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Master gardeners' Tour of Gardens tickets available

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 29, 2014

Have you bought your tickets for the Summit County Master Gardeners' popular Tour of Gardens?

This year's tour is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 21, and includes seven gardens. Patron tickets come with a bonus: breakfast at a secret garden that's not open to the other tourgoers.

No matter which kind of ticket you buy, every tourgoer gets to shop at the Posie Shoppe, which will be brimming with plants that can turn your own yard into a show-stopper.

Patron tickets are $60, $80 and $100 and can be purchased online.

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Be on the lookout for funky nests

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 20, 2014

Give birds credit for being resourceful.

The little creatures seem to find the most unexpected places to build their nests. Inside shoes. Atop car tires. On Christmas light wires. (I hate when people leave their holiday decorations up for months, but I’ll give you a pass if there are birds nesting on yours.)

Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Celebrate Urban Birds project is challenging people to find the oddest, cutest, most amazing bird nests in its annual Funky Nests in Funky Places competition. It’s urging people of all ages to search their neighborhoods for nests and document them in photos, videos, artwork, poems or stories. 

Prizes are on the line, including binoculars, bird feeders, DVDs and more. 

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Ham on toast

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 14, 2014
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Picture yourself on a piece of toast.

Vermont Novelty Toaster Corp. is making it possible for you to start every day with a toast selfie. The company makes toasters customized to create any image you like, even your own face.

The Toasted Selfies toasters are surprisingly affordable -- $75 each. All you have to do is send in a photo. Imagine your grandkids, your pet or your company logo toasted onto your daily bread.

"Yes, you don't have to be famous or Jesus to have your face on toast," the company’s president, Galen Dively, said in a news release.

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Crabapple blossoms about to pop at Secrest

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 8, 2014
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The crabapples are about to burst into bloom at Secrest Arboretum near Wooster.

If you’ve never seen the crabapple trees at their peak, you’re missing a visual treat. The arboretum, on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, has probably hundreds of the trees. They wash the grounds in pink and white when their flowers are open.

Today’s warmth is pushing the crabapples toward their flowering, said Ken Cochran, the arboretum’s program director. He guesses most will be in bloom by Monday, but the show should be pretty good by Sunday, when more people are off work and can visit.

I’m hoping for a Saturday spectacle, myself. I’ll be at Secrest that day for its annual Plant Discovery Day plant and art sale.

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Singing the boxwood blues

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 7, 2014

Lots of boxwoods took a knockout punch this winter, mine included.

They’re left with leaves that have turned yellow or almost white -- not a good look when your boxwoods are supposed to be glossy green or, in the case of the shrubs in front of my house, a pretty variegated green and gold.

In many cases the cause is winter burn, a condition that damages and dries out the plants. But in others, the blame rests on voles nibbling at the base of the shrubs.

Either way, your plants need to be pruned or (sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings) possibly replaced.

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Don't throw away those old electronics!

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 6, 2014

I’m just back from a thrift-shopping class at Goodwill Industries. Yeah, I know. Like I need any more encouragement to shop at thrift stores.

I’ll share the pointers I picked up in Saturday’s Beacon Journal, but in the meantime, I wanted to pass along this great bit of information I learned: Goodwill accepts donations of computers and other non-working electronic items.

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Remembering a nature lover's last act of selflessness

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 5, 2014

A little more than a week ago, I wrote about a new book titled Taming Wildflowers, by Miriam Goldberger.

In looking through the book in preparation for that story, my eyes had been drawn to a photo of a lovely young woman named Dana with a tattoo of wildflowers on her back. I’m not a particular fan of large tattoos, but this one was delicate and different. I read the caption and discovered it was a tribute to Dana’s mother and “a wonderful reminder of the connection all humans have with the wild.”

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Cold injury causes brown spots in lawns

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 1, 2014

If your lawn is dotted with brown spots, it's probably cold injury. 

The frigid snap in mid-April injured some tender grass blades, particularly in newly mowed lawns. That left patches of brown grass in lawns across Ohio.

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