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DESIGN NOTES

Shear determination

Whack away at bushes and shrubs fearlessly this spring. You can now see exactly when and how to prune more than 70 of the most popular landscape plants to make them look their best and produce the most flowers or fruit.

Unlike other books, "The Pruner's Bible" by Steve Bradley (Rodale Books, $21.95) doesn't give general pruning advice and instructions. It has detailed illustrations for each plant showing just where and how much to cut. It also explains the most common problems with each plant, such as lack of flowers or overcrowding, and how pruning will fix them. The book also shows you can be merciless with forsythia or wisteria but need to be more conservative with a lilac or ornamental fig.

It's a book you'll want to keep next to the pruning shears.

-- Lisa Haarlander

Do them a favor

Planning a brunch, shower or some other gathering some time soon? Consider distributing packets of seeds as small party favors. You can have a basket of them near the front door as people exit, for example, or work the packets into a table setting.

Decorating advice

Here are some tips from Patricia Hart McMillan, an interior decorator and co-author of "Home Decorating for Dummies" (John Wiley Sons, $19.99):

Make the most of metals in a room to add warmth and sheen, but choose ones that are compatible to the decor. Gold and silver are dressy and work with formal rooms. Brass is transitional. Copper, tin and pewter are more rustic and casual. Aluminum and stainless steel are high-tech and work with modern and contemporary styles.

Always place something interesting near a mirror that hangs above a table or chest. A tall vase of flowers or branches works.

Hang family portraits in identical or similar frames on a long hallway wall.

Less is more when it comes to accessorizing. One large urn will make a more powerful statement than 10 small vases scattered about.

Get ready for gardening

Buffalo in Bloom and Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo will offer a free one-day gardening seminar for city residents on April 23 at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society or April 30 at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Classes run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Preregistration is required.

To register call 884-9666 Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday until 1 p.m. (ask for Sue Pacholski). You can also write to Buffalo in Bloom, P.O. Box 282, Buffalo N.Y. 14202 (include your name, address, phone number, date and site). Or e-mail: spacholski@city-buffalo.com

And finally . . .

"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!' "
Robin Williams