Extraordinary Landscapes

In the summer of 2007, a curatorial team from George Eastman House invited twelve photographers to photograph the sites designated by The Cultural Landscape Foundation as their 2007 Landslide landscapes. The photographs focus on culturally significant landscapes at risk of alteration or destruction, and include trees and other plantings that have witnessed or withstood major cultural or natural events.

In this exhibition of work the focus is on celebrated botanical heroes that have withstood the test of time Ranging from Charleston’s angel southern live oak, a majestic living legacy from the antebellum South to the dew-drenched petals of a rare tree peony from Pavilion, New York, these photographs lovingly document heritage landscapes that are threatened by development, disease and the ravages of time.

Additionally the exhibit, “Heroes of Horticulture” documents the sole surviving witnesses to some of the nation’s greatest people and most significant moments. Some are hundreds of years old: the horse chestnut tree that shaded suffragist Susan B. Anthony in the late 19th century to the live oak tree allée in Houston.
These photographic collaborations with artists, now a traveling exhibit, have yielded compelling interpretations of extraordinary places. And, for most of us, this is the only way we may ever experience the subjects and places depicted.

The exhibition includes twenty-four images by photographers Mark Klett, John Pfahl, Eli Reed, Louviere+Vanessa, John Divola, Eric Baden, Jodean Bifoss, George Blakely, Roger Bruce, Matthew Keefe, Fredrik Marsh, and James Via. The twelve sites, located across the nation, are currently featured on TCLF’s website (www.tclf.org) and appears in the January 2008 edition of Garden Design magazine. For a schedule of this amazing traveling exhibit.

Low Maintenance Organic Landscaping Using Blueberry Plants

Introduction
You have always wanted a great looking landscape to brighten the yard. But who has time to spend every free minute caring for the yard? With some planning and a little know how it is easy to cut down on the drudgery of yard work. Having an easy care landscape means you must develop a realistic plan. Trees and shrubs give substance to a landscape and flowers provide excitement and surprise. You can enjoy the fruits of near effortless edibles including blueberries and strawberries. Blueberries are a low maintenance plant. They have few pest and are native to North America. They require a soil pH of 4.6 to 5.1.

Take a look at your landscape
Knowing the physical characteristics of your site, the soil, climate, topography, and exposure is a vital part creating and maintaining a low maintenance landscape. Choose well adapted plants to design a functional, attractive layout for your yard.

Some factors like climate you have no control over and it affects your whole yard. Other factors you have some control over, Like the amount of shade which can differ widely in different parts of the yard. Growing plants can be a breeze if you have deep, fertile soil rich in organic matter. But even if you don’t (very few of us do) you can still have a productive low maintenance yard. You can decide to improve your soil by adding organic matter or using raised beds and adjusting the soil pH if needed. You can also look for plants that are adapted to your soils existing conditions. Raised beds can provide ideal growing conditions for a variety of vegetables, bushes, and flowers. Where the soil has poor drainage raised beds can solve that problem.

Test your soil. Your local extension service can provide a test for a sample you supply. Test results will tell you the soils fertility, pH, and organic matter content. Getting your soil in shape before planting will go a long way toward promoting healthy, trouble-free plants in the future.

Reduce maintenance on tough to mow slopes by replacing turf with a mixture of low care flowers and shrubs such as low growing easy maintenance blueberry bushes and using a mowing strip. For example, North Country blueberry plants grows 18 to 24 inches tall or North blue blueberry plants that grows to a height of 20-30 inches could be good selections.

Lawns
Reduce mowing chores by replacing some of the lawn with shrubs, trees or ground cover. Eliminate grass growing under or along fences and walls and low branching trees. The kind of grass you grow has a lot to do with how much maintenance it requires. There are grasses that do not grow tall and thus require minimal mowing.

For example, No mow grass ultra low maintenance grass. Eliminate hours of lawn mowing and lawn maintenance each month with Pearl’s Premium grass. Pearl’s Premium grows slowly above ground. Below ground, it can put down 12″ roots, tapping into naturally occurring moisture and nutrients. This type of grass will reduce watering requirements and a lot of mowing. Mow only when it needs it not on a regular weekly or bi-weekly schedule.

