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Archives for February 23, 2013

Home and garden show this weekend

Sarah Fee demonstrates CUTCO Cutlery to Lauren Stack at last year’s Northwest Georgia Home and Garden Show at the Clarence Brown Conference Center. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File


Local green thumbs and home improvement enthusiasts this weekend will have the opportunity to speak with more than 50 vendors and hear from organic specialist and author “Dirt Doctor” Howard Garrett at the annual Northwest Georgia Home and Garden Show, held at the Clarence Brown Conference Center.

“We’ve been doing the show for several years and, as far as we’re concerned, it gets better every year,” said Merry Toole of Rome Radio Partners, the event’s sponsor. “We’d love to see 2,000 to 3,000 people there this year.”

Rome Radio Partners’ General Manager Randy Quick said the event will feature vendors to aid in the various aspects of home and garden improvement, ranging from pest to control to insurance. Event patrons also will be able to view landscaping designs.

“I feel it’s going to be a good attraction for the people of Bartow and surrounding areas to have some really quality one-on-one time with these vendors and designers that can give them some really good advice on how to proceed for doing some upgrading to their home and we’ll also have some financing available as well,” Quick said.

Vendors include Coosa Valley Credit Union, which is making its first appearance at the expo.

“We are coming at it from the angle of mortgage loans and home improvement loans,” Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Robert Smyth said. “… With regulations it’s much harder to do on-site approvals and things like that, but we will have people there that will be able to talk with you about what you’re looking for and to set up an appointment with you at one of our six locations at a more convenient time.

“With the way things are going out there in the financial world, Coosa Valley of course does have money to lend, we do mortgages, and we’re always looking for quality people and [the expo] just seemed like if you’re looking to buy a home or looking to improve your home, that would be a great place to start.”

He added, “Once you see what you like, maybe we can help you out from that point on.”

Toole said the event is an opportunity for people to see what home and garden improvement options are available. She said the options grow each year.

“We haven’t had plants in the past, this year we do have plants and we’re real excited about that, [we have] a lot of landscaping ideas that we didn’t have before, and of course Howard Garrett, the ‘Dirt Doctor,’” she said, adding the expo also will feature Master Gardeners.

According to his biography on, “Howard Garrett is a landscape architect by training, with extensive experience in landscape contracting, greenhouse growing, golf course planning and maintenance and organic product development. Howard has devoted his life to establishing a leadership role in the natural organic marketplace. He provides advice on natural organic gardening, landscaping, pet health, pest control, and natural living.”

Quick said Garrett’s seminars will be informative to those interested in organic gardening.

“He’s going to be talking all about organic gardening and giving some tips that people can actually apply to the maintenance of their own lawn and garden,” Quick said.

The event will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Garrett will speak Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, free for children under 12.

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HBA Home and Garden Show Kicks Off in Boardman – WKBN/WYFX

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Lose the lawn with alternative ideas – Austin American

For decades, carpets of lush, green suburban lawns have been icons of an attractive, well-maintained home. But our recent drought has made more than a few homeowners reconsider the composition of their landscape. Last year, almost all of my landscaping clients requested a design that included eliminating at least a section of lawn as part of their overall plan.

Citing skyrocketing water bills, parched and dying grass and constant maintenance woes, homeowners are eager for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional lawns that are becoming harder and harder to maintain in our climate.

Many people are unsure about how to approach having less lawn. Some believe they are limited to a stretch of glaring white gravel with thorny cacti. The fact is, we don’t live in the desert (despite occasionally feeling like it) and there are many other beautiful landscaping options to match a wide range of personal styles.

Lawn replacement choices run the gamut from low-maintenance beds to welcoming patios, paths, dry creeks, water features, play spaces, gazebos and fire pits.

While xeric or drought-tolerant plants require less water, all plants need to be watered. Central Texas boasts a long list of native plants that, once established, can survive our rigorous conditions with less watering. When planted, they will require regular watering for several months to get them started, but will then be less thirsty than other non-native or adapted plants.

