Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for January 27, 2018

Mayor joins critics of downtown north-split interstate plan, seeks new options

Mayor Joe Hogsett has joined the chorus of community leaders and downtown residents expressing concern with the Indiana Department of Transportation’s north-split interstate project planned for downtown.

Critics say the project—which would reconstruct the I-65/I-70 interchange on the northeast edge of downtown—would be detrimental to downtown neighborhoods. They favor alternatives they consider more neighborhood-friendly.

INDOT is in the early design phase of the project, which is estimated to cost $250 million. It would add lanes on both interstates, widening some bridges and adding others, and reconfiguring the I-65 exit and entrance ramps along 11th and 12th streets.

In a letter to INDOT this week, Hogsett said construction of the interstate system in the 1960s and 1970s negatively “changed the character of downtown Indianapolis and its neighborhoods.” While downtown bounced back and has emerged “as a national success story for urban revitalization,” the project may threaten that progress.

“Many fear a traffic solution that simply widens the existing elevated system could—for a second time—devastate our city’s historic core and the neighborhoods that line the right-of-way on all sides,” Hogsett wrote in the letter.

He added: “Peer cities such as Austin and Dallas, Texas, and Columbus, and Cincinnati, Ohio, have established national best practices, devising context-sensitive solutions to urban right-of-way challenges. I would encourage the state to consider at-grade alternatives that would sufficiently move traffic and meet INDOT’s needs while reconnecting our neighborhoods and street grid.”

IBJ reported Monday that the Indy Chamber also is asking INDOT to explore alternatives.

One widely discussed alternative was developed by local urban designers Kevin Osburn of Rundell Ernstberger Associates and Meg Storrow and John Kinsella of Storrow Kinsella Associates. Their idea, which this month began appearing online and on social media posts, proposes turning the existing downtown interstates into what’s called a multimodal road that would include space for pedestrian walkways and landscaping. Through traffic would be routed either onto I-465 or through downtown underground tunnels.

INDOT spokesman Andy Dietrick emphasized earlier this week that the department’s planning process includes room for public input. He said INDOT has met with critics of the plan is considering the ideas from Osburn, Storrow and Kinsella.

“Those didn’t fall on deaf ears,” he said of the designers’ ideas.

In assessing alternatives, Dietrick said, INDOT considers a range of factors, including cost and engineering feasibility, as well as impact on everything from traffic and historic structures to noise and local businesses. At the same time, Dietrick said INDOT is “not in a position to take a significant pause” in the project. Construction is not expected to start before 2019.

Article source:

Moon: What could solve the blight on Navy Boulevard? Readers have a few ideas.

It’s serendipity, I’m telling ya. 

In the last week, I’ve told friends, family, co-workers and such that I was thinking about a career change and maybe becoming a monarch. I’ve been obsessed with the British monarchy the last few weeks after a couple of documentaries and now a binge on the Netflix series “The Crown.” 

Seriously, I have been mentioning it lately to gauge support — not much — and think it would be lovely to be able to lord over people and have them dress me and fetch me grapes and Icees. I’ve even been practicing the back-of-the-hand wave. 

Then, my buddy and well-known political agitator C.J. Lewis wrote me about my recent column about the blight on Navy Boulevard just off Pensacola Naval Air Station.

More: Moon: Navy Boulevard near Pensacola Naval Air Station is not a good welcome to military

Writes C.J.: 

“If you and your people in Warrington ever tire of the lip service from the county government, let me know if you have any interest in forming a City of Warrington. A new City of Warrington would be an opportunity for a fresh start building something that works for the citizens, not the powerbrokers. The costs of forming a municipality are not insignificant but on the upside Warrington would get a dedicated share of Local Option Sales and Gas Tax revenues.”

Well, C.J., I am currently in the process of talking to “my people” and while I’m absolutely gobsmacked about the idea of lording, the prospect of organizing and governing sounds like a lot more work. I’d just be in it for the Icees. 

