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Archives for December 2017

Now is the time to think about next year’s garden – Springfield News

Q: What kind of projects can I work on in the garden that will get me outside but will not jeopardize new plants? – H.D., Ash Grove

Answered by Kelly McGowan, MU Extension horticulture educator

Most gardeners are probably already looking through mail order catalogs for seeds and plants. Be careful that you order from a source that will wait to ship plants to you until later in the spring. This information is usually on the pages that give all the rules for ordering.

Now is a good time to take a tour through your garden and decide what you want to do differently and make notes. Take note of what worked well last year and what didn’t.

Look through some garden books or magazines to get ideas for new plantings or designs. Would you like to attract butterflies or grow herbs?

An easy way to design that layout is to take a couple of pictures of your garden and then draw directly on the photo with a marker to get a quick idea of what you can do.

You may be surprised when touring through the garden to find several weeds sprouting. Weeds growing now may go to seed soon. My advice is that you remove them now in order to save a lot of weeding later.

Now is also a good time to make plans for some garden construction projects. Find good plans at the library or online, buy the materials, and get ready to build when we have a pleasant day.

Here are a few garden construction projects worth your consideration.

Berms are mounds of soil that create interest, highlight certain plants, or can be used as screens to hide outbuildings or neighboring structures.

Cold frames are a simple structure covered in clear plastic, glass or fiberglass. These are used for growing cool-weather crops in the very early spring, relying on the sun for their source of heat.

This is also a good time to construct compost bins. University of Missouri Extension guide sheet 6597, “How to Build a Compost Bin” is also available from the nearest MU Extension center or online at

Raised beds make gardening easier in our rocky, clay soils. They also add height and depth to designs and bring plants closer to you.

A nursery bed is a raised bed filled with compost instead of soil. This is a holding site where you can put plants you purchase even though you have not decided where you are going to plant them or if you get those mail order plants before you are ready for them.

Arbors, pergolas, and archways are also great accents to a landscape. They can define an area, separate or screen sections of your yard, and can add height through the use of climbing vines.

A decorative fence can also make a nice accent to a garden. It can also provide a backdrop for a grouping of plants or a screen from one part of your yard to another.

Readers can pose questions or get more information by calling 417-874-2963 and talking to one of the trained volunteers staffing the Mas­ter Gardener Hotline at the University of Missouri Exten­sion Center in Greene County located inside the Botanical Center, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield, MO 65807.

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This no garden variety book on Zen practice

The over-application of the term Zen to describe everything from interior design to restaurant menus pored over by celebrities and fashionistas to the expression a “Zen moment” can be tiresome.

The practice, along with certain Japanese garden forms associated with it, has not been — despite the efforts of early disseminators, writers and analysts such as Shunryu Suzuki, Ruth Fuller Sasaki and Alan Watts — widely understood outside of Japan. There are notable exceptions, including the likes of poet Gary Snyder and the early garden writer Loraine E. Kuck, who, devoting time to creative and scholarly ends, were well qualified to comment on the subject.

True Zen, however, is no easy thing. It is often conducted in halls that are draughty in the winter and poorly ventilated in the torpid Japanese summers. As your body is being assailed by pain and discomfort, you are inveighed to disengage from the bone chills and muscular knots and ascend to a higher state.

Comprehending Zen, even achieving a small purchase on its steep rock face, can feel overwhelming, like trying to name every plant, flower and tree on the planet — a work of improbable scale, beyond the scope of a single life. Perhaps that is why Buddhism offers the hope of an infinite number of existences.

Despite a devout and growing overseas following, Zen has not been without its detractors. In his 1960 book, “A Curse of Blossom,” Quentin Crewe, vexed by the explanations of the temple clerics he met in Japan, their tendency to “answer every question with an inconsequential parable,” concluded that Zen embodied the “Japanese preference for the indefinite.”

When tackling the thorny abstractions of the subject in book form, we are, in the persons of John Dougill and John Einarsen, in better hands. Soaked in the finer legacies of Kyoto, the authors are keenly aware of the religious principals and aesthetics underpinning spiritual practices and garden design in the city. Accordingly, their book derives from deep understanding and reflection, rather than rote research.

