Story & photos by Gail K.

Hello fellow gardeners-with Michigan’s summer season coming to an end-
Monarchs will be heading south-SunglassesI would like to share some final photos of my brood.

ABOVE: can you see the wing inside—- needless to say.neither of the twins, hatched; for some reason, the butterflysuffered a virus or other issue which destroyed it beforeit could.
BELOW: success!!!!      newly hatched   note its chrysalis

ABOVE:   a young caterpillar munches away while a newly hatched
Monarch dries its wings on the same milkweed plant.

BELOW:  hello, are you my sibling??

its wings just dry enough, the butterfly takes to the air landing on a nearby sedum; the flower nectar will provide much needed energy– a gentle breeze and sunshine will allow the wings to completely dry before fully adapting to its new life.

Following the butterfly around the yard- I make an observation: It would extend ?? appendage out then draw it back from what I assumed was its mouth.

Was it drinking ??? How cool-but wait.  I just learned, the Monarch is a Nymphalidae. Meaning, despite 6 legs it stands on its rear and middle legs only, curling its shorter front legs up. Was this merely a front leg???

A butterfly uses it feet to “taste” but not drink- I still say it was drinking……What do you think I saw??  
Irregardless, we bid farewell to the Monarchs; their departure
a sign of Fall. To ensure their legacy, they must leave Michigan & travel
great distances to reach a destination where they can start the cycle over…if they arrive safely, come spring, we will once again give witness to their rebirth when they return.



August Tour

story and photos by Gail K.

For our August tour; we had members invite us to visit their gardens.Below are pictures from the day we dropped in on Michelle.

Even before pulling into the driveway, Michelle’s artistic talent is visible. A flower bed, in a serpentine pattern winds its way across the front yard;

as if to wave a greeting to anyone passing by or to visitors walking to the front entry of the home.

… a warm welcome

Hearing voices, I turn & hop back down the red brick walkway; to find where everyone else must be.

around the side of the house, the backyard comes into view. What??? a vineyard….intriguing-can hardly wait to see what’s next. 

Entering into the yard proper; on my right is a mass planting of Limelight hydrangeas.

the group off to my left- listen as Michelle talks about the plants in her garden;  Caryopteris x clandonensis-“Bluebeard”

Seeing the grapevines, remind me of picking grapes in the small vineyard at my uncle’s farm.  Boy is it HOT today.

Before the rest get here, let’s take a closer look & catch a bit of shade at the same time.

The vines are loaded with clusters of grapes in various stages of ripeness.  I am going to try this one-

not bad: as I turn to find another I discover  the vines behind me are not grapes….oh goodie another favorite treat!!

Did I tell you I missed breakfast????  Better hurry before the rest get here….I’m hoping Michelle won’t miss these-

Yup!!!   I ate ’em and the search is on to find more.
               Yum Yum.
       Yikes here they come…..

don’t want to get caught with my hand in the cookie jar-

One tree caught the eye of many: the Dawn Redwood-Standing in the shade it provided, we discussed the uniqueness

of this particular species.  A member of the fir family, it will lose its needles come fall.  It’s a great tree for the west side of your home, Michelle’s large yard provides an ideal habitat
below:   the cones

This grouping of conifers provides a background for the

POND—adjacent to the patio & kitchen; allows those ineither area to be able to enjoy the sounds of the waterfall.

There are several features within the pond area. The KOI, a waterfall, the stream, a herb garden and the walkway.

Sitting on a bench on the backside of the pond I review the photos I have already taken; as I enjoy 

hearing the jingle jangle of wind chimes which hang nearby.

A large yard allows Michelle to have a wide variety of plantings. Vineyards, flowers, shrubs & conifers; along with

fruit trees (peach, apple) and vegetables (tomatoes, pumpkins)

She has literally divided her yard into “rooms.” Departing from the bench seat; let’s follow the path and see where it leads.

Thru the gateway & entering into the next realm-I see a slide which has been built into a hillside:

a play area for children (or adults??) who visit here. The path fully opening to expose an expanse of grass with scattered areas of defined groupings and outlined by a raised, mulched bed

which runs along the entire length on one side.

Today, even the native plants droop in the excessive heat.

The group decides to retreat from the sun, to the shade under the tents which are alongside the pond.


