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It’s all about the light: Photographer offers tips on photographing ‘Nights of a Thousand Candles’

Anne Malarich has been photographing “Nights of a Thousand Candles” at Brookgreen Gardens since it started.

“Every year it’s exciting,” Malarich said. “It’s never boring. It’s just amazing.”

Malarich doesn’t race around the gardens trying to take pictures of everything. She works methodically, spending a lot of time planning each shot around the “perfect light.”

“It takes a lot of work to get the exposure to happen,” she said.

She loves shooting at twilight, so she makes plans to be in a different spot every night of the event.

Her favorite spot to photograph is the Fountain of the Muses.

“It’s the hardest one to do because you’ve got three different plains to focus [on]… you’ve got that beautiful pool with reflections, and that’s fun to me, doing that,” Malarich said. “I love photographing something with water.”

There are two spots Malarich said sometimes photographers overlook: the children’s garden and the back wall facing the rice fields.

“It’s a small area with more intense lights,” Malarich said of the children’s garden. “I like the way the lights fall on different areas of the leaves and the trees. That’s real intriguing to me, the different shapes that it forms.”


Spanish moss glistens among the thousands of lights that sparkle on this oak tree. 

Eileen Keithly/South Strand News

She loves the amount of lights along the back wall.

“The whole area back there is always covered with lights,” she said. “Especially if it’s raining outside … It’s just gorgeous.”

Malarich recently hosted a seminar at Brookgreen to give people tips on how to photograph Nights of a Thousand Candles.

Malarich told attendees to always bring extra batteries; a wide-angle lens; a lens hood to block stray light; a monopod, since Brookgreen doesn’t allow tripods during Nights events; a self-timer; and a flashlight with 40 to 100 lumens, preferably with a red light, which Malarich said is easier on the photographer’s eyes.

The flashlight is used to “sculpt” light, especially on white statues, and should be used from the side of whatever object the person is photographing.

When shooting at twilight, Malarich sets her aperture to F-8 or F-11 and her shutter speed for F-11; recomposes her camera to scene; and sets her ISO to 200.

As the twilight fades, Malarich switches her ISO to 100/200, the aperture to F-11 or F-16 and moves the shutter speed to 0.

Malarich prefers shooting manually, although she suggests using auto-focus at first, and then switching to manual to take the picture.

Malarich does a lot of “painting with light.” Along with using a regular flashlight, she’ll sometimes use gels to change the color of the light from the flashlight. She also likes to shoot from low angles and sides, and create depth.

The best advice Malarich can give to people who use their cell phone or a point-and-shoot camera at Nights is to turn off the flash.

“It allows the shutter speed, and the ISO and the aperture to absorb all those lights,” Malarich said.

See Brookgreen Gardens come to life amid the soft glow of more than 5,500 hand-lit candles and countless sparkling lights from 3 – 10 p.m. on Nov. 30, Dec. 1-2, 7-9 and 14-17.

Walk the paths with a warm cup of cider, hear the sound of holiday music, and celebrate the season with family and friends.

The 85-foot-tall fir tree decorated with 100,000 lights will be lighted in ceremonial fashion at 5:45 p.m. every night.

Tickets for members are $15 for adults and $10 for children. General public tickets are $20 for adults and $12 children. All children age 3 and under are free.

Tickets are sold in advance and only for specific dates. Based on availability tickets can be changed for another date by calling 1-888-718-4253.

For more information, or to order tickets, visit or call 1-888-718-4253.

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Tree Pruning Tips for Fall

Fall is a great time to be outside admiring the trees in our landscapes. 

We take stock of which trees are looking good and which seem to need a little help. If we discover trees that look like they’ve seen better days, we instantly want to solve the problem. It is natural to want to do something to help a plant — prune it, fertilize it, polish it — we can’t help wanting to touch it in some way.

