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Archives for November 19, 2017

Gardening: Magazines fit nicely into holiday gift list

Subscriptions to gardening magazines make great gifts for anyone who loves digging in the dirt. Magazines can transport a gardener to another world on cold, snowy days. But sadly, gardening magazines typically no longer have a place at the checkout in the grocery store; they now reside in the corner of the lower shelf of the magazine rack. Last week I checked and there were none to be had — gone for the season. So subscriptions are the way to go for the garden lovers on your gift list, and here are some of my favorites. (Please note that prices are subject to change.)

Country Gardens: $9.99/4 issues: Limited time offer. (800) 677-0484, bhg.com/shopping. A 10 when it comes to inspiration — this award-winning mag is a touch of heaven on a cold gray day in February. How-to, what’s new, garden crafts and cool gardens, there’s something here for everyone.

Fine Gardening: $29.95/6 issues. (866) 325-2495 or go to taunton.com. Geared to avid gardeners and inspired beginners, it’s a must-read for those who love gardens. I love the pronunciation guide for featured plants.

Garden Design: $45/4 issues. (855) 624-5110, gardendesign.com/magazine. An ad-free coffee table quality mag that takes you into upscale, often cutting edge, private gardens from around the country. Not a lot of how to, but instead it focuses more on plant picks and design advice. Regional tips and beautiful photography, what more can you ask?

The American Gardener: $35/6 issues. (703) 768-5700, ahsgardening.org. Subscription includes membership in the American Horticulture Society. Geared toward the environmentally caring gardener, it’s a must-read by East Coast gardenistas. First-time members get a $10 discount. It also offers free admission or discounts to many public gardens and a free seed exchange.

Michigan Gardening Magazine: $19.95/6 issues. (888) 265-3600, statebystategardening.com/mi. This general gardening magazine is filled with features written by a gang of talented Michigan and Midwest gardeners who love to dig in the dirt.

Garden Gate: $20/6 issues: Holiday special gift subscriptions $10. (800) 341-4769, gardengatemagazine.com. A good choice for Yardeners, new gardeners and experienced green thumbers who enjoy DIY projects. Contains no advertising to distract the reader.

The Michigan Gardener: $14/6 issues. (248) 594-5563 or go to michigangardener.com. Distributed free to most garden centers in the metro Detroit area, MG features articles written by local experts. A map showing locations of great garden centers in southeastern Michigan is priceless for plant geeks who love the thrill of the hunt. A subscription to MG is a great gift for those who spend summers up north.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. To ask her a question go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy.

Article source: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/home-garden/2017/11/16/garden-magazines/107754508/

Landscape design can take advantage of existing property features

Some of the most striking parts of your garden cost you absolutely nothing.

These assets are what professional landscape designers call the borrowed landscape. Regular gardeners are more likely to call them the view or the existing features of the property.

Several speakers at the Landscape Design School offered by the Garden Club Federation of Maine earlier this month discussed the principle.

“You should think about the borrowed landscape,” David Maynes of Todd Richardson Associates in Saco told the group. “This is not about adding to the landscape, but is editing.”

This kind of design, in which what is on the neighboring property or already exists on your own property helps you decide how to design your own garden, has a couple of advantages, Maynes said. First, you aren’t spending part of the budget on things you don’t need. Next, you know these borrowed items are durable because they’ve been there forever. He is, of course, referring to those streaks of ledge going through your gardens or the giant oak tree in your neighbor’s backyard.

Lucinda Brockway, owner of the Past Designs landscape design company in Kennebunk, offered a striking, public example of a design that takes advantage of the borrowed landscape: the Camden Amphitheater, one of the few public spaces designed by landscape architect Fletcher Steele, a leader in the mid-20th century modern style of design. The amphitheater makes use of Maine granite and birch trees to take full advantage of the views of Camden Harbor, Brockway said. The simple, bold design is considered one of Steele’s best works.