Besides, there are those among “my people” who are much smarter than me, and I heard from plenty after the column, which sadly pointed out that our welcome mat to the base is filthy, worn and need of replacement. Besides, I’m always forgetting some of my people, anyway, as good reader Michael R. pointed out after I mentioned that the Marines and sailors who serve at NASP:

“I read your article regarding Navy Boulevard today in the News Journal. It has been bugging me for years that locals and the news media do not recognize that we have quite a few Airmen aboard NAS Pensacola … . All in all, we have over 1,000 Airmen on board NAS Pensacola at any given time.”

Then me chastised me a bit, and he’s right. And, let’s not forget any Army or Coast Guard at the base either.

Still, we found good insight into the problem from a few readers who pointed out that while that stretch of Navy Boulevard was never lovely, it’s only worsened since base officials closed the Navy Boulevard entrance — formerly known as the Main Gate — to civilian traffic and visitors, who must now use what was once the back gate off Blue Angel Highway to visit the base, the forts, the museums, the lighthouse, the cemetery, etc. 

They point out that since there is less traffic — a lot less sometimes — on that stretch of Navy Boulevard, it isn’t an attractive lure for potential commerce.

More: Pensacola NAS sailor carries on tradition of boatswain’s pipe

Many pointed out that most borders to military bases in our country are kind of run-down looking. I don’t remember Fort Devens being like that. Or Fort Meade. But there are plenty of veterans who weighed in who said that Navy Boulevard is the norm for a base border. 

Still, people who are tied to the area and love it are doing what they can to keep their piece of Navy Boulevard appealing. We talked about what’s going on in Navy Point, then we find out that the anchor of the boulevard stretch, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and School, is launching its own beautification project. 

The school this week acquired a special St. John pelican statue — you know, like the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard pelicans you see downtown. The statue features the pelican with its cute little Navy blue Catholic school uniform.  

The school has it on stage now, but will soon move it outside facing Navy Boulevard. St. John — my first school! — is also launching a beautification project where they will install new signage, new lights and new landscaping.

“We’ve been a big part of this community for generations,” said Linda Robison, the school’s director of institutional development. “And we want to do what we can to make this neighborhood better.”

See, there are other people who can rule Warrington much better than myself. (I’d rather just be some carefree estate-owning duke.)

Troy Moon can be reached at and 850-435-8541.

Article source:

City takes over dog park operations – Galesburg Register

GALESBURG — The group of community members who brought the Connie Nott Canine Area to Galesburg in 2014 disbanded their nonprofit and turned over operations of the dog park to the city of Galesburg Friday.

The core members of Project Dog Park founded the organization in 2012 and raised funds from the community to bring the dog park, inside Inbinder Park at 1235 W. Carl Sandburg Drive, to Galesburg. After the park opened, the group members continued to host meetings and volunteer their time to maintain the park.

Project Dog Park President Obi Oki and Vice President Melissa Powell said the group’s plan had always been to turn over the park’s operations to the city, as the park is on city land. They added that the members of Project Dog Park accomplished all they wanted to for the park, including adding a water feature, which they did last year.

Powell has also temporarily moved to Florida for the winter and plans to move to Kentucky in the spring to be closer to family.

“We’re in a different stage of life, and we all have different things we have to focus on,” Powell said. “We love the park and our dogs love the park. We’re not gone for good; we’ll be back and forth and we’ll use that park again.”

The group held its final official meeting Thursday night, but Oki said the group members would continue to meet up as friends and share any future ideas they have for the park for the city. She added that she would miss the sisterhood that formed among the group members due to their shared vision.

“We will always remain steadfast friends because the dog park has brought us together,” Oki said.

Tony Oligney-Estill, director of parks and recreation for the city, said nothing about the way the dog park is managed or maintained will change, including the park’s hours. The city already mows the dog park’s grass and collects trash out at the site.

Oligney-Estill hopes to be able to corral volunteers to work on landscaping at the dog park in the spring, which would include the area by the park’s sign and if the city decides to add trees. City staff members will have to do the landscaping if he can’t find volunteers, but Oligney-Estill said the work would just mean an adjustment of the staff’s time, and not additional money spent by the city.

