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Archives for February 11, 2018

James Dulley: Many designs available for making storm windows

Send inquiries to James Dulley, Lincoln Journal Star, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

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Color-driven landscapes are harder than they look

The most eye-catching part of a garden plant is its flower, and the most captivating element of a bloom is its color. You might think then that designing a garden should be an exercise in painting with flowers. This idea once held a lot of sway, but color-driven garden design is, by and large, a dead duck.

Gardeners today are more relaxed about their plantings and are driven less by color schemes than the desire for naturalistic effects. We are still drawn to flowers and have our own color preferences, but the need for elaborate, color-coded borders has generally vanished.

There are ways to pinpoint plant color — the most famous is the Royal Horticultural Society Color Chart, essentially paint charts with holes in them for matching chips directly with a flower — but I have never seen a gardener in the United States use one.

This retreat from overt color design doesn’t mean that we should abandon our interest in color theory. Every gardener needs to know how color works.

To that end, we mark the Smithsonian’s publication of “Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours,” a reproduction or facsimile of an 1821 manual that is slender physically but a giant in its significance. It was devised by a Scottish art teacher named Patrick Syme and based on a system of color classification by a German mineralogist, Abraham Werner. The book standardized the color descriptions of scientific specimens in a pivotal era of discovery. One of its users was Charles Darwin.

But color systems are needed by artists as well, and by the end of the 19th century, color science had made the leap from botany to horticulture, most famously with the work of the Arts and Crafts garden writer and designer Gertrude Jekyll. She started out as a painter but turned to gardening after her eyesight deteriorated.

While Claude Monet was capturing his garden on canvas, Jekyll was turning her unrealized paintings into gardens.

She put together planting plans for borders of hot colors and cool colors. Her favored approach was to compose a plant border that started with cool colors, moved to hot ones and then receded to the cooler ones.

This coherent artistry had great appeal and was adopted on both sides of the Atlantic. One of Jekyll’s admirers was Vita Sackville-West, whose renowned garden at Sissinghurst Castle, south of London, includes a white garden aped in private gardens around the world. I prefer Sissinghurst’s Purple Border, which, as I recall, is a medley of reds, pinks and blues as well as purple, all set against a high brick wall.

The desire to group plants by color is thrilling when done well, but it leads you into a maze — you must master color theory before moving on to high-level gardening.

First, the theory. If you’ve taken an art class, you know that the appearance of a color is controlled by three components: hue, brightness (or value) and saturation.

A pastel color — seen in a pink Oriental poppy, perhaps — has high value and high saturation, making it light and bright. The pale color of a blushed peony has high value but low saturation. The rich color of a crimson gallica rose has low value and high saturation. This is explained in a book by the late Sandra Austin, who was an instructor of landscape design at George Washington University. “Color in Garden Design” was published in 1998 but still can be found online.

Austin hoped that if gardeners understood the technical attributes of color, they could use it more effectively in the landscape.

But mastering color theory is one thing; having the proficiency to create a season-long color-coordinated garden is something else.

Even if you include foliage as part of the color plan, as Austin suggests, you’d still need an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and how they grow in your garden.

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In the Garden: Restoration on horizon for one of Allerton’s formal gardens – Champaign/Urbana News

ITG Allerton Triangle Garden new.jpg


If you have not visited the formal gardens at the Allerton Park and Retreat Center near Monticello, I strongly recommend making the trip. These spectacular gardens combine exquisite landscape design with sculptures from around the globe to create a flowing transition from Robert Allerton’s magnificent, Georgian-inspired home (constructed in 1900) to 1,500 acres of pristine natural areas in the surrounding park.

It is truly a remarkable and historic place in central Illinois, combining art, history and elaborate design with the flourishing, unimpeded ecosystem of the Sangamon River corridor.

On a recent visit to Allerton, I was able to connect with Micah Putman, park supervisor, to discuss restoration plans for the Triangle Parterre Garden. This garden was originally designed by Allerton himself, featuring short, conical evergreens with an elaborate triangular-shaped hedge at their feet.

