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Archives for November 24, 2017

New Vietnamese skyscraper designed to look like rice terraces to be built in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City’s “Empire City” is the latest design by an influential European architect in Asia to incorporate plants into physical man-made structures.

The complex located on the Saigon River will consist of three skyscrapers placed on top of a garden mountain-inspired structure. The tallest, the 88 Tower will reach a height of about 333 metres – far higher than the city’s current tallest building, the 262-metre Bitexco Financial Tower. Its 88 floors will contain residences, office-space, a hotel and a public observation deck.

Continuing the garden-theme, German-born architect Ole Scheeren, famous for designing the CTBUH-award winning CCTV building in Beijing, has created a multi-level platform in the middle of the tower that will play host to the “sky forest”, an inside/outside garden inspired by Vietnam‘s famous terraced rice fields. 

Plans for Empire City have been unveiled fresh off the completion of Scheeren’s firm’s three other Asian developments this year: the MahaNakhon skyscraper in Bangkok, the DUO towers in Singapore and the Guardian Art Center in Beijing. 

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    Bruno Ole Scheeren

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    Bruno Ole Scheeren

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    Bruno Ole Scheeren

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    Bruno Ole Scheeren

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    Bruno Ole Scheeren

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    Bruno Ole Scheeren

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    Bruno Ole Scheeren

Garden Architecture – or vertical gardens, are becoming increasingly common in Vietnam. Empire City will join a Vo Trong Nghia Architects-designed concrete vertical garden house and the five-star Rex Hotel, with its massive five-storey planters in Ho Chi Minh. 

In the rest of East Asia there is a similar movement. The Clearpoint Residencies, near Colombo, Sri Lanka are set to become the tallest garden-structure in the world, the Hotel Icon in Hong Kong recently completed an installation of 8,603 plants (71 species) on the wall of its central lobby. While Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay has won countless architecture awards for bringing together cityscape and nature.

  • More about:
  • Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Sky Forest
  • Saigon River
  • Asia
  • East Asia
  • Garden Architecture
  • Architecture
  • Design

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Five decades after arriving in Georgetown, Gordon Riggle is still shaping its gardens

I spent a lot of time in Georgetown gardens in the early 1990s for a book I was working on. It soon became evident that for all of the historic district’s outward red-brick conformity, no two gardens were the same.

Some Federal-era mansions still had imposing and highly crafted gardens, all different, but it was the rowhouses built later in the 19th century that were, in some ways, more interesting. The outdoor areas were first formed as leftover spaces of utility — yards — and the challenge for landscape designers, when they arrived on the scene, was to create functioning gardens of privacy and beauty while bringing unity to disjointed spaces, some of them dark and cramped.

Among these smaller gardens featured in the book, some had been newly reworked by contemporary garden designers. They hewed more to limestone than brick and were less florid and more rectilinear. They were in every way edgier, and being somewhat callow and greatly enthusiastic, I was drawn to them.

Other town gardens were older, more conservative and inspired by Colonial Revival ideas of simple brickwork, geometry and boxwood enclosure. By the 1990s, they were period pieces: quiet, safe, graceful but old-fashioned.

Around this time I became acquainted with a landscape architect, Gordon Riggle, who had come to Washington in the early 1960s. He found himself under the wing of the masterful designer Perry Wheeler, a gardening pal of such tastemakers as Bunny Mellon and Jackie Kennedy.

One of Riggle’s gardens was featured in my book (“The Secret Gardens of Georgetown”), an L-shaped lot created when an addition was built on a rowhouse. The rear space was defined by a swimming pool terrace. In the narrow side yard, Riggle built a Japanese-style viewing garden, to be enjoyed from indoors. The two gardens were separated by a moon gate.

The viewing garden was distinguished by fluid swirls of brick paving, moving like the incoming tide around upright Zen stones.

The brickwork’s plastic quality recalled a garden by Wheeler that was also in the book. In an L-shaped garden of quite different character, more open and sunny, Wheeler had used brick, boxwood and Venetian statuary to create a little neoclassical jewel, a sitting terrace by the veranda, of perfect scale and felicity.

“Washington gardens are all derived from Savannah and Charleston,” said Riggle.

