Patterns of hope


March 10, 2002|By Julie Klavens | Julie Klavens,Sun Staff

Anthony Young is fascinated by stories: He likes to hear them, and he likes to tell them -- and having grown up on fertile soil (in a patch of North Carolina that has been home to his family for generations), he has an abundance of them. Given the nature of constructing stories -- the snipping and sorting and stitching together of details -- it seems appropriate that he has launched a business that sells quilts.

And not just quilts for warmth, but quilts that Young hopes will become heirlooms, in part because of the quality of the cottons and trim, but largely because of the messages they contain: of hope, inspiration, the solidity of family, and the collective nature of most important ventures. Accordingly, one of the first quilts to be sold by his company, Brown Toes, honors the Underground Railroad, paying homage to the ingenious patterns of slave quilts (which contained symbolic imagery to help guide slaves to freedom), among them the bow tie, bear claw, monkey wrench and drunkard's path.

With pleasing images and strong, uncluttered compositions, Brown Toes' quilts also work well as wall hangings. They sell for about $100 each, and the company will continue to introduce new designs. For more information, visit

More than cacti

As officials nervously note that Maryland is experiencing one of its driest winters on record, concerns about crops and water shortages take root, and conservation is a hot topic. Xeriscaping -- landscaping that relies on drought-resistant plants to conserve water -- makes more sense than ever.

Mark Rumary's Xeriscaping: Planning and Planting Low-Water Gardens is straightforward and easy to digest. He discusses, among other topics, how to assess the existing features of one's garden and to understand and improve the soil; and he provides step-by-steps to help readers plan, design and plant low-water paradises. Photos of the results depict gorgeous gardens, lush with vibrant plants and carpets of flowers in restful pinks and mauves or hot citrus shades.

Another selling point: Rumary notes that a dry garden is a low-maintenance garden.

Xeriscaping, from Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., sells for $17.95 at area bookstores. -- J.K.

Tree-Free cards

When we heard about Tree-Free Greetings (paper that requires no trees!), we were intrigued but apprehensive: We have absolute faith in our source, but couldn't shake a lingering concern about the look and feel of something made from the exotic-sounding plant kenaf. Would these cards fall in the realm of Birkenstocks -- uplifting and eminently sensible but, er, design-deficient?

We're happy to report that Tree-Frees satisfy the eco-conscience and the aesthete within. The cardstock is as heavy, glossy and brightly colored as any used for commercial cards, and the company's motto ("Behind every good card is a great envelope!") sums up another aspect of Tree-Free's appeal: the accompanying envelopes are printed with beautiful nature scenes that echo the illustrations on the cards.

(Kenaf, by the way, is an ancient plant related to cotton and okra; is grown worldwide; and produces two types of fibers that can be used separately or together to manufacture fabric, paper and industrial absorbents, among other products.)

Cards by Tree-Free Greetings sell for $2.25 each and are available at Bell, Book & Candle, 7684 Bel Air Road in Baltimore, 410-668-8933; Greetings and Readings, 809 Taylor Ave. in Towson, 410-825-4225; the National Aquarium, 501 E. Pratt St. in Baltimore, 410-576-3800; Sunsplash, 7006 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville, 410-486-0979; and -- J.K.


* Those who collect, or are merely fascinated by, Heisey Glass (right) won't want to miss the All-Heisey Glass Show from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Bohrer Park Activity Center in Gaithersburg. Admission is $6. For more information, call 301-432-6285.

* Metzler's Garden Center, 10342 Owen Brown Road in Columbia, will share tips on how to conserve water while nurturing your lawn and garden. The seminar will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $5, which can be applied to a purchase made that day. For more information, call 410-997-8133.

Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Liz Atwood, Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, or fax to 410-783-2519. Information must be received at least four weeks in advance to be considered.

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