A tip of the Heavens hat to Medford, Pa., architect Charles J. Collins Jr., ably assisted by Joe Ponessa, for helping to solve a riddle from a few weeks back: sooty marks on walls above electric baseboard radiators.

A great purple hairstreak, one of the most beautiful butterflies in the United States, created quite a stir as he feasted on the nectar-rich sky-blue flowers of the bog sage. This sage, the tallest plant in our new pollinator gardens, at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, is doing their part in bringing in visitors, those that fly and those that drive.

Done right, landscaping can do much more than attract compliments and boost your property value. It can help you repel intruders, both human and natural.

When heat, humidity and dry days take a toll on your flowers in July and August, given your yard a fresh look with pots of tropical hibiscus and mandevilla. Although they are not cold hardy in much of the country, these plants add tropical touches to any summer decor. Costa Farms, a major hibiscus and mandevilla grower, features these stunning, sun-loving bloomers at garden centers, including Home Depot, Lowe's and Wal-mart nationwide, $19.99-$35.99, depending on size and plant:

LOS ANGELES - President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, could be the owners of a home in the Southern California desert community of Rancho Mirage listed at $4.25 million before the month is out.

Beat the heat - with an early start. Make the most of cool mornings. Do yardwork early in the day. Keep yourself hydrated; drink water.

Arrive at Chris and Jackie Pinard's home this time of year and you are welcomed by a curve of purple - long lanes of lavender plants flanking the gravel drive.

- The challenge: Movie buff John Kluchka wanted to turn an unfinished storage room in his lower level into a state-of-the-art home theater. "I wanted a great place to watch movies," he said.

They came into the garden with a load of steer manure from a dairy. They popped up that first season after I fortified the soil, thriving in the enriched ground amidst my vegetable crops. This single invasion taught me more about weeds than any book. Not only did I learn to identify these plants, I discovered that like dandelion greens, some of my new weeds were edible too.

I have several old T-shirts sitting in my drawer that haven't been worn in ages. I love these T-shirts for their soft cotton, but sometimes they show their age with teeny tiny holes or snagged threads. This project uses a simple technique to revamp an old, well-loved T-shirt. I used the intricate eyelet border of an old sheet for mine, but you can get creative and use anything you have in your fabric collection, even scraps of soft cotton fabrics sewn together!

Dear Helaine and Joe:

Q: Hello Ed, I have a question that I have never seen you address. Our present toilet is in the corner of our bathroom very close to a wall on the left hand side of the toilet. We're planning to replace this toilet and I have always been frustrated that the flushing handle is on the left side of the toilet, in a tight spot next to that wall. Can I get a new toilet with the flushing handle on the right side of the toilet?

Lately I have received more than a few questions concerning the actions of various home inspectors across the country. Mostly the complaints come from disgruntled sellers who think their homes are in a good condition and are amazed that defects are found.

Dear Angie: What is reasonable to expect from a housecleaning service?

I knew better but I did it anyway. The swarm of whiteflies was readily apparent on that certain variety of verbena that I was intent on purchasing. Unfortunately, it was late in the day and this was the last flat the big box garden center had on hand. I didn't have the patience or energy to shop elsewhere, even though I had a few extra days to do so. These would have to do.

If you are going to college this fall - or know someone who is - and need ideas on how to decorate your dorm room, read on. Those dorms are pretty small, so planning ahead and being creative are both important. Here are some ideas.

Sassy but soft, coral, the big-girl version of pink, is turning heads and winning hearts in the decorating world. Since the first time I saw a dining room done completely in coral, this sugar-and-spice tone has tugged at my heart. The perfect blend of pink and orange, coral is fresh and fun without being too feminine or youthful. It's just right for those who want to add some warmth and energy to a room. Here are two great ways to bring coral into your home.

More homeowners are ditching wall-mounted boxes in the kitchen for a more open, spacious look, especially when the room is small.

LOS ANGELES-Michael C. Hall has listed a property in Los Feliz at $4.5 million. Considering that the "Dexter" star and serial home buyer and seller purchased the place a year ago at $3.825 million, he may not make much of a killing after improvements and commissions.

Karen Plarisan dreamed of working with flowers. After raising three children, she finally opened her own floral studio about five years ago.

Joe Ponessa, who spent 25 years as a housing, indoor environment and health specialist at Rutgers Cooperative Extension, responded to a recent column about mold testing. He said much of what he knows about mold remediation comes from associating with some of the top mold people in the country.

This summer it seems the mandevilla is reigning supreme for tropical flower power. Recently while in Columbus, Ga., I had the opportunity to visit The Landings, an upscale shopping or lifestyle center. The containers and hanging baskets were simply incredible thanks in part to the dazzling show put on by the mandevillas.

Gardens are typically blessed with spring rains that bring summer flowers - and then the hot, dry months of July and August take their toll.

People often think of January or spring as high seasons for home organization. But for those of us with school-age kids, late summer is prime time to clear excess and create a better system to handle what's left and what's on the way.

"When good design happens, you just don't notice it," said Kathy Kuo, New York-based interior designer. Good design - sometimes deemed the je ne sais quois of interior design and architecture - is the intent behind two series premiering on television Wednesday night and now available online at fyi.tv.

Patrick Powers held up three or four carrots he'd just pulled out of the soil. Before he started gardening, numerous people or things might have touched those carrots before they reached his mouth: farmers, farmworkers, pesticides, food handlers, grocers � all part of a system of efficient food-processing that he had some familiarity with working in the restaurant industry for 35 years.

In my last column I shared the story of a gardening disaster that happened to me many years ago. It changed everything about how I garden. For over 25 years now, I've been an organic gardener, due in large part to that single experience.

You need to be able to sew, staple and handle a few tools, but it's actually rather easy to build your own ottoman.

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is, "What color paint should I use?" I have never understood why so many people are intimidated by color. Maybe it's because we all see color differently. Over the years I've tried to take some of the mystery out of color for my clients and viewers. Once you get it, using color is fun and not scary at all.

Last year I wrote a column warning of the dangers of a buildup of clothes dryer lint and the potential for a lint fire inside your home. We always clean the dryer lint screen with every use and never ever leave the clothes dryer running if we are leaving home. Recently, while walking past the laundry area for an evening out, I noticed the distinct odor of smoke and knew right away it was lint. Removing two quarter-inch screws, I found a large buildup of scorched lint under the drum of the clothes dryer. The evening's activities were put on an immediate hold until I was sure there was no lingering or smoldering lint. Incidents like this are preventable. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that there are 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings each year, resulting in five deaths and $35 million in property damage. The majority of dryer fires are the result of lint buildup inside the dryer or inside the pipe that vents to the outside. What should you do to prevent a possible dryer lint fire?

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