“It comes down to, if they’re landscaping the dog park, what aren’t they landscaping (instead),” Oligney-Estill said. “No additional overtime or expenses just means city’s overall landscaping might go down a quarter of a notch because we have more property to take care of.”

The only cost the city may incur for now is to pay for replacement bags for dog waste, but Project Dog Park left the city with a case to get started.

“I’m pretty sure this is a fairly inexpensive arrangement overall,” Oligney-Estill said.

Powell believed that Oligney-Estill and the city would make sure the park is taken care of “and Galesburg gets the best park it can get.” She said she will miss bouncing off ideas with the other Project Dog Park members about the park.

“My work for that park was a labor of love, so I’m proud of how it turned out,” Powell said. “I know I’m going to miss it.”


Rebecca Susmarski: (309) 343-7181, ext. 261;; @RSusmarski

Article source:

At 3 Oahu schools, food waste is no longer ending up in the trash

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –

Three Windward Oahu public and charter schools are discontinuing the practice of throwing away uneaten lunches into the trash.

Instead, they’re turning their food waste into a valuable product that people are buying.

“It feels good to know that we are helping the world and we’re not wasting food,” said Kaohao Elementary student Hilina’i Falkner.

After lunch every day, students at Ka’ohao, Kainalu and Kaelepulu elementary schools sort uneaten food for compost.

Classes then prepare the compost for gardening.

“It’s hard work but it’s worth it because you can help the world and make it better,” said Ka’ohao Elementary student Kaleo Fleming.

Since the “Zero Waste Hui” food recovery program started three years ago at Ka’ohao, it’s reduced the school’s dumpster trash by 90 percent and 80 percent at the other schools.

“I’d use about 25 large trash bags a day, everyday for 5 days a week, for 20 years and now I am just using 5 large trash bags,” said Ka’ohao School custodian Jeff Mizuno.

Mindy Jaffe is the creator of the award-winning program. It was ranked number one in the nation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We did great! In 2017, our three schools collected and processed over 30 tons which is over 60,000 pounds of food waste. All that from just three small schools!” said Jaffe.

“The way they manage waste at the public schools is just criminal,” Jaffe said. “Waste is really an incredibly valuable resource if you know what to do with it and composting is easy, natural and fun.”

Jordan Nelson also does a lot of the work.

“I am a resource recovery specialist. If you look at the food we’re collecting, it’s seen as waste and we are changing the mnindset that waste is a resource to be collected and used for a positive means,” said Nelson.

Worm bins are also set up throughout the three campuses. The creepy crawlers help break down recycled paper, fruits and vegetables and produce vermicast which is worm poop. It’s highly valued by local farmers and growers because, Jaffe explains, “it is packed with nutrients and it makes for a great soil amendment.”

What was once trash is now a money-maker. The schools will sell a total of 1 1/2 cubic yards of high quality compost and vermicast to the public on Jan. 27 at Kainalu Elementary School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We’re not filling dumpsters anymore. With this beautiful, enriched soil, we have better landscaping, beautiful gardens, lovely lawns and educated kids,” said Jaffe.

Copyright 2018 HawaiiNewsNow. All rights reserved.

Article source:

Miami’s Coconut Grove works to preserve groove


This Domain is for Sale. Click here for contact information


Backorder Domain

Article source:

Gather around garden writers at the Northwest flower show (photos)

One of the best parts of a horticulture event is meeting experts and authors you admire. The Northwest Flower Garden Festival, Feb. 7-11 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, makes it easy to listen and learn from people who know their way around what grows best in backyards.

Enthusiastic garden and interior designer JJ De Sousa, who owns Digs Inside Out, a home and garden boutique in Northeast Portland, will praise easy, evergreen airplants, or Tillandsias, on the DIY Stage starting at 3:15 p.m. on Feb. 8. She will also encourage “fearless” outdoor entertaining at 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 10 in the Hood Room.

