Add variety to gardens with statues, planters or birdbaths

Whether you are designing a formal or informal garden space, statuary, birdbaths and large planters can add year-round appeal. And they can be thoughtful holiday presents for the gardener on your gift list.

“Adding statuary and large planters in different sizes will add variety to the garden,” said Augusta County horticulturalist Mark Viette. He and his family have added many types of statues and large planters to their home gardens, as well as benches and birdbaths.

“A lot of times, when you use statuary or large planters, your eyes go to those areas, and it lends interest in the garden,” Viette said. “So not only do you have a wide variety of plants, trees, shrubs and a mix of annuals and perennials, and even bulbs, but you can add in statuary and interesting containers.”

When placing statues in a garden, one key is to make sure it has a good, solid footing so it won’t fall over. Life-size figures or other tall pieces can be quite heavy and take up a lot of room, so make sure you have the space, Viette said.

'The great thing about large concrete planters is that they can stay out in the garden year-round. They’re heavy-duty in the way they are constructed, so they won’t crack like clay pots.' (Click to Tweet)

“The great thing about large concrete planters is that they can stay out in the garden year-round,” Viette said. “They’re heavy-duty in the way they are constructed, so they won’t crack like clay pots.”

Clay pots need to be brought in during the winter or they can freeze, crack and break.

Viette suggested putting annuals and tropical plants in large planters, and also perennials like hostas, ferns or daylilies. “You won’t have to replant them, because they’ll come back year after year after year.”

Birdbaths are another attractive garden feature. “We like to attract birds to our garden,” Viette said. “Not only can we feed them, but we need to provide water for them.”

Birdbaths can be set up off the ground on a pedestal, or many birds enjoy them on the ground, Viette said.

Nearly half of reported home fires start in the kitchen

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and resulting injuries in the U.S., according to the National Fire Prevention Association.

Almost half of reported home fires start in the kitchen, according to the NFPA. And 66% of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

Tips to avoid accidents in the kitchen

  • Never leave cooking food unattended. If you have to leave, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while the food is cooking, and set a timer.
  • Stay alert when cooking. Avoid cooking when tired or after taking medicine or consuming alcohol.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot foods or drinks are prepared or carried.

Make-ahead Stuffed French Toast

Try this delicious recipe for a great start to the day.

See Recipe

Get ‘egg-cited’ about nutrient-packed protein source

Eggs are not only a powerhouse breakfast food, they also increase the nutritional content of other meals.

Eggs have 6 grams of high-quality protein and don’t contain sugar or carbohydrates. So if you eat them for breakfast, they provide a protein source that helps sustain mental and physical energy throughout the day. And at their low cost per serving, they’re the least-expensive source of high-quality protein available.

The latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans removed a daily limit on dietary cholesterol and included eggs in all three of its recommended healthy eating patterns. And eggs are one of the few foods that are a good natural source of vitamin D.

Additionally, egg yolks contain choline, which promotes normal cell activity, liver function and the transportation of nutrients throughout the body. It’s also key in the development of infants’ memory functions.