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Archives for January 24, 2018

‘Creating a Resilient Garden’ is theme of URI Master Gardener Symposium, March 3


KINGSTON, R.I. – January 22, 2018 – Those who are already thinking about – and looking forward to – the spring gardening season should consider getting a gardening motivation boost by attending the annual gardening symposium presented by the University of Rhode Island Master Gardener Program.

The symposium, open to gardeners of all levels, will feature keynote speakers, QA sessions, and a variety of educational displays, all focused on the theme of “Creating a Resilient Garden.” It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 3 at the URI Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences in Kingston.

Those registering by Feb. 9 receive the early-bird price of $65, after which the price rises to $75. A limited number of scholarships to the program are also available to those who apply by Feb. 9.

Featured speakers at the symposium are:
• C. Colston Burrell, a garden designer, photographer and author of 12 gardening books who gardens on 10 wild acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He will speak on “Beauty, Integrity, Resilience: Can a Garden Have Everything,” which will focus on garden sustainability, aesthetics and ecosystem functioning.

  • Linda Fleming, who has gardened in Connecticut, Oklahoma and Utah, will discuss “Bloom Where You are Planted: A Medley of Herbal Ideas.” She will share lessons about herb garden design, seed starting, seed saving, growing, propagation and harvesting, including a hands-on lesson about herbal vinegars.
    • Jeff Gilman, director of the botanical gardens at the University of North Carolina/Charlotte, who has spent most of his career investigating the techniques people have used to grow plants and control pests. His topic, “The Truth About Garden Remedies,” will examine the most common “cabinet cures” for what ails your garden – from beer fertilizer to baking soda for plant diseases – and which work and which do not.

For more information about the symposium, visit or contact URI Cooperative Extension at 401-874-2900 or

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Chanel’s garden delights as Givenchy designer debuts couture

Rose scents mingled with celebrities such as Marion Cotillard, Sofia Coppola and Rita Ora at Chanel on Tuesday as showman Karl Lagerfeld recreated a verdant garden to showcase his bucolic couture designs. Elsewhere in Paris, Givenchy’s new designer unveiled her highly anticipated couture debut.

Some highlights from Tuesday’s spring-summer 2018 shows:



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A spooky, floodlit chateau in Paris’ historic Marais area was the venue Clare Waight Keller chose to stage her first couture show since being appointed creative director at Givenchy last year.

Guests were led up a dimly lit stairway as discordant music played to a mysterious hall with shimmering crystal chandeliers. The edgy music and venue represented the future and the past.

The sublime couture creations harked back to the designs of house founder Count Hubert de Givenchy — but Waight Keller infused them with a fashion-forward touch.

The house’s signature sharp shoulder — here, often on shoulder-draped coats — was a running style in the diverse looks that mixed hard and soft. In the more architectural moments, Waight Keller evoked the spirit of Givenchy’s mentor, Cristobal Balenciaga.

Lines — rigid bodices, cinched waists and a hard V-shaped decollete — fused with delicate materials. Feathers flashed vermillion peeking from the inside of a coat and a softly tiered full skirt bled from purple to electric orange and cobalt blue.

It made for some sublime looks that remained highly feminine at all times.

Dark romance was at the heart of this accomplished display, which was possibly the best seen all season.



Chanel’s fragrant garden featured architectural wooden arbors, white roses and a babbling water fountain.

Inspired by the geometric curves in the furniture, Lagerfeld went back to nature — and to Chanel’s couture roots — for a display of pure drama constructed with geometric detail.

The stone-colored clothes teamed with soft floral embroideries and frothy details. Models including Cindy Crawford’s daughter Kaia Gerber wore sweet pink, white and purple posies in black tulle hair-pieces.

The devil’s in the detail and this season, Chanel was all about the sleeve.

A raglan style — one that extends in one piece fully to the collar — seemed to inspire the beautiful and surreal arm shapes that descended stiffly like a tapered tube. Shoulders were wide and dramatically curved.