Over time, the “short” evergreens have become tall and added significant shade to a once full-sun garden. In fact, these evergreens have been replaced several times over the 100-plus years that this garden has existed. Putman is now looking to once again revitalize this garden.

“The original design called for evergreens no taller than the existing garden walls,” Putman said.

Today, the towering arborvitaes easily reach three or four times the height of the surrounding brick garden walls, which are somewhere around 10 feet in height. Just as any natural system, the garden has changed over time, and much of Allerton’s intended design elements have been lost.

Parterre gardens, like Allerton’s Triangle Garden, are characterized by symmetrical patterns and highly manicured hedges. They are typically installed in flat, level places on the landscape and include intricate paths and hedges that delimit geometric planting beds.

This garden style originated in France during the 15th century and has become well-known across Europe. The European influence on Allerton is evident in sculptures and artwork, as well as garden design elements throughout the park.

“In order to recapture Robert Allerton’s original design inspiration, we plan to replant more appropriately sized arborvitaes,” Putman said. Plans also include a renovation of the characteristic triangle-shaped hedge of aging and invasive privet by replacing it with a boxwood hedge that will revitalize the centerpiece of this garden’s design.

Pathways in parterre gardens are traditionally gravel, sand or mowed grass, which are not as accessible as paved substrates. In order to provide greater accessibly to the Triangle Parterre Garden and other formal gardens south of the Visitor Center, Allerton staff members have installed paved, aggregate paths that mimic the classic pea gravel look of a parterre garden, but provide much greater accessibility.

“The new garden will be practical and functional, but still formal,” Putman said in reference to similar accessible features included in the new plan.

Allerton’s original design included some more practical elements, such as food production. At one point in time, long before the garden’s shade dynamics changed so drastically, plots of sweet corn enjoyed full sun around the border of the Triangle Parterre Garden.

The new design seeks to capture similar elements of practical functionality in the garden border by incorporating a permaculture planting of fruit and nut trees with interplanted vegetables and herbs.

Permaculture is a set of design principles applied to achieve more “permanent” agriculture. Perennial plants are typically chosen and are planted in arrangements that mimic nature. Sustainable productivity is a common goal of permaculture as well, making design with permaculture concepts more appealing to the Allerton staff. “Production areas in the new Triangle Garden will be fun for staff as well as provide excellent educational opportunities for visitors,” Putman said.

The interesting, historically inspired new design for Allerton’s Triangle Parterre Garden will incorporate aspects of formal garden design as well as permaculture to create a beautiful, yet productive space.

Although a plan has been developed, Allerton’s staff noted that funding for the project will be largely dependent on donor support. Allerton recently initiated a standard that any facility projects, including garden renovations, need to supply an endowment along with the renovation costs — ensuring that gardens like this one are not only restored, but maintained for generations to come.

Allerton staff members are currently fundraising for this initiative, along with several other large projects identified as priorities in the park’s 2015 master plan.

Ryan Pankau is a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension, serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties.

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The cottage with the amazing secret garden that tourists want to peak at – and it’s for sale

Henry and Janet Campion are used to strangers knocking on the door of their quaint Grade II listed timbered cottage in Flixton.

Dating back to the late 1600’s it is one of the oldest properties in the area – but it’s not the house’s history people are interested in. They want to go beyond the white picket fence and step into the cottage’s stunning secret garden.

Extending to more than three acres, it boasts three perfectly planted terraces, one with a large ornamental pond and fountain, a walled kitchen garden with raised beds and large greenhouse before another gate leads you into the wild garden and woodland glade.

Janet said: “We had a bride and groom wanting their wedding photos taken here, an archaeologist working on St Michaels Church next door, even a coach-loads of tourists wanting to look. We don’t formally open the gardens but like to let people in if we can. They seem to like it.”

The gardens would seem like a lifetime achievement but the couple only moved in to Larkrise 14 years ago.

