Home & Garden Fall 2021

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HOME&GARDEN The Newtown Bee’s

Fall 2021

A Supplement to the Newtown Bee • september 17, 2021

Stephanie Reddinger Team: 1D phone: 717-509-9335 2 - Home & Garden email: 1D@cmag.com

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The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

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September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee

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4 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

Contemporary Color Trend Watchers Painting Newtown Blue, Grey, And White

Newtown Color Center’s Ann Cote selects samples from a wall at the Queen Street store. —Bee Photos Hallabeck

By Eliza Hallabeck With so many thousands of colors and textures to choose from, how can you possibly settle on one for your wall, room, or other household or office space and feel like you made the right choice? Newtown Color Center’s Ann Cote recently reflected on which colors are trending locally, based on what customers who visit the 5 Queen Street store request or seek. “People are looking for pops of color, like in bathrooms or kitchen,” said Cote, sitting near a wall of paint swatches. Most people have been looking for colors to add to cabinets in kitchens or to paint on backsplash in a kitchen. Bold colors tend to be painted on the backsplash more often and neutrals are typically chosen for the cabinets. “During COVID, everybody was doing some sort of home project,” said Cote. “They were either fixing up their houses, because they were sitting there looking at it, or they weren’t going on vacation so that money was going toward the house, or they were fixing up their house to move.” And some of the trends that were prevalent over that time continue. According to Cote, locals have

A selection of blues, grays, whites, and two greens were pulled by Ann Cote at Newtown Color Center as examples of popular paint choices locally.

Ann Cote of Newtown Color Center created this “light grays” sample sheet to help customers choose colors.

been predominantly selecting an array of blues, grays, and whites. “If they are doing the whole house, if it is an open concept, they are doing blues that usually have some gray behind them, usually they are lighter colors,” said Cote. “People are doing dining rooms a navy blue or a deeper teal color. Bedrooms usually are a light to medium color blue.” Walking over to the paint swatches, which are all Benjamin Moore at Newtown Color Center, Cote noted Collingwood and Balboa

Mist, both grays with brown hints, are popular. “A lot of people like these two Historical Colors,” Cote said, pulling from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Colors line. Holding them up, she said Stonington Gray and Coventry Gray are very popular. From the popular navy swatches, Cote pulled three Historical Colors from the wall: Hale Navy, Newburyport Blue, and Van Deusen Blue. In the white section, Cote said Chantilly Lace is “a brighter cleaner white” that is very popular

and Simply White is a warmer white that also attracts customers. “It depends on what kind of look they want,” said Cote. “If you have somebody who wants a crisper, contemporary look then they will go with a whiter white and they will contrast it with something like a navy... The beige grays are a little bit warmer.” Newtown Color Center also offers color consultations on location, and Cote said when she visits a space she can gain an understanding of the customer’s style. She also offers color consulting in the store when people visit. Cote also noted Aegean Teal is Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year. According to benjaminmoore.com, Aegean Teal is intriguing, balanced, and deeply soothing. With a sample of the color in her hand, Cote held up a white and a gray next to it. Sherwin-Williams, which has a store located on South Main Street, also has a chosen color of the year: Urbane Bronze, according to sherwin-williams.com. “Tap into nature with a hue whose warmth and comfort breathe down-to-

earth tranquility. Our 2021 Color of the Year, Urbane Bronze, captures that simple sophistication every space is searching for.” For the last five years, people have frequently asked Cote for help finding and choosing a light gray. And Cote is ready for them. She has created layouts of paint swatches to highlight suggested options to help answer those frequently asked questions. There is a reason why gray tends to be a frequent question: Gray tends have different colors behind it. Many customers have found the color suggestions to be helpful, she reflected. Newtown Color Center also sells exterior paint colors, and Cote said many people look to the Historical Colors line for those selections. She said when choosing an exterior paint color, it is important to remember that colors will look lighter outside in the sunlight. For more information, visit newtowncolorcenter.com. Education reporter Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at eliza@thebee.com.

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September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee

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6 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

Protect Your Yard (Humanely) From Gophers And Moles

Pictured is a gopher (also known as a groundhog, woodchuck, and whistling pig) that licensed Connecticut wildlife rehabilitator Lisa Dickal helped rehabilitate. Gophers are herbivores and pose no risk to people or pets. —Lisa Dickal photo

By Alissa Silber Homeowners know the time and effort that goes into making a yard picture perfect — the mowing, weeding, planting, pruning, watering, etc. But what happens when its integrity is being compromised from below? Gophers and moles are two small mammals that burrow underground, creating a system of raised dirt tunnels and holes in the ground. People sometimes discover the tunnels when they walk around the yard and either trip on a raised patch or sink a few inches in spots. Lisa Dickal, a licensed Connecticut wildlife rehabilitator who works with the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation in Newtown, said that, first off, neither animal poses any risk to domestic pets or people. Since they are both prey species, their natural response to seeing a potential predator is to flee. “Gophers — also known as groundhog, woodchuck, and whistling pig — are primarily a shy herbivore,” Dickal explained. “They are entirely brown with large incisors since, [like] their cousins (beavers), they burrow underground for safety and nesting.” Moles are insectivores, eating almost entirely invertebrates and small vertebrates, such as grubs and worms. They have a great sense of smell but very poor vision. Dickal said there are three types of moles throughout Connecticut: the star-nosed mole, eastern mole, and Brewer’s mole. “They are excellent for the ecosystem,” she said of all the species. Both gophers and moles live most of their lives underground — especially moles, since that is where they sleep, have babies, forage, and eat. As wildlife, they are focused on surviving and prefer to make their homes in people’s gardens, not to be a nuisance but for the best access to delicious food. For those who wish to kindly encourage gophers and moles to leave their property, Dickal suggests placing a battery-operated radio by the entrance of the dens. “The noise will annoy them and [they will] want to relocate,” she said. “Using ammonia rags can be helpful, too, if needed.”

