American Hosta Growers Association has named ‘First Frost’ its 2010 Hosta of the Year.
‘First Frost’ is a frosty white-edged sport of ‘Halcyon.’ Blue leaves emerge with a wide margin the wonderful color of the center of ‘June,’ another ‘Halcyon’ sport and 2001 Hosta of the Year, and then turn pure white if grown in half a day of bright light. Lavender flowers bloom in July. It has excellent color and substance, and will look unblemished in the garden until the first frost.
Historic snowfalls, record-setting cold snaps and droughts followed by drenchings and mudslides may have soured many spirits during the winter months, USA Today reported. But no more. The most therapeutic time of year is arriving in all its glory: spring garden season.
Millions of garden junkies — three out of four Americans garden, the National Garden Association said — are fleeing the indoors and finding bliss outside with shovels and pruners in tow.
Susan Harris of Takoma Park, Md., who weathered the “snowpocalypse” that kept the Washington, D.C., area under piles of snow for months, is among the Americans who are ready to get back to the garden.
“It was the longest period of time in my life when I haven't been able to garden,” Harris said. “It's usually just two or three weeks when we can't garden here. This was months.”
Plants remain the core business at the expanded Anderson's Home & Garden Showplace in Newport News, Va., Daily Press reported.
The store’s new addition includes a birding department, a computerized greenhouse and a Sweet Spot confection center offering homemade fudge, fresh-roasted candied nuts and frozen fruit and wine coolers.
“I like to think of our store as an adult alternative to the mall,” said owner Clark Anderson. “The garden center business has a unique opportunity to sell more local merchandise than anyone since the plants we offer must be well suited for our geographic location. Plus, this total package makes for a fun shopping experience.”
USA Today offered this recap of how health-care legislation will impact small businesses. Get the full story here.
Tax Credit. Starting with 2010 taxes, small businesses with fewer than 25 employees that pay at least 50% of the health care premiums for their employees qualify for a tax credit up to 35% of your premiums (50% after 2014 if you purchase insurance through an exchange). How much of a credit you'll get depends on the number of employees you have and their average wage. Gotcha alert: The tax deduction is not available to sole proprietors, so you may want a different corporate legal form.
Exchanges. Starting 2014, the biggest potential benefit may kick in with the establishment of Small Business Health Options Programs – or SHOP exchanges. These will enable small companies (up to 100 employees) to pool together to have greater buying power. Theoretically, this should result in lower premium costs.
Subsidies. Starting 2014, many self-employed will qualify for a federal subsidy to help them afford the cost of purchasing health care. Those earning up to 400% of the poverty level will get assistance, or up to $88,200 for a family of four (at today's poverty level).
Medicaid. Starting 2014, more lower-income individuals and childless adults would be covered by Medicaid, the federal health insurance plan for the poor. This can be a big help, especially for those just starting a business, without much income.
Mandatory employer-provided coverage. Small businesses – with fewer than 50 employees – are exempt from mandatory requirements. Businesses with more than 50 employees will be required to provide coverage as of 2014 or pay a fine. That means those of us who provide health care coverage will no longer, in effect, be subsidizing our competitors (whose employees rely on public health services) who don't.
Mandatory personal coverage. Also as of 2014, you'll be required to have health insurance or pay a fine. If you have to pay more than 8% of your income for the cheapest plan, you're not penalized.
Pre-existing conditions. Starting June 2010, individuals who have not been able to get insurance because of pre-existing conditions can join a high risk insurance pool. As of 2014, insurance companies can not deny insurance to adults based on pre-existing conditions.
Adult children. Starting in September 2010, dependent children up to age 26 can be covered on parent's policy.
Lifetime limits. Starting September 2010, there can be no lifetime maximum limits on policies. Also, companies can not rescind policies except for fraud.
Preventive care. Starting September 2010, coverage must include basic preventive care. As many small businesses can now only afford catastrophic coverage, this may mean additional benefits.
Taxes. Starting January 2013, if you make over $200,000 (individual) or $250,00 (family), your Medicare tax rate will increase from 1.45% to 2.35%. A bigger potential tax bite may hit small business owners who receive capital gains, dividend, or interest income with an additional 3.8% tax on that income.
“Cadillac” plans. Starting 2018, employers who provide insurance costing more than $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 per family must pay a 40% tax on the excess cost of the premium. This could be a big burden on small businesses, as many premiums are already at that rate for even basic coverage.