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Archives for November 23, 2017

Crown Estate’s Savill Gardens to benefit from new spring show visitor promotion

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Oman’s Botanic Garden Will Be Largest in the World

The world’s largest botanical garden—ripe with flora, fauna, and wildlife—will soon appear in a…desert? Yes, that’s right. Architecture firms Arup, Grimshaw, and Haley Sharpe Design just released design plans for the Oman Botanic Garden, an oasis of more than 1,000 acres that will be built in the foothills the Al Hajar mountains, about 20 miles from the port capital of Muscat. Once completed, it will be the largest botanical garden in the world.

Aiming to celebrate Oman’s biodiversity, the gardens will recreate Oman’s eight habitats (including the wadis, deserts, and mountains of the country) holding all 1,200 or so plants native to the Middle East, as well as the 76 only found in Oman—think certain aloe species, as well as different kinds of flowers from Oman’s mountains.

Garden design elements incorporate natural sunlight throughout.

The facility will have a visitors center, education and research facilities, and shops and restaurants.

Building designs for the gardens will take also into account a unique landscape (an ancient seabed visible today because of tectonic activity that elevated it to about 328 feet above sea level) as well as other natural aspects—like the sun’s orientation and weather patterns—to optimize natural light and temperature. The Oman Botanic Garden will be eco-friendly, too, wasting no water at all—part of an effort to earn the highest “green” designation, a LEED-Platinum certification.

And on top of gardens, there will also be a visitors center, education and research facilities, as well as shops and restaurants. It certainly sounds like it’d be easy to stay all day, too, but you’ll be able to see everything in just a few hours.

It’s unclear when exactly the gardens will be open to the public, but construction is set to begin “imminently,” according to a press statement. Looking for something a little closer to home? We’ve got you covered.

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2017 Penn State Master Gardeners of Lawrence County Calendar Fundraiser

The Penn State Master Gardeners of Lawrence County are selling 2018 Calendars. Calendars are $10 and available for purchase at the Penn State Extension Office located at 430 Court Street (Courthouse) New Castle, Pa 16101 or by calling 724-654-8370. Calendars can also be mailed for a $5 fee.

The calendar promotes our Master Gardener program, along with providing gardening tips throughout the year. The Penn State Master Gardener Program was established to assist Penn State Extension in reaching consumer horticulture audience. The program provides interested individuals with extensive horticulture training and, in return, participants dedicate volunteer time to teaching horticultural information based on university research and recommendations.

Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its work force.

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Tree Pruning Tips for Fall

Fall is a great time to be outside admiring the trees in our landscapes. 

We take stock of which trees are looking good and which seem to need a little help. If we discover trees that look like they’ve seen better days, we instantly want to solve the problem. It is natural to want to do something to help a plant — prune it, fertilize it, polish it — we can’t help wanting to touch it in some way.

One basic housekeeping chore that might help a struggling tree would be pruning. Pruning is an oft-needed maintenance treatment for good tree health and safety, but pruning without a good reason is not good tree care practice. Pruning just because your neighbor is doing it may not be beneficial for the tree, and could result in too much live tree tissue being removed. This can cause the tree to become stressed, and perhaps decline. 

In the fall, limit the amount of live tissue being removed and focus mainly on removing dead or broken branches.

Industry tree pruning standards say no more than 25 percent of a tree’s foliage should be removed in a single growing season. If the tree is of a species that cannot tolerate a lot of pruning, even less should be removed.

When determining how much pruning your tree can tolerate, a qualified arborist may consider if the tree:

• Is healthy

• Is still growing rapidly or has matured and slowed its growth

• Had its roots severed or damaged recently or in the past

• Suffers from disease

• Is a species tolerant of heavy pruning

“All that said, fall is a good time to evaluate a tree to plan future pruning that may be needed to meet certain tree health goals,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association.

A qualified arborist will work with you to set an objective for the pruning job (i.e., what you want accomplished when the work is done). Pruning objectives usually include one or more of the following:

• Reduce risk of damage to people or property

• Manage tree health and direction of growth

• Provide clearance for vehicles or roadways

• Improve tree structure

• Increase or improve aesthetics

• Restore shape

“Once tree pruning objectives are established, the arborist can provide specific details on how your trees could be pruned to get the desired result,” says Andersen.

The pruning process can be overwhelming to those not familiar with the pruning of shade and ornamental trees. A qualified tree care expert trained in tree and woody plant health care can answer your questions, as well as help you with your tree-pruning goals. 

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It’s all about the light: Photographer offers tips on photographing ‘Nights of a Thousand Candles’

Anne Malarich has been photographing “Nights of a Thousand Candles” at Brookgreen Gardens since it started.

“Every year it’s exciting,” Malarich said. “It’s never boring. It’s just amazing.”

Malarich doesn’t race around the gardens trying to take pictures of everything. She works methodically, spending a lot of time planning each shot around the “perfect light.”

“It takes a lot of work to get the exposure to happen,” she said.

She loves shooting at twilight, so she makes plans to be in a different spot every night of the event.

Her favorite spot to photograph is the Fountain of the Muses.

