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Archives for January 9, 2018

Detroit 2020: World-renowned designer recruited for new garden on Belle Isle

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Could a beautifully designed garden bring more visitors to Belle Isle? In tonight’s Detroit 2020, we uncover another sign of big growth and development in the Motor City. A big name garden designer has a new visions for one of Detroit’s most unique attractions.

DETROIT (WXYZ) – Could a beautifully designed garden bring more visitors to Belle Isle?

In tonight’s Detroit 2020, we uncover another sign of big growth and development in the Motor City.

A big name garden designer has a new visions for one of Detroit’s most unique attractions.

In the dead of winter, it may be hard to picture a green Belle Isle, especially with all the snow.

If you dig down far enough, however, you may find some grass, and that’s the start of a new garden planned by a world-renowned designer, Piet Oudolf.

“It should inspire people,” he said. “There will be trees surrounding the whole park, there are a lot of areas where they can sit on the lawn.”

Oudolf is excited to take an acre and a half of land and turn it a beautiful place for visitors.

“Not only for people, but insects, butterflies, bees. It has so much to offer to the environment. I think that’s also part of my work.”

Oudolf was the plant designer for the gardens in Millennium Park in Chicago and Battery Park in New York City.

He’s been dubbed the rock star of garden design.

“I always act like I don’t hear it.”

The Garden Club of Michigan is working with Oudolf, hoping to have the garden ready in two years.

“How it comes from nothing to something,” he said. “Thinking about the concept, we have a rough idea. It will be a perennial garden.”

The organization is hoping to raise more than $2.75 million dollars to pay for the project.

The Dutch designer says he is excited to bring his garden ideas to Detroit.

“It doesn’t feel like a big city. It’s so spread everywhere. It feels so open,” he added. “There is so much energy, there’s so much going on on a small scale that I feel so much engaged.”

For more information on the project, go to:

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JoAnne Skelly: What is a moving garden?

I was recently reading a magazine called “Garden Design” that featured award-winning eco-friendly gardens. In it was a story by Louisa Jones about ecologist and landscape architect Gilles Clément. He’s renowned for his concept of the “moving garden.” It’s a concept of biological gardening, the idea of working with, not against, nature.

The theory is when left alone, nature reclaims a site with spontaneous growth. The gardener partners with nature guiding the process for a pleasing effect. Clément interacts with a site using “no chemicals, no supplemental watering and no noisy, energy-wasting machinery” (Jones). He only modifies and influences nature’s growth by targeted pruning and mowing paths around self-sown wildflowers.

The idea of having a wild garden without irrigation may be possible on abandoned farmlands in France, but it’s unlikely to be successful here in Nevada. Left to nature’s devices in our arid environment, we would end up with mostly sagebrush, cheatgrass, weeds and occasional flowers. However, with the addition of water, we too can have an aesthetic partnership with nature as the planner. The home garden can be a wildlife preserve.

He considers his garden moving because of the “seasonal variation, change due to self-sowing and species migration” (Jones). Last June I wrote about gardening my lazy way. I mentioned I rarely bought plants, instead I added to our landscape by letting plants reseed or otherwise propagate themselves. I never thought of my approach as a moving garden, but I like the idea.

The technique of landscape design from an ecological perspective, creating a hospitable habitat for all kinds of creatures and plants, is something I’ve taught throughout my career. In years past, I drove my poor husband crazy with some of my methods of working with, not against, nature. Once, I got him to stop mowing the lawn except for select paths through the lengthening grass.

I thought it would look natural and peaceful, less tailored and controlled. However, while some grass got taller, some didn’t, so overall the look was raggedy rather than “amber waves of grain.” When we finally decided the high grasses were less than appealing, it was a lot of work to cut them back to lawn length where we could mow them into order again.

A garden filled with native and hardy, adapted plants will encourage a delightful diversity of bird, insect and animal life with less work for the gardener, fewer to no chemicals and less water. A win, I think.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at

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Gardening in Virginia continues to evolve since Colonial era

abor-intensive plantings such as French-style parterres and espaliered fruit trees, such as these plants at Mount Vernon, were popular with plantation owners in Virginia.

Photo provided by Lori Kesner

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Will progress on Como-Dale-Front intersection finally happen in 2018?