In addition to flowering plants like lantana, salvia, yellow bell, damianita, skullcap, plumbago, catmint, and blackfoot daisy, to name just a few, many xeric grasses and sedges also can be used in a smaller area en mass to create a grassy, nontraditional green space. Among the most successful grasses for achieving this look are Mexican feather grass, little bluestem grass, Texas sedge and Berkley sedge. Planting a small space with these grasses might also have the added benefit of appeasing some rigid homeowners associations.

Groundcovers and creeping plants also can be used to take up lawn space — some of those that work well here include Asian jasmine, sweet potato vine, silver ponyfoot, purple heart, wooly stemodia and a variety of thymes.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center ( center maintains an excellent database of native plants

— their needs and characteristics — that grow well in Central Texas.

While removing swaths of grass and expanding flowing lines of landscape beds with water-wise plants is one solution, it’s not practical for most gardeners to replace an entire lawn this way.

Creating an attractive and inviting landscape usually includes an interesting mix of plants and paths, patios and other areas designed for outdoor entertaining and enjoyment.

You can replace lawn with sitting and entertaining space — using paths of mulch, decomposed granite or flagstone, patios of native stone or bricks, wooden decks and gazebos, creating an inviting garden space when combined with planting beds. Dry creeks can be added to meander through your landscape to address drainage issues or simply for aesthetic use as a textural contrast to plants and mulch. Water features from ponds to disappearing fountains in ceramic pots can add a focal point and invite wildlife into your garden. Playscapes, hammocks, washer pits and fire pits or chimenarias also can be placed on a variety of hardscape materials in lieu of grass.

Austin garden blogger, writer and author Pam Penick’s newly released book, “Lawn Gone! Low Maintenance, Sustainable Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard,” provides homeowners with practical solutions for gardeners wanting to replace some lawn.

The growing demand for lawn replacement options led Penick to write the book, which includes a section on top rated, regional plant recommendations to help gardeners put their ideas into action.

“So many people in our area want to replace their lawns with less thirsty, greener alternatives,” Penick said, “but they just don’t know how to begin. That’s who I wrote this book for. I want to inspire people with the options and show them how to do it.”

The book covers plant options, design considerations and extensive DIY information on the different methods for actually removing the lawn, including solarizing and lasagna gardening. It also includes a wide selection of inspirational color photos with examples of attractive no-lawn or reduced-lawn landscapes.

You don’t have to live with half-dead grass or pave your lawn over with concrete. With a little creativity and some sweat equity, you can create your own xeric lawn alternative landscape.

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Spring Garden Day event planned at Extension Demonstration Gardens in Bear …

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013 3:00 pm

Spring Garden Day event planned at Extension Demonstration Gardens in Bear Creek


Houston Community Newspapers

Jump start your garden by attending Spring Garden Day, March 16, featuring timely talks and how-to demonstrations at the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service Office and Gardens, 3033 Bear Creek Dr., Houston.

Harris County Horticulture Extension Agents and Harris County Master Gardeners will give three informative lectures:

– “The Dirt on Great Garden Soil” will tell how to amend your garden soil and check nutrient levels to ensure great results.

– “Grow Your Own Groceries” will provide tips on what vegetables to plant in our area and techniques to grow them to an optimal harvest.

– “Good Bugs and Great Flowers” will give a glimpse at some of the beneficial insects in local gardens and what plants will help to attract them.

Running concurrently with the talks will be demonstrations in the gardens surrounding the office.

Trained Master Gardeners in the vegetable gardens will discuss soil preparation in raised beds, proper seed planting, setting out transplants and managing pests.

Others in the flower gardens will show how to divide perennials, plant woody ornamentals, prepare in-ground soil and properly mulch beds.

More Master Gardeners will be demonstrating composting techniques and container gardening methods. There will also be an Ask-A-Master Gardener Booth to answer attendees’ questions on other horticulture and landscaping topics.

