Happy Sunny-day

story & photos by Gail K.

Happy Sunny-day.

Here we are in mid-January and it feels more like early spring.  Can’t say I miss shoveling the white stuff but right on cue………..look who came to pay me a visit.

I can’t help but smile from ear to ear when the bright colored bluebirds grace me with a visit.

They are just precious-a bright spot in the white of winter.

Let me challenge all of you to observe the feathered and non-feathered creatures in your yard—–snap a photo and send it on……..the blog could use some “cuteness.” 

Story and photos by Gail K.

In the grip of the coldest temps so far this winter & the cancellation of our January meeting- as a precautionary Covid hiatus; along with receiving too much bird seed at Christmas (darn kids); I decided to tackle a project & share it with you.

Homemade bird seed cakes: The recipe I used, required minimal supplies. 
Bird seed- (Your choice). You may add nuts,raisins, or
currents if not in your seed mix. (Great way to clean out the pantry)
Water, Plain Gelatin, & molds. 

FIRST: put 1 1/4 cup of the bird seed mixture in a bowl-set aside.

The above photo shows several shapes of molds-made of metal or glass. Use silicone, plastic, cookie cutter, clay pots or any other “shape.”

I sprayed the mold to ensure ease of removal and found the deeper the mold, the better the end result.  This mold worked well.

Put 1/4 c of water in a saucepan-add 2 pkg. of the unflavored gelatin to the water.

Over low heat, stirring until the gelatin has fully dissolved. (doesn’t take long)
Once dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool for one minute before adding the bird seed.

Mixing well, to ensure all the bird seed is coated with gelatin.

Take the mixture & place into the mold.

firmly press the mixture into the mold and set aside to harden– allow for at least 24 hrs.

How you “hang” the seedcake is part of the final design. Many ways to “offer” & the type of bird you want to feed may determine that. To hang from a branch or hook, while soft,make a hole to thread ribbon or twine thru; or place a loop of twine between two layers of the mixture. You can just insert into a suet feeder.

Once hardened, gently remove from the molds and offer to the birds……..I found the heart shape to be too thin and slid them into a suet feeder. The star I hung by a loop of twine from my feeder pole. The squirrels would have had a quick snack if I dare to hang from a branch. Full recipe follows…………..


Story & photos by Gail K.

The Monarchs have flown south as the days grow shorter; we awake to find frost on the pumpkins. 
The winter solstice is upon us; and the end of another year draws near.
It’s time to reap the harvest, to celebrate & mingle with friends…..hurry now, lady snow waits on the horizon.

Jennie gives a prayer of thanks before our meal….AMEN.

Despite continued concerns with Covid; it was so nice to gather as a group again.
One last time before year’s end; to share a meal–

To converse face to face; sharing stories & laughter;

To just be with; to share time with; friends– old & new— “our family of fellow gardeners”

This year’s speaker was ARLA- a Master Gardener and member of the Brighton Garden Club.

Arla’s topic: “A Garden To Die For.” Plants not planted AKA weeds–which could pop up in your garden; nightshade, herbane or giant hogweed; As well as those planted intentionally such as Angel’s Trumpet, Foxglove & Monkshood.  We learned just how they could poison by touch or ingestion.

She shared the stories on how these plants impacted history over time. Their past uses & how we use them today.  She covered far more than I can share in this blog. She was an excellent speaker, with a very informative presentation. Thank you!!!!   I know we all learned something.

Following the presentation, we continued to share fellowship & do some shopping.

Chris brought “home grown” honey—
Karen & Arla brought beautiful pieces of handmade ceramics. (craft show flyer under education opp. on our mg page).

People took this opportunity to do some early holiday shopping.

There were tables of give one- take one or just TAKE IT! Everyone went home with something-I grabbed some canna and tuberose tubers.,

Saying our goodbyes for 2021—stay safe my friends.

May your Thanksgiving be bountiful-so many of us faced difficulties this past year.  Emoji

May Christmas bring you blessings-beyond your wishes. Emoji May the New Year bring us back together with a renewed spirit. EmojiEmojiEmoji

I look forward to seeing all of you in the New Year!!!!!! 

We look forward to meeting once again in 2022; be safe…..gail & linda

September Tour Part 2

Story & Photos by Gail K.

