Archive for January, 2023

Volunteers Needed

If you have a question or wish to volunteer email: rriprograms@gmail.com

The button for Volunteer and Ask A Question are not active. You can use the email address above

for those purposes.


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stories and photos by Gail K.

Welcome back!!! President Marie opened the meeting and Jennie spoke to issues we need to address: officers, tours

and speakers.

The educational portion of our meeting was learning to identify trees & shrubs during the winter months.

ABOVE: Jennie shows one of the many reference books she finds most helpful.

BELOW: a few of the many samples brought in to help us practice in recognizing the features to ID a tree.

Jennie, using one of the specimens; points out a feature to focus on. Following her suggestions, the members

selected branches to ID.

ABOVE:–the two darker wood specimens  a female and a male winterberry….using berries or fruit is an easy way to help ID a tree or shrub.

BELOW:  Jennie sneaked in a trick plant.  Do you know what it is??  Clue word, plant: feature the seed head

Now is also a good time to ID conifers and other evergreen trees; using their cones, & needles to help.

Use the bark & other markings along the stems to help with naming a tree. The bottom one is labeled, can you name the

tree above????

Of course, another feature would be the buds found on your spring blooming shrubs and trees ex: Magnolia.It was great seeing everyone again– looking forwardto another exciting season-won’t you join us……..
Answers: trick specimen; Smilax Herbacea & the “camo” bark belongs to a Sycamore. g

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Tree Sale

From Gail K.

Follow this link below for the Monroe County Tree Sale


Here is another opportunity: maybe a bit closer esp for you western county folks.

Check out the Lenawee County Tree sale-Adrian
Different products–but still offer trees and shrubsalong with daylilies (one caught my eye) &
 books–one on morel mushrooms as well as someother interesting topics.

Remember folks…..both of these organizations will
gladly welcome any volunteer help……..the only sad thing is that they are both on the samewknd which makes it rough……..but I am sure you canwork something out with either one……….

Here is a link to the site:


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The storm passed, the sun came out and LOOK who flew in with hopes of finding dinner…………

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photos from Gail K.

On the eve of a looming snow storm, look who’s back

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Belle Isle part 4

photos & story by Gail K.

Belle Isle Part 4- The Conservatory

Leaving the outdoor formal gardens, we head inside to see the myriad of non-hardy exhibits.

We don’t even get thru the door when we spot a plant of interest. Jennie carefully dissects the plant parts to try & identify it.

apologies for the blurry photo-the plant in question? once inside, we enter a “tropical” realm-

With camera in hand, my attention is not always on the plants..but can’t ignore a vivid color display.

A lot of contrast among the plants, in the flowers & in the foliage as well…..

 sensory surge…….just try to pick a favorite        ( pink tendrils fall from a plant above!!)

the colors, shapes-such variety

     A living wall !!!!!

            An angel trumpet flower

  how interesting….. some of Mother Nature’s finest

 such contrast in the hues of the same color

such diversity, not a surprise that this transfers to the pollinators and birds of the tropical climates?

This plant so striking, I’m tempted to take up indoor gardening…….

From the lowest of low such as this ground orchid to the heights of this impressive display-the tropical dome touches all the senses…………

Not willing to go unnoticed- cactus in the small arid section put on quite an impressive & “touching” display.

Tall, short, pointed and rounded–all kinds

      so high above – so white below—-

          wonder who pollinates these flowers?

In a small outdoor courtyard we find a pond, waterfall and fish-along with native plantings.

It’s time to head home; leaving the conservatory we pass thru one more zone-can you guess which one??

Along with staghorn ferns, orchids find a happy home in which to thrive………..

I love this color!

No matter where or whose collection–seems almost mandatory that they have an area where Orchids are
the feature plant….a trend in today’s gardening

Before leaving, I drive around the isle, how lucky we are to have such a resource in our backyard.

Most of us want to see the Oudolf Gardens in another season;

 I hope you will join us when we return to Belle Isle.     g

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Nature Break Webinar:

from Stella & Jennie

Nature Break Webinar: Walking in a Winter Wonderland with Catherine Henry, Bailey Conservation Fellow. January 19, 5:30-6:30 PM

Have you ever wondered how trees make it through the winter? Join us to learn how Michigan trees “hibernate” and for tips on identifying trees and critters in the winter. We’ll also share insights from field staff on what conservation fieldwork is like during the winter and their favorite TNC preserves for snowy adventures. Register at https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/volunteer-and-attend-events/find-local-events-and-opportunities/?r=United%20States&s=Michigan&vu=mievents

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story & photos by Gail K.

Leaving the Oudolf Garden exhibit, we get a sneak peek of the formal gardens.  Something about this,
tugs on the inner child, beckoning one in to explore.

Rear view–

Within this display, you will be treated to various plantings, intermixed with sculptures & architectural features.

Front Entry-

Upon entering the garden, we are greeted by an in your face HOT orange -striped leaf canna lily!!

Immediately on our right; a grassy pathway with bilateral- massive planting beds.  I don’t remember this from our past


Let me showcase some to the plantings

How many can you name??

note the contrasting foliage in each photo

Well established plants, along with new ones–is the work in our gardens ever done???

Well it would seem that this is a good time to visit the formal gardens…..quite a show

This sculpture is the center focus in the garden; the Detroit Zoo displays one like this as well.