Janet recalls: “There was just one terrace when we arrived and one lawn with borders. But gardening and landscaping is Henry’s passion and he made the other two terraces and the pond, then about seven years ago we bought more land from a neighbour. It was so overgrown I lost Henry when he walked into it and we didn’t even realise there was a 60ft greenhouse in there!”

The backyard jungle was tamed into a kitchen garden and Janet began growing vegetables. “The trouble was the soil is too good! I’m not an expert so I would just put the seeds in and we had that many cucumbers and lettuces and cabbages and tomatoes that we were giving boxes of it away”, she said.

“I did enjoy seeing things grow and it is true that they do taste differently but it just took over.”

Now the couple, both just 70, have decided it is time to move on and want ‘adventure before dementia’, so Larkrise is on the market for £649,950.

The agents describe it as ‘a property like no other’. As well as the garden, it has a host of unique features including a front door that is reputedly the oldest in Trafford.

Janet explained: “There was originally one cottage here, and then they built on and extended and at some point added another staircase so it became two cottages.

“But we have black and white photographs from the 1930s which show it back as one property even though the address is 18-20 The Village!”

Inside it is packed with original character with exposed beams, stone floors, and exposed brick fireplaces.

It is set back from the road with ample parking and within walking distance of Flixton village.

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Janet said: “I loved it the moment I walked in, the house wraps itself around you and has a fantastic atmosphere. I will miss that and we will both miss the garden. It is the most wonderful place to wander through and enjoy.”

The three-bedroom cottage is for sale through Home Estate Agents, Urmston .

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Rain garden workshops in Burnsville

Burnsville and Dakota County residents are once again invited to attend free Landscaping for Clean Water workshops.

The workshops are offered 6:15-7:30 p.m. Monday, March 5, and Tuesday, April 10, at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Parkway, (use Door 1, Savage Room), Burnsville.

These introductory workshops provide tips and tricks on creating native gardens, rain gardens and shoreline stabilization projects that benefit local water quality and provide much-needed habitat for pollinators.

During the workshops, which last just over one hour, participants will learn about low-maintenance native gardens, rain gardens and native shoreline stabilization projects that help keep water bodies clean.

In addition, trained instructors will provide affordable examples of gardens that transform conventional urban yards into beautiful and beneficial landscapes – all while providing habitat for pollinating insects. These gardens also help filter storm water runoff, which helps stop pollutants from flowing to lakes and streams.

After attending an introductory workshop, participants can sign up to attend a $25 rain garden design course, where they will receive design assistance to create a functioning rain garden specific to their own yard.

Registration is required by emailing or calling 651-480-7777. Visit for more information.

Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District offers grant opportunities of up to $250 for these types of water quality improvement projects. The city of Burnsville also offers grant opportunities of up to $1,000 for residents. The application deadline for the city grant program is Monday, May 7.

Residents are invited to attend workshops in other communities: Apple Valley (Feb. 28 or April 11); Farmington (March 27); Inver Grove Heights (April 4); Lakeville (April 9); Eagan (April 26); and Rosemount (April 30).

For more information on Burnsville grant opportunity and the City Natural Resources Department, visit

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Green Scene plans annual gardening event

After the break, Rob Pruitt, executive director of the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Garden, will discuss “Mosaic Cultures,” followed at 1:30 p.m. by Master Gardener Vaughn Griffith, who will share the arboretum’s orchard project.

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Master Gardeners host annual home and garden show

Every weekend business owners David and Mary Mizell take a trip to an expo and this week’s expedition led them to Pine Bluff’s 30th Annual Home and Garden Show. People converged on the Pine Bluff Convention Center Friday and Saturday to see vendors’ latest offerings in all things home and garden.

“We like to meet new people, we like to sell our plants and we see a lot of people and vendors at the same shows,” said Mary Mizell. “So, it’s like we’re a big family and we just travel around and see each other. A lot of the shows we go to are just an hour or so of where our nursery is, which isn’t too bad and some we do go further.”

The Mizell’s traveled six hours to make it to the show.

“We have some friends that are vendors here and they told us this was a really nice place,” said Mary Mizell. “We felt like it was going to be a fun trip coming to Pine Bluff.”

