Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for December 14, 2017

Women garden designers smash Chelsea Flower Show’s ‘grass …

A record number of women have smashed through horticulture’s “grass ceiling” to design gardens at next year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Of the 26 set-piece gardens selected by the Royal Horticultural Society to compete for gold medals, 12 will be designed by women.

It is believed to be a record ratio since the event moved to the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1913.

However, men still dominate the prestigious Show Garden category, with seven out of 10 commissions for the coveted plots on Main Avenue.

The event has historically struggled to attract female designers even though around 70 per cent of The Society of Garden Designers’ 1,000-plus members are women.

In 2015, the RHS revealed that only a third of almost 200 show gardens over the previous decade had been designed by women and issued a “call to arms” to women in a bid to buck the trend.

Article source:

BRIEFS: BBG landscape design winners; Great Barrington Arts …

The winning design in Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Center House entry garden design competition, submitted by a team of students from the University of Tennessee Knoxville School of Landscape Architecture. Image courtesy Berkshire Botanical Garden

Berkshire Botanical Garden announces landscape design competition winners

Stockbridge — Berkshire Botanical Garden has announced the winners of its Center House entry-garden design competition, which was open to individuals and teams consisting of students enrolled in accredited landscape architecture schools and judged by a five-member jury made up of independent designers, horticulturalists and landscape architects.

The winners were announced Dec. 1 at the Center House grand opening celebration. The winning design was submitted by the team of Daniel Rose, Sarah Newton, Alexa Macri, and Fern Turpin from the University of Tennessee Knoxville School of Landscape Architecture. Second place was awarded to Harry Wan Fung Lee, Adam Kai Chi Ng and Anson Ting Fung Wong of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; third place went to Dylan Anslow, Colin Chadderton, Kira Clingen and Jonathan Kuhr, also of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; and an honorable mention was awarded to Zichen Liu and Jingyi (Jessy) Qiu of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

BBG launched the competition in March 2017 to seek innovative proposals that would complement the design of its newly restored and expanded Center House and surrounding established garden areas. The approximately 4,000-square-foot entry garden is expected to be unveiled May 6, 2018, at BBG’s season opening.


*     *     *

Shoppers peruse a recent holiday-themed Great Barrington Arts Market event. Photo courtesy Great Barrington Arts Market

Great Barrington Arts Market (GBAM) to hold Delightful and Delectable Holiday Market

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Arts Market will hold its Delightful and Delectable Holiday Market Saturday, Dec. 16, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Saint James Place. A preview party for the event will take place Friday, Dec. 15, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Lucky 5 performing at a recent holiday-themed Great Barrington Arts Market. Photo courtesy Great Barrington Arts Market

The Delightful and Delectable Holiday Market is a holiday sale that will feature handmade and delicious giftable treats from Berkshire-area artisans and producers. The preview party will include live music from the Lucky 5, drinks and light hors d’oeuvres, and shoppers can enjoy a first look at handmade gifts such as ceramics, textiles, jewelry, woodwork and paper products, and first tastes of locally crafted treats including handmade chocolates, local wines and cordials, shrubs, coffee, salts and sweets. To encourage shoppers to make a night of it, Great Barrington restaurants including Allium Restaurant and Bar, Bizen, Baba Louie’s, 20 Railroad Public House and Prairie Whale will offer a 10 percent discount to groups with preview party tickets.

Admission to the market is free and tickets to the preview party are $10 at the door. For a list of participating crafters, see the Berkshire Edge calendar. For more information or to reserve preview party tickets contact


*     *     *

Alison Larkin records ‘The Complete Novels of Jane Austen’

Alison Larkin. Photo: Sabine Vollmer von Falken

Stockbridge — The first-ever audiobook of “The Complete Novels of Jane Austen” has been read and recorded by award-winning narrator and Berkshire resident Alison Larkin. Recorded in her studio over a period of four years, all 81 hours are now available for purchase via download or CD.

