Lifestyle Columns

Garden Variety: Can mums survive the winter? It depends on planting, care

Chrysanthemums, often called mums for short, are the most popular flower for fall color in the landscape in the Midwest. They adorn porches, planters and gardens with their varied hues of gold, orange, pink, red and white and are often paired with other fall favorites such as pumpkins, corn ...

Garden Variety: Monstera plants growing in popularity

Interest in indoor plants has increased steadily in the U.S. over the last several years, and a few specific plants and types of plants are stealing the show. One of these plant groups is Monstera. Basic types of Monstera are widely available, but rare forms sell for hundreds or thousands of ...

Garden Variety: Natural touches for your fall decor

There is something about fall, with its cooler temperatures and changing leaves, that seems to lure even the most minimalist of decorators into setting pumpkins on the porch. Perhaps the cheery orange color is hard to resist, or there is something appealing about seeing the fruits of the ...

Garden Variety: Protect your sunflower seed harvest from wildlife

Sunflowers add a splash of late-summer color to gardens and landscapes, but they are more than just pretty flowers. The seeds produced by these plants are a tasty treat for people and wildlife. Take steps now and in the coming weeks, as the flowers fade, to preserve the seeds for harvest this ...

Garden Variety: Getting the most of your winter squash crop

There are many kinds of squash, and the best time to harvest each is different. In particular, the winter squash group, which includes acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and other squash with hard mature rinds, can be difficult to know when to pick. Winter squash also has a longer shelf life (and in ...

Garden Variety: Know the signs, causes of tree decline

Late summer is often the time of year when trees that are struggling to survive succumb to environmental stresses and/or pests. They may put on an early show of fall color before dropping their leaves, or they may simply drop their leaves or needles. This happens with trees in natural settings ...

Local History: A few stories of the Castle Tea Room and its number-loving parrot

It was interesting recently to read that the local United Way organization, seeking to raise its profile, chose to move into an architectural landmark on Massachusetts Street. Located just south of South Park on the west side, the Castle Tea Room is certainly a notable and attractive building ...

Garden Variety: Now’s the time to control crabgrass

Early August is when crabgrass becomes most noticeable in the Lawrence area, and it is especially prolific this year. The weedy grass grows in spreading clumps and favors curb lines, bare spots in the lawn, landscape beds, gardens and sidewalk cracks. Now is the time to control it or make plans ...

Garden Variety: Know how to identify, remove poison ivy

Poison ivy is well known for the reactions most people have from handling or brushing against the plant, but despite its notoriety, many people also find it hard to recognize. To add to the confusion, there are mentions of poison oak and poison sumac. Poison ivy is native to Kansas and ...

Garden Variety: How to handle sweet corn problems and pests

July is sweet corn season in Kansas. While some gardeners are already enjoying fresh ears of corn from their gardens, many are still waiting for kernels to develop or are battling corn earworms, raccoons and deer. Here are some tips for dealing with these problems and pests. The most common ...

Garden Variety: Assassin bugs in your garden? No problem

Many Lawrence-area gardeners are taking notice of an interesting and distinctive insect this summer, which appears to have a larger population than usual. The insect is commonly known as a wheel bug or assassin bug (Arilus cristatus), and it benefits plants by feeding on plant pests. Right ...

Garden Variety: Now’s the time for fresh blackberries

Blackberry season is beginning in northeast Kansas. If you are already growing blackberries, you should check your plants for ripe fruit and begin harvesting. Otherwise, consider picking berries at a local farm, purchasing fresh ones at a local farmers market or planting some blackberry plants ...

Garden Variety: Wildflowers are in bloom; here’s how to identify them

Black-eyed Susans, yellow sweet clover, Queen Anne’s lace, and many other wildflowers and grasses are putting on a show on Kan- sas roadsides, in native prairie sites, and in the nearby Flint Hills. If you have the chance to go for a drive, a bike ride or a walk in one of these regions, this ...

Garden Variety: Tips for keeping weeds out of your vegetable garden

As summer-loving vegetable plants begin to thrive in the warm Kansas sun, summer-loving weeds are taking off too. They appreciate water, fertile soil, and light as much as cultivated plants, and unfortunately some of them are a challenge to control. The best approach uses a combination of ...

Garden Variety: Plant pumpkins this month for an October harvest

In Kansas, early to mid-June is the best time to plant pumpkins, squash and gourds in the garden for harvest in October. Growing them is a fun solo or family activity which yields fruit for cooking, jack-o’-lanterns, fall displays and future birdhouses. When most people think of pumpkins, ...

Garden Variety: Increase fruit, vegetable yield with the right fertilizer

Choosing the right fertilizer for the garden and applying it properly can increase yield of fruit and vegetable crops. Done incorrectly, it can be a waste of time and money. The hard part is knowing what and how much is needed, and a look at the options only makes the task more daunting. A ...

Garden Variety: Peonies, longtime garden favorites, require little care

Peonies are blooming now around the Lawrence area, and their colorful blossoms are an inspiration to add them (or more of them) to the garden. Peonies perform reliably for decades in the landscape with little care and are available in a variety of colors. They are longtime garden favorites that ...

Garden Variety: Water features can add visual interest, tranquil sound

To create the perfect backyard sanctuary, consider adding a water garden or water feature. Landscape ponds, waterfalls, water garden pots and fountains add visual interest to the garden, increase the diversity of plant species that can be grown and attract beneficial wildlife. Elements with ...

Garden Variety: Fences, repellents can protect your garden from wildlife

Rabbits, squirrels and deer are common visitors to flower and vegetable gardens throughout the year, but the lush new growth produced in spring may be especially appealing to them. If plants are eaten or dug up this spring or summer, one of these animals is likely to blame. Exclusion and ...