Here, we can cool off while enjoying some light refreshments

along with sharing gardening secrets, before we head home. It was a hot but enjoyable day. We learned a lot of new things.

Michelle, Thank you for opening your garden and allowing us to visit.You & your husband should be proud of your yard.   

In closing, although I was not able to do all 3 tours that day; we would like to post any photos taken by those who did….

Birth Announcement

Submitted by Gail K.

Birth Announcement

Monarch nursery is busy-


I believe this to be a male, the markings thick and dark

The journey which lies ahead & it started here, in my yard

Downtown Milan Highlights:

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Tour day I hit Milan like a whirlwind.  Quickly snapping photos along the way, rushing to “catch up.” 

Coming from & living in a small town; Milan’s revitalization efforts interest me. The following Saturday I went back; YUP!!  To leisurely take in the sights. I would like to share with you—At this junction I went straight ahead…….Downtown Milan here I come.

Look what I discovered!!!   Architectural Yard art??? Aren’t our homes what most of us base our gardens around… cool.

I love old houses; here is another one & I am quite happy I chose the other route.

I recalled seeing some on tour day- by the square gardens. Despite being behind, I had taken the time to walk down. If I hadn’t, I would have missed seeing these two….

Driving along, I arrive at the Milan Civic Complex.

Now I know where I am.

This time I can check out that rock over there-Who knew??? Cool!!!

Traveling via car I head to Wilson Park where I can park& head out on foot to get more photos.

I walk to the Veteran’s Wall…Sitting on a bench, I see where some of the bricks are engraved with names; I presume, donors.

Each of the walls, are dedicated to a specific war or
group of veterans.  The medallions represent branches of the military; this wall pays tribute to all Milan Veterans.

The plaque below honors Milan vets from WW ll.

It’s time to move on, away from the lake, so let’s cross the street for one last look ……

I’m attracted to water (Pisces); finding the sound of rushing water soothing to my soul.

Back on the park side of the street-I barely notice the murals-located on the front lawn with all the door art.   Did you see them?

Beautiful works of art providing the public-with a unique way to learn the history of Milan.

I believe I need a bite of something sweet to get my energy up……..can ya guess where I am heading??

Barely able to get in on the first visit- this time I had time to wait and yes—I did purchase some delicious treats.  After all, how could you not—

Flavored breads with fruit jellies for your bellies &high top muffins and donuts with stuffin’s  yum yum

intoxicating smells waffling thru the air, cause you to linger-but I must move on; indulging in one scone was just enough.

I make the short walk to the church, taking note of

the sign and its greeting— I can reach the car by walking down the rear hill.

It’s time to head home– but before I leave, did I miss a chance to vote on my favorite door??? These two get my vote-

I liked them both equally for my #1 pick. Which door did you like??

From where I sit on my lily pad, may I offer a “lesson for this day?’

we have visited many places- from grand to small-but do we really see it all???

I think we should always take that second look-you just never know what you may have missed the first time.

The lesson: if given an opportunity to take a different path  Take It”  I’m happy I gave Milan another look.

Naida sent us in this information:

Time to take a walk around your property looking for potential problems listed below:

If you have Coneflowers you need to read this article.  Be sure to download all the photos.  I will definitely inspect mine tomorrow!

Coneflower Conundrums | BYGL (osu.edu)

Also sending an interesting link regarding “slime mold” which I’m pretty sure many of you have seen in your landscapes at various times.

Creeping Slime Molds | BYGL (osu.edu)

Last an article from DNR regarding Balsam Woolly Adelgid.  Many of us have fir, balsam, white pine, etc.  We need to be aware of this!  Scroll to the bottom of the article and find pictures under “Photos”.

Invasive balsam woolly adelgid confirmed in Kent County (govdelivery.com)


Invasive balsam woolly adelgid confirmed in Kent County, below is a link to some additional information:


Hack House part#2

Story and photos by Gail K.

Leaving Downtown Milan:

we drive the short distance back to the HACK HOUSE,

to casually tour the property and enjoy some light refreshments.

The Milan girls tend the gardens at this historical site.
        –  Front view of the house & garden area –

as you can see, the grounds are nipped, tucked & very well maintained.

We spot some new plants neatly tucked into the front bed, waiting to be planted……….