Back in the 1990s, it would have been natural to think of Riggle’s work as a vestige of an earlier age. But that would have been a misreading. He is a designer informed by that tradition, but he wasn’t stuck in the past. As if to reinforce that, I received a letter from him earlier this month inviting me to drop by his latest Georgetown project.

This was a multifaceted garden around a Gothic Victorian house on 31st Street. He had installed it in the early 2000s, when the house was being renovated and its imposing side porch, once removed in a contemporary phase, returned.

The formal front garden was marked by an aerial hedge of clipped lindens. To the side, an elevated terrace was defined by a wall fountain and koi pond. The back side of the house, once the location of a small swimming pool, was now a boxwood knot garden in a frame of pea gravel. A hidden retaining wall allowed him to keep a trellis screen along the property line and to raise the rear lawn to a formal grassy panel. The alley beyond was screened with a row of Cleveland pears.

In such enclosed urban environments, the garden spaces must feel not just harmonious but also obvious, as if they had always been there. A big part of pulling this off is in the choice of materials and attention to detail. One of the key horticultural skills is the fine pruning of the trees. Perhaps because he is old school, Riggle involves himself in the construction of his gardens, whether it’s guiding crane operators or placing grading stakes for the earth-moving machines.

At his garden in Fairfax, Va., he once taught me how to dig a root ball for an established boxwood to be moved, a procedure that includes the art of burlap wrapping and drum-lacing the ball.

In returning to the Georgetown garden, Riggle had been asked to simplify the space to reduce its maintenance burden. When I arrived, he looked much the same as he always had, tall, upright and wearing one of his trademark wide-brimmed Amish hats. His steps were more labored and shorter than I remembered. “I’ll be 80 next year,” he said.

His solution for the garden was to remove half the lindens and 150 linear feet of boxwood edging. He directed his crew to take out three of four Japanese cherry trees and to reduce the overgrown pears to high stumps, which will produce a flush of new growth next year. He also thinned the canopies of a number of trees that had grown thick over the past 15 years. Even after all this lightening, he noted, the garden still retains its essential elements and character. He designed it as an homage to a Parisian town garden.

The owner, Shannon Fairbanks, credits Riggle with “being able to create different rooms in a tiny space that are continuously showing themselves in a different way. I think that’s the most enchanting aspect.”

But seeing these adjustments was a reminder of the ethereal nature of things. The historic ambiance of Georgetown hides the fluid nature of the properties, the shifting interiors of the homes and the unstoppable aging of the gardens. Of those I featured in the book with the photographer Mick Hales, all have changed in some way, and some have been erased.

I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between the scaling back of the Fairbanks garden and the winding down of Riggle’s creative journey. We sat on a chilly terrace, warmed by reminiscence. “I have had a charmed life because so many people carried me along,” he said. He arrived in town as a fresh-faced farm boy from Ohio and found himself at the center of the free world, when Georgetown was an intoxicating highball of society, politics and intrigue. Wheeler, an urbane Southerner, moved easily in these circles, at cocktail parties by night and in the gardens by day.

“I was very shy and didn’t ask a lot of questions. I should have quizzed him more,” Riggle said.

“You mean, on his design principles?” I asked.

“No,” said Riggle, shaking his head just a little. “On the gossip.”

@adrian_higgins on Twitter

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Vendors sought for home and garden show

LANCASTER – Vendor registration is officially open for the 40th Annual Lancaster Home Garden Show.

Many vendors feature home-improvement and landscaping ideas for those looking to update or renovate their home.

The Lancaster Home Garden Show will be held at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds, March 9 to 11, 2018. The event will feature entertainment, door prizes, live demonstrations and more.

For vendor registration information please visit The vendor registration deadline is Jan. 10, 2018.

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Keep native plants in harmony with grass for a Florida Friendly lawn





Note: Apologies to my neighbors, who wish I would practice what I preach…

When some people think about buying native plants, they envision digging up their entire lawn and planting a meadow full of wildflowers in their backyard. But the truth is, you can incorporate native plants into a number of different landscapes, without having to pull up all of your favorite existing plants.

Why yes, you can even have a manicured yard with – gasp – grass! As long as you follow the Nine UF/IFAS Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles, you should be in good shape.

What is the definition of a native plant? There are differing opinions, but purists would say it is any plant that was found in Florida prior to the arrival of Europeans in the early 16th century. A broader view would be plants that occurred in North America prior to European arrival.

