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Mid to late January

Try sprouting a test sample of leftover seeds before ordering new seeds for spring. (Roll up 10 seeds in a damp paper towel. Keep moist and warm. Check for germination in a week. If fewer than half sprout, order fresh seed.)

Early February

Begin to fertilize houseplants as they show signs of new growth. Plants that are still resting should receive no fertilizers yet.

February 18

Black History Celebration at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Mid to late February

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"What you do when you want to downsize?" It’s a valid question, and one that artist and home-rehab enthusiast Kathy Chechik took on wholeheartedly in November of 2014 when she found her dream home on The Hill. After nearly five years of moving and searching, she knew the 1904 three-bedroom shotgun would be a downsize for sure, even on a lot and a half. But she was determined to translate the ambitious image she built in her mind — roomy and sunny porch, open-concept floorplan, butler’s pantry — into a home that fit both The Hill neighborhood’s signature style and her idealized vision.

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Jean and John of Clayton faced “love it or list it” moments over the last several years in their 91-year-old home. The couple has lived there for more than a decade and a half, all the while bringing up three kids — ages 19, 17 and 13 — within walking distance of the bustle of downtown Clayton, the kids’ school and the MetroLink stops where they frequently catch rides to Cardinals and Blues games and other St. Louis-area attractions.

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You can almost hear shouts of “Mark twain!” echoing from the past as a barge floats lazily toward a bend in the Mississippi River. When the fog lifts, the Gateway Arch will suddenly appear on the horizon. And below on the steep cliff, a set of railroad tracks winds along the riverbank. It’s no wonder the owners chose this magical setting for their new custom home.

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The half-acre that fronts Diana and Craig Plahn’s contemporary home in the heavily forested Sugar Creek Valley in Kirkwood is filled with winding pathways, long stretches of colorful perennials and banks of glowing, green hostas. Retaining walls, spilling over with trailing sedum, resemble fluid green waterfalls. Evergreens, shrubs and small trees with interesting architectural shapes anchor the beds and provide height and structure to the garden. A small stream tumbling over rocks and splashing into a pond filled with waterlilies brings the soothing sound of water into the landscape.

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