“It’s the hardest one to do because you’ve got three different plains to focus [on]… you’ve got that beautiful pool with reflections, and that’s fun to me, doing that,” Malarich said. “I love photographing something with water.”

There are two spots Malarich said sometimes photographers overlook: the children’s garden and the back wall facing the rice fields.

“It’s a small area with more intense lights,” Malarich said of the children’s garden. “I like the way the lights fall on different areas of the leaves and the trees. That’s real intriguing to me, the different shapes that it forms.”


Spanish moss glistens among the thousands of lights that sparkle on this oak tree. 

Eileen Keithly/South Strand News

She loves the amount of lights along the back wall.

“The whole area back there is always covered with lights,” she said. “Especially if it’s raining outside … It’s just gorgeous.”

Malarich recently hosted a seminar at Brookgreen to give people tips on how to photograph Nights of a Thousand Candles.

Malarich told attendees to always bring extra batteries; a wide-angle lens; a lens hood to block stray light; a monopod, since Brookgreen doesn’t allow tripods during Nights events; a self-timer; and a flashlight with 40 to 100 lumens, preferably with a red light, which Malarich said is easier on the photographer’s eyes.

The flashlight is used to “sculpt” light, especially on white statues, and should be used from the side of whatever object the person is photographing.

When shooting at twilight, Malarich sets her aperture to F-8 or F-11 and her shutter speed for F-11; recomposes her camera to scene; and sets her ISO to 200.

As the twilight fades, Malarich switches her ISO to 100/200, the aperture to F-11 or F-16 and moves the shutter speed to 0.

Malarich prefers shooting manually, although she suggests using auto-focus at first, and then switching to manual to take the picture.

Malarich does a lot of “painting with light.” Along with using a regular flashlight, she’ll sometimes use gels to change the color of the light from the flashlight. She also likes to shoot from low angles and sides, and create depth.

The best advice Malarich can give to people who use their cell phone or a point-and-shoot camera at Nights is to turn off the flash.

“It allows the shutter speed, and the ISO and the aperture to absorb all those lights,” Malarich said.

See Brookgreen Gardens come to life amid the soft glow of more than 5,500 hand-lit candles and countless sparkling lights from 3 – 10 p.m. on Nov. 30, Dec. 1-2, 7-9 and 14-17.

Walk the paths with a warm cup of cider, hear the sound of holiday music, and celebrate the season with family and friends.

The 85-foot-tall fir tree decorated with 100,000 lights will be lighted in ceremonial fashion at 5:45 p.m. every night.

Tickets for members are $15 for adults and $10 for children. General public tickets are $20 for adults and $12 children. All children age 3 and under are free.

Tickets are sold in advance and only for specific dates. Based on availability tickets can be changed for another date by calling 1-888-718-4253.

For more information, or to order tickets, visit or call 1-888-718-4253.

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Still time to plant shrubs

Q: I purchased an oak leaf hydrangea back in the spring. It’s still in a two-gallon pot, doing very well. Is it too late in the season to plant it outside?
Brenda Allen, email

A: There’s no reason not to plant your hydrangea, as well as other potted shrubs, in late fall through early winter. The soil will be plenty warm enough to help roots grow between now and January. There is no reason to fertilize now but be sure to loosen a wide area around the planting spot so the roots can expand easily.

Q: Deer ate all the leaves off of my four-foot tall Japanese maple. Will it survive if I bring it into our sunroom this winter?
Rick Davis, Dunwoody

A: I think there’s a good chance your Japanese maple will sprout leaves next year without much problem. It has completed much of the photosynthesis it needs for next year during the past growing season and it was preparing to drop its leaves when the deer came by. If the branch tips were chewed off, that might be more problematic but I still predict you will have plenty of leaves. Fertilize the tree in late February with a slow release product like Holly-Tone or Milorganite. There is no need to bring it inside.

Q: I had a UGA soil test done and it recommended: “For establishment, incorporate 3 pounds of 34-0-0 per 1000 square feet into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil prior to seeding.” I just wanted to know if aerating would be enough to accomplish that, or do I have to till?
Ken Pruitt, email

A: Local landscaper Lyle Collins ( says his brother-in-law, who studied turfgrass management at ABAC, has successfully seeded fescue lawns with just aerating and spreading fertilizer over the top. Nitrogen leaches fairly easily through soil. With the amount of watering done during establishment, leaching is accelerated versus normal rainfall. Tilling could be more damaging if there are trees around, when the surface roots are destroyed during the job. In addition, tilling brings up dormant weed seeds. I think you would be successful with aeration as long as the tines penetrate the soil at least two inches and there are ten aerator holes per square foot.

Q: I have a large hemlock but over the years other trees and shrubs have encroached on one side of it. I recently removed the trees and now a third of the hemlock has dead branches. Is there any way to stimulate growth on the brown side of the tree?
Chris Souther, email

A: If the hemlock branches are brown, there’s no way to make them sprout new foliage. You can remove them completely. Consider installing upright evergreen plants in front of the “dead” side of the tree to screen it. Consider ‘Sky Pencil’ holly, ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae, or ‘Blue Arrow’ (‘Skyrocket’) juniper.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.

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