Caught Off Guard!

Oakland Nursery Delaware

Without revealing my exact age, I should be old enough by now and know what is coming. Yet once again, Mother Nature surprised me. Autumn sprang out of summer like a rabbit, skittering across the landscape at break-neck speed, stopping occasionally to make sure I was paying attention. I confess to being caught off guard.

This is one of nature’s dramatic showcases of the unfolding life cycle. Like all of life, we can choose to celebrate or bemoan it. Our choice says a lot about us. This very moment would be a great one to step outside and observe the scenic overlook on your path through life. Every seasonal change seems like a reminder to look up from our to-do list, and be aware of our surroundings.

There is much discussion of old farmer’s predictions (these guys need some cheering up!), and the color of wooly worms (why do humans insist on picking us up?). This is a traditional time of celebration. Harvest, abundance, and the reward from previous work, make the notion worthy. The metaphors abound if we stop to consider them.

DSC09515Of course, it’s not over yet! It’s time to plant the bulbs that will introduce a future season. Think of those early snowdrops letting us know that winter does not last all year. Inhale the lovely fragrance of any and all daffodils. Rejoice in the dancing of of the tulips (keep those deer and rabbits away!) in the early spring breezes. More predictable than the weather, is that future surprise. Since we keep a somewhat naturalistic landscape, I expect those blossoms will appear not long after I’ve forgotten where I planted them!

-Provided by Oakland Delaware

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GETTING THE LANDSCAPE READY FOR WINTER

WinterIn recent discussions with customers we have been getting a lot more questions concerning exactly what to do to prepare plants, the garden, and the landscape for winter. Hopefully this broad overview will help provide some essential information and direction.

Concerning landscape plants in general, it is still not too late to fertilize if you have not yet done so this fall. Trees, shrubs, and perennials would all benefit from plant foods that are more slow release and focused on supplementing the root development that naturally occurs this time of year as plants get ready for the upcoming winter months and prepare for dormancy and helps them look really great the following spring and summer! We are also quickly approaching the time of year to mulch the plants for the winter when the soil is cooling down. The idea is to provide an insulating layer of 2-3” of fresh mulch in the landscape beds once the ground is colder to prevent the freezing, thawing, and frost heaving that can occur during the late fall/early winter and can damage or disturb plants and their root systems as they prepare for the winter. We prefer either hardwood or pine bark mulches, as they quickly break down and add organic matter to the soil profile. Also falling leaves (once shredded- a lawn mower is good for this!), straw, or compost are all excellent mulches.imagesZ0YB4Y9A

We have also been getting a lot of questions as to what needs cut back or pruned this time of year. A good guideline is to prune all perennials back to the ground once the foliage dies and turns brown or black; this typically occurs with most plants after the first few hard frosts or freezes. Certain plants, such as hosta, astilbe, coneflower, etc. will show this die back early while other plants, such as daylily, Shasta daisies, and etc, will last much longer. As long as the plants have green foliage, they can still photosynthesize and build energy for the root systems so should remain as long as possible. Ornamental grasses start to take on stunning aesthetic characteristics for winter interest and for that reason should not be cut back until early spring, before new growth appears.  Many deciduous flowering shrubs such as potentilla and spirea can be pruned back rather hard (about halfway) to revitalize the plant and provide much more compact, full-looking growth in the spring with lots of blooms! We usually advise not to trim or prune evergreen shrubs, such as boxwood, junipers, and yews this time of year as it may induce new growth that would not have time to harden off before the freezing winter temperatures. Also it is best not to prune spring flowering shrubs, such as rhododendron, azalea, and lilacs as this will remove flower buds that are already formed for spring bloom!  Certain Hydrangeas, including Endless Summer and mostly other pink and blue blooming varieties will benefit from being pruned back about half way this time of year. There are other Hydrangeas, mostly white blooming and oak leaf varieties, that are more woody in nature and should only be pruned modestly to maintain size and shape. Knockout roses, a popular and exceptional shrub rose, should be cut back only about halfway, and mulched and treated like other flowering shrubs this time of year. Other roses, such as hybrid teas and climbers, require more preparation such as pruning back to the grafts (just a few inches above ground level) and mulching several inches over the plant to protect the grafts.