Despite a few of us getting turned around; we all reached the Beach Ridge Area in
the Oak Openings Metropark.

This is where the Cannaley TreeHouse Village is located; and the destination for our September tour.

Upon arrival; we were greeted by Nick & Patty, Park Rangers, who will lead our tour.

They shared the history behind the creation of this unique aspect within the Toledo Metropark system.

With everyone accounted for, we begin the walk to the village; Nick answering the many questions we had & sharing much more information on the Metro-Parks in Toledo.

Walking along the path we could peer thru the trees & catch sneak peeks at what lie ahead:      LOOK!  OVER THERE, ANOTHER ONE!!

Reaching the official entry point:

 we were given a brief description of each structure and sent off to explore at our own pace……

Here is a map of the village, the descriptive info on each treehouse, can be found on the Toledo Metropark web site.

Excited & eager to check things out- we scattered in different directions. Looking around, my first impression: this was gonna be way too cool!!  C’mon, let’s get started.

Pick a path…..

From my unique vantage point-I was overlooking-
WHOA–Look, over that way–
Where are those gals headed off to???

Our guides stayed on site- no questions went unanswered

There was much thought & planning put into the design-
construction was done to protect the environment as
well as the trees which were used; along with ensuring the structures would be safe for use………… 

You need to see what the various tree houses offer inside as well, since they are all different.

These are not like any tree house I ever saw as a kid.

The sleeping quarters were very unique in each treehouse-based on a theme…………

living areas and kitchens varied as well—
No two alike in any aspect……….

The cabins varied in occupancy limits. Exterior colors were chosen to enhance blending in with their surroundings.  

You could look to the right and to the left:
You could look up and then down.
Cabins and pathways were tucked in all around

ABOVE: I knew those girls were up to no good—ha ha

Our treehouse adventure brought the “kid’ out in all of us. It reminded me of the Ewok village in the Star War movies.
BELOW:   Yeah, I see you Tom!!!

Time’s up-meeting @ the swing set, ‘Smores please???Walking to our cars, we pass by the bike trail; most of us will be making one more stop before heading home….


 It was a good day!! I must say, my photos do not dojustice to the treehouse village.  I suggest you take a
look for yourself…check the web site for public viewing timesand who knows, you may decide to bunk there for a day or two.

2021 Final tour:

Photos and story by Gail K.

2021 Final tour:leaving rural Michigan we head south to Ohio;
down US 23 to Airport Hwy West. 

: Gardener- I brake for plant sales & yard art.
           (maybe we should make a sticker)

Oak Park is well noted for their expertise in pond care. They have several on site ponds and carry a vast array ofproducts & supplies needed to maintain any type of pond.

Along with pumps & liners; they offer a variety of pond plants and fish. I have always found the staff to be informative and helpful.

In addition to the outdoor displays & products; their indoor exhibits offer a variety of unique garden items,which attract gardeners of all types

ABOVE:     Fairy Garden items

.BELOW:   Terrariums

ABOVE:  Indoor plants

BELOW:  Succulents galore

Back outside: we found a large expanse of trees, shrubs, & plants on display.  These are but a fraction of what they have on site at the start of the growing season…but at this time of the year-the price is right…..

ABOVE: ground covers galore!!! 

SMILE!!! I caught the Milan gals off guard, as they walked around the gardens–

Then there is my favorite-YARD ART!!!

As expected; the variety has diminished since the start ofthe growing season, but they still had a lot to offer……

There are pots of all sizes, shapes and uses.
BELOW:  Assisted by a staff member-Debbie found justthe right pot to take home for her garden.

Tucked away in the shade garden is an expansive

Gnome village. I admit; I believe in fairies & gnomes. Do you??  This was a really neat display, and not far from the small playground they have for children without parents.

Tom & Emokee discuss adding a gnome garden to their wooded lot garden. One plant in the shade garden, deserving of attention was The butter burr…. several members grabbed at least one for their own shade gardens

OK folks; finish your shopping and tuck your goodiesinto your cars…..it’s time to hop off our designated
stop of the day—- The Cannaley Treehouse Village.

Look who I found to take home–just so cute!!!

