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Educate yourself on popular dog breeds of the world:

Pomeranians

THE Pomeranian is a breed of dog in the Spitz family, named from the Pomerania region of Poland and eastern Germany. The name Pomore or Pommern means "on the sea". It was brought to Europe to be employed to herd sheep. The Pom ancestors weighed up to 30 pounds.

These sturdy little dogs got their immense popularity through Queen Victoria. She was a Pomeranian fancier and even established her own kennel for their breeding.

The Pomeranian's intelligence and talent for showmanship have also made it a superior circus performer. Today's Pomeranian is primarily a loving companion and a beautiful show dog.

The Pomeranian is a tiny, fluffy dog with a wedge-shaped head and pointed erect ears. All have bright, dark, almond-shaped eyes with an intelligent expression. The nose is either dark or the colour of its coat. They possess a distinctive feathered tail that fans forward over the back.

There is an abundant ruff around the neck and chest area. There are several colour combinations: black, tan, blue, chocolate, cream, orange, red and sable. Sometimes the coat is parti-coloured with white markings, black and tan, wolf or orange sable.

Poms usually weigh between 3-7 pounds (1-3 kg) and their normal height is between 7-12 inches (18-30 cm). Their life expectancy is about 15 years. The Pom is a lively little dog. Very loyal to its handler and family, these dogs are usually eager to learn.

Wilful, bold and sometimes temperamental, the Pom usually gets along with other dogs and household animals without any problems. However, some of them seem to think they are much larger than they actually are and do not hesitate to attack much bigger dogs.

It is an excellent watchdog with a resounding bark. Poms have a tendency to be reserved and bark at a stranger excessively.

Teach this dog early that it may bark a couple of times when the doorbell rings or when there are visitors, but then to keep quiet. Poms are alert, curious and busy little fellows, the most independent of the Toy breeds.

They need a firm hand and will become too demanding if owners allow it. Too much attention from children makes these dogs nervous and they may become snappish. However, they can get along well with older, well-behaved children. It is a good companion for elderly people as well.

The Pom is good for apartment living in the city. It is an excellent dog for country living with its strong hunting instincts from its wild ancestors. They are very active indoors.

As long as there is a small yard for the Pomeranian to play in, they will get enough exercise on their own. They are able to walk a long distance without becoming over-tired and would greatly enjoy a long walk.

Regular grooming is needed for the Pom's very long, double coat. If you work from the head, parting the coat and brushing it forward, it will fall neatly back in place. This task is relatively easy though it is time-consuming.

The undercoat is shed once or twice a year. It is unadvisable to bathe Pomeranians too frequently as excessive bathing can damage their skin and coat by removing essential oils. Dry shampoo when necessary. Clean the eyes and ears daily and take the dog for regular dental checkups.

There are certain health problems that may affect Poms. Some bloodlines are prone to heart and skin problems, and eye infections. Since early tooth loss is a common problem, feeding dry food is recommended to keep the teeth and gums in good condition.

Newborn pups are rather fragile and are so tiny that they can be held in the palm of one's hand. Small females often need caesarean section deliveries. When the dog is old, it may become moulted with bald spots.

Playful, friendly and almost childlike, these tiny companions are the ideal gifts of love and comfort for a loved one.

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Flower of the week:

Barberton Daisy

THIS is a small daisy with a rosette of irregularly shaped leaves; often divided. The flower heads are made up of many, small, tightly clustered flowers or florets. The flowers may be red, pink, orange or yellow and appear from August through to December.

The shape of the flower head varies greatly. Many species have button-like heads without showy ray florets, while others have ray florets marked with spots to attract pollinating beetles, which they mimic.

The daisy family is one of the largest plant families in the world, with over 23,000 species. It is one of the most popular ornamental flowers in the world, both as a cut flower and as a pot plant. Plants require sunlight and moderate watering.

Rot will occur if the crowns are buried or the drainage is poor. Planting: propagation may be achieved through seeds, basal cuttings or through dividing. Seeds are sown or cuttings can be inserted in sandy soil until the saplings become an inch tall or the cuttings form roots.

Plants grown from deeds can differ from the parent plant and seeds, which do not germinate within about twenty days, are likely not to germinate at all.

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Bougainvilleas - how to keep them flowering

BOUGAINVILLEAS are native to Brazil and grow well in many parts of the world. In Sri Lanka, it is popular because of the ease of growing, floriferous nature and the variety of colours of both 'flowers' and leaves. It is also used as a protective hedge plant because of its thorns.

The showy part referred to as the 'flower' is actually a bract, which is a part of a flower found at the base of most flowers. The true flowers are found between the bracts and are not very prominent or showy.

To ensure regular flowering, it must be remembered that new flowers are produced only on new growth. This means that plants have to be pruned regularly so that new shoots arise.

Flowers are produced at the ends of these new shoots. Observe a bougainvillea in your garden and you will notice this.

This does not mean that the whole plant has to be cut back. One suggestion is to divide the plant into three sections, leave one section with a few branches with flowers, the second section will have new growth, which will flower in due course, and the remaining section can be pruned.

The extent of pruning will depend on the size of the plant and on the size of the container. Try to maintain a suitable proportion between plant and pot. Repeat this cycle, to ensure that there are flowers on the plant at most times.

Of course, some plants will flower even without pruning, but these tend to be large, overgrown plants, where flowers are seen at the ends of long, untidy branches - this type of plant does not belong in a well-maintained garden.

Remember that gardening is not only about having colour but symmetry, proportion and overall aesthetic appeal of all components are important objectives we should strive to attain in a well maintained garden.

New shoot growth requires adequate nutrition (fertilisers) - a balanced fertiliser containing all the required elements must be given every 2-3 months, so that the plant can produce new shoots and remain in flower.

Bougainvilleas grow and flower best in full sunlight. At least 8-10 hours of light a day is necessary, so if your plants are in a shady location or do not receive a sufficient duration of sunlight, they may tend to have more leaves and not flower regularly.

Plants must also never be over-watered - withholding water is one good way of ensuring flowering in Bougainvillea.

Therefore, a heavy clayey soil or medium that remains wet for long periods is not recommended to grow Bougainvillea - sandy, easily drained medium is better. Depending on your area, watering every other day is often sufficient.

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