This is also an excellent time of year to fertilize the lawn one final time with a lawn food formulated for fortifying the grass with what it needs for root development, stem hardiness, and preparing it for winter. Also it is not too late to do one last weed control application of the lawn, with an herbicide designed for this time of year.  It would be a good idea to keep in mind that all plants, especially ones recently planted, will still be actively growing and developing  roots long after the top growth goes dormant and until the soil freezes, so supplemental watering will be necessary until then.

-Provided by Oakland New Albany

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WARM UP WITH FALL COLORS

Home Deco

Oakland HOME Store

Orange, red and gold leaves, sunny days with blue skies, pumpkins, mums and pansies; the colors and scents of fall make the change of seasons exciting and encourage us to look forward to soup in the crock-pot and cozy nights in front of the fire.

Welcome fall into your home with colorful accents such as pillows, candles, potpourri ,fall wreaths and table arrangements. Pillows in fall colors and designs featuring leaves and Halloween motif can brighten and completely change the look of any room.   Candles with scents from sweet apple to smoky bonfire will bring the scent and feeling of fall into your home.  Potpourri with a mix of dried and scented natural materials will add texture as well as adding fall scents in bathrooms and kitchen.  And of course, a fall wreath of leaves, gourds, berries and twigs does not need to be used only on the front door.   Hanging over the mantle or in the foyer, a wreath will set the stage for a beautiful fall inside your home.   And don’t forget a fall table arrangement in dried or silk materials can brighten the dining room for fall and do double duty as the Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Fall is DSCF0845also a great time to freshen up your home with live or artificial greenery. With cooler weather, house plants that spent the summer outside will need to come back inside. Now is the time to re-pot  plants that have become too big for their container, using decorative pots that complement your decor.  If you don’t have a green thumb when it comes to house plants, or need greenery to brighten a dim corner, excellent artificial  plants are now available either in decorative containers or ready to be “planted” in a container of your choice.

Change the look of your home with fall accents, simple changes that brighten and freshen, and Celebrate Fall!

-Provided by the Oakland Nursery Dublin / HOME store

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PREPARING YOUR POND FOR WINTER

Now is the perfect time to winterize your pond. As fall begins we will notice the temperature dropping and the leaves starting to change colors and falling to the ground. The entire pond, including the fish and plants, all need their own special care and have very different needs in the winterization process which require you to ensure specific treatment for each category.

To ready your pond for another winter you may want to begin byPond cleaning your pond, pumps, and filters from all leaves, muck, fish waste and any other debris you may find. Once you have cleaned out the debris, you should cut away dead or dying leaves on aquatic vegetation and remove. Any hardy plants you may have you may want sink to the bottom of the pond to better their chances to survive. You should also lift your pump off of the bottom of the pond at least 12” to help keep the fish and hardy plants warmer through the cold months. At this point if you have a UV light you may want to disconnect it and store it in a safe place. Don’t forget to add your cold weather bacteria to help break down fish waste through the colder months of winter. Once you have everything cleaned you may want to cover the pond with pond netting to prevent new falling leaves from getting into the pond.

Now that temperatures are dropping & if you have fish, you should consistently check on the water temperature to determine what kind of food to feed or if you should even feed your fish at all. When the water temperature drops to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you should switch the food to a cold weather diet which is low in protein. As the temperature continues to drop you will notice that at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit your fish may lose interest in food so you can cut the feedings to only 2 or 3 times a week. When your water temperature reaches 41 degrees Fahrenheit, you should no longer feed them at all. You can cause harm to your Koi and goldfish by feeding them through the winter because there digestive system slows down causing digestion not to occur.

