Here’s a fun project for kids and grownups alike: Upcycle empty bottles to create solar garden lighting. The Solar Bottle Lantern Kit, $12.95 from Gardener’s Supply, consists of a rubber stopper with three short LED light strings attached. Just insert the light strings into a bottle of your choice and place the stopper in the top of the bottle. A small solar panel on the top charges the battery so that when dusk falls the twinkling LED lights begin to glow. Display the weatherproof project anywhere you like, year round.
Mountain laurel is a go-to favorite when it comes to shrubs that thrive in shady conditions. This native shrub grows as an understory plant in forests east of the Mississippi River. The true native form opens white flowers. ‘Pink Charm’ brings on spring color with bright pink blossoms that attract hummingbirds. Evergreen leaves add to the landscape year-round. Plants grow 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good to know: Light shade with some sun coaxes best flower color.
For a bright pop of color in even the smallest garden, turn to Moscato barberry. Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. Lime green leaves provide strong color year-round. New leaves have orange edges that fade to lime. Use in containers, planting beds or along a walk. Hardy in Zones 4-7. Botanical name: Berberis thunbergii ‘BailAnna’
David Austin English Rose 'Vanessa Bell' is a top-performing rose of delicate beauty with an alluring freshness and grace. Its soft lemon-yellow flowers are held in large open clusters, accented by rounded buds tinged with rich pink. It blooms with abundance, being nearly covered with flowers from early summer till frost. Its compact growth habit is ideal for planting in the front of garden borders. The medium-strength fragrance is best described as green tea with aspects of lemon and, at times, honey. See davidaustinroses.com.
Longing for that summertime feel during the winter months? Bring the beach right to your table. This sea-inspired centerpiece is easy to make and can be used all year round. "A rustic wooden tray provides the base for the rectangular glass vase filled with sand, candles and a variety of seashells," Katrina Giles of Seaside Interiors says. Add vibrant shells and starfish for an extra boost of summer hues.
Evergreen clematis bring year-round color to gardens, and the variety known as Avalanche is no exception. This beauty offers an avalanche of snow white blooms in spring. Also known as Clematis x cartmanii ‘Blaaval,’ this clematis grows best in part to full sun. Vines grow 12 to 15 feet tall with support and belong to Pruning Group 1. This means plants don’t typically need pruning, but if you must cut stems to help contain growth or reduce height, make cuts immediately after blooming. Hardy in Zones 7-9.
White is a classic tone often used in shabby chic designs. HGTV fan rnhey wanted to create a light, airy dining room ideal for casual year-round entertaining, so she used this fresh hue as the base for her entire design. The upholstered cane-backed chairs, freshly painted table and vintage marine life prints are reminiscent of relaxed summers and shabby seaside homes. White beadboard walls allow the sand-colored curtains and accessories to act as complementary accents rather than simply appearing in the background. For an elegantly shabby look, combine your rustic pieces with more contemporary counterparts. The white table and rattan chairs feel ultra casual, while the symmetrical prints, pleated draperies and dark wood serving tray deliver a perfect hint of refinement.
Norway maple (Acer platanoides) is the ultimate shade tree, forming a dense crown thanks to leaves that grow up to 7 inches across. In fall, leaves shift to hues of yellow and gold. Give it plenty of space, because it spreads up to 50 feet. The form of this maple is a classic lollipop shape—a strong, straight trunk topped with a rounded leaf canopy. Norway maple tolerates urban conditions, but avoid planting it near driveways or sidewalks, because shallow roots can lift concrete. Trees grow 50 to 60 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-7.
If you’re a gardener who craves pure splashes of single colors, try something different this year. Mimic Mother Nature’s fall color show and treat yourself to a hanging basket planted with a mix of hues. The effect is truly a garden party in a pot. Cool Wave Mix Spreading Pansy delivers a just-right blend (designed by the seed breeders) that’s eye-catching and perfect for fall. Tuck a pot into the ground at least six weeks before frost, add extra mulch once the ground freezes, and you’ll be rewarded with early spring pansies. Cool Wave pansies handle temperatures as low as -13°F. They’ll look frozen solid during winter, and leaves and stems may turn brown, but watch what happens when spring peeks ‘round the corner. Of course, plants in pots won’t survive freezing temperatures.
