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Archives for December 20, 2017

Gifts from gardeners





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Get Growing: Gloria counts the ways gardens give us gifts all year long

Special to the Reading Eagle: Gloria Day | Gardens give many gifts all year, from fresh air to exercise.

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Florian Wegenast designs furniture that creates "temporary gardens" in small spaces

Design graduate Florian Wegenast has created a range of furniture that incorporates plant holders, as a way of maximising green space in tight urban environments.

Wegenast began his Open Garden series while studying at London’s Central Saint Martins, but presented the project’s latest developments during this year’s Dutch Design Week.

The whole range includes stools, benches and tables that each allow users to store plants – catering to those living in small spaces with no gardens. 

“Many of us don’t have the luxury of having an outdoor garden at home,” Wegenast told Dezeen. “My aim with this open-design plant furniture series is to encourage people to start utilising this design as a tool, and create new interactions between humans, plants and the home.”

“Although one might not have the space to have a flourishing garden set up indoors at all times, this series allows for a temporary garden experience with all the plants around you that can be put away in the next moment to make space for a fold-out dining table or a pull-out bed,” he continued.

The two newest pieces in the collection are made from terrazzo and plywood – a combination Wegenast picked to make the furniture more water resistant.

A simple stool is formed by two plywood sheets, which slot together and are topped with a terrazzo seat. An accompanying terrazzo plant pot has grooves cut into the underneath so it can be fitted onto the wooden base.

The stool is joined by two benches. One, which was the first piece from Wegenast’s project, incorporates a planting tray on one side, while the other has spaces for terrazzo planters on its underside and frame.

All pieces can be assembled without the need for any nails, adhesive or separate attachments.

The designer also created an app, which uses open-source design to help individuals create physical gardens and features a geotagging network to help connect communities of green-fingered enthusiasts.

“When it comes to open source furniture, there is the challenge of designing something that almost anyone can recreate, but ultimately, open-source design creates a template that allows people to start imaging what material, colour and plants they want to combine to tailor to their own aesthetic.”

“It is common for CNC-designed furniture to use different types of plywood,” said Wegenast. “However, I wanted to challenge the materiality and qualities of current open-source furniture, so I integrated the contrasting material of plaster terrazzo, not only for its water-resistant qualities, but also to suggest and invite others to experiment and play with the materiality of the furniture itself.

Other brands to have ventured into the world of indoor gardening include IKEA, which created a hydroponic kit that lets owners grow plants and vegetables from their kitchens, without using soil or sunlight.

More recently, Bangkok studio Atelier 2+ created a range of mini greenhouses with the hopes of encouraging people to bring greenery into their homes.

The Open Garden series was exhibited at this year’s Dutch Design Week, which took place in Eindhoven from 21 to 29 October 2017.

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Honouring residents’ green efforts

THE atmosphere at the Shah Alam Minizeebee Green Award ceremony was electric as members of the Residents Representative Council (MPP) waited with bated breath for the results to be announced.

And it was no surprise when defending champions Taman Universiti Jalan Kebun won in the Open category for their unconventional farming and fishing ideas.

MPP Zone 11 chairman Imran Satiman, who oversees Taman Universiti, said the residents there had become role models for others.

“One thing about Taman Universiti residents is that they are always willing to share their experiences and tips with their competitors,” said Imran.

The neighbourhood’s innovative ideas included a community garden, cleanliness campaigns, murals, CCTVs and used cooking oil separation scheme.

One of their more notable initiatives is the construction of a fish farm built inside a drain in the neighbourhood.

The residents took home a cash prize of RM10,000 and contributed to Imran bagging the Best MPP Chairman award – a plaque and RM3,000.

Imran said he had nominated three new neighbourhoods for the competition.

Another well-deserved win was the rough and tough Taman Setia Warisan, which was developed from scratch by its residents.

Once an abandoned project, residents took over the construction of their houses and turned it into an exemplary green lung.

Winning the MPP Choice Award for Residential Neighbourhood, they received a RM10,000 cash prize.

Their councillor, Foong Saik Hoong, said the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) was committed to reducing carbon emission by 45% in 2030.

“However, the council’s efforts alone will not be enough. It will need the support of Shah Alam residents.

“To Shah Alam residents these policies may seem abstract but the Minizeebee competition is a platform that allows selected housing areas to educate and guide residents on the council’s objectives,” he added.