Full skirts flared out like giant bells in a crisp line shared this surreal quality.

Lagerfeld is an ambitious man, and elsewhere his 69 designs also channeled the tiered fashions of the swinging 1920s.



Though she was overlooked for an Oscar nomination, “Inglourious Basterds” star Diane Kruger is still buzzing from the critical acclaim surrounding her challenging role in the movie “In The Fade.”

Kruger plays a steely woman whose life falls apart after her husband and son are killed in a bomb attack.

The German-born actress, who attended the Armani Prive couture show in a black tuxedo and sequined gown, said that this film “definitely” comes at a good time for feisty female roles in cinema.

“It’s a very strong female role,” she said.

“The protagonist was originally written for a man so it was changed for a woman, which is always great,” she added.



Masked revelers danced into the early hours of Tuesday at the soiree event of couture week: Christian Dior’s surrealism-themed masked ball at the Rodin Museum.

Actress Monica Bellucci stepped onto the checkered chess board set in a vivid red lace Dior gown, while model Bella Hadid stunned in a revealing black tulle shoulder less dress, hugging singer Courtney Love effusively.

Guests in check face masks that sometimes impaired vision negotiated around giant 2-meter chess pieces, faceless dancing performers and hanging surrealist sculptures in the marquee venue that was also used to showcase the historic design house’s spring and summer couture styles.

A wall of white arms, some fake and some real (belonging to hidden performers), handed out white roses to passers-by who snacked on white chocolate playing cards served on a green poker table cover.



The red carpet said it all: French designer Alexis Mabille turned on the glamour for a display of classic couture gowns.

The styles were firmly set to the 1950s — the years following the austerity of World War II that produced long exuberant lengths of fabric, hyper-femininity and hourglass silhouettes.

A floor-length satin gown in coral sported a giant floppy bow at the waist, while one in dark cobalt saw an abbreviated take on a fifties jacket as a bustier and was paired with full length evening gloves.

Mabille didn’t forget to have fun.

A series of balloon gowns — with curved hems gathered around inside — were the strongest pieces in the show.

Each consecutive skirt sported an even bigger explosion of fabric, until the show reached a dramatic crescendo in a circular bottle green gown that spread out from the bust.



Even a fashion master can have off days.

Tuesday was a mixed couture bag for Giorgio Armani, who explored the theme of watercolor in an exhaustive collection of shimmering pastel gowns that combined too many divergent ideas.

Armani’s best looks kept it simple.

A minimalist satin bodice in oyster led the eye to a dramatic whoosh of silk spilling from the waist. But elsewhere, some looks — though beautifully constructed — saw a complicated silhouette and busy patterns vying for attention.

Nevertheless, it was a hit for celebrities such as Marion Cotillard and Isabelle Huppert, who applauded vigorously from the front row.



No luxury detail was overlooked at the launch of Swarovski’s eyewear collection inside the revamped Hotel de Crillon, which reopened last year after a 200-million euro refurbishment.

Views of the sparkling Place de la Concorde delighted guests, including model and actress Poppy Delevingne, socialite Olivia Palermo and actress Morgane Polanski, the daughter of director Roman Polanski.

The eyewear was displayed on stands and featured opulent use of crystal in architectural designs inspired by the Atelier Swarovski jewelry collections, which were also shown off at the event.

Guests then tucked into a lavish meal that included wine from the famous vineyard Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

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New Triplex in Manhattan Has Private Garden

Listing of the Day

Location: Tribeca, New York

Price: $6.9 million

This three-level townhouse is part of 12 Warren, a new 12-story, 13-unit luxury condo building developed by DDG in the Tribeca section of downtown Manhattan.

Known as Townhouse North, the triplex sits on the first three floors of the building, with a private outdoor garden area on the ground floor.

