Seeing red a sign of very good...


Seeing red a sign of very good taste

You haven't seen the last of white-on-white rooms, but for an updated look there will be one bold accent of color, and that color is likely to be red.

Louis Oliver Gropp, editor in chief of House Beautiful, describes it as giving the monochromatic room "a quick kick in the pants." For the magazine's April cover, he points out, the editors themselves decided to spice up a white-on-white room with a touch of color, which turned out to be a red and white upholstered chair.

"It's not always a pure red," Mr. Gropp says. "It might be a tone, a slightly more subtle off-red."

Red will be seen mostly in accents, agrees Ronna Griest, president of Expressions Custom Furniture, the nation's largest custom upholstery retailers. "Its use today stands out as a real departure from the earth tones and browns that opened this decade."

Barbara Weathers of National Home Furnishings Association sees red as a logical choice to add pizazz to the monochromatic schemes being used to stretch space. Look for "cinnabar, toasty European reds and classic Oriental reds." Jean Whitin and Eleanor Oster have moved their floral design business from Towson to a spot more in keeping with its nature. Look for the new Whitin & Oster among the pretty little shops at Wyndhurst Station. Here the partners have a cutting garden on the side and an outdoor space for a display of plants and garden accessories in front of the shop.

Everything in the shop is related to flowers: there are pots and plants to go in them, herbs and herb bouquets, custom-made wreaths (such as Western-look wreaths with peppers, bay leaves and manzanilla branches), incredibly realistic silk flowers, floral artwork, garden furniture and bath salts and soaps in flower fragrances like lavender and honeysuckle.

Whitin & Oster also does more fresh flower arrangements than it used to. While it's not a florist in the ordinary sense of the word, the owners keep fresh bouquets on hand for around $5 and will special order flowers for customers.

The shop is located at 5004-D Lawndale Ave. in Roland Park. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; (410) 433-8480. Baseball mania has hit every facet of Baltimore life, including collectible dolls.

Did you have a Madame Alexander doll when you were little? The Alexander Company is still making collectible dolls, and has come out with an 8-inch All-Star baseball doll -- a little girl with uniform, ball and bat. She's part of the company's Americana series, costs $55 and is available as either an African American or white.

And how about the new, limited edition (2,500) bear wearing a facsimile of Brooks Robinson's 1964 Orioles uniform. (That's the year Brooks was named MVP.) The 21-inch bear sells for $175. The dolls are available at A Little Something in Harborplace, the Paper Doll shop in Ellicott City and Favorite Things in Hereford. Hot enough for you? Don't forget that while you're sweltering, your garden is, too. Ray Bosmans with the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, University of Maryland, has some suggestions for coping with the heat.

You probably don't need to be told to water, but -- surprise: Mr. Bosmans advises people not to water their lawns yet. This time of year grass goes dormant, and survives the heat very well.

Concentrate your energy -- and your water -- on vegetables, recent plantings, and annuals. Watering vegetables is particularly important; they need an inch a week. "And they must have mulch," says Mr. Bosmans; it prevents rapid evaporation. If you water at night, use a hose and try to avoid getting the foliage wet. If you must use a sprinkler, do it in the early morning.

The extension service is getting lots of calls about blossom-end rot on tomatoes, a result of dry soil. Overfertilizing can be a contributing factor because it inhibits the uptake of calcium, which helps prevent blossom-end rot. There's not much you can do about it except mulch, Mr. Bosmans says. It's a problem that will take care of itself as plants set their roots deeper.

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