The educational event begins at 8 a.m. with refreshments and registration. Lectures and demonstrations begin at 8:30 a.m. and run through noon. Cost is $15.

Harris County Master Gardeners are volunteers trained to share research-based horticulture knowledge with residents of the county in support of the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service.

For details of this and other upcoming events, call (281)855-5600 or like Harris Count Master Gardeners Association on Facebook.

Individuals with disabilities requiring auxiliary aids, services or accommodations in order to participate in Extension programs are encouraged to call (281)855-5600 to discuss specific needs. Harris County Master Gardeners is a program of the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service. Educational programs of the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.


Friday, February 22, 2013 3:00 pm.

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Garden Show A Reminder That Spring Is Closing In

With snow in the forecast, it’s hard to remember that spring is just a few weeks away. The Flower and Garden Show this weekend at the Connecticut Convention Center is a chance for many outdoor businesses to stir warm thoughts of yardwork and gardening.

The Garden Barn, a Vernon nursery and landscaping firm, doesn’t sell plants at the show and the booth is more busy giving out $5 coupons than selling garden tchotchkes.

Still, it would be wrong to conclude that the cost of the booth rental is more than what they get out of the show. “We get to be seen by people that are farther away,” says manager Kim Gliha.

Selling products this weekend isn’t really the goal for the Garden Barn. Last year, a third of the coupons were redeemed, which Gliha thought was good.

Last year’s attendance over the four days was 40,000. Gliha said she thought there was more traffic on opening day this year than on a typical garden show Thursday.

Over the last several years, the Garden Barn has had stable sales, Gliha said, which, compared to the national industry trends, “is pretty good.”

In 2008, Americans spent $36 billion on lawns and gardens. In 2009 that figure fell to $30 billion, and by 2011 it was down to $29 billion. Average spending per household fell from $444 to $351 over that time.

Given those trends, and the fact that the majority of shopping has shifted to big box stores rather than local nurseries and hardware stores, reminding customers that you’re around is worth a booth at the show.

Thoughts Of Spring

Carol Sauerhoff of Bethel visited the show for the first time because a friend invited her.

“I thought it sounded like fun on a wintry day,” she said. She hadn’t expected all the succulents on display by amateur gardeners, or the non-garden items, like fancy tote bags.

Sauerhoff no longer has a garden, but she fills her little deck with potted plants. “It brightens your day,” she said.

There were plenty of scenes in the convention center to distract visitors from the exhaust-blackened snow banks that make Hartford less than a winter wonderland.

Pondering Creations had an elaborate burbling pond and landscaped garden.

Perennial Harmony created a landscape that included a Hobbit Hole playhouse, tucked under a hill of sod. The playhouse, made by a Maine company, is available through the Waterford landscaper.

Bright colors of blooming azaleas, daffodils and live butterflies, and the smell of mulch, were all there offering thoughts of spring.

There were even booths for items that can be enjoyed on bright wintry days. Four Season Sunrooms had a booth with pictures of sunrooms, including elegant Victorian-style conservatories, that could be added to your house.

A fellow vendor was drawn in, shooting pictures with his phone of the display. “I’d be the hero in my house if I got one of these sunrooms,” he said.

Next to the sunroom display, Coca-Cola was running a raffle, giving away rain barrels made from the plastic barrels that bottling plants receive syrup ingredients in. The East Hartford plant goes through 50 barrels a week, and they’re all repurposed in some way, either for rain barrels, recycling receptacles at large events or sent to another company. The rain barrels, which have a spigot handle on them, cost the company about $15 to make. They will give away 32 during the four-day weekend garden show.

Beth and Bob Yoon of Deerfield, Mass., had never come to the show before, but decided that attending on a day off from work “would make it feel like spring.”

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Landscape Now: Landscaping Ideas From Rhode Island’s Best Gardens

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The public gardens and arboretums of Rhode Island are great inspiration for your spring landscaping plans. And they’re open in the winter!

