Wednesday, Apr 26th

Last updateWed, 26 Apr 2017 8am

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Cranes Pond Goes Green

Crane’s Pond in Edgemont is covered in an iridescent green slick. The algae has formed a solid film on the water and ducks are having difficulty finding a place to swim. Since the pond is not fed by a spring, the water is stagnant unless it is refreshed by a rainfall.  According to one resident, “this is the worst it has ever been in my 24 years here. Normally we will see weed growth within the pond. But it has never been like this. But then again, we have had a long hot and dry summer.”

What can be done? Mike Nestler the Superintendant of the Parks Department is exploring the possibility of asking the Greenville Fire District to force the algae out of the pond by spraying it with hoses. This was done several years ago when there was a similar algae problem, although by all accounts this year is worse than ever. However, hosing down the pond with water from the hydrants would affect the water pressure, so Nestler needs permission from the Department of Public Works.

In the meantime, go check out the neon pond on Edgemont Road.

Coleus A Summer Stunner

Coleus is a versatile foliage plant that is always at your service, With no special requirements other than water and a little pinching as the season progresses, it thrives in partial shade. What's not to love?

Coleus is an exuberant houseplant, a summertime dazzler and a fabulous filler plant suitable for any and all applications. It looks especially wonderful in pots. Place several varieties together or plant them in a low, wide mouth planter with ferns. Try them in a shady plant bed alongside perennial Ladies Mantle or beneath larger plants such as the weeping blue atlas cedar.

Coleus sports a wide range of leaf types, colors, and color patterns. Some of my favorites are purple Coleus 'Kiwi Fern' and a pink coleus called Pink Chaos. This 18 inch high plant has long weeping leaves of iridescent pink, mint green and cream. It can tolerate some sun although a location with morning sun and afternoon shade is best. Here it is, planted it in a flowerbed along with double impatiens, angelonia, euphorbia 'Diamond Frost” and it also looks great in pots with grasses and flowers. There are so many types of coleus that you can plant a vibrant coleus garden in a rainbow of colors in a shady corner of your garden. See more photos of coleus varieties at HMAplants.

This post is taken from Landscaper Jan Johnsen’s garden blog, Serenity in the Garden, which is devoted to creating harmony, simplicity and peace in the landscape.


Jan Johnsen
Johnsen Landscapes and Pools
PO Box 1011
Mt Kisco, NY 10549
914 - 666-4190

The Beauty and Benefit of Native Plants at the Scarsdale Library

Landscape architect Carolyn Summers has been designing outdoor spaces locally with native plants for years, including her own gorgeous garden in Hastings-on-Hudson. She is an adjunct professor at Westchester Community College and the author of Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East. Her book is a complete guide to the use of eastern native plants in the garden and how to design landscapes with native trees, shrubs and ground covers.

Ms. Summers will give a free talk at the Scarsdale Library on the evening of June 9th when she will present present a slide show on indigenous plants as an integral part of a healthy landscape. She will offer a selection of striking design alternatives using native plants in place of more commonly used exotics in a variety of traditional styles. Her book, Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East will be available for purchase.

Free Admission
Wednesday June 9
7:30 p.m.
Scarsdale Public Library Scott Room

Garden Conservancy Open Days Program

The Garden Conservancy will hold their Open Days Program and host tours of three Westchester gardens on Sunday July 25. Participants can explore private gardens in Bedford Hills, Cortlandt Manor, and New Rochelle, as well as the public gardens at the Native Plant Center in Valhalla. No reservations are required and the event will be held rain or shine. To find complete descriptions of the three gardens and driving directions, visit

Visitors may begin at the garden of Phillis Warden, 531 Bedford Center Road, Bedford Hills, 10 am to 4 pm; where directions to the additional gardens will be provided.

The cost is $5 per garden and children under 12 can attend for free.

For more information visit or call The Garden Conservancy toll-free weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, 1-888-842-2442.

How Sustainable Are You

How “green” is your life? Scarsdale held its second Sustainability Day on Saturday, May 15 and now you can discover steps to reduce your footprint and become a better steward of the earth. Here are some suggestions from those in the know on how you can save money, go green, and add value to your home by making it more energy efficient.




