Archive for March, 2012

In Milan there is a new destination in Wilson Park which was created and dedicated in 2012 called Milan Veteran’s Wall of Honor.  Milan Garden Club will be responsible for planting the several raised planters in that area and would love to hear what plant suggestions our readers have for the 3 raised beds and the two areas in front of the two raised beds.  There are  two “L” shaped beds in the front which are 16″ high and planting area is 34″ inside width.  The shorter length of the “L”  is 9′ and the longer length is 15′.

The third planter is located in the center of the memorial area, is square, also 16″ high, and the inside planting area about 22″ wide.  Because of the statue in the center of this planting area the height of plants can not exceed 16″ when mature.

This area faces west and has some large trees on the east and south sides but it receives about 6 hours of sun each day.  All plant suggestions must be drought tolerant (there are soaker hoses in the planters) and low maintenance (no shrubs that require pruning for shape).  The photos show some mums in pots which were planted last fall for the Veteran’s Wall dedication.  These plants will probably be moved to another location.

Plants under current consideration are Lavender Hidcote (18″ x 18″), Bolder Blue Festuca (12″ x 12″), Happy Returns Daylily (18″ x 18), Carefree Sunshine Knock-out rose, OSO Happy Petit Pink Rose, and Pennisetum Little Bunny (12″).   The grasses you see in front of the raised planters are Little Zebra and were planted last fall by the city in preparation for the dedication ceremony.  They are going to be removed and replaced with a shorter variety grass (and perhaps the mums) because they will mature to be taller than the planters.  Suggestions from our readers are needed for that area as well.  We are also thinking of using Profusion Zinnias annuals for color this first year while the perennials mature.

Please reply to this post for your suggestions. Let’s help Milan Veteran’s Wall of Honor grow!


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Expert pruning demonstration March 31

Both recent weather and the calendar say it is time to prune many fruit and ornamental trees, but local home orchardists may want to wait for more guidance, because MSU Extension district fruit educator Bob Tritten is scheduled to demonstrate at a local orchard March 31. There is no harm in waiting. In fact, the usual recommendation is to wait until early April to prune the more tender stone fruits like peaches. As the trees begin to come out of dormancy, they are more susceptible to a late spring cold snap.  Freshly cut branches are more susceptible, and in April it is easier to see which twigs have been injured by cold because they begin to dry out while the healthy ones remain smooth with swelling buds.

Mr. Tritten has trained professionals to prune, and has demonstrated home orchard pruning for large county audiences in previous years as well as at other sites in the region. The Monroe Conservation District and the Master Gardeners are sponsoring this Saturday morning event at the home of Jennie Stanger, 18918 McCarty Rd, Dundee. It will begin, rain or shine, at 9:30 am and cover the training of young trees as well as maintenance pruning of mature apples and peaches with tips on how and whether to renovate older trees.

Registration is not required but participants should dress for the weather and a donation of $5 is requested.

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As I sat this morning in a waiting room, I picked up a “Southern Living” magazine.  It was dated January 2006, but the garden information still drew my interest.  There was an article on tropical plants for Zone 6.  Now that our Zone is 6A,  it peaked my interest enough for me to writing down some of the plant names they suggested.  Included in the article was a list of websites to get further information about these plants and where you could order them.   Upon coming home, I searched these names for some additional information and photos of the plants.  Seems most are  Zone 7, but with temperature to -10 or -20 degrees, they may survive in Zone 6 with some care.

One colorful and interesting plant was Nandina domestica “Heavenly Bamboo”.  It had a brilliant red, yellow, pink foliage in the photo;  however most photos on other sites showed it with light green foliage.  My thought is that color may be it’s Fall coloring or new foliage recently emerged.  It’s a sun to shade evergreen or semi-evergreen for Zone 6-9.    In spring, it has an abundance of small white flowers at the end of stems which form green berries that will ripen to bright red.  Unless devoured by birds; the berries will hold on for months.   It’s important to always get further information on reliable web-sites or books;  I learned this particular species is considered a Class I invasive species in Florida.  Maybe, with the colder weather,  it may not be invasive here, but I certainly would like more information prior to a purchase.  It may have to be in a container so I can “contain” it’s growth .  It has a tendency to sucker outward.

Another listed was Musa velutina a Japanese banana with a pink bloom.    Although it was  a Zone 7A  plant, the article stated that the rizone is considered frost hardy when covered with a thick layer of much and temperatures are above -15 degrees. So it can survive a Zone 6 winter, however fruit may not develop in our Zone.   Included in my backyard is a tropical garden on the deck.  I just might try some of these to see how they work.  Below is a list of some tropical they stated would be able to make it through a Zone 6 winter.  Although I found the article interesting…I will research these further to get additional information.

  • Sabal minor -5 degrees
  • Rhapedophyllem hystrix  -20 degrees
  • Nandina domestica
  • Musa basjo & Musa veluntina
  • Trachyarpus fortunei -10 degrees

Another great piece of information was that there are several Camellias also one 6.  Some included Winter’s waterlily, Winter’s Star and Winter’s Chara.  You can research further to find other Camellias that will survive our new Zone 6A.  Anyway, check some of these out and try them if you wish.  I will keep you updated next year on the ones I decide to try in my garden and see if they survive.  Maybe a planting close to the house in a bit of micro-climate will help as well.

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We Monroe Master Gardeners are planning cutbacks to our demonstration gardens. Although there are some special plants and garden areas we have established over the years, there are just too many plants and areas for the current uses and the current level of workers. We are beginning to identifying what is most important to us and what we can better do without. Planning the changes can be a fun and educational project for us and to share with others.

Think how many people you have heard talk about cutting back on their gardens or landscape areas, or complain about not having the time or energy to maintain them as they wish them to look! Focusing on ways to reduce maintenance while preserving the best features of a developed landscape can provide some helpful lessons.

First we want to look at the overall landscape and establish priorities according to the educational purpose of our gardens.

Both due to its educational value and because some very talented and committed gardeners are willing to continue working in it, the children’s garden is at the top of our list to preserve.  The herb ovals that comprised our first garden beds provide an attractive entrance to the children’s garden, but present some maintenance problems due to the growing competition from a mature sweet gum tree, so we need to plan changes there.

On the other hand there is the rain garden.  Regardless of its history, we need to decide if it adds enough value to the gardens to justify the work it requires. It would be one of the easier areas to return to mowed grass. If we keep it, the highest maintenance plants are the two tallest ones, which we could remove.  Then we would have to look at the other perennials that require cutting back during the season. Instead of taking a majority vote at the meeting, once we set priorities, we will just see if there is a team willing to undertake to 1. maintain it more or less as usual, 2. maintain it in reduced form, or 3. dig and discard or distribute the plants and rake it off to be reseeded to grass. In other words, it gets down to the workers making the final decisions on each garden area.

In order to give everyone time to think about each garden, we’ll put more articles like this in the blog before the next meeting. Be sure to attend, or to let someone know your interest and preferences in regard to this major project of our association.

The rain garden in summer. Tall Veroncastrum and goldenrod are out of proportion to the width of the bed.


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