Archive for April, 2021

Naida sent this notice of good news: 

The Milan Area Historical Society is happy to announce the Hack House Museum WILL BE OPEN this summer.   Our official “Opening” will be on Saturday (May 1) 10:00 – 4:00 and on Sunday (May 2) 1:00 – 4:00.  The Historical Society will be selling beautiful, locally grown, Hanging Flower Baskets and Patio Pots. The Milan Garden Club will also hold their annual Perennial Plant Sale.  Our friend, the Sock Maker will be there with her 1800’s loom making and selling her wool socks.  Any and all of these items will make wonderful Mother’s Day gifts the following weekend.  Please join us and support our first fundraiser since 2019.


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Demo Garden Activities

Received this message and photos from Joan O.

Good morning,  Hope your day is going well 🎆Letting you know about yesterday’s work and learn in case you want to use it in the blog: Michelle B weeded and spread mulch on the south garden, plus transplanted mums. Emoke and Tom weeded, carried limbs, and mulched the red lilies. Gail brought her chainsaw and pruned up the Linden tree, plus weeded under the crabapples. Mrs. Robin found a good spot to make her home 😁

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Dear Matthaei-Nichols community,

If you’re reading this newsletter then, like me, you love the botanical gardens and arboretum and have a passionate interest in everything we do, from horticulture to student and faculty research to stewarding our national-level collections such as peonies or bonsai. You may also want to drop in and enjoy the conservatory or visit the outdoor display gardens.

And yet for over a year no one has been able to experience the Gaffield Children’s Garden, watch a Shakespeare in the Arb performance, or wander through the conservatory.

We hope that changes soon. In the meantime, however, I want to explain some of what’s happening here this spring and summer, what our plans are, and how—because of the ongoing pandemic—those plans may still change. This is a year where we’ve all learned to be flexible, for sure.

Peony Garden Update
One of the top questions we get is: Will the peony garden be open this year? The answer is yes. Even so, every visitor to the peony garden will be expected to mask up and follow the well-known distancing guidelines. We may also be faced with having to limit peony visits depending on crowd guidelines we receive from the university. As I write this, the state of Michigan leads the nation in COVID cases.

When Will We Reopen?
Another question we get a lot, and understandably: “When will the buildings and display gardens open, and why can’t the display gardens be open now, since they are outdoors?” We are making plans to reopen both indoors and outdoors. Here are the technicalities: according to university policy we may not open our indoor areas to the public if new cases in Washtenaw County exceed 70 per million, if there is a sustained 10% positivity rate for COVID-19, or if there are three consecutive days of +10% increase in cases of the virus. Until we fall below these numbers, we will not be able to welcome you indoors.

As for the outdoor garden spaces at Matthaei, we are working to reopen them, regardless of the indoor spaces. Please stay tuned. Indoors or out, our reopening plan includes offering scheduled visits to our members initially. After that, we will reopen to all others, also in a scheduled format.

2021 Calendar
Most of our events will look different this year. The three spring plant sales—Mother’s Day, Kitchen Favorites, and the peony sale—will be online only, with the sales offered first to our members. If you are not a member, I urge you join for a number of reasons, including access to our plant sales.

Shakespeare in the Arb is, sadly, canceled again this year. This was a very difficult decision. Last year—also canceled—would have been the 20th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Arb. So those special anniversary-celebration performances will have to wait until 2022. We just couldn’t risk having 200-plus audience members so close together at each performance for up to three hours at a time.

Most of our other spring-summer 2021 programming has been canceled as well—the family favorite Things with Wings, school tours, and all of our partner group monthly indoor meetings (Audubon Society, Sierra Club, for example) are off the calendar. Additionally, our volunteer program is suspended at least until fall.

“We are sorry” doesn’t quite cover it. Everyone at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum wants nothing more than to open again to all of you. Please know that we are doing everything we can to make that happen. In the meantime, our website, social media, and newsletter contain a wealth of digital resources for you to enjoy, and the Arb and the trails at the botanical gardens remain open. Below you’ll find how to connect with those resources.

Thank you for understanding, and for your support.