Now that you have your pond clean and free from leaves, the last step is to find what method of keeping the ice from freezing that works best for you. I prefer using a 1500 watt pond heater although there are many different options to choose from like an aerator, a lower wattage pond heater, or just keeping your waterfall running. I have found that the most effective method is a higher wattage pond heater just because there is less of a chance your pond will freeze over on cold winter nights. Air holes are crucial for toxic gases trapped under the ice to escape. These gases that get trapped under the ice are formed from decaying debris and fish waste.  It is usually the trapped gases that kill the fish during the winter, not the lack of oxygen or cold water.

-Provided by Oakland Columbus

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To Divide or Not – That’s the Question.

F087-25 As you  walk around your  gardens this fall, you may start thinking about dividing your perennials. Should I do this, can I do that, or is this the time? Dividing perennials is not as tough as one may think. In general, spring flowering plants prefer division in fall, while fall flowering plants like division in spring. If you are willing to give up a seasons worth of flowers, you can divide in either one. Maybe the plant has not been performing like it should or the center has died out. Or, you would like to give pieces to family or friends. Here are some tips to help.F770-24

To divide a perennial, dig up the clump. Take a sharp knife or spade and cut the clump in half. You can then cut the halves into pieces if desired and replant or give to friends. Try to do this in a shaded area so the roots do not dry out. If the center has died, cut that out and replant the healthy pieces. Replant the divided parts and water in well.

You may ask “How often should I divide?” That depends on the perennial. Some perennials require more division, every four years or less. Some examples are Bearded Iris, Coreopsis, Yarrows, and both creeping and garden Phlox. Other perennials require division less often, every 5-10 years. These would include , Daylilies, Coneflowers, Blackeyed Susans, Sedums, Lambs Ear, and the F054-12shade favorite Hostas.

Then there are those who would scream, “Why are you moving me!!!”. These perennials, (Peony, Purple Loosestrife, Lenton Rose, Russian Sage, False Indigo, and Coral Bells) to name a few would rather not be moved at all. Peonies for example may not flower for up to three years after being disturbed.F051-06

So, as the days get short and the nights more crisp, don’t be afraid of dividing your plants. Not only will your plants thank you, but maybe friends will too.

-Provided by Oakland Delaware

 

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Building a Cob Oven

 

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A few weeks ago, the Oakland staff had the unique opportunity to work with Weston Lombard of Solid Ground Farm and he taught us how to build a cob oven.

Cob is nothing more than clay, water, straw, and some sand, mixed together to create a substance, that when dry, can withstand incredibly hot temperatures.  Cob is excellent at absorbing and releasing heat, so it’s perfect for creating blistering hot ovens in which you can bake pizza, breads, or anything else you would cook in an oven.

Weston has built several ovens—and a house—from cob, and was a wealth of information regarding supplies and techniques.  Below are the basic steps for cob oven building, but for more information, visit his website here and for great break down of steps, check out The Cob Oven Project.

We’re planning on testing it out at a few events at the Columbus store, so keep in touch!

First, your oven needs a sturdy base. We used a pallet (so we could *hopefully* move it around the nursery) and limestone wallstone. The inside was filled with packed clay. photo 1
Weston demonstrated the importance of having clay that you could manipulate with your hands–too wet and it won’t stay together, too dry and it will crack. It also needs the right amount of sand to hold it together…too much sand, it won’t hold.photo 2
After laying down several inches of clay (without straw) to create a base, we then built a ring of clay–into which we laid empty glass bottles (soda, beer, or wine bottles work great) to act as insulation. Over that, we added another layer of clay, and leveled the top to be as flat as possible.
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After leveling the top, we placed a layer of firebricks (you can buy them at most hardware stores). These are the floor of the oven and do an excellent job of holding heat. photo 4
To shape the oven itself, we piled sand into a dome shaped pile then covered it with wet strips of newspaper.  The newspaper acts as a barrier between the clay (next step) and the sand).
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After the newspaper, the first layer of clay (still without straw) is applied. This can be several inches thick, and the thicker, the better–thicker walls will retain for heat for longer periods of time.
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After applying about 3″ of clay, we added a thick layer of cob: clay with straw mixed into it. Much like re-bar in concrete, straw in the clay helps to strengthen the clay and keeps it from cracking. You don’t want to put a cob layer on the immediate inside layer of the oven as the straw can catch fire!
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To finish, we covered the whole oven with one more layer of smooth cob, and “shaped” the whole thing like an upside-down acorn.  The door template was kept in place to mark the size and shape of the door.  After several days of drying, we cut removed the template, cut the door and removed the sand pile from inside the oven. photo 8
To get the oven going, build a fire inside the oven…the clay walls will absorb the heat and hold it for hours.  After the fire has burnt down to coals, the coals are removed, and the bread or pizza can be slid into the oven. Cob ovens can get up to 700 degrees in temperature–perfect for baking pizzas in minutes. As they cool down to the 300-400 degree range, they are great for baking bread.

