DEAR SUN SPOTS: My wife and I would like to plan a one-month stay in France.
We are both fluent in French; consequently it doesn’t matter whether we stay in a large city or a small village.

In order to avoid serious planning errors, we’d like to hear from people who have both planned (logistics) and experienced such a stay. At this point, we have looked into Untours; however their presence is limited to only two areas of France.

Please, no travel agents. — Paul, no town

ANSWER: What a wonderful question for Sun Spots readers! I can’t wait to hear what everyone has to say. Although I haven’t used Untours myself, but I know travelers who have done so and have only heard rave reviews.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: We have some older patio chairs that need either replacement cushions or slip covers. We use them on our screened-in porch, but we would like them to be water-resistant.

The issue we are having is that they have a high back that measures 28 inches long and 21 inches wide. The seat is 21 inches wide and 21 inches from front to back and they are 4 inches thick. Finding replacement cushions is impossible! We are hoping that you may be able to send us to someone who can help us. We love your column every day! — Pam, no town

ANSWER: It sounds like you need an upholsterer and I have a few in my Rolodex. I can recommend Doreen Gendron at Unique Designs (754-0048) who is also on Facebook and Donna Marie Harrington at Gamache and Lessard Custom Window Treatments. Donna is their in-house upholsterer, but is self-employed under the business name Comfy Cushion Upholstery by Donna. You can reach her at 212-6195 or e-mail her at [email protected].

Readers, let me know if there’s someone else you have worked with and would like to recommend for the Rolodex.

Doreen Gendron at Unique Designs (754-0048); and Donna Marie Harrington at Gamache and Lessard Custom Window Treatments. She is their in-house upholsterer, but is self-employed under the business name Comfy Cushion Upholstery by Donna. You can reach her at 212-6195 or e-mail her at [email protected].

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Why won’t my forsythia bloom well? It’s so disappointing. — Mary, no town

ANSWER: There are several reasons why a forsythia bush won’t bloom. Some older varieties of forsythia won’t have those beautiful yellow blooms after a hard winter or a late spring frost because the buds aren’t hardy enough to survive.

The most common reason for forsythia not blooming is improper pruning. Blooms are created on one-year-old wood so if you prune your shrub in summer or fall or you trimmed it to rigid dimensions, you may have removed the growth that would have produced flowers.

Also, without six hours of sunlight, you won’t see any forsythia blooms. Lastly, too much nitrogen will turn your shrub a full and lovely green, but your forsythia won’t bloom. If your shrub is surrounded by lawn, the high nitrogen fertilizer you use on your grass may be hindering forsythia bud production. Adding more phosphorus, like bone meal, can help offset this.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected].


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