Respected educator, garden writer and designer Lucy Hardiman of Perennial Partners in Southeast Portland will talk about cutting edge gardens in the Pacific Northwest starting at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 and gardening in small spaces at 2:15 p.m. on Feb. 8. Both presentations will be held in the Rainier Room.

Seminars are included in the admission ticket, which can be purchased at the door for $24 (early bird tickets are $19). Multi-day passes are available for two or five days. For more information, visit or call 253-238-3807.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 7-10, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11.

Wander through the display gardens to see what designers and landscape companies see as the new trends, popular classics and aspirational features to incorporate in your landscaping. The Garden Party theme covers organic and urban gardening, sustainability, culinary ingredients and outdoor dining environments.

The Northwest Flower Garden Festival, the second largest flower and garden event in the country, attracts well-known garden writers, including those who are published by Portland-based Timber Press, which releases books on gardening, horticulture, botany, natural history and the Pacific Northwest.

Here is a list of Timber Press authors appearing at the 2018 Northwest Flower Garden Festival:

Debra Lee Baldwin, the best-selling photojournalist and author of “Designing with Succulents” and “Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants,” will talk about succulents in containers on Feb. 7 and designing with the water-retaining plants in the Pacific Northwest on Feb. 8.

Linda Beutler, curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection in West Linn, will share how to “Garden Like Austen: Plants Jane Knew and Grew, and So Can You!” on Feb. 8. Beutler is also the author of “The Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis,” which is part of Timber Press’ Plant Lover’s Guide Series in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Jessi Bloom is the owner of NW Bloom, a permaculture design and ecological landscaping firm in Woodinville, Washington, and author of “Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard,” a 224-page paperback that covers chicken-keeping basics, simple plans to get you started, fencing options, the best plants and plants to avoid, and step-by-step instructions for getting your chicken garden up and running. Bloom, who also co-wrote “Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth” with Dave Boehnlein, will talk about keeping chickens on Feb. 8 and the homegrown apothecary on Feb. 9. She will also teach a seminar on winning the war on weeds on Feb. 11.

Paul Bonineco-owner of Xera Plants in Southeast Portland, and co-author with Amy Campion of Gardening in the Pacific Northwest: The Complete Homeowner’s Guide,” will give a presentation on pint-sized plants on Feb. 8 and great plants adapted to Pacific Northwest climates on Feb. 9.

Janit Calvo, who will give an introduction to crafting for miniature gardens on Feb. 9, is the author of “The Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop: Handmade Accessories for Your Tiny Living World” and “Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World,” a 256-page guide to creating living, small-scale gardens. Information includes scaled-down garden designs, techniques for creating tiny hardscapes, miniature garden care and maintenance, tips on choosing containers, how to buy the right plants, and where to find life-like accessories.

Linda Chalker-Scott, who will make it clear that you have to deal with the soil you have during a talk on Feb 9, wrote “How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do.” The 236-page guide covers the science behind plants from the ground up, with information on cells, roots, nutrition, light and reproduction.

Karen Chapman of Le Jardinet garden design in Duvall, Washington, will talk about foliage ideas for gardeners on budgets on Feb. 7. She co-authored with Christina Salwitz Gardening with Foliage First: 127 Dazzling Combinations that Pair the Beauty of Leaves with Flowers, Bark, Berries, and More.”

Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture magazine, will talk about developing a relationship with nature through your garden on Feb. 9. She is the author of “Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting More,” a 224-page paperback with helpful plant guides to accompany projects like flowering vines to climb a bamboo obelisk. She also wrote “The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest,” a 256-page paperback with a month-by-month format perfect for beginners.

Paige Embry, author of “Our Native Bees: America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them,” will give a presentation on preserving these vital pollinators on Feb. 7 and reveal how to attract native bees for better fruit production on Feb. 9.

Susan Morrison, landscape designer and author of “The Less Is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard,” will offer a seminar on gardening in small spaces on Feb. 8 and talk about big ideas for a small yard on Feb. 10.

