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Poinsettias have an interesting history and growers are now experimenting with different colors. (Courtesy of D.S. Cole Growers)

Notes From the Garden: Keep My Poinsettias Simple

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I like poinsettias and buy one every year. And every year the poinsettia industry produces new colors and shapes for the plant’s bracts, the traditionally red leaves that surround the poinsettia’s less colorful flowers. Standard red has given way to pink, maroon, white and red, pink and red; simple bracts are now double, double with ruffles. There is always a …

Notes From the Garden: Making a Festive Holiday Decoration

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This time of year I need all the help I can get. Cloudy, gray days do not make me cheerful. Days that end at 4 p.m. do not please me. I counteract the dark with lights, flowers on the table and greenery (and maybe a little chocolate). This year I decided to make …

Designers’ Advice On Decorating a Christmas Tree

Sunday, December 7, 2014

For generations, the choice was simple: 1. Strap a live Christmas tree to the roof of your car, wrestle it into a tree stand at home and hope it wouldn’t fall over. Or, 2. Put up an artificial tree that was unmistakably fake. Fortunately, the options have expanded dramatically, from realistic fake trees pre-lit with softly glowing LED lights to environmentally friendly, abstract …

Tips to Cut Risk of Fire

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Here are some tips from Leviton, manufacturer of electrical devices and lighting controls (dimmers, switches), to help reduce the number of electrical fires. ∎ Extension cords are intended only for temporary use. Each year 3,330 residential fires originate near extension cords, the Electrical Safety Foundation International says, often …

Brassicas From the Garden Go Straight to the Table

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

At this time of year I eat one of the “three B’s” from my garden every day: broccoli, Brussels sprouts or kale. All right, don’t get on my case. I know kale doesn’t start with a B. But …

Pop Art Can Pack Big Design Punch

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mid-century modern style is now firmly planted in the home decor landscape. And one of its elements, pop art, is cultivating a 21st century following. Eye-catching, graphic, often tongue-in-cheek or sassily whimsical, pop art decor plays well off …

As Winter Gets Closer, Time to Organize the Garage

Sunday, October 19, 2014

With fall here and winter on its way, it might be time to straighten out the garage, so you can at least find the snow shovels when you need them. “Will it be another bad winter, Al?” you ask. I’ll tell you when it’s over. In the meantime, …

Notes From the Garden: Now Is the Time to Plant Garlic

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garlic is one of those magical ingredients that give foods depth of flavor and the richness of another world. Italian food, French food, Indian food, these all include liberal use of garlic. Why the English decided on fish and chips and boiled dinners as their staples is a …

Outdoor Decorating for Fall

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Homes in the northern U.S. are treated to a measure of effortless outdoor decorating for fall: Nature does most of the work by turning the trees a vivid palette of reds, oranges and golds. Add a pumpkin or …

Notes From the Garden: Plant Daffodil Bulbs Now for a Pop of Color Next Spring

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Trees are turning brilliant colors, food from the garden is in the larder and it’s bulb planting time. Some bulbs have a bad reputation: Tulip bulbs, for example, are often food for squirrels, and their blossoms are often …

Additions to Make Yard a Comfortable Hangout for Winter

Sunday, October 5, 2014

As fun as summer at the lake is, Sue Vanderwiel and family also make the most of their Apple River, Ill., vacation home in the winter. That’s when “it is much quieter, and we can just hang out, …

Traveling Gardeners Discover New Plants

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I’m not much of a country music fan, but do love Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again — probably because I love to travel. Recently I’ve been on the road again, visiting friends and family in Pennsylvania and …

Decorating Mistakes Cramp Small Spaces

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In a small space, every inch counts — and every mistake can have big consequences. Five designers offer their go-to remedies: The mistake: Heavy window treatments. “I’ve walked into countless small spaces and discovered heavy, dark drapery that devours the space and makes it smaller,” said Trystin Kier …