‘The Compete Novels of Jane Austen” brings together Larkin’s critically acclaimed narrations of Austen’s six completed novels in the very first single-narrator recording. On Saturday, Dec. 16, at 3 p.m., Larkin will join Austen’s great-niece, Caroline Jane Knight, live on Facebook for a Jane Austen birthday tea to chat about all things Austen, including Knight’s audiobook “Jane and Me: My Austen Heritage,” also narrated by Larkin. Over celebratory tea for which a worldwide audience is expected, book teasers will be shared, backstories revealed and chances given to win an Austen Heritage gift basket full of “money can’t buy” goodies from Austen’s family.

For every download of any Austen title purchased directly from, $5 will be donated to the Literacy Network of South Berkshire via the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation for which Larkin serves as U.S. ambassador.


*     *     *

Instacart grocery service to expand to Berkshires

Springfield — Instacart grocery delivery service will now give Berkshire residents access to same-day grocery delivery. Instacart is the nation’s largest on-demand grocery delivery service and will launch in the Berkshires via local stores such as Price Chopper/Market 32, Big Y, Price Rite, CVS and Petco.

The delivery area will cover over 39,000 households by expanding income-earning opportunities with plans to bring on more than 100 new shoppers. New areas of service include the towns of Pittsfield, Lanesborough, Washington, Richmond, Hancock, Lenox, Stockbridge, Lee, Adams, Cheshire, Peru, Middlefield, Hinsdale, Dalton, New Ashford, West Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Monterey, Alford, New Marlborough, Egremont, Sandisfield, Mount Washington, Sheffield, Becket, Tyringham and Otis.


*     *     *

Area chambers of commerce to hold ‘Tri-County Mixer’

Catskill, N.Y. — The Greene County, Columbia County, Rhinebeck Area and Red Hook chambers of Commerce will partner with Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts to bring members of all four organizations together for a first-ever Tri-County Mixer Monday, Dec. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m.

According to Lumberyard executive and artistic director Adrienne Willis, “The Tri-County Mixer will also give leaders in the business community the opportunity to see firsthand the transformative vision we have to site a world-class performing arts center here in Catskill, and learn more about the investments that are already being made in the community.”

The event will include a tour of Lumberyard’s new facility followed by hors d’oeuvres, beverages and mingling. The cost is $35 for the general public and free for members of the aforementioned chambers of commerce. Registration is required. For more information, contact Lumberyard at (212) 587-3003.


Return Home

Related Articles

The Berkshire Edge — Building Community. We invite you to join us

Thursday, Dec 14

GARY LEVEILLE: Santa’s Satirical Holiday House Tour

Wednesday, Dec 13

Questions raised about legality, safety of fuel tanks and standing fuel trucks at Great Barrington airport

Wednesday, Dec 13

U.S. Sen. Al Franken unfairly forced to resign

Wednesday, Dec 13

Margaret ‘Ann’ Collins, 86, of Lee

Wednesday, Dec 13

BerkShares Business of the Month: Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires

Tuesday, Dec 12

Neighbors of O’Brien waste business decry ‘industrial siege’ on Blue Hill Road

Tuesday, Dec 12

News Briefs: Nonprofits oppose proposed federal tax overhaul ; report finds Mass. healthiest state

Tuesday, Dec 12

Bits Bytes: Botanical Garden art show; ‘Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley;’ ‘Real People, Real Stories;’ Pajama Night at Lenox Library; Olga Dunn Dance concert

Tuesday, Dec 12

Kristy Burris wins $500 shopping spree in Berkshire Edge “Shop Small” promotion

Tuesday, Dec 12

CONNECTIONS: Puritans banned Christmas, Stockbridge restored it

Tuesday, Dec 12

Take that, Trump! Obamacare enrollments up statewide and in South County

Monday, Dec 11

Birth announcement

Monday, Dec 11

Ann Louise Angelini, 88, of West Stockbridge

Monday, Dec 11

Bits Bytes: Young Choreographers Initiative; California wineries benefit; ‘The Secret in the Wings’ at Austen Riggs; ‘The Age of Consequences’ screening; grief support workshop

