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Home & Garden

Autumn Leaves . . . Love 'Em and Leave 'Em PDF Print Email

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By Gretchen Pingel, Member, Bronxville Green Committee


Sep. 20, 2017: Autumn in Bronxville is beautiful . . . but what to do with all of the fallen leaves that litter our yards, accumulate in our streets, and clog our stormwater catch basins? There is a simple answer--don't rely on lumbering village leaf vacuum mobiles. Abandon the rake and the blower. Just love 'em and leave 'em! 

Since 2013, communities in Westchester have been encouraging homeowners to leave fallen leaves on their lawns and shred them in place with a mulching mower. The initiative, called Love 'Em and Leave 'Em, has a great website (leleny.org) with how-to videos and information explaining why returning leaves to the soil through mulching reduces costs for municipalities (less leaf collection, fewer clogged catch basins) and makes gardens thrive.

I am happy to say that all of the leaves on Bronxville Village property are mulched in place. Why don't you try it too?

So, how does it work? You need a mulching mower--most landscapers have them--make sure yours does. A mulching mower is simply a power mower that cuts and recuts grass, leaves, and small twigs (dry is best) as they lie on your lawn (no need to move them) into tiny bits that settle between blades of grass, enriching the soil with nutrients while improving soil structure and drainage. Mulching mowers can also quickly convert enormous leaf piles into handfuls of finely shredded leaves that can be spread around the roots of trees, shrubs, and garden beds to give protection from the harsh winter climate and to supplement soil erosion from excessive leaf-blowing.

Leaf mulching is great for the garden . . . but remember, your garden benefits from some leaves left unshredded, too. For example, don't worry about fallen leaves on your pachysandra bed. However, if you must, remove only the leaves on top (with gloved hands; a rake or blower will tear the plants), but leave the ones that have worked their way in between the plants to stay and protect the stems and roots from winter snow and frost. During spring clean-up, leave the embedded leaves in place to slowly decompose. Easy.

Also, bear in mind that little critters like chipmunks and certain bird species, as well as the pupae of beneficial insects like moths and butterflies, greatly appreciate a part of your yard that is left “wild,” with fallen twigs and leaves intact, where they can seek refuge in during the cold months. So find a place in your yard that you can bear to ignore and allow it to become a safe haven for tiny local wildlife.

If I haven't yet convinced you to love 'em and leave 'em this fall, I leave you with a quick list of persuasive reasons from leleny.org, which I hope will! 

Why Love 'Em and Leave 'Em? 

•  Saves money: Helps keep your taxes down by reducing municipal leaf pickup and disposal. (Landscapers can also save operating costs by needing smaller crews and avoiding dumping fees.)
•  Saves effort: Many homeowners (and landscapers) find that mulching leaves in place actually is easier than raking, bagging, or blowing them to the curb.
•  Keeps your property healthy: Leaf mulch recycles nutrients into your soil to feed your plants, improves soil health, and helps retain moisture, reducing the need for watering in dry spells.
•  Helps the planet: Transporting and disposing of leaves from your curb wastes energy and contributes to pollution. In addition, LELE helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your local community.

Photo by N. Bower

 
Bronxville Village Giving Garden Helps Supply Local Food Pantries With Organic Produce PDF Print Email

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By Carol P. Bartold, Senior Reporter

Jul. 19, 2017:  The Bronxville Giving Garden, located at Bronxville Village Hall near the corner of Pondfield Road and Gramatan Avenue, has already donated its first harvest of arugula, radishes, and lettuce to the Community Services Associates (CSA) Soup Kitchen of Mount Vernon.

“The garden is popping,” said Mary Liz Mulligan, chair of the Bronxville Green Committee, operator of the 450-square-yard plot, established this spring. Mulligan added that string beans are almost ready to be harvested.

With one in five Westchester County residents fitting the definition of food insecurity, meaning they have no reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food, the Bronxville Giving Garden’s mission is to help feed people in need in the lower county.

“Everything grown in the garden is for local food pantries,” Mulligan said. “We want to feed hungry people good food.” Nineteen planting beds will provide organically grown vegetables and herbs to three local agencies in neighboring communities that distribute food. In addition to CSA of Mount Vernon, Eastchester Community Partnership in Tuckahoe and Food Bank for Westchester will receive harvest donations.


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Beds, all built by the garden’s farmer, Dave Phillips, and his friends, are planted with cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, squash, peppers, scallions, Swiss chard, potatoes, beets, kale, mustard greens, and several varieties of tomatoes. The garden also contains flowers such as nasturtiums to aid pollination and marigolds to deter insects. Mulligan said she hopes to add butterfly bushes to the mix. A drip irrigation system keeps the plantings watered.

