Easter flowers

Today has been an absolutely beautiful day in Michigan.  I can’t remember when the sun, the sky, and the temperature has been this lovely.  My daffodils are blooming and it really feels like Spring has come to stay.

I love flowers for a special table setting, and I always try to have something different for a holiday meal.  I especially love Spring flowers and decided on pink tulips this year for my Easter table.

I used antique Ball pale blue jars for vases and have been admiring the tulips every day since I placed them on the table. There is just something about the colors that are so peaceful and elegant.

Sometimes just a simple table arrangement makes all the difference in presentation of a special meal.  Our family enjoyed a special glazed ham with vegetables this year, along with my classic Easter Egg cookies.  I will always have these memories of the enjoyment I share when preparing a meal for everyone.

drying summer flowers

Not only do I enjoy my summer garden while it is in bloom, but I usually try to save some of the flowers of the season.  I simply use my garage greenhouse and old sheet pans.  I put out flowers from summer floral arrangements and also from my garden throughout the season. I allow them to dry on their own without using any products.

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I seem to have better success with certain types of flowers, but even those that don’t seem to look as good as the others, still have significance to me.  I use them in my fall arrangements on wreaths or outdoors in baskets on my porch or deck. Every year I have a new supply and don’t worry about keeping them longer than that.  Such fun for me to have flowers of the summer throughout the Fall and sometimes for Spring arrangements too.

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Up North flowers

Each summer when we travel up North, I am always delighted to admire the lovely window boxes and street flowers that fill the shopping districts of the Northern Michigan towns.  Here are some of my favorite flower boxes — but, realize that there were so many more that were equally beautiful.


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The flowers were beautiful again this year, with the cooler temperatures still intact.  This past week, the daily highs were in the 60’s.  Cool lake breezes made the temperatures perfectly ideal for walking, relaxing and shopping the area. And, summer flower boxes make the day so much fun for me.

 

 

summer window boxes

Last weekend, for Memorial Day, I prepared and planted my deck window boxes.  I usually give the wicker boxes a coat of fresh paint, and then fill and plant them.  Since they are made of wicker, I usually do not fill the entire box with potting soil, as it would be too heavy and is not required for root development of annual plants.  For non-gardeners, you might notice that roots of annuals never seem to grow very deep, since they are basically disposed of seasonally.  So, having about 2-3 inches of soil for annuals, is more than adequate for a summer of growth.

I usually like to fill the base of my wicker planter with lightweight material, such as recyclable foam peanuts.  I place plastic over the peanuts to protect them from the soil.  It makes for a much easier clean-up in September.  Others use light weight wire or even cardboard to fill the dead space.  Then, I place my soil on top of the plastic, which also allows for the plants to be a higher level in the planter, allowing for easy cascading of the spiller plantings.

I like to choose a flowering plant, along with a couple of plants which will fill and spill over the sides of the wicker box.  I have used many combinations over the years, and always seem to be happy with my choices. This year I chose a compact white Lofos for my white flowering plant, and stock for my tall focal point.  My deck has sunlight for part of the day, and some later afternoon shade.  Be sure to choose the right plant for the right sunlight exposure.

I also like to top the soil with some moss to prevent soil splashing when watering.  A little bit goes a long way, and gives a finished look to the planter.

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I always enjoy seeing the pretty window boxes when I travel to Northern Michigan and love having them at my house as well.

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Windmill Island Gardens: Holland MI

windmill replica also located in the gardens

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Imported from the Netherlands, a large authentic working Dutch windmill is located in Holland, Michigan.  I toured the city and gardens last week for the annual tulip festival. The windmill is twelve stories tall, and is turned by wind power.  The millstones within the mill grind grain into flour.  With entrance to the gardens, visitors tour the working mill spring through fall every year. In addition, a smaller windmill replica is also within the walking gardens.

The large imported windmill is named De Zwaan, which is Dutch for the Swan.  The mill is over 240 years old and was brought to Holland in 1964.  This windmill was the last one to leave the Netherlands.  Dutch law now prohibits the sale of windmills.  Windmills are considered national monuments in the Netherlands.  The flour that is produced from the mill is whole wheat graham flour and is packaged into two-pound bags and can be purchased in the gift shop.

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Besides this beautiful attraction, we spent time wandering through the tulip gardens in the park. This year, 55,000 tulips were planted in large fields, where others were planted in arranged beds with other spring flowers.

The tour also includes a movie, Amsterdam organ demonstration, an antique Dutch carousel, a tropical conservatory, and a miniature Netherlands village diorama.

The weather was beautiful and so much appreciated after such a cold Michigan winter. What a wonderful display right here in Michigan.

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My garden will be awake soon

I can’t wait until Spring.  Today we had some sunshine and blue skies.  Even though the outdoor temperature was only 22 F this afternoon,  the sky looked spectacular.  I gazed out my window at my snow-filled picket fence garden and continued to dream about warmer days.

March is a good time of year to review what gardening tools need to be replaced, and which ones should just be cleaned and organized.  It is still too cold for me to be cleaning off my garden bench, but taking an assessment of what should be replaced has been completed. I also spend time looking through my photos of last years’ garden during the Spring months. Here are a couple of photos of my garden in early Spring from 2014.

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Over recent years, garden hose technology has advanced. Last year, I remember being sprayed by the leaking hose, having wet socks and garden clogs, or trying to turn it off with frustration.  So, I am replacing my hose this year.  I found this 150 foot expandable Gorilla hose and it arrived earlier this week.

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First of all, it feels like a quality product.  It is lightweight with brass connections.  One end of the hose has a stopcock, which will allow me to fill my watering cans and turn off the water in one turn. This is just what I need as I like to use a hose sometimes, but often prefer a watering can for certain tender perennials. I like the ability to direct the water around my flowers. The hose length is longer than any other hose I have ever owned.  As the black fabric cover expands, it stretches as the water fills the hose. The hose has a double layer latex core. I placed this hose on my garden hose cart, and noticed immediately that it takes up less space than my old green garden hose. The design is well thought out and manufactured.  The hose already has several five star online recommendations, so I know this is the one for my garden. I am looking forward to using a hose that will not kink, leak or tangle this growing season.

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For more information about the 150 foot Gorilla hose, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R59MIAE/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Garden seeds –a review


The seed catalogs have been arriving at my home for the past few weeks, and the excitement of having new plants and seeds for the Spring has begun.  The miracle of seed germination includes both hope and dreams for a beautiful flower or vegetable plant. I don’t collect many seeds from my own plants, as the harvesting and storing process can be tricky.

Also, I most often purchase new seeds every year as my garden design changes.  Most seeds can be stored for at least one year, as long as proper storage conditions are in place.  A frequent cause of lost seed viability is fluctuation in temperature.  The refrigerator is the best place to store garden seeds in wait. Moisture is also a problem for seed storage.  Seeds will begin to germinate when moistened.  It is best to store them in a glass jar or sealed container.

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This past week, I was asked to review some garden seeds for gift enclosures.  The seeds are nicely packaged with cute messages for gift giving.  I was impressed with these seeds as they are certified organic non-GMO seeds.  Within this set are 10 packages of flower seeds, which include Zinnias and Delphinium in a nice flower mix.

These seeds can be sown directly outdoors in the Spring or Summer depending on the garden zone.   What a nice little gift to include in a greeting card for an upcoming special day or birthday. This is a very nice product.

For more information on Seeds of Love, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QRWQUP4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1