In the Garden column: Color your spring with fall bulbs – Lifestyle – The Topeka Capital-Journal

If you have, over the years, looked at gardens where there is a profusion of color with spring-flowering bulbs and wished for the same showstopping display in your garden, then now is the time to think about planting spring-flowering bulbs.

I had been remiss some years and did not plant certain bulbs or as many as I should have, and then came spring, and I had regrets. So, this fall, make time for spring color in your garden and plant fall bulbs in the perennial bed and beneath trees and shrubs. If space is a problem, fall bulbs can be planted in pots, containers and window boxes, and even be forced to bloom indoors.

Not all bulbs are the same. That is, some fall bulbs work as perennials, others are considered annuals. Daffodils and scilla are reliable as perennials. Tulips and hyacinths have become annuals for me. The National Garden Bureau suggests treating them as annuals, and to check bloom times so you can enjoy a long season of flowers. Since tulips and hyacinths often bloom as annuals, the National Garden Bureau suggests experimenting with new color combinations every year.

Some of their tips for planting spring-flowering bulbs:
• The best times for planting are mid-October through mid-November. Early December is the latest for planting. Plant bulbs about three weeks before the soil begins to freeze.
• Well-drained soil and about six to eight hours of sun are the ideal locations for bulbs.
• Your selection of bulbs should include bulbs with different bloom times. Early-, mid- and late-season-blooming bulbs will guarantee a colorful spring show of flowering bulbs.
Carole McCray resides in Cape May, New Jersey and is an award-winning garden writer who has been writing a monthly garden column, The Potting Shed, for regional newspapers for nearly 20 years. Her articles have been published in The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper, Coastal Living Magazine, Cape May Magazine, Growise Garden Guide and Ideals Magazine. She won the Garden Writer’s Association Award for newspaper writing for The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper.

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STEPHEN THOMPSON: Here’s a handy guide to spray-painting kitchen cabinets | Lifestyle

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, I sold a lot of Sherwin-Williams paint. Back then spray-paint machines were expensive, temperamental and definitely for professional use only. A lot has changed since then. Now the mystique and complexity of spray-painting has been vastly simplified. DIYers can easily purchase and operate an entry-level ($89 home-owner grade spray gun and compressor from Wagner Home Decor) for their difficult painting projects. OK, full disclosure, I have never used the Wagner Home Decor HVLP Stationary Sprayer I’m recommending here, but I’m very impressed by its videos. I strongly advise practicing on a small project before you tackle the large job of painting all your kitchen cabinets.

When you want a smooth finish, especially when using high-gloss paint, a sprayed-on finish is absolutely the best way to go. You’ll get a far more even, uniform surface by spraying than by brushing and rolling. Why? Because a high-gloss paint will literally highlight and accentuate every single one of your roller and brush mark imperfections in the finish coat.

Before spraying, the surface you are painting should appear as smooth as glass. That means 90% of any spray-paint job is time you’ll spend in preparation, with just 10% percent in actual painting. You might be surprised, but that amount of prep time for spray work isn’t much longer than prep time for brush or roller painting. However, what you gain by spraying is a huge savings in the amount of time spent painting.

So, what does the 90% prep work involve? First, remove all the hardware and take the doors off their hinges. Put up plastic and lay drop cloths to keep sanding dust and paint overspray from adjacent surfaces. Use a degreaser to clean throughly and to completely remove dirt, oils, grease and grime. Fill in all dents and scratches and sand smooth. Using a sanding sponge or sandpaper, lightly go over all the cabinet parts to ensure every surface has an even consistency – sanding with the grain of the wood to prevent any surface damage – and remove all sanding dust with a tack cloth or clean sponge.

If your cabinets have been painted many times, you can skip the cleaning part above, but you will need to apply a stripping agent to remove those previous coats of paint.

Depending on how dark your cabinets are and how opaque your primer is, plan on applying at minimum two to three coats of paint, the first of which should be a fast-drying primer. A quality primer will (1) help conceal imperfections, (2) block past cooking stains from bleeding through the finishes and (3) make it easy for paint to adhere to your cabinets. Let your base coat dry, use your sanding sponge again – just not too aggressively this time – and remove any sanding dust.

