Winter Care for Potted Shrubs

Potted shrubs aren’t as adaptable to tough winters as those in the ground — the soil in the container simply can’t provide the insulation in-ground soil can. Roots of plants in containers have greater exposure to below-freezing temperatures on all sides.


Cold weather also can heave plants out of the soil. This happens when temperatures fluctuate, causing the soil to freeze, thaw, and freeze again. This cycle is traumatic for roots. When heaving occurs, it leaves the plant’s roots exposed to the cold weather and winter winds, which cause them to dry out, putting your plants in jeopardy.

Give Your Shrubs an Advantage

You can take a few measures that help your plants make it through a tough winter. Be aware that smaller containers freeze much faster than larger containers, so the larger the container, the better, even for dwarf shrub varieties. Young, tender plants aren’t as resilient as established plants. Because fertilization and pruning results in new, tender foliage, cease doing both in midsummer to help shrubs harden

In London, Creative Types Celebrate an Old Architect’s Restored Apartment

This week in a palatial square in London’s legal district, the private apartment of Sir John Soane — the eminent Bank of England architect who started life as a bricklayer’s son — opens to the public for the first time in 160 years. “It’s a significant piece of real estate expansion that adds an entirely new floor,” says the director Abraham Thomas of the chambers, which sit on the second story of the museum — Soane’s spectacular former home, library and Regency architectural practice in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.


Since his death in 1837, these lost rooms have been slowly converted into mediocre offices and, up until the end of World War II, accommodation for curators. Now Soane’s bedroom, bathroom, oratory, book passage and morning room have been gloriously reinstated, right down to the Pompeian red wallpaper. An intricate puzzle of clues from Soane’s meticulous inventories, and a series of watercolors he commissioned of the apartment as part of his architecture students’ training, have been painstakingly pieced together to reconstruct corridors, restore stained glass windows

Resolutions for Gardeners

A new year typically brings about resolutions right? Be they for losing weight, being more organized or simply an overall “being better” wish, resolutions are good goals to have.


Gardeners are no exception to wishing for the better; better gardens, better planning, better record-keeping, etc. Following are five resolutions that we wish every gardener, no matter their level of expertise, will embrace in the new year:

1. I will not blame myself for gardening failures. Oftentimes, Mother Nature is not our friend when it comes to gardening. Or life gets in the way. We do not want you to despair! Simply try again and learn from experience. Your garden, and your gardening friends, are both extremely forgiving.

2. I will not be afraid to ask questions. How else can you learn? Take advantage of the experience of your neighbor, your aunt, the garden center employee or the local extension agent. If they are like typical garden fanatics, they will appreciate your interest and be flattered that you want to learn from them. And learn you will!

How to Keep Rodents Out of the House

There’s no place like home… unless your home gets infested by rodents. You’ll never feel at peace in your home knowing that these filthy crawlers can jump out of the corner any minute. What, then, should you do to avoid ever having to deal with a rat problem in your home? And if there are already rodents running rampant and hungry around your abode, what can you do to get rid of them? Here are some tips for you.

  1. Identify what attracts rodents to your home.

If there’s anything that attracts rodents, it’s food. If you keep your food exposed for too long, you can be sure to attract them with the smell. When storing food, make sure they are properly sealed so the rats won’t sniff and gnaw their way to it. When we talk about rodents being attracted to food, we mean all kinds of food, including rotten food. Don’t let your garbage accumulate at home. If you are not the type that disposes of your garbage right away, don’t wonder if you are frequently visited by these crawlers.

  1. Keep your house clean.

If you want to maintain pest control in your home and keep it mouse-free, see to it that

Garden planter designing for an imaginative home garden

Garden planters are suitable on patios and in small gardens, serving as small safe havens with a multitude of scented flowers. Such planters are able to give you the chance to take pleasure in the scent and beauty of many flowers and plants without having as much inconvenience with caring for them, and they are beautifully prepared for lovers of the green.

Image result

Where to start

Not every person has the opportunity to have a garden of their own, but if you do, you are able to make the best of it by utilising garden planters for your creative flower displays. When it comes to garden planters, over and over again it only depends on a little imagination and originality. Container gardening can often be a great way to brighten your space and get started with gardening. You can use diverse categories of containers and plant a mixture of flowers in them to make your home look tempting.