Monday, Dec 11

EYES TO THE SKY: Star wheels, key to constellations; best-of-year meteor shower

Monday, Dec 11

Article source:


My Life With Plants by Roy Lancaster  (RHS/Filbert Press, £25)

A well-loved figure tells his story straightforwardly, the tale peppered with anecdotes. There is the time he hid up a tree for a conifer thief at Cambridge Botanic Garden (he caught the culprit, a local teacher) or the occasion of his first lecture, aged 23, to the science club at a girls’ school: “Faced with the eyes of 40 girls following my every move, I considered turning round and running for my life”. Not much soul-searching here, the author is probably too busy thinking about the next plant.

The Japanese Garden by Sophie Walker  (Phaidon, £49.95)

Even if it did not contain original essays by Tadao Ando, John Pawson and Anish Kapoor, this would be a superior book. One hundred gardens are featured in detail. Key texts explain the principles of the Japanese garden in depth. The author’s summation is: “The deeper beauty of the garden resides not in its surface ornament but in its profound search for contact with the original state of nature.” A must for anyone serious about the topic.

Article source:

The Need and Importance of Professional Landscaping Services during Christmas

As the new season begins, it is time to try different landscaping ideas and transform the look of your homes. Though, most people think of doing it by their own while there are few who might seek the help of the professionals. Doing it on your own is definitely a good idea but the assistance of the professionals can make a big difference. Now you might be wondering as how the professionals can help you in landscaping your garden and the outdoor spaces. They are experienced and familiar with the fresh concepts that can definitely create more impact.

The professional landscaping services can come out to be a better choice, and therefore you can definitely seek their guidance and help.

Article source:

Four ideas for insuring the landscaping business – Lawn & Landscape

The art of landscaping has evolved, and with it, the coverage needed to protect your landscaping business. The complexities of the modern landscaping business can lead to misappropriated coverage as well as unnecessary and excessive insurance premiums.

Here are four important ideas to keep in mind when insuring your landscaping business:

1. Determine your company’s niche within the landscaping industry. Whether you have one specialty or many, pinpointing your company’s focus is the first step to ensuring proper insurance coverage. For example, say you intend to expand and modernize your landscaping business by following the environmental trends. You might sell some old equipment and add xeriscaping to your offered services. Conserving water through creative landscaping, however, comes with the need for certain operational changes. The purge of equipment as well as the addition of a new service can change the class of business for your company. The class of business your company falls under determines the risks that are being covered. Exposing yourself, your employees or your clients to uninsured risks is dangerous and can result in legal ramifications.


2. The insurance needs of your landscaping business will vary based on whether you operate as a company employing subcontractors or as a subcontractor employed by another company. When employing subcontractors, it is important to note they may not be fully covered under your current insurance policy. If they are not properly insured, you may be fully liable for any damages they cause. In employment agreements, require your subcontractors to be individually insured. Require a hold-harmless clause that ensures you are not held liable for damages caused by your subcontractors. Keep in mind, your policy may change based on what subcontractors are working for you. If the service they provide comes with high-level risk, your premium could outweigh your entire project profit. As a subcontractor, a hold-harmless agreement is valuable as well.

This protects you from liability if there are damages caused by your employer during a project. It is important to clearly state the job requirements and expectations within agreements between employers and subcontractors. This eliminates confusion during projects and maximizes job efficiency. Also, your customers need to be aware whether the work will be performed by your company or a subcontractor. If a customer has a grievance with the finished product and they are not properly informed, your company may be held responsible.