The façade that DDG created is composed of bluestone quarried in the Catskill region of upstate New York that has been arranged in layers. There are also concrete and handcrafted bluestone accents throughout the building and the apartments, which includes townhouses as well as full- and half-floor residences.

“The beauty with DDG is that they do everything in-house—the design and all of the construction—and they’re very innovative with design,” said listing agent Tamir Shemesh of Douglas Elliman.

More: John Mellencamp Buys Former Art Gallery in Manhattan

The building is about 70% sold, with four remaining units, he said. Most of the owners have already moved in.

“The volume of the space is what makes this townhome so special,” Mr. Shemesh said. “In the living room, you have 22 feet and 7 inches of ceiling height, which is enormous.”

“When we walk people through, they just stand there to feel the volume and the space,” he said.

For the triplex’s interiors, DDG brought in Carlos Junqueira, founder of Espasso, a Tribeca gallery of Brazilian design. Junqueira worked with designer Cristiana Mascarenhas of InPlus Inc. to create a design scheme for Townhouse North that showcases the best of contemporary and mid-century Brazilian design.

Furnishings in the living room include vintage armchairs by Jorge Zalszupin, a limited edition Carlos Motta Koguma floor lamp, a Cubos Libres coffee table by Claudia Moreira Salles and a vintage Esfera armchair by Ricardo Fasanello. In the adjacent office space, there is a limited-edition Mole Armchair and Ottoman by Sergio Rodrigues. Other rooms in the triplex feature Giuseppe Scapinelli dining chairs, an ON desk by Oscar Niemeyer and an array of vintage items by Liceu de Artes e Ofícios, Joaquim Tenreiro and others.

More: Manhattan Townhouse That Was Longtime Home of Phyllis Cerf Wagner Relisted for $24M

The furnishings are not included but could be negotiated in a separate deal, Mr. Shemesh said.

Custom architectural and design details include board-form concrete ceilings, 7.5-inch-wide plank Austrian white oak floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, zoned climate control, and fully vented laundry areas. An elegant sculptural spiral staircase, partly finished in concrete, runs through the triplex.

The kitchen opens to both the living and dining rooms and is outfitted with custom white lacquer cabinetry with Austrian white oak accents, a honed black Saint Laurent marble center island, countertop and backsplash, and a full suite of Gaggenau appliances including a wine refrigerator and fully vented range hood. Warm wood finishes in the kitchen help to soften the modern appliances.

The second-floor master bedroom suite has a walk-in dressing room and a dramatic bathroom with Carrara marble and bluestone-accented walls and flooring, a deep soaking tub clad in Carrara marble, a Dornbracht rain shower, and a wall-hung Toto dual-flush toilet.

The spacious second and third bedrooms have en-suite baths and private terraces. Secondary bathrooms feature Ann Sacks ceramic penny tile, a Duravit bathtub, Hansgrohe fixtures in polished chrome, a Robern mirrored medicine cabinet. 

More: Click to Take a Video Tour of a Manhattan Townhome in the West Village Rich in History and Amenities


The 3,788-square-foot townhouse is on three levels, with three bedrooms, four full bathrooms and one powder room. There is an additional 805 square feet of exterior space.


Building amenities include a fitness center, 24-hour doorman and concierge service, a bike room and private storage for purchase.

Neighborhood notes

“There is a Whole Foods right there on Warren Street,” Mr. Shemesh said. “It’s Tribeca—it’s extremely convenient, and all of the subway lines are right there.”

“You have fantastic restaurants, retail, apparel,” he said. “It’s very close to the West Side Highway.”

Agent: Tamir Shemesh, Douglas Elliman

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As the Caribbean Rebuilds, Now Is an Important Time to Visit

Little Dix Bay had always been on my list. To me, the resort, opened in 1964 by noted conservationist Laurance Rockefeller on Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands, always represented the beauty of travel in a slower, pre-digital age. Ever sensitive to the environment and appearances, Rockefeller insisted Little Dix blend into its surroundings, and so the rooms — blissfully free of TVs — were tucked among the groves of trees and hills bordering the unspoiled, half-mile crescent of beach.

