Flowers in the garden

Mid-Michigan is still experiencing chilly days even though our Spring flowers are blooming.  Today it is only in the 40’s, and we are expecting rain.  My garden is producing a spectacular display of flowers this year, perhaps because it is aging.

We moved to this home ten years ago this coming Fall.  Just saying that sentence is difficult for me to believe, as the time has passed so quickly.  However, when I walk about my yard and garden, it is easy to understand.  So many of the very small plants that I planted in 2008, 2009, and 2010 are growing into loving blooming shrubs, colorful ground covers, classic plantings and interesting additions to my surroundings.

Each one has a story, came from a certain plant nursery, plant sale or a new Michigan friend. I even have a tree from a friend from West Virginia who visited me and brought me a sapling the first Winter.  I remember being hesitant to even put it into the ground, but it is growing into a lovely Japanese Maple today. I received seeds from other WV friends and those flowers have grown into beautiful plants as well.  Some of my plants I have lost along the way, but somehow others have crept in to cover up the open spots.

I often say that I have a Spring garden because I like my garden the best this time of year. I have many plants, shrubs and bulbs that bloom and flower throughout the Summer and Fall, but it is the Spring season that makes me the happiest.  Coming through a cold Winter and realizing that the perennials with a story will be back to greet me just makes gardening all worthwhile.

One of my favorite ground covers has to be Lily of the Valley.  I took a clump from my mother’s garden in 2009 and placed it in a featured spot near my front entrance, that is now filled with my bridal bouquet flower every Spring. The entire bed is almost completed covered in Lily of the Valley.  It has woven around the Virginia bluebells, the varying sized hosta, the lirope, and the English ivy. My blue periwinkle is a sea of blue around the front perimeter of my property. I planted a few small clumps here and there and somehow it became a lovely border.

My herbs are growing and my fenced garden has been cleaned and cleared from the winter leaf cover.  Now to make my planting list for the summer patch of edibles.

Here are some photos of my flowering trees and shrubs, along with other Spring plants in bloom. I did not plant my garden to be a showcase, so don’t look for anything spectacular. This is just a garden where I have learned to understand the beauty of the seasons. And I appreciate the smallest and the most delicate plants, hoping to see them again every Spring.

Applewood Estate 100 years

We visited Applewood Estates in September for their 100 year celebration. It is the former home of Charles S. Mott and his wife Ruth Mott in Flint Michigan.  The home is lovely with gardens and several buildings to tour and experience.  I wanted to share some of the photos of the lovely estate which was open this year for their special celebration. We especially love their herb gardens and perennial gardens. The home is a lovely Michigan landmark, and the history of the Mott family is equally charming.

Summer garden flowers

So as the Summer is ending, my garden is winding down as well.  Many of my favorite flowers are faded or have ceased blooming.  I still enjoy photos of them and just had to post some of my new favorites for this season. Every year is a different experience and a chance to try a new variety or two.  My herb garden with a few vegetables continues into the Fall and will supply enough herbs for my cooking until Thanksgiving again this year.

I planted my garden in 2008 and have added new shrubs and plantings every year since that year.  It is ever evolving.

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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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Flowers in Chicago

So during my Chicago visit, I could not help but to really take notice and appreciate the lovely street flowers along the Magnificent Mile. The floral and landscape designs were well planned and diverse along the road. They were not only planted nicely, but very well maintained which impressed me for a big city.  Chicago is doing something right.

The designed beds incorporated art, color, texture, and imagination. The flowers were healthy and for well-traveled streets with lots of traffic and pedestrian movement, the beds were nearly perfect.  Here are some of my favorite beds along the way.

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Rhododendron

One of my all time favorite shrubs is the rhododendron.  Sometimes I have heard gardeners call them “rhodies”, which may refer to a variety of many different types of shrubs in the species.  There are also various sizes of these plants, but my memory takes me back to some of the most beautiful rhododendron that I saw while living in West Virginia.  The rhododendron is the state flower of West Virginia, and there is no doubt why.  Looking back on our years living there, I think about how beautiful they grew on the hillsides and along riverbanks and throughout yards and gardens in our neighborhood.  I planted several at both homes we owned in Charleston.

 

Here in Michigan, I love my shrub which is nestled in my front yard at a focal corner of my home.  The blooms have become more spectacular in the almost nine years we have lived here.  I have been feeding and caring for this rhododendron, to cultivate the memory of those we had in past years living in the South.

Our shrub is in dappled shade and has probably the best protection at the base of the plant.  We are not in the area cultivating, but leaving its’ roots well mulched. The space is brightened every late spring when it comes into bloom.

I never prune this shrub, but allow it to show and display the beautiful structured leaves throughout the year.  And when winter arrives, I watch the leaves as they react to the cold and tell me that the season is changing.

I love my rhododendron and everything that it means to me.

 

Summer garden update

Our Michigan chilly Spring temperatures moved slowly into pleasant Summer weather and suddenly, I looked up, and my perennial garden was back in bloom.  Anyone who gardens with perennial flowers and herbs knows the feeling when the garden looks flat just after the Winter season breaks. I look outside and think, will my garden come back this year?

And, in a matter of weeks, the garden springs forth without much more effort than clearing some leaves or clipping and pulling dead growth. I remain fascinated by the wonder of gardening. Each year, I choose a few annual herbs and vegetables to add into my kitchen garden, and then relax and enjoy what has been planted in years past.

I usually lose one or two plants every year, but seem to move past the sorrow quickly when other flowers seems to have tripled in size and beauty.  Some of my perennials seem to multiply around my garden and either by birds, squirrels or the breezes find another comforting spot to grow and become comfortable.

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My garden is very personal.  I share it with you only because I truly enjoy being within the fenced walls to think about each plant, and reflect on how it finds nourishment from my Michigan sandy soil.  Others gardeners may strive for perfection, look for praise, or hope for awards–but I know the true reward from my garden, it is the satisfaction from making a space in my yard tranquil and inviting. My husband and I turned a family playground space into a place where we could experiment with plants and learn from nature.

Enjoy the photos and think about how you might create a quiet space for reflection within your own yard. Or, maybe you also know that satisfaction?

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