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Archives for December 26, 2017

Walmsley CE Primary School teacher’s secret to success lies in the …

GREEN-fingered youngsters are enjoying the sweet smell of success both in the classroom and out of it.

Matt McGlashan, a teacher at Walmsley CE Primary School is passing on his love of gardening to the next generation and has achieved first class results in seeing children bloom.

The keen gardener is a mentor for the Royal Horticultural Society’s Green Plan IT Challenge, in which secondary pupils are tasked with designing a garden.

And for the past two years, pupils at his own school have been among the horticulturalists to showcase their gardening flair.

Mr McGlashan says gardening has many benefits, including academic, as well as the sheer pleasure it can bring.

He said: “For me, gardening is my passion.

“It recharges me mentally and physically and I love to get lost in the solitude of the garden where you can forget about everything else and just exist in the moment.

“Whether I’m raking up leaves in autumn, pruning roses in winter, getting giddy in spring watching the first bulbs appear or weeding late on a summer’s night as the light fades, I’m outside experiencing the seasons and feeding my soul.

“At school, I’ve seen the immeasurable benefits that gardening can bring to young people of all ages, from garden design projects where they can let their imagination run wild through to learning about science and the environment through outdoor planting and growing.

“Gardening provides an academic boost in nearly every curriculum subject but children also learn how to work in a team and take pride in what they are doing.

“It teaches them about responsibility and the importance of keeping going and sticking to a commitment.

“Not only that, the confidence they gain from achieving a finished garden and presenting it to the public or just getting a seed to germinate, a plant to flower or eating a carrot they have grown is amazing.”

Mr McGlashan says that gardening can help demonstrate talents children may not realise they have and reveal another side to their personalities.

“The whole reason I became a teacher was to work with children, to spend time giving them the opportunity to take part in new experiences and sharing, selfishly, in the fun and joy of a child who is trying to learn something new and discovering a love or talent that they didn’t know they possessed,” he explained.

“On a personal level I have had the privilege of seeing a child who came bottom in every class test be the star of the show when it came to talking to the public about his garden.

“And there was a girl who was fussy and neat in class but the first to get stuck into the weeding and get herself covered in dirt.

“The quietest child in class become the dominant personality in a group planting up a flower bed.

“You see a whole different side to the children in the garden and it is always particularly wonderful to see the children who don’t always shine in the classroom come into their own in the gardening environment.”

Mr McGlashan mentored Urmston Grammar School in the competition which schools around the country took part in.

The school designed a discovery garden themed around space.

He said: “A massive part of a child’s education is to be exposed to as many new experiences as possible and gardening is one of those experiences.

“It may lead to a career they had never considered, a new hobby that allows them to cope with the stresses of the modern world.

“Just as importantly, it shows them that they can achieve something, when they put their mind to it, in any area of their


“I for one can’t imagine not including gardening at school and I would encourage any teacher or adult who works with children to get involved at some level.”

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Learn how to make floral centerpieces from garden masters — for free


Floral Design

If one of your New Year’s resolutions includes having a prettier home, the Cocoa-Rockledge Garden Club has an offer you shouldn’t refuse. Come Wednesday, Jan. 3, the club will host floral design classes and the price is hard to beat.

“These classes are free and open to the public,” said club spokesperson CeCe Ford.

There is a reason the organization is being so generous.

“We are looking to add members to our club and having the public come who are interested in flower arranging is one way that works,” added Ford.

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Both beginners and experienced floral designers can gather useful information from the set of three classes, scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month, beginning Jan. 3 and continuing Feb. 7 and March 7. The pedigree of the teachers is impeccable.

“All of the classes are taught by qualified instructors who are accredited master judges of the National Garden Club and members of the Florida Flower Show Judges District Council,” said Gloria Blake, session organizer. “The instructors must have attended and received certificates for basic and advanced floral design study units, and attended at least one floral design study seminar and audited each unit before teaching it.”

Becoming a National Garden Club accredited master judge is no small feat, for it requires 11 years of attending classes and symposiums and entering designs and horticulture in flower shows. Blake has been an accredited master judge since 2001, so she knows her way around flowers.

If you think all floral design entails just sticking some pretty flowers inside a vase, you most certainly could benefit from the expertise of these instructors. They’ll teach you that this art form encompasses the elements of line, form, space, texture and color and the principles of balance, proportion, rhythm, contrast, harmony and unity.

Just as the visual arts has a plethora of conceptual processes, floral design has many styles, such as pot et fleur, which combines two or more potted plants growing in soil with cut flowers in the same container.

The garden club classes will tackle line designs that include everything from vertical and horizontal arrangements to crescent, l-shape, triangle and Hogarth, known for its elegant serpentine lines.

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Additional sessions to be offered later in the year will demonstrate coordination of floral designed with other components in table settings. The last three design classes will be offered in the fall.

“All of the designs will use fresh or dried plant material,” said Blake. “We do not use silk or plastic flowers.”

If you do go for the classes, you’ll join the millions of artists who have used plant materials and flowers to enhance Mother Nature’s own design. Floral design has been in vogue from the time Cleopatra was vamping it up on the Nile.

Be forewarned that the classes might make you somewhat of a floral design addict, and you may find yourself hanging around flower shows ready to show off your latest creation.

“Naturally, the purpose is to encourage designers to enter flower shows,” said Blake.

Ultimately, these free lessons will help individuals creatively use flowers and plants to enhance interior spaces, be they in the home or in a public setting like a church.