Moles have an incredible sense of smell but very poor eyesight. They are rarely ever seen by people because they sleep, have babies, forage, and eat underground.

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animals a year, reports another helpful way to rid a yard of moles is to use Mole-Med, which can be purchased at hardware and garden supply stores. Mole-Med comes in a ready-to-use granular form that can be applied to protect lawns. According to Backyard Gardener, “Tested and proven by university researchers, Mole-Med produces an odor that moles can’t stand. It drives moles away — but doesn’t kill them. (Mole-Med comes from castor beans and won’t bother the human nose.) You can apply Mole-Med Dry to wet or dry lawns. One package covers 2,500 square feet. Reapply in two months (through spring, summer, and fall), or sooner if you’ve had a lot of rain.” Since moles have such sensitive noses, planting fragrant marigolds deter them, as well as deer and rabbits. Planting daffodils and alliums is also a humane method of getting rid of moles. As for what to avoid, Dickel recommends not using rodenticides or pesticides, because they are very harmful to the environment and wildlife food chain. Additionally, bait traps and sticky traps are inhumane and never advised. “Many times, people put bait traps out for rodents [or] moles, and it ends up killing a predatory animal such as a hawk. Sticky traps are also very cruel, and the animal does not die instantly but rather from exhaustion and starvation,” Dickal said. If people happen to come across an injured gopher or mole, Dickal asks that they take a photo of it and send it to her or another wildlife rehabilitator. “It helps us to first confirm species ID, and we can ask a series of questions to the finder to confirm if human intervention is necessary,” she explained. To contact Dickal, e-mail her directly at savectwildlife@gmail.com. Newtown residents can also contact the Newtown Animal Control Center at 203-426-6900 or Wildlife in Crisis at 203-544-9913 for assistance with injured or orphaned animals, including gophers and moles. For a list of authorized rehabilitators (individuals and organizations) throughout Connecticut, visit portal. ct.gov/deep/wildlife/rehabilitator/dealing-with-distressed-wildlife. Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

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September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee

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The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

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September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee


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10 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

The Importance Of Creating A Peaceful Space At Home — Just For You By Shannon Hicks Mood is affected when nocturnal functions are interrupted with bright light. At the end of every day, a person’s home This is why interior designers and other should feel safe and peaceful. experts strongly suggest choosing the right If walking into your home — whether it’s light for each location. a full house or the smallest apartment — In bedrooms, for instance, remove harsh personal space should feel just like that: light sources, use dimmers and lamps, and personal, and comforting. keep TVs and computers out of that room. The style of a home can affect mood more “One lady selected her master bathroom, than one might think. Creating a positive which was pretty sizable, to be her space,” surrounding can make the difference Mizak said. “She wanted soft lighting, surbetween things just not feeling right vs feeling uplifted, happy, and just more relaxed. round sound music, shades, a nice plant, Neuro-architecture is the study of how the new showers, and the like. body and brain respond to built elements. “When Mom was in there, you don’t call There are five areas studied in brain sysher,” she continued. “That became her tems that can be applied to architecture and place, and everyone knew that.” design: sense and perception, or how Learning And Memory humans see, hear, smell, etc; learning and One Harvard Medical School study memory, or how sensory experiences are found that sharp objects convey a sense of stored and recalled; decision making, or how danger, which makes people feel negatively the potential outcomes of actions are evalutoward such objects. ated; emotion, as in what makes us happy or Curves and softer edges, however, encoursad; and movement, or how people interact age contentment. and navigate through an environment. Viewing art can have a powerful, positive impact on the brain. Using art as a Decorating is a mixture of art and science. decorative element is an easy way to create a personalized, calming space in A University of California study found that The more personal touches are added to liv- any home. —Costas Picadas photo courtesy the Turrett Collaborative rounded décor encourages more brain activity compared to a room with boxy furniture. ing space, the more it will feel like a home. Experts suggest incorporating “soft Cheryl Mizak, owner of Alcher Interiors their entire home to be relaxing, or just a special space. The in Southbury, says it is important for interior decorators to third, she said, “if you have a crazy-busy family, whether geometry.” An angular sofa can be “softened” with the work with their clients. you’re working from home or traveling at all, is: Do you addition or placement of round cushions. Likewise, an “I’ve seen and heard about designers who go in to an want a special space that you can go to, for a designated angular dining table will also feel softened with the placeappointment with a few ideas already in mind for spaces,” time, when everyone knows that you are not to be both- ment of vases and/or bowls. she told The Newtown Bee. “To create a happy space, you ered if you are in there?” Decision-Making have to first ask a few questions about the person you’re Jessica Shaw, director of interior design for the Turrett ColDecision-making is a complex process. It involves all four working with.” lective in New York City, says more than ever, “It is impor- lobes of the brain. The pandemic has even affected the three questions Mizak tant for us to treat our home spaces as our solace. Decision fatigue occurs when the brain gets tired of makleads with when beginning a project. “Incorporating art and color into your home design will ing too many decisions. “The first question is, are you working from home now, or not only breathe new life into your space, it will also have a One of the easiest ways to relieve this form of fatigue is to 50/50 — some time from home, some at an office — or positive impact on your mood and overall health.” eliminate clutter. fully at an office,” she said. Everyone has some clutter, says Mizak. The trick is figur“If you’re working from home, you’re going to need to create Sense And Perception ing out what is really special, and what can be put away or, a retreat from whatever your work space is, so that you’re physThe first element mentioned above, sense and perception, better, let go of. ically leaving your work space,” she explained. concerns circadian rhythms and the internal biological clock “You’ve got to evaluate things,” she said. “We all end up with The second question for clients is whether they want that helps the body adapt to the cycle of day and night.