Mulligan credits Phillips for bringing the vision of the garden into a physical reality. In 2016, the village resident, an avid gardener, approached Mayor Mary Marvin about establishing a community garden in Bronxville. Marvin put Phillips in contact with Mulligan and the Bronxville Green Committee.

Also in 2016, the Rotary Club of Bronxville honored Mulligan at its annual fundraiser and, with the money raised at that event, donated $10,000 toward establishing the community garden. Village trustees decided to donate the insurance proceeds from the 2006 Girl Scout cabin fire in Maltby Park to add to the “seed” money for the garden. 

Although plans drawn by the village included space for the garden in Maltby Park, neighbors were not receptive to the plan, nor did the plot have access to a water supply. Village officials learned that installing one would be cost-prohibitive. Three locations at village hall, each with an accessible water supply, were evaluated, and the location near Pondfield Road and Gramatan Avenue was chosen.

Mulligan noted that as the organization of the Bronxville Giving Garden and its programs develops, benches and a perimeter fence will be installed. Plans also call for gardening and nutritional tutorial sessions for students.

“This was unused space and now it’s a nice, welcoming place,” Mulligan said. “This is for our neighbors. We have many who are in need.”

Pictured here:  The Bronxville Giving Garden.

Photos by N. Bower




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Bronxville Green Committee: Butterflies Need Us--Now! PDF Print Email

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Lisey Good and Gretchen Good Pingel, Member, Bronxville Green Committee


May 31, 2017:  Did you know that since the movie Titanic debuted in 1997, worldwide populations of monarch butterflies have declined 90 percent? What is the connection between the two? Absolutely zero, but it shows how much can change in just 20 years! Things are very grave in 2017 for monarchs and all butterflies.

Aside from being lovely to look at, why are butterflies important? Butterflies are important pollinators--they help plants reproduce by spreading around the pollen that adheres to their bodies as they feed on nectar. After bees/wasps and flies, butterflies (and moths) are the third most prolific pollinators. In addition, butterflies play a major role in the food chain--they are a source of food for small animals like birds and bats, which in turn help control pests (like mosquitos) in our environment.

Butterflies are also considered by scientists to be an important "indicator species." They are so sensitive to chemicals and pollutants that their presence in an environment indicates that a wide range of invertebrates necessary for a healthy ecosystem is there too. In this way, butterflies let us know if our surroundings are healthy--not just for other insects, birds, and animals to inhabit, but healthy for humans to live in as well. 

What can we do to help boost the population of butterflies? Here are some easy steps you can take to help these important insects thrive in your own backyard!

1. Don't use pesticides anywhere on your property. Butterflies are insects. Common insecticides that gardeners use on lawns kill butterflies (and bees! In fact, the insecticide Roundup is so strong that it can also kill songbirds). Also, skip the herbicide and use non-toxic weed-control methods that won't harm wildlife--try using horticultural oils for the weeds and beneficial insects like ladybugs and nematodes to gobble up the insects you don't want. Eat organic whenever you can.

2. Plant milkweed (and other "host plants"). Milkweed is a "host plant" for monarch butterflies--in other words, it is the only plant that a monarch butterfly will lay its eggs on and the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat. The World Wildlife Fund and other organizations blame much of the drastic decline in the monarch butterfly population on the disappearance of milkweed plants that has occurred with the expansion of genetically modified crops and the heavy use of pesticides and herbicides. 

You can help encourage the survival of monarch butterflies by planting milkweed in your garden and by planting native host plants that other butterflies depend on, such as birch, ash, oak, and tulip trees, false indigo, sunflowers, violets, switch grass, and sedge.

3. Plant butterfly "food." These are native shrubs and trees like rhododendron, viburnum, and spicebush and perennials like catmint, asters, phlox, purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, goldenrod, and Joe Pye weed that provide the nectar-filled flowers on which butterflies feed.

4.  Give them water. Although tree sap, nectar, and dew give butterflies most of the moisture they need, water in shallow dishes will help them to be even healthier. To create "puddling stations," fill a shallow plant saucer (or pie tin) with some sand or gravel. Bury the dish to its lip in the soil in your garden, preferably near some butterfly-loving plants. Fill the dish with water, and replenish it as needed (daily when the weather gets hot). You can place some overripe fruit and a pinch of natural sea salt in the dish weekly to give the butterflies additional minerals.

5. Leave some part of your yard "wild." Dead trees and branches, piles of leaves, tangled vines--all of these "messy" elements provide shelter from the wind and rain for butterflies. If you keep the edges of your property a bit wild and messy, perhaps hidden by shrubs, you will benefit butterflies, birds, and other wild creatures by providing the coverage they need to survive.

