Add colour to your winter garden
Midwinter may officially have come and gone, but for local gardeners there is still a lot of moist, cool weather to come. Now is the time to look after indoor plants, colour up corners around the patio, plant up containers with indigenous flora and repaint garden furniture in readiness for spring.
There is still time to plant colourful winter bedding plants. Established colour bags of these winter flowering annuals can be planted directly into a prepared bed or container. Pansies, petunias, calendula and kale do best in a sunny corner, whereas fairy primula will do better in the shade.
There is still time to plant the bulbs of tiger lilies and tall white St Joseph lilies. If planted now, these exotic members of the lilium family will be flowering by December. Lilium bulbs need good drainage so are best planted in containers where they will be protected from snail and slug damage when the summer rains arrive.
Winter is an excellent time to go shopping for the garden. Install a wrought-iron gazebo or add an archway at the end of the vista. Revitalise the furniture by painting it in a new colour, or find an attractive set of three containers to create a focal point on the patio. Garden centres are quiet this month, so you can roam without crowds and have staff to help at every corner.
Revitalise your pots and containers by planting up indigenous flora. For a shady container, consider plectranthus ( P verticillatus and P. strigosus), asparagus ferns or streptocarpus. For the sun, pot up a Cape reed (Chondropetalum tectorum), Elegia, buchu, Erica nana, E blenna, Acmadenia or even the Agathosma ovata, which cascades over the container’s edge bearing a mass of pink flowers.
Pelargoniums make fabulous pot specimens. Try the lemon-scented Pelargonium crispum or P. fulgidum, which flowers at the end of winter. For larger pots, consider Melianthus major, Acridocarpus or the mickey-mouse plant (Ochna serrulata) with its yellow flowers.
Bulbs are especially suited to containers. Horticultural legend Rod Saunders suggests that you plant pairs of summer and winter flowering bulbs in a single container. His now famous recipe combinations include the following pairs of potted bulbs as suggestions for year-round colour: Amaryllis and Babiana, Clivia and Crinum, Cyrtanthus and Freesia, Geissorrhiza and Galaxia, Gladiolus and Ixia, Lachenalia and Lapeirousia, Moraea and Ornithogalum, and Romulea and Veltheimia.
Sale of CHQ raises hopes of a revival
Wealthy Irish-American businessman expected to unveil plans to develop centre
The wealthy Irish-American businessman, E Neville Isdell, is expected to unveil plans in the coming weeks to develop the centre as a major destination for a variety of interests including food, beverage, entertainment and possibly culture.
The new owners are also expected to target selected retailers to capitalise on the increased footfall likely to come from the various interest groups. They will also be looking at the possibility of increasing the number and duration of events in CHQ and George’s Dock.
Mr Isdell’s advisers apparently plan to adopt a 10-year strategy to make CHQ one of the top places to visit in Dublin. Mr Isdell said yesterday that he was thrilled at the opportunity to develop and improve “this wonderful, iconic and historic building.”
They would be evaluating and developing a number of ideas over the coming months and engaging with the relevant local and national bodies to assist in their objective of establishing a new distinctive location for Dublin.
The elaborately-glazed centre has been performing badly in recent years with more than 80 per cent of the retail space currently vacant.
It is an open secret that the centre has been losing money since it first opened for business in 2007. Only eight of the 22 internal ground floor retail units are rented. Two others on the outside are held on short leases. The building has an overall floor area of 13,749sq m (148,000sq ft)
CHQ was originally promoted as Dublin’s most exclusive shopping centre but when it failed to attract top luxury retailers to cater initially for thousands of workers in the financial district, the DDDA was forced to go back to the drawing board.
A number of retail experts were engaged to charter a future course for the centre, but despite an elaborate marketing campaign all efforts failed to put CHQ on a profitable footing.
Stack A was to have been a contemporary art museum under the original masterplan for redeveloping the Custom House Docks, adopted in 1986. But within a year, Charlie Haughey had decreed that the museum would be banished to the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.
An important early 19th-century warehouse, with impressive wrought-iron roof trusses and brick-vaulted basements, Stack A is a protected structure on which € 45 million was lavished by the DDDA for its restoration.
For the past six years, it has become an increasingly bleak shopping mall along the lines of Tobacco Dock, in London’ s Wapping, which had failed years earlier. Apart from Ely Wine Bar, which opens outwards onto the dock, and the other tenants trading at the centre, CHQ has been a spectacular flop.
A recent article in The Irish Times argued that Stack A needs a major public use, such as a city base for Imma would provide. Alternatively, it might be developed as a science museum, along the lines of W5 at the Odyssey in Belfast.
Summer Art Spectacular at Noank Foundry
by Robin T
Once again the Noank Foundry Artist Studios will open their doors for their Spectacular Summer Art Open House on Saturday, July 6th, from noon – 7 pm. Always a festive community event, the open house and sale celebrates many local creative talents and provides a peek into the work spaces of the area’s most celebrated artists.