One basic housekeeping chore that might help a struggling tree would be pruning. Pruning is an oft-needed maintenance treatment for good tree health and safety, but pruning without a good reason is not good tree care practice. Pruning just because your neighbor is doing it may not be beneficial for the tree, and could result in too much live tree tissue being removed. This can cause the tree to become stressed, and perhaps decline. 

In the fall, limit the amount of live tissue being removed and focus mainly on removing dead or broken branches.

Industry tree pruning standards say no more than 25 percent of a tree’s foliage should be removed in a single growing season. If the tree is of a species that cannot tolerate a lot of pruning, even less should be removed.

When determining how much pruning your tree can tolerate, a qualified arborist may consider if the tree:

• Is healthy

• Is still growing rapidly or has matured and slowed its growth

• Had its roots severed or damaged recently or in the past

• Suffers from disease

• Is a species tolerant of heavy pruning

“All that said, fall is a good time to evaluate a tree to plan future pruning that may be needed to meet certain tree health goals,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association.

A qualified arborist will work with you to set an objective for the pruning job (i.e., what you want accomplished when the work is done). Pruning objectives usually include one or more of the following:

• Reduce risk of damage to people or property

• Manage tree health and direction of growth

• Provide clearance for vehicles or roadways

• Improve tree structure

• Increase or improve aesthetics

• Restore shape

“Once tree pruning objectives are established, the arborist can provide specific details on how your trees could be pruned to get the desired result,” says Andersen.

The pruning process can be overwhelming to those not familiar with the pruning of shade and ornamental trees. A qualified tree care expert trained in tree and woody plant health care can answer your questions, as well as help you with your tree-pruning goals. 

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Still time to plant shrubs

Q: I purchased an oak leaf hydrangea back in the spring. It’s still in a two-gallon pot, doing very well. Is it too late in the season to plant it outside?
Brenda Allen, email

A: There’s no reason not to plant your hydrangea, as well as other potted shrubs, in late fall through early winter. The soil will be plenty warm enough to help roots grow between now and January. There is no reason to fertilize now but be sure to loosen a wide area around the planting spot so the roots can expand easily.

Q: Deer ate all the leaves off of my four-foot tall Japanese maple. Will it survive if I bring it into our sunroom this winter?
Rick Davis, Dunwoody

A: I think there’s a good chance your Japanese maple will sprout leaves next year without much problem. It has completed much of the photosynthesis it needs for next year during the past growing season and it was preparing to drop its leaves when the deer came by. If the branch tips were chewed off, that might be more problematic but I still predict you will have plenty of leaves. Fertilize the tree in late February with a slow release product like Holly-Tone or Milorganite. There is no need to bring it inside.

Q: I had a UGA soil test done and it recommended: “For establishment, incorporate 3 pounds of 34-0-0 per 1000 square feet into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil prior to seeding.” I just wanted to know if aerating would be enough to accomplish that, or do I have to till?
Ken Pruitt, email

A: Local landscaper Lyle Collins ( says his brother-in-law, who studied turfgrass management at ABAC, has successfully seeded fescue lawns with just aerating and spreading fertilizer over the top. Nitrogen leaches fairly easily through soil. With the amount of watering done during establishment, leaching is accelerated versus normal rainfall. Tilling could be more damaging if there are trees around, when the surface roots are destroyed during the job. In addition, tilling brings up dormant weed seeds. I think you would be successful with aeration as long as the tines penetrate the soil at least two inches and there are ten aerator holes per square foot.

Q: I have a large hemlock but over the years other trees and shrubs have encroached on one side of it. I recently removed the trees and now a third of the hemlock has dead branches. Is there any way to stimulate growth on the brown side of the tree?
Chris Souther, email

A: If the hemlock branches are brown, there’s no way to make them sprout new foliage. You can remove them completely. Consider installing upright evergreen plants in front of the “dead” side of the tree to screen it. Consider ‘Sky Pencil’ holly, ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae, or ‘Blue Arrow’ (‘Skyrocket’) juniper.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.

