Friday, March 14, 2008


As gardeners in the South face the continued challenges of the drought, two gardening gurus will share secrets on gardening without rain. Walter Reeves and Mildred Pinnell Fockele, both of Atlanta, will share the stage on Friday, March 28, 2008, for the Callaway Gardening School.

Walter Reeves will teach you how to be drought smart. Learn how to adapt your garden to Mother Nature’s extreme weather conditions as Reeves focuses on “Tough Plants for Tough Times.” Reeves will arm participants with knowledge of how to keep gardens looking good year round regardless. His practical approach on the basics of gardening makes him a popular and much sought-after lecturer. He currently hosts a four-hour weekly gardening show on NewsTalk 750 WSB-AM. Reeves can be seen on the nationally syndicated Ask DIY Gardening on the DIY Network. Reeves’ newest book, Georgia Gardeners’ Q&A 501 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, will be available for purchase and signing.

A great option for gardening in extreme conditions is to garden in containers, providing a great deal of control. Mildred Pinnell Fockele, horticulture director at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, will teach you tricks to keep your containers in top condition. She is a sought-after speaker for regional and national gardening associations and writes for various gardening publications. As a Container Garden specialist, Fockele and her horticulture team design elaborate plant displays for Atlanta Botanical Garden – many being featured in Fine Gardening, Horticulture and Carolina Gardener among other publications.

The schedule for the Callaway Gardening School is:
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Container Gardening with Mildred Pinnell Fockele
Get the latest on containers including what works and what doesn’t work. Learn tricks to keep containers in top form under Mother Nature’s most arduous conditions – too little water, too much water, heat, etc.

10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Break and Plant Fair

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Tough Plants for Tough Times with Walter Reeves
Drought conditions, monsoons, windstorms, extremes in temperature – too hot, too cold, late spring freeze, early fall frost. What’s a gardener to do? Reeves will teach us the plant varieties and know-how so whatever nature throws at us gardeners we’ll be armed and ready to keep our gardens looking good year ‘round.

12:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Lunch and Plant Fair

1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Questions and Answers Walter Reeves and Mildred Pinnell Fockele
This session will be the experts answering your questions. Come prepared and get those perplexing gardening “challenges” solved!

Registration for all three sessions and lunch is $60. Individual sessions are $20 and an optional lunch is $15. To register, contact the Callaway Gardens Education Department at or 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292) ext. 5153. Space is limited so make your reservation today.

The Callaway Gardens Plant Fair and Sale will be happening alongside the Gardening School offering those hard to find plants that are unique to the Southeast. Plan to visit March 27 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.; March 28 through 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. And, be sure to travel in a vehicle large enough to bring home your finds!

Callaway Gardens®, is in Pine Mountain, Ga., 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus. For additional information, call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292) or visit
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Today Gwinnett County’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced it will allow customers to truck reclaimed water for uses such as street sweeping, dust control, sewer cleaning, landscape irrigation, professional chemical/pesticide application and concrete batch plants from the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center in Buford. “We believe that expanding the usage of our reclaimed water will provide a valuable service for our residents, assist in preserving our raw water supply and protect the environment,” said Commission Chairman Charles Bannister.

Customers will be required to meet regulatory requirements stipulated by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and must agree to use the reclaimed water for certain purposes only. There are five steps to sign up for this new service: 1) contact the Department of Water Resources or visit the County’s website for information on transporting reclaimed water; 2) complete online training; 3) pass truck inspection by DWR staff ($25 annual fee); 4) apply for trucking service at the DWR office; and 5) acquire a permit ($100 annual fee) and certification card.

Details about the reclaimed water trucking program are available at Questions may be addressed to Irish Horsey at (678) 376-6737 or
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Sunday, March 9, 2008

UGA, green industry tips for water conservation

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Georgia urban agriculture industry urge citizens to go green. Following are tips they developed to help Georgians do this.

Before planting a landscape, take the time to construct a plan.

Test the soil. A soil test will tell you how to improve the soil to enhance nutrient uptake by plants. Soil testing is available through your local county UGA Cooperative Extension office and some retail garden centers.

Identify primary source of water. Explore alternative ways of obtaining water for irrigating plants, such as harvesting and storing rainwater and air conditioner condensate and installing rain gardens.

Put the right plant in the right place. When selecting plants, make a list of the plants based on their water needs and sunlight requirements. Group plants with similar water and light needs together in the landscape.

Use land wisely. When planning your landscape, place plants with lower water needs at higher elevations and plants with higher water needs in flat areas or at lower elevations.
After planning, plant properly.

Add soil amendments. Soil amendments are yard waste, weeds, composted twigs or composted livestock manure. Composted material is sold in bags at garden centers.

Mulch, mulch, mulch. For trees and ornamentals, apply 3 to 5 inches of fine-textured mulch on the soil surface after planting. Mulch conserves moisture, maintains a uniform soil temperature and reduces weeds.