David Austin English Rose 'Vanessa Bell' is a top-performing rose of delicate beauty with an alluring freshness and grace. Its soft lemon-yellow flowers are held in large open clusters, accented by rounded buds tinged with rich pink. It blooms with abundance, being nearly covered with flowers from early summer till frost. Its compact growth habit is ideal for planting in the front of garden borders. The medium-strength fragrance is best described as green tea with aspects of lemon and, at times, honey. See davidaustinroses.com. (In background: purple/maroon heirloom Sweet Pea 'Cupani')
Discover a native tree that’s perfect for any size yard. This beauty delivers white, fringe-like flowers in late spring to early summer, followed by blue-black fruits that are favorites among birds. Fall color delivers with leaves that shift from bright green to shades of yellow-gold. This tree has no pests and stands up to pollution. It also doesn’t need pruned. The shape is rounded (like those lollipop trees you drew in elementary school). It often forms multiple trunks, which is not a problem. Size: Plants grow 12 to 20 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Everyone loves cupcakes. Bake your favorite recipe at home or buy from the store and dress them up with paper cupcake toppers and wrappers. Print the cupcake topper template and use a craft punch or scissors to cut them into rounds. Then, attach the paper shape to a four-inch lollipop stick using tape or a one-inch white circle label. Cupcake wrappers are easy to make from decorative paper to match the theme. Displayed on a pretty cake stand, these cupcakes are hard to resist.
Although many homeowners invest the majority of their home design budgets into their kitchens, it's the area of Chris' condo where he spent the least. By working with the brown and black tones of his existing granite countertops, he used color to give the otherwise basic, modern kitchen a personalized look. Glossy-black penny round tiles bought for $8 per square foot were used on all wall surfaces to add architectural interest and sheen. To help the pantry door visually recede, he had it painted the same shade of black as the tiles. Since the adjacent living room is wrapped in a black-brown grass cloth with a metallic backing, he carried the look over to the bar area to tie the two spaces together. All together, Chris' kitchen decor came to $1400.
Can you imagine taking a bath in front of a view like this? Angela Blehm's master bath is the definition of relaxed elegance. The overall palette of her home is so incredibly colorful and vibrant, that the master bath's classic design makes for the perfect sanctuary. Angela achieved a cohesive look within the space by repeating the Benjamin Moore, Cumulous Cloud, wall color on their custom vanities and adding the gorgeous "York" bathtub from Victoria + Albert. My favorite detail about this space is the repetition and balance of simple shapes. Brass sconces and round pulls are the perfect finishing touches.
Roll out the welcome mat for butterflies with one of their favorite flowers: butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Nectar- and pollen-laden blossoms beckon other pollinators, too, including bees, hummingbirds and other insects. Orange flowers are standard, but you can find varieties with yellow blooms, such as ‘Hello Yellow.’ A native plant, butterfly weed offers summer-long bloom when you remove the first round of spent flowers. Plants are slow to wake up in spring. Consider marking the spot to avoid disturbing still-dormant plants with early spring gardening. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 24 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Grown world-wide as a food or forage crop, millet bears a slight resemblance to corn in terms of leaves. Seedheads are more like bottle brushes or cattails covered in small, round seeds, which birds find irresistible. Ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum) keeps these characteristics, but offers striking leaf color. ‘Purple Majesty’ grows 4 to 5 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide with deep, dark purple leaves. ‘Baron’ grows up to 3 feet tall and wide with thinner leaves that are slightly darker than ‘Purple Majesty.’ ‘Jester’ also grows to 3 feet tall and wide with leaves in a mix of hues: burgundy, green and chartreuse. Use ornamental millet in planting beds or containers. This is a warm-season grass that’s grown as an annual in all zones.
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.
Sugar maples (Acer saccharum) are native trees, making up much of the U.S. hardwood forest along the East Coast. As the name suggests, this is the maple that is tapped to release sap, which can be boiled down to make maple syrup. In addition to their sweet sap, sugar maples are famous for their stunning fall color. This maple makes a good shade tree. If planted in a row, it can form an elegant allee and effective windbreak. This grouping shows Fall Fiesta sugar maple (Acer saccharum ‘Bailsta’), which boasts strong, rapid growth and a rounded form. Leaves resist summer heat, wind and drought. Sugar maple trees grow 60 to 75 feet tall and up to 30 to 40 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8.