3. Any industry that relies on whirring blades, navigating heights and falling objects can be a dangerous environment in which to work. And that sums up the landscaping industry. Safety should always be paramount, which stems from proper training on how to use equipment, including personal protective equipment and work-appropriate attire. Any workplace injury can drive up insurance premiums. You should also be aware that what you are saying in your marketing materials and website can affect your insurance premiums. Any marketing photos of employees at work should be screened to ensure they are following proper safety procedures and wearing proper safety gear. If a client comes forward with a claim for damages, that content is easily accessible and can potentially be used against you. It is absolutely essential to be honest in your promotions.

4. Is your business legitimately able to execute every service you promote? Any service your business is currently promoting for which you are unqualified or lack the proper equipment to perform should be removed from all advertisements. Performing services for which you are unprepared is dangerous for you, your employees and your clients. In the instance that someone is hurt or causes damages while conducting a service improperly, you may have to forfeit insurance coverage.

Today’s landscaping businesses are larger and more complex than ever. Define your niche. Confirm your class of business. Create deliberate and conscientious agreements with subcontractors. Produce honest and accurate marketing campaigns. Concern your business with the pursuit of safety and security. These elements will guarantee you the best possible insurance coverage as well as a reasonable and moderate premium.

Finally, with growth comes new concerns and new responsibilities. Don’t get into a position where you find yourself outgrowing your insurance coverage, and by doing so have now put yourself and your business in harm’s way if things go south. Meet with your insurance professional to determine if you have adequate coverage, both now and with the anticipation of future growth.

Christopher Dik is a Property Casualty Consultant with Knight-Dik Insurance Agency, Inc. in Worcester, Massachusetts. He has nearly 40 landscaping clients, ranging from one employee to a company with 30 employees and 50 pieces of equipment. He can be reached at and by phone at 508-756-6353.

Article source:

Do not eat your veggies — if they are grown in your front yard, Miami Shores says

Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll may grow fruit trees and flowers in the front yard of their Miami Shores house. They may park a boat or jet ski in their driveway. They may place statues, fountains, gnomes, pink flamingoes or Santa in a Speedo on their property.

Vegetables, however, are not allowed.

Ricketts and Carroll thought they were gardeners when they grew tomatoes, beets, scallions, spinach, kale and multiple varieties of Asian cabbage. But according to a village ordinance that restricts edible plants to backyards only, they were actually criminals. They didn’t think they were engaged in a Swiss chard conspiracy or eggplant vice, yet they were breaking the law.

Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld Miami Shores’ ban on front-yard vegetable gardens in a recent decision, so the couple will take their case to the Florida Supreme Court. They argue, on behalf of gardeners everywhere, that the village’s restriction is unconstitutional and an infringement on their property rights.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

“That’s what government does – interferes in people’s lives,” Ricketts said. “We had that garden for 17 years. We ate fresh meals every day from that garden. Since the village stepped its big foot in it, they have ruined our garden and my health.”

veggiegardenban1120 01 wmm

Ricketts and Carroll did not face jail time for brandishing green thumbs, but they did face $50 daily fines after the village amended its ordinance in 2013. They had to dig up their garden – which won’t grow in their north-facing backyard because of a lack of sun. But they have continued to fight Miami Shores in court with help from the Institute for Justice, a national non-profit libertarian law firm.

“This decision gives local governments tremendous leeway to regulate harmless activities in the name of aesthetics,” said Institute lawyer Ari Bargil. “It gives government the power to prohibit homeowners from growing plants in their front yards simply because they intend to eat them.”

The court ruled that Miami Shores has the right under its code to control design and landscaping standards to protect the appearance of the village and preserve “property values and the enjoyment of property rights by minimizing and reducing conflicts among various land uses.”

Village Attorney Richard Sarafan argued that while it’s popular to blame big, bad government for being intrusive, municipalities must safeguard their zoning authority lest they open a Pandora’s box of unsightly exceptions. Without any arbiter of taste, residents could get stuck living next to a polka-dot house with pigs taking mud baths by the garage and an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile on the swale. The couple’s front yard was filled with pots and cluttered with stakes that belonged in the backyard where they chose to have a swimming pool instead, the village said.