Colourful design is easy

There are countless ways to make up for the fact that you have limed space in a small garden. By getting a range of types of garden planters you can grow good-looking flowers, and by

What to Do If a Tree Falls On Your House

Even if you aren’t actually around when it happens, a tree smashing into your house ranks right up there among the more hair-raising scenarios any homeowner can face. A hurricane, tornado, downburst, or some other windstorm may fell thousands of trees at a time, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damages. Often, though, the trigger’s less dramatic and the scale far smaller: a tree hollowed by heart rot, swamped by waterlogged soil, laden with ice, or simply indulging in some natural branch-shedding can come crashing down on a sunny, windless day without warning. Falling’s the destiny of every tree–even those that decay piecemeal over the centuries as standing snags, or that come down in baby steps through the precise, skillful efforts of an arborist.

In the event that a branch or entire tree has decided to commune a little too intimately with your house, safety’s the number-one priority. Next is turning to qualified remediation services of the utmost quality.

First Things First

The most important step when a tree tumbles is to make sure you and anyone else in the house are safe and sound. If you can safely exit the house, do

The Appeal of Natural Stone for Your Home and Garden

Natural stone is one of mother nature’s most brilliant creations. As such, humans have been using it for thousands of years. Quite simply, nothing man has yet come up with trumps the advantages and pros of opting for natural stone to floor and tile a home, or pave and use within a garden space. To prove that point, here’s a quick lo-down of what makes natural stone so appealing put together alongside Newcastle’s CM Projects.


Most people do not equate opting to deck their home or garden out with natural stone as a particularly cost effective one, but then this is usually because people base savvy spending on hunting down the lowest price per metre or tile. Then, it is easy to see why and how natural stone has come to be considered such an expensive and luxury addition to the garden or home. By doing this, we believe we are outsmarting companies and walking away with a great deal.

To flip this thinking on its head though, Yes, linoleum (for example) is cheap and cheerful initially but when purchasing lino or vinyl you are literally and figuratively buying a veneer; the real

CPTV Pilots Series On Masterpiece Homes

CPTV is piloting a new series, hosted by Farmington-based interior designer Holly Holden, as she visits some of the most exquisite homes in the country and talks with the owners about home design, collecting and entertaining.

“We’ve been discovering masterpiece houses across the United States,” said Holden, who shot the pilot for her show, “You Are Cordially Invited,” earlier this month at Eyrie Knoll in West Hartford, the exceptional Prospect Avenue home of art collectors Melinda and Paul Sullivan.

“This is not just a decorator house,” Holden said during a break from filming the pilot, slated to air this fall. “There are stories with everything here, and [Melinda] is a very seasoned hostess. She entertains often.”

Producer Danielle Medina said the series will feature “the best of the best, and it’s nice to hear from the homeowners why they’ve collected what they have. It’s inspirational.”

The Sullivans are renowned for their local philanthropy and for their collection of 18th-century Baroque porcelains by Claudius Innocentius Du Paquier, a contemporary of Meissen. The majority of works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2009 Du Paquier exhibition came from their collection, reportedly the most extensive private collection

Elder Gardening Made Easier Some Simple Tricks of the Trade

Many of us have heard of or experienced the joys of Elderhostel travel in which groups of older folks travel and learn together about fascinating places and events. This article discusses a few ideas regarding how to continue, with a bit less effort, the fun of gardening as a “senior.”

While what follows pertains particularly to vegetable gardening, the principles can be extended to many other types of gardening as well. A book from our personal library entitled Tips for the Lazy Gardener by Linda Tilgner provided me with some information for this epistle.

Time and Space

Plan your garden according to your best estimate respecting the amount of time you can, with pleasure, physically devote to planting and maintaining it.  If your present situation suggests that the garden you have tended in the past is more than you can manage, plan a smaller one to accommodate your interests and capabilities. Forget those extra beans and tomatoes you enjoyed giving away to neighbors or that you have traditionally frozen or canned for winter.

Cover crops (those of low maintenance which enrich

Designer Gets A New Lease On Life Without Leaving Her Rental

In late 2013, Kerra Michele Huerta’s design business was taking off.

Her budget decorating hacks — which she illustrated on her Apartment Envy blog using her own 560-square-foot, one-bedroom rental in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood —  were plastered all over the Internet, pinned and shared and blogged millions of times. Her calendar was filled with design clients: anxious city dwellers who hired her by-the-hour for strategies on how to replicate her DIY-chic look while personalizing their own spaces. She got a gig decorating an apartment in Paris and an offer for a book deal.

