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Neely Bower on Three Gardening Organizations Serving Bronxville PDF Print Email

Nov. 27, 2013:  Recently I attended a meeting, as a committee member, of the Bronxville Beautification Council, known to many as the BBC. This committee has done wonders for the Bronxville downtown area. Every year it solicits the 10708 area for funds to do its work.

Not only does it plant the triangles in the roadways with annuals every year, but it does many capital improvements. The area around the underpass has been totally done with BBC funds and the help of a very talented volunteer, Mary Rose Nihlen. The list goes on.

I am also a co-president of another gardening organization in Bronxville, Boulder Ledge Garden Club. This year we have been focusing on a four-year project to rejuvenate Bicentennial Park. This is the small park at the corner of Pondfield Road and Meadow Avenue. As a club we do not solicit funds from the community; our funds come from dues and special fundraisers. To help us reach this goal, we sent out a special fundraising brochure this spring.

There is another worthy cause at the corner of Crawford and Archer Roads, or the end of Dusenberry Road. The Nature Preserve of Bronxville, Eastchester, and Tuckahoe is a beautifully kept open space with paths, benches, and a butterfly garden named after Vicki Ford. This group presently sends the community a fundraising letter every two years to support the maintenance of the park.

It has come to my attention that the community of Bronxville may be a little confused. These fundraising letters arrive in your mail and you may feel that if you have given to one, you do not have to give to any of the others. Any donation is the giver's decision, but in this case it is hard to know to whom to give.

Each organization has its own goal. We are all involved with a common interest, the Village of Bronxville. However, each organization needs to raise its own funds to maintain the properties that it represents.

When you receive a solicitation in the mail from one of these organizations and would like to know more, please contact:

Bicentennial Park: Neely Bower, CLOAKING

Nature Preserve of Bronxville, Eastchester, and Tuckahoe: Nancy Vittorini, CLOAKING

Bronxville Beautification Council: George McKinnis, CLOAKING

Pictured here (rotating): The Nature Preserve, a triangle garden planted by the BBC, and Bicentennial Park.

Photos by N. Bower

Ardis Wood (Schmidt) Elected to Scenic America Board of Directors PDF Print Email


Oct. 9, 2013:  Former Bronxville Planning Board member Ardis Wood (Schmidt), now of Savannah, Georgia, has been elected to the board of directors of Scenic America, the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the visual character of America.

Based in Washington, DC, the group carries out its mission with the help of 41 state and local affiliates spread throughout the country. "We are thrilled that Ardis has joined our board of directors," said Ronald Lee Fleming, board chair. "Our organization will be well served by her passion for beauty in public spaces and her strong belief in the importance of community character." 

Wood is a longtime proponent of beauty in civic spaces. She created the Victorian Lady Tours and Talks and for 20 years has dressed in period attire while showing off Savannah to visitors in the "hostess city of the South." "I've been fortunate enough to have a tour of Savannah from Ardis," said Mary Tracy, president of Scenic America. "Her knowledge of the city’s history and culture is astounding, and she shares it with such style and grace. We will benefit greatly from having her passion and skills on our board of directors.”

Wood is also on the board of Scenic Georgia, an affiliate of Scenic America, and has served as president of Ardsley Park/Chatham Crescent Neighborhood Association, Ardsley Park/Chatham Crescent Garden Club, Savannah's lighting task force, and the Victory Drive Plan overlay.

Ardis served on the planning board for seven years in Bronxville, where she was also a founding member of its beautification council, and was presented with an American Legion award and a village proclamation for community service.

Scenic America is the only national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the visual character of America's roadways, communities, and countryside. For more information, contact Max Ashburn, Scenic America communications director, at 202-463-1294 or CLOAKING

Pictured here:  Ardis Wood (Schmidt).

Photo courtesy Max Ashburn, Communications Director, Scenic America

Gung Hoe Gardener: Time to Clean Out the Garden and Plant Bulbs PDF Print Email


Sep. 25, 2013:  September is a quiet time in the garden. You should be cleaning up plants that are finished for the season. Daylilies and hostas are the first that come to mind. 

With the dry, hot weather we have had this summer, many plants are unsightly. Use your fingers to comb through the daylilies and remove the dead leaves; in some cases there will not be much of the plant remaining--this is ok.  If your hostas are turning brown, remove the dead leaves and the flower stem or cut them down and clean up the area.

Now that this is done, pull out your bulb catalogues. I recommend John Scheepers, which can also be found online. You can plant your bulbs anytime through the end of November, as long as the ground does not freeze. 

Be creative this year. Daffodils are tried and true, but you may already have enough of these. Try alliums or Leucojum for a change. I stay away from tulips because they usually bloom only the first year, they are smaller the second year, and then they peter out and stop blooming. Deer, squirrels, and bunnies also love tulips.

When planting your bulbs, refer to the instructions that come with them for depth, and plant them in groups.  Never plant bulbs individually. Dig a hole that will accommodate five or six bulbs, not touching, add a little bone meal, cover, and wait for a surprise in the spring.

Photo by N. Bower

Mayor Marvin and Moi Appear on Martha Stewart Show with Produce in Hand PDF Print Email


Oct. 5, 2011:  On Wednesday morning, September 28, in the darkness and pouring rain, Mayor Mary Marvin and I set off on a mission.  We were to be guest participants in the audience of The Martha Stewart Show that was to air live at 10:00 am that day.

