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Garden Bugs Aren’t All Bad

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Many gardeners seem to think that any UFI (Unidentified Flying Insect) is a potential threat to their tomatoes or the spinach. When in doubt, they swat it, squish it or submerge it. But most bugs are not bad, and many are helpful. We all know that ladybugs are good. They eat aphids and some clever businesses are selling ladybugs by the thousand. My advice? Don’t bother buying them. If you’re not spraying your flowers and vegetables with insecticides, you will naturally have some ladybugs and other aphid eaters. Of course insecticides will throw off the balance of nature, and the pests may dominate. But a …

Beauty in Subtlety

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Paint your walls a bold color and friends will likely praise your creativity. Invest in a standout piece of furniture or striking work of art and your decorating is bound to earn compliments. But creating a noteworthy room with subtle, understated elegance is a bit more complicated. Understated style “rides the fine line …

Notes from the Garden: Trees and Shrubs That Thrive in the Shade

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I grew up in a small town in rural Connecticut. Behind the house there was a brook and a hardwood forest with a high canopy of old maples that created a cool space for spending hot summer days. My favorite understory tree was a small, bushy tree that had very fragrant leaves and stems, which I decided must be witch hazel, as the …

Notes From the Garden: Getting Through the Winter Doldrums

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

When pruning a Merrill magnolia last November, I brought home a few stems that had nice fat flower buds and put them in a vase of water. I put them in a south-facing window and pretty much forgot …

Keeping the Garden Native, Integrated

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ecology is on many gardeners’ minds these days. Gardeners who value the science of relationships between living things and their environments increasingly want to know more about those connections — how toxic chemicals worsen a yard’s overall health and why bees, birds and butterflies are crucial to our …

At Home: Cool but kid-friendly playrooms

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Outfitting a play space for children might consist of nothing more than setting up a few old furniture pieces, plastic storage bins and the extra TV. But some parents want the play space to reflect their design aesthetic. …

Resolutions For Our Gardens In 2014

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On a sunny winter day I walked around my property and made a list of projects I should do in 2014. I knew I’d find a few, but easily found a dozen. Maybe these will encourage you to …

Light Bulb Law Brings Changes

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Say goodbye to the old-style light bulb. Starting Jan. 1, the last of the federal government’s new lighting standards take effect. That means the sort of general-service light bulb we’ve used for more than a century can no longer be made in or imported into the United States. …

Choose Hedges That Will Help Feed Your Feathered Friends

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Even Ebenezer Scrooge (at least in his post-enlightenment days), probably had a bird feeder. Virtually everyone I know does, at any rate. Why? Partly because live birds are colorful and fun to watch, and partly because we pity them on cold mornings. At 10 below zero those little …

Thinking Back to A Year in Plants

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snow has come. The leaves are raked. The garden is as put to bed as it’s going to get. It’s a good time to think about what worked this year and what didn’t. I’m pleased with a number of new shrubs I planted in the last two years; …

Hire a Handyman Or a Contractor?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Whom should you hire: handyman or general contractor? The answer largely depends on the scope of the work. If you need help with a honey-do list, consider a handyman or handywoman. If the project is rather complex, consider a contractor. A general contractor and a handyman may offer …

In the Darkest Days of Winter, Gardeners Find Ways to Cope

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This time of year is tough on many gardeners: there is little daylight and little to do in the garden. And there are no flowers to pick and place on the table. Recently, the weather has been dismal: …

Maryland ‘Hobbitat’ Builders Think Small

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Oakland, Md. — In an age when homes include four-car garages, media rooms and man caves, one Maryland company is bucking the trend. Hobbitat, a construction company not affiliated with The Lord of the Rings, specializes in tiny …