Available in orange, pink, bicolors, salmon, purple or yellow, calla lilies are easy to grow houseplants. White callas are lovely in Christmas-red containers, and stay in bloom a long time. They're tropicals, so wait until all frost has passed if you want to transplant them into your garden. They'll thrive in a sunny spot in slightly moist, organic-rich soil, but will require repotting and bringing indoors before the first fall frost. If you prefer, you can let the bulbs go dormant and store them in a cool, dry, dark place until you're ready to replant next spring.
Tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is an old-fashioned perennial that fills midsummer with perfumed color. Flowers open in shades of pink, red, purple, white and various bicolor combinations. The blooms release a sweet fragrance that wafts through the garden on sultry summer days. This beauty is sold as Flame Series Coral garden phlox. The Flame Series is a group of naturally dwarf, compact garden phlox that grows 15 to 18 inches tall—a perfect height for containers, front of the border or courtyard gardens. Plants boast strong disease resistance and a naturally bushy form. Hardy in Zones 3-8.
If the only time you reach for apple cider vinegar is when you’re whipping up a tasty vinaigrette, you’re missing out. Apple cider vinegar has loads of uses beyond the salad bowl. Known as ACV among aficionados, apple cider vinegar is basically apple cider that’s fermented. The fermentation process results in a vinegar packed with probiotics and enzymes. You’ll often hear people speak of using ACV with “the mother,” which refers to a murky, globular substance found in the bottom of organic, unfiltered ACV. The mother contains beneficial bacteria and strands of proteins and enzymes—all good stuff for your body.
Need an ornamental grass for a spot with light shade? Check out autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis). This non-native grass gets its name from the show it stages in autumn. That’s when tan seedheads appear, standing well above the clump of bright green leaves. Drought-tolerant and easy to grow, autumn moor grass holds its own in a mixed planting bed, adapts well to containers and makes an eye-catching planting en masse. Cut clumps to the ground in winter or very early spring. Plants grow 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Spice up your landscape with Oso Easy Hot Paprika, an update of an earlier groundcover rose, Oso Easy Paprika. This new variety bears continuously from summer to fall, with vivid orange blooms on plants that reach one to two feet tall. The low-growing shrubs are disease resistant and very cold tolerant, growing even in zone 3. Don’t worry about deadheading the faded flowers; just cut the plants back by half their height each year in early spring. Try them in containers, borders and beds or as edging.
Holly Marsh set out to conquer the entryway clutter issue by turning a common household item into a clever organizational system. She found this vintage shutter at a local thrift store and hung it up next to the back door where everyone comes and goes. Then, she placed S hooks and clothespins on the wooden slats to hold everyone's keys and outgoing mail, invitations and other important memos. An old wooden box below keeps often-worn shoes contained, too. Now there's no excuse for missing keys, lost invites or misplaced bills.
When designer Kress Jack had a month to furnish a three-bedroom home, he turned to a wide range of sources to find pieces that were available right away. “Luckily the clients wanted to incorporate as many vintage pieces as possible to give the home character and uniqueness. You can find great vintage pieces, including great bargains, if you aren’t afraid to run around a bit. For this home, we bought pieces from local flea markets, vintage stores, and estate sales. For inexpensive Mid Century reproductions I like HD Buttercup and West Elm. I also like to repurpose pieces when I can and give them a new life—like the coffee table, a midcentury piece that we turned into a terrarium by adding sand and air plants, and a Plexiglas top to contain the mess.”
Inside a true bulb is a central shoot that contains layers of leaves and immature flowers. With bulbs planted in your garden, this central shoot forms after flowers fade. This is why it’s important to let leaves of bulbs like tulips and daffodils remain and stay green until they naturally die back. As long as leaves are green, they’re helping to store food that helps form the shoot for next year’s show. Most true bulbs have a protective papery skin (think onion, daffodil, tulip). An exception to this rule are the lilies, including Asiatic and Oriental types.
Whether you’re tending traditional shrub and tree foundation plantings or your version of a Victory Garden vegetable patch, you need a wheelbarrow or garden cart. This two wheel wheelbarrow updates the classic single-wheel version with a no-tip design that’s still a breeze to maneuver. The polyethylene tub never rusts, no matter what you let sit in it for however long. In addition to a wheeled cart, invest in basic buckets, trugs or tip bags. When you garden, you can’t have enough containers to carry things like soil amendments, water, tools, prunings or harvest. Food grade buckets are often free for the asking from bakeries, donut shops and restaurants.
Make an old-fashioned cuppa by steeping apple peels in boiling water. For one cup of tea, add a cinnamon stick, a few cloves and, if you want a little zing, the zest of one lemon to 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey or your favorite sweetener. This is a delicious cup of tea that’s rich in nutrients, thanks to the peel’s Vitamins A, K and C (peels contain half an apple’s Vitamin C content), folate and quercetin (helpful in lung and brain function). Vary the spices to shift the flavor to hit other notes, like exotic five-spice, allspice or pumpkin pie spice.