This is a work that should be sampled slowly, in portions, like consuming a number of small dishes for their nutritional value. The book assumes nothing, beginning each sub-topic with the plain blank, the zero of nonexistent knowledge on the part of the reader. Each sentence seems like a fresh beginning. Einarsen’s lens moves through the muted interiors of temples and across the symbolically charged surfaces of gardens, less like a fly on the wall, than an unimpeded spirit, a presence more than an intrusion. The images match Dougill’s graceful, well-considered text as seamlessly as a good film score complements a script. Beside the photography, there are reproductions of historical artworks, among them accomplished, original portraits of leading Zen figures.

To characterize this as a guide book would be to belittle its intellectual and artistic merits, though it can be profitably consulted for ideas that might form a specialized city itinerary. Neither is it, despite exquisite visuals and inspired design, to be confused with a coffee-table book. The authors provide us with a selection and analysis of some of the most prestigious Zen temples, monasteries and abbots’ quarters in the city, as well as the gardens that accompany them.

Arguably, Kyoto has the largest concentration of formal gardens in the world. Purists insist that nothing since has surpassed the garden designs of the Muromachi Period (1392-1573), but there are ample examples in this book of landscapes conceived at later dates, which are exquisite in both conception and assembly. Many of the designs featured are stone gardens.

Unlike Japanese circuit gardens, with their novelty objects and pleasure-enhancing themes, dry landscape gardens have little or no ornamentation. In this most distilled of garden forms, space is defined through inference and the reduction of mass, essence suggested rather than revealed. Symbolism is used to add depth and erudition but also, through its unfolding of associations, to expand the spatial aspects of the mind. Their iconographic and metaphysical qualities, their embodiment in some instances as incarnations of the Buddhist world view, have assured their place as works of art or, in the most accomplished cases, landscapes that have transcended nature as representations of nature transmuted into art.

Replicating these enduring landscapes, the book represents a calendar of years, rather than months or seasons. Whether describing the transmission of Zen to the West, the sounds emanating from the bamboo shakuhachi flute, a vegetarian temple meal, the unsullied moment that can result in a splendid haiku, or providing short biographies of eminent Zen figures and demonstrating how a chore — such as raking the gravel surface of a garden, whisking powdered green tea or preparing gruel for a simple repast — becomes a sacred activity or act of meditation, one senses direct experience and engagement on the part of the authors.

As a result, instead of moving rudderless through a series of abstractions, or perilous metaphysical currents, we are steered with a firm hand, not perhaps toward a dazzling moment of enlightenment, but to small pools of illumination.

As the authors seem to infer, in Zen, a practice that prizes a state of nothingness, we have a portal to the direct transmission of everything.

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BRHS Graduate Publishes Debut Novel

BRIDGEWATER, NJ – A 2006 graduate from Bridgewater-Raritan High School, Anthony Smith always enjoyed writing and would jot phrases down all the time – and now he has published his first book.

“I’ve always kind of jotted phrases down, and that’s basically how this started,” he said. “I jotted down ideas as they came, and once they started to resemble something like a story, I went for it.”

Smith’s first book is “Growth,” a fiction novel about a middle-aged landscaper.

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“He’s somewhat of a simpleton, but when he hires two recent college graduates with an affinity for literature, he is forced to undergo an intellectual overhaul,” he said. “As he begins reading novels two 20-somethings ‘assign’ to him, his prior state of ignorant bliss crumbles and he begins to lose his grip on reality.”

Smith said he came up with the idea while he was working for a landscaper over the summer.

“He, like the protagonist of the novel, is uneducated, but possesses his own type of practical brilliance that I sometimes feel my generation undervalues,” he said. “He once said to me that it’s important to make the bushes look like they grew that way, and proceeded to explain to me, in his own way, how people like to craft their landscaping to fit their perfect version of nature, that our yards have to achieve a perfect balance of natural and man-made, nature on our own terms.”

Smith said he found this concept interesting and profound, and it reminded him of Shakespeare’s idea that the role of art is to recreate nature, to filter the real world through artistic lenses.

“That’s basically what I attempted to pursue in the novel,” he said.

Smith, an English teacher now at Hillsborough High School, said he always liked writing when he was a student at BRHS and then at The College of New Jersey.

“But I guess I never really knew I wanted to try to do it in any kind of public way until a couple years ago,” he said. “A couple people I worked with at a middle school in Jersey City read something I wrote, and told me I should write a book.”

“I guess I could only hear that so many times before I said, ‘why not?’,” he added.

Smith grew up in Finderne, and moved to Raritan after college, before moving to Somerville in April.