“It’s all about conformity. Miami Shores wants to be a mini Coral Gables,” Ricketts said of another tidy, upscale South Florida city known for strict zoning regulations that at one time included a ban on pickup trucks in driveways at night. “What is the definition of edible? I can go into any front yard and find something edible because every plant has an edible part.

“Miami Shores claims to promote green living. What could be more green than walking out your front door and picking what you’ve grown rather than driving to the store and buying what has been trucked in, in quantities that contribute to food waste?”

Bargil also objected to the court’s conclusion that “it is rational for government to ban the cultivation of plants to be eaten as part of a meal, as opposed to the cultivation of plants for ornamental reasons.”

Ricketts called the village short-sighted for encouraging the cultivation of “useless grass.”

“By killing gardens we are also killing bees and butterflies, the pollinators of our food supply,” she said. 

The court said that residents who don’t like the village ordinance can petition the Village Council to change it or vote for council members who will change it.

But in the meantime, the village has uprooted a source of sustenance and joy for Ricketts, 62, and Carroll, 59.

Their case is part of the Institute for Justice’s National Food Freedom Initiative, which includes litigation on behalf of home bakers in Minnesota,Wisconsin and New Jersey, a skim milk producer in northern Florida, raw milk farmers in Oregon and craft brewers in Texas.

More Videos

Miami Shores residents cited for front yard vegetable garden 1:25

When home associations go bad2:33

Mom killed days before her sons graduation1:28

Mom of Baby Lollipops convicted for third time of torture and murder of infant son5:26

Dion Waiters talks to media on Miami Heat's loss against the Portland Trail Blazers 0:25

Couple lives in tent next to their destroyed trailer1:02

U.F.O.s: What does the government know?2:09

Ana Maria Cardona testifies in 'Baby Lollipops' case0:35

'I think this is one of our most complete games thus far,' Landry says1:08

17-foot python breaks record after being caught in Florida Everglades0:58

When home associations go bad

Homes associations are meant to keep neighborhoods from turning shabby and to maintain property values. But when homeowners don’t follow their strictly enforced regulations, they may be fined, end up in court or even lose their homes. Here are their horror stories.

Neil Nakahodo Kris Knowles

Kansas City Star

Article source:

New Assisted Living Facility Proposed

New Assisted Living Facility Proposed

Orange native Attorney Toni Marie Gelineau described her presentation to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission as “serendipitous” as she proposed a zone change to allow the construction of an assisted living and memory care facility on property that was once her family’s homestead known as “Cuzz Acres”.  In a public hearing before the board, Gelinaeu spoke on behalf of the applicant, Senior Living Advisors, LLC, and property owner, Indian River Road LLC.  Gelineau appealed to the commission to amend the Orange Zoning Regulations to add a definition for “Dwelling Unit, Senior Independent Living,” and to amend the Orange Zoning map and to changes the seven-acre property known as 231 Indian River Road-Lot 2 from Light Industrial (LI-2) to Senior Mixed Use District.

Citing the town’s aging population, Gelineau said Orange has a need for more independent and assisted senior housing and the Indian River, Marsh Hill and Prindle Road area would be the perfect spot to create such a zone.  Close to the Post Road and highways and minutes away from dialysis facilities, medical offices and pharmacies, the area is already uniquely compatible to senior living, Gelineau pointed out.  Maplewood at Orange, an assisted living and memory care facility is also located on Indian River Road.

Mark De Pecol, principle for Senior Living Advisors, presented the details about the assisted living and memory care facility they would propose for the site if the zone change is approved.  Describing the type of assisted living homes Senior Living Advisors operates statewide, De Pecol said the “resort-like” facilities are always “beautiful and aesthetically pleasing,” with inviting grounds and gardens, elegant dining rooms and communal areas, wine bars and hallways, lighting and furniture specifically designed to meet the needs of seniors.  The proposed building, located on seven acres, would be three floors and have 100 rooms, 20 of which would be designated for memory care.  Admittedly pricey, the annual cost for what De Pecol describes as “gracious living” would be about $72,000.  According to the company’s market findings, the average age of residents is 84 and they typically live in the facility for two and half years.  “We’ve found there’s a tremendous need for assisted senior living in the Milford, Orange, Stratford, West Haven, Westville and Woodbridge communities,” he said.  “If there wasn’t a need we wouldn’t be proposing this.”

