Archive for October, 2011

FotoFriday – October 28

Ever have “one of those weeks”? I had two concurrent internet problems that were confounding troubleshooting and repairs, so I was incommunicado for several days. Sorry, folks! Here’s our belated FF submissions:

We have a lovely submission from Diane M – her “Monster Mummies” are taking over her front flower bed!

Monster Mummies!

Linda has her own private mystery in her garden. She writes:   I have a plant that I have no idea what it is.  I planted it about 3 years ago…loved the foliage, but, it never bloomed until this year.  I’m hoping someone can tell me what it is?  Anyone Know?  I’m adding an early Summer photo with just foliage and one from this week when it began to bloom.   It’s bloom looks alot like the Firetail, Bistort Mountain Fleece flower that Frank added as a Mystery Plant.  However, the foliage it nothing alike…it doesn’t mean it can’t be related though.

Linda’s own personal “mystery plant!’

mystery plant – earlier this summer

Can we give Linda any help identifying her plant?


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FotoFriday Update!

For all you FotoFriday afficionadoes – hang in there!

Sue has been experiencing some technical difficulties with her cable company for the last few days and will be  unable to get FotoFriday out until sometime tomorrow.   For those of you that live in the country you will appreciate the havoc the strong winds this time of the year can wreak on overhead cable lines. Her internet connection has been –  let’s say intermittent!  Hopefully the technicians will get her up and running by tomorrow!


I don’t want any of you shutter bugs going into withdrawal,  so I have posted my favorite screen saver of a tomato horn worm devouring one of my prize tomatoes!  I wonder if we should have an old fashioned TV test pattern for occasions such as this when we are experiencing technical difficulties?

So please be patient and I am sure she will reward you with a whole slew of backlogged articles.


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This week we have submissions from Chris Eddols, Linda Welch, and Frank Deutsch. Chris writes, “I spent the past few days on Mackinaw Island and captured the attached whisper of beauty before winter.”

Linda writes, “This photo comes from my front yard, where I have a small island bed that houses our flag pole.    I’ve never been a great fan of impatiens.    All season they have been a great colorful display.  Little maintenance…a few weeds here and there, but they “self-clean”.  I’m changing my mind…They just might have a permanent spot.”

Frank submitted some vibrant and contemplative scenes from his woodlot.

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Hamamelis virginiana

Flower of the American Witch Hazel

What shrub is blooming at this time of year?  It is Hamamelis virginiana or American witch hazel.   Blooming in October and November after the yellow Autumn leaves begin to drop, it is one of the last shrubs to flower.  The fragrant yellow flower petals look like crumpled shredded ribbon. Seed capsules take one year to mature and are expelled explosively from the capsule in the fall.  This is a deciduous multi-stemmed shrub or small tree that is an eastern North American native which normally grows 15-20’ tall but can reach 30’.  It grows in full sun to part shade at the edge of woodlands and prefers moist soil.   Pruning needs are minimal, normally to keep the shape, and if needed should be done early spring. This shrub is very adaptable to the home landscape.  Native Americans and early European settlers used the forked branch as a divining or witching rod to find underground sources of water.  The extract of leaves, twigs, and bark is use in astringent lotions.

  Go Native!

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Hello everyone,

I had hoped we could get some more of the basic fall cleanup chores out of the way with tomorrow’s session.  It looks like the weather is not going to cooperate, and I am not going to ask you to work in the rain or a soggy garden. For those who want to brave the elements, Jennie will be at the office at 5.00pm and she can show you what needs doing.  If it is pouring rain, obviously the session will be cancelled.  Please dress appropriately!

  • Ideally, I had planned on weeding all the beds…a task apparently nobody wants to do.  In the Spruce garden, the barberry and the ground cover still need trimming and there are some thistles in the Flowering Quince that need pulling. The area around the compost bins needs tidying up, as does the ground cover in the tree well near the Memorial Garden.  Some of you could  deadhead the roses and the native shrubs and cut back the bulb foliage.  Jennie has suggested cleaning up the tool storage area – maybe trimming back some of the ivy.

The peony division video shoot, Jennie will do on Friday with Karen Naimola.  So please do not cut back the peony in the entry garden!

Jennie will be asking for volunteers to prepare some beds at the sundial site in the Veterans Park.  Be sure to read the blog for the dates and times.

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Sign garden at Hack House

When I wrote this article last weekend looking out the window at the blustery, soggy scene – I began to think how lucky the Milan folks were with the simply gorgeous weather they had for their annual Fall Festival at Hack House.

SW porch repairs

On the contrary, this old house now serves as a living museum of what “life” was like in late 19th century rural Milan. The outbuildings and main house have been filled with numerous period furnishings and artifacts worthy of Sauder Village – with the added bonus that most of these are original to the structure. This is really a “must see” for anyone with children to not only connect them with their local roots, but to show how people can come together and volunteer their time and labor to preserve a piece of history.