It all sounds glamorous. But in reality, parts of her life were unraveling. Her marriage broke up and her husband moved out. Twinkie, her beloved Pomeranian, took ill and died. Everything felt different.

“The energy of the space had changed,” says Huerta, 32. The stuff in her apartment reminded her of the past: “Lots of good things and sad things, just lots of memories.”

Months went by. “I felt like I was treading water,” she says. Finally, she knew what she had to do: clean house and move forward.

In June 2014, she put an ad on Craigslist: “Designer

Upcycled And Chic Décor In North Haven Fills A Shopping Void

Part antique mall, part consignment store and part boutique, newly opened Décor is all unique.

From one-of-a-kind home furnishings to décor, gifts and artwork — produced mostly by local artists — the North Haven store offers shoppers an array of options they won’t find elsewhere.

The 3,100-square-foot space, at 87A State St., in North Haven, showcases the work of about 10 area vendors from Hamden, North Haven and Wallingford. It also carries consignments and showcases the work of owner Cat Dubail, a graphic designer who “flips” and upcycles furniture pieces.

“It definitely fills a void,” Dubail says of Décor, which she opened in November. “I just wanted to create a place that I’d want to shop in.”

Dubail previously sold her work online for many years and recently tried to find a local vendor booth space to rent. When her search came up empty, the idea to open Décor was born.

Local artists have been eager to get involved with Décor, where they can rent booths or shelves, she said.

“A lot of them are very excited,” she said, adding that many are renting vendor space for the first time. “We’re learning

Transforming a Garden Design with Color, Texture, and Form

Gardeners must continually evaluate their gardens because they are constantly changing and frequently require some adjustments. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to transform a mediocre plot into a beautiful garden. Sometimes it simply involves rearranging plants to different locations to create the most harmonious and effective design. This is what makes gardening enjoyable and challenging.

The first step in evaluating your garden is to look at it through the eyes of others and their perceptions of it. Set aside any garden art from your garden and observe the plantings without any extra adornment. Be your own garden editor and critique your garden. Remove unnecessary plants or those that are struggling. Perhaps a plant simply needs to be relocated to another area in order to survive and thrive.

Take photos of portions of your garden that you think need improvement. Enlarge the photos and analyze your garden. Circle the areas of the garden in the photograph that you would like to improve. Think about the location and if the plantings require full sun, partial sun, partial shade, or shade. Ponder what your garden will look like five years from now. This is very

Using fireplace ashes in your garden

Since Roman times, wood ash has been recognized as a useful amendment to the soil. In fact, North America exported wood ash to Britain in the 18th century as a fertilizer, and today, 80 per-cent of the ash produced commercially in the Northeastern United States is applied to the land.

Wood stoves and fireplaces are great for warming gardeners’ chilly hands and feet. So, what can we do with the ashes? Since wood ash is derived from plant material, it contains most of the 13 essential nutrients the soil must have for good plant growth and health.

When wood burns, nitrogen and sulfur are lost as gases, and calcium, potassium, magnesium and trace element compounds remain. The remaining carbonates and oxides are valuable liming agents, raising pH, thus neutralizing acid soils. Soils that are acid and low in potassium benefit from wood ash. However, acid-loving plants such as blueberries, cranberries, rhododendrons and azaleas would not do well at all with an application of wood ash.

Wood ash has a very fine particle size, so it reacts rapidly and completely in the soil. Although small amounts of nutrients

The Effect of Urban Sprawl on Wildlife and Home Gardening

Anyone who lives in or near Adams County has witnessed first-hand a real building boom that is taking over farmland and open space. Did you know that the earth’s population increased at a more since 1950 than since the beginning of time? As this trend continues, it leads one to wonder how the many species of wild animals and birds native to Adams County will survive and where they will go when displaced by development.

In November, you may have read my article on nesting birds and an effort by home gardeners to provide nesting sites for native birds. Today’s article focuses on managing effects of urban sprawl and native animals displaced by development. I hope you find it helpful in managing the changing environment and ultimately, wildlife habitat.