David and Mary Mizell, owners of Mizell’s Camellia Hill Nursery, brought various plants and flowers from their shop for green thumbs to purchase. Even though David and Mary specialize in Camellias, they brought plants specific to the area.

“We are a wholesale nursery, but we do sell retail,” Mary Mizell said. “We have 170 different varieties of Camellias at our nursery. We sell Azaleas, Magnolias, Gardenias, and other southern plants that are grown in this area.”

This year’s theme was “Growing New Gardeners” and showcased about 70 vendors in and outside of Jefferson County. The two-day event offered something for the master gardeners to beginners with workshops focused on gardening tools and tips.

“People like to see different things and shop the jewelry and plants,” sais Lloyd Wessels, an event organizer.

Sue Wolmack, Pam Brown, Susan Hulse, April Layher, Cindy Barszczewski and Carol Hurt have been stitching together since 2014 as Stitching Together. Various pieces of clothing, quilts and other handmade items decorated one of the many tabletops at the annual show.

“It’s called the Home and Garden Show and we feel like quilts and sewing are the heart of the home,” said Sue Wolmack.

Members of Stitching Together showcased their handiwork with large blankets, which people stopped to admire.

“It’s a great hobby,” said Wolmack. “It’s a chance to use your artistic ability when you don’t know how to paint a stick figure but you can take fabric and make something that lasts a lifetime.”

For the past four years, business owners Amanda and Ronnie Reynolds have set up shop at the show. The couple brought various items from their store Amanda’s Villa Landscaping and Garden Center for patrons looking to decorate their garden with statues of every kind.

“I get to see a lot of my customers,” said Amanda Reynolds as the reason she keeps attending the event.

Amanda also stated being a part of the event brings more attention to her business. Amanda’s Villa Landscaping and Garden Center celebrated thirty years in business in December.

“We like coming out here to support our community and our city whether it be as a vendor or whether it be someone coming to patronize it,” she said.

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This winter has been unusually warm. Here are garden tips if we get another freeze.

We’ve had some beautiful weather this winter, making up for last winter’s long-lasting snow blanket and choking inversions.

But it’s created some challenges for gardeners, such as early growth — right now, snowdrops and winter aconite are in bloom in my shade garden, and hellebores and trilliums are poking their heads above the surface too.

I confess I’ve been starting alliums and brassicas in the greenhouse, as well as some peppers. It may be too early, but it certainly brightens my mood. If you planted lettuce seeds Thanksgiving, as many do, you might be seeing tiny seedlings ready to grow up. Some old-timers will tell you not to store the longjohns just yet, for we’ll have more cold weather before spring arrives. It doesn’t look like that’s coming, though, with long-range forecasts seeing relatively mild temperatures.

If you fertilized your lawn in November and/or December, it’s greening up now. In past years we’ve had to mow in April; this year, we might be starting in March.

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Budding trees

What about the rest of the yard?

If you have non-fruit trees already budding out, don’t worry — a freeze will not prevent their leafing out.

Many trees will flower, and if those flowering buds are destroyed, that will just mean fewer seeds will drop and folks who usually suffer from spring allergies will breathe easier. Some trees afflicted with disease drop their leaves and refoliate a few times during the growing season.

Fruit trees are another matter. In Idaho, a lot of the state’s revenue and agricultural product is tied to fruit production.

If trees begin to bud and show color and then we have a frost or freeze, what happens? The low temperature will affect fruit tree buds, depending on how low the temperature drops, for how long and how far advanced the bud blossoms are. For instance, 10 percent of apple blossoms in “full pink” will be killed by temperatures of 28 degrees F., if that temperature lasts 30 minutes. But 90 percent of them will be killed by a temperature of 25 degrees F. If the buds are still green instead of blooming, 90 percent of the buds will survive temperatures down to 23 degrees F. for that period of time.

If you’ve grown apples, you may have noticed that the blossoms occur in clusters, one blossom larger than the others, and the blossoms opening at different times. Orchardists call this large blossom the “king” blossom. Since all of the blossoms do not open on the same day, those later-opening blossoms may become the apple-producing survivors of the season.

Different fruit buds tolerate different cold temperatures, too, according to compilations gathered by extension specialists at Washington State University and Michigan State University. In full bloom, 90 percent of blossoms of apricots, peaches and plums survive a half hour of 27 degrees F., while sweet and tart cherries are slightly hardier, surviving 28 degrees F. If buds are just beginning to swell, they’ll survive much colder temperatures, into the teens.

What can you do for your fruit tree if frost is in the forecast?

We used to be able to hang Christmas lights in fruit trees to keep buds, flowers or tiny fruits warm, but those modern lights have no heat. If the forecast frost is to be a light one, accompanied by wind or breezes, that is the best scenario. You could set up a fan to move the air in your fruit tree or spray it with water to freeze around the buds. As the water thaws in warming sunshine, the thawing effect of water raises the temperature a little. Or you could try covering the tree, although if the tree is large, that’s a difficult operation. If you can cover and install at least a regular light bulb under the cover, it could warm enough of the tree to preserve at least part of a harvest. YouTube has plenty of options for preventing freeze damage.

Gauging temperatures

One thing to keep in mind is that temperature forecasts and reports occurs at a gauge about 5 feet above the surface of the soil. Since cold falls, the temperature at ground level will be colder than forecast or reported. One study showed a 6-degree drop from thermometer to soil surface. Most of the temperatures forecast or reported are for a certain length of time, too. A shaft of cold air “kissing” squash plants in my garden killed leaves last year, although the reported temperature was 38 degrees F.

As far as bulbs are concerned, they’re encased in natural antifreeze, and will not suffer in freezes. If your daffodils are in bloom, a temperature of 15 degrees F. will cause flowers to droop, and they’ll never overcome that. Pick them for use in a vase before that cold temperature. But don’t mix them with other flowers — daffodils are in the narcissus family and so exude a sap that clog the stems of other flowers.

Other tips

▪  Roses should be OK, but don’t start pruning them until forsythia blooms. If you’re eager for spring, cut some forsythia twigs and put them in a vase of warm, almost hot, water. Change the water each day, and they’ll bloom indoors earlier than outdoors.

▪  Don’t forget to prune your grapevines this month. If you wait, they’ll bleed sap and, although it’s not a fatal problem, it’s messy.

▪  Planting onion seeds, sets or seedlings now is a gamble, because if the weather turns cold then warm again, they may go to flower and seed, ruining the bulb for culinary use. Other biennial plants may also go to seed in similar conditions.

▪  We’ll have enough water for this coming year, according to hydrologists at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, because we have an abundance of stored water in reservoirs even though the current snowpack in the mountains is less than normal. Researchers will continue measuring until April, and late February and March usually see more abundant precipitation.

Of course frost tender crops such as corn, tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, melons, squash and eggplant should not be sowed until the soil temperature is 60 degrees F.

When starting seeds indoors, we usually try to heat the planting soil for all seeds, but not all seeds germinate in high temperatures. Seeds for many crops such as lettuce, parsnips and spinach won’t germinate if the temperature is too high. I have my heat mat set to 80 degrees for peppers and eggplant that I’m germinating now, but must wait until later to re-heat it for tomatoes, basil and tomatillos. They shouldn’t be started until close to transplant time. Setting them out in mid-May to June 1 usually works best.

Most brassicas or cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collars, kale, and kohlrabi shrug off frosty weather, so they may be transplanted into the garden at this time. If we have a hard freeze forecast, a floating cover usually protect the plants. These are all easily germinated indoors at room temperature.

Send garden questions to or Gardening, The Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.

Worried about the mild weather?

Margaret will answer questions you have about this mild winter and your garden. Send garden questions to

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This week’s gardening tips: plant caladium tubers indoors, harvest parsley

Cool-season color for a partly shaded area: The best choices are cyclamen, primroses, pansy, viola, nicotiana, lobelia, foxglove, columbine and forget-me-not.

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