Andrew Jackson Downing, who practiced landscape architecture from the 1830s until his death in 1852, was an early American proponent of such design. “He thought landscapers should take the best of Mother Nature and enhance it,” Brockway said.

Kent Cooper, a landscape architect with the Maine Department of Transportation, described a number of public projects he has worked on around the state.

“I feel like I am making a picture for an audience,” he said. “It’s a bit like journalism in that it is who, what, where, when and how.”

When the state replaced the Gut Bridge in South Bristol, neighbors were concerned that the replacement fit in. They wanted the building that would house bridge equipment to look like the neighboring houses, and they wanted the generator covered. They did not want pointy bushes.

“We put in some 8- to 10-foot bayberries and lilacs, and it worked,” Cooper said. “The audience wanted that picture” and were pleased when the project was completed, he said.

To illustrate the concept of using what exists in the landscape, Maynes showed photographs of a private wilderness retreat his company designed in Orland. A guest house perched on existing boulders in one area. Large stones that matched the existing stones were brought in to support a different building in another area.

“Along the driveway, a 20-foot erratic was covered in vegetation,” Maynes said, using a geological term for an unusual-for-the-area-stone moved in by a glacier. “All we did was uncover it.”

You may not have boulders to work with on your own property, but you probably do have snow, and Maynes said that snow removal relates to landscape design in a couple of ways.

“You can design a beautiful landscape, but if a snowplow comes in and blows it up every year,” he said, ” it is not successful.” Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: plant herbaceous perennials next to the driveway or parking lot. The perennials, which die back to the ground every winter, won’t be hurt by plows pushing the snow around.

Maynes went beyond that sound, practical advice to suggesting that gardeners consider “how the snowbanks the plow creates integrate with other things to create things that are interesting year-round.”

Reflecting on the borrowed landscapes that these professionals discussed got me thinking about what my wife Nancy and I have “borrowed” over the years to create our small suburban lot. And while we had no instruction in landscape design when we started gardening, we did a pretty good job of taking advantage of the site and the surrounding landscape – I admit it might have been luck rather than innate wisdom.

The best view from our house is toward the west, where we often enjoy stunning sunsets. The ground slopes down on the westerly side of the property, so in winter, once the oaks have dropped their leaves, we can see a hill that is about a mile away. We grow our vegetables on the west side of the house, which means the plants are down low and don’t interfere with the views of the horizon in the summer.

We also have some ledge that shows in the small, wooded section of our property. Although it’s not a dominant feature, we have extended it by adding to the stone walls that existed on our property when we built the house.

We both appreciate our borrowed landscape.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living and gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: [email protected]


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Article source: http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/19/maine-gardener-landscape-design-that-appreciates-what-is-already-there/

Peachtree Ridge students design app to diagnose plant diseases

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Article source: http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/entertainment/home_garden/peachtree-ridge-students-design-app-to-diagnose-plant-diseases/article_3eae7edd-725b-5c4f-bca5-95f4f5b380be.html

‘Things Green House’: A new way of building takes shape in Public Television series

Patti L. Cowger is a credentialed, award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.

Article source: http://napavalleyregister.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/things-green-house-a-new-way-of-building-takes-shape/article_71cf5063-308f-5d7b-985c-09ad2a186373.html

Our View: It’s time for decision on YWCA block – The State Journal

The beginning of 2017 saw the old YWCA building demolished. We hope the year ends with a definitive decision of what’s going to occupy that downtown space in the future.

What to do with the Y-block — bounded by Capitol Avenue and Jackson, Fourth and Fifth streets — has been debated since the YWCA vacated the building in 2007. The city purchased the building for $1.54 million in 2014 and thus far, under two mayors, the only thing Springfield has to show for spending a large chunk of taxpayer money is an open plot of land.

Whatever is chosen is going to be there for a while, so it’s not a decision that should be rushed. If city money is going to be spent — and it’s likely some Tax Increment Financing dollars will be used — it should be properly vetted.

There’s been ample opportunity to do that. The YWCA came down in early February, shortly after city officials rejected a developer’s proposal that had suggested a 200-unit apartment complex along with first-floor commercial space. City officials said that was too many apartments for the block, and rightly couldn’t justify the estimated $17 million in financial incentives that project would have required.

On to a second round of Requests for Proposals, which were due May 15 and sought projects for the 2.35 acres that would include about 100 residential units and a street-level downtown event center with interactive plaza space. Three groups — EMS Midwest, John Shafer Associates, and The North Mansion Y-Block Development — submitted ideas, and Massie Massie and Associates submitted a design proposal.

A proposal was expected to be selected in June. Then July. Then August. Then September. Then … you get the point.

It was probably too ambitious of a timeline. Mayor Jim Langfelder has said it was pushed back because the project’s advisory board wanted more information about the proposals. He made a fair point in June when he told the SJ-R: “We’ve gone this long, and we want to make sure we have the right project going forward. That’s why we’re taking a few extra weeks to make sure we have that.”

Still, it’s hard to believe those questions haven’t been answered in the ensuing five months. In September the timeline was delayed again when the firms were given until Nov. 1 to revise their plans to address concerns. Given the results, it’s hard to see the benefit of having allowed that.

Two revisions were received; the one from Shafer had fairly minor tweaks. The North Mansion Y-Block Development group, which has the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner, did a complete overhaul after it paid for a representative from Belgium-based Wirtz International Landscape Architects to come to town to consult on landscaping ideas. The group’s initial pitch was for a park with a tower, interactive playground area, splash pad and amphitheater.

The revision would have a water feature in the center of the land, surrounded by 6-foot-high natural mounds and hemmed in with metasequoia trees. Water from fountains would cross over from pool to pool. It also would have a building that could house a cafe, security, a small office and restrooms. It looks pretty in the drawing, but nothing in it suggests it would become a destination park people would want to visit on a regular basis.

And that — drawing people to downtown — must be the key element city officials consider. Downtown needs to become a vibrant area where people want to live. There must be more options for shopping, dining and entertainment to entice people to the area.

Using the Y-block for a mixed-use development that incorporates housing, retail and green space will help accomplish that and reset the tone of downtown. The recreational space needs to be large enough to attract new events to lure community members to both those activities and existing businesses. If a project receives TIF funds, it must generate property tax revenue in return for the city’s investment. The proposal submitted by Shafer’s firm would accomplish those objectives, and it’s the one we hope to see built.

Langfelder’s advisory group on the project met Friday afternoon; the mayor said they had a good discussion and are likely to meet again after Thanksgiving. He anticipates making a recommendation within the next month, and he should be held to that promise.

Article source: http://www.sj-r.com/opinion/20171118/our-view-its-time-for-decision-on-ywca-block

Better start composting if you want better soil for your plants – Yakima Herald

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Article source: http://www.yakimaherald.com/lifestyle/home_and_garden/better-start-composting-if-you-want-better-soil-for-your/article_a6dcb250-cb65-11e7-81d9-6bf514f2e90a.html

Creating a fire-wise and water-wise landscape

Clean up any fallen tree and plant litter, especially any against the home, on the roof or in the gutters. Prune trees and shrubs regularly to thin their branch density and keep branches well above ground. Most California fires are surface fires, burning low to the ground. The front line of the fire, where the most burning occurs, usually passes an area in under 10 minutes. With proper land management, irrigation and maintenance, your home may be spared the next time.