A stroke of genius, on my part, which is rare for me, came the day before, and I hired my older son, Billy, to drive us to the show and pick us up afterwards.  We set out at 7:00 am and had to stop on the way at the farmers' market on 57th and 9th in New York City to pick up our very fresh produce from the market of the farm that we were representing.

We were all to bring baskets filled with local goods, and the mayor and I were representing the Bronxville Farmers' Market (BFM) vendor Morgiewicz Produce Inc., since their farm in Orange County was devastated by Irene and they could not take a day off to sit in a TV studio.

We met Ellen Concklin, Rich Concklin's wife, from The Orchards of Concklin in Rockland County at the studio at around 8:00 am, all three of us now weighed down with produce from the two farms.

This whole adventure started when I received a phone call from the audience supervisor of the show in early September saying that one of the assistant producers from the show attends our market regularly and thinks it's the BEST market around.  So after speaking to my farmers, it was decided that the two farms and I would attend.  I then invited the mayor, since she was key to getting the market going with me 11 years ago.  Being the good sport she always is, she said she would love to go.

In the holding room before the show, the mayor had been chosen one of the very few to be a potential person to ask Martha a question at the end of the show.  As luck would have it, the next person to be asked would have been the mayor, but time ran out.  However, we were on Martha's website that day in one of only 12 pictures!

My true mission is to get the show to come to Westchester and go to a few farmers' markets and show the different types that are now in existence.  When the Bronxville Farmers' Market opened 10 years ago, there were about 4 farmers' markets in the county--now there are 40 so-called farmers' markets.  The sad aspect of the growth of the markets is that you have to search far and wide to find a true "green market," as we are.

So, hopefully some day you may see The Martha Stewart Show van at the BFM!  A word of advice--don't expect Martha to talk to you or have a photo taken with you.  Both big no-nos.  And Mary, Ellen, and I are experts at clapping, ooohing, and ahhing on cue.

Pictured here: (L to R)  Mayor Mary Marvin, Mary Liz Mulligan, and Ellen Concklin with baskets full of produce on their way to The Martha Stewart Show in the New York City fog.

Twenty-Five Local Landscapers Gather at Bronxville Village Hall on August 9 PDF Print Email


August 24, 2011:  Twenty-five landscapers from throughout southern Westchester gathered in Bronxville Village Hall on Thursday, August 9, for a meeting and a demonstration sponsored by the Bronxville Green Committee and attended by Mayor Mary Marvin.

"My client gets very angry when a few leaves blow across his lawn from a neighbor's yard," said a landscaper at the meeting.  His complaint was echoed by several of the other landscapers who appeared at the meeting.  Some of them complained that clients seem to want their lawns as pristine as a golf course.

In contrast, some landscapers outlined measures that would save time and money.  The expenditure can be significantly reduced by shredding leaves into small pieces and leaving them on lawns.  This process has come to be known colloquially, particularly in Westchester County, as "love 'em and leave 'em," and the slogan is endorsed and used by the Bronxville Green Committee, chaired by Mary Liz Mulligan.  

The process was described in detail by Tim Downey, proprietor of Aesthetic Landscape Care in Hastings.  He also replied to skeptical landscapers in the audience.  He recalled years of backbreaking labor collecting and carting off leaves and contrasted that hard labor with his present practice of shredding leaves and leaving them on the lawns, thereby alleviating the need to blow, collect, and dispose of them.  Leaves can be shredded into very small pieces by a mulching mower, a shredder/clipper, or a vacuum shredder.  This process can reduce leaf volume to one-tenth the volume of leaves that have not been shredded.

There are many advantages of shredding leaves and leaving the fine pieces on the lawns.  The cost to the village of removing leaves would be reduced, thereby reducing taxes to homeowners.  Dumping fees to the village are currently $30,000 and, when added to other costs of removal, including labor costs and the costs of equipment maintenance, gas, etc., the aggregate cost of leaf removal to the village can increase well beyond $30,000.

Shredding and retaining the leaves on lawns can also foster natural ways of avoiding environmental problems.  Fallen leaves, sometimes spread from the piles left on the streets, block drains and add to potential flooding, whereas shredded leaves left on the lawns would virtually eliminate this problem thereby contributing to flood mitigation.  In addition, the water-holding capacity of soil is increased so that more rainwater runoff is absorbed.

The shredded leaves left on lawns supply vital nutrients to the soil because the pieces break down over the winter and fertilize the grass, thereby also removing the need for chemical fertilizers.  The practice increases the biological activity of earthworms, microbes, and other beneficial soil organisms, all of which contribute to the decomposition of the shredded leaves.  A thick layer of fallen leaves that have not been shredded can smother the grass, noted Mulligan, since such leaves cannot break down as readily as shredded leaves.

Mayor Marvin said rules against seasonal use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers from June 1 to September 30 were instituted as a quality-of-life measure in response to complaints of noise and debris.  Another disadvantage of leaf blowing is that it kills the top soil by removing leaf duff, top dirt, and beneficial organisms.

Following the discussion, a leaf-mulching demonstration was carried out on the front lawn of Village Hall in the midst of a torrential downpour.  The mulching mower, which is equipped with a special blade, did its work on a heap of leaves in several minutes, and landscapers, who were huddled in a doorway to witness the operation, generally approved.

Pictured here:  Mayor Mary Marvin (L) with Mary Liz Mulligan, who organized the Bronxville Green Committee, meeting with local landscapers.

Photo by N. Bower

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