We are very fortunate in Rhode Island to have several wonderful Botanical Gardens, Arboretums and Parks that feature seasonal and year round gardens, open space and an impressive collection of trees, shrubs and perennials for everyone to see and enjoy.

A visit to these gardens, even during the winter months, can provide you and your family with a relaxing and educational afternoon both outdoors and in the case of the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center in Providence, an indoor visit with over 12,000 square feet of covered display gardens. A trip to Ferry Road, Bristol, midway between Providence and Newport, will bring you to the 32-acre Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum with over 300 species of woody plants in its arboretum and gardens. At the University of Rhode Island in Kingston is the 4.5-acre URI Botanical Gardens featuring sustainable landscape plants and practices. Heading south to Westerly, you can visit Wilcox Park, a 14-acre park and arboretum located on High Street next to the Westerly Public Library. Let’s learn more about some of RI’s botanical treasures!

Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, Providence

The Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park is the largest public indoor display gardens in New England. The Botanical Center includes two greenhouses, The Conservatory and The Mediterranean Room. There are over 150 plant species including 17 types of palms. The Cacti, Agave and Aloe were saved and replanted from the old greenhouse displays. The outdoor gardens include the Perennial Garden, Pine and Hosta Dell, the Winter Garden, Hillside Garden, Overlook Terrace and the Rose Maze.

Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum, Bristol

Located 25 minutes east of Providence on the Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Blithewold was named in Yankee Magazine’s 2010 Best 5 Public Gardens in New England. The 33-acre summer estate contains a 10-acre lawn, gardens, specimen trees and historic stone structures. Walking the grounds you may be drawn to the Bosquet (enclosed woodland), enjoy the Water Garden, absorb the history of the Enclosed Garden and be amazed with the abundance of the seasonal Display Gardens. Additionally plan to visit the Rock Garden, the more formal North Garden, Rose Garden and the over 3,000 trees and shrubs planted on the grounds including one of the largest Giant Sequoias on the east coast!

The Gardens and Grounds are open year-round daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Visit their website for admission prices and tickets, or call 401-253-2707 for more information.

University of Rhode Island Botanical Gardens, Kingston

The gardens began as the Learning Landscape in 1992 with a donation of plants, materials and labor from the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association. In 2003 the gardens were renamed the URI Botanical Gardens. The gardens demonstrate sustainable plants and practices including low maintenance plants and disease and insect resistant varieties. The gardens act as a training laboratory for Green Industry professionals, scientists, students and the general public. The gardens feature a Memorial White Garden, the Ericaceous Garden, the Annual Garden, the Formal Gardens, the Shade Garden and the Chester Clayton Rose Garden.

The URI Outreach Center offers yearly educational events in the gardens. The grounds are open to the public free of charge. Visit their website here or call 401-874-2900 for information about upcoming programs.

Wilcox Park, Westerly

Harriet Wilcox in 1898 purchased and donated the park land in Westerly to establish Wilcox Park. Thanks to her foresight and generosity the park features a beautiful landscape defined by an open meadow area surrounded by specimen trees, a pond, monuments and perennial gardens. Wilcox Park was originally designed in 1898 by Warren H. Manning, an associate of famed architect, Fredrick Law Olmsted featuring native plants. In the 1960’s efforts began to establish the park as an arboretum which now includes a collection of specimen trees, a dwarf conifer collection and perennial and annual beds.

The park has been a commonly used site for local events including the annual Summer Pops Concert, Shakespeare in the Park and numerous markets and festivals. The park is privately operated by the Westerly Public Library’s Board of Trustees and is open to the public without fee. Visit the library’s website for more information and dates of upcoming events.

Although we are the smallest state we can boast some of the more outstanding gardens, arboretums and parks around New England and beyond. A visit to these local gardens will help show you examples of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals that you can use in your own landscapes, provide a wonderful way to spend a day and serve as a source of inspiration for your own gardening and landscaping!