Foong said he was amazed by the teamwork and creativity shown by Taman Setia Warisan residents, who used empty land in their neighbourhood to set up a community garden, recycling centre, fish pond, youth and sports centre as well as carry out landscaping work.

The Minizeebee competition began in 2014 as a way to instil awareness of cleanliness through community involvement.

Shah Alam mayor Datuk Ahmad Zaharin, in his speech at the event, said he was happy to see the effort put in by all the MPP zones.

He said the entries even got the city council into other prestigious awards, including the National Langkawi Award 2015/2016 and the Malaysian Institute of Planners National Award in 2014 and 2016.

“This competition will ensure that MBSA is recognised as a caring and responsible local council and that Local Agenda 21 (LA21) programmes and initiatives can be fostered in the community to achieve low carbon city status for Shah Alam,” he said.

There were 27 entries from Village Development and Security Committees, Rukun Tetangga and residents associations under the MPP zones.

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BRIGHT IDEAS – 10 reasons to try out natural pools | Landscape …

Sitting on the deck beside our natural pool, with a backdrop of birdsong and bubbling water, a gentle breeze sending ripples of light across the pool’s surface, already SARAH MURCH, director of Ensata Natural Pools, feels relaxed, recharged and clearheaded after a day cooped in the office.[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]

In the last five minutes a starling has flown down to the beach for a drink, a charm of goldfinches splashed beside the jetty, I’ve just seen the first swallows dip and two pied wagtails are bobbing up and down territorially on the giant boulders set amongst newly emerging reeds.

This time of year our natural pool is fringed with pale blue water forget-me-nots and bright yellow marsh marigolds, which have seeded gently between arrow shaped irises, aromatic water mint, and linear reeds.

Clumps of sunshine coloured Carex elata contrast with pools of dark blue cammasias flowering in the surrounding borders – even this early in the season it is hard to see where the water stops and the garden begins. The first water lily leaves are floating on the pool’s surface amid waxy, white flowers of fragrant water hawthorn, cast about like confetti.

It is idyllic, a watery retreat, the place we enjoy spending time together as a family, but I’ll be honest – it is the UK, the middle of May so I’ll admit to sitting here in a coat – we have yet to build our pool cabin.

Drawn to water for some inspiration for this feature here are Ensata’s top 10 reasons for choosing a Natural Pool.

1. Chemical Free Water

The crystal clear water is chemical free, filtered by water plants and biological filtration. This pure, living water does not sting your eyes, irritate your skin or dry your hair. Sliding into the silky smooth water at the end of a hard day is a truly sensuous experience.

2. Health Benefits

Like wild swimming in your own garden, swimming in fresh water has proven health benefits and releases endorphins- you emerge feeling uplifted. Spending time beside the water is relaxing, allows us to wind down and connect with nature – of great value in today’s fast pace of life.

3. Outdoor Living

A natural pool is more than just a swimming pool. The perfect setting for alfresco dining, outdoor living and entertaining friends and family. Adding a pool cabin with a log burner allows clients to enjoy the water throughout winter.

4. No Heating costs:

With their shallow filtration areas, natural pools warm up quickly with natural solar gain, meaning no heating requirements and a long swimming season. Our own natural pool in Yorkshire was 17C at the end of March (= North Sea in summer). It is consistently 21C throughout a typical mediocre summer and during the course of one sunny day rises easily to 23C by mid afternoon (= Mediterranean Sea in summer). We swim from April to October. Some of our clients install hot tubs and saunas as incentive to winter swimming. Clients wishing for a consistently warmer pool can boost the temperature with an air source heat system and solar/thermal covers work well with Living Pools and Hybrid Pools.

5. Low maintenance

Natural pools require regular, low level maintenance during the swimming season and can be left alone while a client is on holiday. The balanced, living system requires management and we provide a professional pool service in winter. Key to success is a well-designed, accessible pool that is easy and quick to maintain with a pool robot.

6. Part of the Garden

Gone are the days of blue rectangles! A natural pool is an extension of the house and garden – formal, contemporary or naturalistic in style, plunge pool or lake size – even adjacent to the house. Think glass walls, reflective sheet of water, patios stepping down to the pool. Pool design embraces form and function with diving platforms, sun decks, cascades, waterfalls, jetties, floating stepping stones, boulders, fountains and rills all playing their part in the hydraulics and enhancing our clients’ enjoyment of the pool. We use a variety of hard materials to finish the pool, or simply run soft landscaping up to the water’s edge. Planting in and around the water is a designer’s dream- we merge the boundaries between pool and garden- surrounding the water with wild flower meadows, linear grasses, bog gardens, gravel gardens – repeating plants in the pool and garden to unify the scheme.