According to De Pecol, benefits to the town would be significant, citing significant tax revenue with minimal impact on town services.  Residents obviously would not have use for schools; little traffic is generated as residents rarely drive; “lights out” is early; and the property is quiet.  Even ambulance and EMT visits are minimal, averaging about five visits a month and typically arriving without sirens and lights.  In addition to the internal amenities and attractive exterior of the building, the company goes “overboard on gardens and landscaping,” he said.  If approved, the project is slated for completion in 2020.

De Pecol said Senior Living Advisors is extremely proactive when building one of their facilities within a town and works diligently with residents and officials throughout the process to address concerns and minimize any issues.  Indian River Road resident George Finley, who met with De Pecol prior to the public hearing, did have concerns to bring before the board.  “Senior living is needed and wanted in Orange and this project is aesthetically pleasing to the neighborhood.  If that’s all we were talking about here tonight I’d say approve it immediately,” he said.  “What bothers me are the words ‘mixed use’ and the attempt to bring retail in under the false dressing of senior living.”  Finley pointed out the nearby Post Road offers all the stores and conveniences a senior resident might need.  He suggested limiting commercial use to professional services which would be closed on weekends when Post Road traffic is at its heaviest.

Commissioners talked briefly among themselves about whether a zone change permitting residential use in the area could lead to other housing applications – like affordable housing.  They decided to leave the public hearing open to continue discussions at its January 2nd meeting.

By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent

Article source:

CARPE LIBRUM: Landscaping with Marta McDowell and Beatrix Potter

CARPE LIBRUM: Landscaping with Marta McDowell and Beatrix Potter

Dec 12 • Books, EXTRA! EXTRA!, FEATURE BOTTOMNo Comments on CARPE LIBRUM: Landscaping with Marta McDowell and Beatrix Potter

Wilmington’s literary community keeps gaining accolades (two National Book Awards nominees in 2015) and attention in the press. With multiple established publishers in the state (Algonquin, John F. Blair) and new smaller presses gaining traction (Eno, Bull City), it is timely to shine a light on discussions around literature, publishing and the importance of communicating a truthful story in our present world.

Welcome to Carpe Librum, encore’s biweekly book column, wherein I will dissect titles, old and new—because literature does not exist in a vacuum but emerges to participate in a larger, cultural conversation. I will feature many NC writers; however, the hope is to place the discussion in a larger context and therefore examine works around the world.

beatrix“Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The Plants and places that inspired the classic children’s tales”
By Marta McDowell
Timber Press, Inc., 2013, pgs. 340

The Going Green Magazine Book Club just picked their list of books to read for 2018. At the top is a book that looked absolutely irresistible: “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The plants and places that inspired the classic children’s tales.” Marta McDowell is the remarkable mind behind the book. She also published a similar book about Emily Dickinson’s garden and the White House garden. Her most recent release is “The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes” that Inspired “The Little House” books. McDowell’s ability to bring the magic of gardening to life on the page is stunning.

Obviously, I took a copy of “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life” home to read with Jock and the dogs. Like many people, I loved Potter’s work as a child, especially the French and Spanish language editions my Aunt Betty got for me. I retain a nostalgic love of the simple, clean illustrations. As an adult I rediscovered Potter mostly through my friend Beth’s evangelism of Potter as a standard bearer for land preservation, which is one of Beth’s passions. McDowell manages to blend all these aspects into a book, which is also a how-to guide and visually stunning trip through England and Scotland.

