Month: March 2019

Pussy willows whisper ‘Welcome, spring’

A robin’s song used to be the first sign of spring. But with robin migrations mitigated by warming temperatures, now the lucky robin plucking a worm from the warming soil is also regarded as the true harbinger. But for evidence pointing to winter winding down, there’s an even earlier “bird” to watch for, a different “animal” altogether — the pussy willow, which makes its debut in late February and March here in the Mid-Atlantic region. Known scientifically by its proper Latin name, Salix Discolor, it’s native not only to Maryland but throughout large swaths of the northern United States...

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Ground rules for under-the-canopy gardens

When you think garden, do you envision open space graced by boundless sun? If your answer is “yes,” walking in the woods might open your eyes to other possibilities. Smaller trees and shrubs — think rhododendrons and dogwoods — enhance the understory. Shade-tolerant and dappled sun loving florals—think spring cyclamen and lady slipper—discreetly please the eye. If your homestead harbors arbors of stately oaks or elms, a charming garden paradise can still be yours by layering. Heather McCargo, of Maine’s Wild Seed Project, advises using the forest as template for a woodland garden, first analyzing your site’s light levels then deciding on plants. Deciduous trees allow greater amounts of direct and indirect sunlight to filter down to the forest floor than evergreens, she stated. Early spring — before the trees fill in with leaves — is a prime time for many wildflowers (and bulbs) to bloom. Other understory plants seem able to wring enough light from less optimal locations. “These are the plants that can tolerate the immediate north side of a building which is usually in complete shade. Farther out, the light levels can increase depending on the time of year,” she advised. Varied vegetation layers, including smaller understory trees and larger shrubs, help to duplicate the ecosystem found in natural forest habitat, adding visual interest and attracting wildlife and pollinators, McCargo attested. Woodland soil, nutrient laden courtesy...

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Save space for your stored food

Do you feel that constant nag on your to-do list that you need to go grocery shopping, yet when you get home from a grocery trip, it never seems like there is any space to stick what you just bought? Aside from your pantry and your refrigerator, you might even have a chest freezer that’s filled to the brim as well. While it’s great to stock up, has the same sad can of chickpeas peeking at you in the back of your pantry since your child’s birthday … before last? Or by the time you pulled the steaks you got for such a great deal out of the bottom of your freezer, they were too freezer burnt for anyone except for your dog to enjoy? As the real, actual Maryland spring is finally approaching, so is cleaning season and the transition from crockpot meals to meals being prepared on the grill with fresh vegetables, making this a perfect time for a pantry and freezer cleanout. Pantry Purge Focus on your pantry first, emptying it all out on your table or countertops. Start with a clean sweep of anything that is expired or stale to the point you can’t eat it and try to compile items into groups such as breakfast items, baking items, things for lunches, things for kids, etc. As you put items back in, place your groups...

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From seed to shining seed

Tell any kid you’ll give them a cookie, I mean a carrot, if they will tell you how to get a seed to grow and there’s a good chance you’ll get a great answer. “Sunlight, soil and water” is a no-brainer even to the youngest of gardeners, but there are also a few hints to starting your seeds to ensure they develop into bountiful plants. While you know the library is a great place for books that will grow your imagination, you may not know it’s also a great stop for growing your garden! As a collaboration between the Talbot County Free Library, University of Maryland Extension and the Talbot County Master Gardeners, you can not only get fruit, vegetable, herb and flower seeds but growing help as well at the Easton and now, St. Michaels branches. The Start of Your Starts After you have decided what to grow, sift through your seed packets to see what you’ll want to sow indoors earlier than planting the rest of your garden. Aside from reading the hieroglyphics on the back of the seed packet, try using a planting chart specific to our area with all dates and guidelines in one place, like the one found on the University of Maryland’s Extension’s website. “Some seeds can be started indoors to get a jump on the season such as tomatoes, broccoli, zinnias, etc.,...

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A rose by any other name …

Where do those paint names come from and how are they selected? Each year the leading paint manufacturers list the top paint color of the year. How is this selection process achieved? Each fall the manufacturers release their “Color of the Year” usually with advice on how to completely renew your home with a fresh coat of paint. According to Benjamin Moore’s color and design expert, Andrea Magno, “We spend months researching and traveling around the world, attending design shows and picking up cues and influences from different industries, including fashion, art and even politics. “Then the next step is bringing that information back and determining what the common threads are between these different disciplines and areas of the world.” Over the past few years Sherwin-Williams spent months studying sleep patterns and spirituality before showing its “noir” collection. This collection included such hues as Black Swan, Anchors Aweigh and Poised Taupe. The selection process is very involved and can take up to a year. According to Diana Olvera, color marketing manager at Behr, “Names can typically be sorted into four descriptive categories: visual, geographical, emotional and experimental.” Inspiration can come from nature, fashion, or pop culture. “We have a lot of fun creating experiential names like Strike a Pose, LOL Yellow, or Almost Famous, which give an abstract sense of a certain attitude or trend,” Olvera says. Larger societies...

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