Dying to Go  by  Thomas Christopher

I’ve been haunting cemeteries ever since my teenaged years. Not literally – I leave that to the dear departed. But I’ve always liked the peaceful and nostalgic aspect of old burying grounds. They are, commonly, by-passed places. Typically, they were set up very soon after a community’s founding and often have changed very little over the years, aside from the burials. In the oldest cemetery of my hometown in Connecticut, for example, I’ve found native grasses such as little bluestem. These date back, I suspect, to the land’s enclosure in the mid 17thcenury. Such grasses have long since disappeared from the surrounding urban landscape, and even from the city’s outlying farms, but they have persisted in the cemetery, as much relics of the past as the headstones. My town’s 17th-century cemetery with wild grasses I spent a couple of years intensively visiting cemeteries when I was writing my first book, In Search of Lost Roses. The subject of that work, as the title suggests, was the hun..
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My Indoor Cats and their Craving for Grass  by  Susan Harris

It must be Cat Week here at the Rant, with Elizabeth’s post about indoor cats prompting me to finally find out if my own indoor cats really need to eat grass. Here they are on the porch absorbed in eating anything grass-like in the weed carrier I was transporting through my house. I bring all sorts of plants into the house – the fastest route between my front and back yards, thanks to rowhouse living – but what gets their attention like addicts at first sight of their dealer are plants with grass-shaped leaves. The down side to the pleasure of seeing them so happily absorbed in grass-eating is the gooey mix of grass and gastric juices they soon deposit on my rugs. Never on the wood flooring, mind you, always the rugs. Thanks, guys. So I don’t regularly bring grass indoors for them and wondering if this makes me a bad cat-owner, I took to the Internet to find out why they eat the stuff and whether they really need it. Maybe their passion for it is like mine for chocolate, I was hopin..
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Happy American Adventures Month

National Forests Happy American Adventures Month By Sheereen Othman | August 2, 2018 Did you know that August marks American Adventures Month? American Adventures month was started by adventurer Peter Kulkkula as an initiative to celebrate and explore American lands. With more than 400 national forests and state parks and hundreds of wilderness areas, there is so much to be explored. Our nation’s forests are a beautiful place to start. Forests are full of natural wonder and recreational opportunities. In 2016, national forests saw an estimated 148 million recreation visits. Forests filter our water. More than 180 million Americans depend on forest watersheds for their drinking water. Forests are the largest natural carbon sinks in the world. National forests sequester more than 50 million metric tons of carbon every year. Slowing climate change and cleaning the air. 7 Natural Adventures to Visit This Summer Forest are home to unique wildlife habitat. National forests..
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Caring for Fruit Trees and Bushes: Grapes

Tree Care Caring for Fruit Trees and Bushes: Grapes By Kim Peacock | August 1, 2018 How to Plant and Care for Grapes Concord, Niagara, and Catawba are all native American bunch grapes. The grapes are used for the table, juice, jelly, jam and wine. For grapes you must be particularly careful to match the type and variety of grape to the site’s climate. We recommend that you consult with your local county extension service, local nurseries, or gardening neighbors for the best selections for your area. Read Caring for Fruit Trees and Bushes: Blueberry Choosing a Site Light: Full Sun Soil: Prefer a deep, acidic (low pH 5.0-6.5), well drained, sandy soil, but they tolerate a wide range of soil types except alkaline and wet. Organic matter content should range between 4-5 percent, but a highly fertile soil is not recommended. If the soil is too fertile, the vine grows too fast and doesn’t bear well. If possible, do a soil test and amend the soil before planting. Pollinatio..
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A Summer Phlox Survives Storms and Spies  by  Allen Bush

A field of Russian phloxes. Christian Kress, Sarastro-Stauden photo. Just off our front porch, a Phlox of sentimental interest didn’t flinch during heavy storms a week and a half ago. But what about spies? During the storm, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 “psychological fable” North By Northwest played on TV. Our power flickered as foreign spies mistakenly identified and then kidnapped Cary Grant for their own no-good. Grant’s life was turned upside down. He was soon suspected (wrongly) of murder. Grant hopped a train, tried to get away, and fell for a seductive double agent, played by Eva Marie Saint, but soon realized he had been played. The winds were crazy. We didn’t lose power, but the chase was on. Ringleader James Mason, in a “special relationship” with Eva Marie Saint, nipped at Cary Grant’s heels from beginning to end. Finally, the attractive double agent came clean and James Mason, with the FBI on his tail, fled the country. Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint fell in love. Strong w..
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A Summer Phlox Survives Storms and Spies

