The Dos (and a Big Don’t) of Pruning Repeat-Blooming Hydrangeas

There is so much to love about hydrangeas. Showy blooms, cottage appeal, what’s not to love? But add in those brand-new varieties with blooms that keep on hitting all summer long, like the grand finale at a fireworks show, and you’ve got some happy gardeners. While their bloom cycle is certainly appealing, the fact that they make it a little easier on their caretakers by blooming on both new and old growth makes them no-brainers. That means you can be a little more prune-happy and things could still fare okay. 

© Provided by Southern Living LeliaSpb/Getty

That being said, knowledge and restraint will get you far with this Southern-favorite flower. Give your reblooming hydrangeas their best shot at the ultimate summer floral show by pruning with care—not to mention at the right time. There are limits, after all, to even the most forgiving of varieties. 

Do: Prune in the Late Winter and Shape at the End of Summer 

Reblooming hydrangea varieties like ‘Limelight,’ ‘Endless Summer,’ and ‘Twist-n-Shout’ don’t discriminate when it comes to where their blooms originate. Old wood, new wood, it’s all the same if you’ve got that reblooming magic. For that reason, they aren’t as finicky with their pruning as the popular ‘Nikko Blue’ and other once-a-season bloomers that can miss out on their highly anticipated floral show if you prune too late. Reblooming hydrangeas should be pruned at the tail-end of winter or early spring in order to encourage lots of new growth. 

It will be time to give your hydrangea a little more attention once the summer starts to wane. “At the end of the blooming season, be sure to remove dead buds and stems, as well as shape the entire hydrangea while pruning,” says Dan Stuppiello, division merchandise manager of Live Goods at The Home Depot. Your get-ahead plan will make all the difference when next summer rolls along.

Do: Prune Flowers at the Right Spot 

Take stock of your stems before you get out the shears. According to Stuppiello, old blooms that have faded should be cut back just above new buds, so that you don’t lose any future blooms in the process. You’ll be rewarded with healthier flowers that are ready for their own moment in the sun. In order to keep the blooms coming, Stuppiello also recommends fertilizing. “An all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer is good to use in the spring,” he says. And in response to the ever-popular color question, he shares: “Small amounts of sulfur will turn the bloom a deeper blue or pink color, however sulfur will not change the color of a true white hydrangea.”

Do: Cut Weak Stems

It’s not all about the blooms. Weak stems, dead branches, and browned-to-a-crisp leaves have all got to go as soon as they’re spotted. As for blooms that have their best days behind them, you should go ahead and take care of those too. “For these types of hydrangeas, it’s encouraged to prune almost immediately after their flowers have faded,” says Stuppiello. He recommends trimming just above the new buds to ensure you keep getting that season-long bloom time you’re after.

Don’t: Guess Which Variety You Have

Rule number one in caring for your hydrangeas: Know what you’re working with. “It’s important to cater to the needs of your hydrangeas and follow the plant tag instructions to ensure optimal growth for the following season,” says Stuppiello. You should be aware of what type and variety of hydrangea you have in order to best suit its needs—starting with where it’s planted. Know your zones, stay in your lane, and whatever you do, just make sure you’ve done your hydrangea homework.

Article by Patricia Shannon for Southern Living©

Source: The Dos (and a Big Don’t) of Pruning Repeat-Blooming Hydrangeas (msn.com)

Netflix CEO Reveals Which Subscribers Will Have To Watch Ads

Specific details of the forthcoming ad-based model were murky at the time of the announcement. Only a few months later, Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos is finally giving the public a little more clarity on what to expect.

 Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos divulged that commercials will not be added to the current Netflix subscription plans. Instead, the new ad-based tier is intended to attract new subscribers who are not bothered by advertisements accompanying the content they’re watching.

The clarification should come as good news to current Netflix subscribers, who are currently paying either $9.99, $15.99, or $19.99 per month for the service. The prices are determined by such factors as the number of screens a subscriber chooses to watch programming on, and whether they want to watch the content on HD or Ultra HD.

Source: Netflix CEO Reveals Which Subscribers Will Have To Watch Ads (msn.com)

Edited for brevity.

Our Trip Thru the Rockies Pt. 3

We finish our trip with a 2-day visit to Salt Lake City before heading home to Chicago. SLC is a beautiful, clean city with an abundance of things to do, with one caveat. Seeing the sites on Sunday, as we did, might disappoint some of you. SLC, being a Mormon dominated city, is virtually closed at least in the downtown area. Even Macy’s was shuttered for the day. Finding an open restaurant, impossible.

Monday, however, the city comes to life with a 2 1/2-hour shuttle tour of the area in the offing. Photos are of the 2 days we enjoyed on our extended weekend trip in SLC.

One venue always open on Sunday is the Morman Tabernacle and its’ famous pipe organ.

It is open to the public on Sundays.

