In contemporary Japan, garden design is primarily carried out by specialists in the art. Frequently in the past, however, the leading painters of the day also dabbled in garden design. If Japanese gardens are your thing, here are some recommendations worth working into your itinerary if you plan to visit these cities: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Shofuso Japanese House & Garden-house was hand-crafted in Japan and moved to the States in 1953 … updating includes waterfall murals on sliding partitions within the house)-, Portland, Oregon (Portland Japanese Garden-five different gardens introduce you to the full spectrum of the Japanese view to gardening); Denver, Colorado (Shofu-en at Denver Botanic Gardens-teahouse also shipped from Japan-eight hundred tons of stones were brought in from nearby mountains to decorate the two-acre setting); and St. Louis, Missouri (Seiwa-en, Missouri Botanical Garden-covers fourteen acres and is the largest Japanese strolling garden in North America).

U of A researchers and Extension are co-operating with farmers and landowners in upcoming projects such as the Discovery Farm Program and watershed research. Actual working farms will implement, document and evaluate conservation practices. Data collected will aid farmers and landowners in underscoring their efforts in environmental stewardship.

If your plans at renovating or building an eco-friendly house happen to include counter tops, consider these natural or recycled alternatives: sorghum stalks-compressed with a nontoxic adhesive, resulting in a striped effect; sunflower seed hulls-also compressed with a nontoxic adhesive for a look that resembles granite; recycled aluminum- shavings are combined with acrylic resin with results that come in a dozen colors and three finishes; recycled glass-shards are set in slabs of poured concrete creating durable terrazzo-like countertops in a wide range of colors. Other options available include: bamboo butcher block, recycled paper and recycled plastic.

Are you familiar with the term "passing on the gift"? That’s right, those words are the familiar phrase associated with Helfer International, a well-known and widely acclaimed hunger abatement and self-sufficiency program based in Arkansas. This year marks their 65 th year of existence. It all started with a shipment of seventeen heifers to Puerto Rico in 1944. The organization reached a major milestone when its 10,000 heifer was shipped to Germany in 1957. When cold war tensions were at their worst, a goodwill shipment of heifers was sent to Russia in 1960. Many accolades later, this organization still actively ships an array of animals all over the planet and responds quickly when there is a disaster here or abroad.

Please remember to work safely in the yard. I got in a hurry the other night and skipped putting on gloves when moving brush. I got bit on a finger by a spider. Boy, did it sting! (The little stinker also wouldn’t let go!) My finger was numb briefly but no other effects. Was able to verify it wasn’t a bad spider. Goes without saying that sturdy jeans (not shorts), a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and rugged shoes (not sandals) should also be part of your outdoor work apparel.