For more information on butterflies, see www.onegreenplanet.orgwww.nwf.orgwww.livemonarch.org, and www.NYBG.org.

 
Good Weeds . . . Or Why You Want Dandelions in Your Yard PDF Print Email

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By Gretchen Pingel, Member, Bronxville Green Committee, and Lisey Good


May 10, 2017:  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." We realize that trying to get hard-core grass lovers to embrace weeds is a hard sell, but before you yank that dandelion, please consider the following ways that "uninvited guests" can keep your garden beautiful and your environment healthy. (And even if we don't convince you, please consider attacking an offensive weed with boiling water poured from a narrow teapot spout instead of using Roundup, which has been linked to cancer and is very toxic to all wildlife from bees to birds.)

Clover:  It feeds bees! And you've heard that bees need all the help they can get right now, right? But you might not know that clover is so good at helping fertilize the soil that it used to be included in commercial grass mixes until a consumer preference for the "pure grass look" took hold in suburban communities.   

Clover is a nitrogen fixer, which means that it pulls nitrogen from the air and converts it to substances that feed the soil, thus reducing the need to apply artificial nitrogen to the lawn (a practice that has been blamed for contaminating local streams and rivers). Also, clover attracts earthworms, which provide beneficial little tunnels of air and moisture around your plants' roots. Clover retains more moisture than it uses, acting like green mulch. And finally, rabbits love clover, so they will often nibble on it instead of on your more prized plants.   

Dandelions:  Honeybees love them as much as many humans hate them! But dandelions can really help your lawn. First, their roots give off grass-enriching minerals and nitrogen, which enter the soil. Then, as these long roots break up hard soil deep in the ground, they allow easier access for those nutrients to get to all the other plants around them. Dandelions also repel armyworm caterpillars (found in the Northeast as far north as Quebec), a pest that will devour just about everything green in its path. And finally, dandelions are great detoxers for the body. If you don't use pesticides on your lawn, you can throw the tender young leaves in a salad!

To limit dandelions from completely taking over, mow often enough to keep them from going to seed (but keep the grass long enough to help retain moisture in the soil and provide shade for grass root systems).

Mugwort:  This plant is like an environmental cleanup crew, absorbing heavy metals that have found their way into your lawn via automobile exhaust, polluted air, road runoff, or pesticide use. Mugwort repels leaf-eating moths from your garden and replenishes soil that is lacking nutrients, and it is great to prevent erosion on steep slopes.

The benefits that these three plants provide for our soil prove that labeling a plant a "weed" is actually just a value judgment. Maybe we can start to the think of a beautiful lawn as more than just grass and enjoy the variety, color, and benefit that weeds such as clover, dandelion, and mugwort provide. As A.A. Milne wrote, "Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them."

 
Bronxville Life & Style: Brighten Your Home This Spring; Local Home Decor Companies PDF Print Email

  

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By Karen Talbot


Apr. 26, 2017:  Spring is here and it's a great time to brighten your home. Below is information about eight local home decor companies that can help make your home beautiful.

Amy Interiors:  Amy Interiors specializes in custom upholstery and window treatments.

It was started as a business sixty-two years ago by Eugene Amy and is now owned and operated by his son Dwight and his nephew David Amy. This well-established family-owned interior design store has been in the same location for fifty-five years. The Amys work with homeowners and try to incorporate newer designs with the likes of their clients.

Dwight and David create the upholstery, window treatments, bed skirts, etc., all in-house and on the premises. They will custom make headboards and furniture and will use fabrics from their well-stocked in-house library, which represents a lot of established fabric houses in the D&D Building in New York.

Clients can come to their store or they will come to a client's homes for an initial consultation at no charge to the client. They also work with a lot of interior designers in the trade who need Amy Interiors expertise on a project.

Right now in home decor, the trend is a neutral theme in color palettes, with greens emerging paired with jewel tones. The organic natural look is in with straight lines dominating furniture instead of curves, all of which promote a neat and clean look.  

Geometric patterns are also popular and antique pieces can be re-upholstered in new fabrics for a more contemporary look. Both assorted nail heads and contrast welting are being used for a two-dimensional look in furniture and decorative pillows.

Compartmentalizing furniture with storage units is also a trend, as it saves space and is totally versatile. 

Amy Interiors Contact Information:

295 Main Street, Eastchester, NY 10709
914-779-1265
CLOAKING
www.houzz.com/pro/amyinteriorsltd
Store Hours:  7:30 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday, and by appointment on Saturdays.