One-third is a biography focusing on the gardens and natural areas that were so important to Potter from her first home’s garden to houses she lived in as an adult—including the 120 acre farm she and her husband managed through World War I.

The second third of the book is a year of Potter’s gardening life. From joys of the first blooms of spring to haying, it is both a loving look at the natural year and realistic representation of the serious work involved in making all of it possible.

Part three is a travel guide to the gardens that Potter loved and cultivated during her lifetime, followed by detailed tables of the plants with which she worked. McDowell does an amazing job bringing to life the person responsible for some of the most famous children’s stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She also decodes their pieces for modern audiences: Victorians probably would have recognized Mr. McGregor and his wife lived in a tenant’s cottage and were hired help on the estate. But modern readers wouldn’t necessarily pick up on those clues.

She reproduces the letters Potter wrote to her friends’ children with the prototypes that became characters in her books, complete with sketches; and of course, the famous story of the first draft of Peter Rabbit in one such letter. The illustrations of Potter’s stories dot the pages of each locale, with McDowell pointing out which home each scene takes place in: Hill Top, Castel Cottage, etc. It makes the third portion of the book even more exciting, both for actual trip planning and armchair travel.

Let’s just take a moment and think about how important armchair travel can be. Keeping imaginations active might be one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. By reading about Beatrix Potter’s gardens and work, I really deepen and develop my own dreams and plans for my garden—in addition to understanding more fully what the relationship between location and the writer’s work can be. Would I love to go visit in person? Absolutely. But for now I can learn from afar.

From a gardening perspective, there is a lot we share—even more that is different. The gardening advice and July 15th as a weather predictor for hay is not quite applicable across the Atlantic and balmy American South. But it serves to illuminate the world she lived and worked in alongside her characters. McDowell talks at great length about Potter’s early love of fungi, going so far as to write a scientific paper on the topic. She received little encouragement or acknowdgement for her scientific endeavors. Though her early love of growing things and nurturing animlas is well documented.

McDowell includes a wonderful picture of her holding her pet dormouse. The illustrations of her books are so instantly recognizeable in style, to see examples of her drawing and painting from childhood throughout her life is really surprising. She loved watercolor landscapes and reproduced a lot of nature studies of botanicals and animals with incredible clarity—especially her early work is surprising for one so young.

More than anything I cannot read McDowell’s without developing a profound respect for a woman who went her own way at a time when she wasn’t expected to. Her struggles with home renovations, landscape design, contractors, and weeds resonate so strongly with me. Whereas her cousin hires a landscape designer to develop a perfectly manicured show garden and never gets her hands dirty, Potter is covered in mud, planting vegetables in the spot others expected her put a lawn tennis court.

Rarely does a gardening book blend such a rich love of nature, literature, home, and the magic of growing so beautifully. If you have a gardener in your life, this is the perfect holiday gift.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CAPTCHA Image Refresh Image



Article source:

Master Gardening: Offseason training for athletes


After an effort of volunteers and businesses this spring, a large courtyard at Goode K-8 school in York became a place for children to experience nature, grow food, and learn about wildlife.
Paul Kuehnel


After a full season of digging, planting, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, waging mortal war against insect and fungal pests in the most ecologically friendly manner possible, finding a home for all those tomatoes and zucchini, canning the bountiful harvest, and ending it all with a monthlong leaf-raking marathon, a weary gardener might welcome a departure from the toil of tending the beloved landscape.  Oddly, somehow the shorter days packed with family feasts and the frantic hustle and bustle of holiday shopping is the perfect change of pace!

Retail therapy and indulging in the seasonal urge to take in calories are a brief diversion though, and like all obsessions, it creeps back in, just after everyone has gone home and you’ve eaten the last piece of pumpkin pie. Oh no.  It’s gotten cold outside.  All the leaves are brown.  What can I do to scratch the gardening itch and fill the hours at this time of year? 

