I’m going to pay a visit to our local volunteer fire department this month. For more than a year I’ve been intending to visit. No, not for a tour of the equipment and at 71 not to join their ranks; rather, I want to propose an idea to them for next March. This year my “wildflower slope” got the best of me and the weeds overran the flowers I’ve been trying to coax along. I’m going to propose to the men that they use my slope as a training exercise and, with my guidance, burn it. Yep, burn the whole slope to nothing. In fact, there are a substantial number of homeowners who have slopes like mine or, if not, might have areas overrun by weeds. In March, before anything wakes up—weed or flower—if the slope gets burned I have a chance of establishing a better wildflower area.
Though proper establishment of a native area takes a great deal of time and energy, one can actually get a number of native plants established with late fall seeding. Without discussing all the details of establishing native forbs and grasses, (see www.iowaprairienetwork.org for help) now is a good time to gather the seed from any Coneflowers, Rudebeckia and other natives you may already grow and seed them in a no-till fashion as the weeds from this year die back. Following are a number of good native plants to consider either by seeding or planting as established plants.
Let’s first talk about some forbs I’ve had particular pleasure and ease in growing over the years. Many of our native plants have been hybridized creating other varieties which are in abundance at any of the area garden centers beginning in early May. Generally, these are fine plants in their own right, but if what you are seeking is a “return to native Iowa,” then stick precisely to the below plants and their Latin names as well as common names. I say this because, for example, the yellow Coneflower is NOT native—but you do not have to be a purist either! Below is a list of our eastern Iowa natives. Look through your garden magazines or go on line to learn more about the habitat of these forbs and all the other natives I’ll be listing.
Yellow Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) pungent fragrance
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on this plant
Sky Blue Aster (Aster azureus) a late bloomer in soft blue
Prairie Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmate) A bright yellow delight!
Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) long blooming; spreads rapidly in masses
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) tall prairie flower
Early Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) grows well in masses and small clumps
Blue Flag Iris (Iris virginica shrevei) good for a moist location
Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) an upright standout in the forefront of a garden
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) distinct red flower
Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) I love the fragrance; attracts bees
Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) The rich maroon color is a garden standout
Wild Sweet William (Phlox maculata) An old standby both in short and tall varieties
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) A black center nicely shows off the rich golden petals
Prairie Spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata) Delicate pinkish flowers adorn this spreader
The small group of native grasses I’ll list below are most often sown by seed either through catalog purchases or from specialty stores and nurseries. Still, a number have been available the past several years from local nurseries and I predict their availability to be strong next season. In fact, one can find all sorts of fascinating grasses out Key West way at Blooms & Plumes owned by Mike Toedt (563-588-1889). Those I’ve grown I’ll make a brief comment about; the others you might investigate for yourselves depending upon what you have in mind for their use.
Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) A wonderful blue color—but it spreads!
Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) A short grass; waves delicately in a slight breeze
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) A lovely clumping grass
Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
Porcupine Grass (Stipa spartea) A grass that is mottled in colors of cream and light green
Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica)
In any case, planting native species is an excellent way to deal with otherwise difficult areas like embankments or such plantings make excellent focal points around large hardscape additions or ponds. Now when I meet with the Asbury fire department I’m willing to sweeten the idea by suggesting any of us who want our small areas burned could offer a donation to the department. We’ll see where my meeting takes me, but regardless, for next year think out of the planter and imagine what many of our native species could do for your area.
Kids Choosing Pocket Pets
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I decided my 10-year-old daughter was ready to have a pet after watching her interact with friends’ dogs and cats. When I asked her if she’d like to have a kitten, she said she would rather have a pet hamster. I’m surprised, as I thought she really liked taking care of cats. What are your thoughts? — Jared L. in Indianapolis
DEAR JARED: There may be a couple of reasons why she asked for a much smaller pet. Perhaps, after experiencing different dogs and cats, she decided she doesn’t want the responsibility of caring for a bigger pet. Or, she may think that asking for a smaller, less costly pet would make you happy.