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Home & Garden - 11

September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee

stuff, and every once in a while it’s important to clean it up.” It can be overwhelming, she admitted, but “chip away at it, a little bit at a time.” Mizak shared a story about one client who used to make time every day to go into her basement, “to evaluate and stack stuff to get rid of.” It can be challenging to take the next step. “Once something goes into a box, or into a corner to go, it’s gone,” she said. “Don’t open those boxes back up.” She strongly encourages getting the family involved. “Ask your kids, too: What do they want and what can they let go of? Then get those things out of the house, either to the dump or donate them.” When considering items, look for a positive response. “You want to be able to keep some things that make you happy, looking at them,” said Mizak. Emotion Biophilia is the idea that humans have an instinctive bond with other living things, including plants. Researchers have found that plants can reduce stress and improve concentration levels. The right potted plant will depend on light conditions, available space, and how much time is needed to care for it. According to NASA, some of the most effective air purifying houseplants — and among the easiest for anyone to cultivate — include peace lily, snake plant, spider plant, and aloe vera. Really bad with plants? Posters and oversize photos of landscapes also offer similar responses to live plants. Art can also be used as an emotional outlet and support. One rule in designing around art is that the art should be at a comfortable eye level. Galleries often place works 57 to 60 inches from the floor, which allows individuals of varying heights to view pieces comfortably. Shaw says viewing art “has been proven to have a powerful impact on the brain. “According to the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, experiencing and observing art stimulates the creation of neural pathways and ways of thinking. Studies have also shown that color has the potential to affect your mood, emotions, concentration, and even physical health with methods like color therapy.” Mizak agrees, saying “there are some colors that are more calming – red and black are not calming. “It depends on the person and what they’re attracted to, what they’re going to find as calming.” Mizak laughed, thinking about “colors of the year.” “Every paint company, and sometimes clothing companies, or fabric companies, all come up with their own color palette, and they never seem to agree on anything,” she said.


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sense of satisfaction. Every few years, give your home a deep clean. Repaint the walls. Rearrange furniture. Consider foot traffic and how people will navigate around chairs. “Sometimes people rearrange their furniture twice a year — summer and winter — because they’re entertaining or gathering,” Mizak said. With the advent of family rooms and open spaces, however, many people no longer think about moving furniture. “It doesn’t hurt to move furniture around, find a new position, a new way to put things,” she added. When it comes to actually changing furniture pieces, there are options. Reupholstering a good piece of furniture can be costly, she said, but “if you have good furniture, it does 100% pay to reupholster.” In the current “throwaway society,” she said, “you’re not going to be able to touch that quality with most purchases.” A new pattern or color can change a piece of furniture and make it even more personal for that calm space being created. “If you have throwaway furniture and you don’t like it, then yes, get rid of it,” Mizak noted. Donate furniture when possible, she further stated.

Color is a personal preference, says Jessica Shaw of the Turrett Collaborative. What works for one person might not work for others. Let your own reaction to color influence how it is used for a design palette. —Costas Picadas photo courtesy the Turrett Collaborative

Mizak strongly recommends that homeowners “don’t trash your living space every year. “Find your colors and go with that, especially your favorites, like the ones you wear all the time. “If you want to do the color of the year thing, you can buy some throw pillows, or a throw blanket, or something like that, to bring in the color of the year if you want to be on trend.” Movement Dopamine is the chemical that motivates people to explore their environments. Its pathways are activated when the brain is exposed to novel stimuli — when a behavioral response conditioned to one stimulus is elicited by change. A change in the environment can lift moods and create a

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Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.



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‘A Little Bit Of Thought’ While many studies have focused on applying neuroarchitecture to hospitals, schools, and work places, the same principles can be applied to create a bright, positive environment at home. It is important to treat the home as a solace. Incorporating art and color, and the occasional design change, will not only breathe new life into that space, it will also have a positive impact on mood and overall heath. Mizak understands that budgets are going to be the biggest challenge for anyone looking to create a mental health haven within their home. The first step is always figuring out what a homeowner or renter wants to do. “Life has gotten so crazy right now that people would love a quiet spot, but they don’t take a few minutes to evaluate what they want to do,” she said. “People have called us, and we can help them identify what they’re thinking, and looking at, and looking for. “The hardest thing with working from home is being able to push away from the desk, and find that happy spot, or calming spot, or whatever you want to call it.” “You cannot create a place to wind down and relax if you don’t know what makes you happy. It takes a little bit of thought.”





12 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

Orchids Provide Diversification And Beauty To Gardens, Home Interiors

By Andy Hutchison People looking to beautify and diversify their interior spaces and yards may want to consider plants —specifically one that does not grow in soil. We’re talking about orchids. “There is an orchid for every growing situation,” said Cheryl Mizak, who is the owner of Alcher Interiors of Southbury and a member of the Connecticut Orchid Society. “There’s always a plant for your situation and your lighting.” Mizak said some people put orchids in terrariums and some put into tanks with reptiles, for example. “Orchids are pretty diverse,” pointed out Lucas Carreno, whose family owns J&L Orchids in Easton. “Give them the right environment and they’ll do the rest.” Carreno said orchids grow well in charcoal, fir bark, and moss with antiseptic properties. Orchids can grow from a few inches to several feet tall. Orchids are like weeds, said Mizak said, adding, “They grow on rocks and hang off trees. They grow in the sand.” Orchids come from every continent with the exception of Antarctica, Mizak said. “Orchids are the largest plant group in the world. Some bloom sequentially for an extended amount of time, so it makes for really nice accent.” These plants can be traced back to the continental drift, Carreno said. Various online sources indicate more than 25,000 species of orchids, with the most common being the Phalaenopsis orchids. Some orchids have pretty foliage, such as the Jewel orchid which has a velvet-like appearance, Mizak said. A Spectrum Of Colors Carreno listed a variety of colors and leaf shapes that can accompany orchids, including purple hues, yellows, reds, blueish tints, and leaves with patterns, leaves that are soft, and leaves that look like pine needles.