7 Wildlife

A Natural Pool is a magnet for wildlife. We swim with swallows dipping, iridescent dragonflies darting across the water’s surface. Children spend hours with a mask and snorkel exploring the remarkable world of pond life that remains in the regeneration zones- leaving the swim zone free for swimming.

Looking into the crystal clear water is like looking into a giant aquarium- we observe newts like miniature dragons, and tiny bats patrol the water in the evenings. Frogs and toads have built up in numbers in the surrounding garden and our resident garden birds now include 23 species from the Red and Amber Birds of Conservation Concern list. We love seeing the kingfisher perched on a deck chair. In short the benefits for wildlife are immense.

8 Changes with the seasons

Like a garden, a Natural Pool changes with the seasons, with fresh spring marginals, summer water lilies and magical autumnal mists rising from the water. In winter the pool becomes a huge Sky Mirror, reflecting light and tree silhouettes.

9 To Plant or not to Plant?

Natural Pools are filtered and purified by beautiful water plants known as Regeneration Zones.

An alternative pool requiring less space and no water plants is the Living Pool Still chemical free water, using biological filtration, a Living Pool can be as small as a plunge pool. For those clients wanting the feel of a Natural Pool but where space is at a premium, the Hybrid Pool comes into its own- essentially a Living Pool with a small area of water plants incorporated.

10 Ecological

In addition to no heating requirements, our Natural Pools have low energy requirements meaning low running costs. In winter the pumps are switched off. The ecological benefits of a Natural Pool are of positive value with planning applications- we have constructed Natural Pools for Grade 1 listed properties in conservation areas where a conventional pool was simply refused planning permission.

[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]About Sarah Murch

Sarah Murch is a natural pool designer and director of Ensata, a specialist natural pool design and construction company, and accredited Biotop partner. Ensata’s acclaimed show pool, set in five acres of award winning Ellicar Gardens is open to the public throughout summer. See for opening times and dates. On 16th June 10am-1pm Ensata is holding a Natural Pool CPD for Architects, Landscape Architects and Garden Designers see:[/box]

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Have big ideas? Tempe is offering $500K for innovators

PHOENIX — Tempe wants to hand you a share of $500,000 — and all you have to do to get it is come up with a great idea.

Tempe created an innovation fund to inspire people to figure out ways of making the hometown of Arizona State University more innovative, sustainable, recyclable and efficient.

“Tempe’s known for innovation, ideas come to fruition in Tempe that just don’t happen in other places,” Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said. “[One] idea that came about — Tempe Town Lake.”

Municipal innovation is something common in Tempe, according to Mitchell. He pointed to a unique composting program underway, which turns green landscaping waste into fertilizer for parks and green spaces. The move keeps tons of recyclable green waste out of the city’s landfill.

Taking a cue from Los Angeles, Tempe’s City Council then created the innovation fund.

“We put $500,000 aside to give individuals and organizations the opportunity to fund ideas, programs or products that could make our city more efficient, more sustainable or just better,” Mitchell said.

The fund is open to anyone, whether they live in Tempe or not, as long as it fits within the goals of improving life in the city of Tempe.

Need inspiration? Mitchell suggested, “Art that creates energy, new devices that could power Wi-Fi, recycling technology that could keep things out of our landfills, maybe cyber-security that could protect our data and there’s so much more!”

This is a one-time opportunity. Mitchell said once the money is gone, it’s gone.

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Heritage Sandy Springs Honors Volunteers

SANDY SPRINGS, GA — Heritage Sandy Springs members, volunteers and staff gathered earlier this month for its annual meeting and volunteer recognition ceremony where its 2017 award recipients were commended for their support. These volunteers were honored for their dedication to the community and their outstanding volunteer contributions to the nonprofit organization.

“We are so very proud of all that our Heritage Sandy Springs volunteers have done over the past three decades – as board members, committee chairs, community volunteers, and friends of Heritage Sandy Springs – to get us where we are today,” said Executive Director Carol Thompson. “Volunteers have put in countless hours over many years to help create a gathering place for our community where we can come together to celebrate our culture, to learn about our history, to connect with nature, to enjoy music with family and friends, or just to sit on a bench and eat a sandwich. You have done amazing work for this community, and we salute you.”