Bobbie Schwartz, owner of Bobbie’s Green Thumb in Ohio and author of “Garden Renovation: Transform Your Yard into the Garden of Your Dreams,” will speak about integrating design between your house and landscape on Feb. 7 and creative garden design on Feb. 8.

Richie Steffen, director and curator of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, will offer a list of must-have plants for containers on Feb. 9. He is also the co-author with Sue Olsen of “The Plant Lover’s Guide to Ferns,” with advice on using ferns in garden design, information on growth and propagation, and lists of where to buy ferns and view them in public gardens.

— Homes Gardens of the Northwest staff with reviews by Sally Peterson

Article source:

The Gardeners’ Dirt: Late winter tips for Victoria gardeners


• Clean dead annuals/weeds from beds

• Add and till organic matter into beds

• Mulch bare beds to retard weeds

• Prune roses, shrubs and summer/fall flowering perennials in mid-February

• Follow pruning plan for shade and ornamental trees

• Consult Texas AgriLife Extension for pruning fruit trees

• Maintain landscape with freeze protection, proper watering and light fertilizer

• Plan, plan, plan!

Source: Brenda Heinold, Victoria County Master Gardener

Vegetable Recommended Varieties (not all listed) Spring planting dates

• Beans (bush) Blue Lake, Contender, Greencrop, Tendercrop, Topcrop Feb. 10 – Apr 15

• Beans (pole) Dade, Kentucky Wonder Feb 10 – Mar 15

• Beets Pacemaker II, Ruby Queen Jan 15 – Apr 15

• Broccoli Green Magic Jan 15 – Feb 25

• Carrots Danvers Half Long, Imperator 58, Nantes Half Long Jan 15 – Feb 10

• Collards Blue Max, Georgia Southern, Vates Jan 15 – Mar 15

• Corn (sweet) Silver Queen, Sweet G-90 Feb 15 – Mar 15

• Eggplant Black Beauty, Black Magic, Classic, Florida Market, Ichiban Feb 20 – Apr 1

• Lettuce Buttercrunch, Black Seeded Simpson, Oakleaf, Salad Bowl Jan 15 – Mar 15

• Pepper Big Bertha, Hidalgo Serrano Feb 20 – Mar 10

• Potato Kennebec, Red LaSoda Jan 15 – Feb 15

• Radish Early Scarlet Globe, Cherry Belle Jan 15 – Feb 15

• Squash Dixie, Early Prolific, Zucchini Elite, Zucco Feb 10 – Apr 1

• Tomato Sun Pride, Tomato 444, Amelia, Celebrity, Feb 20 – Mar 10

Source: Texas AM AgriLife Extension

This year certainly got off to a chilly start. The first four days saw freezing temperatures in Victoria and surrounding counties, even dipping as low as the upper teens to mid-20s. Then, with last week’s sleet and several days in the mid- to low 20s, the frost-sensitive annuals in our gardens that survived the snow in early December have almost certainly been decimated.

But, make no mistake about it; our landscape is still very much alive. What we do now can have a great impact on our gardening success throughout the remainder of 2018.

Planning for the spring

January and February are great months to review what did and did not work in our gardens in the previous year. Selecting appropriate plant varieties is a fairly easy task with the wealth of free information available at Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service’s website and in its printed and online publications. Many plant- and gardening-specific publications can be obtained by visiting your county extension office.

Equally importantly, we must match our plants’ needs to the resources we can reasonably devote to caring for them. It is important to understand the nutritional and water needs of selected plants, how much time is necessary to care for them and whether they are prone to disease and insects. Matching recommended plants to our ability to care for them is probably the most important thing we can do to improve our gardening pleasure and success.

Research recommended vegetable varieties for your county and make lists of those that you would like to plant. I recommend printing the list available at and marking your choices on the copy. Then, take the marked-up copy with you when you shop for transplants or seeds. If you don’t find your first choice, you will be able to make a wise second choice.

