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Archives for January 19, 2018

Of flora and fawns: How to keep deer from munching on your plants

Keeping deer away from plants is easier said than done. Mike McGrath shares some strategies in this week’s Garden Plot.

Seeds and deer don’t get along

Ted in Chevy Chase writes: “Can you recommend some seeds for planting this spring that will not end up as fodder for the deer that seem to love my yard and almost everything in it?”

Seeds? Not a one, Ted. Although some trees, shrubs and annuals become “deer-resistant” when they mature and get tougher, sharper and/or nastier-tasting, all plants are deer candy when they are small sprouts.

Plantings from seed should always be protected by fencing that encircles and covers the plantings (like a little cage with a top on it), or by one of the deer-deterrent devices that really works. One favorite is a motion-activated sprinkler that throws cold water at anything that comes too close to the plants. Another is “The Wireless Deer Fence”: small posts that attract deer with a special scent and then give them a battery-powered shock when they lick the electrified tops.

You’ll find a good selection of motion-activated sprinklers online and at better garden centers. Or order The Wireless Deer Fence directly.

How big does a fence need to be to defy deer?

After a bit of back and forth, deer-plagued Ted in Chevy Chase explains that he is not hung up on starting from seed. He writes: “I would be happy to grow any annual or perennial that gives me some color in the yard. I can legally put up a fence.”

Well, the right kind of fence would allow you to grow anything — including legendary deer candy like tulips, hostas, azaleas and rhododendrons. But “the right kind of fence” is 11 inches taller than Shaquille O’Neal.

That’s right: Although some people get by with shorter fences for a while, they run the risk of waking up to find Bambi with a broken leg thrashing about in their shrubbery, as deer can easily clear 6 feet.

Professionally installed deer fence is the right height — 8 feet — and virtually invisible from most angles. Just don’t forget to deer-proof the driveway with a fence or in-ground “cattle guard” pipes.

Cheap plants are rarely a bargain

Ted in Chevy Chase adds that he wants some deer-proof living color in his yard but also doesn’t want to spend a lot of money.

It always amazes me how people somehow think they should be able to get great results from plants that were on their last day before the dumpster. In gardening, you really get what you pay for — especially if you want plants that are going to be strong and healthy enough to resist deer attacks.

The bigger, older and more-established the plant, the more deer-resistant it’s going to be. Yes, it will be more expensive, but it will also be instantly showy, filling a larger space or blooming more prolifically than a year-old bargain.

Consider making this wise investment: Visit your local dedicated garden center (not a big box store) and ask them to suggest some easy-care deer-resistant plants. You’ll get professional advice and help keep a family business alive. You might even get a free garden design of you buy all the plants from them.

All right: Let’s name some plants “that deer eat last”

The Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York (where they’ve got more deer than trees — and they’ve got a lot of trees) has produced a detailed record of the annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that deer have declined to dine on over a more-than-20-year period at the lushly landscaped resort.

The list includes the annual flowers ageratum, begonia, foxglove, snapdragon, phlox, marigold and zinnia. Perennials include yarrow, bleeding heart, evening primrose and peonies.

But that’s just a very small sampling; you’ll find the entire list at the Mohonk Mountain House site.

Deer-proof plants? Stick with the A-team!

Rutgers University has issued a great “report card” on the deer-vs.-horticulture problem, giving plants grades ranging from “A” (if they are rarely eaten) to “D” (the deer will be on them before you can get back inside the house).

Among the A-listers are ageratum, American holly, big bluestem, bleeding heart, the Christmas fern, boxwood, foxglove, fritillaria, forget-me-not, sage, sweet flag, lamb’s ear, larkspur, all of the hellebores, lemon balm, pachysandra, pawpaw, peony, snapdragon and strawflower, to name just a few.

Get the full list from Rutgers University.

Mike McGrath was Editor-in-Chief of ORGANIC GARDENING magazine from 1990 through 1997. He has been the host of the nationally syndicated Public Radio show “You Bet Your Garden” since 1998 and Garden Editor for WTOP since 1999. Send him your garden or pest control questions at

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2018 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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Made in St. Louis: He creates plans for edible gardens

Custom Foodscaping

Designer/Planner/Gardener • Matt Lebon

Age • 32

Family • Lebon shares his home with partner Deidre Kelly and two bunny rabbit pets, Naomi and Blossom

Home • Tower Grove South

What he does • Edible garden designer Matt Lebon develops workable plans for good-to-eat gardens that produce herbs, nuts, fruits and vegetables year after year. His motto is “Have your landscape and eat it, too.”

How to contact • Contact Lebon by email at

How much • Prices determined by scope of services

Matt Lebon doesn’t design typical gardens. He believes his unique style reaches an untapped market of people eager for an edible, regenerative landscape. “When I see lots, lawns, schoolyards or pockets of land in the community, I see a food-producing landscape as opposed to formal gardens,” he says. “I want to help people reimagine where we’re growing our foods.”

Through his experiences as farm manager at EarthDance organic farm in Ferguson he joined a supportive community of people committed to the protecting the Earth. His thoughtful approach at Custom Foodscaping reflects his values.

“My mission is to connect people to magical food experiences,” Lebon says. “I want people to understand where food comes from and to interact with nature.”

Talkin’ bout regeneration • Lebon doesn’t base his food production on tender annuals. He focuses instead on hardy perennials to design regenerative landscapes that last much longer. “We put a lot of work, maintenance and effort into gardens that often don’t provide much in return,” Lebon says. “My designs allow people to plant once, then harvest food from their landscapes for decades by utilizing edible perennial plants, shrubs and trees.”

How does your garden grow? • Lebon’s wide-ranging plant choices veer from the familiar to the less well-known. Every selection reliably produces food year after year with a high resistance to pests and diseases. Familiar picks include rhubarb and horseradish, to the more obscure sorrell and bronze fennel. Sorrell, a tender, lemony green, makes a tasty addition to salads and fish dishes. Bronze fennel fronds work well with most fish dishes while seeds impart a distinct flavor to breads and cakes.

Healthy, too • Lebon combines native fruit and nut trees with berry bushes to bring new foods to the table that are often high in phytonutrients and antioxidants, such as tart persimmons and paw paws, a custardy fruit with notes of banana and mango. “I have many favorites, like the Carmine Jewel bush cherry,” he says. “They’re highly ornamental and produce a true tart cherry. I love Asian pears because they’re very vigorous, they taste delicious and store all winter.” Perennial herbs also come into the regenerative fold Lebon designs. “Chives, sage, thymes — they work for cooking, but a lot of herbs flower, which adds to the foodscape,” he says.

Getting started. Design now, plant later • In gardening circles, winter is the time to plan, so now is the time to schedule a meeting with Lebon. “I work from an office in my home and email is the best way to contact me,” he says. Each client’s needs differ widely, so Lebon works up bids for each project. He works with homeowners, schools, businesses, institutions and communities on projects large and small.

Coach and encourage • “Coaching is part of my business, too. A lot of vegetable gardeners who may not need a garden plan could use a garden coach,” he says. “I help people by providing support, answering questions and doing what’s needed to set up gardeners for success.”

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Audubon program will focus on garden design | Community News … – Herald





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Have an idea for a community food project? Anchorage residents can apply for funding.

But now the project is ending, Kemp said, and there’s $7,000 in funding left over. So officials decided the rest of the money could be used for mini-grants that give residents the opportunity to do their own projects.

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NARI Home Improvement Show, the biggest around, takes over IX Center – News

DIY Network’s “Stone House Revival” host Jeff Devlin will be at the NARI Home Improvement Show in Cleveland.

DIY Network’s “Stone House Revival” host Jeff Devlin will be at the NARI Home Improvement Show in Cleveland.

NARI Home Improvement Show

When: Jan. 18 through 21 (times vary).

