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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

Nine Beautiful Gardens Displayed at Fourth Annual Bronxville Garden Tour June 11 : See Photos PDF Print Email


June 15, 2011:  Garden lovers celebrated the end of the endless winter at the Bronxville Beautification Council's fourth annual garden tour this past Saturday, June 11.

More than 100 intrepid gardening enthusiasts turned out on the cool misty day to visit the nine distinctive gardens that range in mood from relaxed wooded glades to more formal spaces with manicured hedges and lush lawns.  The event was capped off with a lovely wine and cheese reception held at the home of Si and Vicki Ford, which they so graciously opened to warm the tour attendees.

Successful gardens, like successful gardeners, all have distinct points of view.  But common themes emerge among these green spaces.  At best, they represent refuge and mirror the lives lived inside the walls of the home.  As extensions of the home, they are both welcoming and secluded--truly "rooms" with a view.  Saturday's garden tour included many such examples.

Typical of an English-style cottage garden was the Ruhanen garden on White Plains Road.  This unique home was built in 1935, and the original stone walls are still present, creating very distinct outdoor rooms and a backdrop for wild and abundant colorful plantings.  A stone fountain and statuary add to the old-world feel of this beautiful haven.  Another old-world garden was the Barr home on Governors Road, with its amazing grove of rhododendrons and laurels and seemingly ancient stately trees.

More traditional gardens included the Scioli garden on Sturgis Road, where the current owners have created a secluded park-like setting surrounding a secret extension of their home that one enters through a rose-covered archway--a true suburban retreat.  A similar retreat was displayed at the nearby Torell residence, where multiple outdoor seating areas welcomed the visitor with lovely specimens in abundance.

The three adjacent gardens along Gard Avenue were a clear demonstration of garden rooms creating extensions of the home and the evolution of the process.  Garden designer Katherine Sutton, along with her husband, Jim (the Council's vice president), have, over time, created a series of charming vignettes, all self-contained, and all different.  The effect is to make this steep hillside seem infinitely larger than it is.  A burbling waterfall seems to have sprung up from beneath the street and softens the ambient noise.  Whimsical touches abound, like twig fences, old windows, and rustic farm tools.

Next door, the Medaglias' recently begun transformation was a true lesson in the value of attention to detail in the out-of-doors through a poster display of their progress.  Further along Gard Avenue, the Wagner home had multiple water features and a lovely dining pergola.  Much of the beauty is new, and one can see how reclaiming overgrown, uneven terrain can create a soothing suburban oasis.

A different conceptual interpretation of the garden room was evident at the Jones residence on Park Avenue.  Here, a very spacious garden has been divided into distinct areas to create a feeling of intimacy.  The lush, curving lawn is surrounded by richly colored perennial beds planted by the property's owner.  Of particular architectural interest is the original 1918 fountain that has been restored in bluestone.  The Coffeys' beautiful retreat offered similar rooms and varied ways to enjoy the out-of-doors with multiple benches, a secret secluded butterfly garden, a shaded pathway under a canopy of Japanese maples, and a parterre with hidden colorful annuals to make it really pop.

Chairing the event this year was Meg Sunier, who was assisted by committee members Cathy Rodriguez (the tour founder), Sugar Generaux, Carolyn Moriarty, Cindy Tether, Cynthia Shively, Margaret Conaton, and Anne Lemberger.

Proceeds from the Bronxville Beautification Council's garden tour go to the group's efforts to preserve and maintain the natural and man-made beauty of our Village.

The Council's efforts are visible throughout Bronxville.  From hanging flower baskets to artfully planted traffic islands, the fountain at the traffic circle, and the ongoing efforts to restore the west banks of the train station, the Bronxville Beautification Council truly keeps Bronxville beautiful.

To see photos of the gardens and those attending, hit the link below:

Garden Tour Photos

Pictured here: Garden tour organizers (L to R):  Cynthia Shively, Cathy Rodriguez, Meg Sunier, and Margaret Conaton.

Photo by A. Warner; photos of the gardens in the Galas and Gatherings page by Meg Sunier.

Fourth Annual Garden Tour Sponsored by the Bronxville Beautification Council this Saturday, June 11 PDF Print Email


June 8, 2011:  The Bronxville Beautification Council (BBC) is sponsoring its Fourth Annual Garden Tour on Saturday, June 11, from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, rain or shine.  Specific addresses will not be revealed to the public until the day of the tour.

On that day, selected Bronxville homeowners will open their exquisite private gardens for the public to visit and enjoy.  The tour will be self-guided, allowing visitors to enjoy each garden at their own pace.  The event will be capped with a wine-and-cheese reception at one of the garden homes.

The gardens were chosen by the BBC to represent an array of garden sizes, gardening styles, and innovative gardening technologies, and each ranks quite high among the village's many gardens.

The tour will start on the lawn in front of Village Hall where BBC members will hand out to ticket holders tour maps and directions to each home.

Garden Tour tickets cost $20.00.  They are available at area retailers and can also be purchased on the day of the event at the BBC desk in front of Village Hall.

For additional information, contact Carolyn Moriarty at 914-793-6918 or at CLOAKING .

Vicki Ford Recognized for Revitalizing Butterfly Garden PDF Print Email


June 1, 2011:  Not everyone has the honor of an eponymous butterfly garden, but, because of her generosity, former Councilwoman Vicki Ford does.

It is located in The Nature Preserve of Bronxville, Eastchester, and Tuckahoe, near Siwanoy Country Club.

Last week Ms. Ford and her husband, Si, were busy revitalizing the butterfly garden.  In recognition of their commitment to the preserve, Ms. Ford was presented with a garden sign that was placed in the preserve. The garden is called "Olivia's Garden" in honor of Olivia ("Vicki") Churchill Ford.

And, oh yes.  Vicki and Si also are adoptive parents to a family of ladybugs that they just recently released in the butterfly garden to munch on the aphids.

Pictured here:  Vicki Ford by her garden sign in the butterfly garden.  The ladybugs are too small to be seen.

Photo by N. Bower


Ban on Leaf Blowers Goes into Effect for Summer; Exhaust Equivalent to 8 Cars PDF Print Email

June 1, 2011:  An annual rite of summer begins on June 1.  On this day (today) the leaf-blower ordinance goes into effect, banning the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from June 1 to September 30.  The ordinance is designed to protect residents from unnecessary air and noise pollution during the summer months.

Sixteen Westchester County municipalities have leaf-blower ordinances in effect, including Bronxville.  This is the first year that Tuckahoe has joined the ban.

To report violations of the ordinance, contact the Bronxville Police Department at 914-337-0500.

According to the American Lung Association, a single leaf-blower engine produces exhaust equivalent to that of eight cars.  The exhaust is unfiltered and contains numerous hazardous air pollutants and airborne carcinogens.  The developing lungs of young children and the aging lungs of adults and residents with lung and cardiac disease are particularly vulnerable.

For additional information, please contact Molly Roffman, chair of the Yonkers Green Policy Task Force, at 914-486-8125.

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