First, think about the native plants you may already have in your yard. Take those beautiful blue, purple, and white violets (Viola spp.) that bloom in the spring.

Another native with similar leaves is the golden ragwort (Packera aurea). It blooms in the early spring as well. With stalks of beautiful yellow flowers, it turns into a beautiful groundcover that blends right in with the violets. It likes moist soil, but does just fine in average soil if you give it some shade. This plant gets extra bonus points in this area because it is deer resistant.




Another low growing native groundcover for sun to part shade is the sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa), which has pretty pink powderpuff flowers in the summer. The foliage and the flower resemble closely the highly invasive mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin), but they are not directly related.

This little gem tolerates much drier soil, spreads nicely, and usually does not grow higher than one inch. It can be mowed for a more uniform look, but it is not a fan of foot traffic.

There are people that enjoy the look of beautiful green grass on their lawn. That’s fine. The key is to follow the Nine Florida Friendly Landscaping Principles, which includes fertilizing appropriately and watering efficiently to minimize the impact on the environment.

Remember, different grasses have different watering and fertilization needs. Properly mowing your lawn will also keep your grass as healthy as possible. Check with your local extension office for specific information on your type of grass.

The thing to remember when you are buying plants that are not native, is to make sure they are not invasive. A great resource to check is the UF/IFAS website Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas: Your local UF/IFAS extension office will have more information on what plants are invasive to your specific area.

These are just a few ideas of how native and nonnative plants can work in harmony to create a landscape that is diverse and still pleasing to the eye. Your local nurseries and native plant societies can help you pick out some native plants that would work well in your landscape.

Carole McKay is a Master Gardener trainee with UF/IFAS Leon County Extension. For gardening questions, email the extension office at

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Vermillion Residents Get A Look At The Wheel Deal

Master Plan

Master Plan

Some infrastructure plans on dislay at Vermillion’s bicycle master plan meeting where a future bicycle route was introduced for the city Wednesday night at the Vermillion Public Library.

Posted: Friday, November 24, 2017 12:00 am

Vermillion Residents Get A Look At The Wheel Deal

By Elyse Brightman


Vermillion residents were introduced to a future infrastructure addition to the city with the unveiling of a bicycle master plan during a public meeting Wednesday night, Nov. 15.

The meeting, held at the Vermillion public library, brought in the design team from RDG Planning and Design, an architecture and landscaping firm from the Omaha and Lincoln area that was selected to plan the new bicycle route. RDG will also be working with Toole Design Group to design the plan.

The purpose of this first meeting was to initiate the plan to stakeholders and conduct surveys in order to make an appropriate bike route specific to the city of Vermillion. Various posters were placed around the room for people to provide input on the streets they currently use while cycling, images asking to rank a situation by comfort level and potential routes to be included in the plan.

“It’s an introduction,” said Marty Shukert from RDG Planning and Design. “It’s a way of getting some initial input or thoughts about, maybe areas we have to look at, streets that people use, general comments.”

Plans from other cities, including one from Brookings, were shown for people to provide input on whether those ideas may fit into Vermillion’s own needs.

Shukert and the team from RDG have had a chance to tour Vermillion by bike and by car to get a chance to make some first impressions.

“Our first impression is that it is a really beautiful town that has many assets, looks good, has a great distribution of destinations and a good foundation of trail development and street network that is going to make this a really good investigation and plan,” Shukert said.

He also noticed the street network with secondary streets that provide effective routes to a destination and the generally flat landscape make it easy to pedal.

“There are excellent possibilities for the community to make bicycling more a part of the transportation way of life within the city,” Shukert said.

The objectives for the plan comes in the three parts: bicycle transportation can help with a healthier and happier lifestyle, encourage more people to use bicycles as a way to reach a destination and to develop a system that can be implemented quickly enough to make a difference.

The main objective is that bicycles can be used as a means of transportation and not just for recreational purposes. Something that makes this unique is that it would be South Dakota’s first stand-alone bicycle master plan.

“We want to develop a system of bicycles and bicycle networking program that expands the routine use of bikes for transportation in Vermillion and the surrounding areas,” Shukert said.

This meeting was the first step in the planning process to get an idea of the current use of bicycles in Vermillion, how they can be improved and listening to stakeholders ideas or concerns about a bike path. The next steps would be looking at existing conditions, an implementation plan, public events and the approval process.