Thank you Oak Park for your hospitality & shopper’s discount.We enjoyed our visit and found some great deals. We’ll besure to check back early in 2022 for our gardening needs.

Meet you at the village………………….g

One last time I flipped thru the photos.  A select few catching my eye; as if the others not quite enough. In this final post on the Dahlia tour; I share a view of Mother Nature & perhaps her **  perspective of life.

ABOVE: Even Mother Nature isn’t always perfect;        ** Why should we try to be?

BELOW: Wonder, if the nectar tastes like vanilla or strawberry??
         ** Life is a matter of give and take….

Erect & standing at attention; as if to say Hey!  “Look at me”
        ** Be proud of who you are—

ABOVE: A color standout; makes up for the lack of petals.
           ** Be the best you can be.

BELOW: Delicate yet “imperfect”; kissed by the soft
   glow of a morning sun;
                   ** just happy to BE……

BELOW: Nodding as if embarrassed in lacking a full bloom;
       **Be patient; beauty doesn’t happen over night

ABOVE: Deformed or just unique; reality two separate blooms.
           **Don’t be too quick to judge

BELOW: Who needs all that stuff around the outside anyway??            *** Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

BELOW: Muted colors outside, mask the brightness from within.
**Things are never as they seem. 

ABOVE: Yummy delight, the bee oblivious to my presence;
      ****Enjoy what you will …….
BELOW: Lookin’ good no matter which way you see them

 ** two sides to everything; Be willing to look at both ….

ABOVE: when the time is right; the bud will “pop” to full bloom
      *** enjoy this moment in time, it will never happen again

BELOW: Hey there, you lookin’ at me??
    **wonders of nature are all around us-just look

You think I resemble what???***Dare to be different

Just a few of the standout groupings: As we leave

the Dirty Girls Dahlia Farm –carry this thought with you


Thank you Gail for all the lovely photos from our visit to the Dirty Girls Dahlia Farm. It has been inspirational. I will miss seeing everyone at our brunch.. I hope to be back in track in 2022. As you requested, Gail, here are this season’s dahlias from my paper farm inspired by this visit and your photos. Linda

story and photos by Gail K.

700 flowers & more colors than a 64 count crayola box; what to do???  Simply; post more flower photos, hopefully
without repeats.   (OK stop laughing) .

Ready???  Let’s hop on the ole’ color wheel. Giving a big spin, we stop on—-WHITE!

The pure white ones are very pretty but finding a pure white was a challenge; as you can see-below. The color is in the eyes of the beholder……….

Moving on & landing on maroon!!!

ABOVE: (I really like this one)…….SPIN—     YELLOW IT IS!!!!

true yellow…As seen in the Dahlia, a perfect blending color. Truly, Mother Nature knows what she is doing-

Spinning, spinning hitting on PINK!!! Next to impossible assigning one color but the
majority of the blooms we saw had a pink base.

Many variables in the pink family such as salmon, magenta & mauve.

With such a large color group; let’s pause for a minute. I chose not to photo name tags, rather I have grouped by color. Stella & Gerri are monitoring the blog (4 parts).  I hope my posts will aid in your selecting & ordering tubers for your own garden.

Even in the shape—so much contrast in one flower

This time we make a big jump— PURPLE!!! Heart Eyes
What’s not to love…………..

Spinning again, we warm up with ORANGE!!!variables– red orange, yellow orange & just orange. Orange another great blend—-?? COINCIDENCE yellow & orange straight from the colors of the sun….they warm our hearts.

Last but not least; the color RED!!! With shades of hot fire red to cool purple red & all else in between.

I hope you enjoyed the color tour–a kaleidoscope of Dahlias?
Before you order; check out the web site for a more detailed listing-
I will have coupons at our November banquet to use with your order. Next :  #4 Dahlia Tour– “Gail being Gail”

stories and photos by Gail K.

Following my GPS; I had minimal difficulty reaching the Dirty Girls Flower Farm.  As I turned onto a gravel road my GPS suddenly hollers out-YOU HAVE ARRIVED!!!!

I guess so!!!  On my left a small field, full of colorful flowers

I arrived early; to take photos before the group arrived. 
The field still in the shadow of morning; with the night’s dew
still heavy on the grass.   Despite my wet feet, I stood in awe with my mouth open—-HOLY MOTHER OF COLOR!!  Where do I start???