Milan gang at work

Well, this article is supposed to be about the gardens that our hard working MGs, Naida, Norma, Amy, Doris and Barb and their fellow Milan Garden Club members managed to wrestle out of  a pile of overgrown thickets!  Naida is currently down in the wilds of Brazil, so I am posting her emailed comments about how the gardens came into being.

“The Milan Garden Club, which was formed in 1998, was looking for a community project.  In the spring of 1999, one of our members, who belongs to the Milan Area Historical Society, suggested we establish and maintain a few flower gardens at the Friend/Hack House museum.

SE porch front garden

We started slowly the first couple of years – with a lot of willing helpers and some very good advice from Jennie Stanger – and our projects and gardens expanded quickly.  In 2007 we decided to create a new garden area in front of ( at first glance) a chicken coop. We later discovered it had held exotic birds and was used in 1888 as an aviary.

Aviary front gardens

Shortly after taking on this new area in front of the aviary, we looked to the east side and saw it was just a mass of overgrown wild raspberries, grape vines, junk trees and weeds which we felt detracted from our new garden. About this time, many of our members were” running out of steam” – but that darn Doris Campbell (MG class of 2010) kept gravitating to that area, cutting out brush, etc.  I got hooked also and we burned a lot of calories doing our best to clear that area.  I even talked my husband into bringing his chainsaw to cut down some of the larger trees. Doris built a tower (about 8ft high x 12ft wide) of brush – and finally got help from some friends of the Historical Society to take down more of the very large trees and dispose of our pile.

Half finished aviary brush pile

Like the house and outbuildings, the gardens are a work in progress.  We managed to cut back the bulbs and give a quick tidy up of the beds in time for the Fall Festival.”


Former brush area

So many stories here, but this is just a blog.  This house is not your typical 1880 farmhouse.  The wood paneling and doors speak of lavishness that came from other than farm labor.  The inlaid marble fireplace in the parlor would not look out of place in an expensive home today.  The kitchen is “period 1920” and not that unusual –  unlike the 3 hole outside privy in a very elegant building that had a somewhat ingenious “flushing” system.   They needed it as the farm help lived in the attic over the family quarters!

The blue "Electric Sugar Machine" on stove in Summer Kitchen

The summer kitchen contains an interesting assortment of laundry artifacts – and the “The Electric Sugar Refining Machine” – the profits from which today would be called a stock swindle or ponzi scheme, that funded all this opulence, briefly landed the grieving widow in jail and definitively her husband had he not unexpectedly died. Their farm encompassed what is now the former Ford plant and the original Owens-Illinois corrugated box facility.  Infact, Sharon Diefenthaler can recall people living in the house in the late seventies when she worked at the box plant.

The elegant outhouse

After looking at that brush pile, now I can see why the Milan gang made such short work of our garden this year.  These gals just thrive on the challenge of knocking a neglected garden into shape.  Maybe as an association, we owe them at least one good gardening day to help them in the spring?

The museum is open from May to late November, Sundays 1-4 pm.


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It was my turn to bring refreshments for today’s meeting.  Since Georgeann was doing a presentation on herbs,

I thought I’d include my favorite:  Cilantro

This also is an incentive to use our website’s Blog to get the recipe.

It’s easy and refreshing.

Chop 6 Roma tomatoes, 1 medium red onion, 2 avocadoes and cilantro into a bowl.

Squeeze the juice of two limes over the mixture, add salt to taste.  Mix it up and serve

with Scoops, over chicken or as a salsa for a great Mexican dish.  Enjoy.

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We have some lovely autumn pictures this week! Frank submitted a flaming ‘living bouquet’ entitled, “Woodlot scene in Fall Colors”.

Woodlot Scene in Fall Colors

Linda submitted two photos of her sedum. As much as I love sedum, it’s always a little bittersweet for me when they bloom because I know the end of nice weather is upon us.


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Strangely enough, fall seems to be taking its sweet time in coming to our exhibition garden.  While most of the areas maples, sumacs and oaks are in full fall color, there are still a few of our deciduous plants that have yet to turn.  Jennie snapped a few photos  of some of these specimens and challenges you all to identify the plants and their location within the garden.

Fall Plant Quiz.

“these three native shrubs in the demo garden October 8, all have black fruits (reportedly edible but not tasty) and bright fall leaf colors.  They are not all located in the native shrub row.  Can you name them?”

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If you need another reason to attend this Saturday’s general meeting, it’s Georgeann’s taste tempting class on Savory & Sweet Herbal Cooking.  Learn quick and simple ways to incorporate the herbs from your garden into elegant, but easy to prepare dishes that are guaranteed to please.


Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade with Crostini

Polenta rounds with Pesto, Kalmata olives and Parmesan

Lavender infused Mascarpone in Dessert cups


Long time Master Gardener Georgeann Brown is the owner of  un coup de main Cooking School in Dundee and past president of the Maumee Valley Herbal Society.

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