For a coffee table or for a narrow shelf, choose a small gem that asks and deserves to be looked at closely. Just as an attractive ashtray or a colorful pillow can be a tasteful, decorative accent, so can small plants. They can pick up room colors, provide interesting contrast of form, and add attention-getting detail. But just as it would be wrong to expect a small accessory to carry a big decorative role in the home, so it would be a mistake to hope for big impact from a single small plant.

But a grouping of plants, many small, or one or two big plants, can carry important roles in a decorating scheme. The mass effect of a handsome grouping of plants has universal appeal. Any one plant in the group may be beautiful in its own right, though possible to overlook if alone. But put several plants together in the right setting and you can't possibly ignore their presence.

Of course, there's more than one way to group plants. A well-chosen pair is often just what you need to give a room that special touch. An assortment of many flowering varieties gives the same pleasure as looking into a florist's shop window. An all-foliage cluster, such as the one on the opposite page, is equally appealing.

Ideally, the area that you select for a dramatic display of plants should receive a good amount of natural light. If the day light's inadequate, however, give preference to the setting that you have chosen and then consider what steps can be taken to reinforce natural light with artificial light. You can do this with ceiling spots, recessed light fixtures, or fluorescent tube lighting.

It is also feasible, if your plant group is not too large, to install it on a mobile cart, taking it by day to a window location, then returning it after sundown to the room placement that you prefer.

Since plants grown indoors vary considerably in amounts of light required to promote good growth, you'll be wise to choose for a dramatic grouping - varieties that have similar light needs. If the available natural light is low, choose plants from the group that can easily tolerate low light. If, on the other hand, your best location offers medium to strong light, select all of your plants for that kind of light.

To help you select from the right group, turn to the section entitled 'A Portfolio' of Recommended House Plants/ in which plants are grouped according to the kind of light they need.

Another important resource is your florist or greenhouse man.Besides supplying you with facts concerning light needs,he can give you a great deal of added information on plant cultural requirements (soil, water,humidity, etc.). From years of experience in the field, he will know which plants are cinch-to-grow types, and which are not.

After checking on compatibility of cultural needs, you'll want to seek contrasts of color,texture, and form within your group. Some of the greens vary from the palest chartreuse to almost black tones. Some plants have shiny foliage; others have a furry or velvety finish. There are also plants with big, pointed shaped leaves as well as rounded and pierced ones to choose from.

Get variety in size, too. Combine some tall and some short plants. Place taller ones toward the back; the shorter ones, forward. For a start, consider these combinations: a pot or two of small yellow chrysanthemums made to look still more flowery when backed by a good-sized dieffenbachia; or delicate ferns that take on the appearance of green lace if backed by the solid foliage of big-leaved philodendrons or rubber plants.

Now that spring is here, it is time to enjoy pottering in the garden and looking for signs of life after that long bleak winter. Take advantage of dry sunny days to rake snow mold off the lawns and prepare for a glorious summer through spring. While every season has its own charm, it is an established fact that warm weather invigorates and goads people into action after a sedentary winter period.

Where do I start?

The best way is to start small. Choose the area you want to designate for beautifying and prepare it for a wonderful yield. Choose a sunny corner to house a compositor and start building a compost pile, which is going to be a great boon in summer. Learn all about weed control, weeds, insect repellants and disease control along side with watering requirements of plants. A useful home and garden idea would be to select blooms pertaining to the period and invest in them. Make sure you clearly demarcate the vegetable garden from the flowering shrubs. Plant the flowering shrubs on both sides of driveways or pathways to create a happy alluring look. A thin layer of compost mixed with native soil sets off a healthy plant growth.

Go organic with mulch

If you work on wet solids, chances are you will wind up with big clumps of hard packed dried soil. It is not advisable to walk on wet soil as compaction makes it difficult for roots to grow.

A good useful home and garden suggestion is to use a board when walking on soil adjacent to work areas to enable distribution of weight. A broad fork is a good tool to use to aerate soil without disturbing its complex structures. Use useful home and garden tips to make organic mulch to deter growth of weeds. Stabilize and maintain soil temperatures and watch how you water the soil. Too much watering is detrimental to plant life and causes severe fungal diseases. A useful home and garden suggestion is to water plants in the daytime so that they dry during the day.

An organized regime for plant maintenance

A daily check on pests and unnecessary growth is necessary if you plan to create a better home garden. Pull out weeds and use protectors to ensure there are no unnecessary plants and twigs cluttering up the space. Use insect repellant sprays and medicines to make sure that the plants remain healthy and devoid of slugs and aphids. Push burlap into place and remove dried grass and twigs with embedded roots. Prepare your garden for a glorious spring followed by a fruitful summer.

Through the right sort of modern outdoor lighting you can not only enhance the look of your home and the surrounding landscape, but it will make this area much safer. But it isn't only these reasons why people choose to install lighting in their garden.

Today we do so as it allows us to utilize this space a great deal more. Not only can a couple use this space as a haven for a romantic interlude. Plus families can use this space late into the night when they have barbecues or just friends round for dinner.

When it comes to getting modern outdoor lighting as you will soon discover there are many different styles, sizes and colors to choose from. So you may find it difficult to determine what suits your requirements the best. Below we take a look at some of the things that you should be taking into consideration when choosing exterior lighting for your home and garden.

1. Budget -This is the most important factor when it comes to choosing lighting for your garden. How much you can afford to spend will determine the number of lights you install along with the quality of them. A good idea if you want to make sure that you get the best quality possible but don't have the funds available immediately is to buy lights as and when you can. Of course the other thing you could do is search online at auction sites.

2. Installation - You have the choice when it come to installing modern outdoor lighting to either do the work yourself or to arrange for a professional to carry out the work. If you want to do the work yourself then you may want to consider using lights that are powered by solar energy rather than electricity. The reason for opting for this type is that there are no wires that will need to be connected it is simply a case of placing the lights where you wish them to be. However, you may find that this type of lighting does not emit the same amount of light; it will depend on how much the batteries within them have been charged.

However if you are looking for decorative garden lighting to enhance particular features as well as a security measure you are far better opting for the kind that are powered by electricity. Again you can install this type yourself however if not at all comfortable with working with electricity then employ the services of a qualified technician to carry out the work instead.