My next article will detail ways you can begin to create more eco-friendly, organic gardens and landscapes!

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” Greek proverb

Frank Crandall is a RI resident specializing in coastal landscaping, organic land care, small business consulting, writing, speaking and photography will be submitting biweekly articles about Landscape Solutions. With over 40 years in the horticultural field Frank will write about pertinent, seasonal landscape topics including effective solutions. Comments about Frank’s articles are welcome by contacting him at: Frank Crandall, Horticultural Solutions.

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Gardening Tips: Picking native plants for your landscape

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013 10:38 am

Gardening Tips: Picking native plants for your landscape

By Mattew Stevens

RR Daily Herald


One of the great attributes of many native plants, in addition to flower color, is they offer great color provided through fall foliage or berries.

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Friday, February 22, 2013 10:38 am.

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Expert offers late Winter gardening tips

The wind is blowing and the sun is shining. It almost feels like Spring but your lawn is still dead. And though you may want to do something to help perk things up, some lawn experts say…not so fast!

“Its a little early. March is when you start doing your cleaning and thinking about what you’re going to be doing once you get into April and May. Because in March you still could have some freeze. You still could have some snow. It’s best. I know everybody is anxious especially with nice days but April and May is when you really want to start going,” says Chris Redmond, owner of Redmond’s Garden, Landscape, and Gift Center in Lexington.

But don’t put down those gardening tools just yet! “Right now it’s Spring cleanup time. You want to be mulching, edging, cutting back your double knockouts, grasses, any perennials and things like that,” says Redmond.

Now is also prime time for making sure your plants have good nutrition. “You can be fertilizing your shrubs with any of your tone products which are organic. That is what you would want to use,” explains Redmond.

If you would like to add some color to your garden pick a nice green plant and a colorful pot. That way when temperatures freeze you can bring the plant inside to keep it from dying.
As the old saying goes…never plant anything before Derby. The average last Spring freeze is April 15th with the latest freeze for Lexington on May 20th, 1894.

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Garden Tips: Prune your fig trees in late winter, early spring to avoid loss …

Q: When should fig trees in Memphis be pruned, and how much can I cut them back?

— Clare Stallings

A: Fruit trees can be challenging because they require much care. The best time to prune fig trees is late winter or early spring. Pruning in late spring may cause you to lose some fruit, because some buds may have started to set.

Your first task in pruning is to remove any dead branches, then remove any branches that are rubbing against any other parts of the tree. Do not remove more than one-third of the tree when pruning.

When removing diseased branches, sterilize your pruning tools with bleach and water solution between each cut. When pruning diseased branches, make the pruning cut about six inches below the diseased area.

Q: I have a pink knockout rose bush that my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day, shortly before she died. Needless to say, this rose is very important to me.

It doesn’t look very healthy to me. It is stalky, not many leaves and had few blooms last year. What do I need to do to get my plant healthy?

— Barbara Endicott

A: I hope you have it planted in a sunny location in your yard. Roses need a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day.

The pH of your soil should be between 6.0-6.5. A soil test is the only way to find this out. The Extension service has soil boxes and information sheets for taking a soil sample.

Add about three inches of organic mulch around your rose bush in the spring. Do not allow the mulch to touch the base of the plant.

Keep the soil moist during the summer, but don’t overly saturate the soil. Water early in the morning, so the foliage has time to dry before night. This will help cut down on diseases.

Add some super phosphate around the drip line of the plant (at the end of branches) once it starts to put on some blooms.

Booker T. Leigh is Tipton County Extension director. E-mail your gardening questions to and I will answer them in future columns. Include your name and the area where you live. For more gardening information, call the Tipton County Extension office at 901-476-0231 or the Shelby County Extension office at 901-752-1207.

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DECOR & DESIGN: Gardening: Brief, beguiling blooms

  • This silvery artemisia is a perfect foil for the foxgloves in the white border at Stellenberg

  • A lovely wild mix of foxgloves growing in dappled sunshine at Fresh Woods garden.