Preparing beds for spring planting

The winter months are an ideal time to prepare old and new beds for spring planting. The first task will be to mark the layout of the bed, remove existing weeds and turf, till or spade organic matter into the soil and cover the entire bed with a layer of mulch. If you are establishing a new bed, strive to achieve a balance of 50 percent organic matter and 50 percent soil to a depth of 12 inches. Refer to last week’s column on composting for information on organic matter.

In established beds, be sure to remove any dead vegetation before mixing organic matter into the soil and adding fresh mulch. Remember that your beds need organic matter added each year.

Refer to last week’s article on composting for information on organic matter.

In established beds, be sure to remove any dead vegetation before mixing organic matter into the soil and adding fresh mulch. Remember that your beds need organic matter added each year.

Planting in late winter

Many vegetables and flowering annuals can be planted now through February. The next few weeks are your last chance to plant cool-season vegetables. The second half of February, in general, is the first chance to plant warm-season vegetables. Consult a planting guide for specific planting dates.

Irish potatoes should be planted in mid-February. Remember the old advice to plant them between Lincoln’s birthday (Feb. 12) and Washington’s birthday (Feb. 22). Do not wait too late. Potatoes need enough time to mature before the combination of hot temperatures and heavy rainfall that can come in late April and May.

Trees, shrubs and roses can all be planted in January and February. Follow specific planting guidelines available through Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service.


In general, do not prune spring-blooming ornamental plants until after they bloom. Mid-February is the best time to prune shrubs and roses, with the exception of those like the Lady Banks rose that bloom just once a year. Although trees are best pruned in the winter months, remember that your shade, ornamental and fruit trees represent a significant investment of money and time. Be sure to consult a pruning guide to determine how much to prune, when to prune and even whether to prune at all.

Watering and fertilizing

Water and fertilize actively growing vegetables and cool-season flowers with high-nitrogen synthetic or organic fertilizers. Although your lawn will also benefit from adequate water, hold off on fertilizing your turf until late March. Plan to water your turf grasses once in January and twice in February unless we receive adequate rainfall.

Make light applications of water-soluble fertilizer and high-nitrogen fertilizers on newly planted vegetables and flowers. Fertilize established trees, shrubs and vines in February, but do not fertilize those that are newly planted.


Finally, remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast. Late January and February can be the coldest time of the year. Do not let your guard down. Remember to protect cold-sensitive plants from freezing weather. We are almost to the home stretch. Do not let a sudden cold snap catch you unaware.

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AM AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or


Article source:

Going Green with Rizaan Dawood: Helpful gardening tips for beginners

The best time to start a garden is right now so let’s go outdoors and begin with a project. The first step would have to be planning on what garden type of garden you would like to attain as there are many types.

ALSO READ: Learn how to start a food garden at home

Listed below are some:

  • Fruit or veg garden
  • Flower garden
  • Succulent rock garden
  • Wild mini forest
  • Grassland garden
  • Security or privacy gardening

Factors to consider before creating a garden:

  • What type of garden
  • Location
  • Root system of trees/shrubs
  • Indigenous or exotic plants
  • Maintenance

Once one has decided to plant, do not waste any time and get your plans into actions while you have the time. I personally would suggest doing gardening with indigenous plants or trees because they are adapted to our soils, climate and insects so you save on fertilisers and pesticides that could strain you and your wallet.

Indigenous plants also don’t require much watering and are often very hardy while attracting many birds and butterflies to your garden resulting in your garden being a wildlife hotspot.

Fruit or veg gardening are quite common and is an excellent way of appreciating the hard work, time and effort involved in food production by farmers. It is also very rewarding and it feels good to eat your own food that you grew from a seed.

Starting a garden is beautiful feature to one’s home, creating a peaceful sanctuary to those who pass by and admire. There are numerous benefits of having a garden at home. Just give it a small try and you would be amazed on how huge it becomes. Lastly, do not judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.


