Learn About Soil Health with Dr. Sara Via at Adkins Arboretum

Microbes in the soil have a huge impact on how plants grow and react to stress situations. It’s a wild world down there, and some of the interactions will surprise you! Learn about the importance of soil health on Wed., March 22 when Dr. Sara Via presents Life Underground: Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants, Healthy Planet at Adkins Arboretum.

Building and maintaining soil health is essential for food production, the conservation of forest and natural areas, and climate-resistant gardening, agriculture and forestry. Learn what healthy soil is, how to know if you have it, and how to build it if you don’t. A hands-on demonstration will follow Via’s talk.

The program runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and is $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Advance registration is requested at adkinsarboretum.org.

Via is a professor of biology and entomology at University of Maryland, College Park. She is interested in the effects of climate change on agriculture and home gardening, biodiversity and human health. In association with University of Maryland Extension and Maryland Master Gardeners, she works with community groups, high schools and universities to increase awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and to motivate effective action to curb its rapid progression.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature, conservation and gardening. For more information, visit www.adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum’s 2017 Juried Art Show on View through March 31

Playful, beautiful, zesty and often reverent, the artworks in Discovering the Native Landscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Adkins Arboretum’s eighteenth annual Juried Art Show, speak about the remarkable variety of ways we look at nature on the Eastern Shore. On view in the Arboretum Visitor’s Center through March 31, this show also brings together a remarkable variety of mediums, including acrylic, oil, pastel, charcoal, collage, photography, monoprint, etching, ceramics, stained glass, metal sculpture and dried plant materials.


“Chives,” by Washington, D.C., artist Paige Billin-Frye

The show was juried by Katherine Markoski, Ph.D., Director of the Kohl Gallery and Lecturer in Art History at Washington College. Both she and the artists will be on hand for a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 11 to talk with visitors about the work in the show.

From entries submitted by artists from Maryland, Virginia, New York and Washington, D.C., Markoski chose 31 works for this show.

I was thinking in terms of the strength of the work and how compelling the interpretation of the subject was,” she said. “It was interesting to me to include a range of media that demonstrates the many different ways that you could come at this particular topic.”

Markoski awarded the annual first-prize Leon Andrus Award, named in honor of the Arboretum’s first benefactor, to “Chives,” a large, close-up photograph of a chive blossom printed in soft, subtle shades of brown on Japanese kitikata paper by Washington artist Paige Billin-Frye.

“It’s like a meditation,” Markoski said. “I think it’s compelling how the delicacy of the paper it’s printed on underscores the delicacy of the image. The way it’s presented has an incredible amount to do with its strength. It’s almost a portrait, in a sense, and creates a direct conversation with this single flower that’s part of the natural world.”

Second prize was awarded to Easton artist Diane DuBois Mullaly’s “Sun Stream,” a tiny oil painting of a rising sun spilling its light over meadow flowers.

“There’s something optimistic about it,” Markoski explained. “You feel the sun pulsating. It feels like light, even as it’s definitely paint. I think it packs a strong punch for its size. It feels to me like there’s no way another scale would have been effective.”

Sun Stream

“Sun Stream,” by Easton artist Diane DuBois Mullaly

In keeping with her interest in showcasing a variety of mediums and approaches, Markoski chose a large wall sculpture and a colorful digital photograph to receive Honorable Mention awards.

The sculpture “Eclipse,” by Baltimore artist Marcia Wolfson Ray, is a virtual explosion of charred and broken pieces of pine whose jagged, curving forms are just barely contained within a series of 15 open “boxes” constructed from dried plants and hung in a grid.

Markoski said, “I like the way this rigid framing powerfully underscores the unruliness of the individual units themselves.”

Of the photograph, which Chestertown artist Richard Hall took by zooming in on the swirls of bright blue water and green algae flowing through the grasses in the Arboretum’s wetland, Markoski said, “The painterly quality of it is striking. It’s an interesting metaphor for the intermixing of materials in our waterways. You could read it as a potential source of beauty but also a harbinger of terrible things to come, so it makes you think, what’s the nature of that particular flow? I think this one is conceptually rich in terms of the questions it might elicit.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through March 31 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum is the region’s resource for native plants and education programs about nature, ecology and wildlife conservation gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Become a Master Gardener

master gardenerRegistration is now open for the 2017 Kent and Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener training. For anyone who would like to learn more about the environment, about gardening (both ornamental and vegetable) and who is interested in being involved in their community, this is the class to take.

The 9-week course will be held on Thursday evenings (5:30-8:30pm) and Saturday mornings (9am until noon) at Chesapeake College. Classes start on February 16th and end on April 15th.

