Archive for April, 2012

With my daughter’s wedding taking all my attention the past several weeks, I haven’t been able to work in my beds. The past few days I was able to at least walk around and re-discover what is growing. It is amazing how much pleasure seeing a few lovely things can bring! I took a few photos of some of those simple pleasures – little surprises that caught my eye. Not high art, but they made me happy so I’ll share them. (Click on the photos to view large.)

My flowering crab was shedding blossoms on my hostas. Something about them reminded me of a zen garden.

I liked the repeating vertical lines created by my ajuga against my wood fence.

Little surprises, simple pleasures – just about all the excitement I need for the time being!


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With spring well and truly here, it’s time to take off the lens covers and get ready for another season of FotoFriday!   I think we were all hoping for some exciting winter scenes — but this was not to be.

Hey, Mr Postman ---

I have a rather interesting fall rural mailbox scene from a farmstead just down the road from Jennie’s .  This farmer also likes to gussy up his barn with simple planters that never look out of place in the country.

Thanksgiving feast for a hungry squash borer.

Sue will be back in the director’s chair next week, with possibly some very interesting nature scenes from her recent time in Mississippi.  In the meanwhile, please send her your apple and cherry blossom and other springtime photos. She can “fix” just about anything from a wedding reception to fuzzy photos — so don’t be put off if your snapshot isn’t of magazine quality!  We want to see what interests you, and what’s in your garden.

Ornamental Kale


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Just a brief reminder to everyone that the third season of this popular downtown Dundee attraction is about to begin.  For those who aren’t familiar with Dundee, the open air market is located at 223 Tecumseh St (M 50) in the parking lot next to Diane’s Freeze.

The market will open for the summer season on May 19 and every Saturday thereafter at 8.00am – 1.00pm, and Wednesdays from 4.00pm – 7.00pm through fall.  About 25 vendors are in attendance featuring locally grown vegetables, cut flowers, herbs, bedding plants, patio pots and planters, crafts, honey, homemade jams and jellies, baked goods, artisan breads, and even locally produced meats.  As an added draw, there is generally some form of live entertainment during the season to add to the festive fare.

Sean McClellan, the Market’s coordinator, has requested that our Master Gardener Association set up an information booth to answer general lawn and garden questions from the public.  Three of our members have already done this in prior years, and he was wondering if the association would be willing to have a season long presence at the market.   Jennie Stanger, master composter John Eichholtz and Georgeann Brown have all left  their mark with favorable results.  In fact Georgeann often teamed up with fellow MGs, the Chapmans—demonstrating different ways to present their lamb with herbs from her potager garden.

This would be an excellent opportunity for the association to establish a working relationship with a popular Farmers Market and make our presence known to the public by sharing our gardening expertise.  I am suggesting the booth be staffed by 2-3 members, with possibly a short demonstration of a simple garden topic.  Sean will provide the table and I believe the MGA has signage and other props at the extension office.

Hopefully this idea will be met with approval after discussion at the next meeting, and a committee set up to coordinate the activity.  Sean and his wife Tanya, publish the Independent newspaper—I am sure the MGA will get a lot of free publicity out of this collaboration.

Sean’s contact info is:  (734)  529-7275;  email:  sean@dundee.net  and the website for the Farmers Market, which has some excellent photos of the market activities is:  www.dundeefarmersmarket.com

For those who still want to record their hours, I am sure this will be counted as approved educational time.


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(second in the Cutting Back series)



Click Here to See the Current Area Map


Joan Otter and Karen Bender met me at the demo gardens today and we worked through very cool breezes with a spatter of snowflakes, on cleaning up the northeast side groundcover area that they have decided to adopt, and pulling a few dozen clumps of garlic mustard here and there.  We discussed a plan for changes but did not want to disturb the iris/violet combination blooming at its peak just now.  Some of the pink daisy mums were dug to move but more are available for adoption as are the remaining plants listed for removal.

The groundcover areas frame the entrance to the building, so they are very noticeable. They get only morning sun, and due to the overhang, very little rain in summer, so the plants growing there are very drought-tolerant. Still, few survive right next to the building. Another stressor is the salt from the sidewalk and parking lot applications.  Since about 1995, we have removed more than half the old overgrown and badly pruned junipers from the area and tried to keep the remaining ones pruned regularly and well. Since those hardy shrubs thrive, cover ground and provide winter interest, we should hesitate to remove the last few.  Some of the groundcover plants thrive as well, crowding weeds out of their areas and requiring little maintenance. Lately we have tried to let them fill their spots and decrease the higher-maintenance plants.  2011 was the first year we have mulched those beds because our goal was to cover the ground with living groundcovers.  Realistically, it is too dry and difficult an area to do that well, particularly along the building.  Mulched spaces between the remaining groups will conserve water and moisture and avoid the weedy look.

On the other hand, a coarse mulch of wood chips makes some of the groundcovers more difficult to maintain by shearing them back after flowering, which they need badly, so those should be eliminated.  Maintaining some of the perennial groundcovers where tulips and daffodils are planted will help camouflage the bulb foliage as it dies back.

Plants to be removed from this area in 2012: mother-of-thyme, lamb’s ears, blue fescue, silver mint.

Plants to divide and replant in a different spot; dwarf iris and violets, Herman’s Pride false lamium, coralbells, Korean mums.  The Andorra juniper was pruned rigorously and if it doesn’t improve in appearance, it may be removed.

Plants to be added; perhaps the dwarf reblooming yellow iris and ‘Happy Returns’ daylilies from the rain garden; try some “hens and chicks” along the building wall near the container.

Maintenance: Deadhead lungwort and bergenia by May 1. Moved plants are likely to need occasional watering in summer.  More mulch may be needed after plants are removed.


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Please scroll down to see the bonsai. There is a ginko, the small leaved specimen may be a holly, and the autumn colored leaf tree may be an azalea. Southeast Michigan is very lucky to be home to bonsai expert Jack Wickle.

Those unfamiliar with bonsai may not realize that most need to live outside since they are often outdoor plants, usually trees. They do need more sheltered conditions, and watering needs to be carefully monitored. Here are some examples from Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha from last Oct.

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