In May 2015, I finally visited Little Dix with my husband on a babymoon. The beach was ends-of-the-earth quiet, free of fancy infinity pools or rum bars. It looked as it must have 50 years ago (and that was the point). Our room, one of Rockefeller’s original tree-house suites, set on stilts and close to the shore, was a cocoon from reality. The staff, many of whom had worked there for decades, were gracious without even trying: it’s just the Caribbean way.

Shortly after our trip, Little Dix closed for a renovation and was slated to open this month. I was planning to profile the hotel in this very issue. But then Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc in the British Virgin Islands, where many residents lost their homes and businesses. Resorts like Little Dix weren’t spared, either.

The tourism industry is the economic lifeblood of the Caribbean, its single biggest employer. As an editor who has been covering the region for more than a decade, I’ve had many friends ask me how they can help. And I say one word: go. Make the conscious choice to vacation there, because every dollar matters. Seventy-five percent of the region was unaffected, including favorites like Aruba and the Cayman Islands. What’s more, many of the impacted destinations, including the BVI, are ready for visitors right now. Voluntourism is gaining ground, too.

I can only imagine how devastating the damage must have been for the Little Dix team. They spent months building and landscaping away to get the resort ready for its loyal fans, who come from all over the world to sit on that beach, to be still and present with loved ones. But here’s a bit of good news: Little Dix plans to reopen for the festive season at the end of the year. I plan to be one of the first to check in.

An Island-by-island Update

Puerto Rico

Tourism will be crucial in helping the U.S. commonwealth rebuild. Seventy-six percent of hotels endorsed by the Puerto Rican Tourism Co. are open, including San Juan landmarks like the Condado Vanderbilt, in addition to the cruise terminal and 4,000 restaurants. Charter-yacht company the Moorings also resumed its sailings to Vieques and Culebra this month.

British Virgin Islands

Irma made a direct hit, and many resorts remain shuttered. But you can still go on a sailing vacation, since companies like Virgin Motor Yachts and Festiva Sailing Vacations are operating. Many restaurants, including Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, are serving customers Visit for voluntourism opportunities.

St. Maarten/St. Martin

On the Dutch side of the island, the cruise port is open, as are many of the shops in the capital of Philipsburg and the bars and restaurants in Simpson’s Bay. On the French side, some guesthouses are back in business, while larger resorts hope to be operational by April.


Maria passed right over Dominica, destroying homes, hotels, and some reefs. Still, there are more than 20 places to stay, and voluntourism opportunities are plentiful. Travelers with Cool Breeze Tours help clear the Waitukubuli National Trail; those with Cobra Tours work on restoring the Indian River.

U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Thomas and St. John bore the brunt of both Irma and Maria, while St. Croix fared better (the Buccaneer Resort there reopened November 1). Though many hotels remain closed, travelers can stay in villas and Airbnbs or on charter yachts. Cruise ships are calling in St. Thomas, and some St. John beaches, including Trunk Bay, are ready for swimmers. For the status of individual properties, see


Some hotels, including Ce Blue and Frangipani Beach Resort, already welcomed travelers this season. More than 70 percent of restaurants are running, and the beaches are clean. Zemi Beach House is slated to reopen February 15, while the Four Seasons will reopen March 23.


This island was one of the hardest hit, with all of its 1,600 residents forced to relocate to sister island Antigua, but a rebuilding effort is under way. Barbuda Belle, selected by T+L as one of the year’s best new hotels in 2016, plans to reopen in November. The government is encouraging travelers to visit Antigua to help support the recovery.

St. Barts

The French territory is on the road to recovery. Most restaurants and shops in the capital, Gustavia, are now open. Many beachfront resorts (Le Guanahani, Le Barthélemy) are projecting reopenings later this year; some smaller properties (Le Village, Salines Garden) are already up and running.