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Thanksgiving travel tips: Expect New Jersey Turnpike traffic, watch out for crashes


Traveling for Thanksgiving? Same.

Whether it’s plane, train or automobile, one thing is certain for Thanksgiving travelers: You’re in for a rough ride.

The days before major holidays, especially Thanksgiving, are nightmares for regular commuters and travelers. Trains and buses are standing-room only. Stations and terminals become mosh pits of angry luggage-wielding travelers. Rush hour traffic lasts for hours at a time.

MORE: 5 myths about Thanksgiving travel

AAA projects that nearly 51 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, the highest travel volume for the holiday since 2005.

Here’s your guide to getting away – or simply getting home – for Thanksgiving the easiest way possible: Driving.

Do you need to take a plane? Check out our guide here!

Or are you hitting the rails? Here’s everything you need to know!

By car…

According to AAA, more than 45 million people – 89 percent of all Thanksgiving travelers – are planning a road trip this week, a 3.2 percent increase.

The icing on the cake? Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving fuel prices since 2014. On Monday, New Jersey fuel prices averaged $2.57 per gallon – up 35 cents since last Thanksgiving.

Expect higher traffic than usual during rush hour periods on Wednesday, known as “Getaway Day.” That traffic could be even worse on roads that run near major airports – such as the New Jersey Turnpike near exit 13A, for Newark Airport.

THE WORST: NJ drivers ripped off at NY E-ZPass tolls

“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, a global transportation analytics company that partnered with AAA to inform travelers of delays. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

According to AAA, the busiest travel time is between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening, which could double typical rush hour traffic delays.

MORE: Which cars are most distracting?

And if you’re on the road, be careful. Drunken driving crashes killed more than 800 people from Wednesday night to Monday morning, from 2012 to 2016, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

5 holiday travel tips: Automobiles

  1. Timing is everything. If you can avoid rush hour times, then avoid them. Leave late at night – after 9 p.m. – if possible.  
  2. Back-up plan. There’s likely a half-dozen different routes to Grandma’s house. Become familiar with them so, if a major crash closes a road, you know how to get around it.
  3. Stay alert. Monitor 511 NJ and for the latest crashes and road closures – so you know when to turn to Plan B.
  4. Fuel up beforehand. There’s nothing worse than packing up the car, loading everyone up and immediately stopping for gas.
  5. Be nice. Nobody likes sitting in traffic. Go easy on blaring the horn or aggressively driving behind slow motorists. Don’t worry: The turkey will still be there.

NEXT: What can you expect at the airports on the busiest day of the year?

Mike Davis; @byMikeDavis: 732-643-4223;

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Garden glam: Tips to redecorate your garden for a touch of luxury

Gardens are one of your home’s most important rooms. Just like your lounge room, they can be redecorated — and it’s not just plants that make a fabulous garden.

Special features or luxury items can really make an impact. These can include sculptures, water features, large urns, huge rocks, fire pits, outdoor furniture or a collection of rare plants.

If you are really keen and have determination, you can make your own green gabion wall.

Outdoor green walls require maximum maintenance in Perth and plants will need to be replaced on a regular basis. The outside air temperature is pretty harsh on green walls, even if they are in a protected area. Choose your plants wisely and remember, green walls need watering up to three times a day in summer.

There are many examples of gabion walls around Perth but to make them look outstanding is another thing. The builder has to place each individual stone so that it fits in with others.

Basically, it’s dry stone walling and takes many, many hours and a lot of patience. Once built, however, you have it for a lifetime.

Water features are such a valuable addition in hot-climate gardens.

They have a soothing effect and make you feel cooler, just by the sight and sound of water.

Sitting and watching moving water is an immediate de-stresser, particularly in the evening when you are winding down from work.

Water features also require maintenance. Pumps and filters need cleaning, water needs to be topped up regularly and reservoirs will also need to be kept clean to alleviate problems with algae and mosquitoes.

