Putting insects to work in the garden
Give your favorite gardener an unusual egg for Easter -- one from the Bug Store, which sells mail-order predator insects, environmental products and garden accessories. In two to six weeks the egg (technically an egg case) will produce up to 100 mantises. Within hours they'll be devouring pests in the garden.
The mantis egg arrives in a prettily wrapped box filled with chocolate ladybugs. The cost is $12.95 for a small box (10 candies) or $19.95 for a large box (20 candies). Eat the chocolates; store the mantis egg in the refrigerator until after the last frost. Then tape the egg onto a plant stem 2 or more feet above ground. The newborns will emerge from the vents on the side of the egg case. Or hatch them in the house in a large jar; they make a fascinating nature study for kids.
For more information or to order, call 800-455-2847 or check out the company's website at www.bugstore.com.
And the winner is ... Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus,' a showy, mid-summer bloomer with bold carmine flowers on sturdy 2- to 4-foot stems. It's the Perennial Plant Association's 1998 Perennial Plant of the Year.
'Magnus' was chosen because of its long blooming season (up to six weeks), adaptability and ease of production. It's drought-tolerant, prefers full sun and flourishes in well-drained garden soil.
Gardeners can get the winning selection at their local garden center or through mail-order perennial nurseries.
Mix and match
When our parents bought dining room chairs, they bought ones that went with their dining room table. Matched dining sets are always appropriate, but many shoppers these days are choosing an eclectic look.
Furniture companies offer a range of choices in mixing and matching a table and chairs, even within a particular collection. Also, comfort is more important than ever; the newest chairs are often upholstered or even tilt-and-swivel. The dining room chairs shown here don't even look like dining room chairs.
The Home Furnishings Council offers a few rules of thumb for putting together eclectic dining sets:
* Almost anything goes. Iron with wood, wood with glass, upholstered chairs around a rustic wood table.
* An oversized table is fine with slim chairs, but avoid a spindly table with massive chairs. The result looks awkward.
* Colors are very strong. Ladderback chairs in green, blue, red and yellow make a lively grouping.
A collection of 'Sticks'
The name of the collection is "Sticks," but nothing could be less descriptive. This handsome furniture, crafted by Iowa artists Jim Lueder and Sarah Grant, will be on display at Zyzyx! in the Festival at Woodholme in Pikesville through this month.
You can check out the collection and meet Zyzyx!'s new owners, Martin and Marla Rishty, at a reception Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the store.
Pub Date: 3/08/98