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LatestHomeAndGarden

Carol Barany: Dog Days offer time to evaluate failures

The Dog Days of summer have arrived with a vengeance. I thought the term explained why all I feel like doing these days is joining my dog in the hole she dug in the ivy on the shady side of the house and think deep thoughts as the temperatures soar. Actually, it refers to the star Sirius, nicknamed “the Dog Star” by the ancient Egyptians in honor of the god Osirus. For 20 days beginning in late July, Sirius rises and …

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‘Designer’ products that spruce up your yard

When heat, humidity and dry days take a toll on your flowers in July and August, give your yard a fresh look with pots of tropical hibiscus and mandevilla. Although they are not cold-hardy in much of the country, these plants add tropical touches to any summer décor. Costa Farms, a major hibiscus and mandevilla grower, features these stunning, sun-loving bloomers at garden centers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal- …

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Comfrey an ancient healer, and hard to kill

There is a narrow patch of ground about 200 feet long, right in the middle of our farm, that is completely unlike any other. Everywhere else you’ll find tidy beds with straight rows, bursting with nutritious food crops. But this strip is overgrown with tall grass and a succession of beautiful wildflowers. Early multicolored lupines are followed by white daisies, red and yellow hawkweed, white yarrow, red clover, yellow …

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Master Gardeners: Water well to keep plants healthy

Summer heat is here and there is much to be done in our gardens. Starting in July through at least the beginning of September harvest, you’ll need to water your garden more because summer heat and wind dry up the soil faster. At the same time, the plants will have grown and developed more avid thirsts. You are probably inspecting your garden daily and will likely notice right away if the ground is too dry, as your plan …

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Carol Barany: If you plant catmint, they will come (eventually)

A few years ago at Tower Perennials in Spokane, I wandered into a display of plants accompanied by a sign that commanded “don’t bother with questions, just trust us and try this.” It was a Siberian catmint, Souvenir d’Andre Chaudron, the most visited plant in that nursery’s hummingbird garden. Intrigued, I followed their advice, and looked forward to spikes of amazing violet-blue tubular flowers. I thought that hummin …

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Hyssop can add much-needed color during summer heat

One of the things a gardener misses about the spring is the vibrant color of young leaves. The lime greens of certain hostas, deutzias and Japanese maples add accents of vitality so emblematic of April, a month that now feels distant in the sullen lushness of summer. In northern gardens, these colors remain as strong echoes; in round-the-clock heat they are much fainter cries. A few, sited with just enough light or s …

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Landscapes need renovating, too

Your landscape is very much like your home’s interior decor. It grows old, sometimes tattered and torn, and needs updating from time to time. Sometimes, plantings need to be completely torn out and totally replaced. Sometimes, old porches, patios and decks just don’t work any longer. Landscape design classes typically teach that a landscape lasts for 10-15 years before it needs at least a partial redo. Sometimes, it’s …

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Inslees tend to flowers and vegetables alongside official residence in Olympia

OLYMPIA — Just inside the foyer of the Governor’s residence is a display of fresh flowers. It’s easily a $50 bouquet. Taxpayer funded? A gift from someone seeking political favors? None of the above. They’re the flowers that Washington first lady Trudi Inslee grows along the driveway leading up to the stately mansion. “Every once in a while someone will bring us flowers. But we supplement,” she explains as she walks …

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Master Gardeners: How to water, fertilize and mulch during hot months

This is the time of year you need to pay even more attention to your watering practices. Water your plants and lawn effectively — slowly and deeply but infrequently. This helps promote deep roots and keeps your plants beautiful and productive. Also, it is best to water in early morning to help reduce problems with powdery mildew and black spot. Remember that your container plants dry out quickly in their limited envi …

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Backyard chicken boom produces new industry of rent-a-hens

Tyler Phillips stood in the back of his parents’ home in Potomac, Md., and surveyed his burgeoning poultry empire. Lined up in front of him were the three chicken coops he’d been up building until midnight. His white van was gassed up and ready to go. The hens were already inside the coop he was delivering to a customer a 10-minute drive away. He fished a ringing cellphone out of the front pocket of his shorts. “Hello …

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The dawning of the age of kale

People bought so many kale seeds this spring that at least one company ran out of them. According to Julius Koenig, a product technician at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, kale sales rose 20 to 30 percent this year, an unexpected spike, and all the company’s hybrid kales (except the ornamental ones) are sold out completely. Adds fellow technician Lindsay Spigel, “My mom will eat it now. That means it has really become mainstr …

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WSU Master Gardener: Straw bales a portable, disposable garden bed

Straw bale gardens probably qualify as either raised beds or containers. One of our recent Teachable Moments classes was a hands-on class about creating straw bale gardens. When you mention straw bale gardens, most people think of a square or rectangle of straw bales with large quantities of dirt in the middle — more like a large raised bed garden, but here we are talking about something entirely different. A conce …

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Try this rose-pruning technique: It’s a snap

People are noticing my green thumb these days, literally. Deadheading my roses has given me chlorophyll-stained hands that even OxyClean can’t fix. I can never find my pruners, but since my right thumb and forefinger were providentially attached to my arm, my favorite deadheading tools are always ready. By removing tattered flowers just before they drop their petals, I can keep my roses blooming for months. Like any …

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Master Gardeners: Rise above dirt problems with raised garden beds

There are many reasons to gardening in raised beds: • We conserve water because it is applied to a smaller area (there’s no point in watering the walkways or paths between your beds). • Soil warms up earlier in the spring. • You can still have a garden even if you have soil that is of poor quality or full of rocks. • By putting paths around your raised beds, you can still reach into your “garden” to work but th …

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Please, dahlia, give me one more chance

One imagines organized and diligent gardeners to have put their muddy boots up over the holiday weekend and congratulated themselves on another May spent filling the pots with annuals and … More →