The 2017 volunteer awards and recipients were:

Youth Volunteer Of The Year Award – Ainslee Coombs

The recipient of this award is recognized for outstanding contributions to the community through volunteer work with events or programs such as the Festival, Concerts, museum programming, membership events, etc.

Group Volunteer Award – North Springs Charter High School’s Thespian Honor Troupe #4389

This award recognizes excellence in dedication to volunteering by a group of individuals volunteering on behalf of a community group, organization, or business.

James Kambourian Landscape Award – Jim Brannon

Honors an individual or organization for outstanding contributions to the Heritage Green gardens, park landscaping, and nature-based programs.

Historic Achievement Award – Leslie Walden

Recognizes outstanding volunteer work that uses Heritage Sandy Springs’ historic collections to help the community better understand and appreciate local heritage through: cataloging collections, archives, and library resources; collections conservation; exhibition development and support; and / or original research.

Community Partner Award – The Reporter Newspapers

Established in 2005, this award honors business sponsors for their exemplary support of the organization through sponsorship, provision of volunteers, equipment, and/or expertise for programs or physical improvements to the site.

Sandy Springs Festival Volunteer Award – Drew Mancini and Brent Schwieger

Honors extraordinary service to the community through volunteer commitment to the Sandy Springs Festival.

Volunteer Of The Year Award – Erica Bibbey

Recipient is selected based on extraordinary services during the current year. Bibbey co-created and leads the Heritage Sandy Springs Outdoors Club.

President’s Award – Bob and Susan Beard

This award is given at the discretion of the President of the Board of Trustees for outstanding contributions to Heritage Sandy Springs.

Garnett Cobb Outstanding Volunteer Award – Danny Martin

A recipient is selected from among all volunteers who have exhibited extraordinary service over the years, not limited to the current year of service.

For more information about Heritage Sandy Springs, visit its website at

Photo: Erica Bibbey, who co-created and leads the Heritage Sandy Springs Outdoors Club. Credit: Dark Rush Photography

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Amazing Chinese gardens open to the public

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BUNDABERG’S $1.2 million revamp of the Chinese Nanning Friendship Gardens is now finished and open to the public.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the work had been undertaken under the direction of Chinese engineers and designers to ensure a high degree of cultural accuracy was achieved within the gardens.

Cr Dempsey said the result was in line with the artist’s impression provided to the council prior to the project starting.

“I think the residents of the region will be immensely impressed and proud of what has been achieved with the project,” he said.

“There is little doubt this will become a photographer’s canvas for a multitude of formal occasions and informal family events.

“The project, typical of the detail required in Chinese garden creations, featured significant hand laid pieces including the herringbone and basket weave pathways and the pebble ornamentation around the tree adjacent to the Friendship Temple.”

Cr Dempsey said the entryway was impressive with its Chinese bells and beast heads signifying good luck and fortune to those entering.

“To achieve authenticity, much of the materials used were imported from Nanning.

“The project was very labour intensive but the result is something that is unique to the Bundaberg region and will stand as a tribute to the bonds of friendship that unite Bundaberg and Nanning.

Cr Dempsey said the gentle curve of the Friendship Bridge was complemented by the ornate viewing area that looked out over the pond with its strategically placed landscaping materials.

“The pathways meander through the garden area and ensure the visitor connects with the blend of grassed areas and planted foliage,” he said.

“An outstanding addition is the large feature boulder that was imported from Nanning.

“It is quite special to have this tangible link drawn from the soils of Nanning located in the Friendship Gardens.”

The gardens are now open to the public although the council asks visitors to respect the signage regarding the newly grassed area.

“The Friendship Garden will be officially opened when a delegation from Nanning visits Bundaberg in May next year to celebrate 20 years of the sister city relationship,” Cr Dempsey said.

In recognition of the 19-year anniversary of the sister city relationship, the Chinese city gifted the region $1.2 million to facilitate the transformation of the gardens.

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Council postpones action on community gardens again

Third Ward Councilman Sean Spiller and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville took part in the discussion of proposed guidelines for community gardens at Tuesday night’s Township Council meeting. LINDA MOSS/STAFF


With some members arguing that the guidelines need more work, the Township Council for a second time pulled a resolution to adopt rules to regulate community gardens off its agenda, pushing the matter until next year.