Let each additional coat of paint dry thoroughly (about 24 hours) before lightly sanding and applying another coat. Let the paint fully cure for about 48 hours before reattaching the doors,

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Easy, cheap tips to organize and upgrade your kitchen – Lifestyle – providencejournal.com

I bought a plastic-bag organizer recently, and the other day, as I was shoving a grocery bag into its neat confines, I felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. It was an emotion that was hard to place, one that resided somewhere between calm — all too fleeting these days — and, dare I say it, joy?

So maybe you don’t have the energy for a full Marie Kondo-style purging of your household, but if the novelty of home cooking has worn thin as the pandemic continues, consider a kitchen overhaul.

Here’s a roundup of cheap — mostly free — tips for inspiration. If they sound like no-brainers, well, maybe they are. But both my husband and I have noticed how these minor adjustments have made our lives noticeably better — and easier. And who couldn’t use an easier life right now?

Do a deep cleaning

It may sound like a drag, but put on some dance music and see how much pent-up aggression you can work out. Do all the crummy jobs: Get in the corners; clean the grease off the tops of the cupboards; pull out the stove and the refrigerator. Getting rid of that blanket of dust on the fridge motor will make it function more effectively too. You need a clean slate.

Rearrange your refrigerator

Yes, clean it and throw out the long-expired condiments. But then, take a look at the shelves. Are you always struggling to find a spot for the milk? Consider reconfiguring them to eliminate minor daily hassles.

Rethink your drawers and cabinets

What other annoyances could you eliminate with a bit of rejiggering? Where else could you put the tongs that make the drawer jam every time you open it? How about employing a little-used vase as a utensil bucket so you don’t even need to open a drawer for those tongs?

Could you streamline your movements around the kitchen if you shuffled what you have in your cabinets? I’m not sure how I chose the cupboard for my plates when we moved in; I suspect it was the one closest to the box where the dishes were packed. Moving the plates made my prep area more efficient and saved a few steps — which may seem minor, but who has even a few steps’ worth of energy to spare these days?

Engage in some gentle KonMari

As you reorganize, think about what you have and whether you really need it; if you can shed it, get rid of it. Note what’s worn out and needs to be replaced. If you can afford to replace that dull can opener, do it; if not, put it on a list for down the road.

Invest in organizers for convenience

A small, cardboard box (free). Back when I tested a bunch of meal kits, one of the companies sent its produce in a small cardboard box (think shoebox), which I saved to keep onions, potatoes and other root vegetables in a dry cupboard. Should something rot

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From nightclub to restaurant: Here’s what it is like to dine at Zouk’s Capital Kitchen in Clarke Quay, Lifestyle News

Among the businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, clubs in Singapore are possibly the worst-hit. While many of our city’s hottest party spots remain shuttered, though, one nightclub is rising creatively above adversity.

Making a smooth pivot from dancing to dining, Zouk has transformed its luxe Capital lounge space into pop-up restaurant Capital Kitchen.

Since the pandemic, this household name has been exploring a number of ventures to stay afloat – from the sale of bottled cocktails to renting out their club space to Lazada for live-streaming.

Capital Kitchen, though, might just be its greatest hit yet. Drawing on the kitchen of RedTail Bar downstairs, it serves up a menu of Asian and Western delights alongside cocktails, sake, and wine.

Housed on the second floor of the Zouk complex, pulsating colour and toned-down tunes build up an otherworldly ambience here.

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After taking in the dim and intimate space, the first starter we dug into was the Eggplant Parmigiana ($15).

This highly-praised Italian favourite is well-balanced without the cheese and tomato sauce being too overwhelming – it might even make a convert of staunch non-aubergine eaters. 

We enjoy exploring daily specials and we were looking for something on the lighter side, so the Pan Seared Hokkaido Scallops ($22) fit the bill perfectly.

Topped with ikura and served on a creamy bed of cauliflower puree, this juicy starter pops with umami. The texture of the cauliflower, though, took a little getting used to. 

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The much-anticipated mains lived up expectations in terms of flavour and quantity. The meat from the slow-braised Lamb Shank ($38) is so tender that it easily falls off the bone with a tug of the fork.

Not overly gamey, its flavour is retained and balanced well by the luscious gravy.

Seafood and pasta lovers alike should go for @liski_li’s Fiery Gamberi Aglio Olio ($25). The seasoning between the seafood and pasta is consistent and flavourful. Those afraid of spice won’t have to worry as the heat is fairly mild. 