“There are all these really different types. It’s hard to imagine them being so closely related,” Carreno said. “They have all kinds of pretty leaves. They’re very attractive. You can have them in your home. They don’t need a lot of light,” Mizak said of Jewel orchids. Those from the Casteum family are easy to maintain, Mizak said. “Some don’t get watered all winter. Those are my favorite ones,” Mizak added. The orchids known as lady slippers are natives to Connecticut. “Shy and pale, or flaunting in glorious color, they can be found under trees, in small openings, grassy meadows or prairies. Some are rare or becoming rare,” according to the USDA US Forest Service Website. Carreno said Connecticut’s native orchids prefer partial shade and noted that there are some interesting hybrids of lady slippers. “They’re an exercise in patience sometimes,” said Carreno, adding that the plants like consistency. “Once you learn to grow a couple, the same rules apply to

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growing every other orchid.” Carreno suggests people start slowly, maybe trying about six types of orchid and seeing which one or two work best, then sticking with those initially. He said growers should not be discouraged if several of the orchids do not make it. Some orchids can be grown inside and placed outside in the spring. Carreno suggests placing them in shade and gradually moving them into brighter light to keep full sun from burning sensitive leaves that have been accustomed to indoor life over the winter. And, he cautioned, bring them inside at night when spring temperatures drop down to around 40 degrees. Orchids should be planted indoors. Some may be found growing outside, said Mizak, adding that she was surprised to find a wild orchid growing in her yard. “You can’t plant them. They just kind of come on their own,” Mizak explained. Getting Started If you are looking to step into the experience in an even smaller way, mini orchids

can be used to liven up areas such as desks or console tables. Grouping several mini orchids of similar colors together can fill larger spaces. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, orchids can contribute to better air quality, according to researchers. When it comes to colors, solid orchids are the perfect complement to classic, traditional décor elements thanks to their simple, vibrant character. Pink. Coral. Yellow. All effortlessly brighten traditional spaces by adding a splash of color. For a more modern vibe, you can’t go wrong with simple, white blooms. They work well in minimalist spaces but also deliver fun pops of color, unique shapes and intricate patterns in bolder, modern settings. Orchids also have a place in funkier, eclectic decorating schemes. Patterned orchids with lines or spots in bright fuchsia add a quirky twist on the traditional potted orchid, making them a great choice for less traditional spaces. Take your style statement a step further by choosing a pot in your favorite shape, color, or pattern to echo your style. Unlike other flowers, when you bring an orchid into your home, you can expect your plant’s blooms to last two to three months. With proper care, your orchid can bloom again. Be sure to avoid direct sunlight and keep room temperatures above 65 degrees, but not too hot. When it comes to watering, add three ice cubes to full-size pots and one cube to minis once a week. Using this watering method removes the guesswork from determining how much water to use and gives your orchids the perfect amount they will need to flourish. For more information about orchids in Connecticut, visit the Connecticut Orchid Society at ctorchids.org. StatePoint Media content was included in this article. Andy Hutchison may be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Home & Garden - 13

September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee

New To Plant Parenting? Here’s What You Need to Know!

(StatePoint) Plant parenthood among Millennials and Gen Z has been on the rise, and time spent at home throughout the pandemic has inspired even more people to start houseplant collections. In fact, over the past year, searches including “indoor plants,” “buy plants” and “plant delivery” spiked, as many set out to create beautiful, calming sanctuaries at home and spruce up their Zoom backgrounds. Why the sudden interest? Houseplants are grounding, keep you connected to the earth, and even help reduce stress. Their care also provides an excuse to take a much-needed break in the day. Plants can make your world a happier place and add immeasurable value to everyday life. Whether you’re preparing to purchase your first-ever houseplant or expanding an ever-growing collection, learn how you can return the favor by being the best possible plant parent. Understand your plant’s needs. While plant purchases tend to be spur-of-themoment, there are plenty of steps you can take once you get home to ensure a great life for your plants. Explore the wealth of care instructions and guides online outlining recommended watering schedules and other necessary considerations. For busy plant parents or those looking to build collections in their office spaces, low-maintenance plants are the way to go. If your space is short on windows, seek out adaptable low-light plants that thrive outside of direct sunlight, such as ivy or spider plants. Don’t forget furry friends. If you’re already a pet parent, too, don’t worry. Many houseplants won’t pose any threats to the fur babies in your home. Top pet-friendly houseplants include curly spiders, baby rubber plants, echeveria, gasteria, haworthia, peperomia, nerve plants, fluffy ruffles ferns, rabbit’s foot ferns and staghorn ferns. When in doubt,

From bathrooms to bedrooms to offices, you can make the rooms of your home healthier and more inviting by becoming a plant parent.

foliage and succulents brand Wild Interiors offers a handy online guide and paw print icons indicating pet-friendly options. Not-so-green thumb. Finally, as you embark on your plant parenthood journey, avoid common houseplant mistakes. When it comes to indoor plant care, many problems stem from loving and caring for your plants too much. Over-fertilizing and over adjusting the plant’s location or pot situation can do more harm than good, despite your best intentions. Also keep in mind that many plants require less care and attention during fall and winter months.


