Great Design Plant: the Bluestar of Hubricht

Stay cool in the backyard with Hubricht’s Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii), a billowy Southeast United States perennial that requires humidity and heat in stride.

Every time a refreshing summer breeze blows through the landscape, soft, willowy chartreuse foliage ripples in the wind, creating an ephemeral — if only emotionally — cooling effect. Being pushed about is a fantastic thing in this circumstance. And with three seasons of backyard interest that is distinctly different you will never find yourself looking at the landscape.

J Biochemist

Botanical name: Amsonia hubrichtii
Common names: Hubricht’s Bluestar, Bluestar, Arkansas Amsonia, Hubricht’s Amsonia
USDA zones: 4 to 9 (find your zone)
Water requirement: Medium
moderate requirement:Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Benefits and tolerances:Flowers attract butterflies; bull tolerant
Seasonal interest: Blooms spring through summer; autumn foliage
When to plant: Plant seeds in autumn or spring; divide in spring

J Biochemist

Distinguishing attributes. Bluestar’s bright, feathery foliage is a voluminous and bushy existence in the backyard. It is a vertical noodle plant that becomes showier and more attractive with age.

Petite sky-blue blossoms arrive in late spring and summer, topping the narrow evergreen foliage. Attractive and decorative seedheads follow. The bright green foliage of Bluestar excels in the landscape during the summer, creating a cooling atmosphere in the breeze as its willow-like foliage blows.

Brighton Plants

The foliage becomes a radiant gold in autumn, making it considered one of the Bluestars.

J Biochemist

How to use it. Bluestar is a superb plant to have in your arsenal, because its distinctive texture, blossoms and brilliant fall color create a exceptional garden view through three seasons of the year.

Scatter Bluestar one of grasses or other finely textured plants to create a soft meadow-like landscape that would make Piet Oudolf proud. And when other plants go dormant or show their own seasonal colour, Bluestar’s transparent golden color is an attractive backyard foil. Bluestar creates a juxtaposition against the tough texture.

Bluestar’s capacity to grow in moist soils makes it an perfect candidate for a rain garden, where tolerance of intense humidity and drought is essential. The plant grows naturally in the Southeast United States and can be an attractive choice for a native woodland garden. Mass for effect.

Van Swearingen

Planting notes. Bluestar can be left to grow once it’s launched. It is tolerant of moist, well-drained soil but may also do just fine if you don’t remember to water it every once in a while. Vibrant foliage colour is enhanced when it’s planted in full sun, but the blossoms survive longer in partial shade in extremely hot climates. If planted in shade stems will flop more than.

A long-lived plant, Bluestar appears best after a couple of growing seasons. If you looking for more of a quick massed effect, consider buying more mature specimens.

When it flowers, cut back the plant several inches to maintain stems upright and to keep an attractive overall form. There are no significant pest or pest problems connected with Bluestar, but it may be susceptible to rust. Discard infested foliage immediately, before it may contaminate other plants.

More: Great design blossoms and plants, grasses and trees.

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DIY Friday: Paint a Dishtowel for Kitchen Colour

Occasionally a fast spruce-up is we will need to make our home feel inviting and fresh. Something as simple as a fresh and colorful kitchen towel can instantly brighten a room. See how a bit of paint, cloth tape and medium may transform fundamental flour sack towels from boring to beautiful.

Flour sack towels are great in the kitchen because of their functionality, but plain white ones don’t add personality or colour to the space. That may be altered by mixing some cloth moderate with your oil paint colour of choice. All of a sudden, you have opened up a universe of possibilities!

To tackle this project you will need to collect:
Flour sack towelsPainter’s tapeSponge brushFabric mediumAcrylic paintSmall bowl for mixing paintScrap bit of cardboard

Start by wrapping your flour sack towel round the bit of cardboard. You’ll want the middle section of the towel to be exposed. The cardboard helps protect your work surface and will keep the paint from bleeding into the other layers of this towel.

Employing the painter’s tape, then create line sections. Be sure that the tape is secured to the towel securely.

Hint: It helps to carry the tape above the work surface, securing the cardboard and towel to the table in order that they can not move around.