Tony Kolenic, Director
University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum

Take a look at our digital resources and stay up to date with everything that’s going on here. Our blog, social media, YouTube channel, and website bring you all the news at Matthaei-Nichols. Click on the buttons below to visit the resources.
Check us out:

Matthaei-Nichols Facebook page,
our Instagram,
the Matthaei-Nichols YouTube channel,
and Earth Words, our blog.

Did you see this week’s native plant? The eastern redbud.

Read About eastern redbud:


Book a virtual field trip for your school class. https://umich.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=acc57da26a0e0a18c796b90bc&id=1b430ae459&e=dbcdc1e049


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It’s very photogenic , in yellow, or as a white sphere of seeds. Yet, so many despise this weed, which is sometimes called an herb. All God’s flowers have their purpose. I recently came across a video on this little beauty. It was very insightful. Here are some things we should learn so we can again love the dandelion.

Most of us are aware that this is one of the first sources of pollen for the bees. That alone is a great reason to love this plant. But there are other reasons as well. So here are a few things that surprised me….and yes, I’ve pulled a few since, but I’ve also left a few. The decision of which ones to pull and leave depended on the area where it was growing.

So the first surprise I learned, dandelions typically grow where the soil is compact. That’s why they appear all along those edges of my sidewalk. and in my pathways. Their purposes is to help break that soil up and de-compact it. I suppose pulling them may also loosen the soil, but we can just let them do their job.

The second fact I learned, was that that root can go down as far as 15 feet. Why would it reach so far? Well, dandelions also grow where there is a lack of calcium in the soil. These roots reach down till it find the source and bring that calcium up into the leaves. These leaves then decompose and release that calcium into your lawn or garden.

Dandelions are encouraged by acidic soils as well. They also will grow where you grass doesn’t, even in shade.

We all know that it’s edible. But here are a few interesting things I didn’t realize. First it’s a natural diuretic, helping the kidneys clear out waste, salt, and excess water. They do this by causing more frequent urination. This helps with blood pressure as well.

It will promote digestion as well. Used as a mild laxative, as well as increasing stomach acid to aid digestion especially of fats. By increasing bile, it helps to protect from gall bladder problems. It also helps to detoxify the liver. Plus so many more benefits.

The leaves are a rich source of beta-carotene which we convert into vitamin A. This flowering plant is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. There’s just too many good things about this plant. So go on the net…do a bit of searching…find a fact and share it.

It’s best you harvest the leaves early, since once the flower begins to produce seed it becomes bitter to taste. I knew that this plant was used in wine, yet never understood why anyone would bother. My knowledge has been enlightened by this little yellow flower that pops up where you least want it. OK, I’m leaving the majority and going to try some green in a salad.

For Photo Friday, let’s contribute our photos of our dandelion production in are yards…..send them to my email. I can contribute as well.


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Photo Friday

Photos of our April 20, 2021 Snow.

From Jennie:

Jennie – Snow on Peach tree

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Photo Friday

Send me your photos from the recent snow fall for Photo Friday

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A Few Peony Tips

Deb Kessel sent us in some tips for peonies and photos of the lovely peonies from her yard.

Deb picking a bouquet

Tips as recommended by American Peony Society:

Bulb fertilizers are good for peonies. Avoid using fertilizer high in nitrogen.

Light fertilizer application may be done after flowering and again in late August. Apply around drip line.

Do not fertilize, unless there is a reason.

Use of manure should be avoided. Manure has been linked to peony disease, botrytis.

Thanks, Deb, for these great tips!

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Jennie sent in this. The MMGA had this posted on Facebook. Below is a graphic of just a few items. Click on the link enclosed in the next paragraph and see the full hunt.

Are you aware of The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH)? The Michigan Master Gardener Association posted this activity on Facebook from the NICH website, https://consumerhort.org/horticulture-hunt/ which looks like a fun thing for friends to do together outdoors, especially if one is a younger friend. The NICH website has a number of resources to investigate.

NCIH is described as “a consortium of industry leaders who are promoting the benefits and value of horticulture. NICH brings together academia, government, industry, and nonprofits to cultivate the growth and development of a healthy world through landscapes, gardens and plants — indoors and out.” It sounds like a modern update to the National Garden Bureau.

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Thank You

Naida asked to have this posted to share with all

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Friday photo puzzle

Do you know this flower? Jennie sent this in last week. I missed last Friday…but can you identify?

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