drying sunflowers experiment

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You have no idea how hard it was to find sunflowers for our wedding. Everyone said we’d missed the peak, that they only ones left were wilting and sad. Then, on the way to pick up our pies, we spotted a field of gorgeous yellow ones. Nearby was a farmer’s market, that was closed. A couple of days later, Chad and his friend Tim drove out, and asked a few questions at the market. They pointed him towards the field, where they found the farmer himself, who explained he was growing them to be sold in the city. With a little smooth talking, they talked the guy into cutting some down for us — we got five bundles for only $12 total! I’ve seen sunflowers selling for $10 a piece here in NYC! The day after the wedding, we strung them up upside down on our back porch. Most had not yet reached seed-phase, so it’s really just an aesthetic rather than practical exercise. We’re not sure what we’ll find when we return tomorrow, but I’ll keep you posted! — Angela M.

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check out our new doormat: gnome sweet gnome

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Here’s our first purchase for the river cottage — a cute coir doormat we picked up at Target for about $15. It features a little gnome tucked under a mushroom. Insanely adorable. I couldn’t find it online at target.com, but gnomes, it seems, are quite often used to wipe muddy boots on. There are these two at Uncommon Goods, $30 each. Or this bright blue and orange one at Kiss That Frog. What I would really love, is a genuine garden gnome to tuck under a tree. One of those old fashioned ones that are made of metal, not ceramic. What kind of doormat do you have? I’d love to see it! — Angela M.

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after the weed-wacker: what to plant now?

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I thought I’d show you some of Chad’s garden demolition handiwork. Like a plant terminator, he blasted away at the overgrown stuff surrounding the house. I’d say, “That branch is hanging a little low,” and return ten minutes later to find he sawed off a whole arm of the tree. Though the vine is charming at first glance, it really is bad for the house, which has a stucco exterior. The vines dig in, loosening it up and holding moisture too close. It’s gone now (or so we think), and we’re ready to start anew! My question is, should we plant anything now, in late summer or early fall? Or just wait till next spring? For those of you who know of such things, we’re a zone five! — Angela M.

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the welcome warbler

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My neighbor Meleah gave Mia this Eastern Bluebird impersonator right after she was born. Since then, our plastic solar-powered pet has had a perch on the front porch where she sometimes startles but almost always amuses visitors with her life-like movements and song. There’s a whole flock of “breezy singers” just like her by Japanese toymaker Takara fitted with microchips of real bird sounds from the Cornell School of Ornithology. More than mere kitsch, little blue also serves as a friendly burglar alarm, announcing every arrival with a chirp. And there’s another bonus: No bird poop.

Shelterrific readers: Please share the inanimate entryway strays you’ve adopted. — Megan K.

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site we're psyched about: whatsthatbug.com

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Here’s a little site that could help your Fourth of July be a little more educational, whether you’re hanging out in the backyard or hitting the beach. It’s called WhatsThatBug.com and it’s run by two Californians, Lisa Anne and Danielle. Turns out they’re not entomologists, but rather, fine artists — but that doesn’t mean they don’t do their reseplace and know how to identify all sorts of creepy crawlers. People send in bug photos to them from around the world, and they give great advice on what havoc these things can reap on your garden. We have to say, some of these bugs shown on this site give us the heebie jeebies. We’d hate to encounter them in our homes! Still it’s fun to browse through… The fourteen-year old boy in your life will love it!

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