Archive for May, 2018

I was asked to further explain Goodsearch and Goodshop to the group:
Goodsearch is a search engine where non-profit organizations can raise money for their group. Each time you use this search engine, the MCMGA will receive 1 cent. Doesn’t sound like much but it adds up quickly.
Goodshop is part of goodsearch. Here you can get coupons and order online. Various percentages are given to the selected organization from the vendor you purchase from. Here is a site you can visit for some FAQs:

Go to the following link and you will be able to sign up for Goodsearch:

You will see this page. If you have already signed up then you would want to “Log In” and choose Monroe County Master Gardener Association as your cause(If you have not already done that). You can save this site to your favorites or to your task bar so that it is convenient when you need to search something. If you are not yet signed up; then you can do so by using the SIGN UP button (upper right corner)…it will also give you a search area to choose your cause during the sign up process. Just type Monroe County Master Gardener Association.

Once signed up you can search and or shop. When you choose a site that participates a pop up will show in the upper right hand screen. It looks like this:

You need to press the Activate Donation button so any donation will when come to the organization. This does not cost you anything and no fee or charge is added to your purchase. Notice in the first photo for the sign up at the bottom of the page they have a few participants advertising the amount that they will donate. So if you shop online, you will find many that donate to the organization. Also, you will also note that gumdrop notifies you on how many coupons are available for you to save as well. It’s a win win!

So let your searches and purchases work for the organization. It costs nothing, but the donations will allow us to continue great programs….HAPPY SEARCHING!!!


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Gail sends us these photos and remarks:
Prior to the mtg. Master Gardener Bob Bransky sold his prized
heirloom tomato plants and some native plant seedlings.

Speaker Advanced Master Gardener & long time Monroe County member Carol Koesel
spoke to the group on bulbs-covering everything from tulips & daffs to irises and grape hyacinth………
then we toured our gardens.
Want to send out a thank you to these Master Gardeners. Carol we wish you all the best in your
retirement. We will surely miss you being an active member in our group.

Here the mixed group of master gardeners and horticulture club members listen as Jennie leads them thru the various areas of the gardens.

More picture to follow next Photo Friday

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If you wished to know added information on the Lavender Farm located on Plank Rd in Milan area, here is a link to their Facebook page:


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Gail has sent the following information and photos to share:

2 week event—-Green Ribbon Initiative–Ohio Metroparks
On May 5, 2018–Connie V. and I attended–
A post prescribed burn- tour of the Oak Savannah at Oak Openings Park.

Yes, I questioned why I would want to go see such a display but I will tell you, it was packed with information. Our Park Ranger was very well versed and it truly was a learning experience.

As we left the shelter and playground area we headed up into the area which was home for huge giant Oaks. Throughout this area are various paths- color coded so you know where you are going
or where you came from and what type of travel is allowed (walk, horse, bike, etc)


The area has its natural ups (Oak Highlands)& downs and criss crossed with water features. An abandoned railroad line is one feature in this park. Working in partnership with land conservation groups, they map and identify specific plants, or animals which are present. You see painted turtles–they are hoping they will soon have a population of the blanding turtle which is endangered.

Showing the principles of the burning technique Skunk cabbage was a predominant vegetative growth. The lesson here is if you see it is a wet and mucky habitat and you would do best to steer clear or tread lightly…….

The reason for this particular burn is to kill off all the undesirable trees (Maples, Cottonwoods) which would eventually crowd out and prevent new Oaks from growing. See the vast size of this forest; truly a remarkable blessing for the Ohio Metroparks– much preserved in this unique habitat–found no where else in the continental USA–the “Oak Openings” region. It encompasses Ohio and SE Michigan.

The varied & unique geological make up of this area provides a vast diversity in habitat for a variety of plants & other living creatures.

A fern coming back after the burn

A woodpecker has selected this tree

A tree that caught fire, they put out and left it stand as it too will
provide habitat to some of the animals found in the park.

Take the time to study the Oak Opening story, visit its parks-some are being
created here in Michigan. The goal is to preserve a “green ribbon” within the Oak
Openings-creating connectivity– a natural pathway for movement within this area to
protect the plants and animals who need this unique habitat to survive.