How to improve the six-legged intersection that is Como-Dale-Front is a topic that has engaged the South Como, North End and Frogtown neighborhoods for decades. 2018 starts with a renewed effort by the St. Paul Departments of Public Works and Planning and Economic Development (PED), design consultants, and City Council Member Amy Brendmoen to make improvements.

Ideas gathered at a December 2017 meeting will be incorporated into the plans, along with feedback from an online survey that ends Jan. 14.

The intersection is expected to see new infrastructure projects in the short-term, with a push toward redevelopment in the long-term.
Some ideas on the drawing board focus on placemaking, to make what are now parking lots more attractive. That effort could include landscaping at spots that are now paved or open. Better markings are also being considered, such as high-visibility pedestrian crosswalks at all crossings, more prominent green-painted bike lane markings for Como cyclists, and white painted stop bars for motorists so that vehicles don’t block crosswalks.

Relocating the northbound Dale St. bus stop near the Speedy market to a spot beside John’s Pizza Café is also being considered. Another idea is to eliminate the dedicated right-turn lane from southbound Como onto westbound Front. The pedestrian space could be enlarged, and the Como crosswalk shortened. Other suggestions include restricting right turn lanes for trucks, filling area sidewalk gaps, adding pedestrian refuges and even tearing down a building at the northwest corner.

How to improve the intersection and transform the area has been discussed since the 1990s. Those studies led to successes such as the transformation of an old foundry and industrial area into the St. Paul Port Authority’s Great Northern Business Park. But other parts of that ambitious project, including the extension of Pierce Butler Rte. to the east, stalled due to lack of funds.

The latest scrutiny began in 2010 with the completion of a University of Minnesota Design Center study. That “Rethinking the Intersection” study became part of the District 6 neighborhood plan, as North End and South Como were both still in that citizen participation district. The city awarded $350,000 from its Commercial Vitality Fund Program to the intersection in 2015. That launched two years of neighborhood meetings, design work and a market study of Dale St. paid for by the North End Neighborhood Association (District 6) and Como Community Council (District 10).

Why is it important to do something at Como-Dale-Front now? “When the city created the Commercial Vitality Zone program, it was meant to set-aside funds for neighborhood economic development—local commercial corridors and business nodes that make neighborhoods special and support local jobs. Because of the work completed in years’ past, specifically the 2010 study on the intersection by the Metropolitan Design Center and District 6, we were able to secure funding for this work at Como, Front, and Dale,” said Brendmoen.

“Our goal is to help improve the pedestrian conditions in the area and make it a more attractive place for shoppers, residents, and businesses,” Brendmoen said. “We also want to emphasize safety at this very busy, very confusing intersection. There are redevelopment opportunities at this node, and we hope to signal to commercial developers and small business owners that the neighborhood is ready for investment.”

But the biggest challenge to redoing the intersection is Dale St., said Brendmoen. Dale is four lanes in the area and is heavily traveled as a route to and from I-94. That is a plus for efforts to bring in new businesses large and small. But the traffic volume creates the challenge. “Crossing Dale St. feels dangerous which is a condition we must address. We need to balance the need to move vehicles along Dale St. with the needs of the residential community that surrounds it,” she said.

As for opportunities, Brendmoen singled out the Galls/Uniforms Unlimited and the former Schroeder’s Bar sites as the greatest potential redevelopment opportunities. Schroeder’s was destroyed in a November 2014 fire, and the owners chose not to rebuild. Galls is for sale. Longtime residents may remember it as Joe’s Sporting Goods. Redevelopment could complement one of the area’s strengths, of long-term business owners who have kept up their properties. An anchor-destination business for the area is sought, along with smaller infill businesses.

The market study tracked some interesting trends. District 10 residents, who have higher incomes than the residents of District 6, have been vocal about the desire for businesses in their neighborhood. At a meeting in November 2017 about the future of the shuttered Como Dockside restaurant space, many people brought up the need for more restaurants and coffee shops. A grocery store has also been cited as something residents want. But the study indicated that while a drug store or smaller grocery store of about 20,000 to 30,000 square feet could be added along Dale between Maryland Ave. and Topping St., Maryland would likely be a better spot for a grocery.