Those who were unable to attend the meeting, but wish to be surveyed can visit the website

  • Discuss


Friday, November 24, 2017 12:00 am.

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Rise in landscaping services to burgeon the Lawn mower batteries market

Rise in landscaping services to burgeon the Lawn mower batteries market


Lawn mower batteries deliver the essential power needed for the lawn mowers to trim lawns. These batteries are precisely made for battery operated, hybrid, and electric lawn mowers. Power lawn mowers have developed from the conventional hand-guided mowers to automated electric mowers. Improvements in technology have resulted in the production of battery-powered and lightweight power lawn mowers. One such innovative product obtainable in the market is the robotic lawn mower. Growing obtain ability of such products with upgraded features has promoted an amplified interest in gardening.

The lawn mower batteries market comprisesseveral local, regional, and globalmerchants. The producers of Li-ion batteries are essentially fragmented and usually, local or smallmerchantsproduce Li-ion batteries for lawn mowers. With the increase in the usage of Li-ion batteries, merchants are expected to improve their product portfolios. Rapid improvements in technology, environmental regulations, intense competition, and numerous variations in government policies are few factors that present major challenges to the market growth.

Rise in landscaping services to burgeon the Lawn mower batteries market

Rise in landscaping services

The rising attractiveness of visually appealing commercial and residential properties with abundant green spaces, yards, and patios has produced an elevated request for landscaping of gardens and lawns. Increasing expendable income owing to the advent of dual-income households is also influencing the need for landscaping services. Additionally, landscaping also elevates the market price of the property. The need for the renovation of diverseforms of landscapes,such as trees, lawns, gardens, and hedges, is stimulating the need for lawn mowers batteries as the electric lawn mowers are extensively adopted lawn mowers.

Implementation of green roofs

The implementation of green roofs offers numerous advantages such as the capability to decrease CO₂ emissions, decrease consumption of energy, and filter airborne pollutants. It also provides an effectual solution to pollution emissions and is swiftly being adopted around the world.

Effect of gas lawn mowers on the Environment

Even though the gas-powered lawn mowers hold a major share in the worldwide market, they are hazardous to the environment as they cause pollution. Thus, in order to decrease the adverse environmental impact will fuel the growth of the market in coming period.

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Landscaping Products in the US by Product, Market, Application …

Key Findings in the Landscaping Products Study:

Homeowners’ Interest in Attractive, Functional Spaces Drives Gains
Gains will be fueled by creating areas for entertaining and cooking outdoors. Continued interest in home improvement television shows, magazines, and websites inspire homeowners to purchase landscaping products that incorporate style elements prevalent inside the home. These include decorative pottery, and tiles and pavers made from natural stone and porcelain.
Additionally, landscaping products such as lighting, structural shelters, and heating equipment extend the usefulness of an outdoor space into evenings and during seasons with transitional weather.
Furthermore, rising interest in gardening – decorative and/or edible – will boost sales. Gardeners are more likely to purchase pots and planters, develop raised plant beds with hardscape products, and use structures such as sheds and hobby greenhouses. Healthy gains for pots and planters result in part from rising consumer interest in container gardening, particularly herbs, vegetables, and decorative plants that must be brought indoors during colder months.

Interest in Minimizing Storm Water Runoff Will Impact Landscaping Product Selections
Concern for improved water management is driving installation of permeable pavers, including replacement in areas that were formerly fully paved. Permeable pavers allow rainwater to drain through gaps between the pavers and into the ground below, limiting the amount of water diverted to storm sewers. Key applications include driveways, patios, pedestrian paths, plazas, parking lots, and courtyards.
Additionally, the increasing installation of rooftop gardens – particularly on multifamily housing buildings, and office and other commercial spaces – also assists in redirecting rainwater. Such locations provide additional outdoor living and recreation space that can be outfitted with landscaping products such as planters, hardscaping, and pergolas.

Study Coverage
This industry study presents historical demand data (2006, 2011 and 2016) and forecasts for 2021 by product (decorative products, hardscape products, outdoor structures, and other), market (residential, nonresidential, nonbuilding), application (new, and improvement and repair), end user (professional and consumer/DIY), and region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West) at manufacturers’ level. The study also discusses marketing, product development, and consumer trends, evaluates company market share, and analyzes industry competitors including Boral, CEMEX, Central Garden Pet, HeidelbergCement, Oldcastle (CRH), and Philips Lighting.