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Mystery Plant

A friend asked me to identify this flower. At first I thought maybe some type of primrose. But I don’t think so.
Can anyone identify it? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it before…but it’s pretty.

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Photo Friday

With no other photos to share, I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to in my garden. Sometimes life takes a turn and you just can’t do certain things, and you let them go. This was the case for my pond. This year I made it my goal. I’m pleased with the results:

I started with digging up a couple of pines that were overgrown for the area. I potted them for my first attempts at bonsai. The first attempt ay need to grow out some….well, maybe a lot, so it looks better.

I added lights for evening interest under it.

So then, a second attempt. This one was so overgrown. Although there was an abundance of cutting to discard, it turned out much better.

In this photo. you will also see an Alocasia, allium, an ostrich fern (just opening) a Lemony Lace Elderberry in the red pot, and a Windmill Palm. The Lemony Lace Elderberry has been potted for about 3 years. It certainly has help to control it’s growth, unlike the black lace I have in my front yard. It’s about 6 feet tall now…Lots of pruning to be done on it. Here’s the evening view:

After two years of not working nor being cleaned, it wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated to get everything running again.

waterfall makes the fish happy

Overall I’m pleased with the results, although I’m thinking I need to thin out some allium.

What’s next to do: clean out some beds, plant some roses for my English garden, and eliminate my overgrown Wisteria. Hoping my arbor is not too contorted from that vine.

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Photo Friday

Those BIG BOLD BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS that come in May:
I wanted to share with a side by side comparison of the three types of peonies in my yard. These are some great blooms and I will share photos I have in my library as well. These will include the deciduous tree peony, the herbaceous peony that we are very familiar with, and the hybrid Itoh peony.

The shrub of tree peony fully bloomed in pink

Close-up of the bloom

Unusual tree peony with bi-color and solid on same shrub

Close-up of bi-color

Deep rose tone tree peony

Close up of same

The Itoh peony in bloom. The name of this is “Kopper Kettle”.

Itoh peony “Kopper Kettle”[caption id="attachment_7334" align="alignnone" width="500"] Those darn ants! This is an issue you don’t find on an Itoh or tree peony. The other advantage of the Itoh and tree is that when it rains the stems don’t droop. However sometimes if the bloom is aged the petals will fall.

This peony just showed up…it grew from seeds of a tree peony which was pink. Certainly it was a grafted tree peony.

A closer look


“Bartzella Yellow” Itoh Peony

I also have a pink Itoh peony in my front yard but no photo. Here are some herbaceous peony photos:

This one is called “Peony Sorbet”

Next week I will share the other May blooming plants you can rely on. Hope you enjoyed these.

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There are a large number of great foliage plants. Many have wide varieties. But I have only a few in my garden that I consider my favorites. Today I want to address the family of “other” plants to use for color, shape and textural interest. I decided to put them together since they are less widely used. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an abundance of information available.

To begin, a family known as Araceae. They certainly can start a conversation with their foliage. Within this genera you will find plants such as: Alocasia, Arisaema, Caladium, Colocasia, Dieffenbachia and Philodendron. This family, often referred to as elephant ears, is full of large, colorful or textural foliage. The family is often rhizomes or tuberous. They generally will have a bloom that appears partially enclosed. It is actually a bract. The first, from this family, I want to write about is the genus known as Caladium. They grow from a tuber, which can be divided for additional plants. These tubers, also known as corms, should be dug up before the first frost and stored in a dry area. Below is a photo of the tuber and beginning sprouts. One important note is that this plant is poisonous. Do not consume any part of it. Caution should be taken when handling caladium. Some gardeners, with sensitive skin, may find it irritates the skin. It is best to wear gloves when handling.

It’s easy to see its relationship with Dieffenbachia, and shape foliage of the Philodendron; both widely known house plants. They too can be used outdoors during the summer in shaded areas.

Split leaf philodendron to campare

The Caladium has an arrow or heart shaped foliage that includes a great range of colors. I grow them in containers located on my paver patio or deck. They typically do very well in moist soil. In this photo are four varieties.