Once you’ve created a pattern with the tape, then mix two parts acrylic paint to one part cloth medium in the small mixing bowl.

Use the sponge brush to paint within the lines you created with the tape.

Be sure that the shade is all the way round and reaches the borders of the towel.

When you are done painting, remove the tape carefully. You don’t have to await the paint to dry to remove the tape.

Permit the paint to dry thoroughly (usually a few hours), then heat set it with an iron.

Your embellished flour sack dishtowel may be customized to fit your design aesthetic. If stripes aren’t something, how about polka dots? Chevron? Get creative with your patterns.

These make lovely housewarming gifts.

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Rough Hewn

The expression “rough hewn” describes a beam that’s been shaped about and hasn’t been sanded or completed. The surface is not easy and the grain is very clear and rough.

Apropos Design, Inc. / Green Home Design Source

Rough-hewn beams frame the area with this rustic wine cellar.

Jeffrey Dungan Architects

An unusual and charming choice for a staircase railing, these rough-hewn pieces are likely salvaged wood.

A post and lintel wall opening showcases rough-hewn timbers that provide structural support. It’s a rustic touch in an otherwise polished area.

Richard Bubnowski Design LLC

The teeth of a saw blade left visible cuts on this rough-hewn wall paneling.

Browse more photographs of rough-hewn pieces

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Kitchen of the Week: Gorgeous and Green at California

“This family is not afraid of color,” says interior designer Alison Glen. An apple-green countertop may scare off some homeowners, yet this family of four in Venice, California, wanted to revive their kitchen make it bold and joyful. Obviously, a countertop that vibrant meant that all the additional materials needed to be picked about it. Glen stuck with a simple palette for the remainder of the space, installing ecofriendly concrete floors and zebra wood cabinetry as a fresh contrast to the glowing green. The result is a modern but homey kitchen. “It is so cheerful, even a sunken soufflĂ© won’t bring you down in this kitchen,” says Glen.

LA Dwelling

The zebra wood cabinetry is the perfect colour to contrast with all the apple-green countertop. Glen says it is worth it to invest in the materials that matter, such as countertops and cabinetry. “But durability doesn’t have to be boring,” she adds.

Glen and the family spent a great deal of time exploring what the top materials would be for this particular kitchen, picking materials that are stylish but eco friendly. The zebra wood is both those things — it is formaldehyde free and was harvested from renewable forests — and durable to boot.

Cabinetry: Bradco Kitchens and Baths; countertop: Caesarstone, Apple Martini

LA Dwelling

Glen had additional storage put to the seat seats in the dining area for rarely used fine serving pieces and partyware. The table and the benches were both custom made by a local carpenter. Radiant heat keep the stained cement flooring from feeling too cold.

Lighting: Rejuvenation; floors: Montanari Construction; floors stain and conclude: EcoCrete Soy Stain

LA Dwelling

A small desk area is nestled near the oven, set lower than the countertop to get a sense of division. A massive foundation drawer retains the printer, which helps to keep the table uncluttered.

Glen filled the kitchen with plenty of useful features that the owners adore, such as an integrated filter in the sink faucet, vertical storage for baking sheets and a pullout trash and recycling bin.

Oven, cooktop, dishwasher: Bosch; hood: GE Profile; refrigerator: JennAir; fittings: Kohler; faucet: KWC; hardware: Hafele

LA Dwelling

The long, narrow shape of this kitchen limited that the client’s layout wish list. A comprehensive island would have taken up too much space, so Glen installed a combined bar and prep space on one of those walls. The sink, stove and refrigerator are not laid out in the conventional labour triangle, but it still works well for your household. The current configuration leaves space for entertaining and helps remove traffic jams.

Backsplash: Trend Mosaics; bar stools: Crate & Barrel

LA Dwelling

“Details typically come at a cost,” says Glen. “To be able to pay for the visual extras, like a metal strip from the counter, we scaled back a number of the upper cabinets and utilized open shelving instead.” She also installed big foundation drawers around the perimeter.

Browse more Kitchens of the Week

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Open Web Steel Joist

An open web steel joist (OWSJ) is a lightweight steel web between beams which utilizes the strength of a triangle; the beamed trusses are conducted parallel to one another to support the ground above.