IN MY mind a romantic garden is always characterised by an abundance of flowers, especially old fashioned varieties such as foxgloves, delphiniums, columbines, forget-me-not and roses.

It is even better to experience such gardens in person and two that are the epitome of romantic are Stellenberg in Kenilworth, Cape Town and Fresh Woods in Elgin.

Both are lush, in one case to the point of being overgrown, and filled with flowers and greenery, containing hidden corners, secretive pathways and crumbling statues.

A visit to both gardens last November coincided with the foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) being in full flower and they stole the show.

The Stellenberg gardens are the life’s work of Sandy Ovenstone and include a magnificent white garden, consisting mainly of a white border filled with a breathtaking mix of perennials, roses, herbs, lilies, daylilies and many more. Everything is cleverly planned and planted for a continuous but changing show.

Throughout the border, foxgloves sent up towering spikes of white blooms and were quite dazzling because they had been planted alongside contrasting foliage plants — silvery artemisia and feathery bronze fennel.

At Fresh Woods, Peter and Barbara Knox-Shaw’s garden, beds of foxgloves have seeded themselves over the years, resulting in a mix of soft mauve, pink and cream shades. They thrive under flowering cherry trees and in front of fragrant shrubs of Brunfelsia pauciflora.

Foxgloves are short-lived perennials that grow best in partial or semi-shade and like rich, fertile, slightly acid soil. They can be sown or planted out from now until April and will flower in spring. Their appeal is that they are fleeting. They are not in flower for long but when they are they transform the space.

When in flower their spikes reach 1m in height and the plant, which consists of a mounded leafy rosette, has a 50cm spread. Some older cultivars tend to fall over if not staked.

A new, compact variety is Digitalis “Dalmatian”. It is a first-year flowering perennial, growing 50cm high by 36cm wide, and takes 15 to 17 weeks from sowing to flowering. The white is striking, but one could opt for stronger colours of purple, rose, peach and crème. Clipping the spent flower heads encourages side shoots to develop and flower.

Interestingly, foxgloves are often paired with roses, which like full sun. That means the roses have to cope with less sun and one should choose roses that can take partial shade such as the soft petalled, pastel varieties.

Roses and foxgloves like fertile soil that drains well and good, deep watering at least twice a week in summer. Neither tolerates dry soil conditions well. It is not advisable to use a sprinkler because the large flower heads are easily weighed down by the water and can bend or break. Rather use mist or drip irrigation.

A 5cm to 10cm layer of mulch around the plants helps keep the soil moist and the roots cool.

Rose expert Ludwig Taschner says that foxgloves tend to infect roses with red spider. Prevent infestations by spraying with Ludwig’s Insect Spray every two weeks in summer. In the event of an infestation, spray both the upper and undersides of the rose leaves with Red Spider Mite spray for two weeks.

An old-fashioned favourite that featured in the Cape gardens was delphinium, one of the “truest blues” of garden flowers. Like foxgloves, delphiniums need deep, rich, moist soil that drains well. There is a new variety that is spurless, with upward facing flowers. It is “Diamonds Blue” and grows 41cm-61cm high.

A gorgeous, old-fashioned combination is columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris), Myosotis “Forget-me-not Blue” and roses. Myosotis is available in seed packets, germinates easily and then happily self seeds so there are always new plants coming up.

Of the columbines, the Songbird series has a colour range that includes golden yellow (Goldfinch), lavender (Nightingale), soft pink (Robin) and deep red (Cardinal). If planted in autumn it will flower in spring. The plant is frost hardy, likes partial to dappled sun and has medium water requirements.

Nigella is not often seen, so it was good to encounter it at Fresh Woods. It can also be grown from seed and a locally available variety is Nigella Persian Jewels Mix. It likes full sun and the flowers have a delicate beauty that is quintessentially romantic.

• This article was first published in HomeFront

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