We look forward to experimenting with the oven and hopefully turning out some delicious pizza for staff and customers!

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Ornamental Grasses in the Autumn Landscape

images3   Now is the perfect time to consider planting ornamental grasses in your garden and landscape. They provide excellent fall and winter aesthetics, in their late “flowers” (seed heads), that are prominent in the fall season, and their foliage,   which persists into the fall and winter months, long after they have went dormant after the growing season, yet looks spectacular and adds much to the landscape during that desolate time of year. There is a huge assortment of different varieties that are available here in central Ohio that are extremely hardy and each offers unique ornamental qualities to the landscape.untitled4 Also, the selection keeps expanding, with quite a few new varieties being introduced in the past few years.

The largest group is the Maiden grasses (Miscanthus), available in many varieties with a vast array of ornamental attributes. They have tremendous seed heads that come into fruition this time of year, prominently displaying much color and interest in the fall garden. The stems of many of these varieties also start turning colors this time of year, ranging from pink to purple to even reddish, providing highlight to the landscape during the waning autumn months. Some of the more popular varieties: Dwarf Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘gracillimus’) is  very popular and known for its mid-range height (5-6’) and growth habit that is densely compact with fine foliage of silvery undertones that along with its gorgeous large seed heads make it a striking staple in our fall landscape. Another popular variety is Morninguntitled2 Light Maiden Grass, known for its variegated foliage of a prominent white and green combination and compact growth habit (3’). ‘Adagio’ is another   good choice. Being very similar to ‘Gracillimus” but with a compact growth habit (4’-4’). Also available are Zebra and Porcupine Grass, known for their striping that runs sideways across the stem rather than longitudinally. ‘Gold Bar’ is a new variety of this type of variegation that is extremely prominent. These varieties add both color and interest to the fall landscape. Another great species to consider are the Feather Reed Grasses (calamagrostis).  They form gorgeous compact plants that work well in landscape beds (3’x3’).  The seed heads form early in the season and look terrific throughout the fall and into the winter.  All of the grasses discussed so far work well not only in landscapes but also as borders or covering fences and utility boxes.

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There is also a lot of interest in grasses that are smaller and more colorful, and there are several new varieties grown for their foliage color. Firstly, the Purple Fountain Grass is very popular and looks terrific in beds and containers, with the resplendent purplish red foliage lasting the entire season. However, it is NOT hardy in this area and does not overwinter. There are some newer varieties that are hardy and have reddish color. One is the Red Head Fountain Grass, which has purplish red seed heads that appear mid-summer and last through the fall. Another is the Rose Fountain Grass, with the foliage taking on a reddish purple hue in the mid-summer, along with the purple seed heads appearing at that time. There is also the Burgundy Bunny Fountain Grass, a sport of the popular Little Bunny, and Japanese Blood Grass, that have a maroon red tint to the foliage and seed heads. Golden Hakone Grass and Variegated Liriope are also great selections. They add gold colors to the landscape and have slow spreading forms.

 -Provided by Oakland New Albany

 

 

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It’s Time for Spring Blooming Bulbs!