Some scientists estimate that one third of the nation’s animal and plant species are at risk of extinction as a result of urban sprawl. A few examples are the Florida panther, black-tailed prairie dog and Pacific salmon. None of these animals are native to our area, making the threat of extinction to our native wildlife less concerning here at

The Enjoyment of a Wildlife Garden

wildlife garden can be described as an environment that is attractive to various forms of wildlife such as birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and mammals. Wildlife gardens may contain a range of habitats, including a pond to attract frogs, dragonflies, and birds; nest boxes for birds, log piles to provide shelter for insects, lizards, and worms; plants that attract beneficial insects; and a diverse supply of food (year round) to attract and keep wildlife in the garden.

There are four requirements to provide a habitat for wildlife, and these needs can easily be supplied when you begin to create your own wildlife garden. The four essentials are food, water, protection, and a place to raise a family.

Plant perennials and annuals that offer nectar, seeds, and fruits to provide nourishment for the wildlife in your garden. Shrubs that produce fruits and berries can be selected to provide food sources for wildlife.

A pond, water garden, or bird bath filled with fresh water provides a water source. Water is an essential component for any size and variety of garden.

Native plantings are best for the wildlife and the habitat. Some of the native species that we

Green Gardens, Clean Water

As a homeowner, are you doing your part to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay? “What,” you ask, “Do I have to do with the Chesapeake Bay?” Surprisingly, the answer is plenty! Never feel that in the large picture, you are insignificant. If every small property owner made an effort to stop rainwater run-off from his own property, the total results would be huge!

Penn State recently introduced a new directive called Green Gardens, Clean Water. The name, was not immediately self-explanatory to me. After exploring several of their webinars on rain gardens, rain barrels, and riparian buffers, my conclusion is the title is telling us that in order to protect our drinking water and clean up our lakes and rivers, we need more green gardens.

Pollution of our water is a major threat today. People, such as members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, have been warning us that the Chesapeake Bay has huge dead zones, which will no longer support aquatic life. The problem is certainly not just limited to the Chesapeake Bay. In other parts of the country, deep-sea fisherman have to go farther and farther into the ocean before they can find fish.

A Bog Garden and its Habitat

A bog garden is an area near a body of water that contains moist soil which produces a habitat for plants that thrive in moist conditions. Typically, bog gardens exist in low-lying areas near a pond, lake or stream, but a bog garden can be created in a container specially designed for them.

Bog gardens make a lovely attraction in any landscape. A carnivorous plant bog garden can be a center point of drama and intrigue as well as beauty. Artificial bogs can be constructed to cover a large or small area. These gardens can be positioned in the ground to appear natural or assembled in a container as a lovely and unique dish garden for the deck or patio.

Designing the layout of your bog garden will take foresight. Design a bog garden in much the same way you would any herbaceous garden, grouping the plants in relation to their heights, textures, and colors. If your garden is to be viewed from all sides, it is best to group taller plants toward the center. Smaller varieties can be showcased along the outer edges.

Aquatic carnivores or other water plants can be grown in the

Creating Garden Spaces for Cats

Why do some gardeners consider cats a pain in the neck in their gardens?

Cats sometimes dig up newly planted bulbs, eat prize plants, and attack birds and butterflies that you want in your garden. But the positives far outweigh the negatives.

What are the positives?

Cats help keep the population of voles, mice, rats, and chipmunks down. Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania actually has cats on their payroll, as part of their Integrated Pest Management team! And never underestimate the value of cat urine, which is extremely high in nitrogen and perfect for leaves about to be composted.

Why create a special garden space for cats?

Giving cats their own garden space-complete with catnip, a bowl of water, and a comfortable place to sleep-helps keep the cats out of flower beds and vegetable plots. They’d rather hang out in the catnip, roll in the dirt, and sleep in the sun. They’re happy in their own little space.

Where should the cats’ garden space be planted?

Location, location, location! Cats love sun, so

Butterfly gardening A great source of enjoyment

Butterfly gardens are a great source of enjoyment. They can extend to interest youth in nature by providing a small window of native inhabitants of the local environment.

First, let’s look at the life cycle and basic anatomy of a butterfly. Butterflies begin their life as an egg, laid either singly or in clusters depending on the species. Tiny caterpillars emerge and, after consuming their eggshell, they feeding on host plants. Caterpillars must crawl out of their skin or molt, usually around five times, before changing into a pupa. Finally, an adult butterfly emerges, spreads its wings and flies away. This type of development is complete metamorphosis.