Article source:

In the Garden – February 2018

By Rhiannon Allen

Long ago, at the garden owners reception for a Point Roberts Garden Tour, I received a “Great Gardens of British Columbia” wall calendar donated by the Vancouver Sun’s garden columnist. This wasn’t long after I returned to the area after decades of east coast gardening, and I didn’t realize how useful this calendar would be as I readjusted to west coast gardening and the development of a new garden.

First of all, the glossy photographs of premier gardens that topped each month were inspirational. Each month featured a private ornamental garden in Metro Vancouver. Not only was it lovely to gaze on these serene gardens, but the garden descriptions gave a little history of each garden and a list of plants featured in each photograph. This provided a listing of plants that would thrive in our area but also encouragement and design ideas.

The most useful part of this calendar, however, was an extensive monthly list of garden tips for the metro Vancouver climate, printed alongside each month’s calendar grid. What a find this was for me! It had been some time since I had to remember the first and last frost dates of this area, when best to start seeds, fertilize various plants, prune my wisteria, and so on.

Even though I easily readjusted to gardening here, I have kept this calendar for all these years. It sits right by my garden door, where I can consult it each time I go to the garden – just in case I have forgotten anything. Over the years, I have added personalized notes such as January’s “Shrubby dogwoods, potentillas spirea – remove one-third of branches or cut down all branches to 3 inches” and March’s “Manure rhubarb.” I’m not a particularly forgetful or neglectful gardener, but I can no longer imagine gardening without this cheerful and friendly prodding as I head out the door.

Now what does my calendar remind me to do in February? (I’m including tasks that the calendar reminded me of in January, but I never finished.) Well, I notice that Hellebore care features in January and February. Hellebores are hardy winter-flowering evergreen perennials, meaning that they will survive our winters, bear flowers any time from December through late spring, maintain their (usually glossy dark green) leaves year-round, and live for decades.

Most Hellebores prefer shade, so they are great additions to tree-shaded gardens.How can you go wrong with that? They are pretty low care as well, despite my calendar’s notes of a number of January and February tasks. First, the old fashioned Hellebores like Helleborus niger (Christmas rose) whose flowers and glossy leaves alike emerge directly from a basal root ball at ground level should be checked for dead and damaged leaves.

Damaged leaves should be removed and disposed of in household garbage in case they are infected with any of a number of nasty diseases.

I generally remove all the leaves from some varieties of Hellebore as soon as the flowers begin to open so that the flowers will show up better. After the removal of undesired leaves, the area around the plants should be top-dressed with compost and then the plants treated with fish fertilizer to jump start their bloom.

In February, my calendar reminds me to give them a light application of lime because they prefer soil more alkaline than Point Roberts soil. Finally, in April, they will be fertilized again to boost growth of new foliage.

If you want to learn more about Hellebores, I suggest that you check out Phoenix Perennials on No. 6 Road in Richmond at The proprietor, Gary Lewis, is famous for his dedication to Hellebores. Interested in acquiring these distinguished harbingers of spring? Each February, Gary organizes a spectacular “Hellebore Hurrah!” with educational workshops and an extensive sale. This year it is held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on February 23 through 25.

As a matter of fact, my February garden calendar reminds me to check the dates of the Hellebore Hurrah! each year. Show a garden club membership card, and you will even get a discount on your purchases. Moreover, the staff can arrange for a phyto-sanitary inspection (at extra cost) and contact you once your purchases have been cleared for import.

Now, back to my favorite calendar, if you like the idea of a region-specific gardening calendar, I am sorry to tell you that I have been unable to locate one in print. It would be easy, however, to create your own customized calendar – possibly a good project to start before the spring warmth lures you out into the garden. Or I wonder if the Point Roberts Garden Club would consider making a “Great Gardens of Point Roberts” calendar? The only problem might be narrowing down the list to only 12 gardens!

Posted by

Article source:

How to raise your garden bed

With a raised garden bed, you can grow twice as much in half the space. Mike McGrath shares tips on how to raise the garden yourself.