Caladium are often bi-color and in some cases tri-colored. The red and green is ‘Florida Sweetheart’. The white with green veining, in the foreground is ‘White Christmas’. The large green with white veins and dots of pink is known as ‘Hearts Desire’. The pink is called ‘Pink Splash’. Below is a photo of ‘Candyland’, showing white foliage with a green border and flecks of dark pink tones.

Just check out this site to see what a wide variety you can get in color.


When we say elephant ear, we most likely think of the enormous foliage of the Alocasia or Colocasia. These are often planted just for that impact of the foliage. I usually have them located in my pond. They do so well there. I’m sure many of you have seen that large round blub in the nursery centers. They do make a statement that is hard to ignore.

Here is a photo of the one I have for my pond this year. The name is Alocasia Masquerade ‘Mayan Mask’. Notice the bottom side of the foliage is dark red, while the top is green. The texture of this plant is also stunning with the thick light color veining and ruffled edges. The foliage is gigantic. The one leaf is 18” across and at least 24’ in length.

That’s a large impactful family of plants. They can add an exotic feel to your garden. Take some time and search on the internet for this plant. Make sure you check for ‘Mojito’ which has those spotted and flecked foliage in a deep purple with green base coloring. It’s a spectacular foliage plant.

Another favorite colorful foliage plant is garden croton or also known as variegated croton. The stronger the sun the more brilliant the color. Colors of red, orange, yellow and greens all on
the same plant or varieties with just two tones are available. Codiaeum variegatum, is a tropical plant so it needs to be cleaned and taken into the home as the weather get cold. It is a great house plant and will brighten any area in the home. It can tolerate light shade or partial shade as well. Here it’s shown in the background along with a coleus.

I also use it with Canna Tropicanna. The foliage coordinate so nicely with one another as shown in the photo below.

Flowering kale, also known as ornamental cabbage, is a great attraction in the garden. I use it in flower boxes. It can be planted into the ground as well. Watch out for those bunnies. They love the tender leaves. They are edible, however, they really are grown for the rosette shape foliage. There is a wide range of colors available. I tend to go to the blue and lavender tones. They also are available in all green and all purple tones. They make a great impact for fall interest as well. They don’t seen to mind that colder temperature and will often last through Michigan weather as low as 5 degrees. Frost seems to brighten it’s color…but a sudden cold snap may be fatal.

An early bloomer in the spring is Pulmonaria. It’s commonly known as Lungwort. Its bloom of blue, purple and pink clusters of small flowers come out in spring then fade away. However, the mound of freckled foliage last all summer.

Ligularia likes wet soils in part shade to full shade. It like to be sheltered from the wind. The foliage is interesting and large. There are many genus with a variety of leaf shapes. This photo shows the one in my garden. It does get a rocket type flower in spring, but like most prennials the bloom fades but leaves the foliage for interest.

Next, let’s take a look at a few grasses (Fescue). Talk about winter interest…here are some photos Gail shared with me of the grasses she has during winter.

My best guess is the this is a pampas grass.

I am not sure what one is in the photo below, but maybe Gail and name it in a comment for us.

I use a wide variety throughout my garden. I’m sure you may recognize some of these, including blue festuca, Cherry Sparkler,and purple fountain grass. I enjoy both annual and prennial grasses. I use them often around my pond, in containers, and in vertical gardens. They add such great texture with their color and thin blades of foliage. Here are a few photos for ideas on how you can use them as well.

Another annual that you will find useful is sweet potato vine. I buy it in all the foliage colors and variety. Here are a few photo of them. In he photo below are two with same shape leaf but different color. But you will find a wide variety in shapes and colors on the market.

Try some tropical plants. Below is Dwarf Red Banana tree along with a cateracterum palm. That purple you see to the left of the banana is Persian shield. It gives a great pop of color.

There are so many great plants out there. Extend your variety. It’s easy to fall into the common annual flat trap…but try something new. Add a great houseplant, tropical, or perennial you haven’t seen before. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy the color and texture beyond the bloom. This is the final post for this series. It has been great to share some of my favorite plants that I use in the garden. I hope you enjoyed them.

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View this link for additional information:


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