Article source: http://napavalleyregister.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/columnists/master-gardener/creating-a-fire-wise-and-water-wise-landscape/article_67ca09ea-66ae-5245-9a38-7a2dec5579a6.html

This week’s gardening tips: chill tulips bulbs, clean up the veggie …

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Article source: http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2017/11/this_weeks_gardening_tips_pull.html

Garden Variety: Cleaning houseplants and other tips for winter care

Plants kept indoors, whether they are indoors all year long or only inside during winter, need care like any other plant. And even though temperatures change less indoors than they do out, there are changes in light intensity, light duration and humidity that can stress plants. As winter approaches, cleaning houseplants and making other adjustments will reduce stress to keep them shining through the season.

To clean houseplants, start by removing dead or damaged leaves and stems as they may be diseased and provide a source of inoculum for the rest of the plant. Spring is a better time to heavily prune or re-pot plants, but light pruning to remove unhealthy plant parts or slightly reduce the size is acceptable. Re-pot now only if necessary to optimize plant health.

Next, dust the leaves. If you enjoy cleaning, you may already do this regularly. If you spend spring and summer in the garden and cleaning goes by the wayside, plants may really need this now. Dust blocks light from plant cells and interferes with photosynthesis. This is more noticeable on plants with broad shiny leaves, but problematic on all plants.

Remove dust from smooth-leaved plants by gently wiping down the leaves and stems with a soft damp cloth. This works well on Chinese evergreens, Dracaenas, snake plants (Sansieviera), peace lilies, ZZ plants and other similar species.

For sensitive plants like African violets, use a dry paintbrush, feather duster or a very soft-bristled toothbrush to sweep the dust from leaves and stems. For less sensitive but tender or otherwise hard to clean plants such as cacti, succulents, small-leaved ivies and bonsai, rinse plants in the sink or shower. Use room-temperature or tepid water to avoid scalding or shocking plants. Let them drip dry before returning to their regular location.

There are products available in some garden centers and online that make plants look extra glossy after dusting and are generally referred to as leaf shine products. There are anecdotal reports for and against the products, claiming they are safe or that they clog plants’ pores. Research has yet to prove either. One known downside to leaf shine products is that they are a tiny bit sticky, so plants collect a little more dust than they would otherwise.

Even if your grandmother swore by wiping plants with milk, coconut oil, household cleaners, mayonnaise, banana peels, or other household items, none of these are recommended. These materials leave residue that blocks more light than the dust did, make leaves sticky and/or attract insects.

While cleaning, look for signs of insects. Scale insects may look like little hard or soft turtle shells attached to leaves and stems. When scraped, the insect (or many baby insects) is present under the shell with a sticky residue. Mealybugs are oval-shaped and white to gray with what looks like a fuzzy edge. They are mostly stationary on the plant like scale insects. Spider mites will be invisible to the naked eye on plant leaves, but can be seen by tapping leaves over a white sheet of paper. The mites will look like tiny moving dots. Light webbing from the mites may be noticeable on the undersides of plant leaves or occasionally on stems and buds. If insects or mites are found, treat or destroy plants as the insects or mites will only increase in numbers over the winter.

Also while cleaning, give the windows that plants reside in a good dusting as well. Dust can block light coming through the glass.

Cut back on watering plants until temperatures and daylength are both increasing. Instead of watering on a schedule, check soil moisture on a schedule. Check below the surface and only apply additional water if soil is dry. Then, water thoroughly – until water flows out the bottom of the pot. Remember that potting soil works like a sponge and can be hard to rewet if allowed to completely dry out.

Avoid fertilizing plants until temperatures and daylength are both increasing.

Move plants away from drafts and vents to avoid sudden temperature fluctuations.

— Jennifer Smith is a former horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension and horticulturist for Lawrence Parks and Recreation.

Copyright 2017 The

Lawrence Journal-World.

All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
We strive to uphold our values for every story published.

Article source: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2017/nov/18/garden-variety-cleaning-houseplants-and-other-tips/

This week’s gardening tips: chill tulips bulbs, clean up the veggie garden

Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our
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© 2017 NOLA Media Group. All rights reserved (About Us).
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used,
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Article source: http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2017/11/this_weeks_gardening_tips_pull.html