Content in this article was produced with assistance from Aruba Tourism Authority.

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Beyond Recommendations: 3 Tips On Finding A Good Contractor From EP Henry

WOODBURY, N.J., Jan. 23, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Energetic and playful kids Aiden, 9, and Caitlin, 8, from Monmouth County, NJ, were ready to do tricks when their parents installed a new pool in the backyard. “I do a front flip [into the pool],” said Aiden. “I pushed him in once,” said Caitlin.

Over a year ago, Caitlin’s and Aiden’s parents wanted their uniquely-shaped lot transformed into a year-round oasis. Many homeowners quickly discover that finding a good contractor can take time. The common refrain is to get recommendations.

Recommendations are still the gold standard in construction, but getting them can be challenging. Approaching strangers isn’t easy and online reviews aren’t always trustworthy. Thankfully, good contractors usually stand out from the crowd, and often are recommended by the product manufacturer.

Here are 3 things a good contractor does:

Communicates with and listens to the customer

Errol Ramirez of Errol’s Landscaping collaborated with Aiden and Caitlin’s parents to design the backyard of their dreams. “They had a lot of their own ideas, I had a lot of my own ideas, and we put it all together,” he said.

Years of experience will lend a contractor expertise in design and installation. But while contractors may be experts on installations, homeowners are the experts of their own lives. A good contractor will ask the homeowner many questions about the space. A combination of ideas from homeowners and contractors will result in an outdoor living space that is a great fit.

Offers a long-term plan that can be phased if needed

Ideally, the outside areas will be considered before the footing is poured for the house, but this is often not the case. More likely, the family renovating the home is not its original owner. Either way, every project should be a part of a holistic plan for the home and landscape. Even if building a dream spa or a wedding gazebo is not on the near horizon, a good contractor will design a landscape that includes the homeowner’s long-term goals. Good contractors know it is the most economical and efficient option to design one comprehensive plan first and build it out as budgets allow.

Uses quality products

Major renovations affect all aspects of the home and landscape, which in turn affect the property’s value. The top contractors use the top manufactured products and don’t compromise. Nothing is worse than a 2-year-old pool deck showing signs of deterioration because of poorly-manufactured supplies. Mr. Ramirez uses EP Henry products. “EP Henry stands by their product. … They’re a stand-up company,” he said. Using the best products helps ensure a solid, long-lasting structure. Contractors who provide warranties on their work will use only the most reliable products.

Aiden and Caitlin’s dad agrees. “I have friends who went with the cheapest bid or product but you get what you pay for,” he said. Building something to last means finding a contractor who uses high-quality materials, plans ahead and listens to the customer.

About EPHenry®

EP Henry®, the oldest American family-owned and operated manufacturer of unit concrete products in North America, provides the highest quality and broadest product offerings in Hardscaping(™). Based in Woodbury, New Jersey, EP Henry manufactures a wide range of paving stone and retaining wall products, including permeable pavers which are a best management practice (BMP) for stormwater management. EP Henry also offers beautiful patio pavers, outdoor kitchen kits, garden wall solutions and more. For more information on EP Henry Hardscaping products, visit or call 800-44-HENRY (800-444-3679).



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CT Flower & Garden Show Feb. 22-25 in Hartford

  • The 37th annual Connecticut Flower  Garden Show returns to the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Feb. 22-25. Above, an exhibit from the 2017 show. Photo: Contributed Photo



HARTFORD — Preview Spring even before the weather warms up at the 37th annual “Connecticut Flower Garden Show” on Thursday, Feb. 22 through Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Connecticut Convention Center on 100 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford.

The colorful, fragrant show covers almost three acres with the 2018 theme, “Breath of Spring”, with creative and practical ideas for house, apartment and condo dwellers alike.