Really- have you ever seen such colors!!!  I was promptly greeted by Gerri, the official Dirty Girl. 
She had some tasks to complete so I kept taking photos.  

You all know I like purple, any wonder I was drawn to this one-and then

OH-LOOK—- over there–that one- it reminds me of Chahuly art glass— 


Gerri didn’t seem to mind my asking questions as I meandered around; going from row to row.

Above: Gerri removes a protective sleeve from one of her largest blooms.  She utilizes organic products & techniques; such as
companion flower or vegetable plants to help control insects and diseases.

Below: note the plantings at the end of each row.  

It isn’t an easy task, “meandering”- the 700 plants are in staked rows, with rope strung between to support the varying heights of the plants.

Also, care needs to be taken to ensure the stakes at the baseof each plant; which bear the name, does not get displaced.Talk about “tip toe thru the dahlias”   Fa La La la la…..

example: this beauty & its tag.  This association will be referenced in a later section of the blog  ……

Others begin to arrive; scattering through out the field-
wanting to closely exam the many blooms. (Kids in the candy store)

Gerri doesn’t mind the chatter & just keeps going about the business of taking care of her plants–

With the majority now present, Gerri reigns us in to her outdoor classroom & casually discusses the art of growing Dahlias.

Below: she uses a drip system to water; lacking a direct source, she explained how she uses a small pump to pull
water out of a tank and then push it thru the tubing system.

She took us up and down the rows; answering questions andexplaining the specific ins and outs of growing these unique
and fascinating flowers.

One major impact; the technique for getting “the best” bloom. This entails picking off side blooms and allowing “the leader”
to get all the energy to develop its bloom.

Having the right plant and using this technique will get you prize winning dahlias such as this:

after “class time”- Gerri stood by to answer questions she allowed us to freely roam about the plants.

Strolling thru the flowers, row by row; members ooh’d & ahh’d over the many colorful blooms. Many taking the time to write down the names of their favorites. ( Hi Linda )

They compared notes and discussed which ones they maybe interested in growing next season.

Throughout the morning, our host was snipping the longer
stemmed varieties.  We each got a bouquet to take home. What a pleasant surprise & such a thoughtful gift.

Truly a “hands on” learning experience on a new topic. Thanks
Milan Girls for suggesting the Dirty Girls Farm for a tour….I have never been so impressed with one flower; although I doubt
I will ever grow any; well maybe one. Thank you Gerri–

afterwards some of us stopped for a lunch before heading home; it was suggested we stop at the Red Rooster.

Great choice, an enjoyable meal (HUGE portions) and all
agreed the tour made for a great day- it was nice mingling asa group again.   I will share more flower photos in Part 3… g

You can cast one vote for each scarecrow every day but hope you will click on “Best Out(Standing) in the Field” under Belladonna, then go to the end of the entries and hit submit.

To cast your votes go to: https://www.milanmainstreet.info/straw-poll

Thanks – and stay tuned…..and PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOTE EVERY DAY!


Section 1:  30 DAYS OF DAHLIAS

Our first tour in September was a Dahlia Farm;   “Dirty Girls Flower Farm” in Willis, Michigan.
A real treat; the variety of colors & shapes, just amazing.

I want to share all my photos but for the sake of the blog I must restrain myself; after all she has 700 plants.  To include as much as possible, I will split into sections– Ready??? Hang onto your hats.

Get ready for some real eye candy-

Resembling firework displays-the garden exploded with the various colors & designs.

Every color imaginable; solids, mixtures & blends.You won’t find these in your crayola box, that’s for sure!! 
Only Mother Nature could create such colors!!!

Sunrise to sunsets; explosions of red, yellow, pinks, and oranges.

The various shades within each color, extends the mind’sconcept of what is “normal” …

From cool colors found in shade to hot & on fire like the sun…

The contrast of dainty & soft to sharp & dramatic.

REALLY!!!!   There are no words…..

What a treat–Mother Nature combined all her tricks into one flower……..

There you have it-
Just a simple bouquet of 30 out of 700; hand picked for you!
Which was your favorite?  The upcoming posts on this tour,
will include more.  For now;  ENJOY***
 a different DAHLIA each day for a month