Smith said he isn’t sure if he will write more books, it depends on if people like his first work.

“This felt so bucket-list, like that I did it and I can move on and just be regular old school teacher now,” he said. “But I guess if people like it, if it seems like writing would be something that serves others and not just my own ego, I’d love to do it again.”

For Smith, the best writers are those that know how to turn a phrase. He said he likes the craft of writing, and organizing words in a way that makes a reader fall in love with his or her own language.

“I don’t think we do that enough,” he said. “We tend to see language as just a perfunctory sort of thing, or that it’s just so automatic that we don’t stop and admire the complexity and beauty of it.” 

“More than anything else, I would want readers to find a couple sentences or phrases that remind them of that,” he added.

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‘225’: Downtown’s hard-edge architecture is getting an inviting revamp

With sharp edges, raw concrete and angular, fortress-like design, some of downtown’s most important public buildings and spaces—City Hall, the River Center and the Riverfront Plaza—can seem pretty imposing.

But in the decades since the buildings went up as part of a public complex clustered around St. Louis Street, ideas about what constitutes as inviting civic design have changed, 225 notes in a feature from the current issue.

Today many of downtown’s important buildings are undergoing renovations to soften their edges and create more welcoming entrances.

The River Center has already gotten new entrances framed in glass and steel to break up the walls of concrete. The box-like public library was torn down in 2016, with a sleek and modern new version set to open in late 2018, and the multilevel Riverfront Plaza is being beautified with more organic landscaping.

The city-parish also is planning to revamp the River Center Theatre’s exterior and lobby with floor-to-ceiling glass and metal panels.

LSU architecture professor Michael Desmond has studied and written extensively about Louisiana and Baton Rouge’s architecture. His late father’s firm was responsible for much of the City Hall complex’s design.

“Dad’s idea was to focus the whole complex toward the river to use it to frame the Old State Capitol,” says Desmond, who calls his father’s design “rational modernism.” “It was a planning move more than an architectural style move.”

Read the full 225 story. Send your comments to

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Tillamook County Pioneer

Giving Guide

Want to grow your green thumb? Want to become a better gardener, applying up-to-date scientific methods, reducing pesticides and weeds?

Learn from the experts and become a Master Gardener this winter. Weekly classes taught by Oregon State University (OSU) faculty and local experts start January 11. Every Thursday, you will hear from a variety of experts on all aspects of gardening on the Oregon Coast.

The 12-week course, offered for beginning and advanced gardeners, is provided by the Tillamook office of the Oregon State University Extension Service. It covers sustainable gardening, soils, propagation, pruning, landscape and garden planning and design, suitable plants for coastal gardening and landscaping, pest and disease control, weed management, orchards, raised beds, and other topics of interest to local gardeners. Students will experience a variety of hands on and interactive training.

Participants in the program are encouraged to choose the service option, which offers the class at a reduced price and requires 60 hours of volunteer service within the community helping educate the public about gardening. This is done through a wide variety of projects and is done with other experienced Master Gardeners. There is a second option for people who choose not to do the volunteer service component. They pay a higher fee but have no obligation upon completion.

“By taking the Master Gardener classes, and in helping others, our Master Gardener apprentices develop their own expertise and abilities to better serve the community. This is a great way to help yourself and others enjoy their gardens using current scientific knowledge. The classes are taught so that both beginning and experienced gardeners can learn new information. ” Joy Jones, local OSU Extension Agent, says.

“The classes are very informative and professional,” one of last year’s students says. “The time flies, I had a lot of fun, and I am a much more informed and capable gardener now. My gardening skills really improved. This is the best bargain a gardener could find.”

Tuition is $120 and includes the comprehensive Sustainable Gardening book, as well as access to a wide range of printed and on-line resources, and experienced professional instructors. Some scholarships are available for this option. For those who do not have the time or desire to volunteer, they too may take the training and receive a certificate of horticulture. The fee for this option is $240.

Enroll now! Call the Extension Service office at 503-842-3433 or visit them at 4506 Third Street, Tillamook, for more information. In addition, information can be found on the website at . Classes will be held at the Oregon State University Extension Service classroom in the Partners for Rural Innovation building.


Oregon State University Extension Service offers educational programs, activities, and materials without discrimination based on age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran’s status. Oregon State University Extension Service is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
If you have a disability that requires special considerations in order for you to attend this event contact the OSU Extension Service in Tillamook at 503.842.3433 two weeks prior to the program start date.