Highlights include more than an acre of different gardens in full bloom, created by professional landscape designers and nonprofit organizations. Includes naturalistic, low maintenance, native, organic, herb and pollinator gardens. Featured in this area will be “Butterfly Encounter”, an interactive walk-through exhibit of live butterflies in all cycles of development. Fresh green sod for the landscapes is growing in a North Canton, Conn. greenhouse, personally tended by the show’s producer Kristie Gonsalves, president of North East Expos.

Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut’s 2018 Advanced Standard Flower Show: over 12,000 square feet of a design, horticulture, botanical arts and photography competition with more than 250 judged entries, all themed “Breath of Spring”.

More than 300 booths of displays, activities and shopping: artisans and handcrafted gifts, fresh flowers, plants, garden ornaments, metalwork sculptures, herbs, bulbs, seeds, fertilizers, soils, gardening books, patio furniture and lawn and garden tools and equipment. Bring a 1/2 cup of soil to the UConn Co-op booth for free soil testing.

More than than 80 hours of seminars by horticulturists and experts are included in general admission (full schedule at including Craig LeHoullier, author of Epic Tomatoes and Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales, Garden Writers Association Gold Award winner 2016; Stephanie Cohen a/k/a The Perennial Diva, gardening designer, author and lecturer; Doug Tallamy, author, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at University of Delaware, who focuses on understanding the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities; Nancy DuBrule-Clemente, author, horticulturist owner of Natureworks Horticultural Services, an organic garden center, landscape design, consultation, installation and maintenance service in Northford; Len Giddix, a garden guri, former mushroom grower and the radio co-host of the weekly Garden Talk show; Tovah Martin, Horticulturalist, author, freelance writer, photo stylist and lecturer; and Charlie Nardozzi, gardening author, public speaker, radio TV show host and garden coach.

Admission: $18 adults; $16 seniors age 62 and over on Thursday/Friday only; $5 children 5-12; Free under age 5. Admission is cash only. For group rates for 15 or more people, contact 860-844-8461 or

Advance tickets are discounted by $2 and can be purchased no later than February 16, 2018 at the following Connecticut locations: The Garden Barn Nursery in Vernon; Garden Specialties in Mystic; Moscarillo’s Garden Shoppe in West Hartford; Natureworks in Northford; Stonehedge Landscaping Garden Center in Newington; and Woodland Gardens in Manchester.

Show sponsors include B P Turf Farm, Connecticut Mulch Distributors, Inc., Maple Meadow Farm, Bob Buettner Florist, Renewals by Anderson, WFSB Channel 3, WRCH Light 100.5, Bedard Enterprises, and North East Expos, Inc.

The show’s hours are: Thursday, Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 23 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 24 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To join the email list and get more information about the 2018 Connecticut Flower Garden Show, seminars, and driving directions, visit or our Facebook page, or call North East Expos, Inc. at 860-844-8461.

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Walk-ins welcome at Toward Harmony with Nature Conference Saturday

This year’s Toward Harmony with Nature Conference is focused around the theme “The American Garden — A Life or Death Situation.” Pre-registration by mail is over, but walk-ins are welcome at the Oshkosh Convention Center for Saturday’s conference.

As habitats disappear, American gardens and landscapes are evolving to fill the void. From a creation solely for our own enjoyment, our gardens are becoming a biodiverse refuge for native plants, pollinators, birds, butterflies and other animals with which we share the planet.

Keynote speaker is ecologist Neil Diboll, owner of Prairie Nursery in Westfield, who will discuss how native landscapes that require few if any chemical amenities are the future landscapes of necessity. As joint ventures with nature, our very survival may depend upon these native landscapes.

Besides Diboll’s presentation, there will be a full range of natural landscaping and native plant topics presented by nine other speakers. You’ll also be able to talk with a roomful of vendors and exhibitors, participate in a silent auction, and purchase the latest in ecologically focused books.

Hosted by Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter, this is the 22nd year of the conference. It goes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oshkosh Convention Center, 2 N. Main St., Oshkosh. For more information and to register, visit

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