The training covers topics such as ecology, botany, soils, propagation, pest and disease management, pruning, composting, growing fruits and vegetables, ornamental plants, weeds, alternatives to turf grass, invasive species, wetlands, wildlife, landscape design for the health of the Chesapeake Bay and much more. All classes are taught by professionals or professors from the University of Maryland. The cost of the program is $200 which includes handouts and the Maryland Master Gardener Handbook.

Upon completion of the course, trainees are asked to fulfil 40 hours of volunteer work in order to become a Master Gardener. “This may seem like a bit of a daunting task,” says Master Gardener Sabine Harvey. “However, we have so many projects lined up, that it is usually pretty easy to gather those 40 hours.” As an example, trainees can help at plant clinics, special event such the annual seed swap or tomato tasting event, they can help maintain demonstration gardens, work with schools or get involved in the Bay-wise program. In addition, current Master Gardeners will happily serve as mentors for the newly minted trainees.

For more information about the Maryland Master Gardener Program in general, please visit: http://extension.umd.edu/mastergardener/about-maryland-master-gardener-program

To register for the upcoming training please visit: http://extension.umd.edu/kent-county/horticulturegardening/become-master-gardener or contact Sabine Harvey, Horticulture Program Assistant, sharvey1@umd.edu, 410-778-1661

The University of Maryland is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Equal Access Programs.

Adkins Arboretum Offers Landscape Design Workshop Feb. 4

Register for Adkins Arboretum’s Landscape Design Workshop on Sat., Feb. 4, and learn how to transform your property into an attractive landscape with year-round interest and beauty.

Offered again by popular demand, this all-day workshop addresses typical challenges of homeowners in the Chesapeake Bay region. Three experienced landscape designers will lead this intensive planning session. Come with your challenges and dreams, and leave with a landscape plan, ideas and confidence to transform your home landscape for your enjoyment and pride.

landscapeWorkshop leaders are Meredith Watters, Jennifer Connoley and Michael Jensen. All three have more than 25 years’ experience in landscape design.

The workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. The fee is $105 for Arboretum members, $130 for non-members and $165 for member couples. Advance registration is required. Register online at adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum is the region’s resource for native plants and education programs about nature, ecology and wildlife conservation gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Garden Club of the Eastern Shore Scholarship Applications

Graduating seniors attending high school in Talbot County and expecting to major in horticulture, landscape architecture or design, botany, environmental science, agriculture or a related field may be eligible for a scholarship of up to $4,500.00 from the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore (GCES). Scholarship applications are available from guidance counselors in all Talbot County high schools. They may also be obtained by calling Dorothy Whitcomb at 410-770-9035. Applications are due back to the guidance counselors’ offices by the close of school on April 3, 2017.

The GCES Scholarship is merit based. Outstanding academic achievement along with volunteer or work experience, which shows a strong work ethic and a commitment to excellence, will be considered when evaluating applications.

GCES President Samantha McCall says: “The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore has awarded 14 scholarships to Talbot County students since 1999. We are commitment to helping talented young people achieve their educational goals and are proud of previous recipients who have gone on to become teachers, researchers, landscape architects and designers, and environmental educators. They are all making important contributions both here on the Shore and in other parts of the country.”

The GCES is focused on promoting environmentally sound landscape practices and providing educational programs for the community that explore conservation practices and environmental issues. In addition to awarding its scholarship for the past 15 years, GCES spearheaded the restoration of Easton’s Thompson Park, which along with the garden at the Academy Art Museum, it also maintains.

For information about GCES programs or to make a contribution to the scholarship fund, please call Dorothy Whitcomb at 410-770-9035.

Design For You: A Boston Kitchen by Pamela Heyne

I was recently in Boston on a book launch. My book shows how Julia Child’s ideas can be relevant today in modern kitchens, with an emphasis on cooking and sit down dining and a de-emphasis on lounging, snacking and TV watching.

I was lucky to be hosted by a couple who had a beautiful kitchen that could easily have been in the book. The lady of the house, who did most of the cooking, said she hated barstools, so none encircled the space. She favored sit down dining, so a dining room was reached from one door, a breakfast room from another. The TV was in the cozy library, remote from the kitchen.

unnamed-3Her appliances were cunningly concealed. The microwave oven was under the counter. The refrigerator is a new “refrigerator column” or “integrated refrigerator”. It basically looks like a cupboard. She also had two “drawer freezers.” They are convenient 2’ deep drawers, and avoid a lot of that rummaging we hate. Her designer was Paul Reidt from Kochman, Reidt and Haig in Stoughton, Mass.unnamed-2

Designers have always had a problem with the bulky refrigerator. The refrigerator in Julia’s French Chef TV show was recessed in an arched niche, making it much more presentable. We architects and designers were happy when “counter depth” refrigerators arrived on the scene a generation ago. Actually 27” deep, the door sticks out past the counter. Now, the “new kids on the block” are the integrated refrigerators. They are designed to sit flush in a 24” cabinet. They also have varying widths, from 18” to 36”. Thermador and Subzero are the leading manufacturers. Some of these models qualify as “energy star”. This means that they exceed federal energy standards.