A field of Russian phloxes. Christian Kress, Sarastro-Stauden photo. Just off our front porch, a Phlox of sentimental interest didn’t flinch during heavy storms a week and a half ago. But what about spies? During the storm, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 “psychological fable” North By Northwest played on TV. Our power flickered as foreign spies mistakenly identified and then kidnapped Cary Grant for their own no-good. Grant’s life was turned upside down. He was soon suspected (wrongly) of murder. Grant hopped a train, tried to get away, and fell for a seductive double agent, played by Eva Marie Saint, but soon realized he had been played. The winds were crazy. We didn’t lose power, but the chase was on. Ringleader James Mason, in a “special relationship” with Eva Marie Saint, nipped at Cary Grant’s heels from beginning to end. Finally, the attractive double agent came clean and James Mason, with the FBI on his tail, fled the country. Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint fell in love. Strong w..
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A solution for letting cats enjoy the outdoors—safely  by  Elizabeth Licata

Merlin and Sirius Black in their catio Backstory: As some readers will remember, I’ve posted before about free-roaming and feral cats and the dangerous lives they lead—dangerous to both them and their songbird prey. Studies vary, but it’s safe, even conservative, to assume that a billion or so birds and an even larger number of small mammals are killed per year. On a less serious level, cats like to treat the gardens they happen to wander into as litter boxes, which is not great for plant health or general ambiance. Weasley In Buffalo, animal agencies follow the TNR (trap, neuter, release) policy for feral or abandoned cats, which is considered humane by some, ineffective by others, and downright cruel by a group of animal activists who believe the lives lived by outdoor cats are characterized by hardship, disease, and injury. It’s difficult for me to speak to this, as I’m not sure what the alternatives would be. As a cat owner, I keep my cat inside. A friend and neighbor, Johanna, h..
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A solution for letting cats enjoy the outdoors—safely

Merlin and Sirius Black in their catio Backstory: As some readers will remember, I’ve posted before about free-roaming and feral cats and the dangerous lives they lead—dangerous to both them and their songbird prey. Studies vary, but it’s safe, even conservative, to assume that a billion or so birds and an even larger number of small mammals are killed per year. On a less serious level, cats like to treat the gardens they happen to wander into as litter boxes, which is not great for plant health or general ambiance. Weasley In Buffalo, animal agencies follow the TNR (trap, neuter, release) policy for feral or abandoned cats, which is considered humane by some, ineffective by others, and downright cruel by a group of animal activists who believe the lives lived by outdoor cats are characterized by hardship, disease, and injury. It’s difficult for me to speak to this, as I’m not sure what the alternatives would be. As a cat owner, I keep my cat inside. A friend and neighbor, Johanna, h..
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Designing a Landscape with Trees

Landscape Design Designing a Landscape with Trees By Sheereen Othman | July 30, 2018 Plants are some of the easiest (and most sustainable) ways to make a landscape more vibrant and welcoming. Planting the right tree for the right place helps ensure that your tree will live a healthy life for years to come. The most successful designs are those that are planned and take climate and environmental factors into consideration. The Right Tree for the Right Place This guide will help you get started on creating a healthy and functional yard using trees and shrubs. Plan Before you Plant What do you want? Before you can narrow down your tree selection determine why you are planting a tree. Here are some of the most common reasons trees are planted in the home landscape. Shade: Do you want to add shade to your yard? Pick a tree with a broad canopy that will cast a big shadow. Beauty: If you want to enhance your curb appeal, consider planting something with vibrant color or uniq..
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Making Peter Great Again – One Fountain at a Time  by  Bob Hill

Most gardeners after about 40 years in the asparagus patch begin to at least consider downsizing. You know, cutting back to only three-quarters of an acre of weeds, fewer disease-plagued rose bushes and compost-pile-death to those ever-needy iris and day lilies. The same with back-yard fountains. Sure, they offer bubbling sounds and elegant gushes of water at the flip of a switch, but the pumps go bad, the dirt clogs the outlets and it can be difficult to keep the hungry goldfish trapped within them happy. Chances are the house, yard and garden fountains will eventually be sold to some minimalist gardener who only cares to raise a few onions in some ecologically-pure raised bed anyway. Then there was Peterhof, the cozy 1,250-acre Russian complex of paths and gardens, 150 incredible fountains and a looming yellow palace first brought to light by aptly-named Peter the Great in St. Petersburg in the early 1700s. Three centuries later it still tells a larger story: To hell with downsiz..
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