There are many fabulous sculptures that can be placed at strategic points in the garden. When purchasing, though, bear in mind that they need to fit the theme of the garden. Is it formal or informal? Does your garden have the right space to showcase the sculpture? Is the scale right with the surrounding vegetation?

Never put a small feature in a large blank space; it loses significance.

There are all kinds of glam goodies you can add to your garden to give it something special — but it needs to be the right fit.

Plan carefully and think about how the vegetation works with the object to add another dimension to your overall theme.

A little bit of luxe is a fun and worthwhile investment that can really put your personality stamp on your patch.

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Garden Variety: Cleaning houseplants and other tips for winter care

Plants kept indoors, whether they are indoors all year long or only inside during winter, need care like any other plant. And even though temperatures change less indoors than they do out, there are changes in light intensity, light duration and humidity that can stress plants. As winter approaches, cleaning houseplants and making other adjustments will reduce stress to keep them shining through the season.

To clean houseplants, start by removing dead or damaged leaves and stems as they may be diseased and provide a source of inoculum for the rest of the plant. Spring is a better time to heavily prune or re-pot plants, but light pruning to remove unhealthy plant parts or slightly reduce the size is acceptable. Re-pot now only if necessary to optimize plant health.

Next, dust the leaves. If you enjoy cleaning, you may already do this regularly. If you spend spring and summer in the garden and cleaning goes by the wayside, plants may really need this now. Dust blocks light from plant cells and interferes with photosynthesis. This is more noticeable on plants with broad shiny leaves, but problematic on all plants.

Remove dust from smooth-leaved plants by gently wiping down the leaves and stems with a soft damp cloth. This works well on Chinese evergreens, Dracaenas, snake plants (Sansieviera), peace lilies, ZZ plants and other similar species.

For sensitive plants like African violets, use a dry paintbrush, feather duster or a very soft-bristled toothbrush to sweep the dust from leaves and stems. For less sensitive but tender or otherwise hard to clean plants such as cacti, succulents, small-leaved ivies and bonsai, rinse plants in the sink or shower. Use room-temperature or tepid water to avoid scalding or shocking plants. Let them drip dry before returning to their regular location.

There are products available in some garden centers and online that make plants look extra glossy after dusting and are generally referred to as leaf shine products. There are anecdotal reports for and against the products, claiming they are safe or that they clog plants’ pores. Research has yet to prove either. One known downside to leaf shine products is that they are a tiny bit sticky, so plants collect a little more dust than they would otherwise.

Even if your grandmother swore by wiping plants with milk, coconut oil, household cleaners, mayonnaise, banana peels, or other household items, none of these are recommended. These materials leave residue that blocks more light than the dust did, make leaves sticky and/or attract insects.

While cleaning, look for signs of insects. Scale insects may look like little hard or soft turtle shells attached to leaves and stems. When scraped, the insect (or many baby insects) is present under the shell with a sticky residue. Mealybugs are oval-shaped and white to gray with what looks like a fuzzy edge. They are mostly stationary on the plant like scale insects. Spider mites will be invisible to the naked eye on plant leaves, but can be seen by tapping leaves over a white sheet of paper. The mites will look like tiny moving dots. Light webbing from the mites may be noticeable on the undersides of plant leaves or occasionally on stems and buds. If insects or mites are found, treat or destroy plants as the insects or mites will only increase in numbers over the winter.

Also while cleaning, give the windows that plants reside in a good dusting as well. Dust can block light coming through the glass.

Cut back on watering plants until temperatures and daylength are both increasing. Instead of watering on a schedule, check soil moisture on a schedule. Check below the surface and only apply additional water if soil is dry. Then, water thoroughly – until water flows out the bottom of the pot. Remember that potting soil works like a sponge and can be hard to rewet if allowed to completely dry out.

Avoid fertilizing plants until temperatures and daylength are both increasing.

Move plants away from drafts and vents to avoid sudden temperature fluctuations.

— Jennifer Smith is a former horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension and horticulturist for Lawrence Parks and Recreation.