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The star of the show was undoubtedly the dessert – Paparch Burnt Cheesecake ($15). Zouk’s collaboration with this local home baker was much-anticipated, given Paparch’s month-long waiting list for just a slice of their creamy goodness.

Boasting a caramelised exterior that gives way to a molten center, this is one piece of heaven you won’t tire of. The price is steep for the portion but hey, at least you won’t have to count down the days to get your hands on it. 

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You’ll find it hard to enjoy your meal and the vibe at Capital Kitchen without a tipple or two, so we tried the Asam Guava and Teh Ping from Zouk’s locally-inspired bottled cocktails ($68 for 500ml, serves 5).

Borrowing from our beloved bubble tea and served with tapioca pearls, the vodka in the latter was overwhelming on the first sip and did not gel well with the milk tea. Adding ice helped mellow it out. 

We approve of the Asam Guava – a smooth blend of guava juice

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Gardening: It’s time to put the garden to bed – Lifestyle – providencejournal.com

Big yellow school buses are on the road again … or at least a few of them. Tree leaves in the swamps are turning red. Frost and cold weather are sneaking up on us. This year I resolve to get my garden put to bed early so that I am not wearing gloves and long johns as I cut back the daylilies and other perennials on cold, wet fall days. Here is what I am doing now — or will do soon.

First on my list is the need to sow some grass seed. I have places where my lawn was killed when a torrential downpour dumped sand from the road onto the lawn. Fall is a better time to sow seed than the spring because the ground is warmer, and it will germinate quickly. In the spring, seed can rot during cold, wet weather.

I will spread some topsoil or compost to improve the soil, then mix it in with a short-tined rake. After spreading seed, I will cover it with a layer of straw. That will help to keep the soil and seeds from drying out, though I will water occasionally if the soil gets dry.

Chrysanthemums are for sale now at farm stands, and I purchased a few pots of them to brighten up the front yard. I treat them as annuals, even though some of them are perennials. But the growers cut back the plants as they grow, causing them to branch out and produce hundreds of blossoms on bigger plants. If I let them over-winter, the plants would have some flowers, but never so many as what the professionals produce. To me, it’s worth it to buy a few each fall.

Mums in pots tend to dry out quickly, so I have been soaking mine in my birdbath. That way the pots suck up water, getting it down deep. I could actually plant my mums in the ground, but I like them in pots on the front steps or in my wooden wheelbarrow. They need water every few days.

This is also the time of year when I move shrubs. I recently moved a Diervilla, one called “Kodiak,” which was given to me years ago. It was crowded in between a crab apple tree and a red-veined Enkianthus. I decided it needed more space to grow, and I wanted to expose a stone wall behind it. So I dug it up.

This shrub is about 3 feet tall and wide, and it had been in the ground more than five years. I used a shovel called a drain spade, a spade with a long, narrow blade. I pushed it into the ground at a 45-degree angle in four places around the bush. Each time I pushed the shovel handle down to lift the shrub slightly. Then, when I’d gone all around it, I got the spade under the middle of the plant, pushed down hard, and popped it right out.

I tugged on the plant

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Montgomery column: Designing a garden – Lifestyle – The Pueblo Chieftain

“I never before knew the full value of trees. My house is entirely embosomed in high plane-trees, with good grass below; and under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive my company”
– Thomas Jefferson, 1793

Due to staying home with the pandemic the past six months, I have done some major work in the garden. I had not realized how some plants needed a good pruning and a few plants had even outgrown their space and needed to be moved. I had shrubs with a lot of dead wood that needed to be taken out and I could not believe I did not notice this before. I got out old photos of areas in the garden and was amazed at how the garden had slowly changed.

As I have been working, I would have to remind myself to follow some basic principles of design that have helped me over the years. I started out as a collector and realized years ago, I needed order to my garden and to have some “bones” or structure in some places where things were lacking.

Some of the things I try to remember are not to make it too much of a “hodge-podge” of plant material. Variety is important, but do not overdo it. Balance, proportion and unity are important. You need to think about a garden as an extension of your home and think about how you decorate a room. You use some of these same ideas when making a room in the garden.

You need different shapes, sizes, texture and form. If the entire yard were all the same, it would not be very interesting. It is good to balance things in the garden. If you have something on one side of a path, repeat it to give some balance on the other side.

