When placing statuary and large containers, less is more

From Buddhas to bottle trees, and cauldrons to coffee pots, statuary and container plantings can add weight and yearlong interest in a garden. And as Americans’ interest in gardening has grown, so has the variety of objects to beautify your landscape.

But it can be easy to overdo it.

“The important thing when you are adding statuary, pottery or art is to be sure it fits in the garden,” said Augusta County horticulturist Mark Viette. “It has to be soothing and calming.”

So sometimes less is more.

“With lots of things in one area, your eye doesn’t know where to look,” Viette said. “You really want to have one main focal point.”

Larger concrete and metal garden containers tend to be substantial enough that they don’t freeze and crack during the winter. “On the other hand, you can’t move them” once they are filled, Viette noted. So be sure you’ve picked the right spot before you get out the potting soil.

“You might have one at this corner and one at this corner,” but that’s probably enough, he said. “In fact, the only time I put more than one container close together is when they’re the same color.”

Put gravel in the very bottom, and if the container is large, add in an upside-down plastic pot from a nursery or several empty plastic soda bottles in next.

Your plants might need only a foot or so of soil, Viette said, “and you really don’t want to fill that whole container with an expensive potting mix.”

Line metal containers with plastic, and put holes in the bottom of both the plastic and the container. That will allow for drainage and protect the metal from corrosive effects of fertilizer. Keep in mind that some metals, like cast iron, cannot be drilled.

When refreshing container plants each year, remove or cut back old foliage, then take out about the top 12 inches of soil, and replace it with fresh soil.

When refreshing container plants each year, remove or cut back old foliage, then take out about the top 12 inches of soil and replace it with fresh soil. (Click to Tweet)

More matters when it comes to fruits and veggies

There are okra, tomatillos, leeks, figs, persimmons, nectarines, celery and hundreds more.

They taste great, can reduce disease risk, and there are lots of them. These are three of the top 10 reasons why Americans should eat more fruits and vegetables, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

People know fruits and veggies are good for them, but do they know how to incorporate them into their daily meals? The MyPlate Plan, developed by the United States Department of Agriculture, shows consumers how and what to eat based on age, sex, weight, height and activity level.

For example, a 40-year-old woman who has a daily activity level of 30 to 60 minutes should eat one-and-a-half cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables each day.

Fruits and veggies have so many health benefits that it makes sense to include them in your diet. And with thousands of culinary varieties of fruits and vegetables, there's bound to be produce available for even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy.

Seared Rockfish with Fennel, Corn and Blueberry Salsa

This semisweet salsa doesn’t skimp on flavor, with the fennel adding a licorice-like element to fruit and vegetables.

See Recipe

Avoid becoming an identity theft victim

If someone is using your financial or personal information to get benefits, make purchases, file taxes or commit fraud then you are a victim of identity theft. Identity theft happens every day and continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.

Victims should contact local police as soon as possible. Also, report your theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

Tips to protect your personal information:

  • Keep your Social Security card at home in a safe.

  • Have your mail delivered to a post office box.

  • Shred or burn all old bills and banking statements.

  • Do not give your Social Security number over the phone.

  • Do not have your SSN printed on your checks.

  • Order a copy of your credit report annually.

  • Make copies of your credit cards, both front and back, and keep the copies in a safe.

  • Remove all credit cards from your wallet or purse. Carry only the cards you will use on a given day.

  • Use your debit card as a credit card only.