Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Often in the planting Guides on a plant you just purchased it may say something like this: “Enjoys deep, well-drained soil”.  How can we tell if the area we wish to plant is what the guide is asking for? Well, there is a simple test you can do. In the area you wish to plant, dig a hole about 18 to 24 inches deep. Then, fill this hole up with water.
By watching how quickly the water drains it will let you know the type drainage you have. If the water disappears in 10 minutes or less you have sandy soil with fast drainage. If it takes one hour or more, chances are you have clay soil or an impermeable layer of compacted soil beneath the surface. This indicates poor drainage. In between you will find acceptable variations

Poor Drainage causes the soil to stay cold and wet in spring when the rains fall. This delays planting and reduces seed germination.  Often plants will drown due to lack of oxygen or develop shallow roots.  Roots or crowns typically will  rot if the ground is too wet.


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Feature Flower – The Rose

Who can think of the month of February without thinking of a Rose?   The rose is of the genus Rosa and is a woody perennial.  It belongs to the family Rosaceae.  Although we associate getting roses from our loved one with the hybrid tea rose, my favorite to grow is a “true knockout”.  The Knock Out® Rose is the most carefree rose you can grow.  It’s winter hardy as well as heat tolerant.  It’s even self-cleaning, although you may want to deadhead it after bloom to encourage additions flowers.   This rose is also the most disease resistant making it a great choice for the garden.  You can find it blooming every 5-6 weeks until there is a hard frost.  Knock Out® roses come available in a variety of colors with single or double blooms.  To top all of these positive growth habits, you  also find them available fragrant. To add one more benefit of this plant; its foliage is a health lush green that looks good even when the plant is not producing blooms.   What more could a gardener ask for in a rose?   Just sit back and enjoy it’s beauty.  Plant it for a shrub border, a  hedge or for a foundation planting.  I’ve even added them into containers.  It’s a great stand alone rose, but accents other plants perfectly.  We are all aware of how much we have to maintain the typical hybrid tea by pruning, making sure it doesn’t have black spot or even downy mildew and getting that one or two few blooming times a season.  This rose gives us beauty throughout the season.  Plant one this spring, if you haven’t already and enjoy.   Send me your photos for Foto Friday of your favorite rose.


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I am feeling generous –  it’s a Peony!

For those who haven’t read Linda’s recent article on the peonies in her garden – you should!  These queens of the garden truly deserve a place in everyone’s landscape with their fragrant flowers and beautiful centers.

In my comment/reply, I mentioned we had a few peonies in the demogarden. Well, surprise – we have quite a selection, and all are from Reath’s Nursery in the Upper Peninsula!  Your quiz will be to match the peony to the location in the garden.

Wind Chimes Peony

Age of Gold Peony

White Innocence Peony

Raspberry Sorbet Peony

Prairie Moon Peony

Krinkled White Peony

Early Windflower Peony

(1)   Entry Garden;   (2)   Perennial Garden;   (3)  Sign Garden;

(4)   Children’s Garden;  (5)   Memorial Garden;  (6)   Spruce Garden;

(7)   Native Shrub Garden.

I would suggest printing out the sheet and entering your location answers alongside the photos.  This is an excellent way of brushing up on the plants in our demogarden. Jennie has kindly agreed to mediate any disputes.

To make it a little easier, I have named each variety shown in the above photos. Please post your answers as a Comment, e.g. D2 or B6.  There are the usual trick entries – so don’t be fooled!   As an added bonus, identify the tree peony for Advanced MG status.

The winner(s) will have the usual bragging rights of showing their superior knowledge of the plants in our gardens.


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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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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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As I sat this morning in a waiting room, I picked up a “Southern Living” magazine.  It was dated January 2006, but the garden information still drew my interest.  There was an article on tropical plants for Zone 6.  Now that our Zone is 6A,  it peaked my interest enough for me to writing down some of the plant names they suggested.  Included in the article was a list of websites to get further information about these plants and where you could order them.   Upon coming home, I searched these names for some additional information and photos of the plants.  Seems most are  Zone 7, but with temperature to -10 or -20 degrees, they may survive in Zone 6 with some care.

One colorful and interesting plant was Nandina domestica “Heavenly Bamboo”.  It had a brilliant red, yellow, pink foliage in the photo;  however most photos on other sites showed it with light green foliage.  My thought is that color may be it’s Fall coloring or new foliage recently emerged.  It’s a sun to shade evergreen or semi-evergreen for Zone 6-9.    In spring, it has an abundance of small white flowers at the end of stems which form green berries that will ripen to bright red.  Unless devoured by birds; the berries will hold on for months.   It’s important to always get further information on reliable web-sites or books;  I learned this particular species is considered a Class I invasive species in Florida.  Maybe, with the colder weather,  it may not be invasive here, but I certainly would like more information prior to a purchase.  It may have to be in a container so I can “contain” it’s growth .  It has a tendency to sucker outward.

Another listed was Musa velutina a Japanese banana with a pink bloom.    Although it was  a Zone 7A  plant, the article stated that the rizone is considered frost hardy when covered with a thick layer of much and temperatures are above -15 degrees. So it can survive a Zone 6 winter, however fruit may not develop in our Zone.   Included in my backyard is a tropical garden on the deck.  I just might try some of these to see how they work.  Below is a list of some tropical they stated would be able to make it through a Zone 6 winter.  Although I found the article interesting…I will research these further to get additional information.

  • Sabal minor -5 degrees
  • Rhapedophyllem hystrix  -20 degrees
  • Nandina domestica
  • Musa basjo & Musa veluntina
  • Trachyarpus fortunei -10 degrees

Another great piece of information was that there are several Camellias also one 6.  Some included Winter’s waterlily, Winter’s Star and Winter’s Chara.  You can research further to find other Camellias that will survive our new Zone 6A.  Anyway, check some of these out and try them if you wish.  I will keep you updated next year on the ones I decide to try in my garden and see if they survive.  Maybe a planting close to the house in a bit of micro-climate will help as well.

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