Freshly cut flowers can bring your garden indoors

Cut flowers can brighten up your day—and your home. And if you want to keep them looking fresh longer, a little extra attention can pay off.

Most floral arrangements will last four to seven days or longer, depending on the flowers used and the care they receive.

snow-covered boxwood
trimming damaged boxwood

“The best time to cut is early in the morning before the heat of the day sets in, around 10 or 11,” horticulturalist Mark Viette said. “If you cut them later, the flowers and leaves will start to wilt from the heat.”

Flowers that are just starting to open will last longer indoors. For maximum visual impact, cut a mixture of different summer plants, choosing two or three stems of each flower.

Use a sharp knife or shears to cut each flower at the bottom of the stem near the plant base. Immediately place cut flowers in a bucket of cool water.

Once inside, use the knife to re-trim 1 to 2 inches from the flower stems and place in a clean, deep vase washed with a detergent or an antibacterial cleaning solution. Remove any leaves from the stems that will be below the waterline. Leaves in water promote bacterial growth that can limit your flowers’ water uptake.

Hosta leaves work well as a filler, giving the flowers in arrangements an attractive backdrop, Viette said.

Flowers that work great indoors include the following: yellow or red hot poker; crinum lily; statice; Russian sage; phlox; and hosta. (Click to Tweet)

Flossing correctly?

Flossing our teeth at least once a day is necessary for good oral health, but are you doing it correctly?

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Your mouth can mirror your overall health

Dental care is the key to good oral health. But did you know that the rest of your body may benefit as well?

Professional dental care can diagnose or help prevent common dental problems, including toothache, inflamed gums, tooth decay, bad breath and dry mouth. If conditions like these remain untreated, they can worsen into painful and expensive problems such as gum disease or even tooth loss.

Many doctors and dentists view the mouth as a mirror to what’s taking place inside a person’s body. More than 90% of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations. Regular dental exams can identify diseases, including cancer, leukemia, diabetes and heart and kidney disease.

To keep your mouth clean and healthy, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association recommends brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, rinsing with mouthwash, chewing sugar-free gum after meals and scheduling a dental cleaning twice a year.

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Don’t get blinded by the beauty—or the possibilities—and forget about safety issues

If you’re considering buying rural land for your dream home or weekend getaways, make sure you take a second look at the terrain and research the property thoroughly.

It’s a good idea to walk around the property before purchasing, and note anything that may not look quite right. Talking to neighbors about the land may prove helpful as well.

According to Colonial Farm Credit, the following are safety risks to consider when shopping for rural property.

snow-covered boxwood
trimming damaged boxwood


Keep an eye out for old dumps and burn piles, which can contain old pesticide containers, barrels of waste oil or worse. In addition to leaking containers, watch out for dangerous objects. A few items on the surface of the ground may hint at more refuse below.

If you have children, keep them away from these areas. You will need to properly decontaminate any leaking containers and clean up the ground in that area, which can be costly.

Storage tanks

Look to see if fuel, oil or a chemical has been spilled onto the soil around storage tanks and, if possible, confirm what used to be stored in the tanks. Find a licensed and insured contractor to dispose of unwanted tanks. If you cannot afford to dispose of them, or decide you want to use the tanks in the future, properly secure them, and keep children and animals out. Check for underground storage tanks because barrels of toxic oil and the potential for leaks pose a risk to your drinking water.

If you cannot afford to dispose of them, or decide you want to use the [storage] tanks in the future, properly secure them, and keep children and animals out. (Click to Tweet)

Wells and septic tanks

Be sure to seal all old wells. If they are no longer in use, follow proper procedures to remove them from service, and check with the health department or your local soil and water conservation district for additional information.

Know the signs of a non-functioning septic field. Sewage gurgling to the surface can migrate over to the wellhead. Note where all septic tanks are, and until you can correctly seal them or fill them in, mark them, and keep heavy equipment and vehicles away. The septic tank could collapse under the weight.

Block access to all wells and septic tanks until you can properly secure them so that children and pets will not fall in.

Ponds and streams

Mark your property with posted signs to keep unwanted swimmers out of your pond or stream. It may even be advisable to fence the pond. If you do allow swimming in your pond or lake, make sure no one swims alone.

It’s also important to teach children to stay away from snakes and other animals they might see near the water—and not drink from streams. While you may think your creek water is clean enough to drink, never assume it is.