These will bring a contrasting blend of striking color along side the current blooms.

Many of the buildings are anchored by distinct plantings;

such as this one–a Kousa Dogwood and hostas. Below-Jerusalem Artichoke has been planted along the rear of this barn-its blooms will be loved by the bees.

Side view of house:- boasting a grand porch, perfect for rocking the day away.

Below: Most noted to many of us is the “bee barn’ on the far left.

I want to show more of the bee barn. Truly impressive–the bees that is…

A massive & Yummy variety of native plants surround the bee barn & the bees love it!!!!  

The group allows the bees to occupy the barn; taking advantage of their activity to teach visitors about bees & their art of making honeycombs.

ABOVE: Bees enter the walls of the barn.

BELOW: The honeycomb swells in size & expands outside via the eave vents

Visitors enter the barn & safely view the inner portions of the walls which are protected with plexiglass.

a newly created honeycomb waiting to be filled.

a bee keeper comes to assist with harvesting the honeycomb and keeps an eye on the bees & the health of the hive.

the site where honeycomb was harvested-look at the expanse it covered, it must have been massive. I believe in our archives there are other pictures from prior visits to this hive…….

I suggested, they sell the honey— maybe @ the Bakery. 
Should be really good, given the nectar from the native flowers

and all those plantings available in downtown.

Some members toured inside the Hack House with its bounty of historical artifacts.

The rest of us completed the day by mingling on the front porch with lemonade & delicious baked goods in hand.

Coming next-  going to share a few extra highlights of the town. 

Photo Friday

Downtown Milan & Hack House Tour

article and photos by Gail G.

July 17, 2021   Milan Tour; part A
If we were to send postcards of our travels; this one would read-Greetings from MILAN, MICHIGAN!!!!

Several of our members also belong to the Milan Garden Club

They graciously invited us to tour Downtown Milan & The Hack House to see the projects they are involved in.

Barb, a dual club member led the tour.  

I traveled, US 23 N to Plank Rd; exited & got lost!!  HOW? I’ve been tothe Hack House before. My fault; note to self–need full address & read signs.

do not rely on memory!!!….the error put me “running” behind, not to worry- certain I would be able to catch up–eventually; so I head out to find the downtown district.

I HAD ARRIVED!!!Parking my car, I set out to find the others, noting the unique artwork along the way.

Missing Barb’s informational details: I later learned–the art work was part of a display titled: “ART doors EXHIBIT.”

Organizations and businesses were given donated doors and asked to create works of art-which were then displayed in Wilson Park and throughout the downtown district.  How Clever!!!

Looking left, then right on Main Street and

not seeing the group–I asked a friendly passer-by to point me in the direction of the Veteran’s Wall- (on list of sights to see)

Following her directions-I pass a grouping of planters overflowing with a stunning display of brightly colored flowers. Barb has spoken of these; crediting The Beautification Committee. Great Job!!

Crossing the street I head off in the direction which should get me to my next destination, hoping the group will be there.

As I head off in the direction of “those flags down there “I pass -THE FIRE DEPARTMENT- and on my right


In the distance-beyond the flags I see a group of people. For now I continue on alone, arriving at the flags;

This is the VETERAN’S WALL

The “Milan Girls” as they are called, are very proud of this project and with good reason.

They plant & care for, the plantings surrounding the site.

It is a stunning tribute the whole town can be proud of

The Veterans tribute sits on an expanse of park grounds known as Wilson Park. 

LOOK more doors over on the hillside 

Up ahead a group of people are crossing the street- might be them, I best get going.

I paused to study this unusual tree, will have to ask Barb?? From the the list of offices, this is one busy building.

Is this where they crossed????

The group???   We had to pass at some point???I need to go towards downtown, so I turn around and cross over.

This must be- FORD LAKE BOARDWALK.  What a pleasant place to sit and ponder the day away…….

Slowly walking along the lakefront I come to a point where the lake water rushes over a dam,

crossing under the road bridge

then calmly flowing downstream on the other side.

Mounted on the bridge pillar a plaque–

and straight ahead, another spot to rest

and downtown within clear sight.

Back in downtown-I catch up.

The group heading off to a cluster of small shops.

If I hurry, I can get a couple pics of the square foot gardens; and meet them at the bakery.

so many different little shops & everyone enjoyed

popping in and out of each one.