Water in threes. When planting, first water the plants in their containers (be sure to do this over turfgrass or a planting bed to share any water). As you fill the planting hole with soil, add water to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Water again after planting.

Be extremely careful when planting around established plants. Avoid digging under established trees or shrubs and injuring their roots.

Prune roots. If you remove a plant from its pot and see a mass of tangled roots, use a knife to make four to six vertical cuts around the root ball, then use your hands to pull apart the roots. This encourages new roots to form, allows water to move into the root ball and results in more rapid plant establishment.

After plants are in the ground, manage them wisely.
Use your eyes. Water plants only when they require it.

Timing is everything. The best time to irrigate is between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. This conserves moisture and reduces evaporation. Call your local water provider for authorized watering times.

Test the soil again. A soil test provides the best gauge for fertilization requirements in the landscape.

Know your fertilizer. A slow-release fertilizer or compost results in more uniform plant growth rates.

Keep mulching. Maintain an average mulch depth of 3 to 5 inches. This may require you to add 1 to 3 inches of additional mulch each year.

Keep grass tough. Regardless of drought conditions, allow the grass to dry and become stressed before applying irrigation. This causes the grass to explore deeper soil depths for moisture and nutrients. Periodically aerate and raise the mowing height to the upper recommended limits.

To avoid wasting water, use a hand-held hose, soaker hose or drip irrigation to water trees, shrubs and flowers. Water at a rate the soil can absorb rather than a high rate that runs off the intended area.

To learn more, visit the Web site
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UGA, green industry help Georgians conserve water

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Drought is predicted for Georgia this summer. To help home gardeners,University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and green industry experts put their heads together and developed tips Georgians can use to keep gardens green while saving water.

Landscape plants ultimately do more good than harm for the environment. They add oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They help keep homes cooler in the summer, reduce erosion and storm water runoff and provide wildlife habitats, said Matthew Chappell, a UGA Extension nursery specialist.

A good garden provides a sustainable environment, he said, one with less disease, less insect problems and less maintenance. “If you plan and design your garden before you plant it, the maintenance end should be less intensive,” he said.

This includes installing plants that do well in all Georgia conditions, whether it’s extreme heat, cold, drought or above normal rainfall.

“Many cacti would have done brilliantly this past summer, but in a normal year, cacti would not perform well in a Georgia landscape,” Chappell said. “In other words, they would likely die.”

Chappell and other UGA and green industry experts with the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council developed a list of ways gardeners can conserve water in their landscapes. It’s based on work by UGA Extension specialists Gary Wade, Clint Waltz and Bob Westerfield, in addition to lessons learned through the experiences of urban agriculture industry businesses that have been committed to conserving water for decades, he said.

“The water problem is not just an Atlanta problem,” said Bobby Flowers, who designs and manages the grounds at Valdosta State University. “We need to be more conscious in what we do. The water problem is becoming less of a north Georgia problem and more of a statewide problem.”

Georgia gardeners can still dig in the ground, even when water is short, and maintain healthy gardens. But there is a stigma attached. This past summer, green lawns went from a status symbol to a sign of extreme wastefulness.

“Georgia gardeners want to be assured that they’re not sinning anymore,” said Wayne Juers, formerly with Pike Nurseries.

The 16 tips found in the handout should reassure Georgia residents it’s OK to garden if they do it wisely.

“There are hundreds of ways you could save water in the landscape, either culturally or with technology, but this short list will give you the biggest bang for your time and biggest bang for the buck,” Chappell said. “The vast majority of these tips are absolutely free. All they require is an investment of your time and energy.”

For the short list, go to the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council Web site at Look for the publication “Saving Water in Your Landscape: Best Management Practices for Landscape Water Conservation.”

For a much more detailed discussion of water conservation practices in the landscape, check out the UGA publication “Best Management Practices for Landscape Water Conservation” online at
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The Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources Stormwater Management Division, in conjunction with the Clean Water Campaign and Gwinnett County’s Cooperative Extension Service, is hosting a free rain garden workshop for Gwinnett County citizens.

Workshop presenter Robert Brannen, Gwinnett County’s Cooperative Extension Service Director, explains, “This workshop will cover how to plan and build a rain garden in your landscape. Rain gardens are attractive landscape features that require less maintenance and fewer chemicals than lawns. Their purpose is to capture runoff from impervious areas such as roofs and driveways and allow it to seep slowly into the ground. Rain gardens also help to preserve nearby streams and lakes by filtering pollutants and reducing the amount of runoff.”

Rain gardens benefit not only the designer, but also the community. Brannen also will inform residents how to select plants for their own rain gardens, discuss how rain gardens help reduce water bills and help protect our waterways from non-point source pollution.

The workshop will be held at the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville on Thursday, March 13, 2008, starting at 7 p.m. Registration is required and space is limited. Please call 678.376.7126 or visit to register for this event.
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