At its meeting Tuesday night the local governing postponed taking action on the resolution, tabling it, as it did at its Nov. 28 session. This time the resolution was withdrawn at the request of First Ward Councilman Bill Hurlock and at-Large Councilman Rich McMahon.

Both voiced their concern about two portions of the community garden guidelines. One states that any change to the design or foliage of parks and other public areas “must follow proper township administrative procedures and be approved by the Township Council.”

The council this year has been grappling with how to control the private use of public space following new initiatives at Crane Park and a mural on a Glenridge avenue wall. The issue of who regulates community gardens, and where they can be placed, came up this summer when a community demonstration garden and a farmers’ market, which was initiated by the Montclair Center Business Improvement District, were started at Crane Park. Some township officials complained that the proper channels weren’t followed.

Under the proposed community garden guidelines If someone doesn’t obtain prior written approval, they “must pay a penalty to the township, a fine of equal or higher value to the plants harmed plus the incurred cost of labor to restore the damage.”

For example, McMahon said the part of the guidelines about the penalties is ambiguous, in that they are not really explained, nor is who has jurisdiction and who decides what constitutes a design change in a public area.

He and Hurlock, who both said they supported the idea of community gardens, also told their fellow council members that they were uncomfortable with the part of the guidelines related to new construction.

The guides say that all new affordable housing units be encouraged, or required, “to contain designated yard or other shared space for residents to garden,” and that “all or some new construction, such as multifamily residential, commercial, institutional or public construction” be encouraged or required “to incorporate green roofs and/or edible landscaping, and encourage the use of existing roof space for community gardening.”

The winners of the competition to design a logo for Montclair’s 150th anniversary were announced at Tuesday night’s Township Council meeting. Sofia Abrahamson, left, who attends the Renaissance School, and Odalys Jimenez, a Glenfield School student, both got honorable mentions for their logos. The first place winner was Dylan Baddeley, who goes to Glenfield. Interim School Superintendent Barbara Pinsak, right at the podium, was also at the meeting. LINDA MOSS/STAFF

Mayor Robert Jackson also raised a question about the guidelines, citing a section that says the Department of Community Services should identify possible sites for community gardens on on public property “larger than half an acre,” such as parks, public easements and surplus property.

“A half acre, that’s a lot,” Jackson said.

Following the November council meeting revisions were made to the guidelines at the request of Third Ward Councilman Sean Spiller. But those changes didn’t satisfy Hurlock and McMahon’s reservations about the regulations.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville asked that any council members who had issues with the proposed guidelines put their concerns in writing them they could be given to the Township Parks, Recreation Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee.

Jackson said the council could take action on the resolution either at its Jan. 9 conference meeting or its Jan. 23 regular meeting.

The council kicked off its meeting by announcing the winner of a contest for local middle school students to create a logo for the municipality’s 150th anniversary next year. There were 209 participants in the competition, according to Jackson.

The first place winner was Dylan Baddeley, a Glenfield School student. Odalys Jimenez, another Glenfield student, and Sofia Abrahamson, who attends the Renaissance School, both got honorable mentions for their designs.

During the rest of its meeting the council took care of end-of-year business, adopting salary ordinances for seven unions, including police and firefighters. The governing body also passed resolutions to reappoint legal counsel that do work for the township, including renaming Joseph Angelo municipal prosecutor and Peter Russo as municipal public defender.

Jackson ended the meeting by saying the township is on track at the end of this year to have $171 million in debt, down $52 million, from the $223 million it was when the current council took office.


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Gardening classes set for MSU center in Novi in ’18

Aspiring master gardeners have a chance to hone their green thumbs through new classes scheduled for 2018 at MSU Tollgate Farm Conference Center in Novi.

“Evenings in the Garden,” a program that brings professionals to the 160-acre working farm to share tips, is offering four Thursday sessions from 6:30–8:30 p.m. They are: “Landscape Design for Sustainability” with Jan Bills on Jan. 25; “Prune Trees and Shrubs Like a Pro” with Janet Macunovich on Feb. 8; “Greening the Garden … a Smart Gardener’s Journey” with Rebecca Finneran on Feb. 22; “Secret to Beautiful Gardens: Not the Green Thumb but the Right Tools” by Steven Nikkila on March 8.

The cost is $20 each. Advance registration is required. For information and to register:

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