 

Chapin Interiors:  Bronxville resident Sarah Chapin has been designing interiors for nearly 30 years, with the last three from her studio/office on Pondfield Road. 

She began her career working for the renowned decorator, Mariette Himes Gomez in New York City. Since then, Sarah has been working with clients and architects in Bronxville, Scarsdale, New York City, and New London, NH. Currently, she is working on the renovation of a lakeside house in Sunapee, NH, and a townhouse on Beacon Hill in Boston.

Sarah's approach to decorating includes multiple styles from traditional shingle, Tudor, and '80s A-frame to the more "modern" by using a creative mix of furniture, lighting, and accessories. It is important for her to balance the "new" with the "old" by mixing antiques with more modern pieces. She is glad to see color coming back, whether a beautiful ceramic lamp, a cobalt blue carpet, or apple green walls after a decade of neutrals dominating the decorating scene. Above all, she strives for "each home to be relaxed, yet sophisticated, comfortable, and always unique."

While she does shop online, Sarah prefers day trips to antique centers and shops to find decorative objects with history and patina. Among her favorite haunts are the Antique Centers in Stamford, CT, and the eclectic shops in Hudson, NY.

Sarah takes pride in every home she designs. One of the greatest compliments she receives is that after she has designed a client's first home, Chapin Interiors is commissioned to design a second home for the same client.

Chapin Interiors Contact Information:

81 Pondfield Rd, Studio 1, Bronxville, NY 10708
914-361-1157
CLOAKING
www.chapininteriors.com

 

Decora:  Decora is known for its fine furnishings and interior design with Nancy Reicino at the helm. Nancy has been in business for over thirty years and had a shop on Kraft Avenue in Bronxville for four years. 

Nancy's design philosophy is to decorate homes that are beautiful in design but also comfortable, whether a client's style is traditional, contemporary, eclectic, or a combination. She likes to "balance elegance with comfort and practicality." Nancy works with a client's budget to get the best value for the money. Her specialty is window treatments, and clients come from all over to work with her on this aspect of design.

In home décor this spring, the color green in all shades and hues is very popular, and Nancy suggests using this color to freshen up your home. You can also lighten up your home by replacing heavier drapes with sheer or light linen ones and also take up area rugs and show more wood floors. Another idea is to decorate a small room or entry foyer where guests are welcome if you can't afford to redecorate a whole house.

Decora Contact Information:

914-793-4444
CLOAKING
www.nancyinteriors.com

 

Hunt Woods Manor Design:  Fran Smith and Diana Lapins founded their interior design company in 2013 after working together at a corporate interior design firm in New York. They have both residential and commercial clients.

Their design philosophy is to let the client and its needs direct them in a project. The master plan is very important to them and it consists of using and placing architectural pieces and creating a furniture plan and a lighting plan. They help the client walk through the entire process and, as Fran says, "Plan the Work and Work the Plan."  

Today's clients are leaning toward a transitional style, a cross between Traditional and Modern. They view interior design as a "collaborative service":  We work "with" our clients as well as "for" our clients.

For ideas in home décor this spring, they suggest lightening and freshening things up.  

This can be done by changing your winter throw pillows and duvet covers to softer, lighter colors and by mixing contemporary with traditional furniture. Another example is to change your brass or silver candlesticks to white porcelain. Fran also said, "With good design, there is a reason for everything." Their projects can include a single room to an entire house.

Hunt Woods Manor Design Contact Information:

171 Central Parkway, Mount Vernon, NY 10552
914-523 -2480
CLOAKING
www.huntwoodsmanordesign.com 

Madeline Eckett Oden Interiors:  Madeline came from an advertising background and for the past fifteen years, she has been an interior designer in Bronxville. She describes her interior design business as "Life Reflected in Design." Her goal is to create environments for each client that are unique and reflect their lifestyles and personalities.

"A good designer should be able to work in any style," said Madeline. Her strong suit is "balancing the essence of yesterday with today's clean, edited look." She likes to create a flow from room to room using color and space planning. Artwork is very important to Madeline, and she believes that it greatly enhances one's home. She encourages her clients to invest in artwork, as it never goes out of style.

Right now in home décor, younger homeowners are combining the kitchen and dining rooms in traditional homes to accommodate a multitasking, relaxed 21st-century lifestyle. The challenge for the designer is to integrate this new space into the home's existing architecture and vibe. Some empty nesters are embracing a crisp, contemporary design in downsized homes and apartments, keeping only those pieces that define their lives. Mid-century furniture continues to hold sway with classics such as the Eames chair and ottoman and the Bertoia Bird chair retaining their reputation and popularity. In terms of color, gray is the new beige.