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Gardening calendar – Entertainment & Life – The Ledger – Lakeland, FL

INTRODUCTION TO FLORIDA-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPING: 10 a.m. Jan. 4, Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Preserve, 945 Mackay Blvd., Lake Alfred, free, for required registration call Parks and Recreation Department at 863-291-5272 or Presented by Patsy Glasscock. The nine principles that make up Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program in Polk County.

GROWING AND COOKING WITH COOL SEASON VEGETABLES: 10 a.m. to noon, Jan. 5, Lakeland Electric, 501 E. Lemon St., Lakeland, free, Learn how to grow cool season vegetables as well as how to harvest, preserve and prepare foods with them, register for all workshops at For questions, contact


Barefoot Gardener Organic Garden Club

Members share knowledge on how to grow or where to obtain local, organic fruits and vegetables through the Yahoo group, the website, Facebook, classes or field trips.

When: Visit for events

Contact: 863-904-8620,

Plant City Garden Club

Jan. 8: Speaker James Reed, owner of Three Pines Tree Farm on Bugg Road. Flower therapy after meeting. Bud vases.

When: 10:15 a.m. coffee; 10:30 a.m. meeting, second Mondays

Location: The Walden Lake East Community Center, 1304 Teakwood Drive, Plant City

Contact: Lisa Firm at 813-404-4922,

To be included in the Garden Notes calendar, notices must be sent prior to each meeting. Include information about where and when the meeting or event will be and what the meeting topic will be by noon Wednesday to publish Friday. Must be open to the public. Send to The Ledger, P.O. Box 408, Lakeland, FL 33802, email


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Learn how to plant and prune roses with Armstrong Garden Centers, more garden events


Gardening classes: The Mill Valley Public Library offers free seasonal gardening classes most Saturdays and occasionally on Sundays. Call 415-389-4292 or go to

Garden club: Novato Garden Club presents monthly meetings at the Margaret Todd Senior Center, 1560 Hill Road, Novato. Check for schedule.

Workshops and gardening classes: Armstrong Garden Centers in Novato offer free classes to gardeners of all skill levels most Saturdays. Call 415-878-0493 or go to

Workshops and seminars: Sloat Garden Center has five Marin County locations that offer gardening workshops and seminars on a weekly basis. Check for schedule, locations and cost.

Workshops and seminars: The Marin Master Gardeners present a variety of how-to workshops, seminars and special events throughout Marin County on a weekly basis. Check for schedule, locations and cost.

Workshops and seminars: Marin Rose Society presents monthly lectures on growing roses and good garden practices. Check for schedule and locations.

Seminars: The Marin Orchid Society presents lectures on raising orchids at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Morning Glory Room, 750 Lindaro St., San Rafael. Call 415-895-0667.

Gardening volunteers: Marin Art Garden Center in Ross seeks volunteers for maintenance, weeding, transplanting and mulching. Call 415-455-5260.

Gardening volunteers: The Novato Independent Elders Program seeks seasonal volunteers to help Novato seniors with their overgrown yards Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons. Call 415-899-8296.

Nursery volunteers: Volunteers are sought to help in Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy nurseries from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays at Tennessee Valley, 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, or 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays at Marin Headlands Nursery; or 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at Muir Beach, 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays in the Marin Headlands. Call 415-561-3077 or go to

Nursery days: The SPAWN (Salmon Protection and Watershed Network) native plant nursery days are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays and weekends. Call 415-663-8590, ext. 114, or email to register and for directions. Go to for more information.

Garden visits: Marin Master Gardeners and the Marin Municipal Water District offer free residential Bay-Friendly Garden Walks to MMWD customers. The year-round service helps homeowners identify water-saving opportunities and soil conservation techniques for their landscaping. Call 415-473-4204 to request a visit to your garden.