PLACE architect ltd..

The open web steel joists are steel beams with steel webbing. This style is an alternative to steel girders or big wood or glulam beams.

Ryan Group Architects

These joists have the benefits of being inexpensive, lightweight and constructed offsite, and ducting and electrical function can be run .

Centre Sky Architecture Ltd

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Contractor Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Get a Greener Home

If you hear the term “green building,” you may first think of solar panels onto the roof or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Then you may begin to think of bigger concepts, like walls constructed with straw bales. However, while CFLs certainly have their place in every home, and straw bale walls are fantastic for insulation in certain programs, solar power is one of the last things you should consider.

First, you need to shrink your home’s energy use as much as you can, manage your lighting and heat gain and loss, make sure you have good air quality and also assess to make sure that you have well-maintained surfaces inside and outside. Then crown your green masterpiece using a photovoltaic array. It’s important to prioritize your wants and needs during a green remodel, as with every other project. Below are five places to get started.

HighCraft Builders

1. Buy a bath fan. What is the most significant thing in a bathroom? It’s hard to argue with a bathroom and some water. But after those (and before you include a shower), then you require a bath fan. I am amazed at how many baths I move in that don’t have you. A window is not sufficient, and a small noisy fan that no one wishes to turn on is not going to do you any good.

Buy an excellent, silent bath fan, and if it does not have an occupancy sensor, cable it with another timer switch. A fan should operate for at least 10 minutes after you leave the space for odors and 20 to 30 minutes after a shower. Make certain it vents to the outside. Though it’s important to get a specific degree of moisture in the atmosphere in your home, it is bad to have it all in one area. Vent your bathroom and your paint will last longer, you won’t encounter the danger of mold growth and cleaning will be easier.

West Architecture Studio

2. Handle the light. Handling the light that enters your home is a way to save on utility bills and make your home a more cheerful location. Strategically placed awnings and roof overhangs can help you do so. In the summertime, if you don’t want as much light or heat, sunlight is higher in the sky. Because the light strikes your house in a steeper angle, the exact same awning that blocks out light in summer time will allow the low-angled winter mild in if you need it most.

The awning pictured here serves another purpose. Because it’s set down below the top of the window, so it reveals light upward on the ceiling inside, making a nice ambient glow inside instead of a glare.

Buckminster Green LLC

Another fantastic way to get light in your home without earning a lot of unwanted heat is to install a solar lighting tube. These capture the low-angled winter using reflective coatings within a roof-top dome, and are much easier to set up than a skylight since they require no structural headers. Also don’t feel limited to rooms right beneath the roof. The reflective tubes could be run down in the second floor to the first floor although closets or thick walls, and they are even able to make minor turns.

Hilti Spray Foam Gun

3. Insulate. If you spent a lot of money getting the most efficient windows you could afford, don’t let the heat escape all around their sides.

If you have ever used a can of foam, however, you are aware that it can be a tricky, messy process, and some is inevitably wasted if the could dries up. Therefore, in case you have a lot of foaming to perform, put money into a foam gun. The foam does not dry out, and you can control the flow rate, so the application process won’t be as messy and less wasteful.

Geocel 84101 Quick Shield White Sealant – $5.19

As soon as you seal up your house using foam and caulk, you don’t want to trap harmful pollutants inside. Indoor air is generally much worse for you than outside air, and thus don’t make it worse by using home improvement products that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere.

Many of you have probably heard of no-VOC paints. However, what about the painter’s caulk? I’ve tried many “green” caulks, and many are not as easy to use as standard painter’s caulk. This product from Geocel is solvent free and VOC free, and it works amazing.

Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc..

4. Use reclaimed materials. Most metropolitan regions now have several architectural salvage shops. While materials manufactured from recycled materials are great, remember that it’s decrease, reuse and then recycle.

Reclaimed materials are a great way to reuse. Proceed to the local salvage yard and think creatively. Here a wall is dressed up with old planks, some with the original paint on them. Reclaimed doors, light fixtures and tile are all fantastic ways to give a room character. Don’t be afraid to use something for a purpose other than that which it was intended for; my coffee table in your home is made of an old outside shutter.

