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Archives for December 15, 2017

BRIEFS: BBG landscape design winners; Great Barrington Arts Market; Larkin records complete Jane Austen novels …

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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Garden Club wins final approval despite opponent’s push for delay

After hearing Waveny Park Conservancy Chairman Bob Seelert exclaim that it is “preposterous” to think that delaying their vote for 30 days would result in Keith Simpson reaching a collaborative agreement with the Garden Club, the Town Council voted 7 to 3 Wednesday night to approve the Garden Club’s plan for plantings in a formal Waveny Park garden.

Arguments between resident landscape architect Simpson and the Waveny Park Conservancy – Garden Club partnership became heated over the past 45 days — particularly over why Simpson and the Garden Club did not collaborate to this point, and whether the walled garden adjacent to the Waveny mansion should be restored to its original design or have a modified design. At Wednesday’s Council meeting one councilman shook his head and said, “That’s not true,” as Simpson was talking. On the other hand Simpson had claimed that the Garden Club and others were misrepresenting his positions over the past two years.

These accusatory comments came during a formal discussion among Council members where viewpoints ranged from great praise for the Garden Club and its plan, to calls for a delay in order to give Simpson and the Garden Club more time to start to work together and reach an agreement.

As the murmurings turned to louder verbal interruptions of the meeting, Council Chairman John Engel called for a vote on the motion, which had been seconded, to approve the plan put forth by the Garden Club with the support of the Waveny conservancy. The plan had been approved in the prior week by the Parks Recreation Commission and the Board of Finance.

Voting to approve the plan were Liz Gores Donovan, Rich Townsend, Engel, Sven Englund, Steve Karl, Christa Kenin, and Cristina Ross. Voting against the plan because they favored giving the two sides more time to work together were Tom Butterworth, Joe Paladino and Penny Young.

Parks Rec Commission Chairman Sally Campbell and Seelert had been the record saying that Simpson had declined for two years to work collaboratively with the Garden Club, which had a commitment to be involved in the redevelopment of the garden. During the past week leading up to the Dec. 13 Council meeting, Simpson had been calling members and asking for them to delay their vote. In addition, a letter from the National Association of Olmsted Parks, of which Simpson is a member, arrived warning that some historical integrity of the Waveny property may be lost if the Olmsted-designed garden is not restored to the original design of about 115 years ago.

In response to the Olmsted letter, Seelert told the Council to consider that Olmsted was showing their concern only at the last hour, presumably at the urging of Simpson, and that the Olmsted group had not shown concern over the last 50 years since the Town owned the property and the gardens had not been maintained to the original design.

Parks Rec and the Board of Finance, which was involved because private money would be used on Town property, made their approvals with the stated understanding that the Garden Club’s plans were not a restoration of the original design, but instead used some similar plantings in different layouts.

In the end, enough Councilman were satisfied that the Garden Club’s plan, fully funded with private contributions, would be pleasing and well-suited for a public park.

The garden design presented by The Garden Club to the Parks Recreation Commission.

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Gardening books: my top 7 to leaf through this winter

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Master Gardening: Offseason training for athletes – York Daily Record


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

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Gardening with Allen: Indoor plants benefit from fertilizer boost in winter

Allen Wilson is a Vancouver gardening specialist. Email Allen Wilson at

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APD gives helpful tips after string of Garden District break-ins

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) – It’s no secret that as the holiday season keeps on rolling, burglaries and break-ins start to rise. In fact, earlier this month, there was a string of incidents over in the Garden District in Alexandria.

Source: KALB

One victim, John Krueger, said it’s not a good feeling to wake up and find someone broke into your home or vehicle.

“It sounds silly, but every morning when you wake up and open the front door, you just look to see if something is missing,” said Krueger.

He learned that experience firsthand, after his wife’s car was broken into earlier this month.

“Her vehicle was parked in our driveway and it was the passenger side window and the rear that was broken into,” explained Krueger.

His neighbor was also hit.

“And then across the street, you had two vehicles parked in the driveway,” said Krueger. “One of the windows got smashed out in one of the vehicles. They attempted to smash out a second one. And succeeded on the third.”

They called police, and come to find, there were a string of burglaries in that area.

“When they made it to our house, they said that it was basically the seventh location that they had been to at that time,” said Krueger. “My neighbor was the eighth.”

The Alexandria Police Department said it’s a common crime for this time of year, but there are some ways to avoid it.

“Make yourself a hard target,” said Corporal Wade Bourgeois, APD. “When you park your car, not just during the holidays, but any time, do not leave valuables in your car.”