Ready to test your green thumb and take the leap into plant parenthood? Visit wildinteriors.com to explore more plant care tips and check out its collection of succulent and foliage plants at a retailer near you. And if you ever find yourself wondering if you need another plant, just remember: plants are self-care. Bug Out The Bugs

If you have recently started or expanded a houseplant collection, congratulations — you’ve improved your indoor air quality and have added life and vibrancy to your home. At the same time however,

your indoor garden may be attracting bugs that can harm your precious plants and annoy you. Unfortunately, not everyone notices an infestation right away. The average household, for example, won’t recognize a fly problem until they’re five flies deep, but even one fly can lead to a larger problem. Follow these three tips to protect your houseplants — and household — from bugs: Water plants carefully. Standing water creates a breeding ground for flying insects such as fungus gnats, which are very small and usually appear in swarms. Because these insects grow in moist soil and their larvae feed on plant roots, you can manage such infestations by reducing the amount of water you give your plants and by improving soil drainage. Take action fast. Did you know that in just one week, flying insects can lay eggs that hatch and mature into more adults ready to breed? For this reason, it’s important to be vigilant and take action at the first sign of a bug problem. Don’t let your guard down. Defend against fruit flies, gnats, and flies 24/7 with a Zevo Flying Insect Trap. Just plug the trap into a regular outlet near your houseplants and wherever flying insects enter your home or gather. Rather than chemical insecticides, the traps use multi-spectrum light technology to lure flying bugs to their doom in a discreet glue sheet cartridge. When the cartridge is full, just replace it and toss the used one without ever having to touch a dead bug. To learn more, visit zevoinsect.com. Taking proper care of plants goes beyond watering them and giving them the right amount of sunlight. It also means safeguarding them from pests. The good news is that with just a few tweaks, you can offer plants round-the-clock protection from insects.

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14 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

Demand For Professional Outdoor Holiday Decorating Services Continues to Grow By Jim Taylor The popularity of outdoor holiday decorating companies that combine professional-grade lighting and décor with specialized design and installation continues to grow, stated to Brandon Stephens, president of the Christmas Decor Franchise Network. This means that demand for high-quality, professional decorating services can outstrip availability of qualified installers. Prime, early installation spots fill up quickly on installers’ calendars. “For home and business owners who want to enjoy the convenience and superior results that a trained outdoor holiday decorating professional can deliver, it is not too early to book your slot now,” said Stephens. For property owners who use the “do-ityourself” approach, Kathleen Neave with Christmas Décor by Neave Décor, a member of the Christmas Décor franchise network in Stamford, offers several reasons to turn holiday decorating chores over to the professionals this year:

Safety. No need to climb ladders or trees. No electrical hazards resulting from improper bulb selection, overloaded circuits, or unprotected exposure to the elements. Convenience. More time to spend with family and friends. A turn-key, professional holiday decorator like Christmas Décor installs, manages, and repairs or replaces your display throughout the season. It then takes down, packs, and stores your decorations for next year. Economy. Premium, professional-grade LED light bulbs last longer and use less power, allowing decorators to use more light strands for greater impact for the same, or even a lower, energy cost. Customization. Design consultants combine the hottest decorating trends with the latest technology — including smart, WiFiconnected lighting — to bring each client’s creative vision to life, on time and within budget. “People used to be intimidated by the idea

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of hiring a professional outdoor lighting company, but we make the planning and design process easy and accessible,” said Neave. “Our design consultants use a tablet to superimpose lighting options on a photograph of the client’s home or business. They then use software to quickly produce options for the client to evaluate, until the proposed lighting scheme meets both the client’s expectations and their budget. Some of our clients choose to re-install the same design for the next holiday season, and others work with a designer to change their look each year. Whatever their preference, our focus is always on making quality holiday lighting both accessible and affordable.” For those who are determined to go it alone, Rob Slader, nursery manager of Benedick’s Home & Garden Center in Monroe, has a number of recommendations for safe decorating. First, when using a ladder, Slader recommends making sure it is footed properly and at the right angle. When using an extension ladder, he warned to be careful of overhead power lines. He also noted that there are plenty of safe, easy decorative options that are festive for the holidays. Some outdoor decorations that can punch up a holiday display include mums, pumpkins, and hay bales. “A lot of people grow exotic pumpkins — white, pink, green, and even warty,” said Slader. For fall, he recommends mixed planters. Plants can be tied to posts using colored ribbons such as orange for Halloween instead of twine “for flair.” Placing pinecones and dried flowers in the planters also works well, Slader stated. Dried hydrangeas can be reused for Christmas by spray painting them red or green. For those seeking an easy way to do a planter, Slader said that “Some people pull out old annuals, or put stacks of pumpkins in them.

“You don’t have to plant,” said Slader. He also said there are many landscapers in the area who will do containers for those who are a bit less do-it-yourself. Slader said that live wreaths are becoming popular and that they can “really be decorated any way.” He recommended that if decorating with lights, that battery operated lights be considered. “It seems to be pretty convenient for people,” Slader said. Slader also recommends live Christmas trees instead of cut or artificial trees. “You can get one, decorate it indoors for the holidays, and then plant it in your yard right after,” said Slader. Benedick’s Home & Garden Center is located at 480 Purdy Hill Road, Monroe, and may be reached at 203-268-2537. Since its inception in 1986, Christmas Décor has become a premier holiday lighting and decorating company in North America, servicing more than 40,000 properties. The Texas-based company was founded by Blake Smith as an off-season supplement to his landscape business and as a method to provide year-round work for employees. The company quickly emerged as a viable business opportunity, and today operates in more than 350 markets in 49 states and Canada. Plans are underway to open franchises in more than 100 new markets in select communities around the country. Christmas Décor’s parent company, the Décor Group, also offers the Nite Time Décor, which offers a complete line of high-quality, low-voltage landscape lighting products, training, business systems, and support. To have Christmas Décor decorate your home or business, or to schedule an appointment for a consultation or installation, contact Neave at 203-212-4800 or kathy@neavegroup.com. You can also learn more at christmasdecor.net. Reporter Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