Download the full report:

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Here’s how to stop those pesky squirrels from chewing up your plants – Belleville News

Q: We have a large number of squirrels on our property this fall. They chewed up our vegetable plants and ate most of our tomato fruits. A neighbor told us this was the problem because of our extremely dry summer, so we places saucers of water in the garden, but that did not do anything. Is there any way to get rid of them?

D. L. of Belleville

A: Squirrels have a liking for many different plants, as at least 76 species of plants are eaten by squirrels. Nuts and acorns are their favorite food. Moth balls work for a short period of time in flower beds and vegetable gardens. Recent research has shown that squirrels do not live in areas where the trees are just elm and willows growing. They will even dig in the garden to try and find insect larvae which they eat readily. Also mushrooms are on the menu as well.

At this time of the year you may need to hunt them as my wife’s grandmother made a great squirrel pie. But make sure you have read up on the squirrel season and other details. You can usually find a free copy in a sporting goods store.

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If you plan on planting spring flowering bulbs just limit your planting to daffodils as most mammals love the other spring bulbs.

Q: When is the best time to cut back ornamental grasses fall, winter or spring?

S. S. of Troy

A: When the foliage begins to die back in the fall, you can cut back the ornamental grasses anytime — fall, winter and spring. But when the grasses begin to show green in spring, you do not want to cut them back to the new green bases of the newly developing grass tips. If you like winter birds, the ornamental grasses provide a good winter protection for overwintering birds.

Q: We grew mums this fall. We mulched them but did not cut them off. Some neighbor told us not to cut them off in the fall because the cold weather would get down into the stems and make them weak. Do you cut them off in the spring? And how far do you cut them back?

N.E. of Belleville

A: The information that you were given is a garden myth. Cut your mums back in the fall as any debris provides overwintering sites for insects and diseases, which becomes a problem and may kill your plants. Clean out any other debris to keep your plants healthy. Cut your mums back to one inch above the soil and then apply a winter mulch in early winter after the mums have gone dormant. This will also prevent the mums from heaving up and out of the ground.

Things to do this week

  • At half time during one of the football games, get out and wear off the calories from the Thanksgiving meal and apply a dormant or late season fertilizer winter fertilizer (a low nitrogen, high phosphorus, and high potassium) to your cool season turf grass. This will be one of the most important fertilizer applications that you can make for your lawn.

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Gardening: Tips for pruning, transplanting chrysanthemum plants

Q: I have a chrysanthemum morifolium. The plastic tag says it’s an annual but I think that’s wrong. Instead of 24 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide, it is much bigger and has had a huge amount of beautiful white flowers which are now fading.

Do I prune it now — a little bit or down to the ground — or what? Can I transplant it next April? I have seen them in other people’s yards year after year.

— Cathy

A: It is always possible that you got a mislabeled plant. However, this chrysanthemum is perennial in zones 5 through 9.

Garden tips: Chores for the garden this week

We’re entering that time of year when the gardener gets to slow down and just let things be. But before we get too settled, here are some chores that need doing.

  • Don’t be that person whose sprinklers are on during a rainstorm. Now is the time to turn off your irrigation systems. Rain or not, keep an eye on your plants to make sure they’re getting enough water, or are getting too much.
  • If you created summer watering basins, now is the time to remove them. You don’t want standing water around trees and shrubs, which can cause root or crown rot.
  • As temperatures dip toward freezing overnight, take steps to protect frost-tender plants. Be sure to check the weather for frost warnings. It doesn’t take a lot to protect plants. If they are in pots, move them close to your house, where they can take advantage of the radiated heat. You also can build lightweight frames and covers that can quickly be put over the plants and then removed during the day. Old-fashioned Christmas lights also can keep plants warm.
  • Avoid walking on your soil when it is wet. Those steps will compact the soil and make it difficult to till in the spring, and can damage plants nearby.
  • Clean up all garden beds and compost spent garden plants, or chop them up and allow them to compost in place. If it’s raining, cover your compost piles to prevent them from getting too wet and cold.
  • Too cold and rainy to go outside? Stay in and order your spring garden seeds.

— Contra Costa Master Gardeners contributed to this report.

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