Where: I-X Center, One I-X Center Drive, Cleveland.

Tickets: $14 ($2 discount coupon available online) with kids 16 and under free.


One look outside makes most people wonder when, if ever, they’ll be able to enjoy their backyards again.

For those folks already experiencing cabin fever, there is hope at the 2018 NARI Home Improvement Show, which takes place Jan. 18 through 21 at the I-X Center in Cleveland.

The popular award-winning show, the largest of its kind in the Midwest, provides homeowners the opportunity to see the latest products and trends in home improvement and talk to local design/build remodelers, as well as see DIY Network’s “Stone House Revival” host Jeff Devlin and national-syndicated radio show host Gary Sullivan.

However, Land Creations Landscaping is recommending visitors check out its Ultimate Outdoor Escape. For the seventh year in a row, the Lorain County company has been responsible for setting up the centerpiece NARI attraction.

“The big thing we’re doing this year is trying to create a real contemporary theme,” Land Creations Landscaping co-owner Jeff Rak said. “We’ll have a nice brick walkway going into the area and then we’ll have an overhead structure, like a pavilion area, that’s going to have an outdoor kitchen in it and a bar area. That’s going to be kind of cool.

“From there, you’re going to step out into a deck off the back where there will be a water feature. You can visit the brick patio, which will expand off to the side and go into a bocce ball court. We’re trying to show people they can have a little bit of a fun with a backyard instead of it being just a basic, simple backyard.”

Planning for the 1,600-square-foot Ultimate Outdoor Escape began just over a year ago when Rak and his business partner, Teal Rickards, started looking around at industry trends. The process included visiting other trade shows and also just paying attention to what Land Creations Landscaping customers wanted to include in their backyards.

The display is designed in August and built in December at the Land Creations Landscaping shop before being shipped in sections to the I-X Center.

“Our No. 1 thing is trying to tie it into what’s going on out there in the real world,” Rak said. “A couple of things we’re seeing now is people are using their backyard to do more entertaining. That’s why we incorporated a bocce ball court.

“Another thing we’re seeing more coming in, and it’s not so much doing a full yard, are synthetic lawns. So it’s using synthetic turf more in cluster homes and condos where people don’t want to have to cut a little patch of grass. It’s a nice way to have a green lawn without having to worry about the maintenance issue.”

Regarding cost, some folks, with jaws dropped, will peruse the Ultimate Outdoor Escape but ultimately feel overwhelmed and cash-strapped. Rak said he’s found many homeowners on smaller budgets are approaching projects in phases.

“The first year we might come in and put in the patio,” Rak said. “The next year we might come in and put in the planting. The third year we might add a water feature or fire feature. So sometimes it’s a step process to get people to where they want to be.

“It can go anywhere. It’s one of those things that really anything you can do indoors pretty much you can do outdoors now. We’re doing outside sinks, a lot of heaters now outside so people can extend their seasons. I even had a request for an outdoor dishwasher, but I haven’t found that one yet. Maybe that’s next year.”

NARI Home Improvement Show

When: Jan. 18 through 21 (times vary).

Where: I-X Center, One I-X Center Drive, Cleveland.

Tickets: $14 ($2 discount coupon available online) with kids 16 and under free.


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Many women might benefit from a she shed

When you’re raising three kids, you have to accept that everything in your home isn’t going to be perfectly in place at all times.

That might be one reason why, shortly after having my first child, I was so struck by a summer kitchen that was separate but on the property of a house in the Oley Valley that my husband and I were interested in.

The charming, wood-sided structure, painted yellow with green shutters, seemed to have my name on it even before we purchased the old Victorian house, which was built in 1890, about eight years ago.

There was also a workshop on the property, which was the perfect fit for my husband, so any feelings of selfishness soon dissipated.

I was excited by the prospect of having the summer kitchen be a place of my own, where I could have a little retreat from the chaos of my home. I envisioned a lounge seating area for times I’d want to simply light a candle and take in a book or movie, along with a writing nook and an art nook where I could dedicate time to any crafting endeavors.

