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Archive for June, 2011

article forwarded from Jennie Stanger.

Master Gardener volunteers from Genesee, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Oakland and Washtenaw counties are now offering a statewide service to answer consumer horticulture questions. Residents throughout the state can get answers to questions from a consumer horticulture experts concerning vegetable and flower gardening; lawns, shrubs and trees; indoor plants; and garden and house pests through the MSUE Lawn and Garden Hotline.

A team of horticulture educators developed the state garden hotline. The team was led by Bob Bricault and included Rebecca Finneran, Terry McLean, Gretchen Voyle, Linda Whitlock and Mary Wilson, who will continue to provide support to the hotline and Master Gardener volunteers.

The MSUE Lawn and Garden Hotline uses the same toll-free number that people use to reach county offices: 1-888-MSUE-4MI (1-888-678-3464). When calling the number you will be asked to press “1” to be connected to the hotline. It is answered weekdays between 9 a.m. and noon and 1 and 4 p.m. Local residents are encouraged to use the hotline as Monroe County no longer has a staff person in place to answer these types of questions.  As budget cuts have caused down-sizing in positions there has been an increased need to better utilize technology and have statewide resources made available to address the educational needs of residents.  The new hotline will provide ongoing service to address consumer horticulture questions

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It’s Not always about the Bloom.  Consider the color available in foliage and combine it with a bloom to make interesting combinations.  Here are a few in my Garden

       

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Ahhhhhhhhhh! It’s Sunday morning and I’m procrastinating. I have new perennials to plant, and a truckload of mulch waiting to be spread. For now, I’m enjoying walking around the yard to see what has changed in the last few days. My  lavender has been blooming the last several days, but it’s really going crazy now! I have Munstead, Hidcote, and Grosso all in one bed, and they’re one of my favorite garden pleasures. Sitting on the front porch in the evening, the fragrance just wafts me away to peace and tranquility. That’s definitely on my agenda after I manhandle all that mulch. The other discovery this morning is that my St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is blooming. I know SJW is considered an invasive plant, even a noxious weed, but the yellow flowers are so cheery I keep it around. (Although there was that year that I kept the pokeweed because the birds enjoyed the berries so much…BIG mistake!) I don’t know anything about SJW’s alleged medicinal value, but sitting in the Adirondack chair next to it in the back yard certainly improves my mood. Here are a couple happy snaps I just took – iphone in one hand and coffee in the other. Natural mood enhancement – yup.

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LED Grow Lights

LED (Light Emitting Diode) are beginning to take on the market strong.  Recently I received an e-mail about LED grow lights.  Thought this maybe something to share to everyone.  LED lighting is more efficient, barely any heat is emitted, come in many color spectrums (including blue and red for growing) and have a long life.  Never having to replace bulbs…such a green way to assist your indoor plantings or starts.  LED are a bit more costly compared to fluorescent;  but I’m sure that will change as the market expands.   For further information you can check out the following website: http://sunshine-systems.com/.  I haven’t checked out the two new stores for gardening located on Telegraph;  they may carry grow lights as well.   One is located just past the farm implement store on the east side.  The other is on the south-west corner of Telegraph and LaSalle Rd.

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In my presentation Monday Evening I mentioned a solar-powered pump for your Rain Barrel.  Those attending were interested in more information.  No longer will you have to rely on gravity for water delivery.  If you’re interested check out this website:  http://www.rainperfectpump.com/   Linda

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It’s doubtful I’ll ever have  Dale Chihuly art pieces in my garden.  However, he has been an inspiration to add glass and art into the garden.  Here are some photos of glass in my garden. 

       

How do you use glass in your garden?

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The new Front Page for MSUE at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/ is a transition away from the old, slow Portal. If you click on an old link to MSUE or type in the old url: www.msue.msu.edu, you will be redirected to the new page. It is organized by subject area rather than by counties or regions. Pursue the topic areas to find old and updated informational resources.

An interesting feature of this page, toward the bottom, is the “Ask an Expert” option. It allows searching for someone to ask when you can’t find the info you are looking for. There is a national extension “ask an expert” program, but also a search for Michigan Extension educators by name or subject area. For example if you have a horticulture question and search by Monroe County and horticulture, you will learn that Washtenaw MSUE Horticulture Educator Bob Bricault is answering questions for counties in this region who no longer have Extension horticulture staff. Obviously he cannot answer all the gardening questions for several counties, and a statewide Master Gardener hotline is in the works. It will extend the MG hotlines established in some larger counties to answer gardeners’ questions statewide.

Increasingly, though, consumers will need to make a little effort to search out their own answers and fact sheets, as the “go-to people” become fewer and farther between. The migarden website has added or updated their Resource section to include many of the fact sheets and bulletins that can be read or printed for free. Note George Badgley and Mary Ellen are in the photo on that page! The news.msue website is pulling together and updating links to other great resources, besides adding good new stuff every day!

As Master Gardeners we should spend some time clicking around these pages so we can help people find the good information that is available! When you discover a gem, post it here on our blog to alert others!!!

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More from Linda!

Gardening can be great Fun.  Use your imagination and don’t worry about how crazy it may seem.  Succulents give  great opportunity to be creative.  Recently, I planted a few succulents.  I have an arbor with a bench in our front yard.  I took the outdoor pillows and planted them.  To plant, cut a small X or T into the body of the pillow. (I also planted in the seam by opening it up a bit).  Choose the succulent you wish, wrap it  with a bit of soil and then with some fabric to hold the soil in place.  I wrapped mine in a light weight felt.  Remember, succulents like a light soil mixture and don’t require  much watering.  Tuck it into the pillow.  No need to remove any of the stuffing media from that pillow just create a bit of an opening.  It’s been about a month ago and they’re still living.  There you go,  A living print on  pillows.

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On June 20th, Linda Welch presented an program about vertical gardening and how to transform vertical plantings into a living art form. Vertical gardening has lots of advantages, such as adding privacy, disguising unattractive views, pest prevention (no slugs!), accessibility for those with physical limitations, and maximum use of space. Vertical gardening and living art installations can be incorporated inside and out, and with some planning you can even transfer structures from outside to inside as the seasons change. Inside arrangements are especially beneficial when using plants known to be natural air filters. Creating vertical displays can be as simple as using  a series of shelves or arranging plant hangers on a wall to complex arrangements requiring construction of vertical and horizontal boards, waterproofing, and irrigation systems.  Lighting, water, humidity, and temperature must be considered – decide whether you want to use in shade or sun, or inside, and choose plants accordingly. Select plants you can maintain easily. Succulents and bromeliads lend themselves well to vertical plantings and living art installations. Linda gave the audience ideas and techniques to transform a boring, plain garage or shed wall into a dramatic focal point. Vertical gardening can be beautiful and functional as well. Who says vertical plants need to be ornamentals? Vegetables can be grown vertically and incorporated into the overall vertical landscaping theme. Climbing vegetables need support – install supports at planting to prevent damage later on.

Linda gave a demo about how to make frames for living art works. She had tons of ideas for creating unique living art using all kinds of materials, from pricy to really inexpensive. I think even I can do it! Woo-hoo – I know what this weekend’s gardening project is! Just don’t tell my husband the big plans I have for his toolshed wall!

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