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Home & Garden - 15

September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee

Butterflies And Birds Grab A Snack, Relax At The CVHAS

From the treetops to the meadows to the trail pathways, a bounty of life can be seen fluttering around the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, at 3 Old Farm Road. A chatty bird perches on a branch with its next meal between its beak. Below it, a large Monarch butterfly settles in the grass, and nearby is a small Eurema lisa butterfly — both resting their wings before traveling on to their next adventure. —Bee Photos, Silber

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16 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

Experts Share Latest Developments On Mysterious Condition Plaguing Birds By Alissa Silber This year, a mysterious condition has been impacting a variety of birds in Connecticut and beyond, causing them optical and neurological problems before their death. With so much confusion and misinformation around the topic, the Connecticut Audubon Society hosted a Zoom program titled, “Dying Birds: What We Know and What We Don’t Know,” on August 11. The webinar shared the most up-todate information to the more than 500 people attending the event live. The recorded video has since been published on the Connecticut Audubon Society’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/ watch?v=ze25u5yhauk, and viewed more than 2,700 times as of September 3. Moderating the virtual program was Connecticut Audubon Society Executive Director Patrick Comins. Joining him was Brian Evans, PhD, migratory bird ecologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center; Jenny Dickson, director of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Wildlife Division; and Salvatore Frasca, DVM, director of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Connecticut. “This threat is a bit of a mystery,” Comins said at the beginning of the discussion. “Back in the spring, we started noticing unusually large numbers of sick and dying birds being reported, particularly around the DC metro area. At the time, it was thought that perhaps it was related to this magicicada emergence that was underway down there.” He reported that he does not believe any birds have been rehabilitated after succumbing to this condition. “Those birds were tested, and we still don’t know the reason why those birds were dying back then,” Comins said. The condition has continued to expand geographically. It was noted that there is confirmation of it as far as Ohio, and that, in Comins’ opinion, some birds brought in throughout Connecticut do appear to have this mystery condition. Symptoms Evans presented his information in a slideshow called “The 2021 Bird Mortality Event.” It in, he explained that the birds’ symptoms consist of eyes that may be swollen, crusting, and sealed shut, as well as neu-

He let the public know his organization is testing cicadas and healthy birds, and comparing them to samples of affected birds. Several other hypotheses he mentioned include bioaccumulation and/or biomagnification of pesticides; cathinone (massospora), a fungus that they carry; the behavioral shift with Brood X; impaction; and nutrition. “The big picture is that this is still a mystery. The cause is unknown. We don’t know if this is an infectious disease or an environmental toxin. We don’t truly know the area of impact, the timing of the event, or the species affected,” Evans said. “We are really going to be collecting that data over the coming months.” During the Connecticut Audubon Society’s webinar on August 11, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center migratory bird ecologist Brian Evans, PhD, shared a slideshow called “The 2021 Bird Mortality Event.”

rologic symptoms, including inability to reliably stand, shaking head/involuntary movements, and being lethargic/unresponsive. Evans is located in Washington, DC, and found birds firsthand exhibiting these behaviors in his neighborhood. Upon bringing a bird to a rehabilitation center, he discovered the facility was completely overwhelmed with similar cases. He understands that many people are wondering just how many birds this is affecting, and he was clear in saying that right now they do not know. It is difficult to estimate, but he reported that in his area, the spring intakes at rehabilitation centers increased by 30% to 40% , which does not include dead birds. Evans said that it appears more than 90% of those birds affected by the mysterious illness are juveniles. Species with the highest intake thus far are blue jays, common grackles, European starlings, and American robins. Gray catbirds and norther flickers are also commonly taken in. “It spans over 70 species that fit what we believe are symptoms of this,” Evans said. He later added, “A real challenge is we don’t have a true case definition for this mortality event, so as we hear reports from around the country — I’m hearing reports as far as Arizona that fit these symptoms… we have to be careful not to ascribe them to the event itself.”

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Theories Evans explained that so far, at the Smithsonian, they have ruled out salmonella, West Nile virus, pox, avian influenza, Newcastle disease, and coronavirus as the cause for the mysterious condition. “Some of the [bird] individuals that have been taken in have tested positive for pesticides, but all of them are not necessarily a common pesticide across individuals, which is interesting,” he said. Additionally, some birds have tested positive for mycoplasma sturni, but not all. With so many birds’ lives at stake, many individuals from the public have expressed over the few last weeks and months that they feel the process of finding an answer is taking too long. Evans acknowledged that, saying, “I’ve heard a lot of complaints that this is going slow, but in my mind this is going rather fast from a science perspective. The pathology teams and the folks out there doing the work at the labs have so much to do.” A common theory circulating as a cause is due to the cicada population. “It’s important to know that the cicadas are just a hypothesis, and in fact they are a set of hypotheses,” Evans detailed. However, because of the temporal and spatial correlation between the mysterious condition event and the Brood X cicada, it may be unlikely it is the cause. Evans emphasized that it is important to understand, “Bird mortalities have occurred in areas where Brood X did not occur.”