Within quite a small space, I managed to bring that vision to life. I love the space because it is one I can control and one where I can retreat when the time is right. I don’t have to get in my car and go anywhere to get a little time to myself.

My kids, now 6, 8 and 9, are invited to spend time in my space during the day, but they are aware it’s mommy’s space and that different rules apply.

De-stress from the workday

Many of us could benefit from a place to call our own where we can de-stress from the workday and the demands of running a household.

For Jessica Dalton, an artist who grew up in Exeter Township, creating her own space was part of a childhood dream.

“I would write stories called ‘A Place of Her Own,’ ” said Dalton, who now lives in California’s Bay Area. “They were childhood stories about a girl who goes into the woods and builds herself a little cabin. I always wanted to create a little shack that was my own.”

Her dream became a reality in July. However, her structure wasn’t anything that pre-existed. Instead, she created it with her own hands and designed it from the ground up. The end result is a tiny house on wheels.

“It was a combination of the shape and style that was going to be reminiscent of the Romani caravans of the past,” she said, adding she wanted to have a circus-like aesthetic.

Elaborate detail

Elaborate detail adorns the exterior and interior of the brightly colored Victorian-style structure on the property outside of the large home where she lives with roommates.

“The entire bathroom is covered with pennies – the floor and walls all the way to the ceiling, which I tiled personally,” she said. “It took a very long time – one by one they all got glued onto the wall.”

Dalton’s place is fully functional, unlike my summer kitchen, which doesn’t have any of the amenities.

Her structure is 20 feet long by 7 feet wide, with 2 feet reserved for a front porch. It is complete with a chandelier and a hand-hammered copper sink, in addition to many other more functional attributes.

“It has everything a house has,” Dalton said. “It has an apartment-sized refrigerator, a propane stove with three burners and an oven, a shower with on-demand hot water and a full kitchen cabinet structure. It has a composting toilet as high end as you can get.”

There is even a loft space with a queen size bed and a secondary day bed area.

“You can use it as a bed or an art table,” she said.

She sheds

When Dalton first began building her tiny house, someone forwarded her an article about a book called “She Sheds.” While she had already designed the plans for her space, she enjoyed seeing the spaces others have created for themselves that were featured in the book.

“I was quite enthralled by that,” Dalton said. “I love the concept; it is so cool.”

Time spent in her tiny house now is typically in between guests since she has also been using the space as a source of income, listing it for rent on under The Zingara Caravan.

“The few hours I have to clean, I get to sit there and drink my tea and look at everything; it is profound,” she said. “When I first finished it I would spend the first hour or two just looking.”

Dalton, an artist by profession, is still enthralled by her creation and hopes it can spark the idea for an artist community on wheels. At the end of the month, she plans to actually move into the structure full time to reap all the benefits of having invested the time and energy she put into building it.

“It’s just absorbing every single nail and everything I did, I touched with my own hands,” she said. “I’m sure in time I’ll forget how hard it was to build it.”

Pre-existing shed or outbuilding

While you can actually build a space from scratch to call your own, like Dalton did, you also can consider a pre-existing shed or outbuilding.

Dalton credits some good friends for their help, one in particular who taught her how to build and served as her construction teacher. She saw that taking on the project would give her the opportunity to learn how to build.

“Throughout this whole process I had two friends helping me, working side by side with me almost every day,” she said. “If that hadn’t been the case, I would never have finished it.’

She looks forward to getting to spend more time in the space at the end of the month.

“I’ll be able to enjoy the products of my labor for the first time,” she said.

In the meantime, her neighbors and anyone who sees her structure enjoy stopping and asking her questions about it.

“Anybody, no matter how old or where they are from, universally think it’s awesome,” she said.

Contact Courtney H. Diener-Stokes:

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Master Gardeners: Hang on to your rain!





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Garden creates community, new skills for seniors at recreation center

A few gray clouds and the possibility of rain showers didn’t keep away the devoted gardeners at the South Austin Senior Activity Center.