Members took their time walking the pathways to look closer at various plantings…..

In case you didn’t notice, the beds were fairly weed free, were heavily mulched and on a timed water system………

as we turned the bend; the next pathway revealed the multi tier-simple yet elegant design; hedges, seating,

steps and statement planting beds. The conservatory providing an architectural backdrop for the whole picture.

This concludes our walk thru the outside gardens.

Please join us when next; we visit inside the conservatory.

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photos and story by Gail K.

Welcome Back!!
Following lunch, we took the opportunity to visit the Conservatory; home to indoor collections & formal outdoor gardens.

and the Aquarium-    Let’s go fishing first….. taking notice of some very impressive architecture.

from shrimp to seahorses

vivid corals

flora & fauna of the water world.

ABOVE: no aquarium is without “NEMO”- a clown fish

The Aquarium has tropical, salt water displays along with “native” freshwater habitats-an effort in conservation education.

I focused more on the colorful & otherwise interesting specimens.

BELOW: a snapping turtle

they had a special guest-an octopus- barely able to make out its shape but it was in there-in that dark cavern.

The water temperature controlled, no flash of cameras and the area roped off to prevent “getting too close”

a small ray-fluttered around in this tank

piranah above- unknown below but very pretty

Check out the head feature…..

I hope you enjoyed …it’s time to move along and in the interest of “size”  I’ll be back with

PART 3….the Conservatory.     g

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Belle Isle tour #1

photos and story by Gail K.

HAPPY NEW YEAR-2023!!!! 
As we ring in the new year I want to reflect back to our last tour of the 2022 season: Welcome to Belle Isle.

a 982 acre “State Park” located in the Detroit River;

between Detroit on the US side & Windsor on Canadian side.

a pair of Mute Swans swim in one of the isle’s inland waterways. The park’s history going back to the 1900’s when this

was the place to be, if you were anyone at all. (Yacht Club)

Over the past couple of years- the Isle has undergone revitalization effort. We have previously visited the Conservatory & the Aquarium.

Today our focus is a new exhibit; a renowned Oudolf Garden. Located on the south end, near the old Peace Tower…..

Entering the garden; the design unlike others we have visited. Using native plants, Mr. Oudolf creates

waves of color, in changing succession, throughout the season.

Almost like a quilt-the garden is divided into blocks, with pathways intertwined.

As is my norm, I will flit about taking photos while still sharing in the discussions.

Hoping my photos show the true intent of this garden design– refer to Jennie’s lecture notes on particular plants

Overall view of two of the beds.

We didn’t have a docent but were fortunate in finding a group of Master Gardeners working that day.

They took time out to share their knowledge of these unique gardens with us.

the large number of mass plantings literally engulfing us; leaving us to feel as if we were standing in the midst there of; when

in reality the pathways directed & restricted our movements

Now that you have seen an overall view of the garden, Let’s look closer at some individual plants

from colorful grasses to a wide variety of flowering plants

Along with Jennie’s help and her lecture notes:
I’ll try to ID each plant featured in my photos–
Despite a soft color, this plant really caught our attention-

Eragrostis Spectabilis-Purple Love Grass

Cultivar Rudbeckia subtomentosa “Little Henry” 
Naida has a variety of this plant in her garden Cone flower-did anyone on tour get the specific name??


Rattlesnake Master

Helenium Autumnale”Helena Red Shades” (I love this one)
Big Blue Stem-Andropogon “Dancing Wind”shorter & colorful cultivar

 Molina arundinacea “Crystal Veil” Purple Moor  grass

 Mountain Mint  ( its aroma filled the air) and the pollinators

loved it

Gentiana Andrewsii “Bottle Gentian” flowers turn deep blue infall but never open
Veronia “Summers Surrender” & “Summer Swan Song”-bushy
ironweed developed @ Chicago Botanical Gardens (road trip)

Swamp Milkweed-another favorite of the pollinators

Turtlehead- unopened-I have the pink variety

Echinacea Pallida “Hula Dancer’

Achillea filipendulina “Parkers Variety’ (3-4 ft tall golden yellow) or

Achillea x ‘Moonshine’ (1-2 ft tall pale yellow, grayish foliage)***

Penstemon digitalis-Foxglove, Bearded Tongue

Below: a favorite of all the pics I took-I think it reflects the intent & purpose of this garden design.

As we prepare to leave-it would be a disservice to the Master Gardeners to not mention their restoration project surrounding the Oudolf gardens.

As you can see above, the area is lowland and prone to being wet; a flood plain.

Sitting adjacent to the Detroit River which serves as a shipping channel.  This large freighter passed by during

our visit.

Their effort is to remove anything that is invasive & to promote the growth of natives & planting others to
increase the beneficial flora; below a Cardinal Flower.

@ left-the Oudolf gardens sit higher than the low wet lands; in a depression below the level of the parking lot; a Rain

Garden was planted to control any excess water run off .

One of the flowering shrubs in the rain garden area.

A closer view of the Rain Garden & its plantings.

Having planned our trip around the open hours for the Conservatory & Aquarium; It’s time to ship off & move along. I will share those photos in an upcoming post.

Many of us, plan to return next year, late spring/early summer to capture a vision of the Oudolf Gardens in a different season….

Now- where was that food truck, it’s time for lunch!!!     g

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