Archive for the ‘Events’ Category


You should now be able to view events on our Calendar Page.  If you have an event you would like to have posted on the calendar, please send it to me by e-mail.

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As nobody wanted to “pin the tail on the peony” in last week’s Plant Quiz, I thought we would make it a little easier.  This time the quiz will be to identify all the plants in Linda’s vertical garden exhibit.  This should be a no-brainer, as we are all busy planting most of the stuff featured in the photo…right?

Please enter your answers as a comment.  Try to give the botanical as well as the common name.  To achieve advanced Master Gardener status, you may dazzle us all with the variety and how you use these plants in your garden. Linda and Jennie will be the deciding authorities in case of a dispute.

I snapped this photo at the Master Gardener booth at last Sunday’s annual plant sale at the Expo Center.  Linda was showcasing the association by offering her popular vertical gardening series, ably assisted by Diane.

Vertical Garden on Cedar Backdrop

How many of you have tried planting a vertical garden?  I think Linda would like some feedback.  Maybe you have some photos of your creation you would like to share?

The winner can claim the usual bragging rights!



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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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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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Where has the year gone?  In less than  a week we will be having our annual recognition banquet, which unfortunately I am unable to attend.  Therefore, I would like to make a few recognitions  of my own, based on what I have observed this year.  Lot of people have worked hard, and these are my personal picks.  I hope I am not embarrassing  or offending anyone – but the following members I am sure you will agree are particularly deserving of our recognition and thanks for their efforts and valuable contribution to the club.

  1. Naida Albin – The Work & Learn Crew:   Her tireless efforts along with my regulars, the Milan gang and Mark Havekost, are the reason we were able to restore the gardens to what they should be.  A consumate gardener and workaholic, she tends at least three other local gardens that I know of in addition to her own, and is very supportive of any MG activity.   A very modest person, I do not want to embarrass her further by listing her numerous other achievements.
  2. Sue Ryan – Blogmeister:   The reason that you are able to read this – is because of the efforts of this one person in setting up and maintaining our blog, from conception to where it is now! Sue’s talents as a photographer and an uplifting script writer have given our fledgling venture a polished, professional look – and a much needed voice for the association.  Did I mention this is all done after 10 hour work shifts and numerous stints weeding the office  garden?  She has put in hundreds of hours into making this happen because she is totally committed to making this blog a success, and something we can all be proud of.
  3. Linda Welch – Most Involved MG:  It is no exaggeration to say Linda is everywhere there is activity in the club.  From single-handedly renovating our previous projects in the Veterans Park, planting the new sundial beds, weeding the office garden and being a cheerful booster for the club.  Most of you know her from her garden design presentations and numerous photographs of her lovely garden and plant choices in the blog –  where she is a founding editor and frequent contributor.
  4. Sharon Diefenthaler – Best Community Outreach:   Being a MG is all about community outreach.  Sharon is fortunate in that she has been able to incorporate this mission statement into her ISD program at Matthes’ greenhouse.  All of her students graduate as Junior MGs and the work ethic and skills they learn as being part of her program, will prepare them for being productive citizens.  She is an active participant in the IHM community gardens,  Bedford Library gardens and with her students, in Mercy Memorial greenhouse and gardens.
  5. Carol Koesel – Best Project:   Thanks to Carol, we finally were able to have a raised bed veggie garden as a teaching tool in our demo garden.  This feature was long overdue!  Skillfully using a 3 x 4 seed bag,  Carol planted a mini- garden that yielded a surprising array and quantity of vegetables, all of which were grown in our own compost…Mel Bartholomew would definitely approve!  I certainly appreciate her garden knowledge and deft touch in maintaining the Memorial Garden, which she helped design and install.
  6. Lenore Wood – Most Under-appreciated Worker:   Lenore is the Rodney Dangerfield of the association.  She is the one who toils away maintaining the beds at Fairview Hospital, her church and when time permits, she comes and weeds our garden. Lenore works alone and is publicity shy, so many of you have little idea what this woman accomplishes.  Her dedication to community outreach is something the association should acknowledge and embrace.
  7. Karen Hehl – Best Photography Submission:  A lot of you know Karen’s handiwork from past garden tours.  Come fall, she is a regular feature around the office garden weeding and clipping. What I didn’t realize was just how accomplished a photographer she really is.  Her photos of the pepper arrangement are of professional quality and would not be out of place in the pages of Gourmet magazine.  Both Sue and I are unanimous in this choice of her outstanding FotoFriday submission.
  8. Sandy O’Connell – Most  Informative Newsletter Article:   Most of you know this garrulous upstate New Yorker as a hardworking, weed-pulling terror with her designer weeding hoe.  But she is also an accomplished writer as is shown in her past newsletter article on her visit to the home of pioneering naturalist, Gene Stratton-Porter.  Truly an  outstanding article with superb photographs that help make our newsletter one of the best in the region.
  9. Georgeann Brown – Best Food Presenter:   This is just another facet of the multi-talented persona of our longest serving MG.  In addition to being Jennie’s first graduate, GB has brought a wealth of experience and gardening knowledge to this club over the years, as well as holding every office and one of the originators of the W & L program!  Her interest in herbs was recently coupled with her passion for food in a most interesting and lively presentation on Sweet and Savory Herb cooking, that was extremely well received.
  10. Mary Ellen and Stella – Children’s Garden:   One of the true little gems in our exhibition garden, this area is lovingly planted and nurtured each year by Mary Ellen and Stella.  I just love the Japanese theme and the choice of plantings that always seem to be doing something different throughout the year.  I was lucky enough to snap a few photos of some children enjoying the gardens…which says it all!
  11. Sharon, Winnie & Karen – Best Team Presentation:    The award for the best tag-team presentation has to go to this trio! In spite of an advertising snafu, they managed to draw in 10 members of the public in addition to a full house of MGs for a lively and interesting Herbs, Senses class.  The room smelled terrific with all the herbs and freshly baked bread and they managed to compliment each other very well in getting their message out…by working as a team…a novel idea!
  12. Chris Edolls – Most Informative Presentation:   In addition to being our treasurer, Chris is an accomplished apiarist.  Anyone who comes to give a class in a white jump suit and bee-keeper’s garb…automatically gets my attention and respect!.  Her presentation on bee-keeping was extremely well done and very informative.  I think we all went away with a new appreciation of what these interesting little pollinators do in our gardens. Chris is also a regular presenter on garden topics at the Ida Public Library.
  13. Jeff Nicita – Best Garden Tour:   A most accomplished gardener, Jeff was kind enough to offer his gardens this summer for a private tour.  Jeff has an eye for garden layout as well as a large repository of plant knowledge. Linda did an excellent article on the tour, and her photos say it all about his talent’s as a landscaper.  We are lucky to have Jeff as a member even though he lives in Wayne County and could just as easily belong to their association.
      A special recognition should go to Pete Wallace, another out of the area MG who was in my class of 2009…for his hard work and financial contributions to make our latest public project a reality.  Next spring,  the sundial will be unveiled in the Veterans Park for all to see and enjoy.  Jennie Stanger also was a major contributor as well as coordinator for this project, and deserves our thanks.
     There are I am sure others I have omitted, but also deserving of your recognition…Gail Keane with her labors at the Conservation District plant sale; Chris Kosal with her involvement at the YMCA,  Dorsch Library gardens and website committee; Jessie Green and Debi Beier for their preparing plant labels for the gardens and activities in the Bedford garden tours, and the committee members who produce the newsletter and handle everything from promotions to booking speakers.
      Kudos also to Paul for maintaining the association on an even keel during these troublesome times with MSUE.  Keeping a MG association  going requires commitment from all – not just a few.  Everyone has to reach inside themselves and see how they can contribute more to support the obligation this entails.  To do otherwise may well jeopardise the survival of the club as a MG association.
      Let’s plan on making next year an even more productive one as we face the challenges of the extension office closing.

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As a grand finale to our association meeting October 15th, fellow member Georgeann Brown (MG class of 1992) educated, entertained, and fed us during her excellent food demonstration, “Savory and Sweet Herbal Cooking.” Assisted by her sous chef, Frank Deutsch (MG class of 2009), Georgeann prepared three dishes prepared with herbs easily grown in any SE Michigan herb garden, Sundried Tomato Tapenade; Polenta Rounds with Pesto, and Sundried Tomatoes and Parmesan (she substituted kalamata olives for the tomatoes for variety), and Lavender Infused Mascarpone in Chocolate Cups.

Georgeann has been an active member of Maumee Valley Herb Society for over 15 years and works in the herb garden at Toledo Botanical Gardens. She maintains an extensive culinary herb garden of her own, which is an essential part of her company, un coup de main. Georgeann teaches the art of cooking in small classes in her home, where students learn how to choose and use the freshest seasonal ingredients. She obviously is an expert in the culinary arts – the recipes she prepared were outstanding!

Georgeann was as entertaining as she was informative, with frequent bursts of laughter from the audience punctuating her demonstration. The demonstration was fast paced – Frank was quick on his toes to make sure everything went in and out of the oven and was beautifully presented in quick succession. The results were absolutely delectable!

I tried to take notes, but by the end of the session I came away with a few “words to live by” rather than a bunch of isolated rules and instructions.

1.  Use what’s fresh, locally-grown and in season whenever possible.

2.  Don’t fret when you need to use prepared food items or substitute another ingredient when no fresh, in season ingredient is available. (example – store-bought pesto when your basil is finished for the year).

3.  The answer to the question, “Can I substitute Kraft cream cheese for Mascarpone?”  is an emphatic, “NO!”.

Georgeann, and her company un coup de main, teaches classes and has a hugely successful catering business in influential homes because of her innovative food and stunning presentations. Look for her at www.georgeannbrown.com .

Here are the recipes Georgeann made and was gracious to give us –

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Sign garden at Hack House

When I wrote this article last weekend looking out the window at the blustery, soggy scene – I began to think how lucky the Milan folks were with the simply gorgeous weather they had for their annual Fall Festival at Hack House.

SW porch repairs

On the contrary, this old house now serves as a living museum of what “life” was like in late 19th century rural Milan. The outbuildings and main house have been filled with numerous period furnishings and artifacts worthy of Sauder Village – with the added bonus that most of these are original to the structure. This is really a “must see” for anyone with children to not only connect them with their local roots, but to show how people can come together and volunteer their time and labor to preserve a piece of history.

Milan gang at work

Well, this article is supposed to be about the gardens that our hard working MGs, Naida, Norma, Amy, Doris and Barb and their fellow Milan Garden Club members managed to wrestle out of  a pile of overgrown thickets!  Naida is currently down in the wilds of Brazil, so I am posting her emailed comments about how the gardens came into being.

“The Milan Garden Club, which was formed in 1998, was looking for a community project.  In the spring of 1999, one of our members, who belongs to the Milan Area Historical Society, suggested we establish and maintain a few flower gardens at the Friend/Hack House museum.

SE porch front garden

We started slowly the first couple of years – with a lot of willing helpers and some very good advice from Jennie Stanger – and our projects and gardens expanded quickly.  In 2007 we decided to create a new garden area in front of ( at first glance) a chicken coop. We later discovered it had held exotic birds and was used in 1888 as an aviary.

Aviary front gardens

Shortly after taking on this new area in front of the aviary, we looked to the east side and saw it was just a mass of overgrown wild raspberries, grape vines, junk trees and weeds which we felt detracted from our new garden. About this time, many of our members were” running out of steam” – but that darn Doris Campbell (MG class of 2010) kept gravitating to that area, cutting out brush, etc.  I got hooked also and we burned a lot of calories doing our best to clear that area.  I even talked my husband into bringing his chainsaw to cut down some of the larger trees. Doris built a tower (about 8ft high x 12ft wide) of brush – and finally got help from some friends of the Historical Society to take down more of the very large trees and dispose of our pile.

Half finished aviary brush pile

Like the house and outbuildings, the gardens are a work in progress.  We managed to cut back the bulbs and give a quick tidy up of the beds in time for the Fall Festival.”


Former brush area

So many stories here, but this is just a blog.  This house is not your typical 1880 farmhouse.  The wood paneling and doors speak of lavishness that came from other than farm labor.  The inlaid marble fireplace in the parlor would not look out of place in an expensive home today.  The kitchen is “period 1920” and not that unusual –  unlike the 3 hole outside privy in a very elegant building that had a somewhat ingenious “flushing” system.   They needed it as the farm help lived in the attic over the family quarters!

The blue "Electric Sugar Machine" on stove in Summer Kitchen

The summer kitchen contains an interesting assortment of laundry artifacts – and the “The Electric Sugar Refining Machine” – the profits from which today would be called a stock swindle or ponzi scheme, that funded all this opulence, briefly landed the grieving widow in jail and definitively her husband had he not unexpectedly died. Their farm encompassed what is now the former Ford plant and the original Owens-Illinois corrugated box facility.  Infact, Sharon Diefenthaler can recall people living in the house in the late seventies when she worked at the box plant.

The elegant outhouse

After looking at that brush pile, now I can see why the Milan gang made such short work of our garden this year.  These gals just thrive on the challenge of knocking a neglected garden into shape.  Maybe as an association, we owe them at least one good gardening day to help them in the spring?

The museum is open from May to late November, Sundays 1-4 pm.


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If you need another reason to attend this Saturday’s general meeting, it’s Georgeann’s taste tempting class on Savory & Sweet Herbal Cooking.  Learn quick and simple ways to incorporate the herbs from your garden into elegant, but easy to prepare dishes that are guaranteed to please.


Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade with Crostini

Polenta rounds with Pesto, Kalmata olives and Parmesan

Lavender infused Mascarpone in Dessert cups


Long time Master Gardener Georgeann Brown is the owner of  un coup de main Cooking School in Dundee and past president of the Maumee Valley Herbal Society.

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Hello everyone,

Just a short reminder that the two scheduled W & L sessions for October will be held on this Saturday October 8, 9-11 am and Thursday October 20, 6-8 pm. Jennie will be overseeing the work on these two days while I am taking a leave of absence to finish up some projects before winter.

  • For tomorrow, I think we should concentrate on giving the beds a thorough weeding…particularly the ground cover beds.  There is the usual deadheading of the roses and some of the flowering shrubs in the north side native bed.  The barberry by the spruce needs trimming, as does the ground cover around it. The compost area needs some tidying up, particularly behind the bins.  The asparagus and some of that dead milkweed can also be cut back.  Pay particular attention to the clumps of bulbs, as most of these should be ready for cutting back.  The ground cover in the tree well near the knot gardens, looks poorly and should be cleaned up.  In the east side native shrub area, the rudbeckias need deadheading and the bed should be weeded before it is mulched.  Let Paul make the call which trees he wants to trim and the timeline.

The Deutzia in the hummingbird garden is now starting to throw out branches. If they are  long enough, maybe we can pin some of them in the ground and do some layering propagation.  Jennie can make a short presentation on how to do this easy to learn technique.

The Thursday night session will be a first for us and the blog, in that Sue will actually video Paul demonstrating lifting and dividing some peonies.  It is our plan to upload this short instructional video and add it to our growing archive of garden topics.  So…please do NOT cut back the peonies in the entry garden!