This year, the summer spectacular will feature many new and exciting artisans. In addition, there will be an herbalist with cool and delicious fruit smoothies, and the Foundry will also host a wine tasting, featuring South African wines. Joining in this welcome summer tradition, many of the local Noank businesses and restaurants will be offering specials as well.
The Noank Foundry, a historical village landmark that has been transformed from abandoned building to working artist studios, will host the celebration of art and will include foundry artists, as well as many invited guests. In addition to traditional fine art paintings and sculpture, this event will include silver and glass jewelry, wrought iron, stained glass art, herbal remedies and spices, photography, a local author, and yummy snacks.
Architect developing $1.5 million grass court tennis club in Pontiac
by DUSTIN BLITCHOK
In London, England, tennis matches are being played on the Perennial Ryegrass courts at Wimbledon this week. About 3,700 miles away, Bill Massie is developing the first grass court tennis club in the U.S. in 100 years. And he’s doing it in Pontiac.
The Wessen Lawn Tennis Club, Massie’s $1.5 million project with 24 grass courts and four hard courts, is being built out at the former Hayes Jones Community Center, closed for about a decade. He plans to open the private tennis club on May 15, 2014. “I’ve had this idea — I’ve wanted to do this for the last 10 years,” said Massie, who describes tennis as his family’s passion.
Before Massie’s $40,000 purchase of the Hayes Jones Community Center from the city, the two-story, brick-and-concrete building in the commercial prairie style was slated for demolition at a cost of $75,000.
The building, built around 1920 as the Pontiac Water Works, has an original terra cotta roof, with a pine ceiling and wrought iron trusses on its second floor.
The purchase of the building, on eight acres of property that borders the Clinton River, necessitated complicated land swaps and legalities. The deal closed June 24 after more than a year of discussion.
“This is the real deal. This is the kind of deal you want,” said Emergency Manager Lou Schimmel. “To me, it’s taking a building and parcels of land that have a negative value and turning it into a wonderful new project that goes on the tax base, as well, which will produce revenue in coming years.”
Massie, 51, is the architect-in-residence and head of the architecture department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills. His prefabricated architectural firm has headquarters on Golf Drive in Pontiac.
“I love Pontiac. It’s the coolest city in Michigan,” Massie said. “When you bring something back, it affects the community, not only by increasing property values, but (by delivering) a kind of higher level of optimism in the neighborhood.”
His son, Tucker, is entering his senior year at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy in Texas. Massie’s wife, Amy, plays tennis, too.
On a recent weekday, longtime Pontiac contractor Chuck Johnson was working on the property behind the former community center.
“I think this guy is doing a great job and this is to going to be an asset to the community,” Johnson said. “The architecture’s not being lost. It’s being captured in his plan.”
A well on the property, on Wessen Street west of Bagley Street, was the source of Pontiac’s drinking water until the late 1950s, when the city switched to water from the Detroit system. In 1961, it became a community center and was later named for Hayes Jones, a Pontiac native who won a gold medal in hurdling at the 1964 Summer Olympics.
The neighborhood is in support of Massie’s project, said Mayor Leon Jukowski.
“People are always talking about recreational opportunities, but how many recreational opportunities do you have in the City of Pontiac? They’re going to actually draw people from the surrounding communities into Pontiac.”
Massie said he’s including the surrounding neighborhood in his plan.
“The kids who are close by in the neighborhood are going to have access to tennis,” he said.
The Wessen Lawn Tennis Club is scheduled to open from May through October of each year. Massie is seeking 150 founding members to buy in at $5,000 each, with $1,500 annual maintenance fees each year thereafter. He hopes to end up with about 350 members total.
“The business model is like any club: People who are passionate about the sport and have the wherewithal to do it,” he said.
There are plans for an open air dining and lounge area in the part of the community center that once housed a shuffleboard court and a restoration of the swimming pool on the property.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to run this place,” Massie said while standing on the historic building’s second floor.
Security stepped up after vandals target St Andrew’s Church in North Baddesley
Members of St Andrew’s Church in North Baddesley are now going to install CCTV following the vandalism attacks.
In the latest incident vandals smashed a wooden arbour in its grounds.
The arch with a seat beneath was found in pieces.
Church volunteer David Smith, who installed the arbour, which was used for wedding photos, was left angry and upset by the attack – the second this month.
“This is the second time it has been damaged in a week. Last time I was able to repair it but this time it has been completely destroyed,” said Mr Smith.
The £380 garden feature was erected two years ago and paid for by donations from the congregation.
During that time it has been vandalised four times.
“It’s almost as if we are being targeted,” said Mr Smith. “Why do people do this kind of thing? Maybe there are people who are just evil.”
Mr Smith said that in the latest attack vandals had also ripped a wrought iron crucifix from a wall and jammed it into the handles of the church door.
He said that the Roman C a t h o l i c Church, in F l e m i n g Avenue, was now investing in CCTV cameras which were likely to be in place within a fortnight.
Mr Smith said the cost of replacing the arbour would be around £400 and the CCTV would be more than £1,000.