Raise high your growing beds, gardeners!

Skip in Warrenton, Virginia, writes: “Like lots of NoVA homeowners, I’m blessed with red clay and rocks for soil. So this year I am following my more intelligent gardening neighbors by putting in raised beds. How tall and deep should these beds be? And what type of soil should they be filled with? I was thinking of building beds about 4 feet wide and 10 feet long, with about 3 feet of space in between.”

The wisdom of width

Those dimensions are close to perfect Skipper; and the most important of those dimension is width.

Raised beds should never be wider than 4 feet, so that you can always reach the center from either side without stepping on the soil in the bed. If you don’t step on that soil, it never gets compacted — and soil compaction is the second biggest human cause of plant death.

Compacted soil also has to be tilled to loosen it up again. Tilling decreases nutrients and increases weed woes, so always follow the 4 foot rule!

Raised beds: Any length’ll do ya

Skip in Warrenton is looking to build raised beds.

The length is up to you (and of course, the reality of the area you have to work with), because raised beds can be as long as you want. A popular length is 8 feet, as it adheres to standard lengths of wood and you can grow quite a bit of good eating in a 4×8 bed; much more than you could in the same square footage of flat earth.

Skip’s proposed 10 feet is also fine. Heck, if the yard layout is appropriate and you don’t mind the extra walking, make them 20 feet long! (Most of the beds in professional hoop houses run the entire length of the house.)

Just make sure to always leave at least 2 feet of walking lane in between your beds to make harvesting and wheelbarrowing easy. And yes, Skip’s proposed 3 feet is even better!

Let’s talk height and fill

Skip continues: “How tall should the beds be raised? And what type of soil should they be filled with?”

Raised beds should be at least a foot taller than the surrounding soil, Skip. That defines the area well, is tall enough to remind you not to step onto the soil and prevents creeping grasses — the biggest weed problem of flat earth gardens — from roaming their rhizomes into your radishes. And if your frames can accommodate it, the taller the better.

Fill each bed with a mix of high quality yard waste compost (not composted manure), screened topsoil that’s dark in color when it’s dry (very important!) and a big bag of perlite. Perlite is the round, white, mined, glasslike mineral you see in potting soils; it greatly improves drainage and helps keep air around the roots of your plants, which is good.

Do not use any of your old garden soil. It’s full of weed seeds and its poor quality is the reason you’re building raised beds to begin with!

“It’s a frame up, I tell ya — a frame up!”

OK — so Skipper’s new beds-to-be are at least a foot high, no wider than 4 feet, as long as he wants and have at least two-foot-wide walking lanes in between each bed. Now — what about the actual raised bed frames?

You can frame the beds with landscape timbers made of naturally-rot resistant materials like cedar or redwood (buy lower-quality [and cheaper] “knotty” pieces). Or you can use timbers made of a “composite” material like Trex or Azek; these molded mixtures of recycled wood shavings and plastic work just like real wood but last seemingly forever. I have beds framed with Trex timbers that are decades-old and look brand-new.

But materials like fieldstone and pavers may be the best choice. They last forever and you can easily take them apart and reposition them if your needs change in the future.

Whatever you do, don’t use old railroad ties — they are impossibly toxic! And don’t use old-school (“CCA”) pressure-treated wood containing arsenic.

The benefits of raised beds

Skip in Warrenton is getting tired of fighting his native “soil” of rocks and red clay and wants to join the raised bed brigade.

Now you got it, Skipper!

  • Growing beds that are raised a foot higher than the surrounding flat ground and filled with weed-free topsoil and compost warm up faster in the spring and stay warm longer in the fall — especially if they’re framed with something like fieldstone or pavers that absorb heat from the sun during the day and radiate that heat back into the soil at night.
  • Making the beds no wider than 4 feet, so that you can reach everything in the beds without stepping on and compacting the soil, means that the soil will stay light and fluffy without you ever having to till.
  • You’ll grow twice as much in half the space with a garden of raised beds!

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.

Article source: