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Who is Joe Swift? Chelsea Flower Show co-host, garden designer and Gardeners’ World presenter

JOE Swift is back on our screens to present the RHS Chelsea Flower show on BBC One.

But what do we know about the author and designer who regularly presents Gardeners’ World?

Joe Swift (pictured) will be heading up the coverage of the Chelsea Flower show, alongside Sophie Raworth (pictured) and Monty Don

Joe Swift (pictured) will be heading up the coverage of the Chelsea Flower show, alongside Sophie Raworth (pictured) and Monty Don

Who is Joe Swift?

Joe Swift is an English garden designer, TV presenter and journalist.

He was born on May 25, 1965 to father Clive Swift, who is an actor in Keeping Up Appearances, and mum Margaret Drabble who is a novelist.

His brother Adam is an academic, and his sister Rebecca is a poet and founder of the Literary Consultancy.

Joe is the co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company

Joe is the co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company

How did Joe Swift get into garden designing?

After leaving school, Joe went to Art College, before travelling and working abroad.

He started landscaping in North London, before taking his skills to Sydney and Melbourne.

He then studied garden design at The English Gardening School and launched his own landscaping company at the same time.

Joe Swift (far right) has presented Gardeners World since 1998, with hosts Rachel De Thame (left), Monty Don (centre left) and Carol Klein (centre right)

Joe Swift (far right) has presented Gardeners’ World since 1998, with hosts Rachel De Thame (left), Monty Don (centre left) and Carol Klein (centre right)

What TV shows does Joe Swift present?

Joe is famous for presenting Gardeners’ World on BBC2 alongside lead host Monty Don since 1998.

He has also presented coverage of RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, BBC’s Small Town Gardens and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

On Monday May 22, Joe and Sophie Raworth will host a live show of Chelsea Flower Show on BBC One showing a preview of the highlight of the horticultural calendar.

In addition to this, Joe is also co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company.

What has Joe Swift had published?

As well as being a regular face on TV screens in the UK, Joe has also had several books published.

These are called The Plant Room, Joe’s Urban Garden Handbook, and Joe’s Allotment.

He has also written several newspaper columns and has featured in Gardeners’ World Magazine on the subject of home gardening and landscaping.

The Sun triumphs at The Centenary Chelsea Flower Show


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Boca moving ahead with plan to create student-oriented district near FAU

The city of Boca Raton forged ahead Monday with plans to create a hub of shops, restaurants and other businesses near Florida Atlantic University.

The City Council approved starting to research the economic impact of turning a nearly mile-long stretch of 20th Street into an area that caters to students and millennials. The next steps also will focus on unearthing what the area’s needs are as far as land, housing and potential costs to the city.

FAU and city officials have kicked around the idea to create the student-centered district since about 2007. Over the years, several ideas have surfaced, but nothing has moved forward.

In 2015, an FAU architecture class and an urban planning class teamed up to do an analysis on the area along the corridor. The project kicked off after students created 3-D models of what the area could look like. The models showed the area filled with trees and wide sidewalks connecting shops and businesses along the route.

Kelly initiated the study after deeming 20th Street a priority, said Frank Schnidman, a former FAU professor who taught the urban planning class that worked on the project.

“We did a data analysis as if we did it for a developer,” Schnidman said. “FAU has been doing data for the past year and a half.”

More ideas came as part of a summit in December by the city’s consultant, the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. Some ideas included adding sidewalks and more bike lanes, as well as revamping landscaping and attracting student-friendly businesses.

Boca Mayor Susan Haynie said though the idea has been around for a while, she credits the recent momentum to Kelly, who took the helm of president of FAU in 2014. In 2007, when the idea was first brought up, the university was less receptive to working together on the project, Haynie said.

“Since that time, the FAU administration has not been a willing partner in this as they are today,” Haynie said Monday. “Without that partnership and that collaborative spirit, this can’t move forward.”

Councilman Robert Weinroth said he hopes the area could be a “nucleus of social activities” for students.

But as of now, the area lacks an identity and an overall vision, Delaney said.

“What you have now is a Wild West situation,” she said., 561-243-6531, Twitter: @aric_chokey

Visit our Boca Raton community page at

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On Gardening: Design resilient plant communities

In a recent column, I referred to a book by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West: “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes.” Rainer and West present landscape design ideas that are worth applying in home gardens, and indeed in all kinds of gardens. Their ideas are intended to result in gardens that are “more robust, more diverse, and more visually harmonious, with less maintenance.”

The ideas presented in this book ring true to nature and good sense, and require planning and knowledge of specific plants to put into practice.

This column cannot replace reading the authors’ thoughtful review of familiar landscaping practices, and groundbreaking recommendations, but we can consider their essential messages.

Rainer and West indicate that good planting design results from harmonious relationships of plants to place, plants to people, and plants to other plants.

The first of these relationships recalls the “right plant in the right place” axiom, which often refers to locating the plant where it will have the soil, exposure, and moisture that it needs to thrive. To these aspects of place, the authors recommend locating plants in the grassland, woodland/shrubland, or forest environment that is their natural home. A garden, as a built environment, should look and function like a “distilled version” of one of those archetypical landscapes.

Consideration of the relationship of plants to people addresses the visual appeal of the landscape. The authors state that plant communities need not be limited to a naturalistic style and can exist within any other style. There are too many garden styles to list, but the basic idea is that the gardener can develop any preferred style and still maintain the plant’s relationships to place and other plants.

Rainer and West feature the relationship of plants to other plants, and write about the “levels of sociability” of plants. In nature, some plants grow as individuals, or in groups of various sizes, or in large areas. For example, plants that tend to grow separately from other plants would be candidates for containers, and some plants propagate cross vast numbers in large fields (see photographs of this year’s “superbloom” of wildflowers).

The authors recommend combining plants in interlocking layers, as they occur in natural plant communities. This approach allows plants to support each other, form a diverse and lush garden (as distinct from swaths of a single variety), and provide natural mulch that retains moisture and blocks entry of weeds and invasive plants. They categorize plants in four layers:

• Structural/framework plants — trees, shrubs, upright grasses and large-leafed perennials that form the visual structure of the planting (10-15 percent of the total)

• Seasonal theme plants — mid-height plants that dominant the scene when in bloom, and provide supporting companions to the structural plants when not in bloom (25-40 percent)

• Ground cover plants — low, shade-tolerant plants that cover the soil, control erosion and provide nectar (50 percent)

• Filler plants — short-lived species, e.g., annuals, that fill gaps and add short seasonal displays (5-10 percent)

The authors describe this plant community approach collectively as resilient gardening. The benefits include growing healthy plants, minimizing maintenance (always a popular objective), and providing a systematic approach to developing an attractive, full grouping of plants.

I have been vaguely dissatisfied with a garden that separates plants from other plants by mulch. Developing layered plant communities will require reviewing plants already in place, searching for new plants for the needed layers, and allowing time for growth. The authors have not provided tidy “recipes” for plant communities because there are too many possible variations, including personal preferences, to put in a book. Instead, they have left the design process to each interested gardener.

Enjoy your garden, and consider learning about—and developing—resilient plant communities for your garden.

Tom Karwin is past president of the Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, president of the Monterey Bay Area Cactus Succulent Society, and a Lifetime UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). Visit for links to information on this subject, and send comments or questions to

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Landscape Enhancement for Self-Storage – Inside Self

By Rick Freeland

Developing a self-storage facility is an intensive undertaking. Your main goal is to obtain as much rentable square footage from your property as possible. To accomplish this, you’ll need to maximize site coverage. If this is the ideal, then why worry about landscaping?

In most cases, you won’t have a choice. Certain landscaping is required by local, state and sometimes federal regulations. But you’ll also want to consider installing supplemental landscaping that can benefit you in various ways.

Required by Regulation

From the feds to your local jurisdiction, it seems everyone has a say in how a property is developed. Regulations on landscaping might include:

  • Buffers for state waters: States require you to leave 25 feet of undisturbed vegetative buffer next to streams, wetlands or other waters that cross your property as protection from sediment infiltration during construction. Some jurisdictions tack on another 25 feet for even more protection.
  • Zoning buffers: You may need to leave undisturbed buffers between your development and areas zoned for residential use. If natural vegetation within the buffer area is sparse, you’ll more than likely have to enhance it with native or naturalized plants.
  • Landscape strips: Most regulations require that 10 feet or wider dedicated landscape strips at front, side and rear setbacks be planted in a mixture of trees and shrubs.
  • Parking-lot plantings: Regulations sometimes require that planting islands and other landscape areas be provided within parking lots.
  • Erosion control: This includes temporary and/or permanent grassing and planting of constructed slopes and graded areas as protection against erosion.
  • Tree replacement and protection: This means replacing trees removed during development by planting new trees onsite, through offsite mitigation or by paying a fee.

Supplemental Landscaping

Once you’ve met your regulatory obligations, additional landscaping should provide substantial benefits. How can your project benefit through a thoughtful landscape design?

Aesthetics. How your community perceives your project will depend in part on how it looks. Use plants that complement your architecture. A simple, uncluttered planting scheme of three to five plant types is enough. Concentrate on your site’s entrance experience by installing plantings at the base of any monument signage, along with color beds at your driveway entrance. Think all-season interest with a mixture of small deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs as well as perennials. Use accent plants or container gardens at your office entrance to welcome visitors with style.

Storm-water detention and water quality. Using bio-retention ponds, grassed swales, rain gardens or constructed wetlands planted with filtering vegetation in tandem with more conventional storm-water controls can save you money in infrastructure.

Environmental awareness. Low-maintenance natives grow well together to predictable sizes. They also don’t need much water except during establishment, don’t require chemical fertilizers or commercial biocides, and are adapted to local conditions and bugs. Their leaves act as soil builders, weed suppressors and natural fertilizers.

Using suitable plants makes for less work, so you spend less on landscaping crews. Also, consider planting species that attract pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds and native bees. Avoid invasive species, such as nandina and Bradford pear.

Maintenance. Planting species native to your area where possible and using the right plants in the right place will cut down on the need for pruning, fertilization and watering, and substantially reduce your maintenance costs. If planting natives, you’ll just need to supply water during the establishment period. This can be done economically using a drip-irrigation system outfitted with a smart controller.

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Peffley: Plan horticultural road trip for the Memorial Day weekend

If you are ready for something different this Memorial Day weekend, why not plan a horticultural road trip? Start with our own Lubbock Memorial Arboretum.

Meander through its 93 acres on a one-mile walk selected for easy access. The arboretum has well-maintained specimens of plants that do well in our area gardens.

See Also

As an educational tool, the arboretum hosts events and activities open to the public as well as workshops and programs presented the second Saturday of every month in the red brick house located at K.N. Clapp Park, 4111 University Avenue.

An arboretum by definition specializes in trees — and it was a tree that was the first planting at the Lubbock Arboretum in 1962. But over the years with dedicated community, university and professional support, the arboretum broadened to include other plantings so that you can now stroll through several gardens:

  • The Hodges Rose Garden displays many varieties of roses and features easy to care for Earth Kind Roses.
  • The Perennial Gardens change with the seasons – bulbs in early spring transitioning to summer flowering shrubs and trees. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the shade of the gazebo.
  • The Sensory garden features plants stimulating sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch.
  • The Wildflower Garden at the Lubbock Arboretum may offer suggestions for your own garden.

The Lubbock Arboretum has an active board of directors who plan the gardens as well as its many no-cost events. They have a group of folks called the “Wednesday Wonders” who get out each Wednesday to plant, prune and preen plants in the gardens. If you are interested in learning more about the Arboretum or want to volunteer call (806) 797-4520.

For those headed east to the Metroplex this Memorial Day weekend you will travel near a gem of a botanic garden. Clark Gardens is a tranquil green refuge located a little north of U.S. 180 between Mineral Wells and Weatherford. It is well worth a side trip.

A botanic garden differs from an arboretum in that while an arboretum is mainly a showplace for trees, a botanic garden is dedicated to the collection, cultivation and display of woody and herbaceous ornamental and edible specimens. More than just a collection of plants, each specimen is labeled with its scientific name.

Clark Gardens has an enchanting history. In 1972 Max and Billie Clark purchased land that had been in pasture for many years and Max began transforming it into gardens. They planned the gardens for their own pleasure, planting trees as the backbones and gradually landscaping with beds.

Stroll through the 35-acre garden that pulses with the seasons following paths that lead you deeper into the park garden rooms.

In the Historical Tree Trail are trees that have a part in Texas history dating back to the Civil War.

Follow the Texas Trail with its plantings of specimens adapted to Texas. You will be greeted with garden statuary, ponds home to turtles, ducks and graceful swans. Irrigation for the gardens is supplied from its own lakes.

For more information, see or call (940) 682-4856.

ELLEN PEFFLEY taught horticulture at the college level for 28 years, 25 of those at Texas Tech, during which time she developed two onion varieties. She is now the sole proprietor of From the Garden, a market garden farmette. You can email her at

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Outdoor News





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Gardening tips for May long | 980 CJME –

Summer has virtually arrived with the May long weekend and that means many gardeners will be busy in the backyard.

For those wondering what can be planted and what can’t because of the chillier temperatures at night, Rick Van Duyvendyk of Dutch Growers and host of Garden Talk on 980 CJME and 650 CKOM has some answers.

“You can get all your seeds in the ground, that’s important,” he explained. “Get your potatoes in the ground, your onions, your garlic, you can get a lot of your pea seeds in the ground, your beans. You can plant a lot of those kind of things.”

However, Van Duyvendyk added gardeners have to be careful about bedding plants this early into the warmer months.

“Like your tomatoes and peppers and some of the cabbage, cucumbers because [of] the late night temperatures.”

He said it’s a good idea to harden these plants off, which means keeping them out during the day and bringing them in at night for a few days so they become acclimatized.

Don’t have a backyard or garden? No problem.

“Container gardening is becoming huge,” he said.

Van Duyvendyk recommended buying a potting soil that’s sufficient at holding moisture

Garden Talk airs on 980 CJME and 650 CKOM Sundays at 9 a.m.

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Master Gardener Volunteers provide spring tips for north central Ohio residents





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5 tips for starting your garden strong this season – Manitoba – CBC …

Gardeners, rejoice: It’s May long weekend, which means the summer gardening season has unofficially begun.

Before you shake the cobwebs off your gloves and spades and get out there, here are a few tips for setting yourself and your garden up for success this year.

1. Watch the weather

May long weekend is just a benchmark, so don’t get too excited, said Dorothy Dobbie, publisher of Manitoba Gardener magazine. It’s a good rule of thumb that you’ll be safe after the holiday weekend, but it’s not a guarantee.

“There are gardeners in town who say don’t do anything until the second week in June, because you can never be too sure that you won’t get a late frost,” Dobbie said.

It might not hurt to hold off another week or so before you start planting, Dobbie said, especially for plants with fleshy stems or flowers such as succulents that are especially susceptible to frost, or plants that are planted in the shade where the soil warms up more slowly.

She usually looks for consistent nighttime temperatures of around 9 or 10 C, she said.

If you’re itching to get started, that’s OK, too, Dobbie said. Some plants, like petunias, can handle chilly weather, although they may grow more slowly afterward, and beans and peas actually thrive in lower temperatures early on.

Containers are a good bet because they’ll warm up faster in the sunshine, she said, as are sunnier spots in the soil.

If you’re unsure, Dobbie recommended using your hands to feel about six inches down into your soil. If it’s not freezing cold, you should be fine.

2. Do a little prep work

Get your garden ready before planting, including raking old leaves off the top, Dobbie said.

If you’re planting in containers, make sure you’re working with a good soil mixture. Dobbie recommended a mixture of one-third soil to two-thirds potting mix to keep your earth from drying out too quickly, with a bit of granular fertilizer. That set-up should keep your pot going until about mid-July, she said, when you can start supplementing with water-soluble fertilizers.

Once you’re ready to go dirt-wise, get yourself to a store, said Chad Labbe, co-owner of Shelmerdine Garden Center.

“If you’re just getting thing started, you want to find your must-haves right away,” Labbe said.

“Get out into the garden centre and find those unique [plants] that you want to have sooner than later. These things start to sell fast now.”

3. Plant wet

When you’re ready to start planting, Labbe said it’s important to make sure your plants are already wet before they go into the ground.

“A common mistake that we often see is plants getting planted when they’re actually dry into soil and then trying to get them re-hydrated,” Labbe said.

“Always make sure that the plants that you’re planting are moist prior to planting, and then once the container is finished or the bed is finished, water them all together.”

Other common planting mistakes that are easy to avoid: planting too deeply and jamming too many plants into a container, Labbe added. 

4. Damage control

So you pulled the trigger early and your plants are getting cold. Don’t worry — you’ve got options.

“The old-fashioned way, or what we used to do, is go out with blankets, cover things up that are planted into the ground,” Labbe said.

“Make sure the soil’s moist — don’t let dry soil be around your plants,” he added. “If it is freezing, that moisture that’s on the foliage is going to start to freeze, but it in fact releases a little bit of warmth at the same time, therefore protecting the plant.”

Dobbie, too, said watering your plants is the best way to keep them safe if temperatures drop. She recommended watering them before bed to make sure they’ll be safe overnight if there’s frost.

If you’re working with portable containers, just bring them inside, she added.

5. Use your instincts

You don’t have to walk around with a soil thermometer to have happy plants, Dobbie said.

“Use your instincts. If it feels really cold and windy and you’re shivering, maybe you just want to hold off a little bit,” she said. “If you feel warm and comfortable and things seem pretty benign, then take a chance and plant.”

If it doesn’t work don’t get discouraged, she added.

“Just because they die doesn’t mean to say you’re a bad gardener,” Dobbie said.

“It’s learning through failure that makes you a good gardener. So don’t be afraid. Try whatever, and if it doesn’t work, try again.”

