The International Garden Festival presents new 2021 installations

August 23, 2021 by  
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Magic lies outside  is the theme of the annual International Garden Festival, which aims to “bring us hope, to exalt creativity and to add colour to this world that is struggling to overcome this global pandemic and to come out of several months of confinement.” Now in its 22nd year, the 2021 edition at Reford Gardens in Quebec , Canada features five new installations, submitted from Canada, the United States, France and Sweden. These additions extend the current gardens, creating an outdoor museum of art. Related: Casa CBC incorporates greenery at every level   Choose Your Own Adventure Balmori Associates from New York present this work, inspired by the effects of global warming . The fight against climate change, coupled with the impact of the pandemic, drove the team to rethink the human/nature connection.  This contemplation is represented in simple lines of  plants  crisscrossing with hard materials. The message simplifies our relationship with the soil, water, air, plants and animals. Choose Your Own Adventure sets out to encourage visitors to feel the hot ground underfoot, smell the moisture or dryness in the air and hear the crunch of gravel as they walk. Hässja Architect Emil Bäckström from Stockholm, Sweden presents Hässja, a traditional hay-drying technique that offers shelter and a connection to nature. Each of the three structures is made up of millions of pieces of straw, transforming a once-living grass into a cozy and protected space for contemplating the resurgent need to intermingle human needs with those of nature. A press release explains the installation by saying, “The covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lot. It has exposed a disconnection from nature, agriculture and the importance of biodiversity . All around the globe, a regained interest in traditional, sustainable ways of inhabiting the earth is emerging.” Miroirs Acoustiques Presented by landscape architects Emmanuelle Loslier and Camille Zaroubi from Montreal (Quebec) Canada , Miroirs Acoustiques gives visitors the chance to experience sound in a newly presented way. Inspired by sound mirrors used across the coast of Great Britain during WWI to detect approaching enemy aircraft, the installation allows sounds to bounce and focus, amplifying them via two parabolic reflectors ( recycled  aluminum antennas) planted in the ground. Open Space A team of architectural interns for Quebec, Canada (Gabriel Lemelin, Francis Gaignard, Sandrine Gaulin) delivers an open space in the outdoors . The premise is a completely unboxed house, loaded with endless possibilities. It not only provides an open space but a way for the mind to openly roam with new consideration for the doors, staircases, windows and walls around us every day. Porte-bonheur David Bonnard, DE-HMONP architect, Laura Giuliani, landscaper, and Amélie Viale, visual artist, represent Lyon, Villefranche-sur-Saône and Lissieu, France with Porte-bonheur, an installation about reopening the doors firmly shut during the pandemic lockdowns. “Porte Bonheur is a rite of passage between reality and potentiality. The installation invites visitors to dare to throw open the door, cross thresholds, go outside and explore their surroundings with all the wonder of a small child.” The Reford Gardens will be open daily from May 29 to October 3, 2021, in addition to being accessible to members in the low season. + Jardins de Métis Images via JC Lemay, Martin Bond, Nancy Guignard and Antoine Proulx

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Urban gardens don’t get much greener than El Terreno

August 16, 2021 by  
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El Terreno is a community garden center that does more than grow food. It brings an urban population together and puts the ideas of community support, educational enrichment and purpose in serving the greater good all together in rows of plants and flowers. Based in Mexico City, a project called El Terreno began during the COVID-19 outbreak. During this time of social isolation, developers felt it was crucial to remain connected. They started the gardens not only to provide a social outlet for youth but to connect all levels of the community. Related: RHS Hilltop opens its wings to the study of horticulture Another primary goal was to provide education about the environment. The hands-on experience puts kids in touch with the source of their food supply and provides an opportunity to better understand the foundation of sustainable living. In collaboration with organizer Michelle Kalach, Vertebral is the architecture and landscaping studio behind the project. Based in Mexico City for the past five years, the company has been drawn to landscape design as a way to bring the forest into the vibrant city. Vertebral believes in using local products and thinking long-term when it comes to developing an area. With this in mind, El Terreno includes a pavilion made from  recycled materials  sourced from other construction projects. The building is also 100% recyclable. The pavilion serves as a source for rainwater collection, which is pumped into the orchard with energy produced from  solar panels .  Architects on the project explained, “We focused on avoiding any user predispositions when entering this new space, designed for plurality and versatility. It is a space that can only gain significance through user engagement, and through the cultivating and sharing of new ideas directed towards a healing environment .” In addition to providing an educational and social outlet, El Terreno has provided a self-sustaining economy. The  plants  grown onsite are sold to local cafes and stores, which in turn funds more educational opportunities.  + VERTEBRAL Photography by Ricardo de la Concha 

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Urban gardens don’t get much greener than El Terreno

Garden City brings a breath of fresh air to urban Paris

August 6, 2021 by  
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The future of Paris will be focused on a greener, healthier future for the environment. Part of this plan focuses on the Bois de Vincennes, the city’s largest public park. It sits on the Lac des Minimes. The project, Garden City of the Crescent Moon, seeks to showcase what the design of the future can look like. How can environmentally-friendly concerns be integrated into urban design ? Garden City seeks to provide the answers to that question. Related: Experimental, ecological home is inspired by a tree in France Urban agriculture is a big part of the design. This is a method of using space to create growing areas for herbs , spices and vegetables. Urban agriculture not only improves soil quality but also reduces air pollution. Most importantly of all, it produces food. By providing spaces for farming and gardening within urban areas, the plan also provides opportunities for economic benefits. Produce, spices and other products harvested from these mini urban farms can become a source of supplemental income. Roof terraces and small urban greenhouses create space for urban agriculture and create a unique look. The design also includes spaces for housing, offices, sports facilities and areas for cultural activities. The distinct silhouette of the project overall is made to resemble the shape of canyons. The Garden City design follows the natural bend of the Lac des Minimes and its natural islands . In the Garden City, all yards, roofs and public spaces will be used for growing and livestock. In fact, cattle breeding and dairy production areas will be right in town at the heart of the action. Meanwhile, everyone will have the chance and the space to grow all sorts of commodities, including corn, beans and herbs. This design shows how urban environments can become more eco-friendly and self-sustaining in the future. How can urban agriculture spaces like this impact society, climate and health? This project can serve as a case study to help answer these questions. The plan is a design created by architecture firm Rescubika. The firm describes Garden City as “created by man for man” and says it will improve the urban landscape by “adapting it to our new way of living in the city.” Via DesignBoom Images via RESCUBIKA Creations

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Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home

August 6, 2021 by  
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Looking for some healthy options to grow in your garden? Whether you’re a novice gardener… The post Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home appeared first on Earth911.

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Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home

Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home

August 6, 2021 by  
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Looking for some healthy options to grow in your garden? Whether you’re a novice gardener… The post Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home appeared first on Earth911.

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A beginner’s guide to gardening

