Archive for December, 2011

This week we have a lovely photo series from Peggy Z. Peggy writes:

In early October my husband and I traveled to Omaha, NE where we visited the area’s botanical garden, Lauritzen Gardens. Here are some photos from our visit, starting with the Visitor’s Center. The plant in the closeup looks like an annual. The was a large area of shade gardens. The turkeys wandered where they liked. I have other photos I can share. The garden’s website is lauritzengardens.org


Read Full Post »

This past week Linda Welch demonstrated for me how to make an easy indoor vertical garden, using inexpensive wood file holders, breathable yet waterproof Wally Pocket Planters, and poinsettias. This project is simple enough for someone with limited skill using tools or doing household projects to accomplish, and quick and easy enough to still do before Christmas!

Linda found some inexpensive wood file holders with legs that allowed them to stand unsupported (although the possibilities are endless for choice of container.) To prevent the file holders from tipping forward after planting, she drilled a small hole through each into the wall behind, and secured them with a screw. (For more sturdy anchoring, Wallys come with plastic wall anchors included.) From there it was a simple matter to insert a Wally into each file slot, then plant a poinsettia into each Wally. Start to finish it took 35 minutes! Linda plans on using it year-round, planting spring-blooming bulbs after the poinsettias are finished. What an easy way to bring a garden indoors, and the result is stunning!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

FotoFriday 12/16/11

This week, Linda submitted a photo of her newly purchased Selaginella krausianna variegatus, commonly called Frosty Fern. Linda writes, “It’s just a small plant, but at first glance it looks like an evergreen with frost on the tips.  It grows  to 12″, is a fast grower and some use it as a ground cover.  Although in Michigan I believe it’ll just be a creeping house plant.  The stems root where ever they touch soil. The stems are bright green marked with gold. Although it’s not really a fern, it does produce spores instead of seeds, like a fern.  I think it makes a great house plant for this season.”

Read Full Post »

Mac Bicentennial

McIntosh is not on most lists of heirloom apple varieties, perhaps because it is so commonly available, in fact still commercially important. So even though I knew it had been around awhile, I was surprised to learn from the November issue of John Deere’s “Furrow” magazine that it is now 200 years old.

According to Lorne McClinton’s article in this magazine, here’s its story:  some native Americans in Ontario snacked on a settlers’ ‘Fameuse’ apples and discarded the cores, which then produced several seedlings along a path on John McIntosh’s farm. He came across the small trees and transplanted them closer to his house where only one produced desirable apples. His wife sold the apples which became locally known as Granny’s apples until a neighbor suggested giving them the family name.  For decades the single tree supplied an increasing following until someone happened along who knew how to graft, in 1835.  John’s son Allen then began to propagate the trees and to sell them on his travels as a country preacher. The popularity of McIntosh apples soared around 1900 and in just a few years it was being grown all over Canada, the US and Europe. Today it is the most widely grown apple variety in North America but is still most popular in eastern Canada and New England. All of the McIntosh trees are clones of clones of that original seedling tree that lived until 1906. And yes, the Mac computer was named for the Mac apple.

Years ago I admired my mothers’ watercolor painting of apples in this favorite glass bowl; (–how does one paint a glass bowl with watercolors?) She gave me the painting, and later on the bowl as well. We Master Gardeners are discouraged from attempting to identify unknown apple varieties because there are so many and it is not easy even with DNA testing, but don’t you think that the models or inspiration for her painting were Macs?

It is a very versatile apple, good for fresh eating and excellent for processing into cider and fine textured applesauce.  Its one known parent, ‘Fameuse’ or ‘Snow’ is my husband’s favorite heirloom variety, and McIntosh has been crossbred with others to produce some very successful modern apples such as ‘Empire’, ‘Cortland’, ‘Macoun’, ‘Jonamac’, ‘Spartan’ and probably ‘Paula Red’.  Two of those stories illustrate the vagaries of apple breeding. Spartan is notable for being the first new breed of apple produced from a formal scientific breeding program, (not at MSU, nor even in Michigan), in 1936. However it was supposed to be a cross between  McIntosh and  Newtown Pippin. Recently, it was discovered through genetic analysis that it didn’t have the Newtown Pippin as one of the parents and its paternal identity remains a mystery. Paula Red apples were discovered around 1960 by grower Lewis Arends near a McIntosh block in his orchard in Sparta Township, Kent County, Michigan. He named the apple after his wife, Pauline.

I usually choose the more modern offspring rather than Macs although I like them in combination with firmer kinds for pies, but after reading this I picked out a bag of premium Macs at Applewood orchard in Deerfield and put some into a bowl.

Read Full Post »

Wow, do we have a great FotoFriday ths week! We have a series of photos from Mary Ellen showing the progression of a neighborhood garden she designed. Mary Ellen writes:

Experimenting with annuals can be great fun. I test different annuals each year when planting large in-ground or small container designs. Sometimes I begin with the design or pattern, then decide on the annuals. Other times I choose the annuals then figure out the design. The Star Garden, installed in a common space in my neighborhood a few years ago, began with the pattern. Then I chose annuals with varying heights, colors, textures, and long bloom time. In a public space where access to water is limited I try to use heat and drought tolerant plants. For this pattern I used purple salvia, pink geranium, and white wax begonia.

Site preparation and pattern layout

Three weeks after planting

Seven weeks after planting


Linda submitted photos and information about Ixora coccinea (common names – Jungle Geranium, Flame of the Woods, and Jungle Flame). She writes:

This is a flowering plant from Southern India.   It is often seen in Florida used as decorative shrubs and hedges. The leaves are glossy and leathery.  There are many varieties of this plant (about 500) and comes in various colors of yellow, pink and orange.  It’s now in bloom.  I love the clusters of small tubular flowers.  I keep it in my master bathroom where there is bright light and a heated floor.  It does make a great house plant in a container.  It will usually bloom from November and often it continues to bloom until February.  I’ve had it now for about four years and it never has let me down.  It always gives me a boost when everything else is fading.  These’s a bit of maintenance during the flowering time when the individual flowers begin to fall; but it’s well worth it.

Read Full Post »

Between the last two and a half weeks of defective hard drives and electronic camera shutters, I was nearly shut out of the blogosphere. In the next several days I’ll try to catch up on posts and photos our members have been sending.

Gail sent a series of photos from Butchart Gardens in Vancouver. The colors in the photos are all from foliage – there are no flowers! I looked up the climate in Vancouver – it is very mild (up to zone 8!) but can actually be droughty in the summer months. Gail, if you have information about what some of these plant species are, please send us the information in a comment.

Read Full Post »

It’s been a rough week. All things technological still hate me, and I’m posting from my husband’s computer since mine is STILL in the shop. To top the week’s bad luck with technology, my brand new Ferrari-like camera finally got delivered – defective. To content myself with some serenity-inspiring photos I went to my husband’s archives. I chose these because they all have a Zen-like quality to me. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

Photo credit Tom Morrison

Photo credit Tom Morrison

Photo credit Tom Morrison



Read Full Post »