Nansulate LDX Clear Lead Encapsulation Coating for Lead Abatement – $84.95

I know what you are thinking: “Kenny, you just got done telling me to not let my airtight home be full of VOCs, and now you are telling me to bring crusty old construction products into my house and leave the old lead paint onto them for allure?”

Yes, however there’s one more step. If you would like to safely coexist with surfaces that may be covered in lead paint (and some other painted surface out of before 1978 should be considered a hazard), you are able to encapsulate the lead by using a product similar to this one from Nansulate. It has quite a low amount of sheen, so that you won’t even know it is there. And you can get that rustic appearance without endangering your family.

Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

5. Pick quality materials. Eventually, think about every part of your project with that first “r” — decrease — in mind. We are currently renovating a house in Philadelphia constructed in the 1700s. The floors are first; the plaster is first; the brick front is first. By using materials that last, such as brick, we decrease the number of times a home needs to be renovated. So less waste and less energy used making new materials (and less work for contractors such as me). Of course, there will always be work construction for an increasing people and serving people’s changing needs and preferences. I just hate tearing out a cheap flooring that lasted just ten decades.

More guides to green construction

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Weather Vanes Give a Crowning Touch to Homes

Ever since the clock struck summer this year, Frank’s Sinatra’s song “Summer Wind” was on replay in my mind. This has triggered ideas of weather vanes. The cosmetic instruments have always been favorites of mine, and now that I am a homeowner I feel the necessity to really have a weather vane of my very own.

Used as an architectural decoration, weather vanes are usually found at the highest point of a structure and are utilized to reveal the direction of the wind. Mounted on a predetermined rod, they’ve letters indicating the points on the compass. Above all the letters, the decorative directional decoration sits on a rotating spindle. For the instrument to work correctly, the burden of the directional piece has to be equally distributed on each side. On the other hand, the surface area needs to be unequally divided so the pointer can move freely on its own axis.

Today you’ll find almost anything called the decoration for weather vanes — out of Santa’s sleigh for my personal favorite, the Labrador retriever.

Domain Design Architects

An eagle weather vane is a classic all-American option.

Richard Leggin Architects

A square cupola isn’t complete without a weather vane. You may buy a similar hand-crafted cupola out of Weathervanes of Maine.

This Massachusetts shingle-style carriage home is brimming with architectural information. I spy knee straps, diamond muntins and a square cupola with a weather vane.

Farm construction corp

Directionals don’t a weather vane make. Some weather vanes merely feature a fundamental arrow decoration. Denninger Weather Vanes carries an whole arrow collection!

Forum Phi Architecture | Interiors | Planning

Birds in flight are usually used as the cosmetic strand decoration on weather vanes, symbolizing patience, grace and beauty.

McKay Architects

This house proudly displays a weather vane atop its square cupola. Much of the high-end weather vanes are handmade in New England.

Tongue & Groove

An antiqued whale silhouette is a fitting weather vane option for seaside living. Cape Cod Weathervane Company sells precisely the same whale cutie.

Birdseye Design

Mounted in an octagonal cupola, a sailboat weather vane sails in the summer wind.

RTA Studio Residential Architects

Back in the day, roosters were the go-to cosmetic vertical piece — so popular that weather vanes can also be referred to as weathercocks.

Weathervanes to Crow About

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Charming, Bright Country Home in France

It was the barn which sealed the deal for Alon and Betsy Kasha. When the Parisian couple was searching for a family retreat in Normandy, France, they fell in love with a home that was a part of an old village rectory — the gardener’s home along with the attached barn. They were attracted to its high ceilings and exposed rafters, even though the barn was in shape. Since the owners of a + b kasha layouts, they had plenty of experience renovating turnkey apartments in Paris and could not wait to try their hands at a state home of their own.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Alon and Betsy Kasha
Location: Eure Valley at Normandy, France
Size: 2,500 square feet
That’s interesting: When the Kashas first purchased this home, the barn had its original dirt floors and sand walls.

A+B KASHA Designs

The majority of the exterior of the home has been maintained in its original fashion, with the gardener’s house and the barn connected. The barn now holds 2 bathrooms, three bedrooms and a family room.

