Ask Dr. Barb
More fun
Comment or question?
Print editions

Vertical garden idea: a bag of begonias 

Begonias planted in a bag take on the look of trailing plants Photo by Kimberly L. Jackson Garden walls aren't always the easiest to execute, but if your garden has a fence or deck post that would benefit from a little flower color, here's a pretty vertical garden idea we found at Prince's Farm Stand in Mountainside.

This alternative to round hanging planters features begonias planted in a vertical garden bag. The slender, rectangular shaped bag remains flat while being filled with soil. Several begonias are planted vertically into cut areas at the front. There are also vertical garden bags planted with petunias. 

The bag handle can be slipped over the corner of a plant-filled garden cart, as shown, or onto a sturdy nail or hook on a fence or deck post.

These are great solutions to add color in tight or flat spaces where a hanging planter pot wouldn't work. They're also a unique way to bring more plants to the garden if you've managed to run out of space on the ground! 

Visit Prince's Farm Stand at 1123 Mountain Ave., Mountainside. They're open every day at 8 a.m., closing at 6 p.m., except on Sundays, when they close at 3 p.m. Follow them on Facebook for updates on in-store events and the weekly prepared food offerings.


Beautiful Kitchens by Paul: Makeover for Westfield family of seven

The making of a dream kitchen


A Westfield couple’s dream home involved carving space from their backyard for a 310-square-foot kitchen. The addition would make room for lots of storage, two dishwashers and a 13-foot-long island.

“I felt it was important to give them an island that can seat every member of their family,” said Paul Barreto, owner of Beautiful Kitchens by Paul. He worked with the couple to plan the new kitchen and its island that seats seven, including their five children.

The two-level island elevates casual dining for the large family. One side of the island’s leather-finished granite top steps down to the same height as the other counters, expanding food prep surfaces and making it possible for several family members to cook together comfortably.

Like the kitchen’s custom, American-made Wellborn cabinetry, the island is topped with dark titanium granite from Brazil. Paul designed the island with a two-level top. The elevated area is for casual dining, and the lower for food prep. He also converted the home’s original kitchen into an office, with desks built from the same cabinetry used in the kitchen.

Click to read more ...


Grace's House: Plainfield show house pits high design against cancer  

Grace's House, a show house open until May 19 at 950 Hillside Ave. in Plainfield, benefits the Valerie Fund

The renovated 1870 home, in Plainfield's Hillside Avenue Historic District, retains many original features of its Second Empire architecture. Photo by Kimberly L. Jackson 

The house showcases the work of local artists, with numerous custom features conceived by area designers. Decorative items are being sold, with 15 percent of each sale going to the Valerie Fund. Room designed by Swati Goorha. Photo by Kimberly L. Jackson There are four good reasons to go and see a designer show house in person.

The first, of course, is to support a worthy cause. The second is to get ideas, often from top interior designers, that can offer insight into the use of color, the latest materials, and the possibilities for blending custom furnishings with well selected antiques, artwork and imaginative “off-the-shelf” pieces.

The third reason is the insights a show house can offer into renovation of an older home, or the options for new construction.

At Grace’s House, a show house open Thursdays through Sundays through May 19, the fourth reason is perfectly illustrated: the opportunity to enjoy a visual feast of jaw-droppingly gorgeous home design.

About a year ago, this property at 950  Hillside Ave. in Plainfield’s well-manicured Hillside Avenue Historic District was a distressed house on auction. It still had a crushed roof from a tree felled by Hurricane Sandy, and it had been vacant for five years.

Click to read more ...


Two gorgeous 'Double King' amaryllis flowers of reblooming water-grown bulb

Both flowers of the 'Double King' amaryllis in full bloom yesterday. The second flower to open (at right) has stamens and anthers while the first does not. This is the first time the bulb has produced a flower with obvious reproductive parts. It's interesting that they are only on one flower. I think this might mean that a male and a female flower are on the same stem? I did not have time to research this or why one flower would produce stamens after all these years.


Ask Dr. Barb: How to have the marijuana talk with teens 

Dr. Barbara RosenbergDear Dr. Barb: I am concerned about the prospect of legalized marijuana. Throughout my young life, I avoided it because it was considered a “gateway drug” that could lead to stronger drugs. I’m told that marijuana is not addictive, but I know people who seem to need to smoke it every day. I have never tried it, but I have actually had people tell me that marijuana can have health benefits. My concern is that legal weed will encourage younger people to try it and use it as a form of escape instead of dealing with their problems. I know some people use it for physical pain, but my concern is those who will use it to dull the emotional pain that signals a need to get psychological help or make life changes. Am I just a square who is out of touch with recent science? I would appreciate your insights on ways to talk with my children about a substance that was previously illegal now entering the mainstream.

Dear Reader: I definitely understand your concerns about legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults. Marijuana is now more potent than it was decades ago, and there are high-risk derivatives being made for use with the popular vaping devices.

The chemical changes in today’s marijuana pose serious risks to adolescent development. There is evidence that regular marijuana use during teen years can potentially damage cognitive processing and memory functions, resulting in a lower IQ.

Click to read more ...