Interestingly, Julia Child and Paul Child had tried to make the old fashioned refrigerator in their Cambridge kitchen less visible. Designer Paul painted it black and nestled it in bookcases. During my original interview with Julia she had asked me, “It’s more chic, don’t you think?” She also had small freezers under the counter. All these elements are now preserved at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. That Cambridge kitchen has been enshrined behind glass walls, viewed by millions every year.

In Julia’s day, climate change was not as critical an issue as it is now. Beyond looks, we want kitchen appliances and equipment that help us reduce our carbon footprint. If one decides to purchase a new refrigerator, the government recommends against putting the old one in the garage. It becomes an “energy hog”, can cost the homeowner hundreds of dollars a year to use, and certainly does not help the environment.

Pamela Heyne, AIA has a design studio in Saint Michaels, Md. pam@heynedesign.com. She will give a slide presentation on the relevance of Julia Child’s design and lifestyle ideas at the Saint Michaels Library Dec. 1 at 5:30 pm. The book, In Julia’s Kitchen, practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child will be available for purchase.

Design for You: Really Comfortable Dining by Pamela Heyne

I advocate sit down dining in my book, In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child. Recently in my own family room I made two changes to enhance that activity.

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-9-14-05-amThe first change was the chairs. I took away the dining chairs and added traditionally styled easy chairs to the glass topped table in the family room. These chairs are comfortable; blissfully soft, they say, “stay”. So….you lean back in them rather than sitting ramrod straight. Your head is supported. You relax. Maybe you scrunch your legs up. The effect is remarkable…my husband and I linger at the table far longer than we did in the past.

The second change was the TV. Oh we still have one, in an armoire. But, as the phrase goes, we “cut the cable.” Now we are not paying a fortune a month for shows we don’t watch and a few of those news shows we watched too much. We get all the news, commentary and specialized shows we really need, all delivered through the internet. But now, much of the time the armoire doors are closed.

In my book I mention that Julia Child enjoyed watching Tom Brokaw’s news show every evening, but never while dining. As I often say, the meals we enjoy and remember are the ones we share with others rather than with the TV. It takes twenty minutes for our brains to get the message that we have eaten enough. Distracted dining in front of the television often results in our eating more food than we need, and enjoying it less.

So maybe one solution to our national obesity epidemic is to make sit-down dining really, really comfortable. And, take a cue from Julia, no seconds! But, conversation has no calories…it is just food for thought.


Pamela Heyne, AIA is head of Heyne Design. pam@heynedesign.com 410-714-9040 her book is available through her, at local stores and online.

A Home Observatory of Your Own by Pamela Heyne

If you have an interest in a home observatory, you are not alone. Hobbyists and retirees are looking at the sky in increasingly sophisticated ways. And the home observatory can take many different forms. But first, from a practical standpoint, is this a reasonable hobby to pursue on the Eastern Shore? While we have relatively dark skies, we are not as pristine as say a mountain site in Colorado.


I posed that question to John Jardine Goss, president of the Astronomical League. He said that it really depends on what type of experience you want. “If the person is primarily interested in visually observing and imaging the planets using expensive equipment, an observatory makes sense. Planetary work doesn’t necessarily require dark skies, though it helps. However, visually observing galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters really requires a dark site to get the most out of the experience.” He made several other important points. “While the MD eastern shore does not have pristine, dark skies, many people would be surprised at the number of stars that can be seen. One test is whether or not the Milky Way can be discerned in the sky glow.”(Answer, yes. ) He also mentioned that skies tend to be darker when businesses close and residents go to bed…so 2 am is a better viewing time. John also said that the best telescope is “the one you will use.” Same with an observatory…it will not be worthwhile if you won’t use it.

OK, you are still interested in that observatory. Let’s say you want to build it on your existing house. First off, you will need to make sure the telescope is stable. The usual way of insuring that is to construct a dedicated pier for the telescope itself….the slightest movement from people walking on the floor will compromise the settings. Additionally, the floor cannot touch the pier. Of course, how the pier extends down through the house requires careful planning.

The form of the observatory can range from slide off or fold down roof hatch, to metal or fiberglas cylindrical dome. The dome, with an open slit or “clamshell” opening, rotates to allow for the earth’s rotation. The telescope, on a mount bolted to the pier is motorized so that it also rotates.

