Head-turn­ing or­na­men­tal grass, and treat­ing iron­weed seeds

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Ellen Nibali

of a fox head in nickel sil­ver, brass or oiled bronze. He has lit­tle al­li­ga­tors, frogs and palm trees, and a monarch but­ter­fly hand-cast in bronze and brass, with its wings a rich green patina

Ready to go high-tech with your en­try­way?

Hav­ing a “smart” door­bell, with video, al­lows you to keep an eye on your front door area, not only for vis­i­tors but for pack­ages. With many of these units, you can speak with the per­son ring­ing your bell, chat­ting di­rectly with the FedEx or UPS driver, for in­stance, about where and when to leave a box.

Ac­cord­ing to Consumer Re­ports’ Eric Hager, the smart door­bell busi­ness has grown enor­mously in the last sev­eral years. He ac­knowl­edged con­cerns about sys­tems’ vul­ner­a­bil­ity to hack­ers, but said home­own­ers seem will­ing to take on those risks for the con­ve­nience and safety fea­tures of smart door­bells.

Adorne’s wire­less video in­ter­com kit in­cludes an out­side door­bell cam­era and an in­side in­ter­com

Home­own­ers can see who’s at the front door from dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions in the home. The unit can be pow­ered by a long-life bat­tery, or you can hook it up to ex­ist­ing door­bell wiring.

NuTone’s Knock video door­bell has a mo­tion sen­sor, night vi­sion and op­tional alarm

It lets home­own­ers trav­el­ing any­where in the world speak with vis­i­tors at their door. It’s also touted as rugged enough to with­stand ex­treme weather.

The Ring door­bell has HD video, in­frared night vi­sion, and two-way chat from your phone, tablet or PC ( Added fea­tures: customizable face­plates, and an op­tional plan for video cloud stor­age, video shar­ing and cel­lu­lar backup if your in­ter­net goes down.

You prob­a­bly have a cus­tom ring­tone on your cell­phone, so why not a cus­tom sound on your door­bell? A dig­i­tal door­bell by iChime

lets you record your own greet­ing or choose from its sound li­brary.

Pink muhly grass can cause traf­fic jams. It will turn heads for 6 to 8 weeks in the fall, es­pe­cially when sun and morn­ing mist turn the airy in­flo­res­cence into pink/pur­ple py­rotech­nics. Muh­len­ber­gia cap­il­laris is a soft clump­ing grass, grow­ing to 3 feet tall and just as wide. The most or­na­men­tal of the many muhly species, its basal fo­liage is dark green and glossy. It does best in full sun. Light shade can be tol­er­ated but re­duces flow­er­ing. Muhly also tol­er­ates many soil types, mod­er­ate drought and salt spray. This na­tive U.S. grass oc­curs from the Gulf to Mas­sachusetts, but grows best in zones 6-9 of the USDA Plant Har­di­ness map.

Some seeds need a pe­riod of chill/cold, called strat­i­fi­ca­tion, to im­prove ger­mi­na­tion. It mim­ics a cold winter pe­riod. This is a plant’s sur­vival strat­egy, so that its seeds are not fooled into sprout­ing dur­ing a tem­po­rary warm spell and then per­ish in re­turn­ing winter tem­per­a­tures. You can pro­vide this cold treat­ment ar­ti­fi­cially by putting the seed packet in a zip-lock bag and stor­ing it in your re­frig­er­a­tor for a min­i­mum of 2 to 3 months. You can also plant di­rectly into the ground in the fall and let na­ture pro­vide the usual cold treat­ment. Sow iron­weed thickly; ger­mi­na­tion rates for this na­tive wild­flower are rel­a­tively low.

ELLEN NIBALI

Pink muhly grass, which grows from the Gulf to Mas­sachusetts, blooms strik­ingly for six to eight weeks in the fall, es­pe­cially in con­di­tions of sun and morn­ing mist.

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