Copyright 2017 The

Lawrence Journal-World.

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We strive to uphold our values for every story published.

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5 garden tips for this week, Nov. 18-24

Looking for something to do in the garden? Here are five things to get you started:

1. Citrus tree care

Citrus trees need continuous soil moisture as the fruits ripen, so be careful to continue irrigating them as necessary. And if you haven’t done so yet, give your trees a proper dose of “Grow More Citrus Grower Blend” or “Tru-Green Citrus Growers Mix,” available at many garden centers and home improvement stores. It will dramatically increase the sweetness of your fruit.

2. Prepare for winds

We often get some very windy days around Thanksgiving here in Southern California. If you haven’t already done so and your trees have dense growth, you would be wise now to prune off some of the branches now, so the wind can pass through instead of breaking them off.

3. Winter harvest

Winter vegetables planted in August and September are ready to start harvesting, just in time for the Thanksgiving feast. You could be getting peas, cabbage, broccoli, beets, radishes and more by now. Or you could go ahead and plant now for harvesting in about two months. Plant winter vegetables until late January or possibly early February. After that, plant summer veggies.

4. Time to transplant

It’s getting cool enough now that you can safely transplant bushes and trees to better spots in your yard. Perhaps some simply aren’t growing very well where they are, and a new location with more sunlight — or less — will make a difference. Be sure to keep as much soil on the roots as possible during this process, and water frequently for about a month to help new roots get established. Roots continue to grow even if a plant is dormant on top.

5. Help for hydrangeas

Start treatments on colored hydrangeas over 3 years old to control or change flower color. The bluest flowers grow on plants in containers with an acid soil mix, maintained by periodically applying a solution of 1/2 oz. aluminum sulfate (not ammonium sulfate) per gallon of water to already dampened soil — now and throughout the year. Flowers turn pink in less acid soils or by applying superphosphate heavily (compared to package instructions) now and in late winter. Treatments must start now in order to make a difference in spring.

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This week’s gardening tips: chill tulips bulbs, clean up the veggie garden

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Sponsored: Fall / Winter gardening tips for new homeowners

In many parts of the country, the advent of fall and winter means a winding down of garden-related tasks. Protecting outdoor plants, moving pots indoors and prepping bulbs for germination is the sum of it. But in Northern California, with our year-round growing season, gardening activity can rise to a fever pitch in autumn. New homeowners, privileged to determine vegetation choices from scratch, can choose from a lengthy list of flowering and non-flowering plants, bushes and trees to beautify a bare lot and enhance their property for years to come.

Autumn and winter are the right time for planting native annual species and to enhance the soil for springtime planting.
Autumn and winter are the right time for planting native annual species and enhancing the soil for springtime planting. 


Fall and winter are the best time for planting native annual species, according to the staff at Annie’s Annuals in Richmond. Such flowering plants as Indian mallow, Red Velvet yarrow and Western columbine are best placed in the ground during cooler, rainier weather. This allows them to develop healthy root systems, the better to thrive during the warm, dry spring and summer months. The same is true for ground cover species such as Emerald Carpet and California lilac.

Classic cottage garden hardy annuals, such as sweet peas and giant poppies, can be planted from now through the end of February, according to the Richmond store’s staffers. Come springtime, the stage will be set for a profuse “harvest” of hearty blooms. Some hardy annuals proffer a double harvest, self-sowing to produce additional blossoms during summer and fall.

Winter rains are like mother’s milk to perennials and biennials, such as delphiniums, foxgloves and hollyhocks. Plant them now, and they could double or triple in size by spring, according to staffers. And if you’re looking to enjoy blossoms during the winter, consider flowering maple (shrubs) or weeping acacia.

Empty lot

If your lot is bare and you prefer to wait until spring to plant, autumn is prime time to make a start on enriching your soil. Oakland Garden Supply recommends spreading compost over bare soil and then distributing ground cover seeds, such as clover, on top. When warm weather arrives, till the ground cover under to enhance soil for springtime planting.