Wool rugs are easy to clean and have fibers that contain lanolin, a natural stain repellent. They're a smart choice for family rooms, where kids and pets spend most of their time. "This open, second floor media room overlooks the living room below. We needed a strong anchor to be the foundation of the space and to define the character of the room. Merida's classic buffalo check was the perfect solution — boldly inviting guests to gather for conversation, nestle in with a book or cluster for watching movies. The check pattern instantly conveys a sense of warmth and familiarity. Additionally, our clients planned to using this space to watch sporting events — so we needed something to withstand rowdy sports fans and the beautiful, quality wool construction of this rug meant it was the perfect yet practical fit," says the designers at Foley & Cox Interiors.
Blue is a coveted hue in most gardens, and lobelia delivers with season-long blooms. Waterfall Blue unfurls light blue blossoms, while other lobelia varieties open flowers in shades of purple, white, pale blue and bicolor blends. This pretty annual shines in hanging baskets or containers, where its trailing stems cascade to form waterfalls of blue. Grow it in part shade to full sun. In hotter regions, definitely give plants shade during the hottest part of the day. Trim plants to encourage a fresh flush of flowers, especially if summer heat causes them to look straggly. Lobelia flowers beckon butterflies and hummingbirds. Plants grow 8 to 12 inches tall and 24 to 30 inches wide.
The name whitefly is fairly descriptive of what these pesky insects look like: tiny, white, flying bugs. Whiteflies cluster underneath leaves usually starting in mid- to late summer. When you disturb plants, the insects fly up, forming white clouds. It’s dramatic and horrible at the same time. They love tomatoes, perennial hibiscus, fuchsia and anise hyssop. The adults and young suck plant sap, damaging leaves as they do so and releasing sticky honeydew. Controls include ladybugs, lacewings and a naturally occurring tiny parasitic wasp. You can also control whiteflies using horticultural oils, soaps or bioinsecticides containing fungi that parasitize whiteflies.
Eastern-medicine student Stacy Kon remodeled the inefficient master bathroom of her Los Angeles home into this relaxing retreat every bit as spa-like as the spaces in which she practices one of her passions: acupuncture. A lover of all things blue, Stacy chose a refreshing shade of robin's-egg blue for the walls and ceilings, a good match with the white subway tile. A large rain shower head is mounted above the oversized tub, and a glass shower partition installed on a swivel bracket swings back flush with the back wall when the shower is not in use. When the shower is in use, the glass partition keeps spray from the showerhead contained within the soaking tub. Rather than extending the white tile for use on the floors, vanity and tub surround, Stacy opted for custom, cool gray concrete poured into forms made to size. Dark wood cabinets provide visual contrast to the light blues and grays.
These perennial weeds smell like their namesakes, and there’s no mistaking their presence when you mow over them. Wild onion has flat leaves, while garlic is round. They both grow from bulbs and form clusters similar to chives. To remove them, avoiding hand-pulling. It only serves to separate the main bulb from the tiny bulblets surrounding it, which remain in soil and sprout. To dig wild onion or garlic, excavate about 6 inches deep to get the whole bulb. Otherwise, spray with herbicide. The kind that kills nutsedge works on wild onion and garlic. In late spring, these weeds produce small bulbs atop long stems. Snip these and destroy them. They contain new bulbs—they’re this weed’s way of spreading and covering new ground.
Creating these charming combos of geodes and succulents doesn't have to break the bank. Small succulents are expensive and bits of crystal, geodes and agate are easy to find. You can use inexpensive containers you already have on hand or that you find at big box stores. Here. hawthoria is combined with a variety of materials: black and white aquarium pebbles, preserved billy button, slices of blue agate, porcupine quills and tall black dried salt cedar (available in the floral department), amethyst and pink quartz. “Options are many here,” says Anne Gunnels of Nashville's Honey + Gunn Succulents. “Try amazonite, rough pink rose quartz crystal, and even desert rose stones for interest. Get height from willow, quills, and even peacock feather.”
Flowering maples (Abutilon spp.) were so popular in Victorian parlors, they were known as parlor maples (they’re not maples, however). The plants are coming back in style and they’re great for hanging baskets or other containers that show off their dangling, bell-shaped flowers. Most gardeners keep their plants outside in warm weather and overwinter them indoors. They need a bright exposure in your home and should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Prune lightly to keep them compact, but don’t remove too many stems, or the plants won’t set buds. ‘Yellow Finch’ has crinkly, yellow flowers and prefers full shade. When grown outdoors, this annual is hardy in zones 9-11.
Whip up a batch of apple dumplings for a crowd-pleasing dessert. Pastry-wrapped apples nestled into a sweet caramel sauce aren’t difficult to make. They hold their own when served as dessert at an elegant dinner or cozy family supper. The secret to success is to use a pastry that contains butter and egg yolk. That blend is pliable enough to make wrapping apples a breeze. (Pastry with shortening is too short and tends to break.) Serve warm apple dumplings solo, or pair with ice cream, milk or cream. If you don’t want to gobble all the pastry calories, try your hand at making baked apples (baked whole apples with skins on). They’re decadent enough for even the sweetest tooth in your gang.