Read more about the project and the business surveys, and take a survey on Como-Dale-Front at

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Landscape Design: Fundamentals and Fun

Does your landscape offer enjoyment? Does your home’s entry welcome and impress with knock-out curb appeal? The presentation will focus on the basic steps of landscape design followed by dreamy design ideas and design disasters. Bring your own dilemmas and even photos and sketch paper to work on a small area of your landscape. This workshop is designed to empower participants with knowledge about the importance of a landscape design that can lead to an improved outdoor space.
Whether your garden needs color, edibles or insight, Master Gardener and landscape designer Kirsten Lints will guide you through the design steps to get the garden you want.
Landscaping doesn’t need to be complicated, risky or expensive – solid plant recommendations and often small improvements can get your landscape from now to wow!

Cost: Free, with a suggested $5 donation at the door.

Side hustles you can start with no money | Business …

FILE – In this Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, file photo, a dog walker controls multiple canines on a walk at Congress Park in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Starting a business is often a pricey ordeal, but no- to low-cost ideas exist for aspiring entrepreneurs with unique and marketable talent. Americans shell out big bucks when it comes to their pets. If pets are your passion, you can start a dog-walking or pet-sitting business for little to no money. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

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Master Gardener: New website offers resources to help prepare …





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Sarah Browning: Deadline nears for Master Gardener applications

Master Gardeners teach composting at Pioneers Park in 2016.

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Botanical garden director resigns amid $10 million capital campaign – Columbus Ledger

The Columbus Botanical Garden, which launched a $10 million capital campaign for improvements in late 2017, is now embarking on the search for a new executive director following the resignation of its previous one.

Matt Whiddon, who had overseen the 23-acre garden at 3603 Weems Road in north Columbus since March 2014, submitted his resignation to the nonprofit organization’s board of directors last week. The resignation letter by Whiddon apparently asked for a three-month notice until his departure, but the board declined the offer.

Reached Monday, Whiddon did not want to comment on specifics of his sudden departure. He is now focusing on his landscaping business, Columbus in Color, which he started in 2000.

“I think that we had a great four years that I was there, and we really transitioned the garden … I feel like we really helped to poise the garden for a bright future,” said Whiddon, noting a 10-year master plan has been developed for Columbus Botanical Garden, which was dedicated in 2004 after the property was donated by the children of George and Lillie Belle Kimbrough Adams of Columbus. The garden is located adjacent to Columbus Park Crossing, the major shopping hub developed on land also owned by the family.

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“We’ve been working to achieve the goals that came up as a result of that master plan,” Whiddon said. “There’s a new vegetable garden, a new rose garden, an expanded camellia garden. I’m certainly proud of what we have done and only wish the garden the best of success going forward.”

With Whiddon’s exit, Bruce Howard, president of the garden’s board of directors, has taken on the role of interim executive director, while Columbus resident and retired businessman Sam Wellborn, president-elect, has become interim president of the board.

Wellborn said there was no acrimony between Whiddon and the garden’s board leadership leading up to his resignation. Whiddon had been managing both the gardens job and his landscape business at the same time, Wellborn said, noting he had done a good job during the time he was executive director.

“He did not have to resign. Nobody asked him to resign. It was his own choosing,” Wellborn said. “He might have wanted to stay there longer than we approved. But we felt like if he was leaving for sure, then we needed to get on with finding his successor.”

To that end, a search committee is now being formed from the garden’s board members, with it expected to be finalized by the end of this week, Wellborn said. Then a regional search for a new director will get under way, although no timeframe has been laid out for that to be accomplished, he said. It could take two or three months to find the “right person” for the job.

Wellborn also is serving as chairman of the $10 million capital campaign for Columbus Botanical Garden, which will run for two years through 2019. He said the fund raising is going “extremely well” thus far, and that the ultimate goal is to turn the garden into an “incredible new amenity and attraction” for the city. Plans include creating a new children’s garden on the property.

“We go by the slogan, ‘Great cities have great gardens.’ Well, Columbus doesn’t have a great garden, but we’re going to create a great garden,” Wellborn said. “Until we embarked on this capital campaign, we hadn’t been able to do too much because of limited funds. But now we’re going to have the money to do the things in our long-term plan to get it done.”

Both Whiddon and Wellborn said the current 10,000 visitors each year to Columbus Botanical Garden is simply too low of a number, and that the aim is to reach 40,000 visitors as quickly as possible. Many Columbus-area residents don’t event know that it exists, they acknowledged.

The garden, which is free, but “suggests” a $2 per person donation from visitors, is typically used for special events to include weddings, horticultural seminars and community education, as well as a setting for photographs.

Its stated mission is: “To preserve a portion of the rapidly diminishing open space in Columbus and to provide the public with a unique educational facility that is based on environmental awareness, horticulture, historic preservation and agricultural values. This facility shall strive to inspire and leave a lasting impression on those who visit.”

Click here for Columbus Botanical Garden on Facebook.

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Resolutions and motivations for local gardening

Local garden centers offering classes to learn new skills

1909 Market St., 703-225-9686

› Saturday, Jan. 20: Essential Oils Made Easy, 2 p.m. Learn about the essence of a plant (literally), the source of essential oils, used for centuries in other cultures for medicinal, aromatic and culinary purposes.

› Wednesday, Jan. 24: Designing Your Spring Garden, 5:30 p.m. Learn how to arrange plants, place beds, use containers and overcome other challenges in garden design.

› Thursday, Feb. 8: Terrariums: A Whole Garden Contained, 5:30 p.m. How to create a whole garden in one spot. $15 plus supplies bought on-site.

› Saturday, Feb. 17: The Toxin-Free Home, 2 p.m. How to clean your home, your hair, your laundry, without toxins, using natural plant essences

› Saturday, Feb. 24: Drinking Shrubs, 4 p.m. Learn to make plant-based cocktails.

› Thursday, March 8: Planting for Pollinators, 5:30 p.m., Chattanooga WorkSpace, 302 W. Sixth St. $15

› Saturday, March 17: Essential Oils for Bath and Beauty, 2 p.m. Learn how a plant’s essential oils are beneficial for the skin and hair, for soothing muscles, easing stress and even warding off bugs.

› Thursday, March 22: Succulent Bar Happy Hour, 6:30 p.m. Plant a succulent arrangement, learning what soil works, how to place rocks in the garden for special interest and other tips. Fee depends on supplies chosen. Snacks and beverages provided. Co-hosted by Inspire Chiropractic.

1801 E. 24th St. Place, 423-698-2276

› Saturday, Jan. 13: Miniature Garden Make Take Workshop, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Each $35, all-ages session includes a container, potting soil, charcoal, colorful stones, a few plants and figures and, of course, fairy dust. Repeats at same times Saturday, Feb. 3.

› Saturday, Jan. 27: Terrarium Make Take Workshop, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Each $35, all-ages session includes container, potting soil, charcoal, colorful stones and a few plants and figures. Repeats at same times Saturday, Feb. 24.

5513 Highway 153 in Hixson; 423-877-8782
2705 Battlefield Parkway, Fort Oglethorpe; 706-861-4769

› Saturday, Jan. 27: How To Have a Beautiful Lawn, 3 p.m., Hixson location. Spring lawn class is free, but space is limited. Call 423-877-8782 to leave a name and number in case of cancellation due to inclement weather.

1100 Hubbard Road, Signal Mountain; 423-886-3174.

Note: Must register for all classes.

› Saturday, Jan. 13: Kokedama Class, 10 a.m. This form of bonsai is a moss ball bound in string to become a structural art form. $35.

› Saturday, Jan. 20: Benefits of Attracting Birds to Your Garden, 10 a.m. There are reasons to attract birds to your yard beyond the pleasure of their company. Learn how they can improve your health and well-being. Free; limited space.

› Saturday, Jan. 27: Fairy Garden Workshop, 10 a.m. Build a miniature world of your own with a container, soil, rocks, moss and three plants included in the fee. Other accessories at additional cost. $30.

› Saturday, Feb. 3: Terrarium Art Workshop, 10 a.m. Scale down the plant world with living art under glass. Bring your own container or buy on-site. Cost depends on materials used.

› Saturday, Feb. 10: Valentine’s Cork Succulent Wreath, 10 a.m. Use up all those extra wine corks. $20 covers materials.

1000 E. 30th St.; 423-493-9155

› Saturday, March 3: Pruning Intensive, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Hands-on workshop to learn the art and science of pruning with landscape architect Matt Whitaker. Outdoor instruction; dress for weather. $40 members, $45 nonmembers. Limited to 35.

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