this report.

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Put on a sweater and other indoor gardening tips for fall

The cooler weather means a lot more time indoors for gardeners — but there’s still work to be done. 

As the days get darker and the air changes, master gardener Brian Minter says plants need to be protected once they’ve been moved inside to prevent them from suffering and turning yellow.  

“We treat our plants just like we always did but no, it’s a new situation,” he told CBC guest host of B.C. Almanac Michelle Elliot.

Minter said indoor plants, even a small potted plant on the windowsill, brightens the room and helps purify the air. But they need extra care this time of year to combat the changing light, heat and humidity conditions.

“Each day, we’re losing more light and light is the essence — it’s the life and death of plants inside our homes,” Minter said. “We need to move our plants to where they are getting more light.”

And not just any light, he said. Indirect light is better than direct sunlight and artificial light can be a good substitute on those cloudy overcast days, Minter recommended.

“We have so many great LED types of lighting that you simply plug into a wall to give your plants a good spectrum of light so that helps immensely,” he said.

‘Put a sweater on’

Along with less light, decreased humidity can also be deadly for plants and cranking up the heat in the house only makes it worse.

“Put a sweater on — I’m serious. It’s chilly outside, we’re going to put the temperature up and when the temperature inside your home starts to rise, the humidity disappears,” he said.  

Watering plants is, of course, also vital but many people don’t do it correctly. Minter said the common method of touching the top of the soil to check water levels is inefficient.

“That gets your fingers dirty and that’s about all it does,” he said. “Pick up the plant and feel the weight of the plant.”

If the plant is heavy, the water levels are good and if it’s lighter than usual, give it warm — not cold — water, he said.

And it’s always better to underwater plants than overwater them, Minter added, because underwatering is easier to fix.

“Go hug a plant but, more importantly, we have to change how we look after them,” he said.

To hear more, click on the B.C. Almanac podcast below:

With files from B.C. Almanac.

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New garden to grow knowledge at Children’s Museum

The all-season garden is designed to encourage kids to learn about sustainable ecosystems.

The all-season garden is designed to encourage kids to learn about sustainable ecosystems.
Photo provided

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. Volunteers recently built a kid-friendly outdoor garden at The Children’s Museum at Saratoga.

The all-season design provides the museum with a dedicated space that’s designed to encourage kids to learn about sustainable ecosystems, combined with developmental learning concepts.

The project was funded in part by The Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust and other friends of the museum, a news release said.

Sue Ann DuBois of Garden Goddess Sense and Sustainability and Sarah Smith Syden of the museum, led the initiative recognizing the importance in engaging children in outdoors, hands-on activities. Chips Landscaping secured and delivered all project materials, and offered up their equipment and garden tools for the day.

Chris Berninger, manager at Hewitt’s Garden Center in Wilton, donated 46 pollinator-friendly perennials. Board members and friends of the Children’s Museum installed the new plants.

The new garden design offers a space for kids to plant their own vegetables and herbs, to harvest throughout the year. This creates an opportunity for children to learn the value of growing their own food. Companion plantings will encourage natural alternatives to traditional means of controlling unwanted garden insects while attracting pollinators.

A “dig in the dirt”/interactive area will encourage kids to “get their hands dirty” finding earth worms and other underground garden creatures, the release said. A growing plant-based area is planned to enclose the interactive area as a garden house. Every detail of the new design from the soil to the bulb and plant selection is meant to provide natural structural barriers/supports, seasonal engagement, sensory-based experiences and fun, coupled with literature and learning, the release said.

The recent volunteer build began the museum’s new garden adventure for children, with plans of more plants and learning elements starting in spring.

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Japanese gardens: the enigmatic art of raked gravel and rocks does not give up its secrets lightly

I understand Walker’s intrigue: I’ve been to Japan three times in the past three years, finding myself drawn deeper into the country’s landscape and away from civilisation with each return visit. But while I’ve always sought out and admired the gardens on my travels, I’ve often been left cold. They are undeniably beautiful and pacifying, but somehow untouchable.  A hunt for a hidden gem of a garden – often just a few metres square, and unfettered by crowds of tourists – may bring you to one laid out in front of a bamboo viewing platform, such as that created by the poet Ishikawa Jozan in the temple of Shisen-do in Kyoto, or a space filled only by raked gravel. These are gardens to be looked at from a distance, not held or inhaled as you wander through foliage.

The Japanese Garden offers an explanation of the semantic foundations of Japanese garden design through essays – from, among others, the influential architect Tadao Ando, Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng, author of Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, The Garden of Evening Mists, and artist Lee Ufan. It also includes a comprehensive collection of photographs. Tourist favourite Fushimi Inari Taisha, known for its thousands of orange torii gates, is in there, but so is the Teshima Yokoo House, located on one of cluster of tiny fishing islands that have, in recent decades, become home to modern art. 

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

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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