Another bonus? These classes can scratch the itch for a creative outlet. 

The details

Free floral design classes will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays at Cocoa-Rockledge Garden Club, 1493 S. Fiske Blvd., Rockledge. Call 321-537-8060.

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Students design new daylily area at Cape Fear Botanical Garden

A group of students at Fayetteville Technical Community College recently completed the design phase of a project — a new space for 450 potted daylilies at Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

The garden has had a space for daylilies since 1996, although on the day the Bettie Jernigan Historical Daylily Garden was dedicated, it was bloomless because deer had feasted the night before.

The daylilies took a more severe beating during Hurricane Matthew, prompting a competition among FTCC students to design a new space in an area less prone to flooding.

First-semester students Justyn Beeler, Asia Evans, Tim Prescott and Greg Johansen won the competition. Beeler’s designs finished first, Evans placed second, Prescott third, and Johansen got honorable mention. They all discovered what it’s like to work as a professional for a real client on a mission to rescue the daylily population since the hurricane.

The perennials were struggling in swampish conditions in the storm’s aftermath. Situated on 80 acres between the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek, the low-lying section of the garden where the daylily garden had been located was particularly vulnerable to crown rot even before the storm because of the naturally wet conditions and heavy soils.

“We realized the daylilies would never survive 4 feet of standing water,” said Adriana Quinones, the botanical garden’s executive director, who knew immediately the daylilies must move to drier ground. But where?

The site selected was labeled as a gateway garden in the master plan and located near the main pavilion entrance facing U.S. 301, where the soils drain easier. Several trees and limbs were removed to allow the daylilies enough light.

Quinones consulted with Linda Sue Barnes, president of the Daylily Society, a woman Quinones describes as so gifted with daylilies that she has only to look at them and they thrive.

They next collaborated with Robin Pusztay, the botanist and curriculum chair next door at FTCC, and agreed on a landscape design competition among the students. As a graduate of the horticulture program, lab assistant Rebecca Armstrong was an invaluable guide to the students throughout the process.

“We took them out as a class and measured the site. We got ideas, and we met often with our client to bring layouts, rough sketches and final drawings together,” Pusztay said. “This was the real thing.”

As some initial designs were eliminated for not adhering to directions, Beeler, Evans Prescott and Johansen further refined their work to incorporate a walking path, water feature and the existing Long Needle Pine tree that provided a nesting place for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers.

The final plan incorporates the best elements of each design. In March and April, new beds will be constructed, and 450 daylilies will leave their pots behind to take up residence in new digs at the garden’s main entrance. By the summer, an explosion of daylilies will have replaced bare ground, tree stumps, grasses and weeds behind the wrought-iron fence.

“The students were judged ultimately on how well they followed our directions,” said Quinones, “and how they brought their own creative vision to the project.”

Members of the Daylily Society raised $200 in prize money for the students.

“The best part is they gained real-world experience from an actual client they can now include on resumes,” Quinones said. “This collaboration was a win-win for everyone.”

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Oak Hill Park entry project nearing completion

OLEAN — The efforts to overhaul the main entry into Oak Hill Park are being led by a local just trying to spruce up the neighborhood.

North Third Street’s Marianne Laine, who with her husband, Erick, spearheaded the effort from funding the $162,000 project to helping with design work.

“We’ve lived in this house for going on 39 years,” she said. “I have seen that park virtually every day, and I noticed how over the years how shabby and, to my mind, ugly how the steps looked,” she said. “It was painted green, chipping. It was just awful.”

it came to a head during a discussion with a neighbor.

“I can’t keep looking at it — it’s so awful,” she recalled.

After speaking with Mayor Bill Aiello about ideas for the entryway, she reached out to the city historical society, which produced photographs of how the steps looked previously. Using those photographs, city engineers drafted the plans, putting it out for bid this summer.

The Laines aren’t strangers to helping beautify the area.

The Laine family and Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation have funded several recent projects at the park. The foundation board approved more than $7,600 in grants to replant the slopes around the entrance in 2014, which are being left untouched by the current project. In 2015, the family created Olean Parks Beautification Fund to spruce up landscaping at the site, as well as other city parks.

The project could also encourage neighbors to start sprucing up their own properties nearby, Laine said.

“I hope it fills a need,” she said. “Once there’s some landscaping done, I think it’ll be the centerpiece of something really lovely.”

But, she said, “the biggest gift has been to me — I love looking at it, and I can’t wait for the lights to get lit,” she said. “It’s as beautiful as any city, Buffalo park entrance. I’m really thrilled.”

Mayor Bill Aiello is unsure exactly when that will be.

“It should be winding down,” he said, as the bulk of the work has been completed. He did not have an exact date for when the work will wrap up.

The work continues, the mayor said, after a slowdown outside the control of the contractor, Long Excavating and Construction of Black Creek.

Officials originally planned to finish the work in November, but delays in materials deliveries pushed back the completion date to the end of the year.

A ribbon cutting will be held, he said, but not right away.

“That will probably be in the spring,” Aiello said. “We have to have a plaque made, and that will take a while.”

The area originally served as the city’s cemetery, but near the end of the 19th century was converted into building lots and a 3-acre park, with the graves relocated to Mount View Cemetery.

The park, on 5.55 acres today, according to the city’s website, contains two tennis courts, a basketball court and a playground area. The equipment in the playground was replaced in 2012 at a cost of $60,000.

(Contact reporter-editor Bob Clark at Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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