For athletes, the off-season is a time to rest, heal, stretch, and appreciate time away from the game.  Then slowly start to focus on coming back better next year by doing mental repetitions, stretching, strengthening, and working on fundamentals to  fix gaps in the skill set.  We gardeners can take a parallel approach to our off-seasons by relaxing, engaging in related activities that differ from the normal routine, and learning.  Focus on fun, but don’t stray too far from the passion.  Build the interest in a new way that alleviates burnout.  Luckily, local opportunities abound for the gardener and nature lover looking to unwind, explore, and cultivate the mind.  Diverse growth in the off-season is the key to a more focused and successful attempt next year.

Spend time birdwatching from the feeder blind at Rocky Ridge County Park or enjoy the seagulls visiting inland for the season from the overlook tower at Willam Cain County Park.  Walk the creekside paths and enjoy the indoor Nature Center at Richard Nixon Park.  Explore the woods behind your house to try your hand identifying trees and shrubs when there is no foliage to give you clues, or search for and identify animal tracks in the mud or snow.  Enjoy a day trip to visit Longwood Gardens, which has something interesting for green thumbs on display all year.  Take in the beauty.

If the weather keeps you indoors, read a good book by Doug Tallamy, or get lost down the internet rabbit hole of birdhouse building instructionals and videos of top-ten do it yourself gardening tips.  Someone else has almost certainly tried, failed, and written a step-by-step tutorial on how to avoid what they did that relates to anything you might want to attempt.  Use that knowledge and give a project your unique spin. Head to the workshop and build the best or worst birdhouse ever, and while you’re there, why not take care of your yard tools?  Clean, sharpen and oil them. Take your time.  When Spring comes, your gardening tools will be ready to go, and maybe you’ll have  created something with your hands that is useful in the garden.

Taking DIY beyond the comforts of home, why not take a pottery class and learn to make your own flowerpots at the downtown studio of Creative York?  While in the city, check out the galleries displaying local artist’s visions of York County, or visit Central Market and experience restaurants using fresh local ingredients and farm stands with local produce and groceries for sale.  Visit Martin Memorial Library, or the library at Penn State York, and get lost in the volumes.

Nature is everything.  When the season has shut down your personal landscape, local parks are your extended backyard, and York’s urban community is equally as vibrant, growing, and waiting for you to explore and connect with, year round.   Cultivate yourself this winter.  Soon enough the birds will be chirping and the grass growing again, and you’ll be a better gardener and human being.

Mark Wojciechowski is a York County Master Gardener. Penn State Master Gardeners are volunteers for Penn State Cooperative Extension. For more information, contact the Master Gardener office at 717-840-7408 or

Article source:

Master Gardeners to talk holiday décor, gifts for home

Veteran Master Gardeners Marilynn Elliott and Tanya Unruh will share ideas for holiday décor and gifts for the home garden at noon on Thursday, Dec. 14, in the county commissioner’s meeting room of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

Elliott will demonstrate how to creatively transform ordinary gardening items into gifts, not all necessarily holiday themed, but something for year-around use. She will show how ordinary stones, flower pots, and shovels can be repurposed as attractive yard art.

A Master Gardener since 2003, Elliott has spearheaded several Petals and Pathways Home Garden Tours and her garden was featured on the 2013 tour. She has received the Master Garden of the Year and the Golden Trowel Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Unruh will illustrate how to use materials from the garden for holiday decorating and for gardening gifts for both the holiday season and year-round. She will share ideas for gifting seeds, seedlings, bulbs, pressed or dried flowers, and garden tools and supplies.

Unruh, a Master Gardener volunteer since 2013, has designed unique artistic, thematic settings for her home garden, which was on the 2015 Petals and Pathways Home Garden Tour.

This presentation wraps up the 2017 Green Thumb Garden Tips Brown Bag series. The 2018 season begins Jan. 25, with a presentation on pruning blueberry bushes by Jeannette Stehr-Green.

Attendees may bring a lunch. The presentations are free and open to the public. For more information, call 360-565-2679.

Article source: