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    Category: Landscape Yard

    Designing an end to a toxic American obsession: The Lawn – CNN - April 1, 2020 by admin

    Written by Matthew Ponsford

    Lawns are an American obsession. Since the mass proliferation of suburbs in the 1950s and '60s, these pristine carpets of green turf have been meticulously maintained by suburbanites, with grass length and other aesthetic considerations enforced with bylaws and by homeowner associations.

    But for nature, lawns offer little. Their maintenance produces more greenhouse gases than they absorb, and they are biodiversity deserts that have contributed to vanishing insect populations. Residential lawns cover 2% of US land and require more irrigation than any agricultural crop grown in the country. Across California, more than half of household water is used outside of the house.

    If attitudes toward lawn care are shifted, however, these grassy green patches represent a gigantic opportunity. In 2005, a NASA satellite study found that American residential lawns take up 49,000 square miles (128,000 square km) -- nearly equal in size to the entire country of Greece.

    A small, shady garden at Kronish House, a villa by Ricahrd Neutra in Beverley Hills, California designed by Marmol Radzinerm, winner of the ASLA 2016 Professional Honor Award in Residential Design Credit: Roger Davies

    According to environmental scientists, transforming lawns into miniature modular bio-reserves could not only boost biodiversity, but could cut water and petrol consumption and reduce the use of dangerous lawn chemicals.

    Yet the question for many homeowners remains: how?

    In Western states such as California, Colorado and Arizona, droughts have led to restrictions on water usage, forcing many to reconsider their thirsty lawns. Some inventive families and landscape architects have transformed yards, producing oases of life for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, by employing scientific insight, design and imagination.

    "This new garden model is giving people permission to play," said Cook, who has redesigned home lawns across Orange County, with an emphasis on "ecosystem-centric" design. Ripping up a generic lawn can reveal a canvas for personal creativity -- to plant with food, flowering plants and herbs, or to shape into wildlife habitats that invite in local fauna.

    Yard, by Studio, winner of the ASLA 2018 Professional Honor Award in Residential Design Credit: Stephen Miller / ASLA

    "It seems to me that they are yearning for an authentic experience of nature close to home," said Cook. There is increasing evidence that close contact with natural environments can reduce stress and anxiety, and even help maintain memory as we age.

    According to Cook, the families she's worked with have been delighted to reconnect with eclectic natural processes, such as watching rain cascade down water-drainage swales. "They don't want to travel to a wilderness park to see ecosystem interactions."

    Nationwide Trend

    What Cook sees in California reflects an emerging trend across the country. In Minnesota, homeowners have been offered rebates to replace lawns with flowering plants beloved by bees. Cities and municipalities, such as Montgomery County in Maryland, have also offered to pay families and homeowner associations to design gardens that collect storm water in water features and underground rain barrels.

    A contemporary remodel of a suburban ranch home in Portland, Oregon by Courtney Skybak from Samuel H. Williamson Associates Credit: Samuel H. Williamson Associates /

    Such policies can lead to big changes. Images of intensely irrigated lawns in Phoenix, ringed by the red sand of the Arizona Desert, were once a disturbing case study of America's lawn addiction. But in recent decades, the state has taken action, charging more for water in the summer and banning lawns on new developments. At the turn of the millennium, 80% of Phoenix had green lawns, now only 14% does.

    Landscape architects are seeing families change their preferences, according to a recent poll by the National Wildlife Federation's (NWF) Garden for Wildlife initiative, which encourages Americans to design gardens with food, water and shelter for wild animals.

    A graphic patterned garden in Portland, Oregon by Courtney Skybak from Samuel H. Williamson Associates Credit: Samuel H. Williamson Associates /

    Changing Tastes

    These gardens today represent around 3,600 acres. According to Green America, they have the potential over the next 10 years to capture the carbon equivalent to taking 70,000 cars off the road for an entire year.

    Xeriscape Colorado, a program by non-profit Colorado WaterWise, promotes water-saving approaches to landscaping Credit: Kristen Vance

    "I think homeowners are trying to seek a higher sense of community, and so they want to be in their front yard, interacting with their neighbors," she added.

    Faced with the choice between a wildlife garden or astroturf -- the latter has also become increasingly popular in drought-hit areas -- Mary Phillips, senior director of NWW, urges people to consider nature. She refers to recent research that shows wildlife gardens can support bee biodiversity comparable to natural parklands and, as a result, a greater number and diversity of birds, especially songbirds.

    Yard, by Studio, winner of the ASLA 2018 Professional Honor Award in Residential Design Credit: Stephen Miller / ASLA

    "When we share those kinds of stories, that is what's motivating people," said Phillips. "Because they're actually seeing on the ground, visually, these bees and these butterflies and the birds visiting the property, and they see that they can make a significant difference."

    A Few Simple Rules

    Even small changes can make a difference to the environmental impact of lawns. The "entry-level option," according to Philips, for families that still want room for their kids to play, is to inject more wildflowers into the turf. That includes plants that are typically viewed as nuisances.

    "The stuff that people are usually trying to get out of their lawn, we're saying 'No, that's good to have in your lawn!'" said Philips. "So reintroduce native violets -- and even dandelions -- certain clovers, low-growing thyme and things that flower, which provide pollinator benefits and are better for the soil."

    Once a wasteland, Tessa Charnofsky planted hundreds of California native plants and built decks and stairways. "Within a couple of years, it was transformed into a wildlife paradise, and became a Certified Wildlife Habitat. So many species of bumble bee and sweat bee, butterflies and moths, lizards, migrating birds, birds of pray lived here, dined here, or just passed through." Credit: Tessa Charnofsky

    The more advanced option means "taller meadow or prairie-like native plants," Phillips said. These types of plants have root systems that better manage storm water runoff, in addition to absorbing more carbon, she explained.

    When one home commits to a wildlife-friendly lawn, others often follow. "(It's) an unspoken message to their neighbors, it is evidence that they care about the environment," Cook said. "In many areas, the first house on the block has set off a domino effect, as others take permission to experiment."c

    "Each small garden acts as a stepping stone for birds, pollinators and other wildlife, becoming something much larger, impacting whole watersheds," she added.

    Pomegranate and Boston Ivy on the wall of a Bel Air home owned by TV writer-producers Amy Lippman and Rodman Flenders, designed by Naomi Sanders Credit: Jennifer Cheung

    Top photo: a front garden at Kronish House, a villa by Ricahrd Neutra in Beverley Hills, California designed by Marmol Radzinerm

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    Designing an end to a toxic American obsession: The Lawn - CNN

    How To Attract Butterflies And Birds To Your Yard – - April 1, 2020 by admin

    When you think of Springtime outdoors, you may picture butterflies floating from flower to flower and birds singing in the trees. You should consider designing your yard to attract wildlife, whether you are interested in conservation, you are a wildlife admirer, or you want a beautiful landscape for an affordable cost. In order to turn your central Alabama yard into an oasis for native birds and pollinators, you need to recruit DSLD Land Management, the experts of residential landscaping in Birmingham, AL. There are several steps you can take to attract butterflies and birds as well as improve water quality and increase the quality of life for existing wildlife.

    Plant specific perennials and annuals

    Planting the appropriate shrubs, perennials and annuals can give pollinators both food sources and the necessary habitat to complete reproduction. Plant native flowers and trees if at all possible. Here are some examples:

    Native plants for butterflies: wisteria, dill, sassafras, common blue violet, foxglove, nettles, and milkweed.

    Native trees for butterflies: dogwood, beech, Loblolly pine, black cherry, cottonwood.

    Invasive species to avoid: butterfly bush, Lantana, tropical milkweed (click here for a more detailed explanation from AL Butterfly Atlas)

    Juicy, overripe fruit can be a nice treat for butterflies as well, but its not just about feeding the butterflies. Its also about having a place for them to successfully lay eggs. Certain invasive species may provide good nectar but are toxic to eggs and/or caterpillars. For a more extensive list of host plants and flowers, visit Alabama Butterfly Atlas.

    Consider leaving dead trees alone

    Its ok to clean up your landscape to freshen it up and make it look its best, but consider leaving that dead or dying tree alone if youre wanting to attract native birds. Obviously this ONLY applies if it isnt a potential danger to you or your home. A dead or dying black cherry tree (for example) can be the perfect habitat and shelter for birds and the insects they eat.

    Here are some landscape and garden reminders from the Alabama Wildlife Center:

    Add a water feature

    Ponds and other similar low-lying water features are a great addition to your landscape because they provide birds and other animals water for drinking and bathing. Surrounding a pond with small pebbles is even better because it gives pollinating insects a warm place to rest. DLSD Land Management has a waterscapes team that can help make a pond or other water feature work seamlessly with your landscape.

    These are just a few ideas on how to attract birds and butterflies to your yard. With the help of DSLD Land Management, you can turn your landscapes into an oasis of native plants and animals!

    DSLD is a full-service design/build landscape contracting firm located in Birmingham. The family-owned and operated company is headed up by David Sharp, a brilliant design engineer who is backed by a team of professionals that have decades of experience in taking Alabamians landscape nightmares and turning them into dreamscapes. They do commercial and residential. I speak from experience here AlabamaWX friends: Give David and his team a call. Theyre amazing! Bill Murray

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    Backstroker Kaitlyn Bacik Commits to the University of Kentucky for 2020 – SwimSwam - April 1, 2020 by admin

    Fitter and Faster Swim Camps is the proud sponsor of SwimSwams College Recruiting Channel and all commitment news. For many, swimming in college is a lifelong dream that is pursued with dedication and determination. Fitter and Faster is proud to honor these athletes and those who supported them on their journey.

    Kaitlyn Bacik, a senior at Beavercreek High School and a member of the Coffman Family YMCA in Springboro, Ohio, has announced her commitment to swim for the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2020. A sprint/middle distance freestyler and backstroker, Bacik will be joining a Wildcats team that has built a reputation for producing top-level backstrokers, most recently two-time All-American Ali Gayler.

    At the 2020 Ohio High School Division I (big schools) State Championship meet, Bacik took 12th place in the 100-yard freestyle (52.91) and led off Beavercreeks 200-yard freestyle that finished in 12th place as well. At the 2019 YMCA Great Lakes Zone Championships, she took 4th place in the 200-yard freestyle (1:56.85) and 6th in the 200-yard backstroke (2:06.90).

    Top Times in Yards:

    Bacik will join backstrokers Abbie Shaw and Torie Buerger as well as Anna Havens Rice, Kaylee Williams, Kristyn Sabol, Leah Luckett, Sofie Davis, Tori Orcutt, Van McKinley, and Megan Drumm as the members of the Wildcats class of 2024.

    If you have a commitment to report, please send an email with a photo (landscape, or horizontal, looks best) and a quote to [emailprotected].

    About the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour

    Fitter & Faster Swim Camps feature the most innovative teaching platforms for competitive swimmers of all levels. Camps are produced year-round throughout the USA and Canada. All camps are led by elite swimmers and coaches. Visitfitterandfaster.comto find or request a swim camp near you.


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    Backstroker Kaitlyn Bacik Commits to the University of Kentucky for 2020 - SwimSwam

    The ever-changing landscape of America | Northeast Notes – Colorado Springs Gazette - April 1, 2020 by admin

    In recent years, scientific data about global warming has become more prevalent in the news.

    In India and China, dangerous levels of air pollution prompted people to wear masks as they went to work. Plastic bottles and other trash in the ocean have led to new inventions for collecting debris and people have organized volunteer efforts to collect trash from beaches. Rising sea levels are a reality rather than speculation and melting glaciers alarm scientists in Antarctica. Just as astronauts have described Earth as one planet, everyday citizens understand that environmental conditions affect more than just their own country. Air pollution flows across the borders of countries as if those borders are nonexistent. Now, we are witnessing the connectedness of people around the world as the coronavirus spreads from region to region.

    Before January, most young kids werent familiar with the term pandemic and many adults wouldnt have known the difference between a surgical mask and an N95 mask or respirator. The number 95 refers to the fact that N95 masks filter out 95% of the particulates in the air, protecting the individual from dangerous particles such as air pollution, bacteria or viruses. Yet, for construction workers, dentists, nurses and physicians, these items are part of a typical workday. Painters, firefighters and teams who clean up hazardous waste areas are often required to use masks for their own protection.

    As coronavirus spread from China to Europe, it was only a matter of time before cases appeared in the United States. It spread faster than some people expected, although many medical researchers and health care professionals werent all that surprised. There have been predictions of pandemics for many years in medical journals as well as in some governmental emergency response departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    In early March, headlines described shortages of medical supplies like N95 masks and ventilators and some predicted dire shortages of hospital beds in large cities such as New York. Companies instructed employees to work from home, public schools closed, and restaurants and many stores have followed. Grocery store shelves have emptied out, toilet paper has become a sought-after commodity, and take-out is the new go-to at many restaurants. Families are cooking tried-and-true traditional family recipes and kids are calling their grandparents more often.

    Parents and volunteers have sprung into action to provide meals for schoolchildren because in many parts of the country, meals at school are the only food they consume each day. College administrators have told students to de-densify by moving out of dormitories and traveling home, much to the chagrin, and sometimes delight, of their parents. Through the end of the academic year, these college students will be finishing their classwork online and participating in discussions through Zoom.

    Just after elbow bumping became the craze, most people decided to stop any type of physical contact. Social distancing has become an art, while running outdoors is more popular since gyms have closed. Things keep changing quickly as we collectively hunker down and adjust to new routines.

    Good-news stories, however, are plentiful on Facebook. In Denver, a 7-year-old girl made a Get Well card for a state legislator who was diagnosed with coronavirus. The girls dad delivered it to the legislators home along with some candles, which cheered her up the legislator is quarantined at home while her family takes care of her. In the front yard of a home in downtown Colorado Springs, there was a table with dog treats and home-baked cookies for passersby to enjoy. In Ohio, two siblings took their cellos to their front porch and played music for the neighbors. The pandemic has even affected animals routines, such as the penguins at Chicagos Shedd Aquarium, who were let out of enclosures to wander around near the fish tanks.

    With the exception of walking our dog and grocery shopping, we havent left our house. Jigsaw puzzles, decks of cards, and the kids laptops from college sit near Lysol wipes and Kleenex boxes. From a distance of six feet or more, we wave at neighbors and thank postal service workers delivering the mail. I hope weve all learned something in this time of dramatic change. Maybe more people will appreciate health care professionals and first responders who have been working even longer hours than usual taking care of patients. I hope theres a deeper appreciation for things we took for granted, like hard-working grocery store cashiers, schoolteachers, waitresses and busboys.

    No one is getting through this alone or getting by without some help. Only a fool on April Fools day would think they could do it on their own. It takes a village and even more apparent, that village is global.

    Julie Richman is a freelance writer, project manager and consultant. She and her family have lived on Colorado Springs northeast side for 21 years. Contact Julie with comments or ideas for her column at

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    The ever-changing landscape of America | Northeast Notes - Colorado Springs Gazette

    The Backyard Oasis of Our Dreams – 5280 | The Denver Magazine - April 1, 2020 by admin

    On a half-acre near downtown Littleton, a couple creates a retreat reminiscent of a quaint European garden.

    In the late 1800s, an enterprising couple bought 720 acres of land on the east side of Littleton and developed it into a subdivision designed for city dwellers who also wanted country homes. These entrepreneurs carved out a home for themselves there and planted 75 acres of orchards, plus a nursery of peonies, roses, and grapevines.

    It seems only fitting that more than 130 years later, the original farmhouse (remodeled on the inside but still showcasing its 19th-century charm) has a backyard oasis that pays tribute to a bygone era and the patina of time. Owners Ona and Craig Belk, who have lived in the farmhouse for more than 20 years, love to cook and entertain, and several years ago, they turned their attention to the half-acre of land outside their back doors. We wanted to create a space where we could hang out together with our children and their significant others and our grandchildren, Ona says. We call this place the happy house, and it was time to extend that love of hospitality to our outdoor area.

    The couples friend and architect, David Robb, joined in their conversation about what the yard could become. Their chats began with ideas for expanding the indoor kitchen and dining space to a wraparound porch outside. A small outdoor cooking area would be nice, they agreed, and so would a water element beyond the porch. Then Robb and the Belks visited the War Memorial Rose Garden in Littleton, where a beautiful little fountain caught Onas imagination, so they dreamed up a poolbigger than a pond and smaller than a lap pool, Robb saysand a small adjacent spa. Theyd need a pump house for the pool, and the contractor, Jeff Slough of Eagle Alliances, mentioned that an outdoor fireplace would be an ideal addition to that structure, so Robb added a Rumford fireplacea tall, shallow design that distributes heat well.

    Of course, the counterpoint to all these structures would be plantslots of them. I didnt want a Disneyland backyard with a huge pool and hard materials, says Ona, who has been an avid gardener for more than a decade. Landscape designer Kaylin Kittle of Ivy Street Design created a whimsical plan to give softness and Old-World charm to the yard. We wanted it to feel like a European garden that you just discover as you wander through the gate, Kittle says. To achieve that style, she chose buff flagstone stepping stones spaced in an organic way and surrounded by lush green groundcover to give the impression that nature had taken over the harsh surfaces. The flagstones carve out paths among the pool, fireplace, porch, and the large potager garden, where raised beds separated by gravel pathways feel quite French. There, the Belks grow varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, fennel, beets, herbs, and edible flowers such as calendula and pansies.

    Beyond the garden, the entire yard is full of delectable plants: The Belks wanted a useful garden, Ona says, by which she means a plot of land filled not merely with ornamental vegetation, but with plants that they can use in cooking and in Onas homeopathic tinctures and salves. The landscape is dotted with red and black currants, gooseberries, hawthorn, elderberries, and raspberries, and in a side yard, a small orchard of fruit treesplum, peach, apple, and cherryoffers up a bounty of sweetness.

    Three years after its completion, the yard has fulfilled its owners dreams for a warm, vibrant area to entertain and garden. My very favorite thing is to get out there first thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee, to see whats growing, whats blooming, and then to decide what Im going to harvest and make for the day, Ona says. And then, after working in the garden all morning, once the day gets really hot, we take a dip in the pool. Its justbetter than I could have ever imagined.

    This recipe, a favorite at the Belks home in the warm months, is best made one day ahead so the flavors can mix well.

    Lithuanian Cold Beet Soup (Saltibariai)Serves 8

    3 hard-boiled eggs1 cup scallion greens, finely chopped2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered, and finely chopped6 tablespoons whole-milk Greek yogurt1 quart unsweetened kefir1 cup water3 medium red beets, cooked, peeled, and coarsely grated1 cup beet greens, finely chopped1 cup sorrel leaves, tightly packed1 bunch fresh dill (or more to taste), finely choppedEdible small garden flowers or petals(such as pansies or nasturtiums), optionalSalt to taste

    Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Crush egg yolks with scallion greens and salt. Add cucumber, finely chopped egg whites, yogurt, kefir, water, beets, beet greens, sorrel leaves, and dill. Mix well. Refrigerate. Serve in individual bowls and sprinkle with dill and small edible garden flowers or petals.

    Hilary Masell Oswald is the editor at large for 5280 Home and a 5280 contributor.

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    The Backyard Oasis of Our Dreams - 5280 | The Denver Magazine

    Chargers Daily Links: Chargers make FA signings official, Tyrod gives back to the community – Bolts From The Blue - April 1, 2020 by admin

    Goooooooooooooood morning, everyone. I hope your week has started strong youre all feeling right as rain on this Tuesday morning.

    We can all breathe a sign of relief now that the team has officially announced the signing of Bryan Bulaga, Linval Joseph, Chris Harris, and Nick Vigil. With the recent reports of the Ravens not signing Michael Brockers and the Jaguars not signing Darqueze Dennard, I started to worry about at least one of these signings falling through for one reason or another.

    Could you imagine if Bulaga bounced after failing a physical? There would be a riot. Thank goodness we dont have to deal with that.

    Enjoy the links and have a great Tuesday.

    The Los Angeles Chargers today agreed to terms with tackle Bryan Bulaga, cornerback Chris Harris Jr., defensive tackle Linval Joseph and linebacker Nick Vigil.

    On Thursday, Apr. 2, the Los Angeles Chargers are joining CBS 2/KCAL 9 and iHeartRadio for a day-long fundraiser to help raise money, supplies and awareness for Los Angeles Unified School District students and their families who are struggling during this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.

    Jennings, a four-year NFL veteran, comes to the Chargers from the Tennessee Titans. Over the last two seasons with Tennessee, he returned 31 kickoffs for 894 yards, including a 94-yarder for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins. In 2018, Jennings led the NFL with a 31.7-yard average, returning 22 kicks for 698 yards.

    The Chargers reportedly wont look for a QB in free agency, which means Tyrod Taylor is the man ... for now. But the team will have a decision to make at No. 6. Herbert had a solid 2019 season but improved his stock during the Senior Bowl and combine.

    The 2020 NFL Draft may set ratings records

    No one can go outside. There are no sports events on television and there is nothing on the horizon. The country is essentially staying at home and there are only so many things to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or the streaming app of your choice. There is one respite, one light at the end of the tunnel, one major sporting event that gets great ratings and will absolutely dominate the sports landscape for the next month: the 2020 NFL Draft.

    Chargers stack deck in Draft Wire's 4-round mock draft

    The majority of the signings and trades have concluded. Now all thats left to the roster-building process for the Chargers and the rest of the teams in the league is the 2020 NFL Draft.

    LA Chargers: Greatest sixth overall picks since the NFL/AFL merger

    This draft is likely going to yield the teams future plans for a franchise quarterback, which will impact at least the next half-decade and how successful the Chargers will be. You can afford a bust when you are picking a defensive tackle in the first round, it hurts more when it is a quarterback.

    LA Chargers: The most successful draft order locations in team history

    The LA Chargers have the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and it will be the first time in franchise history that the team has selected sixth in the NFL Draft. We had all intentions of doing a greatest sixth overall picks in team history but that cannot be done without any history.

    The B/R GOAT Sima 32-team Madden simulation tournament in which every NFL franchise will compete using rosters comprised of legendskicks off this week on Bleacher Reports Twitch.

    On Monday, former Virginia Tech star Tyrod Taylor announced he would be donating $25,000 towards the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank via the Tyrod Taylor Foundation. The donation will go towards a truckload of food to help those economically impacted by the coronavirus in Taylors local community.

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    Chargers Daily Links: Chargers make FA signings official, Tyrod gives back to the community - Bolts From The Blue

    Oh, Yeah, and it Has a View, Too. – Martha’s Vineyard Magazine - April 1, 2020 by admin

    Sandra Schpoont and Steve Axelrod were outgrowing their summer home on the North Fork of Long Island and had been renting on the Vineyard for a number of summers. They haphazardly followed the real estate market and toured a few homes, but nothing clicked until the very house theyd rented for one month, in July 2014, a historic farmhouse on Middle Road in Chilmark, hit the market.

    It was a summer house, we knew it needed a lot of work, said Schpoont in a brand-new kitchen. We didnt know it would be a complete re-haul.

    Axelrod, a psychologist, and Schpoont, a New Yorkbased attorney, enlisted Island architect Chuck Sullivan, of Sullivan + Associates Architects in Oak Bluffs, and husband and wife design team Keren and Thomas Richter, of White Arrow in Brooklyn, to realize their dream of a thoughtfully preserved Island home with a modern flair. I love design, Schpoont said. I didnt want a Cape Cod type of house. I wanted something cool.

    The house sits at the bottom of a steep ridge with sweeping southerly views. From a sunny sitting room that was once a makeshift post office, a row of windows showcases the agrarian magic of Keith Farm across the street: cows graze, birds flock, and, a little farther, waves crash. Save for the occasional car traveling Middle Road, it could easily be another time in Island history.

    Its a recognizable property for anyone whos spent time traversing up-Island, and its not uncommon for dog walkers and joggers to stop on their way past. If Schpoont or Axelrod are in the yard, someone might let them know that they appreciate the preservation work they did. But for all the preserved glory of the exterior, what those passersby cant see from the road is that the interior is a modern showpiece, curated to meet the needs of a professional couple.

    The original layout was choppy, with lots of little rooms and not much in the way of flow. There was no proper entryway or gathering space. It was a classic New England house, architect Sullivan explained. It was added onto over time. So we reconfigured what was there first and then added on.

    Though Chilmark does not have a designated historic district, the project was reviewed by the towns zoning board of appeals and the historical commission. We really had to reassure the town that we would maintain the integrity of the house and that it wouldnt look brand new, explained Schpoont. In no small feat of architecture, the addition on the back, built by Jared Kent and Thomas Van Hollebeke, of Kent & Van Hollebeke Construction, is barely visible to the road yet provides the extra first floor living space a master bedroom, pantry, office the couple wanted.

    The main entryway once two separate rooms with doors off the original kitchen now leads to an oversized mudroom, a bathroom, and an entry porch carved out of the interior space. Black herringbone tile and white clapboard walls signal a design theme that continues throughout the interior. Its a study in contrasts: old and new, dark and light, functional and fanciful. The bathroom features stunningly bold wallpaper that is both tropical and moody. The white granite sink, set in a surprisingly industrial base, is just minimalist enough to let the wallpaper be the main event. In the living room, meanwhile, there is something to look at in every corner. Interesting furnishings in unexpected hues draw you in: a shin-height coffee table, an indigo-dyed canvas couch, and a vintage Moroccan tuareg rug.

    Months before the sofa was placed just so on that vintage rug, designer Keren was in Brooklyn visualizing the project. Her goals, she said, included achieving a space that was refreshing and warm, intuitive and embracing. She imagined a modern dialogue in which the history of the home was still visible through a contemporary lens. Together with her husband Thomas she found a mix of unusual fixtures that were chosen to make the space feel fresh: a chic Bert Frank pendant light in the kitchen, a canopy bed in the master, an aqua velvet sofa in the office. The Richters stayed in the house for a mini vacation once it was finished and they relished the opportunity to see the space at different times of day.

    The way the light hits in the evening is magic, Keren said. Everything glows. It came out really, really beautiful.

    A kitchen, now relocated to an area of the house that was once used as closed-off living space, has been opened up to capture beautiful Island light. White subway tiles as a backdrop to the Lacanche range provide just a slight sparkly diversion from the white clapboard that continues from the mudroom. Butternut wood countertops are as attractive as they are functional, and a white/gray marble island roots the room in a gathering space.

    From here, the tour of the original house ends and the addition begins, starting with an immaculate pantry of glass jars and porcelain bowls. The sunshine-filled hallway ends with three tiny steps to the master suite, which includes a his-and-hers office space, dressing room, and, finally, a bedroom. Vaulted ceilings in the bedroom let in more light and create a breezy, roomy feel. To rein in that openness and add more intimacy, the canopy bed creates a space in and of itself. In the study, richer, darker tones create a homey space where Axelrod and Schpoont can work, read, or kick back and watch a movie on the velvet sofa. Upstairs, guest rooms are clean and sparse with rugs that Schpoont brought home from a trip to Morocco.

    Equal attention was paid to the landscape, which had its own challenges. After walking the property, getting to know the curves and hillsides, dips and peaks, designer Barbara Lampson of Tisbury said she approached the landscape design with four considerations the architecture (a farmhouse with modern sensibilities), the genius loci (spirit of the place), Axelrod and Schpoonts taste (lush but no fuss), and the views (rural and sea). It helped that Lampson grew up nearby in Chilmark and has long admired the property.

    Steve and Sandra bought that house because they love Chilmark and the informal feel of Chilmark, Lampson said. We wanted to keep it historic and natural feeling.

    She was thrilled to have access to the historic stone on the property, some of which she used to create a new walkway from the parking area to the entry. And while she usually aims to keep her landscapes consistent throughouta property, in this case she kept the visible front of the house simple: ancient crab apple trees, a stone pathway, native plants in keeping with the historic character of Middle Road. In the back, on the other hand, she moderned it up with a patio and herb garden in close proximity to Axelrods pizza oven.

    Sandy is really the garden person, said Lampson.

    She didnt want anything high maintenance, but she does love to garden, cut herbs, and pick blueberries.

    Behind the house, fieldstone steps lead to the peak of the property where a deck awaits, perfect for coffee in the morning or wine and snacks in the evening. From the deck the visibility expands. If the view from the old post office sitting room with the Nakashima coffee table is enjoyable and cozy, this is breathtaking and perspective altering. The quiet is palpable from that deck; its a place to sit, chat, maybe read, but nothing more.

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    Oh, Yeah, and it Has a View, Too. - Martha's Vineyard Magazine

    Parks Are Closingbut Wilderness Is All Around You – Outside - April 1, 2020 by admin

    Wilderness spaces across the country arelike so much elsein crisis. Last weekend, Cleveland National Forest, outside San Diego, set usage records at two trails. The superlative is bittersweet: on the one hand, its encouraging that Americans seem to be reconnecting with their local landscapes. On the other hand, the crowds caused rampant illegal parking,park officials tweeted, noting that several visitors had to be airlifted out for unspecified reasons.

    Those trails are now closed, as are other park systemsup anddownCalifornia. This weeka spate of national parks, from Yellowstone to Hawaii Volcanoes to Great Smoky Mountains, also closed, following the guidance of national and local officials aiming to halt the spread of COVID-19.

    Yes, nature is pleasurable, and being outside is necessary relief. But by now, amid this pandemic, the ethics of wilderness travel should be clear: dont goat least not to the crowded trails and parks. You are putting yourself and others in danger of infection. You are putting pressure on already-strapped medical resources in remote gateway towns.

    But dont think of this as a prison sentence. Instead, it could be the chance for the reset we need. A chance to remember that we are always in the wilderness, which deserves our care everywhere.

    Hikers in Yellowstone, in pre-pandemic times (Photo: Farsai Chaikulngamdee/Unsplash)

    What is wilderness? According toU.S. law, at least, its an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.

    Bill Cronons seminal essay The Trouble with Wildernesswhich this year marks its 25th anniversary of rankling outdoors lovershelped upend that definition, at least among historians. When white settlers first arrived on this continent, untrammeled land was a waste,a missed opportunity to, as the Bible commanded, subdue the earth. Not until after the Civil War, as cities grew crowded, did the community of life become something worth admiring. Wealthy Americans began to buy up Adirondack camps and pay for guided hunts through the Rocky Mountains. In 1916, the elites desire to find pristinelandscapes outside the city led to the creation of a system of carefully protected national parks. Thus, the modern idea of wilderness was born.

    Of course, the North American wilderness was never untrammeled. Native people had already lived here for thousands of yearsand had always consciously shaped the flora and fauna. In our wilderness parks, the landscape we regard as pristine and timeless is really just a snapshot of what white people saw when they showed up. And once land became wilderness, it could only remain so through vigilance. Human beings, at least the ones not on vacation, had to be kept out. (John Muir, the naturalist whose writings helped sparkthe wilderness movement, wanted Nativesout of his beloved Yosemite. More recently,many outdoorspeople have claimed that immigration might lead to overpopulationand therefore despoiled lands.) Other species had to be sustained or evicted, depending on their provenance, which is why today the wilderness is actually filled with technology: radio collars tracking bears, microphones recording birdsong, chemicals killing off unwanted plantsallattempts to restore the landscape back to the moment of its original discovery, an arbitrary standardat best.

    Venturing deep into the woods is, for many, a spiritual, transformative experiencewhich is partlywhy the closure of our beloved parks hits so hard. But science suggests that if youre seeking the health benefits of nature, you dont need awe-inspiring or pristine landscapes. Sunshine, natural stimuli like plants and trees, and movement will do. So its OKto call these parks what they are: playgrounds, dressed up to resemble a certain nostalgic ideal. Wilderness, meanwhile, is all around.

    Historian Roderick Nashhas traced the roots of the word wild to the idea of will.So the wild is anything with its own willanything that grows and changes without human control. That includes the weeds in the street and the masses of bacteria inside us that keep us alive.

    The greenest patch near my house in New Orleans is a man-made pile of earth, a publicly owned levee with a trail on top, squeezed between the Mississippi River and a canal, that serves as a de facto city park. When I walk there I see ibis and herons (and unleashed dogs and men catching catfish). This is what finding wildness looks like in much of America, far from the carefully preserved state and national parks out west: its in the tattered edges andthe culverts where trash accumulatesbut where plants grow fierce and feral, too.

    Now, as cabin fever sends my neighbors out on daily walks, that levee feels as crowded as a California trail. So Im off in search of other islands, places where I can find nature and still maintain my six feet of distance.

    What does that entail? For meit means walking along quieter patches of industrial riverfrontor biking to empty lots where trees are taking root. Im trying to look with the eyes of a child, for whom a flower is something to marvel at, wherever it grows. You can do this, too, even if you live in an apartment in Manhattan. Go find an overgrown lot and count the different kinds of leaves you see.

    It means getting down on my knees to pick the trash out of my front-yard shrubbery. It means setting plastic pots in the backyard to house the peppers gifted to me by my neighbor. Their presence has made me attentive to the kinds of nature I ignored before: Where is there sunlight, and where is there shade?

    My partner went online to look up topographical data, examining how water drains through the yard, so when the time comes to put the plantsin the ground, well know the best spot. (You could also, as the science writer Emma Marris suggested to me, trace the larger contours of your watershed: If you pour a glass of water into the street in front of your home, what path does it follow to the ocean?) This attention has yielded delicious benefits. Ive lived here for two years yetnever realized that the tangled tree at the back of the lot is a blackberry bushor that the creeping vine along the fence is a neglected fig tree. Even if you dont have a yard, you can go find dandelions, the perfect beginnings for a foraged salad or a cup of tea.

    Ive been reading up on how to recognize my backyard birds. Even hearing the birds is a breakthrough, to be honest. My partner and I, in an effort to make our house arrest feel more like a cabin-camping excursion, have kept the doors and windows open as much as possible.

    None of this is to say that we should stop protecting large tracts of nature. Indeed, the emergence of COVID-19 gives new urgency to their preservation: scientists believe thathabitat loss is a key contributor to the spread of infectious disease;as human beings and wild animals encroach on one anothers spaces, theres an increased exchange of zoonoses. But there is a difference between sustaining wildlife habitats and romanticizing humanless nature.

    A genre of tweets has begun to circulate amid the pandemic: photos of dolphins swimming in boat-free waters, deer returning to empty parks to eat the flowers. We are the virus, these tweets declare. This is wilderness misanthropy at its worst. (Some of the posts, including the dolphins, are also fake news.) Emma Marris is the author of Rambunctious Garden, a book about the new science of conservation thats emerging as we rethink old notions of the wild. She pointed out to me that these tweets depend on an absurd binary. They declare that humans, despite being animals, are entirely split from nature. If this is the case, it seems we have two options: we can pollute the world, or we can die.

    There is another option, of course. We can rethink nature. Its not a touristic destination that you go to and then look at as a pretty piece of entertainmentlike Netflix, except outside, Marris says to me. This is an opportunity to set up more interactive, mutually positive relationships with other species near your house.

    Yes, our economic system has damaged the planet. But no moral person could believe that the cure should be an epidemic that may leave millions dead. Many cultures and peoplesoften the same people who have been evicted from our wildernesshave managed to live alongside other species productively. We can do the same. But in order to get there, we have to recognize that, in every moment of our lives, we are interfacing with the wild.

    I had planned on biking along the Gulf Coast this weekendand spending the night in a small resort town. A little lockdown escape. Butthe possibility of bringing the virus, and contributing tooverwhelming a small-town hospital,felt irresponsible. So my partner and I settled on a new plan: a dinner of local produce and a tent pitched in the yard. We will wake up with that wilderness feeling, having slept beyond the boundary of walls. What birds or insects will be singing at midnight? I have no idea, but Ill learn.

    There will also be the honk of late-night traffic and the clatter of passing trains. These signs of humanwill alongside the self-willed can feel like interruptions. But they can also be a reminder that nature persists, everywhere, and that nature is fragile, everywhere. We can be, and should be, inspired by nature and worried about it at once.

    If you want to think of wilderness as the place without peopleor, really, without other peoplethen in this moment weve all found ourselves in the wild. We have become a nation of locked-down, solitarysix-foot bubbles. Its not a place I want to stay long.

    Of course, this is the wrong way to think about wilderness. The only way out of this viral outbreak is to embrace the noblest idea embedded within the love of wilderness:Preservation, at its best, is an act of submission. It is a recognition that we are all connectedto one another, to nonhuman natureand those connections are worth, in certain times and in certain places, keeping ourselves inside the lines. As you stay there, pay attention. You might find that there is more to wildness than you knew.

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    Parks Are Closingbut Wilderness Is All Around You - Outside

    GARDENING: Add color to your landscape with the Vitex tree – Odessa American - March 17, 2020 by admin

    Courtesy Photo

    Jeanette Castanon is a horticulturist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service. She can be reached at 686-4700 or by email at

    Posted: Sunday, March 15, 2020 12:45 am

    GARDENING: Add color to your landscape with the Vitex tree By Jeanette Castanon Odessa American

    The Vitex tree is a great option for adding beautiful lilac color to your landscape. It is a small tree and on the list for recommended trees to plant in the Permian Basin. Texas Lilac Vitex is also known as Mexican lavender, lilac chaste tree, hemp tree, sage tree, monks pepper, Indian spice or Vitex. It is a native of China and India, although long ago it became naturalized throughout certain areas of the United States. Records indicate that Vitex has been cultivated in the U.S. since 1670.

    It grows best when planted in an area that receives full sun and with well drained soil. It can handle out alkaline soil and prospers in hot and dry climates. The blooms are beautiful and purple and are very attractive when in full bloom. Watch out for the messy seeds that do fall from this tree that will require some sweeping to avoid tripping hazards.

    I have seen many bumblebees attracted to these trees as well, they look great in your landscape and are also great and friendly for pollinators to stop for a drink and pollinate your yard.

    Plant a Vitex tree and experience the beauty of the purple blooms while helping the pollinators every spring!

    For more information, call the AgriLife office at 498-4071 in Odessa or at 686-4700 in Midland or visit or

    Posted in Gardening on Sunday, March 15, 2020 12:45 am. | Tags: Jeanette Castanon, Gardening, Landscapes, Master Gardener, Agrilife, Vitex, Tree

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    GARDENING: Add color to your landscape with the Vitex tree - Odessa American

    Brighten up your landscape with a 2-pack of solar LED spotlights at $14.50 – 9to5Toys - March 17, 2020 by admin

    JESLED Lighting (98% positive lifetime feedback) via Amazon is offering a 2-pack of its Solar LED Landscape Spotlights for $14.63 Prime shipped with the code BEBETNIV and when you clip the on-page coupon. Down from its regular rate of around $25, this is among the best pricing that weve tracked all-time and is the lowest available. Spring is just around the corner, so its time to start preparing to spruce up your landscape. These spotlights are powered by the sun, meaning it takes just a few hours of light to keep them going all night. Rated 4.2/5 stars.

    Govee US (98% positive lifetime feedback) via Amazon is offering a 2-pack of its Dusk to Dawn LED Light Bulbs for $10.39 Prime shipped with the code QTVQSZCF at checkout. Down from its regular rate of $16, this is among the best pricing that weve tracked all-time. Rated 4+ stars from 60% of shoppers.

    Instead of illuminating your landscape, brighten up a walkway with this $13.50 Prime shipped LED solar light. Just remember toclip the on-page coupon to redeem the discounted price. While it wont shine a light on your landscape, itll easily let your guests know how to get to the backyard for spring parties.

    Dont forget to check out our daily Green Deals roundup. Today, its headlined by a 56V backpack blower at $99 thatll make cleanup a breeze when it comes to yard work. Youll also find an electric pressure washer and more there, so be sure to give it a look.

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    Brighten up your landscape with a 2-pack of solar LED spotlights at $14.50 - 9to5Toys

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