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Winter Gardening Outside

Why is it we often do not winter garden outdoors? Is it we don’t understand what we need to plant or where to plant? A small garden containers may be popular in the summer, but often we worry they will break apart from the cold if we use them during the winter. Do you know what containers are great for winter? Well, here is some advice to make your garden pleasing to the eye during these cold months.

First let’s look to what we planted in the summer that will allow interest during the winter. Of course anything evergreen can be great focal points in the winter. Falling snow lies beautifully on the branches

How about the grasses you planted? Even if they are an annual, they will add texture and movement during the winter months

Thank you Gail for these lovely photos.
Heuchera, (coral bells) give great color and texture in their foliage in all seasons. With our winter being more mild then years ago, they see to keep shape and color better. Hellebores (Lenten rose) is another one I use in my garden that looks great all seasons. Although heavy snow can sometime crush the foliage. They are one of the many first bloomers. Here are a few more to consider that include winter interest: sedum, lambs ear, hens & chicks.
Don’t forget to include interesting structural plants. I’m talking about those woody plants that have bark interest or structure that looks interesting after the foliage has fallen. For example; Corylus aveillana “Contorta” (Harry Lauder’s walking stick) or an Acer palmatum (Japanese maple), both are very interesting structurally.

Now where should we locate these?
Unless you walk thru you garden often during the winter, I suggest you place these where they can be enjoyed from the interior thru your windows. Include the spots where you frequently sit and look out. Include containers on a deck, porch or patio, near the entrance of your home, or where you may sit on those unusually warm days.
Containers? Won’t they freeze? Some containers are very susceptible to freezing, such as clay, ceramic etc. But during the spring and summer, when you are purchasing a container, consider this. There are many containers that will hold up to the brutal winter weather.Fiberglass, metal, very thick plastic, and of course my favorite Woolly pockets for vertical gardens. These are just a few that will hold up to the frost, ice and snow. . Make some as well during the summer, such as stone, concrete, hollow log or a concrete block container like this:
. This photo came from a Pinterest post, no credit was given on the post, but check Pinterest out for more interesting DIY pots.

A few additional tips: make sure the holes for drainage are not blocked, and use pot feet under them so that they won’t freeze to the ground, or surface they are sitting on. Ground frozen post often damage.

Lastly, don’t forget that texture, lighting and color. Texture is easy to obtain, color might be a bit more difficult. Color may be added thru birdhouses, feeders, containers, and structure items. Don’t forget those plant and trees with colorful berries, grasses like blue oak grass, and Japanese blood grass. It gets dark earlier so lighting should be added. Suggests are of course solar, but Christmas lights in a tree or bush adds interest.
In closing, I’m encouraging you to get up and get out there and garden.


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November 30th
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Oakwoods Metropark
2911 Willow Rd
Flat Rock, MI 48134

For additional information click link below:


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Photo Friday

Let’s begin with an Oct. double rainbow—so clear we were able to see every color of the spectrum

Many of the photos I submitted to the blog this past season, have revolved around
Monarchs. I was fortunate this summer to have a large number of milkweed plants play
host for the Monarchs. As things progressed, I became a surrogate whose task was to oversee
the nursery so to speak……
Posted in order are #1……..the earliest noted. no wonder they get missed
#2 is a full size caterpillar. #4 talk about appetites……….when they were all done and
had gone into chrysalis stage, all that was left was the main stems.

#5 once they are big enough, they seek out a place to make their chrysalis.
#6 the spot chosen, they will curl up to begin the change
# 7 the end result. they stay in this state until they have transformed into a butterfly
#8 when ready they will emerge from the bottom of the chrysalis and hang there until

their wings have uncurled fully and partially dried.
#9 where did it go
#10 & #11 fortunate to be able to teach my granddaughter the life cycle of the Monarch
#12 sitting in sun and fanning its wings

After hatching, their wings are stiff and wet and they must dry out.
They will fan their wings while hanging from the chrysalis or walk to
a spot where there is room to do this. Very vulnerable at this time.
We had one day where the bush right outside my kitchen window
held 4 of newly hatched Monarchs. As soon as they could fly
they headed for nectar plants.

I tried to keep tabs on the milkweed nursery but it wasn’t easy. I collected 18 empty chrysalis, which
would lead me to believe I had at least 18 eggs go full cycle. I collected 7 “damaged” chrysalis
cases………..and i saw at least 5 deformed caterpillars………….
WOW–a few things off my bucket list…………..hoping for a repeat next year.

in closing….a fall sunset and a couple of other visitors I came across
Isn’t nature just grand………….gk

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Connie and Gail offered photos for today…Gail writes:

Connie and I both found some of our caterpillars looking dried up………
had not a clue but got on-line and learned that despite the
foul taste, there are predators…………..
you will see our native stink bug–you can see a
narrow tube from the bug to the caterpillar. The stink bug pierces the
soft caterpillar and literally sucks out all it juices, reducing it to a dried up
piece of tissue. The last pic shows another predator, the milkweed bug-
doing about the same but to a chrysalis………..
other predators of the Monarchs are ants, spiders, & wasps.

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While monitoring milkweed plants for Monarch activity Gail came across this
caterpillar–chomping away on the leaves of her milkweed plants. Needless to say, due to
a large number of Monarch caterpillars, these were removed from the area.
Unsure if a light on at night in this area, attracted the source of these caterpillars, which
continued to show & she persisted in moving.

Can you name this caterpillar?

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Turkey Vultures

Gail writes: We had a large grouping of turkey vultures roost Friday night in various tress in yards that surround our home
yesterday morning, they sat drying their wings and then left…… did not come back to roost last night. WHEW!!!!
must be on their migratory path……hoping they don’t come back, at least to these trees, come spring…..

the last picture is a gray heron who visited and then rudely ate most of the goldfish in our pond………

Check out these interesting facts about rkey vultures here: http://www.kern.audubon.org/tvfacts.htm

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