And this is the world-famous organ with a short recital (maybe tuning the pipes).

At 11:00, it’s time for mass down the street at the Cathedral of the Madeleine with its magnificent altar, stained glass windows and its own pipe organ.

We happened to attend a mass that featured a 20-voice choir accompanied by the organ.

This smaller organ rivaled the sound of the Mormon Tabernacle organ.

Awesome!

More sightseeing. We visit “The Place” or “This is the Place” Heritage Park. It is named in honor of Brigham Young’s famous statement in 1847 that the Latter-day Saint pioneers should settle in the Salt Lake Valley.

The monument that features Brigham Young and the pioneers who crossed the Rockies in a 4-month ordeal.

A typical wagon used by the pioneers on their journey.

Lastly, a tribute to the Pony Express riders (Sorry about the raindrops).

Thoroughly exhausted (who knew sitting for 4 days could be so tiring), we board our flight back to Chicago, just missing a violent thunderstorm that occurred just prior to arrival.

Not our plane!

It’s good to be home, but we are both ready for more adventures. Any suggestions?

Our Trip Thru the Rockies Pt. 2

Flying over the Rockies is an awesome, bumpy ride. My wife and I decided to take Amtrak thru the Rockies to get a close-up view of what we had been seeing from 30,000 feet. Here are some of the highlights.

Yes, our train: The California Zephyr rounding one of many bends.

And yes, that is snow on top of the Rocky Mountains in June.

The Zephyr stops to let passengers on/off and for a short stop for picture taking.

Rapids anyone? That’s a long way down!

These pictures don’t capture the majesty of the Rockies. Many, many times the train slows to a crawl because we are so close to the mountainside. There is a 3-wire barrier next to the track that protects the Zephyr from the mountain boulders that could come crashing down at any time because of the train’s movement.

Looks like fun. Maybe try that next time.

Leaving the spectacular Rockies behind, we ride into Utah and the Wasatch Mountain range as the sun sets.

We are scheduled for a 11:05 p.m. arrival time in Salt Lake City, however, freight still rules the rails, so we wait outside of SLC as the freight trains clear out. So, at 11:45, we detrain and head for our hotel, the itch having been scratched for now. I’m wondering how the Rockies would look under a pure white blanket of snow in winter.

Our adventure continues the next day, as we explore downtown Salt Lake City.

5 Best Fruits to Reduce Inflammation

The word inflammation has a bad reputation. It seems to be associated with negative consequences like pain, swelling, disease, or perhaps a byproduct of just general poor health. There are a couple of classifications of inflammation recognized in healthcare: acute and chronic inflammation, and there are some big differences between the two.

Acute inflammation is characterized by the healing of injured body tissue. Acute inflammation is short-term, lasting minutes to days, and is a result of injury, irritation, or infection. During recovery of this type of inflammatory process, signs like redness, swelling, heat, and soreness in the affected area might be apparent as damaged tissue is being addressed and new tissue is being synthesized. This is a normal physiologic response to the body’s exposure to physical stress and its subsequent necessary repair.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, as stated in this review in the British Journal of Nutrition, is an indicator of a failure to regulate homeostasis, thus contributing to the perpetuation and progression of disease. This is a result of a misfiring in the body’s physiologic response when there is no real trigger, but inflammation is still activated. Most chronic inflammation is systemic (not localized to just one area of the body) and is mild or “low-grade.” Chronic inflammation can become the root of many diseases, including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.

One method of protection against inflammation is a nutrient-dense diet which includes an array of vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes (beans and peas), whole grains, and up to two servings a week of fish that supply omega-3 fats. Certain plant-based foods have been studied for their potential inflammatory-fighting benefits, including these top five anti-inflammatory fruits. Read on for more on how to eat healthy.

1. Cranberries

Cranberries don’t get nearly enough credit year-round. Instead, most cranberry intake is cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving or cranberry juice to defend against a urinary tract infection (UTI). Cranberries instead can be enjoyed frozen in a smoothie, dried in a trail mix, or fresh in a salad. Cranberries have a high content of bioactive compounds, which are associated with antioxidant activity. One primary bioactive compound in cranberries is a flavonoid called quercetin. These flavonoids have been studied for their role in decreasing inflammation, inhibiting the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, and for their anti-cancer effects.

2. Oranges

Oranges, whether they be navel oranges or mandarins, contain hesperetin, a citrus flavonoid. Hesperetin offers protection against inflammation that can lead to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are a recognizable fruit probably making its way into your breakfast routine via oatmeal, yogurt, or muffins. Now there is even more reason to include blueberries regularly in your diet: its inflammatory-reducing function may decrease insulin resistance, a hallmark of developing type 2 diabetes. A 2018 review in Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine suspects this could be attributed to blueberry’s “anthocyanin” content and its ability to alter certain hormones associated with the body’s use of glucose.

