Last summer gardeners across numerous states reported an outbreak of impatiens downy mildew, a pathogen that can turn a healthy patch of impatiens diseased in short time, given the right weather conditions. The disease will infect common and double impatiens, although it appears it does not harm New Guinea impatiens or other plants.
Impatiens downy mildew thrives in cooler temperatures and moist conditions, such as an irrigated landscape bed. You'll know the enemy by the fuzzy white spores on the underside of the leaves. Unfortunately, downy mildew can overwinter in the soil, so it looks to be a problem that won't be going away anytime soon.
Infected impatiens will usually react with yellowing leaf and leaf curling before ultimately losing the leaf entirely. The current advice going out to gardens and yards that have been afflicted is to choose a different type of shade-loving annual, such as begonias, heliotrope, ivy geranium, sage and wishbone. Your local gardening supply store will likely have suggestions for shade-loving alternatives to the impatiens.
Good luck with your garden this spring and summer!
With all the stress of politics and depressing news and war, we need to find, in our minds, a place of peace and beauty. The flowers that bloom in the spring are a good place to begin.
"I love my garden. I am writing in the late afternoon loveliness, much interrupted by mosquitoes, and the temptation to look at all the glories of the new green leaves. Two owls near me are having a conversation. The gentleman owl sings a chord, and she answers with another chord."
This is the first page of a garden book published in 1900, "Elizabeth and her German Garden" about the joy of the May garden. Elizabeth "sits in her garden and glories in the peace and beauty of her spring happiness." She "loves to be alone. Reading. Under the bird cherry trees, so wreathed just now with white blossoms and tenderest green that the garden looks like a wedding."
I have read many, many garden books, but this elegant Victorian prose poem seems to capture the love of a garden. And the lilacs. She can not have enough of them, walking outside, or in vases in each room of the castle.
It's a book about Women's Liberation too. Reading was not for ladies. Only embroidery, sewing or cooking. Or talking to other do-nothing ladies about their cooks. Elizabeth was a titled English Lady, married young to a German Prince, whom she always refers to as the Man of Wrath. It's Downton Abby but for real, written by a person actually living it.
The charm of the book is the love she has for her garden, and the escape and joy it gives her from the life she must lead as a titled Victorian wife. And her joy is contagious. I look at May unfolding and feel the beauty and joy through her eyes.
Never mind the work that I see that should be done. Or the lawn. Curse the lawn. She waxes eloquent about the dandelions blooming with their cheerful yellow faces along her path and in the meadow. I see my dandelions smiling at me, along with the purple myrtle, the daffodils, the tulips, the flowering trees. Especially the weeping cherry, which explodes just as the magnolias begin to fade.
The first week of May is always the most glorious week of the year because everything comes out, announcing the end of winter. There is one magical day called, "The Turning of the Leaves" when all the overhead canopy is suddenly green. Two weeks ago our trees were leafless. Then came bits of red or brown or yellow. Today they have exploded bright green.
The timing of the leaf expansion is determined by weather, more specifically by a very scientific measurement called "Growing Degree Days." This tracks the amount of heat each day from March first and produces a daily number. (It's around 150 right now.) This CDD number also tells when each flower will open, when each bug hatches, when each fungus appears, and when to plant.
Elizabeth says of her German Garden, "I feel protected and every flower and weed is a friend and every tree a lover." This may be a bit heavy for you, but with terrorism, wars, and even our local politics, we all need some peace and beauty. A garden of flowers that bloom in the spring.
Thinking of adding a four-pawed friend to the family? You're not alone. According to the Humane Society, there are around 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States and 39% of homes have at least one dog.
While it may be relatively easy to become a dog owner, being a successful dog owner is another thing entirely. In addition to treating the dog properly, obedience, good diet, exercise and all the other aspects of raising a healthy, happy dog, there is the issue of being a good dog owner as it pertains to the home.
Not all of your neighbors are dog people. And every town and municipality will have its own set of rules regarding dog ownership, i.e. leash laws, containment policies, etc.