That said, having a hamster for a pet can be very rewarding. They do require quite a bit of care — their cages must be cleaned regularly, they must have the right balance of nutrients in their food, and they react badly to temperature changes and other stressors. As long as she does the research and is ready for the responsibility of caring for a pocket pet, she should do fine.
In fact, kids today may be gravitating toward pocket pets rather than larger pets. A survey by RightPet found that children ages 10 to 17 preferred a pet rat to a dog or cat (cats were second, followed by dogs).
The survey didn’t investigate why so many kids were into rats. (Though I’m sure parents who were dreading being asked for a pony are breathing a sigh of relief.) Your daughter may be following a trend toward owning a pocket pet, or maybe just would like a smaller pet.
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© 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.
This screen, when opened, is 60 inches high and 69 inches wide. When completely closed, it is only 23 inches wide so it can be kept in a corner. The colorful flamingos helped the price reach $28,060.
Decorative screens were being used in rooms in China by the 7th century. But they were not used in Europe until the 1500s. It wasn’t until the 17th century that they became popular. Screens originally were used to protect those nearby from the heat of a fireplace or the cold from a drafty door. Europeans found many uses — screening a bed, acting as a fake wall or hiding an unattractive view. Movies often have a scene with a star changing costumes behind a screen in the dressing room.
In today’s modern house, the screen can act as a giant painting exhibited in a bare corner. Recently, Neal Auctions of New Orleans sold a three-panel Art Nouveau screen for $28,060. A picture of pink flamingos standing in blue water was painted on the front. Marie Hull (1890-1980), a well-known Southern artist, painted the birds. She is known for her pictures of birds and flowers.
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My mother-in-law presented me with a family treasure, a reverse painting on glass picturing a landscape that includes a church with a steeple. A real clock is set in the steeple, but it no longer runs. The painting is about 12 inches wide by 18 inches high. Is it really very valuable? Should I try to have the clock fixed?
Reverse paintings on glass come in many sizes and qualities. The pictures with clocks were popular from the 1890s to 1910. The artists were run-of-the-mill painters who painted the same picture over and over. Many were made in Germany. The painting is fragile and needs special care. The value is determined by condition. If stored in a damp or very hot or cold place, the paint will crack or peel and may be lost. Sometimes a large piece of loose paint can be saved. Often the frames have been repainted. A reverse picture with no clock is worth about $150. The clock doesn’t add much more value.
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WWI rations tin, bacon, “Model of 1916” embossed on lid, green paint, rounded rectangle with flip lid, c. 1910, 2 1/2 x 7 inches, $15.
Apple peeler, iron, round blade, hand crank, gears, embossed, “Made only by the Reading Hardware, Pa., 1868,” 11 inches, $65.
Skyscraper ring, sterling-silver and marcasite with red garnet cabochon center, geometric art deco design, 1920s, Size 6, 1 inch long, $180.
Hat box, lacquered cardboard, brown leather color, round with flip lid, fabric lined, side latches and top handle, France, c. 1905, 10 x 18
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TIP: For your health and the well-being of your collection, do not smoke. The nicotine will stain fabrics, pictures and wood.
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Need prices for your antiques and collectibles?
Find them at Kovels.com, our website for collectors. You can find more than 1,000,000 prices and more than 11,000 color photographs that help you determine the value of your collectibles.
© 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 slices hearty rye bread
4 cooked Cremer’s Brat Patties
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 thin slices deli Swiss cheese (8 ounces)
1 cup sauerkraut, drained
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread 1 teaspoon butter on 1 side of each bread slice. Place bread slices, buttered side down, on baking sheet; set aside.
2. Melt remaining 1 teaspoon butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bratwurst in single layer, weigh down with Dutch oven, and cook until well browned, about 2 minutes per side.
3. Whisk mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, relish, and salt together in bowl and spread evenly on facing sides of each bread slice. Place 1 slice cheese on each of 4 bread slices, then layer each with one-quarter of sauerkraut and browned bratwurst, finishing with 1 slice cheese. Top with remaining 4 bread slices, buttered side up; press down to flatten. Bake until golden brown on both sides and cheese is melted, about 12 minutes, flipping sandwiched halfway through baking. Serve.