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Garden tips: going underground

What is it about fertilizer that plants know and people never ponder? We commonly think that if a plant is planted in the soil then it will thrive and grow to its ultimate ideal mature size and flowering or fruiting ability.

Often this is not the case, and frequently the plants we cultivate don’t thrive at all. In the past, bringing in a cartload of steer manure, some chicken poop, and a bucket of egg shells would make for a good garden. Granted the smell was pretty bad for a couple of weeks but the tomatoes would be worth it. Some just buried a fish under each plant and that would do the trick. Now we have boxes and bags of pelletized organic fertilizer. We have synthetic granules that have coatings of polymer lasting up to three months slowly releasing the fertilizer into the soil whenever watered. We also have liquid fertilizers that come in myriad formulas you mix in a watering can or dilute from a concentrate. These fertilizers access the roots of plants quickly and thoroughly, feeding immediately and giving results for two weeks. They can create a spectacular bloom show in a flower bed.

There are problems with fertilizers, however, and using them incorrectly may cause damage to your garden or runoff downstream. What I’m going to attempt to cover in this column is how to use fertilizers in your garden.

1. Different plants prefer different fertilizers. Know your plants, and then you can learn the foods that work best for them. Take photos of the whole plant, some leaves and a flower or two and then bring the photos and a sample leaf to a nursery and ask for identification.

2. While at the nursery, ask what fertilizer they recommend for that type of plant and write down the brand name of the fertilizer and the three numbers found on the package. For example, 5-1-1 is blood meal, 15-30-15 is one of several different types of the Miracle Grow brand. 3. Look up your plant on the Internet or in your plant encyclopedia. The Sunset Western Garden Book is a good encyclopedia to get. Once you have a pretty good idea about your plant fertilizer needs, compare that information with the information you got from the fertilizer package.

4. The numbers you saw on the fertilizer package at the nursery are the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Nitrogen stimulates green growth, phosphorus stimulates bloom, and potash stimulates root growth and plant vigor. These, in correct proportions for your plants, make for ideal growing, flowering and fruit or vegetable production.

5. Some plants like more acid in their soil. This can be achieved with fertilizers. Camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas are just a few types of plants that like a lower pH in their soil (higher acid level). This does not mean that giving your plants coffee grounds or vinegar will be a good thing. You can too easily overdo the acid. Look up the correct types of fertilizers, go to several nurseries and ask for help. You will find dozens of fertilizers and easily become overwhelmed. Take in the information and make your decisions at home. Write everything down.

6. Take before-and-after color photos of your plants. That is, before fertilizing and again two weeks later. You may think you’ll remember what the plant looked like, but a photo taken in the same light, the same time of day two weeks apart should show you if your fertilizer program is working.

7. Read all the instructions on any packages of fertilizer and the proportions to use for different sized plants. Read about all the types of plants this fertilizer is good for. Look for warning labels. Follow the instructions as written and don’t use more than is advised.

8. If you get fertilizers without any instructions, ask the person selling them or giving them to you for the proper proportions to apply to your plants. Try to get a list of ingredients and look them up so you’ll know their benefits. Some plants will take longer to respond to fertilizers. This is especially important for organic fertilizers. If a person sells or gives you a bag of chicken litter with manure or a bucket of fish guts, it’s important to know what they recommend the proportions are to put around your plants. More is not necessarily better when it comes to fertilizer.

9. Do not put piles of fertilizer around your plants. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the root zone, not around the trunk. What is the root zone? It is the area from the drip line (straight down from the outside of the leaves) to about a foot or more from the trunk. A tree will obviously have a greater drip line than a camellia bush and a plant like a tomato even less. Always water in your fertilizer. No matter what kind you use, the only way it can get to the roots is if you water it in. Think about how deep your roots are and how deep you have to water to get it down to where most of them are. Most plants have a root surface equal to the canopy surface. Most roots (even on trees) are only 18 inches deep.

10. The difference between organic fertilizers and synthetic or chemical fertilizers is the concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Organic fertilizers have lower concentrations and often more micronutrients. It’s important to know this because if you apply synthetic fertilizers in the same proportion as organic fertilizers, you may burn your plants. Organic fertilizers are most often used on vegetables, fruits and edible plants. Often they can contribute to good fungi and bacteria growth in the soil which is good for plants. They do less harm to worms and microorganisms, they add a natural aesthetic to plant cultivation that one does not get from a bag of chemistry.

Jack McKinnon is a garden coach. He worked in the Sunset Magazine Gardens for 12 years and can be reached at 650-455-0687 or email at

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