  •  Sunday October 9,  noon -5 pm.   Naida’s Milan Garden Club gardens will be on display at the upcoming Milan Fall Festival at the historic Hack House museum, 775 County Rd Milan.  Please show your appreciation for all the hard work Naida and her Milan crew have done around our exhibition gardens, by attending this event.
  • Wednesday October 12, 6-8 pm.  By popular request Linda Welch will be repeating her Vertical Gardening and Living Art presentation at the Riverside Learning Center, 77 N Roessler St Monroe.  $5 at the door…see blog for details.
  • Saturday October 15, noon-1 pm.  Following the general meeting, Georgeann will offer a class on Savory and Sweet Herbal Cooking…we should have a full house, so plan on coming early to reserve a seat.

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I knew something was up as soon as I turned into the parking lot last Monday night.  The air was filled with the aromas of freshly baked herbal bread right out of the oven.  The closer I got to the front door, the stronger the aromas of drying lavender, thyme, bergamot, mint and rosemary were competing with one another to draw me in.  I stopped and noticed something was odd about the potted bayleaf…somebody had given it a rather severe haircut and about one quarter of its leaves had been harvested to serve a higher purpose.

Sharon and Winnie with their herb garden

What I am talking about is the Herbs, Senses workshop Winnie Webb, Sharon Diefenthaler and Karen Morris were hosting in the conference room.  With myself on the door, this session drew 24 people which is a very impressive turnout when you consider the original MEN advertisement listed a local pizza parlor as the reservations phone number!

Aroma therapy 101

These ladies really outdid themselves with the vast array of plants and props they set up to transform our rather bland conference room into a haven of tranquility and some of the most deliciously soothing aromas I have ever experienced.  Each table had a fragrant herbal arrangement, the front presenters tables were groaning under pots of freshly dug rosemary, lavender, geraniums,  mints, oreganos, chives, parsley and cilantro.  The side tables were strewn with sachets, soaps, candles and an entire section from Franks arts and crafts.  The show stopper was one of Linda Welch’s vertical garden pieces planted with herbs…what a novel, space saving idea!

Vertical herb garden

Herb drying rack

The kitchen counter displayed the herbal breads, gooey lavender brownies, herbed hot buttered popcorn and a rather interesting Vernors punch with bergamot, honey, bruised mint and wafer thin dried lemon slices.

Assorted herb breads

Sharon and Winnie shared with everyone their experiences with herbs and how pleasantly mood altering and uplifting the aromas can be to our weary psyches. Karen was spritzing the arms of the unsuspecting with a lavender oil based concoction that smelled terrific, while Sharon was showing how the woody stems of rosemary could be used for kebabs and Winnie demonstrated some basic herb drying methods with a homemade wooden rack.  Karen and Sharon explained how to make spice bags, bouquet garnis and a tasty herb mix called “herbes de Provence”

Herbes de Provence

Rolling basil for freezer storage

Frozen herbsicles

Sharon told the group of her experiences visiting a special greenhouse that grows herbs and flowers organically as part of a patient rehabilitation program. I am also reminded of her own program with the ISD at Matthis’ greenhouse and how the kids all “fight” to work in the herb house when we are taking cuttings and transplanting.  This is positive effect of aroma therapy!!

The herbal products and ideas table

The presentation ended with Sharon and Winnie talking about how easy and inexpensive it is to incorporate herbs and their aromas into just about any household use.  As a guy, even I found that part interesting!

Good work ladies…your efforts were much appreciated. Everyone left full of herb bread and with an assortment of dried herbs, bags of bayleaves and sachets…and a greater appreciation of the benefits  herbs can have on our senses.

This workshop is actually an excellent lead in to Georgann’s upcoming Culinary Herbs presentation  on October 15,  after the general meeting.  Be sure to read the blog for details and some of the recipes that were covered in the workshop.

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