He said sometimes you have no choice but to leave valuables in the car.

“Hide the valuables underneath something in the trunk,” explained Cpl. Bourgeois. “Do not leave wallets, or iPads, or phones, or especially a gun where if somebody does break a window, they are able to access it.”

Of course, he stressed the number one rule.

“Always lock your doors. The majority of vehicle burglaries happen from unlocked cars.”

Cpl. Bourgeois also said they’re actively looking into this string of break-ins.

“There are several detectives working on this,” said Cpl. Bourgeois. “The entire property crimes division, and we hope to have arrests made soon.”

In the meantime, Krueger said he’s not going to let it ruin his holiday, and he’s eager to tell the story so others stay prepared.

“As a parent, you want to say, ‘I have Christmas presents for my kids, I want to leave them in the trunk, or in the car so they don’t see them,’” said Krueger. “But you have that fear that you just spent X amount of money for your children, and what if those things go missing.”

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8 tips to gear up garden for cold weather

As freezing weather moves in, gardeners may be worrying about how to protect their plants from the cold.

Experts with Oregon State University Extension Service recommend several ways to guard your landscape from frigid conditions.   

Insulate plants with mulch, compost, leaves or any kind of organic matter that will protect root systems. Snow also can be a good insulator for many plants.

More: Perennials not thriving? Try mulch

It’s especially important to protect container plants since the pots can freeze. Cover them with compost, mulch, old blankets, sheets or burlap, or anything that can help insulate them. Wrap pots in bubble wrap to provide even more protection. Don’t leave pots hanging. Place on the ground and cover. 

Most trees go dormant in the winter and can withstand temperatures in the negative degrees. The exception? Non-native trees that do not have the same cold tolerance. Be sure to check labels before buying and make sure to plant trees with cold hardiness appropriate to your area. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your hardiness zone.

Don’t walk on your lawn, especially if there is no snow insulating the grass. Walking on it can break the leaf tissue and damage the grass if it is frozen.

Keep your greenhouse above 35 degrees and plants inside will likely survive.

Next spring you may notice some brown freeze streaks and damage on the leaves of the spring-flowering trees and bulbs you put in the ground recently. Cold weather likely will cause a lot of leaf and tissue damage. Frost damage causes leaves to appear water-soaked or shriveled or to turn dark brown or black — but does not always kill the plant.

Generally, do not water your plants in freezing conditions. But shrubs growing underneath the eaves of a house are susceptible to drought damage. Water them deeply every six to eight weeks only when the air temperature is above freezing and early in the day.

Though snow can act as excellent mulch on the ground, it can also weigh down the branches of shrubs with frail structures such as arborvitae, boxwoods, young rhododendrons and azaleas. Every two to three days, knock the snow off branches and wrap rope around the branches of bushes and shrubs. Tying the branches upward helps restructure the branches to a more upright position before the storm. 

Kym Pokorny works for Oregon State University. Contact her at 541-737-3380,, on Twitter @OregonStateExt

More: Take one more go at the garden before retiring for winter



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Garden tips: Don’t waste time raking leaves — let them compost in place

Cold weather is definitely here, but that doesn’t give you a pass on a few garden chores. Here’s what you should be doing this week before Christmas, besides trying to stay off the naughty list.

  • It used to be we’d spend the better part of autumn and early winter raking our leaves into piles and hauling them off. But now we know those leaves are a great source of free compost. Let them decompose where they land, or if you’re into raking and piling, put them in a trench alongside an unused vegetable bed and cover with soil. By next spring, the leaves will be composted, and the beds ready for planting.
  • Control peach twig borer, San Jose scale, mites or aphids on apricots with a dormant oil spray. Dormant oil sprays can be applied to dormant ornamentals as well as fruit trees.
  • It’s Christmas, not Halloween, so remove “mummies” — dried fruit — from tree limbs and the ground to help prevent spreading diseases next spring.
  • Prune hardy deciduous and evergreen trees, and winter-flowering shrubs just after bloom.
  • Don’t forget to water your live Christmas tree.
  • If you’re in a planting mood, you can plant all ornamental trees and shrubs except subtropical plants.
  • If you’re looking for frost-tolerant perennials, try heuchera, hosta, lamium, lysimachia, ornamental sages and Tiarella. Frost-tolerant annuals include calendulas, cinerarias, cyclamen, pansies, English primroses, fairy primroses, Primula obconica and snapdragons.

  • If you have frost damage on plants, don’t prune back dead branches. You’ll only be exposing new growth to more frost damage.

Contra Costa Master Gardeners contributed to this report.

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