The group, which meets each Monday, spent a recent morning tending to the snap peas, cabbage and other vegetables growing in the 18 raised beds, some built of limestone and others made of white pine. They weeded out a bed to plant radishes, among other tasks.

Nearby stands a sign that proudly hails: “Garden of Eatin’.” Above that reads the motto: “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

One active devotee is 96-year-old Herky Trede, who has been working regularly in the garden for about two years, she says.

“I just like digging in the dirt and watching things grow. It’s a satisfying thing,” says Trede, who was raised on a farm. In addition, she says, “I love vegetables. Fresh out of the garden is the best. They have so much flavor and juice to them.”

Besides the gardening, Trede says, “You meet the most wonderful people.”

The garden was started in 2012 and has grown since then, adding a few beds at a time, says West Baxter, program recreation specialist at the center. It is primarily a vegetable garden, though two beds have flowers – to beautify as well as to attract good bugs, he says.

The South Austin Senior Activity Center, located on Manchaca Road, is one of three senior activity centers of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. The city’s seniors programs and services are geared for people age 50 and up, according to the city web site.

The Garden of Eatin’ is “generously supported by Health’s Angels,” according to the sign, “a project of St. David’s Foundation Community Fund.”

“St. David’s Foundation Community Fund created Health’s Angels to address the growing needs of the aging population in central Texas,” according to the website. “The Health’s Angels mission is to bring together individuals and community partners to improve the lives of older adults and their caregivers through education, volunteerism and philanthropic support.”

The South Austin Senior Activity Center was the city’s first senior center to start such a garden, Baxter says, but now the city’s Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center has a similar garden, Baxter says.

The group at the South Austin center meets year-round, generally averaging about six to eight participants per week, Baxter says. Numbers fluctuate, he says, during hot and cold months, though at such times, the group sometimes works in the greenhouse. Some attend regularly, while others are more sporadic, he says.

The group meets at 9 a.m. Mondays for most of the year, though it meets at 10 a.m. from November through February, he says.

“Whether you have a green thumb to lend, or want to develop one, stop by our community garden,” reads a brochure of the center’s events.

The garden has been a success, Baxter says. “We always try to create quality of life for our seniors,” he says. As well, “we’re trying to encourage eating healthy.” Folks can take home the vegetables that are grown.

Yuki Takata of the landscaping company Resolution Gardens works with the seniors regularly (with funding through the Health’s Angels, Baxter says).

Among her jobs, she says, “I bring new soil and new plants whenever we do replants.” Takata says she enjoys working with the group, which includes experienced gardeners and those new to gardening. Takata says she likes working with this group because “I like hearing their life stories.”

The project is a community garden, and the vegetables are taken freely, Baxter says.

“The reason we don’t have a fence is anybody can take (vegetables). … We try to encourage only to harvest on Mondays,” he says, so the participants get some of the items.

Baxter says he has seen people eating their lunches at nearby picnic tables and pulling off some lettuce leaves from the garden to add to their meal. Also, goats from the surrounding neighborhood have come by, Baxter says.

“We try to keep them from eating in the garden,” he says.

Margie Mendez, 68, and her husband, Robert Mendez, 70, regularly help out in the garden.

“I do some gardening at home, but … since I’ve been coming here, I’ve learned a lot,” Margie Mendez says.

At home, she says, her success with gardening was “hit and miss.” She also says she likes getting to take home and eat the food grown at the garden. The center is also convenient for her and her husband, who live within walking distance.

Robert Mendez brags on his wife’s cooking and says he likes the vegetables, such as the zucchini, that they grow, because Margie uses them to make delicious food like zucchini bread.

Likewise, Laura Havlick, 63, says she was not previously much of a gardener, but “I’m learning all kinds of things. This is where I learn everything. Not in a book, but in the garden.”

Thi Nguyen, 66, recently moved to the area and is happy because now “I have a volunteer job that matches my hobby.”