Where is Emoke heading off to??

one shop drew many-should I say or can you guess??

a peek inside & you’ll know why-but it carries a risk;

consuming too many baked goods may cause you to put on ??pounds— they even have

a “secret” place to enjoy their heavenly treats-YUM!

Leaving the Bakery, we make a quick visit at the Church

 where the club holds their meetings during winter months.

Following the others, we leave downtown, passing an old Fire Station;

our adventure will continue back at the Hack House–see you there!

Photo Friday

Toledo Botanica Gardens Part C

photos & story by Gail K.

While touring TBG, members took photos and jotted down the names of plants they were attracted to.  As promised, with but a brief window in time, a few which caught my eye.

Please; take a moment to relax. Have a seat, here in the shade and enjoy the following photos.

The lily looking down at its feet while the delphinium reach up to the sky– contrasting with the blue of the sky.

Such a showy seed head; how magnificent the flower must have been.

Love this shade of pink??

Seed heads which appear to be a strange insect vs remains of a flower

Are you an individual or just a part of the group??

Isn’t it intriguing–the various shapes within the flower community   —just like humans—

The path less traveled****

Despite the dark shadows, you can find hidden highlights in the shade—–


A big giant scrunch ball………

 intrigued this dogwood in such full bloom at this time

Leaving the cool respite of the shade, to find warmth in the sun

even the water lily reaches out of the cool water to catch some warm rays of sunshine; while the garlic sways in the daylight.

The Holy Ghost (Angelica Archangelica)– I want one!!! —-below, the pink of this double hollyhock cannot be
subdued even by sunlight.

Attracted much interest… but what is it?? salvia?? 

I’m not even a bee but attracted to the brilliance of this bee balm

Hope you enjoyed looking back at the highlights–  no good byes, just— til we meet again @ TBG!!!

We would enjoy seeing your photos…Please send,
for the blog………….g

As we exited the Inclusive Garden, Jonathon was waiting to lead us thruthe main garden areas of TBG. The first area, the Rose Garden:

So fortunate for the beautiful weather as this portion will involve
extensive walking over vast terrain to reach the various garden areas

Moving along—over the river and thru the woods-heading for what I am calling the meadows—–passing the cabin gardens & the areas where later dahlias and daylilies will be in bloom. 

Off in the distance we catch a glimpse of what awaits us. Hidden garden features????

What is that??  On the hillside.

Did you see the Monarch Butterfly???   On the hillside. How about now??  (Never have made it to the top of that hill)

The gardens boast flat lands, hills, water and architectural features
along with the various plantings. We did our best to take it all in as Jonathan
narrated the history & purpose of the gardens, along with answering any
questions.  (this area below is where Stella works/volunteers her magic)

Just a few pictures of plantings and architectural features. Specific photos will be shared in a later post.

The groupings boast colors which work well with each other

Tucked away–exploring will bring pleasant surprises

Your experience will vary; depending on the time of day &whether cloudy or sunny.

The wall below a favorite of photographers; gardening here
 challenging for caretakers & those plants which dare to
obstruct the intrusive footsteps taken for “that special pic”

Following the brick path we head back to the entry area.

Rounding the bend; up pops a grand display of Giant Reed Grass.

Tom-did you say you were 6 foot??? 

We again pass by the cabin gardens—

this time we take the path leading us to the Hosta Garden–

A tree house is tucked into a playground– designed to introduce children to fun in a garden; club member Michele ,volunteers in the Hosta Gardens behind the exhibit.

I Hear the sound of water

Such Beauty

Exiting the Hosta Garden, Enroute to the Herb Garden

Passing a secluded pond that boldly captures the magic of the gardens: color, sounds and the glistening sunlight playing on the water—  real or just a reflection???

We arrive at our last stop before lunch: the Herb Garden.

There were plenty of oohs & ahhs as the group mingled around touching & smelling the various plants.  Club member Sandy volunteers in this garden.

Despite the majority having been to TBG before-it was special to see the completion of Scott’s Inclusive/Sensory Garden.

A huge thank you to Stella and Jonathan for an outstanding tour!!!!Can’t wait to see where we head off to for our next tour.  Hint: ask Barb, she knows…….