If you are starting from scratch to landscape an area or just making some little changes, you start with trees. This could be trees that are in place now or the trees that you want to consider adding. They could also be borrowed trees that overhang your property from a neighbor’s garden. Trees are the main landscaping feature. Start with letting the trees you have or are considering planting be the first thing to guide your landscape.

Trees set the stage and give you different options when planning. You can use them to have dappled shade, woodland shade or have deep shade if you want to create a woodland garden. Trees can help you divide areas into rooms.

The second thing to consider is the “bones” of the garden. Good gardens have good bones and winter is a good time to see this. The greenery that catches your eye or architectural elements like walls, fences, patios, pathways or arbors are the solid elements of a garden. Make sure you have enough greenery to give your garden an attractive look in the winter months.

The third thing is to make sure your garden has some unity, consistency

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Montgomery column: Designing a garden – Lifestyle – providencejournal.com

“I never before knew the full value of trees. My house is entirely embosomed in high plane-trees, with good grass below; and under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive my company”
– Thomas Jefferson, 1793

Due to staying home with the pandemic the past six months, I have done some major work in the garden. I had not realized how some plants needed a good pruning and a few plants had even outgrown their space and needed to be moved. I had shrubs with a lot of dead wood that needed to be taken out and I could not believe I did not notice this before. I got out old photos of areas in the garden and was amazed at how the garden had slowly changed.

As I have been working, I would have to remind myself to follow some basic principles of design that have helped me over the years. I started out as a collector and realized years ago, I needed order to my garden and to have some “bones” or structure in some places where things were lacking.

Some of the things I try to remember are not to make it too much of a “hodge-podge” of plant material. Variety is important, but do not overdo it. Balance, proportion and unity are important. You need to think about a garden as an extension of your home and think about how you decorate a room. You use some of these same ideas when making a room in the garden.

You need different shapes, sizes, texture and form. If the entire yard were all the same, it would not be very interesting. It is good to balance things in the garden. If you have something on one side of a path, repeat it to give some balance on the other side.

If you are starting from scratch to landscape an area or just making some little changes, you start with trees. This could be trees that are in place now or the trees that you want to consider adding. They could also be borrowed trees that overhang your property from a neighbor’s garden. Trees are the main landscaping feature. Start with letting the trees you have or are considering planting be the first thing to guide your landscape.

Trees set the stage and give you different options when planning. You can use them to have dappled shade, woodland shade or have deep shade if you want to create a woodland garden. Trees can help you divide areas into rooms.

The second thing to consider is the “bones” of the garden. Good gardens have good bones and winter is a good time to see this. The greenery that catches your eye or architectural elements like walls, fences, patios, pathways or arbors are the solid elements of a garden. Make sure you have enough greenery to give your garden an attractive look in the winter months.

The third thing is to make sure your garden has some unity, consistency

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Montgomery column: Designing a garden – Lifestyle – The Columbus Dispatch

“I never before knew the full value of trees. My house is entirely embosomed in high plane-trees, with good grass below; and under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive my company”
– Thomas Jefferson, 1793

Due to staying home with the pandemic the past six months, I have done some major work in the garden. I had not realized how some plants needed a good pruning and a few plants had even outgrown their space and needed to be moved. I had shrubs with a lot of dead wood that needed to be taken out and I could not believe I did not notice this before. I got out old photos of areas in the garden and was amazed at how the garden had slowly changed.

As I have been working, I would have to remind myself to follow some basic principles of design that have helped me over the years. I started out as a collector and realized years ago, I needed order to my garden and to have some “bones” or structure in some places where things were lacking.

Some of the things I try to remember are not to make it too much of a “hodge-podge” of plant material. Variety is important, but do not overdo it. Balance, proportion and unity are important. You need to think about a garden as an extension of your home and think about how you decorate a room. You use some of these same ideas when making a room in the garden.

You need different shapes, sizes, texture and form. If the entire yard were all the same, it would not be very interesting. It is good to balance things in the garden. If you have something on one side of a path, repeat it to give some balance on the other side.

If you are starting from scratch to landscape an area or just making some little changes, you start with trees. This could be trees that are in place now or the trees that you want to consider adding. They could also be borrowed trees that overhang your property from a neighbor’s garden. Trees are the main landscaping feature. Start with letting the trees you have or are considering planting be the first thing to guide your landscape.

Trees set the stage and give you different options when planning. You can use them to have dappled shade, woodland shade or have deep shade if you want to create a woodland garden. Trees can help you divide areas into rooms.