Existing foliage or ground cover

Similarly, staffers suggest spreading compost around the roots of trees and plants to both protect roots and discourage weed growth. During seasonal rains, compost will typically break down to nourish and rejuvenate soil.

Another alternative to mulch is hay, which is both affordable and readily available at feed stores and big-box retailers. Protect the roots of your trees and plants with a healthy layer, using enough hay to conceal the soil beneath it.

(Oakland Garden Supply, which focuses on chemical-free and organic practices, steers its customers away from most mulch products, according to store staffers, because unknown additives might be a factor.)

Staffers further recommend placing 3 to 4 inches of hay at the bottom of planter boxes before filling with soil to encourage drainage and save on soil costs.

Northern California homeowner-gardeners can look upon the colder months as an excellent time to strengthen plant root systems to ensure healthy springtime growth and bloom. Taking a few preparatory steps can lead to remarkable flora and foliage for months to come.

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Garden Tips: Softwoods and hardwoods — it’s not all about the wood – Tri

Which trees are hardwoods and which are softwoods? Botanically, a particular type of tree is classified as a hardwood or softwood based on how it reproduces. Angiosperms are plants that reproduce via seeds with a covering or seed coat. Trees that are angiosperms are considered hardwoods and most are deciduous.

Softwood trees are gymnosperms that bear uncovered or “naked seeds” in cones. Most gymnosperms are needled evergreens. However, the classification of hardwood and softwood is not an indication of the hardness or softness of a tree’s actual wood.

Xylem cells are produced by the cambium layer of cells located beneath the bark of a tree. Xylem is produced on the inside of the cambium towards the center of the tree. In angiosperm trees, xylem vessel cells are elongated and arranged end-to-end longitudinally. They serve as pipelines for the transport of water and nutrients upward to plant leaves. Ray cells are another type of xylem cell. They are arranged in columns perpendicular to the vessel cells and their function is to transport water and nutrients laterally within the xylem.

When you cut down a hardwood tree, you can often tell its age by counting the “annual rings” in the wood. Annual rings are created because the cambium produces the vessel cells in rings. The diameter of vessel cells created early in the season tend to be larger than those made later. However, not all hardwoods produce rings that are easily discernible because they have vessel cells that are produced throughout their wood.

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Softwoods transport water via tracheid cells that differ somewhat from vessel cells. While different, they also tend to be larger in the spring and smaller later in the season, creating annual rings.

The newest xylem cells in trees are referred to as “sap wood” because they are transporting water and nutrients up the tree. As they age, xylem cells stop transporting water and become filled with air. At this point they become part of the “heartwood” in the center of the tree. The purpose of heartwood is the mechanical support of the tree. So why am I providing this brief botany lesson? It is because knowing about xylem in woody plants helps explain some things gardeners should know:

1. A tree that has a great deal of internal rot can still appear fairly healthy because the xylem cells in the sapwood are still working to transport water and nutrients. However, a tree that is rotten on the inside can become a hazard because the tree’s structural integrity has been compromised.

2. There are a few tree borers that feed just beneath the bark of trees, but many go deeper into the heartwood. Systemic insecticide applied to the soil and taken up by the roots will be ineffective against borers that are feeding within the heartwood. This is because heartwood xylem cells are dead and do not transport water. A systemic insecticide can not reach the heartwood tissues on which the borers are feeding.

3. Not all hardwoods (angiosperms) are the same. Some hardwoods trees — such as oak, hickory, some maples, apple, and walnut — have wood with a higher density. Fast growing hardwoods, such as poplar, aspen, and willow, tend to have lower density wood.

It is interesting to note that balsa (a hardwood) has the lowest density wood of all the hardwoods and softwood trees. Ebony, one of the most prized hardwoods, comes from a tree related to persimmons. The highly prized black heartwood of the ebony tree is one of the densest hardwoods available and is very valuable.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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