End edging forever- For the busy person trees, shrubs and flower beds can quickly turn into a night mare. The shaggy edges that form between planting and the lawn area can give any area an unkempt look and be a real pain to trim. Mowing strips are the solution. A mowing strip is a flat band of brick or flat rock that sits flush with the soil surface and you just mow over the area eliminating the need for the hand or string trimmers to cut the grass at the edge of the of the bed. You just let one wheel ride on the strip and the other on the lawn.

Ground cover
Utilizing ground cover can help to change a bare or dull part of your yard into a beautiful, low maintenance show area. Low growing ground cover plants can serve you well in some areas. For example in our yard we had a rock area that we could not mow and looked ugly. We let low growing ground cover plants grow over this area to transform it into a beautiful area that required essentially no care. You might consider RUBY CARPET a ground cover blueberry plant. The height of the ruby Carpet plants grow to be 4 to 6 inches at maturity and spread outward to create the Red Carpet. Ruby Carpet is selected for form, color and resistance to dryer soil conditions than most blueberry plants.

Blueberries make a beautiful delicious Landscape
When planting blueberries as part of your landscape you should consider combining them with other plants that thrive in acid soil such as azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. The following are some example of plants you can consider.

Legacy blueberry plants grows 4 to 5 feet tall and can create 4 seasons of interest in your landscape. Spring brings white flowers that develop into shiny green fruit which turn bright blue in the summer. Smooth, glossy-green leaves look attractive all spring & summer in the fall they produce beautiful orange-red leaves.
Sunshine blue is a short plant that is very suitable for growing in a landscape or in containers.
Ornablue grows about 3 feet tall and is considered to be the best ornamental of its size and stature.
North Country grows 18 to 24 inches tall and is an outstanding blueberry plant for landscapes and container growing.
North blue, grows to a height of 20-30 inches. It is good for landscapes and container growing. It’s large glossy, dark green leaves turn dark red in the fall making it of good ornamental value.
Patriot grows 3 to 5 feet tall and is also an excellent container and landscape variety. It is also a very good producer of fruit.
For tall hedges you want to use for privacy use the faster growing, upright varieties such as Jersey, or Ozark Blue. To make solid hedges or screens, place plants 2½ to 3′ apart.
Rabbiteyes grow tall so they can make excellent plants for areas you want to screen off for privacy. Tifblue is considered among best rabbiteyes.
Blueberry plants grow slowly, and grow about a half-foot a year on mature branches. The plants are multi-stemmed with new shoots often developing from the base.

Eatable landscaping
Recently edible landscaping has received more attention. Part of the reason is because of the well documented health benefits and another is because of the economics of growing your own fruit and vegetables. Raised beds can provide an excellent controllable space to grow blueberry bushes and vegetables. Anyone who has eaten really fresh produce knows a food-producing garden is worth the effort. It is surprising that it hasn’t caught on earlier. It’s such a brilliant way of taking advantage of the little bit of land that many of us have but usually use strictly for ornamentals. Blueberries make a beautiful delicious Landscape. Blueberry plants can serve as ornamentals while also being grown as a food source.

Border plantings and along Walkways
You can plant shrubs along the borders of your property that can serve several purposes. Serve for privacy, eliminate grass growing under or along fences and the related mowing problems, serve as perimeter border to define your property boundaries while at the same time beautifying you landscape. If you use eatable bushes such as blueberry bushes you are can grow blueberries for your health and enjoyment. Ornablue blueberry plant can serve this purpose well and is considered to be the best ornamental varieties of its size and stature.

Border plantings along walkways or surrounding a planting bed can work well, choose Sunshineblue, Ornablue or Northcountry. These can be planted along with dwarf rhododendrons or compact azaleas. All three of these blueberry bushes will grow well in Kentucky. Ornablue is considered to be the best ornamental variety of its size and stature. Northcountry will grow well all the way up to growing zone 3. The Sunshine blue blueberries we planted on our properties in Kentucky and Tennessee have turned out to be pretty much evergreen bushes the year around. Rhododendrons and azaleas can be planted along with blueberry plants to blend into borders or serve as a prickly hedge.

Choosing Blueberry Plants to grow
Purchase your plants state-inspected reliable nursery. Bare root plants are usually sold by most nurseries unless you pick the plants up at the nursery. you obtain plants to be planted in the spring or fall. What is important is to plant them when they’re dormant, either well before or well after they start new growth of leaves, blossoms and berries.

Usually two-year-old potted or bare-root plants are sold by nurseries and are your best purchase. Older plants may give you a harvest sooner, but they are generally not cost-effective because of their added expense and can be harder to establish. Younger plants need to be grown under nursery conditions before they can be planted in the field.

10 Business Building Lessons – From My Dad’s Legacy

My knowledge on property construction and management comes from my late father (Elimon Tagwireyi Mapuranga) who was a handyman, an architect and construction manager. My father had not been to university but he single handedly built most of the classrooms and dormitories at the school that his own children attended High School. Of his twenty four children, only one son (David) caught the vision of construction and vocational work and to this day, even with no formal education on construction, David built has his own house in South Africa. I am among the twenty three who became more inclined towards academics. However, as I observed my dad doing his work, even as he built all the houses in my rural homestead, I noticed in greater detail how property management is as important as its construction detail. The advice I received, directly and indirectly is valuable for both a home owner and even one who is renting another person’s property. The goal of property management is to ensure the asset you have keep appreciating in value.

1. Build you property with the future in mind – I have watched how the structures my dad put together over thirty years ago still stand strong to this day. He would tell me the amount of cement and other input that would go into the construction process without compromise. I have watched house that have developed major cracks or where walls have actually come down owing to shortcuts by builders. If you are building a temporary shelter then you are exempt from investing in building strong and lasting buildings. If you are going to have someone else build for you then ensure that all the material you provide is used on the building.

Lesson – Businesses are not built just to meet today’s need but with generations in mind. Pay attention to all the critical elements of business and not “cut corners”.

2. Build according to the plan – every meaningful structure or building has to have a plan. A builder who sets out to build from him/her head is not only dangerous to those who will occupy the building but he/she will always be frustrated by what he/she comes up with. A plan must make sense and it must certainly answer beyond doubt any questions the owner of the house has. Based on the purpose of the building, an architect is able to emphasize parts of the structure that define the purpose of the building. My dad had plans of each dormitory and classroom block. This is how he managed to make them identical. He made simplified diagrams that any builder could interpret. He would say “Son, I know I may not have attained the highest level of education but I appreciate the importance of having a plan. No plan, no building”.

Lesson – A business is as strong as the business plan. If it does not make sense on paper, it may not be worth pursuing.

3. The Finishing touches are as crucial as the super structure – It is quite sad that sometimes a lot of investment is put into the super structure, the main pillars, foundation etc such that when the building is complete, there is not enough energy to “touch up” the building and make it look good. Wrong choice of paint, wrong quality of flooring, a shoddy quality of plastering are all reasons why one building would outshine the other even with the design being identical. My dad always emphasized that whilst the start was important, it is the finish that bring a “wow” effect hence the importance of that detail.

Lesson – the things that look insignificant in business are as crucial as the overtly big things. The color scheme of your logo may seem insignificant but it affects a whole lot more than you think.

4. Property Management is about managing risks – Buildings require safeguards from vandalism (theft), flooding and fire. When the building is put together, the thoughts which should be processed and questions seeking answers are “what is the worst thing that could ever bring the building’s value down? What are the major threats to the building’s value?” I noticed with great interest how my dad always emphasized that every building carry a fire extinguisher, drainage around each building was meticulously put in place to reduce the risk of flooding, To reduce the risk of thefts, every window had burglar bars. The building was put in place with the knowledge that the contents were at risk from intruders right from the onset.

Lesson – Building a business also entails managing the risk of losing it. You should always look at the threats that seek to decimate life out of your business and build the relevant safeguards. It is risky to be in business but there are rewards if one can only step out and do.

5. The garden makes the property even more valuable – My dad always emphasized the fact that the buildings were supposed to leave enough space for proper gardening and landscaping where water features and other garden enhancements would be put. He didn’t use to do the landscaping himself but he has an appreciation of it. Whenever I now look at a building, I don’t stop on observing the walls and roof strength; I am now cognizant of the way the garden is looked after. When you have neighbors’ who throw trash in the garden and leaving grass to grow tall, this actually affects the value of your properties around. When all neighbors look after their gardens including the area that people can see from outside, value is added to the houses.

Lesson – The seemingly small things in business do matter. Your business is probably not known for the big things it does but for the small things you do not do well

6. The way to build the first model is very important to your expansion – Each building is different in the sense that you encounter different soils, different obstacles, different slopes etc. When you are building a series of buildings which are identical, you use lessons from your first building as you duplicate or propagate the buildings. You will know what to avoid. It will actually get better as you build more similar buildings. As the contractor, you have to develop a learning culture such that experiences from one site are recorded as learning points for future projects. All the successes and even failures should be recorded to make the history of building. You will be able to tell a “before” and “after” on the sites you have built.

Lesson – How you build your first business has a bearing on your branch network. Your first project therefore becomes pilot project showing you how identical each of the new branches will be to the prototype created.

7. Consider safety and waste management of each building – The reason shelter is created is for the safety of the occupants. With each brick being laid, the builder must be focusing on the safety of the workers and of the ones to occupy the house in the future. Each building must have a sewerage management system as well as water and other sanitation issues hence it addresses hygiene and health issues as well. Each building has ablution facilities and bathing facilities.

Lesson – You cannot ignore the Safety, Health and Environment issues of your business. In what way is your business taking care of it employees’ welfare in this regard as well as that of the beneficiaries (your customers).

8. Make the best building within the budget given – My dad would tell me of the fact that sometimes he would be asked to stretch himself in as far as making excellent buildings even under budgetary constraints and challenges. His approach was to find means and ways of achieving excellence while managing the capital employed by the school effectively. In some instances I remember him having to use a strategy of focusing on one building a time than spread himself too thinly. He would find it hard to run the construction of 4 similar projects at the same time but considered running them in succession.

Lesson – Your excellence in building your business must not be compromised by the capital at hand. Managing costs does not entail compromising on the crucial matters of the business. You can be excellent without over spending. A firm grip on finances is important. Build one branch at a time following the pattern and lessons from the main building.

9. Maintain the buildings as appreciating asset – One thing my dad would do is maintenance of each of the structures that were there. Sometimes it meant bringing a fresh look with another coat of paint. In other instances he would take out pipes that were rusty and put new ones, he would attend to leaking tapes, blocked sewer pipes just to mention a few. The goal was to ensure that each building he had made was always looking new, fresh and valuable. The gardeners would bring different kinds of new flowers to decorate the exterior part of the building. Inside each building all broken glass would be replaced and old doors would be removed and replaced with new ones. You could always feel the school had a fresh valuable look and feel making it exciting and a marvel for parents who sent their children to receive education from there.

Lesson – Your business image is important; you must always re-look at the things that need maintenance or total removal from your business to keep it looking valuable to investors and customers. Your fresh paint can be re-branding which is necessary from time to time to ensure that you appeal to the market as an appreciating, more focused business.

10. Building efficiency relies on the construction procedures and systems – Every process that my dad’s team was following was documented. From the proportions of cement to sand for the mortar to painting guidelines. He had a construction booklet, written in not so complicated steps but something that was easy for his team to follow. My dad’s literacy was up to “Standard 3” which was almost primary school level and yet he could create and document systems centered on construction and property care. His thinking was that it would be easier to induct a new builder if the systems were in place.

Lesson – A business is as strong as the systems and procedures it creates and relies on.