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From Gardening To Networking

Don’t get me wrong; planning is highly recommended and when it comes to many things – like running a business for example – action without planning is planning to fail.

But sometimes being open to whatever comes your way can have positive results you might otherwise have missed. Let me give you an example of this past weekend and how a day doing something I hadn’t originally anticipated, turned out to be a win-win situation.

I love gardening; you have to accept that premise. The home I moved into with my wife four years ago was new and the backyard a quagmire of earth, rocks and contractor fill. For the first summer, I remember digging through that mess and setting aside rocks and bricks from the land. When the sod was laid, I found myself with an emerald canvas upon which to do with as my wife and I chose.

Fast-forward to 2014 and the property is landscape;, waterfall and pond, a couple of gazebos, numerous flower gardens, a patio for eating, one for lounging, a vegetable garden, and a perimeter of emerald cedars, rocks, hanging flower baskets and shrubs. There’s a few trees, a shed, 5 bird feeders, 3 compost bins, and 7 rain barrels. There’s a connecting walkway from front to back, armour stone, and more. In short, I’ve really loved the landscaping and gardening, but now; well, it’s just about all done. Aside from the maintenance part, the creation part is pretty much complete.

Ah, but the neighbours have a blank canvas and they aren’t really gardeners. So my wife and I have been available to make little suggestions, advice and inspiration. They are a nice couple with College/University kids that come and go.

When they first moved in, the guy next door graciously trimmed my two garage doors in metal matching the home. No more painting of wood surfaces – ever! And two years ago when they moved in, I offered gardening help in return. We blow the snow out of each others driveways, and lend a hand as need be.

And so it was that on Sunday morning, the neighbour invited the two of us; my wife and I, out to the garden centre to help pick out some plants. We ended up with bags of soil, peat, plant starter, bushes, flowers, shrubs, and mulch. It took five trips in total to get all the stuff they bought. And there I was, clearing away grass, digging holes, replacing terrible soil with the good stuff, planting shrubs and flowers, watering, transplanting some things, cleaning up and all with a smile on my face.
I loved the work and the creativity, making suggestions and seeing things go from their mind to reality.

I figure in the end they got 8 hours of my time. There was no lunch break. And what did they have to pay for that labour? Nothing. The cost to them was a juice bottle, a water bottle, and a homemade dinner of filet mignon, potatoes, garden beans, and corn. Oops, throw in a can of Coke. And during dinner, I was given a dagger – (no kidding a real dagger) because he had one lying around for years and I had mentioned having a few swords in my possession so he thought I’d like it. And I do.

Now my plans on Sunday morning were to go food shopping, relax a little, play the guitar a little, and unwind. By the end of the afternoon, I was dirty, sweaty, and entirely content working with both my neighbours and having laughs along the way. After we all took a shower (sorry, not together), we were clean, rejuvenated and able to stand back and enjoy looking out on what we had created together. They appreciated our suggestions for plants that were native and would grow in the conditions we have to contend with, and I was grateful for the activity and doing something that made them so happy.

Now what about a job searching connection? Well for starters, both of us (my neighbour and me) can now attest to what the other is like to work with. Our cooperative skills, work ethic, teamwork, listening skills, labour skills, stamina, endurance, and creativity are now known to each other, bound by the experience, not just the idle claims one makes to another. If he needs a reference, I can attest to what it’s like to both live next door to him and complete a project together.

So here’s how it’s gone: We gave them the history of their home the Real Estate agent hid before they bought. He installed steel flashing around my garage: free. I shovel out his drive and he mine when the chances arise: free. I donate my time helping him with his lawn and landscaping: free. We’ve even gone golfing once this year together, and that reminds me I’m losing one game to nil.

This is how you build relationships and friendships. It’s not so much what can I get out of the guy next door, but rather, what can I do for the guy next door. When you think more about the giving than the getting, the getting usually takes care of itself and you find you both benefit.

Networking works the same way. When you are networking and building relationships in job searching, start with what you offer to others and can do for them. You may find those same people remember you and ask how they can help you in return.

Written By Kelly Mitchell

From Gardening To Networking was originally published @ myjobadvice and has been syndicated with permission.

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Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 12:00 am

Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

When designing their landscapes, homeowners may envision grandiose gardens and lush lawns that are the envy of the neighborhood. But such designs can be difficult to maintain, and homeowners often find they are not worth the time or money.

Avoiding such costly mistakes allows homeowners to fully enjoy their lawns. The following are a few landscaping mistakes homeowners may want to avoid so they can spend more time enjoying their landscapes and less time working around the yard.

• Planting the wrong trees and shrubs: When planting new trees and shrubs around your property, choose varieties that won’t overwhelm the property by growing too large. Such trees and shrubs can mask other elements of a landscape, and they can also take a substantial amount of effort to maintain. Avoid spending too much time pruning trees and shrubs by opting for those that only grow to a particular size.

• Choosing non-native plants: It’s always best to choose plants that are native to a particular region. Native plants have already adapted to the local climate, meaning they can withstand the worst weather that climate has to offer without homeowners having to put in much effort. For example, if you live in an area where drought is common, avoid planting trees, shrubs, flowers, or grass that need ample amounts of water. Instead, opt for those varieties that can survive without significant amounts of water. Exotic plants might add aesthetic appeal to a property, but that appeal is often short-lived or costly to maintain when a plant is not in its native climate.

• Too much lawn: While a large and lush lawn appeals to many homeowners, a yard that is all grass can be difficult and expensive to maintain. Lawns without trees are susceptible to damage from the hot summer sun, and homeowners often respond to that threat by overwatering their lawns. Overwatering not only weakens root systems, but it also leads to higher water bills. Homeowners can downsize their lawns by planting more trees around the property, adding a garden in the backyard or even adding landscape features to their property.

• Planting without a plan: When planting new trees around a property, some homeowners plant without first considering the ideal locations for new trees. This can prove an expensive mistake. Planting too close to your house may eventually threaten your home’s foundation, as roots grow deeper and deeper into the ground. Planting too close to a home also may prove a security threat down the road, when the tree has grown to full height. Such trees may threaten the home during a storm, so consult a landscaping professional when planting new trees so the trees are located in a place that does not threaten the value of your home or the safety of its residents.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014 12:00 am.

Six gardens featured on local garden tour



Pond and grief relief gardens are among landscapes visitors will see during this month’s Third Annual Town Country Garden Tour of Pulaski County.

The tour, sponsored by Friends of the Pulaski County Library and New River Valley Master Gardener Association, will be held Saturday, June 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The theme of this year’s tour is “Gardens to Visit and Lessons to Learn.” Proceeds are equally split by the sponsoring organizations.

The gardens will include annuals and perennials, wildflowers, theme gardens and other landscaping features. Brochures with addresses and directions to each garden are available to those purchasing tickets.

Tickets are $10 for the full tour and can be purchased at Pulaski County Library on 60 Third St. in northwest Pulaski or the Charles and Ona B. Free Memorial Library at 300 Giles Ave. in Dublin. Tickets also are available at each garden tour stop on the day of the event.

Purchased tickets will be entered into a drawing that will be held June 30. Winners will be notified by telephone.

For more information, visit or call Mickey Balconi at 980-3952.

Hidden no more: Glorious gardens showcased on Westport Historical Society tour

From a Greens Farms cul-de-sac to the center of Greenfield Hill, a few hundred garden lovers admired the greenery — and an artist’s palette of colors — in the landscaping of five properties featured Sunday on the Westport Historical Society’s 23rd annual Hidden Garden Tour.

The properties in Westport and Fairfield ranged in size from a quarter-acre to nearly three acres, from full sun to largely shade, from professionally landscaped to managed by the homeowners. At each location, the visitors got an eyeful of beauty and a bounty of landscaping tips.

Allison and Rob Wussler of Westport said they came looking for ideas of what shade plants to purchase for her garden. “We have a garden that needs TLC. I can only plant so many tulip bulbs,” Allison Wussler said.

She found inspiration at a house in the Gorham Avenue Historic District near downtown Westport where the owners have a mix of sun and shade. They planted hostas, peonies, climbing roses and a screen of pear trees in the small yard that they maintain themselves. They also keep bees.

Deanna Davis of Westport, who took her 10th Hidden Garden Tour on Sunday, said the Gorham Avenue gardeners had “a lovely selection of plants for the property. Very well done.”

“The color variation was very pleasing,” added Paul Davis, Deanna’s husband.

At a two-acre property on Summer Hill Road in Westport the owners divided their formal garden into three “rooms,” one with free-form flower beds, one called their Zen Central, and a white garden by the pool and patio area. The plantings were inspired by the New York Botanical Garden. It was a 25-year project done in several phases.

“There’s so much thought and artistry that’s gone into this,” said Margery Silk of Westport.

Margaret Yingling of Westport, who has taken the tour every year almost since it started, said she needed ideas for her own garden and she found “almost every idea you can think of” at the Summer Hill property.

The tour included a true hidden garden at the Cross Highway property where the current owner, Edward F. Gerber, president of the Westport Historical Society, unearthed a secret garden behind the studio used by a former owner — artist George Hand Wright, when he discovered “a mysterious brick stairway that seemed to go nowhere.” Gerber displayed some of Wright’s artwork throughout his gardens.

Gerber’s property featured fieldstone walls, old apple trees, newer cherry trees, specimen plantings including a Japanese katsura, Zelkova elm, Norway maple and star magnolia, and a flower bed he calls his remembrance garden dedicated to people dear to him. Growing in that perennial garden are bleeding heart, yarrow and spiderwort “which is a weed, basically.” Then again, someone pointed out, “One man’s weed is another man’s wildflower.”

Roma Fanton’s 2.7-acre property on Meeting House Lane in the Greenfield Hill section of Fairfield has an English garden designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of New York’s Central Park, with a pond, stone walls, boxwood hedges and a border of vinca vine. As people wandered the grounds they listened to three flutists who performed from Fanton’s terraced stone patio.

Scott Ogilvy of Fairfield performed from atop a rock garden at a nearly 1.5-acre property on Inwood Road in the Stratfield section of Fairfield. It earned praise from visitors for the owner’s thoughtful use of the natural features to create a landscaped oasis that includes numerous flower beds, a pond with a fountain, two outdoor fireplaces, a dense canopy of old-growth trees, and a terraced spring-fed in-ground swimming pool.

“I loved it. This was especially wonderful,” Mary Lou Graether of Trumbull said about the Inwood Road gardens, “but they were all nice. I do the house tours but I’ve never been on a garden tour,” she said.

“I enjoy the beauty and love to see other people’s ideas,” said Sally O’Brien, a master gardener from Fairfield.

The event, a fund-raiser for the Historical Society, concluded with a Garden Party on Veterans Green.

LBI Foundation of the Arts and Sciences Hosts Green Home and Garden …

Environmental stewardship can begin in a back yard or right under the roof of one’s house. Learn how to create a more sustainable residence this Saturday, June 14, at the “Wonderful Green Homes and Gardens of LBI” workshop at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences.

From 9 a.m. to noon, various experts – chosen specifically for their local knowledge – will address small groups of attendees. The interactive sessions will run about 45 minutes, and will “repeat so people can attend three out of four sessions,” a brochure for the program explains.

At 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., Angela Andersen, co-chairwoman of the LBIF Science Committee, will present the how, why, when and where of rainwater collection, regulations and water bills. Bay Avenue Plant Co. owner Tom Scangarello Jr., meanwhile, will explain what a homeowner should know when speaking with a landscaper, and he will discuss landscape and garden design, maintenance and reconfiguration. And Liz Moritz from Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s Ocean County Master Gardeners will describe how to most effectively and environmentally combat weeds and pests.

Also at 11 a.m., Loveladies homeowner Bill Clarke and engineer J.P. Brokken will use Clarke’s home as a model to explain the feasibility and design steps of energy and water conservation.

Professionally prepared take-home materials will be available at each session.

“Well-conceived buildings and responsible gardening and landscaping can help to improve the bay by reducing the amount of environmentally harmful things that go into it,” the program brochure states. “Responsible design and building can conserve energy and improve quality of life.”

Call 609-494-1241 to register. The fee to attend is $10.

The LBI Foundation, located at 120 Long Beach Blvd. in Loveladies, is sponsoring the program along with ReClam the Bay, Alliance for a Living Ocean and the New Jersey Agricultural Station, Rutgers Cooperative Extension. —J.K.-H.

Living History Home and Garden Tour – State

The eighth annual Living in History Home and Garden Tour, sponsored by The Garden Club of Frankfort and the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourism Commission, will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

Also included in the day’s events are a luncheon, and a boutique and antique appraisal fair, at the Frankfort Country Club. The luncheon is from 11-2 and the boutique and antique appraisal from 10-3.

The proceeds from these three events go to help fund Frankfort beautification projects, such as the Wilkinson Boulevard median improvements and the Frankfort Cemetery Chapel.

Tickets for the tour of homes and gardens are $15 and the lunch is $15. They are available at any of the homes, the country club, or at the Frankfort Tourism Center.

Here’s a look at the homes and gardens on the tour.

301 West Third Street

Susan Turner’s Queen-Anne-style home was built in 1892. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is two and a half stories with a mix of clapboard and shingle siding. The property is known locally as The Jillson House.

Jillson was director of the Kentucky Geological Survey in the 1920s and ’30s and served as the first commissioner of Kentucky State Parks.

As a geologist and historian he wrote more than 60 books and 500 articles — many of them while working from his office in the attic of this home. There is still to be seen the original elaborately carved oak woodwork said to have been produced in Battlecreek, Mich., and shipped by boat to Frankfort. It includes massive oak doors, coal-burning fireplaces and many stained glass panels original to the home. 

115 Shelby Street

Susan Coblin’s two-and-a-half story weatherboard Colonial Revival-style home is on a tree-lined street along the Kentucky River. Flooded repeatedly in the past it is now protected by a floodwall. The family presently living here represents the fifth generation in residence and the many flood stories have become a part of the family tradition.

The home is bright and airy with many windows and a spacious floor plan. The current owner’s grandfather was an architect and had a special fondness for stonework and arches. One of the unique features in the home is his design of the freestanding fireplace in the family room.

The walls are adorned with paintings from well-known local artists as well as family members. Visitors will also be interested in studying the landscaping blueprint plan for the back garden as it begins to take shape.

3 Weehawken

Marcey and John Paul Broderson’s home is located in a secluded cul-de-sac just outside the entrance to the Frankfort Country Club. This small neighborhood of homes is on land once part of a large estate known as Weehawken.

The Brodersons’ traditional American-style brick ranch was built by Lawrence W. Wetherby, governor of Kentucky from l950 to 1955. When his term expired he had this house built for his family. The current owners also moved into the house after they retired from active careers.

Visitors will view from the glass-enclosed porch the playhouse for the grandchildren, a fishpond with Koi, beehives and a variety of plants that attest to the owners’ interest in nature and the environment. 

103 Hay Avenue

Don Yancey has been gardening at his home for 25 years. His backyard landscape reflects his enthusiasm for growing things and creating welcoming spaces. Visitors will follow a path leading them past white trellises decorated with a selection of clematis and through a gate into a charming world of color and variety.

The centerpiece is a large Koi pond fed by rainwater that is brought from the home’s gutter and downspout system to a fountain and then channeled under a small bridge to finally arrive at the pond. The many containers accenting the separate areas utilize begonias, mandevillas and other flowering annuals to bloom all summer while the flowering focus of the perennial beds varies from week to week.

503 Murray Street

Marie and Bill Cull’s home in the South Frankfort Historic District was originally built by Circuit Judge Ben G. Williams in 1905. That home was in the Queen Anne style and was three stories.

It burned in 1933 and was restored to a one-story Colonial revival home after a complete redesign by Leo Oberwarth Architects. The four tall chimneys remain as a reminder of the height of the original home. Since they’ve owned the home the Culls have, among other things, opened the second floor, enlarged the kitchen, enclosed the sleeping porch, added a deck and continued the gardening efforts of previous owners.

221-223 St. Clair Street

Amy and Craig Potts purchased the Duvall Building in 2010. This commercial building was constructed in 1889 in the Italianate style. The building’s façade retains many of the hallmarks of Italianate design including a bracketed cornice with decorative pediment, ornate window hoods and one largely intact storefront with period details such as prismatic glass transom windows.

The upstairs had been the offices of the public defender for a long time. In the rehabilitation those offices were moved to the first floor and the upstairs was redesigned into a spacious two-bedroom residence for a family of four.

The results are a marvel of ingenuity, artistry and practicality reflecting the owners’ vision. Features include an open concept living room and kitchen, a rear porch addition and rooftop gathering space, hardwood and marble floors, decorative trim work and 9-foot façade windows that provide outstanding views of the Franklin County Courthouse.

Period details have been preserved as part of a thoroughly modern reinterpretation of space that accommodates modern living with the convenience of urban life.

505 Murray Street

The imposing home of Brig. Gen. (ret.) Jim and Stacey Shane was built in 1905 by Cornelius E. Collins, a co-owner with a brother of a saloon and hardware store in downtown Frankfort. Located about two blocks from the Governor’s Mansion, its backyard overlooks the Kentucky River and has a view of the Frankfort Cemetery.

The old home was left vacant for several years until 1988 when it was purchased by David and Sharma Klee. The new owners undertook a monumental restoration effort to renovate it back to its original state. Large, multiple porches, high paneled ceilings, wooden pocket doors and spacious rooms all speak of the designs popular in the early 1900s.

100 Old Georgetown Road

Andrea and Mike Mueller’s home is on 20 acres of land that originally belonged to one of the owners’ grandparents. The current owners maintain their business (Inside Out Landscape Hardscape Design) as well as their home here. The business itself is part of the family legacy as the owner is the daughter of Charlie Wilson, who started Wilson Nurseries more than 30 years ago.

The split-level contemporary home, landscape and nearby office building reflect the owners’ commitment to the philosophy of sustainability and attention to the environment. The home features concrete floors, high ceilings and soaring windows. The use of natural materials such as cork, maple, beech, walnut and cherry wood give the interior a feeling of warmth.

The earth-berm office building features a vegetative roof, solar panels, geothermal heating and reclaimed and repurposed interior furnishings. Outside, young plantings of native grasses, perennials, sedums, and succulents, provide a natural, yet modern landscape.

The driveway is of permeable pavers. There is also a green-roofed hen house, a small section of raised vegetable beds and an establishing blackberry and grape tunnel as the family works to provide their own food.

East Campus area garden tour and outdoor classroom

Several gardens will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of the East Campus Community Organization (ECCO) tour.

The 1.7-mile loop through the neighborhood features seven home gardens and the Varner Trial Nursery.

In addition to that, there will be outdoor 30-minute classes with Master Gardeners at 1420 N. 37th St. If it’s rainy the sessions will move indoors to the garage.

Times and class topics are:

* 9:30 a.m. Composting for a healthier garden

* 10:30 a.m. Making amazing container gardens

* 11:30 a.m. Perennial selections for your yard

* 12:30 p.m. Tree care

The $5 fee for the tour and classes will be used for tree planting in the neighborhood. Tickets can be purchased at any stop on the tour.

The sites are:

Varner Trial Nursery, 3835 Holdrege St. — This site has been used by UNL Landscape Services as a perennial plant trial area for over 25 years. The nursery is also used as an educational tool for UNL students and the general public. All the plants are labeled and arranged in easily accessible rows.

Paul and Sherri Johnson, The Johnson Guest House, 4027 Holdrege St. — Built in 1918, it was purchased by the Johnsons in 2009. Landscaping was included in the renovation project. The front garden area incorporates a rain garden. The landscape design emphasizes low-maintenance native grasses drought-tolerant plants. Wood mulch is used to reduce weeds and water loss. Landscape boulders that were unearthed from previous owners’ landscaping are reused as borders. The back yard was regraded for proper drainage and reseeded with low-maintenance turf grasses.

Janet Buck and Roger Hansen, 4105 Y St. — Purchased by the Hansens in 2003, the second lot of the property contained only grass, a peony bush and a clump of yucca. The emphasis is on native perennials; herbs and vegetables are interspersed. There also have some fruits, including rhubarb, strawberries and black raspberries. One of the newest areas of the yard is west of the house, where they have planted nut and fruit-bearing shrubs and trees: hazelnuts, gooseberries and an elderberry.

Sue and Larry Dawson, 3750 W St. — In 1998, the family moved into the house at 38th and W streets, where Larry Dawson grew up. In 2011, after losing a maple tree in the front yard, they planted mostly native plants. The yard is a Monarch Waystation and a Pollinator Habitat, with several kinds of milkweeds for the caterpillars. Only organic fertilizers and no pesticides are used in the flowerbeds.

Shirley Anderson, 3710 W St. — The home was purchased in 1992, in part, because of the large trees and birds in the neighborhood. A bald cypress, Japanese mountain ash, magnolia and redbud are in the front garden. There are nine separate small gardens in the front. Grass has been replaced by flowers over time, and a recent count of 40 different flowers bloom at their appointed time. There are three treehouses in the backyard.

Lora Black, 1221 N. 37th St. — In the south garden are plants that attract butterflies and bees. Black Knight buddleia and the Miss Kim lilacs and lantana attract swallowtails and monarchs. Past the arbor at the back of the house, columnar yews stand as a living fence on the back lot line, allowing for nesting and hiding locations for birds and squirrels. Fruit shrubs, such as the black chokeberry and the porcelain berry vine on the gazebo, also provide food for the wildlife. Lilacs, purple spirea, Red Cardinal and Purple Weigela, and a smoke tree make up the natural fence on the west.

Lynn Frankowski and Mark Lynott, 1231 N. 37th St. — Since 1989, the owners have shifted from largely bluegrass lawns to a variety of different shrubs, trees and perennials that are waterwise, can withstand harsh Nebraska weather and provide food, water and shelter for wildlife. The garden is also designed in cooperation with the neighbors on the north and south and is intended to flow between the different yards.

Susan Nichols, 1245 N. 37th St. — Most of the plants have come from friends and neighbors. The lot is surrounded by large shade trees, so you will see hostas, ferns, heuchera, Solomon seal, hellebore, bleeding heart, brunnera, and columbine. Ground covers include vinca, lamb’s ear, sweet woodruff, ivy, pachysandra, ajuga, wild ginger and liriope. The shrubs in the front of the house are boxwood and dwarf oakleaf hydrangea. The garden west of the fence in the back started out as a sun garden, but is now shade.

Healing Garden back in top form for summer

SANDPOINT — You’ll find them wandering quietly around just after sunrise, when the sun pours over the Cabinet Mountains and begins to bathe the pathways in light.

Their minds are elsewhere, but their hearts are as surely rooted in this place as the flowers and trees that thrive here.

They come because of the beauty and the sweet memories it evokes. Mostly, though, they come for the healing.

“That’s why we built the garden, to give people a place to walk around or just sit and reflect,” said Linda Plaster, one of the volunteer committee members who care for the Healing Garden at Bonner General Health. “It’s such a peaceful place. So many people tell us that they feel the spirit here.”

Now 12 years old, the gardens have matured to the point where trees have to be relocated and, in the case of the centerpiece waterfall, major repairs have had to be made. The water feature, which dominates the top of the gardens and spills into a stream that meanders downhill toward Sand Creek, was riddled with problems last fall when Dave and Tom Bangle of Sandpoint Power Pump came to the rescue.

“Dave was really grateful for the Healing Garden,” said Plaster, adding that Bonner Community Hospice had cared for his wife. “He looked at the waterfall and said, ‘We can fix that.’ And they took care of it all winter.”

Supported by a $7,500 grant from TransCanada Corp., the Bangles volunteered their time this spring to do major renovations to the water feature.

“Now, they’ve added a big, 5-foot well at the bottom to hold enough water to pump all the way back to the top,” said Plaster.

The volunteer effort also included the help of Chris Scarlett of Aspen Ridge Landscaping in Clark Fork, who jumped in to get the stream running again. The Home Depot joined in the cause when it called out of the blue to donate almost three tons of pebbles for the streambed.

Such donations have kept the Healing Garden alive from the beginning, according to Plaster. When the gardens were still in the planning stages, Bonner General Health CEO Sheryl Rickard pledged a loan for the initial construction costs, which was paid back through community donations within two years.

TransCanada was a major donor in those early stages, providing $25,000 to get the gardens up and running. Coldwater Creek, too, weighed in heavily for the project’s success, donating $10,000 to help cover construction and landscaping costs.

“We haven’t forgotten Coldwater Creek,” said Plaster. “We’re so grateful to them and we’re going to miss them in every way you can think of.”

The loss of Coldwater Creek as a large employer and a generous donor to local organizations leaves a gap in the funding network, but with smaller companies like Sandpoint Power Pump and Aspen Ridge Landscaping stepping up, the Healing Garden has managed to keep growing. Add to that the support from larger firms such as TransCanada and the future still has a rosy glow for the project.

“It’s the community that has supported us and given us the money that allowed us to carry on,” the committee member said.

It would be easy to point out that Linda’s son, John Plaster, is the Northern Area Manager for TransCanada and come to the conclusion that the Healing Garden benefits from that familial connection. The truth, however, is that TransCanada has been spreading its largesse far and wide in the community for years now, including buying library books for Northside and Southside elementary schools, purchasing emergency equipment for first responder departments in North Idaho, donating to the construction fund for the Hall Mountain Fire Department, funding Bull Trout restoration through Idaho Fish Game, sending checks to the Bonner Community Food Bank and providing financial support for events such as the Long Bridge Swim and the Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club Fishing Derby.

“Our organization and our employees feel very strongly about being active, positive members of the communities we live and work within,” John Plaster said. “There is nothing better than being in a position to give back to the people and communities that partner in helping you be successful — this is our opportunity to make a difference.”

Recognition of the garden’s importance doesn’t stop with grant monies and local support. In a Northwest regional competition for the Sonoma Award, the Healing Garden at Bonner General Health became the only entry ever to receive a unanimous vote for approval when that committee gave it the award a couple of years ago.

“We were in the running with some amazing projects, including Philipsburg, Mont., where they completely redid their whole town,” Linda Plaster said.

Along with the rose gardens, flowerbeds and trees that line the walkways of the Healing Garden, the space is dotted with whimsical sculptures by area artists. The most recent, unveiled last Saturday, is called Marsha the Magnificent Monarch – a 5-foot, painted wood Monarch butterfly sculpture in the Children’s Garden, placed there in the memory of Marsha Ogilvie, former Sandpoint mayor and founder of community mainstays such as Kinderhaven and the Women of Wisdom group.

“Our garden art is just a delight to people,” Plaster said. “That’s what we wanted to create — all of this beauty that smells good and then, you turn a corner and find something that puts a smile on your face.”

Keeping the gardens in good shape — never mind the unexpected costs of major repairs — runs about $20,000 a year. Committee members remain confident that community support will keep the money flowing in to cover that amount. A bigger concern, they say, is attracting new blood to join them in their all-volunteer mission to keep up a space that now touches the hearts of so many.

“We’re planning for the future and looking for volunteers who are going to keep it going when us old gals are gone,” joked Plaster, who pointed out that the current committee members were in their 50s and 60s when the gardens got their start 12 years ago.

“We’re always looking for young people who have a passion for gardens and for making life better for other people.”

To learn more about the Healing Garden at Bonner General Health or to volunteer in the gardens, contact Linda Plaster at (208) 290-6929

For those who haven’t yet visited the space, a video tour by master landscaper, musician and videographer Dan Eskelson can be viewed online at:

Landscaping for Heaven or Hell on Earth

What kind of landscaping embodies the love and stewardship that are expressions of a spiritual way of life? Native and edible. Native, because it honors creation and is the foundation of the food web, feeding the pollinators, birds and other creatures that deliver essential ecosystem services for people and planetary health. Edible, because it makes food for people. Native and edible landscapes are steps toward heaven on Earth, providing sustenance for people and wildlife while acknowledging the awesome complexity of life and how everything is connected.

What kind of landscaping adorns most homes and places of worship? Ornamental non-native landscaping that feeds neither people nor wildlife, landscaping that is typically water and chemical intensive, depleting fresh water supplies to little purpose, contaminating soil and water with petro-chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and contributing to oceanic dead zones. Ornamental non-native landscaping is short-sighted and, however unintentionally, models the ignorance and hubris that are killing life on our planet.

It is time to recognize the wrongdoing at the heart of ornamental non-native landscaping and to make amends. It is time for people to extend the love and respect they show for one another to the land that surrounds their homes and places of worship.

Landscaping native is integral to caring for creation. Native plants require no soil amendments, fertilizers or pesticides and, once established, use a minimal amount of supplemental water. Furthermore, native plants are habitat. Without native plants, 9 out of 10 species of leaf-eating insects die. Butterflies, for example, because caterpillars are leaf-eaters. Caterpillars are the main food of baby birds, and birds provide ecosystem services such as watershed protection, reforestation and natural pest control, which are essential for us.

It is our sacred duty to protect and support creation, not destroy it through the vanity of the superficial, misguided aesthetics of ornamental non-native landscaping.

Since 1970, bird populations in the United States have dropped 60-90% primarily due to loss of habitat. The precipitous decrease in birds is emblematic of the decline in species across the Earth. The extinction rate is now 1,000 times faster than the normal background extinction rate.

Every home and place of worship should be an ark to help save creation, an ark of native plants through which people may re-establish native habitat throughout their communities. With much of the land in the United States devoted to urban and suburban uses, imagine the support of biodiversity that could occur. Imagine the pollinators, birds and other creatures that would find refuge and benefit our edible gardens. When orchards and fruit and vegetable gardens have native plants nearby, yield increases due to the many different kinds of pollinators supported by the native plants.

Native and edible landscaping is a way to care for one’s community and the miracle of life. It is a way to counter the food desert that large parts of our urban and suburban areas have become, both for people and wildlife. It is a way to model the mindfulness, respect and right action needed to help heal our beautiful struggling biosphere. It is a way to practice the deeply spiritual understanding that all of life is connected. It’s also a way to rebel against the conceit that we can kill life on Earth while preserving our own souls.

Society has gained consciousness in so many other areas, making strides against the evils of racism, poverty and the lack of educational opportunity, but that consciousness has still, for the most part, not extended to how we landscape. We have a duty as a society to strive to create utopia on Earth, and many of our religious institutions have been at the forefront of support for civil rights and economic justice. That utopian ideal must extend to care of the Earth itself. There is no better place to start than where we live, worship and pray.

A few years ago in Pasadena, California, Throop Unitarian Universalist Church converted its lawn to a primarily native and edible garden, modeling food production for people and wildlife and support of biodiversity and ecosystem health. We should all emulate this beautiful, affirming act of reverence for life.



Sign at Throop Church: “Are you hungry?”

The views expressed are solely those of the author and not necessarily of the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Barrington Country Garden Faire worth the trip

Visitors accustomed to wandering around spacious estates at the Barrington Country Garden Antique Faire might hesitate this year when they pull up in front of a classic foursquare house not far from downtown Barrington.

But the garden that John Staab, a landscape architect with The Brickman Group, has created behind the home and a neighboring bungalow are worth the trip.

If you go

What: 14th Annual Barrington Country Garden Antique Faire

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, June 13, and Saturday, June 14

Where: Buses leave from 800 Hart Road, Barrington

Tickets: $45 through Sunday, June 8, $55 later and at the door. Serious shoppers can buy tickets to enter as early as 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 13, for $80.

Etc.: Two estates and an in-town garden are open for touring. Visitors can purchase antiques and other treasures and lunch and attend home and garden workshops and musical performances.

Information and purchase: (847) 381-7367 or URL destination=””

Benefits: Hands of Hope, which gives impoverished communities around the world sustainable tools to improve their lives and those of their children.

And ticket holders yearning for the wide open spaces, gracious landscaping and peacefulness that only five acres or more can bring will still be able to tour two Barrington Hills estates as part of the faire, Friday and Saturday, June 13-14. In addition, all the fun shopping is still part of the event, including treasures volunteers have collected all year and sell at bargain prices.

In the village, highlights of the formal garden behind the foursquare house include a hot tub and an elegant stone staircase. But when the family that owns it purchased the house next door to use as a guest cottage, Staab and the homeowners decided to join the two areas and make the most of the second space available for active sports — including an ice rink in winter.

“We want to show that in-town landscaping can be dramatic and strong as well as practical,” Staab said.

Savvy garden visitors will notice the circle theme in the garden. It starts with the new entrance between the two houses — a circular path under the arched pergola that is much better than before when the choice was to enter through the house or the garage. Immediately ahead the fountain crafted from a Victorian urn and the aquatic plants it waters also sit on a circle of pavers.

But the elegant stone steps from the rear of the foursquare down to the yard — Staab’s answer to the yard’s previous slope — really highlight the “round” theme.

This area, which includes a circular terrace or landing with a large planter partway down, is almost like an amphitheater and makes great seating for the youth group from the family’s church, said the homeowner.

“The circle is a strong shape that helps link the home with the landscape,” he said.

This part of the garden enjoys a hot tub where bathers can even watch movies on the screen that pulls down from the rear of the garage.

A stone wall beside the steps holds alpine plants — various sedums, lambs ear, catmint and cotoneaster shrubs.

Off to the side, three sections of concrete sewer pipe stained to resemble aged copper sit vertically to form a raised vegetable garden.

“It’s raised for interest and to keep critters out and it’s easier to reach in and garden or harvest without stepping on and compacting the soils,” Staab said.

The family of Disney World fans also points out that the large circle and two smaller ones make a “hidden Mickey Mouse.”

Behind the vegetables, espaliered pear trees stretch along the fence. The fire pit and surrounding sitting area are on the opposite side at the bottom of the steps.

Some day wisteria, hydrangea and clematis will flower from the four pergolas in the garden.

Full disclosure: It’s no secret that the winter was brutal, and at press time the gardens were still under construction. Staab and the homeowner had not made final selections for some items, such as the floral display in the main planter. But the landscape architect promised all would be ready and beautiful for the faire.

Here’s a secret Staab was delighted to discover: The older magnolia in the new part of the yard blooms yellow in the spring, a rare treat for people accustomed to pink and white blossoms. And at the rear of that yard are two impressive oaks, including one that is a naturally occurring hybrid of two varieties.

Bad news: Due to the devastation of emerald ash borer, Brickman had to remove about 15 ash trees from the two yards, including one that was a great specimen in the original garden.

Also on the tour are two Barrington Hills estates. The first is where the faire always headquarters with shops, gardens, entertainment and workshops. Regular visitors know that every year there’s something new here.

The prairie-style home on the second estate was designed by E. Fay Jones, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones is most famous for Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Ark. Check out the massive stone chimneys for the four hearths!

The landscaping uses the same stones as the house, and the hilly terrain probably accounts for many of the charming walls throughout the site.

This gives the free-form swimming pool, hot tub and outdoor kitchen — set lower than the house — a tall stone wall complete with splashing waterfall that creates a remarkable sense of privacy and relaxation.

Up above the pool, a patio runs the whole side of the house.

The wooded gardens around the house present all kinds of perennials, shrubs and ground covers. These include roses, peonies, daisies, daffodils, astilbes, hostas, hydrangeas, pachysandras, bleeding hearts, Lenten roses and hakone grasses.

Extra features include the winding lane through the woods approaching the home, and behind the house a tall grass prairie planted with wildflowers and a small orchard.

The privacy, setting and perennial gardens attracted the homeowners to the property, and they would like to credit Abbott Tree Care Professionals of Wayne for helping to keep it up.