Domes are typically 6’ to 30’ in diameter. The smaller domes might be accessed from a terrace. Larger domes might have room for a stair, possibly with a hatch. Many stargazers want to share the experience with one or two guests. Importantly the observatory cannot be heated or cooled….It must the same temperature as the outside air. One reason you see so many white domes is they reflect heat better, though some manufacturers fabricate them in earth tones to blend in more with surrounding residences.

Computers are usually placed near the telescope but in a more comfortable setting, like a small office which might be just downstairs from the telescope.

Though this might be considered a hobby, you will need to check your local codes and get appropriate building permits. The highest you can build for a private residence in Talbot County is 40’. Insurance is also a consideration.

The price for home observatory can vary tremendously. People who are handy can construct a shed (once again…check with codes for this will be an “ancillary structure”) and have a simple slide or fold away roof. For more elaborate designs, well, you know…”the sky’s the limit.”

Pamela Heyne, AIA is head of Heyne Design, in Saint Michaels, Md.

Money to Help Many Maryland Homeowners Stay in Their Homes

The state of Maryland wants you to stay in your home. They have funds available for many state homeowners to make repairs such as installing ramps and widening doors. It is called the Accessible Homes for Senior Homeowners Grant Program.

Grants, not loans, are provided to qualifying homeowners on a first come first serve basis. You must be over 50. The state also wants proof your income is 80% of AMI, which stands for area median income. You will also need a list of three bids from contractors with Maryland Home Improvement licenses.

Previously a loan program, this became a grant program in 2013. The thinking behind it is this: by keeping seniors in their homes , neighborhood stability is maintained. This also provides work for local builders, and helps other local suppliers. During fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016) the program provided $998,000 in 47 grants.

Contractor training and information is upcoming on two separate days from 11:30am – 1pm.

7/27/16 – Richard Henson Center, #2122, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, University Blvd. S., Princess Anne, MD 21853 (Somerset County)
8/4/16 – Chester River Yacht & Country Club, 7738 Quaker Neck Road, Chestertown, Md. 21620 (Kent County)
Pamela Heyne is an architect with an office in Saint Michaels. pam@heynedesign.com

Storm Season is Coming; Time to Prepare your House by Pamela Heyne

2012 Hurricane Sandy gave us two valuable lessons: If people are told to evacuate, they should. And, people need to make their homes as secure as possible, because these storms are more powerful than before. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory website, Atlantic hurricanes are now 60% more powerful than they were in the 1970’s and their top wind speeds have increased by 25%. Sandy’s diameter was the biggest Atlantic hurricane on record, 1,100 miles.

Here are some key suggestions to make your home more hurricane resistant. Some suggestions entail new materials and techniques.

Windows: these must be secured because during a storm it is very important to keep high-velocity air out of the home. Depending on variables, the house could explode like a balloon if hurricane-force air suddenly whooshes in.(hurricane force wind can be between 74 and 157 mph.) Hurricane proof windows have proven effective here and in other areas. They are double glazed with a laminated layer on the room side. Roll down shutters can be operated at the touch of a button. High tech fabric panels or lightweight polycarbonate panels admit light to the home when installed, and are an improvement in impact tests over plywood.

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 9.33.34 AMRoof: You may want to check our your roof structure to make sure it has appropriate hurricane ties that attach the beams or trusses to the walls of the house. These may need to be upgraded. According to Craig Willis of Chesapeake Builders in Saint Michaels, the straps should be rated for 1000 pounds of uplift or more. He notes there are numerous configurations of straps available. These are more common in new homes. Retrofitting an older home might be done at a time when new insulation is considered, for instance.

Flooding: With hurricanes another worry is possible flooding. If you have a mortgage on your home the lender undoubtedly requires you to have flood insurance, a good thing. Car experts recommend a lift for your automobile in your garage if you have enough headroom, and reinforced slab. Some years ago a neighbor’s new Jaguar was ruined by rising waters in the garage. The mere thought of it made this Jaguar lover wince!

Debris: It is important to keep branches picked up, and to make sure trees are properly trimmed. Even on the interior of the home, individual rugs are easier to move than wall to wall carpet. And speaking from experience, newspapers are easier to recycle when dry than when wet!

Folks in New Jersey and New York had a false sense of security when Sandy hit, because prior to that they had “over-prepared’ for Hurricane Irene. But Sandy, the “Frankenstorm”, killed 233 people total and left an enormous path of devastation. Lucky for us in our area, the storm veered north rather than roaring up the Chesapeake Bay.

Pamela Heyne, AIA is a Saint Michaels architect.