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State Developments Dickson, of DEEP, prefaced her portion of the discussion saying that in her field, she has years of experience with wildlife diseases and emerging disease events. She admitted that, like many people earlier in the year, she did not pay much attention to the event because finch eye disease is not uncommon in feeder birds in Connecticut. What Dickson found unusual was the neurological symptoms associated with the condition. She discovered other states were having this occurrence, too, and consulted with bird experts in those areas. “I want to make sure that we do what’s best from a conservation standpoint quickly enough, because one of the things that dealing with emerging diseases has taught us is that when we don’t respond quickly enough, we’re always playing catch up. And a lot of times, larger scale mortality events can occur if we’re waiting to get to the whys, so we chose to take a proactive approach,” she said. Dickson said that DEEP is working with licensed wildlife rehabilitators and pathologists at UConn for the best way to monitor the mysterious bird condition moving forward. It will allow the state to also contribute to the larger mid-Atlantic study. At the time of the Zoom event in early August, the message Dickson and other experts conveyed was for people to remove bird feeders and bird baths from their properties. “Whenever you are managing for a disease or mortality event of unknown causes, trying to get wildlife to disperse from concentrated locations is always a good thing. It is always a standard approach,” she explained.

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Home & Garden - 17

September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee

Now that it is late into the summer/early fall, birds are naturally dispersing more, and the advisory has been updated to say it is okay to put bird feeders and bird baths back up. The Connecticut Audubon Society sent out an update via e-mail on August 20 that stated, “State environmental officials said today that the number of dead birds being reported in Connecticut has dropped to about a quarter of what it had been in recent weeks. As a result, the Connecticut Audubon Society is joining the [DEEP] in dropping its recommendation that people take in their backyard bird feeders and bird baths.” It also noted, “In late July, three dead birds tested in Connecticut were found to have symptoms similar to those being seen in other states. Those symptoms were mainly swollen or cloudy eyes, and crusty discharges from the eyes. Laboratory Involvement Since DEEP is working with closely with the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) to gain insight on the bird condition, the lab’s director, Frasca, informed the public on the work being done there. “I feel that my role here in this discussion is to advise and alert you as a community to what we do as the CVMDL and how the CVMDL interacts with these types of wildlife investigations,” he said as he shared his slideshow, “Resources for Disease Diagnosis Through the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.” Frasca explained that the CVMDL is a nationally recognized veterinary diagnostic laboratory located on the UConn Storrs campus with services that encompass pathology, microbiology, molecular diagnostics, serology, and toxicology (by referral). It performs testing for state and federally mandated programs of disease control and surveillance (such as avian influenza and

pseudorabies). The CVMDL is also the only diagnostic laboratory in New England to be accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnostics, and its findings go on to be relevant in nationwide studies. Its laboratory work focuses on the postmortem identification of birds and infectious agents by receiving samples from biologists/specialists in the field. Frasca told the public that it is important to understand “that these investigations are often involving unknowns.” Comins added to his sentiments, saying, “In a sense, we don’t know what this condition is, so there isn’t a real test for what this condition is. So, the way it works is when birds are dying or are sick, if they exhibit potential symptoms of this, they are tested for other potential causes of that to rule out other conditions… also trying to figure out if there is a novel pathogen or are there chemicals or some sort of toxicology involved.” Ways To Help Those who choose to put bird feeders and bird baths back up should still take some precautions. The Connecticut Audubon Society’s August 20 update recommended, “Clean feeders and bird baths with soap and water at least once a week, then disinfect with a 10% bleach solution to prevent potential infectious disease spread between birds and other wildlife. After cleaning, rinse well with water and allow to air-dry. When handling bird feeders and baths, be sure to wear disposable gloves and wash your hands when finished.” It is important to note that since the condition is unknown, it cannot be confirmed if it is transmittable to people. If someone sees a sick bird and intends to bring it to a rehabilitator, Comins advises not to touch it with bare hands. Dickson told The Newtown Bee on

Tips for those choosing to resume feeding can be found at portal.ct.gov/deep/ wildlife/wildlife-diseases. Dickson says that if any birds begin showing signs of illness, people should stop feeding them, clean everything completely, then wait a week or so before resuming feeding them. Overall, birds need seeds, nuts, acorns, berries and other fruit, nectar, flowers, sap, insects, spiders, worms, caterpillars, grubs, snails, pill bugs, centipedes, water, shelter, and nesting spots to survive. An easy and safe way to support birds all year long with many of these necessities — and without the risk of spreading disease — is to focus on planting native plants. For a full list of optimal choices, read The Newtown Bee article, “Help Feed Birds ‘Without Risk Of Spreading Diseases’ Using Native Plants.”

Birds in Connecticut, as well in as numerous other states, are being impacted by a mysterious condition that creates ocular and neurological problems similar to those in this juvenile American robin. Suzanne Palanzo photographed the bird and sent the image to the Connecticut DEEP. —photo courtesy DEEP/Suzanne Palanzo

August 30 that it is also crucial to keep the ground around bird feeders and bird baths clean of waste or spilled seed. She added, “If seed gets wet, it can get moldy quickly, and that can also lead to traditional feeder-associated illnesses, such as aspergillosis. This is especially challenging this time of year when the weather is warm. Using a high-quality seed that is consumed quickly can help. Putting out smaller amounts before it rains can help ensure the feed is consumed before problems occur. It is always a good idea to dry everything out before refilling.”