The second thing to consider is the “bones” of the garden. Good gardens have good bones and winter is a good time to see this. The greenery that catches your eye or architectural elements like walls, fences, patios, pathways or arbors are the solid elements of a garden. Make sure you have enough greenery to give your garden an attractive look in the winter months.

The third thing is to make sure your garden has some unity, consistency

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Montgomery column: Designing a garden – Lifestyle – Austin American-Statesman

“I never before knew the full value of trees. My house is entirely embosomed in high plane-trees, with good grass below; and under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive my company”
– Thomas Jefferson, 1793

Due to staying home with the pandemic the past six months, I have done some major work in the garden. I had not realized how some plants needed a good pruning and a few plants had even outgrown their space and needed to be moved. I had shrubs with a lot of dead wood that needed to be taken out and I could not believe I did not notice this before. I got out old photos of areas in the garden and was amazed at how the garden had slowly changed.

As I have been working, I would have to remind myself to follow some basic principles of design that have helped me over the years. I started out as a collector and realized years ago, I needed order to my garden and to have some “bones” or structure in some places where things were lacking.

Some of the things I try to remember are not to make it too much of a “hodge-podge” of plant material. Variety is important, but do not overdo it. Balance, proportion and unity are important. You need to think about a garden as an extension of your home and think about how you decorate a room. You use some of these same ideas when making a room in the garden.

You need different shapes, sizes, texture and form. If the entire yard were all the same, it would not be very interesting. It is good to balance things in the garden. If you have something on one side of a path, repeat it to give some balance on the other side.

If you are starting from scratch to landscape an area or just making some little changes, you start with trees. This could be trees that are in place now or the trees that you want to consider adding. They could also be borrowed trees that overhang your property from a neighbor’s garden. Trees are the main landscaping feature. Start with letting the trees you have or are considering planting be the first thing to guide your landscape.

Trees set the stage and give you different options when planning. You can use them to have dappled shade, woodland shade or have deep shade if you want to create a woodland garden. Trees can help you divide areas into rooms.

The second thing to consider is the “bones” of the garden. Good gardens have good bones and winter is a good time to see this. The greenery that catches your eye or architectural elements like walls, fences, patios, pathways or arbors are the solid elements of a garden. Make sure you have enough greenery to give your garden an attractive look in the winter months.

The third thing is to make sure your garden has some unity, consistency

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Kale and cabbage color the fall and winter garden – Lifestyle – fosters.com

Plant ornamental kales and cabbages for texture and color in the fall and winter garden. I planted several varieties and placed them in containers, the garden and even a window box. Surprisingly, they weathered well in zone 7 and were not removed until early spring the following year.

The ornamental kale and cabbage are not grown for flavor, but when added to your autumn garden, they lend a decorative touch through the winter. Frilly, but not delicate, they survive the erratic weather patterns from late fall through the spring. The plants are showy and come in an array of colors. You will find them in shades of deep purple, pink, red and white. They are not heat-tolerant, but they can tolerate the cold, and can survive winter temperatures as low as 5 degrees F. The colors of ornamental kale and cabbage are made brighter when they experience light and moderate frosts.

Ornamental kales and cabbages complement so many other fall plants. Pair them with chrysanthemums, the russet sedums, fall pansies and asters to echo the palette of autumn’s rich tones. There are many possibilities for displaying kale and cabbage to brighten the fall and winter garden. Try grouping kale and cabbage in pots at an entryway, in window boxes with dwarf evergreens or planted in a large container in the garden to serve as an attractive accent.

The best time to purchase ornamental kales and cabbages is in September. Look for plants with a short rosette-type stem. To avoid plants becoming root-bound, purchase the largest plants available. If temperatures are not cool when planting, the plants can become leggy and lose their color. Often planting before cool weather will subject the plants to cabbage loopers that bore holes in the plants.

Striving for color in the winter months gives gardeners the opportunity to do just that with ornamental kales and cabbages.

Carole McCray resides in Cape May, New Jersey and is an award-winning garden writer who has been writing a monthly garden column, The Potting Shed, for regional newspapers for nearly 20 years. Her articles have been published in The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper, Coastal Living Magazine, Cape May Magazine, Growise Garden Guide and Ideals Magazine. She won the Garden Writer’s Association Award for newspaper writing for The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper.

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