4. Grapefruit

Grapefruit, along with other fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges, is categorized as a citrus fruit. Naringin, a major compound found in tomatoes, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits, can suppress inflammatory reactions, as reported in a research article in Bioscience Reports in 2020. This occurs through naringin’s capability to reduce the effectiveness of pro-inflammatory “cytokines,” which are known to contribute to cell damage. Grapefruit also is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, which are both key vitamins in immune function.

5. Strawberries

Strawberries are not only appreciated as a juicy, wholesome, summertime fruit but also a flavor that can make just about anything from desserts to beverages taste great. Keep up with consuming strawberries, but now armed with the knowledge that this fruit is exceptionally rich in a flavonoid called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial and can also boost protection against cancer.

Written by Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD for Eat This, Not That©

Source: 5 Best Fruits to Reduce Inflammation (msn.com)

Our Trip Thru the Rockies Pt. 1

Chicago to Denver, Denver to Salt Lake City and back to Chicago…in an extended weekend. My wife and I, Whew! What a ride. Ride along with us, won’t you?

Welcome aboard. It all started at ORD, Chicago’s humongous airport on the furthest northwest reaches of the city. I was thinking our 2:30 flight to Denver should be a breeze, right? Wrong! It’s Friday afternoon and business travelers are scrambling to get a flight home, college students, ditto, or going off to party. Anyway, the TSA line… it’s like someone is giving away free food. I have never seen a line of people so long, so filled with bored, grumpy looking individuals. OMG. And so, we enter the line. Uh, do we need to pack a lunch? No, a beady-eyed TSA guy says. “No food allowed. No beverages allowed. Not in your hand, not in your carryon. Eat it now, drink it now, or toss it.” Welcome to today’s travel nightmare.

Lois, my ever-lovin, goes ahead of me in the line, then I go. I get thru it with no prob, but Lois gets a “random” pat-down from an agent. “Every time”, she explains to no one in particular. I begin to see why people are so grumpy.

After the TSA experience, it’s off to find the gate. Naturally, it involves walking to the other concourse which means walking about a 1/2-mile underground to get to Gate C-24. But we still have plenty of time to reach it and we do without stopping for lunch along the way.

Not surprised, we get to the gate to find our plane has been delayed due to lack of a crew. Our 2:30 is now 4:45 and counting. Not to worry, the plane arrives, passengers get off, the cleaners get on and get it done quickly. Soon we are seated and airborne, on our way to Denver.

(Not our plane)

Along the way, we catch a nice tailwind and end up only 1 hour late. No bags were checked, so it’s time to find our hotel which is located in downtown Denver. There is a handy, but pricey shuttle that takes us there and so we arrive in downtown Denver coincidently at Union Station, the site of our next adventure in the morning.

It’s now Saturday, 9:00 a.m. and we are on Amtrak train #5 to Salt Lake City, Utah only 15 hours away. Getting there at 11:05 p.m. so fingers are once again crossed that we are on time.

(Not our train)

I want you to check out some of the things we saw while on the train, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Flag Day 2022

Today, June 14, is Flag Day. While not a federal holiday, it’s a time set aside to honor the Stars and Stripes and the role the flag plays in American history.

Michael Greenlar | The Post-Standard 

The day of the holiday – June 14th – is no accident. June 14 is observed as Flag Day each year because, on June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes for the flag of the U.S. 

The flag with 50 stars was raised for the first time at 12:01 a.m. on July 4, 1960 at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland.

Flag etiquette, tips

  • A flag should not be stored wet which can cause permanent creases.
  • If a flagpole is 40 feet, the flag dimensions should be 6 by 10 feet.
  • The flag shouldn’t be flown in inclement weather unless it’s an all-weather flag.
  • Flags displayed at night should be properly illuminated.
  • In a time of national mourning, hang the flag at half-staff.
  • The flag should not touch anything below it or rest on the ground.
  • If a flag is damaged or worn out, it should be disposed of with dignity.
  • Source: Flag Day 2022: What is Flag Day? Will mail run? American flag etiquette – al.com

Microsoft will retire Internet Explorer TOMORROW after 27 years

Microsoft is putting the final nail in the coffin of Internet Explorer, with the legacy web browser set to retire for good tomorrow. 

The tech giant has gradually shifted away from the ageing software after 27 years on the scene, starting afresh with the new Edge browser in 2015 to coincide with the launch of Windows 10.

Support for the final version, Internet Explorer 11, has been maintained, even though most people have already moved elsewhere.

By ending support, this means important security updates and bug fixes will no longer be rolled out.

What are the most popular browsers? 

Google Chrome – 64.95%

Safari – 19.01%

Edge – 3.99%

Firefox – 3.26%

Samsung Internet – 2.85%

Opera – 2.11%

Source: Statcounter  & msn.com