"Your home is your haven and it should reflect who you are and not what you see in a magazine," said Madeline.

Madeline Eckett Oden Interiors Contact Information:

61 Beechmont Avenue, Bronxville, NY 10708
914-779-3595
CLOAKING
www.MEOInteriors.com 

 

Patricia O'Shaughnessy Design:  A full-service interior design firm in Bronxville managing long-term projects as well as smaller targeted projects, Patti O'Shaughnessy is a 30-year industry veteran with deep knowledge of high-end sources and equally facile with retailers who have made it easier to be stylish. The goal is to have your surroundings be a form of self-expression. Your environment should be fresh, personal, and unique. 

Its specialty is decorating: Layouts, color schemes, furniture selection and all furnishings, lighting, window treatments, carpets, accessories, and art. "I like rooms with classic furniture mixed with eclectic details." The British magazine World of Interiors is a favorite. Patti is particularly adept at weaving color and pattern through an interior and believes every space should have some objects, furnishings, and artwork made by hand to give a room texture providing comfort and interest. 

"The current trend is a return to color and pattern. The challenge of putting a room together with sophisticated, patterned fabrics and unusual accessories is back. Neutrals have been done to death in the last decade and I am not sorry to see them go." 

"Every space reveals a story." Patti honed her storytelling on the national scene in the beginning of her career, styling and writing for decorating magazines and co-producing two successful style books, Formal Country and Formal Country Entertaining, both published and reprinted by Viking Penguin. She hosted a local radio show in Connecticut and more recently has frequently contributed to Westchester Home magazine.  

For more on her story, visit her website, www.pattiohome.com, and her Houzz profile, www.houzz.com/pro/pattiohome.

Patricia O'Shaughnessy Design Contact Information:

67 Kensington Road, Bronxville, NY 10708
914-346-8786
CLOAKING
www.pattiohome.com 

 

Salisbury & Manus:  This husband-and-wife interior design team, Alexander and Tracey Furman, owned a store in New York on the Upper East Side for fourteen years. Following that, they had a design studio on Kraft Avenue for six years, and for the past year they have been at their present location on Parkway Road and have offices in Manhattan. Their mantra is: "Traditional Elegance Redefined."

Alexander and Tracey Furman have the answer to all your home design questions and needs. Focusing primarily on the English classical style, the Furmans advocate comfort manifested in sophisticated furniture shapes, color schemes, patterns, and "elegant formality." 

They are known for their full service of a project from the inception to its completion, and they work hand-in-hand with architects and contractors. Most of their work is for residential clients, but they have also designed offices for doctors and other professionals and many Fifth and Park Avenue lobbies in Manhattan.

They see a new trend in home décor of more color and patterns in fabrics, wall coverings, carpeting, and artwork. A new popular color is Peacock. Lots of historical colors are also coming back into style. Brass fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens are the latest trend. They feel that people are very focused on both interior and exterior unusual lighting right now. They carry Visual Comfort and Christopher Peacock lighting and English accessories from London.

Their store is an inspiring oasis that beckons visitors to relax, explore, experience, and indulge. You may just find the perfect piece of furniture, accessory, or hostess gift. Tracey Furman explained, "We've designed the store to feel like a home. Our hope here is that people come into the store and feel immediately welcome. We want them to sit on the sofas, to ask questions about our new products or design trends, and, of course, to run into their friends." Check out their window displays, which are changed once a month. 

Salisbury & Manus Contact Information:

139 Parkway Road
Bronxville, NY 10708
914-222-9479 or 212-794-3044
CLOAKING
http://www.salisburyandmanus.com/ 
Store Hours:  10:00 am to 5:00 pm Tuesday to Saturday or by appointment Sunday and evenings

 

Savanna at Home:  Frank and Patty Canale, owners of Savanna at Home, worked with many clients for over 15 years from their storefront in Bronxville. They are now on to a new chapter and are pleased to announce the completion of the new Savanna at Home design studio.

They have over 10,000 fabric samples, 140 vendors of fine furniture, and their own private label upholstery. They have shortened their lead time for window shades and roller shades (including shutters and wooden blinds), as well as their reupholstering services. They are also offering full in-home decorating services to you. Call for your complimentary consultation.

Patty's design philosophy is to be original and to do things a little differently so that the homes they work with have their own unique style. Upon meeting a new client, she listens and helps to incorporate the client's wants and needs into the design. The client is a large part of the process. The final result is the client's vision, because it's the client's home. 

To read more about Savanna at Home, click here.

Savanna at Home Contact Information:

SAVANNA AT HOME
914-337-9400
CLOAKING
www.savannaathomeinc.com

 
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