Garden volunteers: Marin Open Garden Project (MOGP) volunteers are available to help Marin residents glean excess fruit from their trees for donations to local organizations serving people in need and to build raised beds to start vegetable gardens through the MicroGardens program. MGOP also offers a garden tool lending library. Go to or email

Around the bay

Landscape garden: Cornerstone Gardens is a permanent, gallery-style garden featuring walk-through installations by international landscape designers on nine acres at 23570 Highway 121 in Sonoma. Free. Call 707-933-3010 or go to

Olive ranch: McEvoy Ranch at 5935 Red Hill Road in Petaluma offers tours, workshops and special events. Call 707-769-4123 or go to

Botanical garden: Quarryhill Botanical Garden at 12841 Sonoma Highway in Glen Ellen covers 61 acres and showcases a large selection of scientifically documented wild source temperate Asian plants. The garden is open for self-guided tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Free. Call 707-996-3166 or go to

— Compiled by Colleen Bidwill

The Trowel Glove Calendar appears Saturdays. Send high-resolution jpg photo attachments and details about your event to or mail to Home and Garden Calendar/Lifestyles, Marin Independent Journal, 4000 Civic Center Drive, Suite 301, San Rafael, CA 94903. Items should be sent two weeks in advance. Photos should be a minimum of 2 megabytes and include caption information. Include a daytime phone number on your release.

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How women are reaping the benefits of cutting their lawn with scythes

Poldark hunk Aidan Turner set female viewers’ hearts racing in 2015 when he showed off his bare-chested scything skills in the hit BBC drama.

Chris Riley, 59, of Gillingham, Dorset, trained 200 people this year on SABI courses and demand is rising.

He said: “Monty Don, more than anyone, has helped the word to get around about scything because he has such a big following.

“Scythes are really enjoyable and good exercise for the kind of person who would rather use this wonderful hand tool than pick up a strimmer.

“They do the job just as well as long as you have the knowledge and skill to use them.”

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Garden Club of the Eastern Shore accepting scholarship applications

EASTON — Graduating seniors attending high school in Talbot County and expecting to major in horticulture, landscape architecture or design, botany, environmental science, agriculture or a related field may be eligible for a scholarship of up to $4,500 from the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore.

Scholarship applications are available from guidance counselors in all Talbot County high schools. They also may be obtained by calling Dorothy Whitcomb at 443-385-0486. Applications are due back to the guidance counselors’ offices by the close of school on April 3.

The GCES Scholarship is merit-based. Outstanding academic achievement, along with volunteer or work experience, which shows a strong work ethic and a commitment to excellence, will be considered when evaluating applications.

GCES President Jill Meyerhoff said, “The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore has awarded 15 scholarships to Talbot County students since 1999. We are committed to helping talented young people achieve their educational goals and are proud of previous recipients who have gone on to become teachers, researchers, landscape architects and designers, and environmental educators. They are all making important contributions both here on the Shore and in other parts of the country.”

The GCES is focused on promoting environmentally sound landscape practices and providing educational programs for the community that explore conservation practices and environmental issues. In addition to awarding its scholarship for the past 15 years, GCES spearheaded the restoration of Easton’s Thompson Park, which along with the garden at the Academy Art Museum, it maintains.

For information about GCES programs or to make a contribution to the scholarship fund, call Whitcomb at 443-385-0486.

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Belle Isle garden by renowned designer Piet Oudolf is a go | Crain’s …


  • Garden designed by internationally known designer Piet Odolf approved for Belle Isle
  • He is said to be open to additional Detroit commissions, as well
  • Will be present at Detroit Film Theatre screening of film on his work


Internationally renowned designer Piet Oudolf has agreed to design a garden for Belle Isle and is open to additional commissions in Detroit.

The island garden will be planted on a 1.5-acre, grassy site near the Nancy Brown Peace Memorial Carillon and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, a site chosen by Oudolf himself during a visit to Detroit earlier this year.

The Dutch-born Oudolf is considered by many to be a modern-day Frederick Law Olmsted, the 19th-century designer credited with much of the original design for Belle Isle, as well as New York City’s Central Park. He worked on design of the High Line park in New York City — which transformed an old elevated rail line into a public space — and the Lurie Garden in Chicago.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which manages Belle Isle, approved the Detroit project early in December.

The Garden Club of Michigan, which led the effort to bring an Oudolf garden to Belle Isle, has raised $150,000 to cover his commission and travel expenses from his home in the Netherlands.

Additional fundraising for the $2.7 million project — which would include an endowment for maintenance and operation — will be led by Oudolf Garden Detroit. Among the group’s members are Maura Campbell, immediate past president of the Garden Club and fellow board member Jean Hudson, who’ve co-chaired the effort to bring Oudolf to Detroit, along with other members of the club and other local supporters.

The Belle Isle Conservancy has agreed to serve as fiduciary for the fundraising effort.

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