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Now is the time to prepare for bulbs that bloom in the spring.  They are easy to grow and a welcome sight after a long winter.  Spring blooming bulbs include daffodils, tulips, crocus,  hyacinths, allium, and many others.  With little care at planting time they will reward you with blooms for years.  The only challenge is remembering to purchase and plant the bulbs in the fall.

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Bulbs need several weeks  in the ground to get their root systems growing before the ground freezes.  The best time to plant spring blooming bulbs in our area  is September through November.  Late planted bulbs will develop roots in the spring and may bloom later than normal.  They will get back on schedule the following year.

When selecting bulbs, choose large, firm ones.  Size DOES matter!!  Large bulbs produce large flowers or more flowers per stem.  Avoid bulbs that are dried out, spongy or soft.  Select an appropriate location.  Most flowering bulbs prefer full sun.  Most trees do not have leaves yet when the bulbs bloom, which gives you many options for a spot of color.  A location with well drained soil will prevent the bulbs from rotting.

After selecting an area, lay the bulbs out on the ground to get a sense of the arrangement you would like.  This is helpful if you are planting masses of different colors.  Don’t be intimidated by the thought of planting 100 bulbs or more, they just take seconds to plant!

Bulbs need to be planted at a depth about 3 times their diameter.  For example, 2″ daffodil bulbs should be planted 6 to 8 inches deep.  Smaller bulbs can be planted at a depth of 3 to 4 inches.  Plant teardrop shaped bulbs pointy side up.  Flat bulbs should be planted flat side up.  On some bulbs, you can see where the roots develop; plant that side facing down.  Sprinkle a little specially formulated bulb food or bone meal into each hole or trench to promote vigorous blooming in the spring.  After planting, cover with mulch and water thoroughly.  Done.

With a little work in the fall, you can enjoy the first signs of spring in your own back yard.  It’s worth it!

 

 

-Provided by Oakland Columbus

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The Bridge

From viewing in the garden, to displaying in the home.

Flowers1     It was ironic. After all, at that point in my life I’d spent the last couple of decades designing commercially grown flowers for a living. I had also begun a new sideline business of traveling under sponsorship to conduct workshops and speaking engagements on the topic. Now there had been a change in my personal life. Having sold our condominium, we now inhabited our first property measured in acres as well as square footage! Prior to our ten year old house, the land had been occupied by corn and soybeans. The home’s builders planted 5 trees in their attempt to get back to nature. That’s right, 1 tree per acre! The gardening world had been my oyster. Now we looked over multiple perennial beds, containing a rotating mix of flowering blossoms. Somehow though, I was reluctant to cut them. It seemed that the garden was their natural place. Those blooms would last longer and re-supply both the plant and the soil, I reasoned. To display them in the house would be to interrupt that process. We need to learn to stop and smell the roses, right? For a couple of years I worked, observed, and appreciated our flowers in their “native” environment. IFlowers2 was also studying Ikebana (Japanese floral design), which has an underlying element of honoring nature’s creations. Somehow these diverse ingredients created an epiphany for me, and I gained a new understanding of my role in this process. I came to understand that a few simple rules would keep me in balance with the garden’s trophies. First (and most important) do not cut more than you need. Second, every flower and foliage used should have a purpose in the design (if one flower is hidden behind another, it was not needed). Third, do not underestimate the bud vase (sometimes a single blossom delivers the entire message).

Since my epiphany I feel free to cut, arrange, and display flowers. At all moments of the process I try to be aware. Knowledge of design is not the prerequisite here; it is the honoring of nature’s beauty. About a decade ago, we began planting with more focus on plants which could be harvested for design use. Awesome stands of curly willow and autumn sedum have yielded fresh product for altar pieces and bridal bouquets. Dragon-eye pine and zebra grass leave people asking where we find product. The answer of course, is a stroll outside the house, where most of it remains un-touched. Don’t be afraid to bring a carefully chosen harvest inside, or take a bouquet with you as a hostess gift. After all, if they don’t respond to the beauty of flowers, why are you spending time with them anyway? So go cut some flowers, enjoy the process, and share the beauty with others!