Reporting Sightings The experts are still in agreement that one of the best ways the public can help is to be proactive in reporting birds they believe to be affected by this condition. People can do so by visiting the DEEP’s Wild Bird Mortality Database page, https://portal.ct.gov/deep/wildlife/wildlife-diseases, and filling out a sighting report. Dickson said, “What we do also relies on all of you. We can’t do this without the help from the public and letting us know what they are seeing and when they are seeing things. That’s a very important part of this. The community science aspect of this is critical.” Comins also shared that the Connecticut Audubon Society will be posting updates on this topic through its website, ctaudubon.org, and social media pages for people to check out. He recommended people also sign up for their advocacy alerts to stay up to date. Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

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The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

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Up to $100. With this coupon. SENIOR, Not valid with other offers, previous work, or already MILITARY & agreements. FIRST RESPONDERS contracted Expires 10/30/21

Directory OFAdvertisers Addessi Fencing, LLC.........................................................................17 Advanced Appliances, LLC.................................................................16 Anthony Mason Custom Gutter & Roofing.......................................17 Apex Glass...........................................................................................14 Art And Frame....................................................................................18 Associated Refuse Hauler Of America.................................................4 Bethel Power Equipment......................................................................5 Carmine’s Plumbing & Heating.........................................................14 Castle Hill Farm....................................................................................6 CD Carpentry & Remodel, LLC.........................................................12 Connecticut Basement System.............................................................7 D.B.O. Company..................................................................................18 Dom’s Garden Center..........................................................................16 Fine Floors By Mathison......................................................................8 Green Acres Landscape & Design........................................................9 Hollandia Nurseries............................................................................20 Holmes Fine Gardening......................................................................10 Lenahan Land Clearing & Grinding Inc............................................15 Mark Svanda Painting, LLC................................................................6 Mike Palmer Property Maintenance....................................................8 Newtown Hardware............................................................................13 Newtown Power Equipment........................................................... 8, 18 Overhead Door Co. Brookfield..............................................................2 Overhead Door Of Danbury................................................................18 Pendergast Roll Off & Recycling........................................................14 Roger Wagner Painting.......................................................................18 Roly’s Landscaping, LLC....................................................................13 Smithland Supply/My Agway Bethel ..................................................3 Southeast Kitchen & Bath, LLC........................................................19 Stony Hill Hardware...........................................................................16 Superior Remodelers, LLC.................................................................11 Vacuum Mart.......................................................................................16 Wilder Tree Care, Tim........................................................................13 William’s Architectural Millwork, LLC..............................................17

Winter Will Come

Of Newtown LLC


Deluxe Series 24 inch Deluxe 2-Stage with Light and Electric Start and Auto Turn Steering

Regularly $1,566 $

SALE 1,299

Visit our NEW n locatio

Largest Frame Selection in Fairfield County — Custom Frame Design — All Work Done on Premises Owned by Newtown Resident John O’Sullivan

(203) 270-0222 77 Main Street Newtown New:


email: artandframeofdanbury@gmail.com

While supplies last

Model 921064

Platinum Series

30 inch Platinum Super High Output, 2-Stage with Auto-Turn Steering, Light and Electric Start

Regularly $2,243

SALE $2,099 While supplies last

— Many Other Models Available —

151 Mt. Pleasant Rd. Newtown, CT 06470 est. 1981


www.newtownpowerequipment.com Serving the area for over 40 years!

Interior & Exterior Painting Hardwood Floor Installation/Refinishing

“Looking For a Pro? Call D.B.O.” 203-491-2878 www.dbocompany.com CT HIC Lic#0649014

Newtown Resident David B. Osborne - Owner

Home & Garden - 19

September 17, 2021- The Newtown Bee

Handle Handle the entire project from fromstart start startto toto tofinish... finish... finish... Handle Handlethe the theentire entire entireproject project projectfrom from start finish... Handle Handle the the entire entire project project from fromstart start to tofinish... finish... on on the the job job every every day day until until full full completion... completion... GUAR GUAR ANTEED!!! ANTEED!!! ononthe thejob job every every day day until until full full completion... completion... GUAR GUAR ANTEED!!! ANTEED!!! Handle Handle the the entire entire project from from start to to finish... Handle Handle the the entire entire project project from fromstart start start to tofinish... finish... finish... ononthe thejob job every every day day until untilproject full fullcompletion... completion... GUAR GUAR ANTEED!!! ANTEED!!! on the job every day until full completion... GUAR ANTEED!!! ANTEED!!! onon onthe the thejob job jobevery every everyday day dayuntil until untilfull full fullcompletion... completion... completion...GUAR GUAR GUAR ANTEED!!! ANTEED!!!


www.southeastkitchenandbath.com www.southeastkitchenandbath.com www.southeastkitchenandbath.com www.southeastkitchenandbath.com www.southeastkitchenandbath.com www.southeastkitchenandbath.com www.southeastkitchenandbath.com www.southeastkitchenandbath.com


20 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - September 17, 2021

In Bloom _ All Seasons _ All Reasons®


55 Years

in Business!

Where Customer Service Never Expires ~ Family Owned and Operated Since 1964

It is the Perfect Time for Landscape Installation

Design & Install NOW and Enjoy in the Spring! Hollandia Offers Complete Landscape Design & Service All Year Round

Mom and Dad

A Gift Certificate from Hollandia Is ALWAYS Appreciated!

Thousands of Chrysanthemums, Ornamental Cabbage, Kale, Peppers & Grasses to Choose from… ALL GROWN ON OUR FARM

2 Great Locations • Open 7 Days • www.hollandianurseries.com The Largest Selection of Hollandia Gift & Garden Nursery Landscaping Materials in the Area!

103 Old Hawleyville Rd, Bethel • 203-743-0267 9am–5pm Every Day

95 Stony Hill Rd / Rt 6, Bethel • 203-792-0268 9am–5pm Every Day

Largest Selection of Nursery Stock in the Area Complete Gardening Supplies • Nursery Stock • Trees • Shrubs Top Soil • Sod • Grass Seed • Weed and Grub Control • Perennials & Annuals • Bird feeders • Bird Houses • Bird Seed • Statuary • Fountains • Pottery • Gifts • Garden & Home Decor