A+B KASHA Designs

The room is located on the ground floor of what was formerly the gardener’s residence. Two antique Le Corbusier leather chairs plus a 1930s leather and metallic club chair make a casual seating arrangement around a zinc-topped java table. A French artist created the floor lamp using materials.

A+B KASHA Designs

The ceiling beams in the gardener’s house and the barn are some of the Kashas’ preferred features. Though some original details were preserved, the couple changed both structures’ layouts to reflect a contemporary way of life. They removed several walls to open up and join the kitchen, dining and living room into one great room.

Lighting fixture: made of silicon chip boards with a French designer

A+B KASHA Designs

The family needed a sensible and organized kitchen which would reflect their casual way of life. Simple white lacquered cabinetry is easy to wipe clean, and a butcher block countertop adds a rustic counterpoint. Open dishes and shelving homes serveware, and chimney stores food.

Dining chairs: 1960s Italian leather and chrome; table: Mario Bellini for Cassina

A+B KASHA Designs

The couple chose their light palette for the walls and cut out of Farrow & Ball. The distinct white colors draw attention to the house’s clean lines and play the pure light that floods your south-facing home.

Wall paint: Wimborne White, Skimming Stone and Elephant’s Breath, Farrow & Ball

A+B KASHA Designs

The family used lots of existing furniture out of their previous home, but in different rooms and unique ways. A walnut commode, used for food storage within their old kitchen, now holds puzzles and games in the living space.

Desk: habit; sofa: Habitat

A+B KASHA Designs

The all-white walls create a relaxing and serene atmosphere, much like the surrounding village. There are not lots of windows at the upstairs portions of the home, however, the white hallways pull the light from one side of the home to the other.

A+B KASHA Designs

A guest bedroom on the ground floor of the barn appears onto one of the house’s many gardens. Embroidered bedding out of Paris mimics the engravings on a classic light fixture.

A+B KASHA Designs

Alon and Betsy chose their master bedroom based on its unique architectural details. “Its pitched ceiling with lovely old beams creates a relaxing and tranquil area,” Betsy says. The table holding a portion of their book set is a classic Chinese daybed. The couple cut the legs down and used it as a coffee table in their very first house.

A daybed in a different bedroom takes advantage of a cozy nook created by the house’s sloping rafters. Youthful pillows contrast with a more traditional rug — a great example of the couple’s signature fashion.

Bedding and cushions: Le Bon Marche; light: Ikea; daybed: Habitat

A+B KASHA Designs

This bedroom is one of the only rooms in the home with a nonneutral color.

Wall paint: Borrowed Light, Farrow & Ball; carpeting: Saint Maclou; bedding: Caravane

A+B KASHA Designs

The home’s gardens and yard were a massive draw for the Kashas. Although much of the property was wild and overgrown when they first purchased it, they tamed it into a large outdoor area they can enjoy almost year-round.

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Kitchen of the Week: Transformed Toilet in D.C.

This cheerful Washington, D.C., kitchen was once a little, junk-filled garage that completely split the most important house from its beautiful backyard and patio. The family needed a new kitchen and knew that this unused garage space had to proceed. However, the garage original floor plan was exceptionally narrow, which made spatial planning challenging.

Thomas Ahmann of Ahmann Architects divided the L-shape kitchen into different areas but maintained that a unified feeling throughout the area. A workspace, mudroom, lounge, breakfast bar and lots of space to cook were integrated into this long and narrow area. Although the family originally wanted a kitchen that would open into a living space, a scarcity of space eventually contributed to this all-in-one design.


To cut down on cost, Ahmann wanted to use as much of the existing foundation as possible. This forced the group to operate inside a narrow and L-shape area, that made plasma organization difficult. Ahmann divided up the long island and the remainder of the kitchen into different areas defined by purpose.

Cabinets: semicustom Shaker style by Executive Kitchens, Misty Green and Antique White; pendants: Jesco Lighting


A built-in hutch with desk area was installed at the front end of the kitchen, directly contrary to the mudroom area. The mudroom is accessed through the property’s driveway, and its location encourages guests and children to take off their shoes and drop their bags before coming into the kitchen.