-Provided by Oakland Delaware

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(Landscape) Contractor Fees, Demystified

0 766 This article was originally posted here on houzz.com, but it resonated so strongly with us, that we wanted to share it with our readers.  Landscape design and construction has a great deal in common with home contracting projects, and we hope this helps people understand the pricing of a landscape project…there’s a lot of good reasons why they cost what they cost! (For the complete article, click on the link above–and while you’re at it, check out Oakland Design Associate’s houzz page!)

by Anne Higuera, CGR, CAPS (houzz.com contributor)

When you ask a contractor for an estimate, it usually includes the direct costs of construction plus a markup charged on some or all of those expenses. This is true whether you have a time-and-materials estimate or a fixed-price one, also known as a bid.

Ranging from 10 to 30 percent or possibly more, markups are often loosely described as covering overhead and profit, although they cover a wide range of costs that contractors incur while doing business. Be assured that whether you see that markup clearly or it is included in other costs, it is in there somewhere, because if it isn’t, your contractor can’t be solvent. 

What kinds of overhead costs are you paying for through these fees, and how do those benefit homeowners as well as contractors? Here‘s a short list, which may vary by company and the state and county in which they operate.

0 738 Insurance. General liability (GL) and other kinds of insurance (for tools, leased equipment, workers’ compensation etc.) is often considered overhead. Some companies list their GL insurance as a line item on their estimates, because it is tied directly to revenue, but many cover it in their markups. GL policies generally cover a contractor’s operations. It is also possible with many policies to list homeowners and their architects as “additional insureds,” giving them added protection under the general contractor’s policy. It is worthwhile for homeowners to consult with their own insurance agents ahead of a remodel to make sure they have all of their homeowners’ coverage in place, and that there are not exclusions for unoccupied homes or those under construction.

Taxes. General contractors pay a full range of taxes — federal, state, county and city — or fewer, depending on where they operate. In some states contractors are retailers, so they collect and remit sales tax along with paying their own revenue-based state taxes. If they have employees, contractors also pay their share of social security, unemployment and Medicare taxes for their staff.  The upside as a homeowner is that you are helping to keep your local economy healthy by improving your home. On a larger project, you may be keeping five or more people fully employed during construction, and there aren’t a lot of other opportunities to see your investment at work.

0 710 Labor burden. Payroll taxes, worker’s compensation and other benefits add up to what’s known as the labor burden. That’s the overhead cost of having an employee working for the company. Those costs can include recruitment, training, taxes, medical coverage, paid time off, vacation, retirement and more. This “burden” can actually be a benefit to homeowners, who are able to hire companies with a fully compliant workforce that is well trained and feels well compensated with benefits. A full benefits package tends to draw top candidates. And isn’t that who you’d like working on your home? 

Office and office staff. Contractors may own or rent their office spaces, or even work from their own homes, but offices come with a panoply of expenses. Aside from the cost of the space, there are many bills to pay: utilities, phones, landscaping, security and more. When contractors have office staff, they can be underwritten by overhead or may have their time billable to projects, depending on their job descriptions. Offices provide a number of benefits to homeowners. Unlike a P.O. box, they are bricks and mortar — a place to meet the contractor in person. Need to review your bill or look at receipts? You know where to go. An office usually means there are office staffers who work at least in part on your project and handle all of your paperwork. Having a staffed office means the phone is consistently answered, and that the office is open during regular hours. That regularity of business operation is often a sign that paperwork is processed at expected intervals and that systems are in place to provide consistent customer service.

Marketing. Even contractors with a stellar reputation, a beautiful website and a six-month backlog need to market their business. Marketing almost always involves spending money, whether it’s on ads or sponsorships or other opportunities that get the name of a company out to potential clients. Even though marketing may not strike you as valuable for your current project, if effective, it will ensure that your contractor stays in business in the long term. That means your contractor will be around to service your warranty, answer your questions and be onboard for the next project you plan. And it may be how you found him or her in the first place. Now that’s money well spent.

(For more about what contractor fees cover, see the whole article here. To check out Oakland’s houzz profile, click here.

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