To help in these matters, we've put together a short checklist for Dogs in the Home:
Dog proof your home. In some ways this is like baby-proofing, except that a dog is highly mobile (even as a pup) and can do a heck of a lot more damage with its teeth. With that in mind, move anything that can be broken or chewed to a higher elevation. Block off areas of the home to make off-limits sections and tuck or hide away electrical cords. Keep the lid down on the toilet and mind those shoes!!!
Contain the dog. Dogs should not be allowed to simply roam free in the yard. Invariably, they will wander, cross streets and possibly attack a passerby. Check with your municipality for specific rules regarding containment of your dog. If you don't have an actual fence, you can install a dog run or invisible fencing.
Collar up. The collar serves many purposes. Obviously it is essential for attaching a leash, but it also demonstrates responsible dog ownership to the neighbors in your town. It was assist in your dogs return should it get loose and may prevent any harm coming to the dog because of being misidentified as feral or a stray.
Beware the bark. You wouldn't know if your dog barks all day while your away, but your neighbors will. It's a fast way to a frosty relationship. There are ways to train your dog not to bark unless seriously provoked. If that doesn't work, you can always try a silencing collar.
Socialize. Introducing the dog to the neighborhood is a great way to get the neighbors' support for your dog ownership decision. When first introducing Fido, ensure that he doesn't jump up, and be mindful of a neighbor's reaction to the sight of the dog. Not everyone is a dog person. Respect that. For those neighbors who are not, demonstrating your responsible nature will go a long way towards their tolerance of your pet.
The Department of Energy recently released a few tips to help homeowners save on their energy bill this spring.
We're passing along a handful of the tips, which you can ready in their entirety at the DOE website.
As we adjust to the rising temperatures, energy-savings starts with keeping a hand off the thermostat. There's no need (yet) for the AC - just open the right windows and let mother nature cool that heated home.
When the mercury does start to get out of hand, use energy-efficient ceiling and portable fans. They can cool the air (perceptually) by 10 degrees. The longer you can refrain from cranking up the AC, the better that energy bill is going to look.
Shut off the lights! 90% of the energy used to light an incandescent bulb gets turned into heat. Let the natural light into the home throughout the day. Better yet, swap out those archaic bulbs for some CFL or LED lights -- they run cooler AND save $$$. (Read more on switching out your light bulbs to keep up with the times.)
In the wealthy London areas of Kensington and Chelsea, there's a growing trend that sees the super-rich circumventing building regulations that limit the size of their homes above ground by digging down. Way down.
They're called iceberg homes because what you see is just the tip. Below the ground are basements. Huge basements. According to the recent Guardian piece on the subject, on Canadian TV tycoon is planning a 4-story basement that dwarfs the house itself.
What could these mega-rich possibly want to build extravagant basements for? Anything and everything, apparently. Swimming pools, move theaters, home gyms, servants' quarters, underground parking for a fleet of cars -- you name it.
Until recently, there have been no planning laws preventing expansion into the ground. Of 1,000 basement extension planning applications submitted in the last five years, 800 were accepted.
And all of this might not be a problem, except that it is. In many cases, the construction -- which itself is disruptive and noisy -- has literally started to cause neighboring homes to fall apart. There have been instances of cracks forming in foundations and residents being trapped behind doors that suddenly will not open.
Proposed new rules aim to prevent digging under listed buildings, but since it doesn't go into effect until the end of this year, there's been a mad rush on new basement expansion planning applications and basement expansion construction to beat the new laws..
If the mega-rich truly cared about their less-fortunate neighbors, they might offer to build access tunnels into their mega-basements and allow limited pool and cinema use. It sounds like the least they could do for all the headaches they've caused.
The baby boom generation is heading towards retirement, which means a sizable slice of the housing pie could be hitting the market soon. And demand is not shaping up to meet the expected supply.
This according to a recent article in The Atlantic Cities, which suggested that baby boomers, who were largely responsible for the growth in larger, big-lot single family homes that defined suburbia, are going to be looking to downsize as the move into retirement over the next ten years. This means selling those suburban homes to the next generation of families.
The only problem? That next generation of households with children has a larger percentage of buyers who are inclined towards condos and townhouses (around 25%, according to the article).
A growing lower class unable to afford the large suburban homes will further exacerbate the problem.
So when's the next housing crash going to happen? The article points to 2020 as the year to keep an eye on.