In the home:

  • Use programmable thermostats
  • Get a professional to perform a blower door test to determine where there are air leakages in your home. Many times trying to caulk and seal windows and doors without professional consultation may not be effective.
  • Seal duct work with mastic
  • Replace old appliances with energy star approved appliances
  • Get seasonal HVAC maintenance
  • Maintain refrigerator coils
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or, better yet, new LED light bulbs (LEDs are more expensive, but they last for 20 years and emit more pleasant light than CFLs.  Furthermore, LEDs do not contain harmful lead, which CFLs do contain.)
  • Consider installing solar panels or a geothermal energy system to provide your house and the grid with sustainable energy. Currently, eight homes in Scarsdale have solar panels, in which panels of photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electrical energy.  (Solar panel approval by the Board of Architectural Review has been difficult in Scarsdale, but is improving.)  Ten Scarsdale homes have geothermal energy systems, in which the constant temperature of the deep ground is harnessed to heat or cool a building, depending on the season.
  • Do you clean your home with toxic chemical cleaners? Alternatives that do not have harsh fumes and chemicals can keep your home just as clean, or cleaner, than can dangerous, toxic cleaning products. Shaklee Get Clean products use safe, biodegradable cleaning agents that are safe for the earth and your family. Moreover, Shaklee cleaning products are green because they are more concentrated, so less packaging is used and less product is needed.

In the yard:

  • Do you have native plants in your yard? Growing plants that are naturally found in Westchester County is good for local wildlife and the environment, and the plants may be easily maintained without the use of harmful fertilizers.
  • Are pesticides used on your lawn? Pesticides have dangerous chemicals that pose risks to human health, especially in children, and have grave environmental impacts including the death of wildlife and the contamination of the local water supply. Pesticides only kill 97% of targeted pests, so the resistant strains may proliferate and create a population that will only by effected by even stronger – and more dangerous – chemical pesticides.
  • Corn gluten is a sustainable, effective alternative to fertilizer.
  • Do you have a rain garden? Rain gardens are beneficial because they decrease the amount of surface runoff during periods of heavy rain. They contain the water on your property instead of letting it run into the village storm water system.

At Scarsdale High School, community adults, sustainability experts, and students joined for a convention on sustainability and green living. The Scarsdale Board of Education and the Scarsdale Village Trustees presented the Scarsdale Sustainability Day, which featured exhibitors and workshops led by students and village business and representatives. Dr. Frantz, one of the chief organizers of the event, was pleased with the “wonderful atmosphere that focused on the importance of going green.”

Visitors learned from student exhibitors representing all seven Scarsdale Public Schools. Students presented exhibits to inform one another and guests of various green initiatives. Exhibits from the Middle School and Edgewood featured green no-waste lunch boxes, containing reusable water bottles, food containers, and silverware. A group from the High School’s Make it Green club informed guests that they are currently hosting a Nike “Reuse a Shoe” drive in which old, used sneakers are ground up into component materials, recycled, and used to construct new playing fields, courts, and running tracks (the Make it Green club is collecting used sneakers in a box inside the High School’s post road entrance until May 28 and encourages donations!).

“We like kids K-12 working with vendors and village organizations, sharing the sustainability initiatives we’re involved in and sharing ideas,” said Frantz. The students took an active role in the event, both as leaders and as participants.

Other exhibits included a Girl Scout presentation of native plants and a display of rocks from the Weinberg Nature Center, which is opening a new geology exhibit on Sunday, May 23 during its 2010 Spring into the Green EcoFest.  There was also a promotion for the Scarsdale Farmer's Market

There were two workshops featured at the event: one focused on energy conservation in the home, particularly through the implementation of geothermal heating and cooling and solar energy. It was led by a panel of expert consultants, architects, and residents with experience using these energy-saving systems. Judy Martin, the founder and principal of Green Home Consulting, LLC discussed the importance of weatherization for the energy efficiency of a home. She recommended a few vital steps for “greening” a house through weatherization and other means to save energy. After all, she joked, “the cheapest energy is energy you never use.”  Anthony Conklin of Mercury Solar Systems discussed the logistics and financial benefits of installing solar panels on a home, and Scarsdale real estate agent Lynne Clark expounded the advantages of an energy efficient home in today’s housing market.

The second workshop discussed environmentally sound water management practices for suburban homeowners. Earl Goven, a landscape architect, emphasized the dangers of fertilizers and described alternatives that are healthier for residents and for the planet. The benefits of rain gardens were also extolled in this session.

After the workshops, Russell Greenleaf took kids, adults, community members, and school board leaders to see the Scarsdale High School garden, which he and Larry Hershman championed.

To conclude the day, Dr. Frantz led a tree dedication as part of the ongoing celebration of the Scarsdale School District’s 225th anniversary. Students from all five elementary schools participated in a ribbon cutting of a freshly planted tree in the courtyard of Scarsdale High School near the district offices.  The same kind of tree will be planted at each of the Scarsdale Public Schools. At the tree dedication, district superintendent Dr. Michael McGill remarked that, analogous to the students of the Scarsdale School District who are taught to “succeed, lead, and contribute,” the trees will grow and flourish well into the century.

Additional Links to Keep You Green:
Westchester's Curbside Recycling Guide