The garden has proven to be a valuable program, Baxter says, “because it allows them to be independent. … It’s a joy for them to be out here.”

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Gardening and also Landscaping Ideas to Turn Your Backyard Into Your Perfect View

Having a yard in your home can produce many advantages. The most obvious advantage is that it makes the surroundings gorgeous. Additionally, if you have a vegetable garden, you could save money and also you reach appreciate organic vegetables. Numerous physical fitness professionals claim that horticulture could shed a lot of calories. In addition, numerous wellness experts think that dealing with the dirt has a lot of health advantages. There are numerous horticulture and landscaping ideas for those that wish to take pleasure in the benefits of your yards.


Gardens can be categorized in a number of classifications. The sort of plants in the yard can produce its very own style. For example you can have a blossom or vegetable yard, increased yard, organic garden as well as many more. They are also influenced by some countries most notably are Chinese, Japanese, as well as English gardens. Various other kinds are the interior yard, French Landscape yard, hanging garden, water yard, hedge maze yard and so forth.

The different kinds of gardens could assist individuals develop gardening and also landscaping ideas. After picking the sort of yard you desire, you can start intending and developing your own yard. Numerous garden specialists suggest that you pick a yard layout which can be easily rearranged to match the season. The place and also the dimension of your yard will also be an element you need to take into consideration.


Landscape design is an integral part of gardening. Gardening and also landscaping go together. In order to have a stunning backyard, you should do a little bit of landscaping. Landscaping includes the adjustment of the all-natural plants in the location, the landform as well as adding privacy fence ideas as well as various other frameworks. There are a number of landscape design ideas which have come to be prominent in the 21st century. They are normally divided into 2 groups: landscaping trends in relation to outdoor living as well as environment-friendly trends.

Landscape design patterns which pertains to exterior living are likewise split into several types. Low-maintenance landscaping is one of the preferred kinds due to the fact that the majority of people these days are really busy. Nowadays, individuals are also eliminating the turf on their lawns and also growing drought-tolerant shrubs rather. This kind of landscape design is called the anti-lawn activity. Water landscaping is additionally ending up being preferred due to the comforting result it carries individuals.

Eco-friendly trends in landscape design have actually come to be popular due in part to international warming. One of the good gardening and also landscape design fads nowadays is using organic products or materials to kill weeds instead of chemical plant foods. The use of recycled materials in the yard is additionally urged by numerous garden enthusiasts. Going indigenous is also a smart idea. This indicates that you need to choose plants which are native to your area as opposed to invasive ones.

These are a lot more horticulture as well as landscaping ideas you could choose from. You easily locate lots of magazines and publications which can help you design your yard. There are also on-line sources which includes different kinds of yards. Making and also designing your very own backyard sanctuary as well as relaxation location is a fun task and it has a lot of advantages, so start your very own yard currently.

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Gardening tips: Grab your bread knives for houseplants

Even though it’s too chilly to work in the garden outside, there’s always something to do indoors.

Even a bread knife with a serrated edge can be put to use in dividing houseplants.

Mother-in-law’s tongues–native to South Africa–make great houseplants and outdoor summer shade plants. The tips of the bold leaves are sharp–some would say like a mother-in-law’s tongue–if you can stomach the sexism from a bygone era.

They can fill up a pot quickly, so every few years they can be knocked out of their pots and divided. Just cut the root ball in half with your bread knife and re-pot each half.

Many other houseplants, such as queen’s tears, can also be divided in this way. This old-fashioned plant with small neon flowers is blooming now, so I’ll wait to divide until it’s finished flowering.

Not all houseplants can be divided. Only the clump-formers can be cut in half, not those with a single stem.

I once bought a variegated ficus grown as a hanging basket. It has three separate plants with roots that are completely intertwined. Bread knife surgery is the only way to separate them. It’s just a weird case.

After cutting the root balls apart, the three sections are planted individually so they can grow into small trees. They need no special care and are drought tolerant. A ficus tree may be a life-long companion.

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