July 22, 2021 by  
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Some form of gardening has been around since the first days of human existence. It’s an activity that not only helps sustain life but brings joy and satisfaction. However, as the saying goes, getting started is the hardest part. It can be intimidating to understand the verbiage around gardening and figure out what plants will grow well where you live. When you boil it down, gardening is a very basic act and, contrary to what you’ll see in gardening catalogs and online supply stores, it doesn’t require a lot of supplies or money to get started. It does, however, take some planning and knowledge. Luckily, even if you’re a beginner, you can get started on a successful garden with these tips. Garden terminology When shopping, you will notice that plants are labeled by their lifecycle. Annuals will grow for a single season, rarely to be seen again. Biennials will be around for two years. Perennials return for multiple growing seasons. Related: Companion plants to consider for your spring garden You’ll also want to decipher the phrasing around the types of plants you’re buying. While most people know what seeds are, you can also buy plants in bare root form, which have been removed from the ground while dormant and preserved for planting later on. You can also collect seedlings, which are plants that have just transformed out of their seed. Bulbs go into the ground during the off season and bloom a season or two later. Both the local garden center and online sources will list a description of plants that can take a bit of understanding too. A deciduous tree will lose its leaves each fall or winter, while evergreen shrubs will keep their leaves throughout the seasons. A groundcover is a low-growing, spreading plant that will never be taller than about a foot. Ornamental plants are grown primarily for visual appeal but are not for consumption or other use. Plants listed as a hybrid have been crossbred to encourage specific traits such as low water requirements or a sweeter taste. Know your soil Perhaps the single most important thing you can do for gardening success is to understand the composition of your soil (it’s more than dirt; it’s an ecosystem!). Don’t worry, you don’t need to take classes. Simply grab a soil sample kit from the gardening center or take a sample to your regional extension center. Once you know if you’re dealing with clay (thick and slow draining), loamy (rich and balanced with sand, silt and clay), sandy (lacking soil due to high sand content) or silty (somewhere between sand and clay), you’ll be able to plan ways to balance your soil. Different plants require different soil composition, which simply means how acidic or alkaline it is. Testing pH levels will give you a number, typically between 0-14. A pH of seven is neutral, above seven is alkaline and below seven is acidic. Most plants prefer soil that is slightly acidic with a pH of six to six-and-a-half. With this information, you can mix in materials that raise or lower that number. If your soil isn’t hospitable, you can buy or build raised beds that hold added soil aboveground for a healthy, plant-loving environment .  Native, non-native, heirloom and invasive plants Planning is a crucial step in gardening, although much of it will ultimately be learned through trial and error. When selecting plants, it’s important to know that native plants will naturally thrive in your yard because these are plants equipped for the climate and soil conditions and have grown in the area for hundreds of years. Non-native plants, on the other hand, have been introduced to the area. They may do well. They may not. The term heirloom means it has continuously been pollinated from the same host plants that have not changed in 50 years or more. This is often seen in food gardens, such as ‘heirloom tomatoes’. Finally, invasive plants are easy to stumble on both in your yard and through accidental planting. They can be pretty. They can thrive. But they will take over without precautions to restrain them. Invasive species can also cause ecosystem disruptions. Hardiness zones Another bit of critical information that will support your success in the garden is knowing your hardiness zone. USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map makes it easy to identify your planting zone. From there, you can select plants that are most likely to thrive in your area. A lot of the information you’ll find in books and online will mention your hardiness zone — and for good reason. Everything from carrots to grass grows differently throughout the geographic regions. This will help you plan when to plant cool-weather versus warm-weather crops within your zone. Plan the light Spend some time in your yard before figuring out where to place your garden. The majority of vegetable plants grown during the primary gardening season require full sun. This means at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Some plants require partial sun and can tolerate more time in the shade. Watch the sun throughout a season to really understand where the light hits. In addition to the amount of sunlight a space receives, consider whether you can easily access a watering source and whether you’ll need fencing to ward off deer and other wildlife . Keep a journal An important tool for gardening success is a log of your activities. This can be as simple as a small notebook or as comprehensive as a computer spreadsheet. The goal is simply to keep track of what you’ve planted, when you planted it, where it’s planted, if it suffered from disease or pest issues and how long it took to reach maturity (when you can harvest).  Images via Adobe Stock

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The best plants for pollinators

July 12, 2021 by  
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If you want to beautify your yard while simultaneously doing your little part to save the world, consider planting a pollinator garden. Even a small outdoor space can make a difference to bees, butterflies and other important pollinators. Most types of flowering plants require pollination. While wind and water are responsible for pollinating some plants , and a few are even self-pollinating, the vast majority depend on little mobile creatures. The act of a bee or other critter transferring pollen from one flower to another of the same species produces fertile seeds. Related: Biking with Butterflies: an interview with adventurer Sara Dykman Here’s what you need to know to help your local ecosystem stay abundant in plant and pollinator life. Planning your pollinator garden Shrubs, annuals and flowering perennials provide the pollen and nectar required to turn an ordinary garden into a thriving pollinator garden. Even if you only have an apartment patio, you can create a pollinator garden with container plants. More space? Even better. In addition to selecting the right plants, provide a water source for your pollinators, make space for nesting sites and don’t use herbicides or pesticides that will kill off these vulnerable creatures. Native plants are best for keeping your local pollinators happy. Plus, they’re likely to require less water than ornamental, non-native plants. Attracting butterflies So, what should you plant? That depends on which pollinators you want to attract. If you want monarch butterflies to grace your yard, the answer is easy: milkweed. According to Georgia Clay of gardening giant Monrovia , “Milkweed might be best known as being the only source of food for monarch butterfly larvae, but it is also a great source of nectar for many other species of butterflies and bees. It’s important to grow a variety native to your area in order to support monarch butterflies in your region. Search milkweed varieties here to find a variety suited to your area.” Other plants that butterflies love include alyssum, calendula, cosmos, daylilies, hollyhock, lilac, lavender, marigold, nasturtium, snapdragon, verbena, zinnia and, unsurprisingly, butterfly bush. Enticing hummingbirds Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures and so fun to watch. As Birdwatchers Digest said, you can’t have too many good hummingbird plants in your garden. Hummingbirds like colorful flowers, so plan out a continuous blooming schedule. For example, choose hanging fuchsia baskets in the spring, salvia in summer and trumpet creepers that will bloom into fall. Adjust this to your local climate, of course. Hummingbirds dig petunias, bleeding hearts, zinnia, bee balm, columbine, lupine, salvia, cardinal flower and butterfly bush. Some of their favorites are the showy and fragrant flowering plants in the Agastache genus, also known as hummingbird mint. According to Clay, “Agastache is gorgeous planted in mass and will attract loads of bees and hummingbirds to the garden. They have a long bloom time and aromatic foliage, so deer tend not to munch.” Keeping bees happy Bees, especially honeybees, are the world’s most important pollinators. About one-third of the food that we eat relies on pollination, mostly by bees. This includes avocados, soybeans, cucumbers, cherries, melons and tons of other fruits and vegetables . Commercial crops like almonds and blueberries also rely on honeybee pollination. Bees even pollinate the alfalfa and clover that cattle eat, so they contribute to the meat and dairy industries, too. Bees do a lot for us. But what can we do for the bees? The Savvy Gardening website suggests providing a mix of bee-pleasing plants for the various bee species that visit your yard. Bumblebees need big landing pads and can pop open flowers to access hidden nectar. Ideal plants include snapdragons, lupines and hooded monkshood flowers. Bumblebees have long tongues that can reach down tubular flowers like salvias and phlox. Smaller bees need smaller flowers, so pick some plants with clusters of wee blooms, such as oregano and goldenrod. Flowers with a central disc wreathed with petals — such as sunflowers, black-eyed Susans and Shasta daisies — also feed tiny bees. To keep bees around, include some plants with hollow stems in your pollinator garden. Female bees make brood chambers in hollow plant stems or in holes in the ground. They also might choose to shelter inside the stems during winter . Coneflower, raspberry brambles, ironweed, goldenrod and ornamental grasses can serve this purpose. Of coneflower, also known as echinacea, Clay said, “There are many Echinacea varieties available on the market to suit any garden. Most all have an exceptionally long bloom period and provide bees with both nectar and pollen.” Less popular pollinators While most people delight in seeing the bright colors of butterflies and hummingbirds in the garden, some pollinators are less popular. Not everybody is so charmed by bats , although they are crucial pollinators in desert and tropical climates. And many people are downright unfriendly to flies and wasps. While wasps are much more minor pollinators, they do some incidental pollination as they move pollen grains between flowers. If you love figs, those are pollinated by wasps. Without flies, our peppers, mangoes, apples and cashews wouldn’t get pollinated. So try to appreciate these little guys, too, even if you’re not actively planting to attract them. Use this handy tool to learn which pollinator plants will do well in your area of the U.S. or Canada. Images via Adobe Stock Images

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China removes giant pandas from endangered species list

July 12, 2021 by  
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Giant pandas are no longer endangered, according to an announcement made by the Chinese government. The number of pandas in the wild in China has reached 1,800; this doesn’t include those in captivity or protected shelters. Consequently, the animals are no longer endangered, but are still vulnerable. In 2016, the International Union for Nature Conservation removed giant pandas from the endangered species list, classifying them as vulnerable. China has now followed suit, due to an increase in giant panda numbers in the country. Related: Panda conservation efforts lead to unexpected losses In a statement, Cui Shuhong, head of the Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation in the Ministry of Environment, said the reclassification is due to improved living conditions. He also pointed out that these results come from China’s efforts to restore giant panda habitats. Earlier, experts opposed declaring giant pandas no longer endangered , arguing that such a move would spur complacence. As a result, China maintained the “vulnerable” status for its pandas even after being delisted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Besides giant pandas, the Chinese government has also reported significant improvement in Siberian Tiger , Amur leopard, Asian elephant, and crested ibis numbers. The government says that all these improvements are due to conservation efforts. The news has been celebrated on social media . One post read, “It shows all the efforts have been paid off. Well done,” while another noted, “It’s a good start indeed, but there are still threats to these species. Do not relax.” Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “the concept that lush mountains and clear water are worth their weight in gold and silver has taken root among the public in China. We stand ready to work with all sides to strengthen international cooperation in ecological preservation and environmental management to jointly.” Despite these improvements, the pandas still face long-term threats. According to the IUCN, climate change could destroy about 35% of their bamboo habitats in 80 years. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Governor calls for reduced water usage amid 2021 California drought

July 12, 2021 by  
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Governor Gavin Newsom has placed 50 of California’s 58 counties under a drought  emergency  order, and the number may grow. The latest to join the order are those located north of the Tehachapi mountains. This includes Marin, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Inyo, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara counties. “Those are the effects of climate change. It’s here, and it’s human-induced,” Newsom said, as reported by ABC. “I think in the state of  California , we’ve moved beyond the debate and are moving toward finding a solution.” Related: California farmers find ways to work with less water Instead of mandating and enforcing water restrictions, Newsom is asking for people to voluntarily comply. The goal: reduce  water  usage by 15%. This goes for agricultural and industrial uses, as well as residential. “We’re hopeful that the people in the state of California will take that mindset that they saw in the last drought and take that forward,” Newsom said. California has allocated $5.1 billion to deal with the drought, including emergency response and investing in the state’s water infrastructure. California’s largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, hold less than half their usual amount of water, according to the state Department of Water Resources. Both  lakes  are in Northern California. Southern California is currently faring better, with Castaic Lake at 58% of its average level, and Lake Perris with notably more water than it usually holds this time of year. Last year’s dry winter means California fell below its usual snow total. Pair that with extreme heat, and you have severe  wildfire  risk this summer. For those who want to think of new ways to save water during the California  drought ,  Save Our Water  has conservation tips for your home and yard. If you tend to do many small loads of laundry, leave the water on while brushing your teeth or enjoy hosing down your sidewalk, consult this site immediately for alternatives and advice. Via ABC Lead image via Pixabay

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The Garden House is built like a renewable power station

July 5, 2021 by  
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This seemingly small, shingle-covered home in Melbourne, Australia may not look like a sustainable powerhouse, but in reality it is generating 100kwh of  energy  per day with a 26kwh Tesla battery. This number stands out compared to the 19kwh of energy the average Australian house uses per day. Known as the Garden House, the modern abode has an impressive set of sustainability features. In addition to its 17kW  solar panels  that face north, east and west to maximize solar output throughout the day, it also boasts a 15,000-liter rainwater tank stored under the garage for use in the toilets and to irrigate the garden. Related: Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume The goal was to create a self-sustaining,  modern  home that didn’t feel big yet could accommodate a family of five. According to the clients, the architects were able to make this dream a reality. “Our home doesn’t feel too huge, it feels homely and cosy,” said the owners. “It’s like a little eco system, the more people the more sense it makes. It’s a multitasking house, doing four things at the same time. There’s logical space for it and it all works.” This was achieved by breaking up the bulk of the house into four smaller zones: an office, a kitchen/living room, a dining area and a kids’ area, each connected through mirrored glass links or bridges. Since the glass reflects its lush surroundings, the result is a cozy space that maintains a cohesive style. According to the designers, the clients wanted to keep as much of the plot’s existing greenery as possible, so they could enjoy the  garden  feel right when they moved in. The home also includes underfloor insulation, hydronic heating and double glazed windows with thermally broken aluminum frames. Such features allow the house to operate without gas or fossil fuels. For materials, the designers opted for  recycled  brick and 50% fly-ash content cement to lower emissions. The home has since won accolades from the Victorian Institute of Architects Awards. Austin Maynard Architects also dubbed the project its “most sustainable house so far.” + Austin Maynard Architects Via Dezeen Images via Austin Maynard Architects

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