For anyone who loves gardens but hates gardening, there is hope. Gardens don't have to require back-breaking labor -- not if they're designed right. At least that's the word from Susan Berry and Steve Bradley, authors of "The Low-Maintenance Garden" (Firefly Books, $19.95), a guide to making gardens less demanding.
Berry and Bradley point out that gardeners condemn themselves to hard labor when they add such features as perennial borders, fussy island beds and large grassy areas that will require weekly mowings.
Better, they write, to add paved patios for leisure time, plant evergreens and permanent shrubs that require only annual pruning and use foliage borders with low-maintenance performers that are easy to grow, like thistle, hosta and salvias.
Some other tips: Raised beds make chores easier. Grasses and wild plantings require less care than other perennials. Creative use of mulches and ground-covering plants can keep down weeds without resorting to chemicals.
The book also includes a list of the 100 most trouble-free plants.
Boing! Rubber is back
Rubber is bouncing back in a big way, says trend-watching magazine Metropolitan Home in its May/June 2000 issue. Look for rubber accessories, picture frames, lamps, even furniture, including items from cutting-edge designers.
The new look of rubber goes way beyond kitchen basics. The newest objects are witty and wonderful. They have a definite sense of humor. And like their practical predecessors, they're unlikely to break. Among the products on the market:
Kundalini's Sutra chair in supple silver ($190); a narrow-neck latex vase from Conran's ($29); and a Chris Slutter Lea lamp ($269) with an aluminum stem and polyurethane shade.
-- Associated Press
Modernize your yard
Your garden may be up-to-date, but it may look better modernized.
Garden products designed with a modern, minimalist style are hot this summer. Witness the pagoda-style fountain ($39.99, right) and the bronze and glass candle lantern ($14.99, left) available at Target stores' seasonal garden department.
The fountain can be used indoors or in protected areas outdoors to lend an aura of calm. Scatter a few lanterns along a walking path, and suddenly you've decorated your outdoor living space.
Target is also touting bug-themed products for the summer garden, and for the truly non-modernist, a gazing ball and stand.
* An enchanting miniature world awaits you at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St., through Sept. 3. The Burns Family Dollhouse Exhibition features an ornate dollhouse with furnishings that date back to the late 1800s (left). The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Call 410-685-3750, Ext. 329, for more information.
* Catch butterflies in action at the "Wings of Fancy" Butterfly Show at the Brookside Gardens South Conservatory, 1500 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton. The show begins Saturday and runs daily through July 16. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is $3. Call 301-949-8230 for more information.