Shades of Melon

From green to orange and back again, melon-inspired goods will have you and your home looking sweet this summer.

Tie it up. Beaucoup organdy ribbon in honeydew or watermelon. $32 for 50 meters of 3/4-inch ribbon. (877) 988-2328, www.beaucoupribbon.com

Blooming with color. Grecian Key and Whiz Bang daylilies in melon-y shades, $3 to $6. (612) 756-2863, www.alldaylilies.com

Fabric of life. Fifties-inspired fabric in melon from the Repro Depot. (877) 738-7632, www.reprodepot.com

Paint the town (er, room). Sherwin-Williams's Delicious "Melon," Behr's "Honeydew," or Benjamin Moore's "Melon Popsicle." To find a retailer near you, visit www.sherwin-williams.com, www.behr.com, or www.benjaminmoore.com.

Take a sip. Japanese Ceramic Teapot Set, $100. (650) 341-7391, www.zensuke.com

Pretty in pink. OPI's Melon of Troy (shown), $6, and Essie's Watermelon, $5. (310) 276-9532, www.adiscountbeauty.com


Beyond Cantaloupe

Bored by the usual, run-of-the-mill supermarket melons? Give an heirloom variety - or a new hybrid - a try on your table.

Instead of schlepping the weighty ones back from the store, why not turn your yard into a melon patch? Amy Goldman's Melons for the Passionate Grower (Artisan, $25) provides inspiration as you plant melon varieties sold by Seed Savers Exchange, including the rare French heirloom Delice de Table and the Golden Midget Watermelon, first introduced in 1959. (563) 382-5990, www.seedsavers.org

A French cousin of the cantaloupe, the Charentais entertains the nose with its perfume scent, while the Galia (shown) more than satisfies with its sinfully delicious flavor. $6 each. (888) 674-2642, www.diamondorganics.com

The African Horned Melon is a lot sweeter than it looks - and those spikes are sure to add to the breakfast-table conversation. $40 for six. (800) 588-0151, www.melissas.com


Choose Well

Put the "Which one is fresh?" confusion behind you. "It's always [funny] to see people thumping all the time," says James Parker, produce specialist for Whole Foods Market. He fills us in on what you need to know to pick the best of the lot - no thumping required.

Press (gently). Push your finger into the blossom end (the end opposite the stem). If it's ripe, it'll have a bit of give.

Tail end. Give the stem end a look-see: If the melon is ripe, there won't be a stem. Still there on a honeydew or muskmelon? If you can remove it with ease, that baby is good to go.

Breathe deep. For honeydews and muskmelons, the sniff test is a great golden rule (if they haven't been sitting in the fridge). Ripe honeydews will have a sweet candy smell, and muskmelons will have their namesake musky scent.

Color me ripe. Honeydews go from pale green to yellow as they ripen. For watermelons, gloss over all that green and head straight for the whitish spot where it sat growing on the ground; if there's a yellow tint to it, you've got a good one.