Adult butterflies and moths have mouthparts shaped into a long, coiled tube. Forcing blood into the tube straightens it out, allowing butterflies to feed on liquids. Butterflies get all their food from this tube, which limits them to nectar and standing water. Larvae, on the other hand, have chewing mouthparts that they use to skeletonize or totally defoliate leaves. Butterflies have large, rounded compound eyes that allow them to see in all directions without turning their head. Like most insects,

Attracting Eastern Bluebirds to Your Garden

he Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is one of our most beautiful native birds. Not long ago, the loss of habitat, use of pesticides, and introduction of the English House Sparrow to North America decimated the bluebird population. The North American Bluebird Society or NABS ( was created to promote the education, conservation and research of bluebirds and other native cavity nesting birds. Currently, the bluebird population is stable, but continues to need our help. Please visit the NABS website for complete information about bluebirds. Additionally, the Maryland Bluebird Society website ( and a book entitled The Bluebird Monitor’s Guide by Cynthia Berger, et al, are excellent resources.

Here are a few points to ponder before you begin attracting bluebirds to your garden

Habitat: Bluebirds prefer open spaces for hunting such as meadows, parks and fields. They nest in cavities such as dead trees, wooden fencerows and nest boxes provided by bluebird lovers. If your yard is not an open space, but you live near one, bluebirds may still decide to call your yard home.

Food: Insects are the primary food for bluebirds. Please use pesticides cautiously!

Attracting Hummingbirds to your garden

I can’t imagine a garden without the winged gems. Attracting them is easy with the right plants and feeders.

Here, in the eastern United States, the ruby-throated hummingbird rules. Occasionally, migrating hummingbirds from the West pass through, but our ruby friends are impressive enough with their scarlet neck scarves and diminutive size. Did you know they weigh only as much as a dime?

Hummingbirds are small but mighty. In spite of their size, they need plenty of fuel for their powerhouse metabolism. If you beat your wings 90 times a second, you would need major fuel, too! Hummingbirds need nectar from up to 1,000 blossoms a day. Plus, they consume an incredible number of tiny insects for protein.

To create your own hummingbird garden, start with a sunny location. Plan a continuous display of blooms from April to October so hummingbirds have a steady food source. Look for bright, tubular flowers, custom-made for a long, thin bill. Favor red and orange flowers, but include other blooms heavy with nectar.

Some of the hummingbird’s favorite perennials are bee balm (Monarda didyma), coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea),

Top 5 Secret and Natural Soil Additives For A Healthy Garden

Eleven years ago I was a “traditional gardener”, meaning I used the traditionally advertised products on the market that were filled with chemicals to treat my garden. This led to over-fertilizing and using chemical pesticides regularly. Bottom line: I wantonly abandoned the idea of doing healthy things for my garden in favor of what the media told me I should do. At that time I would consider my garden an average garden even with all of my chemical efforts. Then one season a friend of mine suggested I grow in an environmentally healthy fashion and stop listening to the hype. I thoroughly researched the importance of how to go chemical free and gradually converted my entire property over to about 98.9% organic and natural. An amazing and surprising thing happened in response to that changeover – my garden grew more beautiful, astounding, and lush than it had ever been when I used all those chemical solutions.

The secret for using less chemicals and pesticides in your garden is this: good soil grows healthy plant roots. With healthy plant roots you have strong plants that can survive tough conditions. Over the last ten years I have discovered what

Best Herbs for Container Gardens

You don’t need an estate to grow a gorgeous (and useful!) herb garden. Most herbs are perfect container garden plants and will thrive on your deck, patio, balcony, fire escape, or front steps, provided you offer them the right growing conditions.

First and foremost, herbs need full sun for best performance. Place your containers in locations that receive at least eight hours of direct sun. Grow indoor herbs in the sunniest location you can find, but don’t expect them to perform as well as they do outside.

Also, don’t give your herbs too much love. Avoid the fertilizer; most herbs will give you the strongest fragrance and flavor if they’re grown in lean soil. Likewise, water wisely; while most herbs prefer dry conditions, some need more moisture to thrive. Use a soil-less potting mix to provide excellent drainage and space for roots to grow.

Perennial herbs can survive in containers outdoors year-round if the pots are large enough (holding at least 5 gallons of soil), have good drainage, and are hardy in your Zone. Use plastic pots; ceramic or clay containers will often crack from freeze-thaw cycles. Or lift your perennial herbs