Friday, January 22, 2010

Lighten the Load for Green Roof Designers, Builders and City Planners

One major challenge for landscape architects / designers, contractors and builders in green roof design and installation is meeting weight requirements and building codes. Simultaneously, they must create healthy balances of soil nutrients, plant material, and irrigation systems, all settled on safe base structures and with ease-of-maintenance an essential factor for the future. These green roof professionals must also develop potential opportunities for LEED credits, especially when designing for green-initiative buildings or properties.

Big River Industries is the nation’s largest producer of HydRocks, a lightweight expanded clay aggregate perfect for green roofs. In a rotary kiln, selectively mined clay is fired at temperatures of approximately 2000° F, producing a lightweight, ceramic aggregate. The aggregate is then processed to precise gradations, resulting in a high-quality, lightweight compound that is inert, durable and tough.

At nearly half the weight of common soils, this all-natural, eco-friendly, non-degradable aggregate can be mixed as a soil enhancer to provide the following benefits to green roofs:

  • Reduces water usage
  • Retains moisture during dry periods
  • Reduces water run-off
  • Improves moisture retention
  • Provides sufficient draining
  • Promotes healthy root structures
  • Reduces nutrient loss
  • Encourages aeration
  • Prevents soil compaction
HydRocks particles are completely inorganic and can be blended with other soil supplements. The use of HydRocks can also help acquire up to several LEED credits including: Heat Island Effect, Optimizing Energy Performance, Recycled Content, Innovation in Design, Regional Materials, and Thermal Comfort.

One high-level green roof design that implemented HydRocks is Chicago City Hall. The story behind how the developers and planners created this premium green roof structure and the pivotal role Big River Industries played in the project’s success make for a fascinating case-study.

Editors and publishers, contact us with your questions. For case-study information, feature articles, high-resolution images, interviews with the experts, and more information about HydRocks from Big River Industries, please email me anytime. We’re very interested to learn your article and resource needs pertaining to this type of solution-based story.

~ Leslie

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Winter Hellebores

With cold weather circling the country, hellebores are a popular topic for the New Year landscape as a blooming, colorful alternative to traditional poinsettias and evergreens. While hellebores have been around for years, the newest technologies and expertise in breeding have provided the market with new and improved cultivars that really wow.

In a recent article about Double hellebores in time for winter published in Maple Ridge News, Mike Lascelle explores some of the most exciting new double hellebores by Terra Nova Nurseries. The company’s Winter Jewels series offer never-seen-before colors that remain consistent and reliable throughout the season. A few of our favorites mentioned in the article include:

Winter Jewels Hellebore ‘Peppermint Ice’

Winter Jewels Hellebore ‘Onyx Odyssey’

Winter Jewels Hellebore ‘Sparkling Diamond’

If you’re interested in learning more about Terra Nova Nurseries exclusive Winter Jewels Hellebore series, please feel free to contact us for high-resolution images and profile information, or visit We can schedule interviews and site visits with the breeding team for qualified writers and editors.

~ Leslie

Monday, January 11, 2010

Re-Post: Domus Ventures America Wows Market Attendees

Since it is spring lead-time for many of the editors for whom we write and provide trend and product insights, we have received a number of media requests to resurface a few of our top outdoor furniture posts. These posts stem from our work with clients and the media at the Chicago-based International Casual Furniture & Accessories Show. At the time, Don Eberly spoke on one of the market's trend and design panels, and we worked closely with editors and publishers to gather trend and product information for various articles, Web sites, newsletters, and blogs. Today, with spring magazine and online content being worked on by many members of the media, we are available to write articles or provide sources, photos and trend findings. Email or call us with your questions and editorial requests.

Watch for reposts of outdoor furniture and home accessory photos and information on our blog from the Chicago market show as well as new posts about some of the top companies exhibiting at Atlanta's America's Mart Home Furnishings, Gifts and Rugs market. To start, one of our most popular previous blog posts is just below…


Dave Hill of Domus Ventures America is one of the most knowledgeable and friendly people you can meet on a trade show floor or at one of the casual furniture / home industry markets. Talking with Dave offers fresh insight surrounding the industry’s latest trends and product innovations, especially some of the leading and cutting-edge products at the hands of Domus Ventures America. He was on site at the latest Chicago market and offered us an enlightening view of all things modern and gorgeous for outdoor spaces.

After viewing all or almost all of the participating exhibits and showrooms at this year’s International Casual Furniture & Accessories Show in Chicago, Jeff, the other co-owner of ECPR, and I had a hard time selecting our pick of a dozen or so top innovators. Several companies, like Domus Ventures America, made the task a bit easier, given such evident technological advancements juxtaposed with high design. (We were on site at the show / market for our own writing and article research, to speak on Garden Design magazine’s product / design trends panel, and on assignment for a number of editor contacts of ours).

Since the show / market, many of you have touched base to share your opinions about our related event product picks and trends research. We have enjoyed your emails. Feel free to also post your comments here, on our blog.

Well, back to Domus... The new Isle of Pines Massage Lounge from Domus Ventures America utilizes the latest high-tech features while offing the ultimate in outdoor comfort. Possibly our favorite product pick of the entire market, this spectacular piece has a waterproof remote-controlled Shiatsu massage unit incorporated into a beautiful reclining lounge. When I showed the photo to an editor friend, she said she wanted this piece on her patio…and in her office for breaks on those pressing deadline days. - No kidding! Talk about relaxation, an ion battery with AC charger provides up to 14 hours of continuous use. A solar panel side table is also available to charge the battery, making the entire reclining massage lounge totally self-contained and waterproof. This is a lounge that sets the standards for others to follow.

A breath-taker at the show was the marine-grade vinyl especially designed for Domus Ventures. Jeff and I had a chance to take a seat on the company’s Luxor Collection, and it looked just like leather. The collection offers tight seats and backs with deep seating comfort, without the headaches and inconveniences of dealing with cushions. After stitching, the covers are sealed from the inside, making them totally water proof. The covers are attached to Aluminum frames with a marine adhesive like that which is used for inflatable life rafts.

Being marine grade means the covers are not only highly UV resistant but also UV reflective, reducing the absorbed heat. The Luxor Collection includes dining, deep seating, single and double sun-loungers, and canopied lounges in two sizes. The best-kept secret… Hidden in the back cushions of the larger size piece is a ready-to-use cooler, a good example of function meeting form.

Sure to fit the photo and editorial needs of some magazine editors reading this post, the Santa Cruz Double Massage Lounge with its beautiful and angled canopy from Domus Ventures America utilizes the latest high-tech features and offers the ultimate in outdoor comfort. This piece has two waterproof remote-controlled Shiatsu massage units incorporated into a reclining canopied lounge. The canopy can also be collapsed for tanning while getting a relaxing massage. Then, when sun becomes too much, up it goes. A solar panel side table is also available to charge the battery, making the entire reclining massage lounge totally self-contained and waterproof. In our estimation, this is a must-have, pool-side piece for vacation homes. And, what a benefit for high-end hoteliers and resort managers / owners who have outdoor relaxation or spa areas to furnish.

Last, but not least, Domus Ventures America’s Corentine Collection is made of powder-coated, welded aluminum frames. They are hand-woven with 100% virgin HDPE resin wicker. Elegant and sleek, the sculptured design is true-modern. This dining set is well-matched in design and function for home use as well as alfresco spaces and cafes utilized by hotels and resorts.

Domus Ventures America impresses us by setting, rather than following, the standards for unique and modern design of outdoor furniture. You can learn more on the company’s site at Members of the media, please post your comments and let us know if you have interest in sharing any of this information with your readers, viewers, etc.