The elevated breakfast table was made from reclaimed wood by the project’s contractor. Ahmann placed it at the end of the island rather than along the length so foot traffic in the front into the rear of the kitchen could be uninterrupted.

Countertops: Cambria quartz, Bristol Blue


The glass cupboards and plate rack are the only remaining pieces of the original kitchen. The open area near the sink links the kitchen with the rest of the house.

Because an L shape may make a kitchen feel disjointed, Ahmann and his group wanted to combine the space through the ceiling as well as the floor. Lightly stained oak beams help specify the kitchen workspace.

Backsplash: Porcelanosa Duo Verde; faucet: Rohl fire-clay apron-front sink; mats: Flor


A casual lounge area was integrated into a bay window that projects over the home’s patio. It is tucked right next to the kitchen’s main working area, providing space to hang out and unwind while dinner is cooking.


One of the customers’ priorities for this endeavor was to create a family room that concentrates on the outside. Like the remainder of the kitchen, that presented some spatial challenges. The group wanted to expand the kitchen, however they could not extend in the side yard (in which the family wished to get a garden). The alternative was to operate inside the L-shape footprint and extend out onto the terrace.

Interior Design: Tara Shimberg, Tara’s Interiors
Builder: Ardo Contracting

More Kitchens of the Week:
Little Kitchen, Big View
Just Launched in Massachusetts

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Roses: Crowning Touch of Gardens

It is hard to deny the beauty of a timeless rose. Add the odor of old English roses and you have a mix that virtually no one can refuse is alluring. The problem? Roses can be tough to grow. Some are susceptible to many diseases and pests, while others need exact procedures of pruning to produce plenty of blossoms.

The fantastic news: All roses aren’t created alike. Should you will need a low-hassle improved, try rugosas. Do you need a rose that grows on long, straight stalks? Try a hybrid. Want fragrance? Try a David Austin rose climbing overhead in your outdoor area.

Amy Renea

My perfect rose is a brand new English rose called Evelyn. It has a sweet, citrusy odor, soft-as-air petals along with a color to die for. This rose grows on a sturdy bush that does not succumb to many insects and diseases.

Amy Renea

Here is a rose emerging out of its dormant period in spring. The growth is lush, green and low to the floor — this plant is off to a fantastic start. April is the time of year to look closely at the leaves for black place. Remove the leaves quickly and you’ll be able to keep the disease from spreading.

Amy Renea

There are various theories of how to grow roses. Some are grown in beds like this, spaced equally and heavily mulched and fed. This way is good for fussy roses like hybrid teas.

Amy Renea

This setup works well in a formal rose garden, the structure of these beds echoed in the hardscaping surrounding the garden.

Gaulhofer Windows

A variety of surrounding plants lighten up the look of a formal rose plot. The roses are still different and easy to feed, prune and spray, but the look is far from dull.

Zeterre Landscape Architecture

For a cottage garden, closely spaced shrub roses may be the answer. A hedge full of luscious blossoms is a sight to behold in summertime!

Amy Renea

Smaller bush roses are another option for the gardener who doesn’t need to put up with the hassle of spraying, pruning and feeding. Hardy roses like rugosas can stand up to neglect and even saltwater without even throwing a fit. Old-time rosebushes also create large edible rose hips, which are great for tea.

Amy Renea

Climbing roses are a beautiful addition to any garden. Educate them on a trellis, around a fence post or up cable guides. Climbing roses should be pruned to make plants covered in blossoms.

Amy Renea

Here is a closer look at the cable guides used to train up these roses and above the rock wall.

In case you have an architectural attribute to show off, a climbing rose can be your best buddy. Fertilize roses grown in pots or small plots of soil, as they will not bloom without additional feeding.

Amy Renea

Whether you choose easy-to-care for shrubs or fussy long-stemmed reds, a rose is a rewarding plant to grow. The colors range from saturated to translucent, the aromas range from peach to musk and the petals are as good as a baby’s guards. Give in today and try growing one of these classic beauties.

Roses and Rosettes in Your Home Design

Great Design Plant: Sally Holmes Rose

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