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.

Indoor herb garden

Last month I planted an indoor herb garden using the culinary herb kit which came with the Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Classic 6.  Even though I am an Advanced Master Gardener and enjoy growing edibles outdoors, I have not been a fan of indoor gardens.  What attracted me to this system is the soil-free hydroponic features of this garden.  It also uses LED high performance lighting for maximum plant growth.  Everything was included in this particular kit, even the plant food which is required for the best growth.

Even the pods are pre-seeded, guaranteed to germinate, and grow faster than if planted in soil.  The garden’s lights are timed and come on based with the program provided within the system.  The unit notifies me when the plants need food and more water to nourish their root system.

Since planting day on March 15th, I have been very happy with my new indoor herb garden.  The plants began to grow under the provided grow domes within one week and have been growing nicely ever since those first days.

Since Michigan weather is just now warming up, and my perennial herbs outdoors are waking up for the season–I haven’t been without my own home grown herbs for a couple of months.

Harvesting has been fun and easy.  My culinary herbs include two types of Basil, Thyme, Mint, Dill and Parsley. I have been using them in my cooking and love to snip just what I need for a particular dish.

Placed in my sun room, the AeroGarden does not take up much room and is quite attractive, adding some green to the environment. The garden does not use GMO seeds, herbicides or pesticides either.  In six months, I plan to try the lettuce kit and enjoy fresh grown greens throughout the Fall.

AeroGardens have been around for many years, so I am happy now to be on board as an indoor gardener.  Kits can be bought at Home Depot, online or at many specialty cooking stores.

Seed Season

My mailbox is full of gardening catalogs and the excitement of spring and summer is almost here.  So many new ideas every year are contained in these great publications.  Yes, there is something to actually having a printed catalog in hand, when searching for my lettuce seeds for my summer kitchen garden. Most often, I am reading and learning from the various companies as they showcase their products.

I love to shop these catalogs and complete a bit of research on the types of seeds that might work best in my short season Michigan garden.  I know that my yard does not have the greatest and longest sunny exposure, so I am always careful to choose seeds that will grow to maturity within the summer months.

This year, I will grow a variety of mesculun salad leaves and other lettuce mixes. In years past, I have had great success with lettuce in my garden. And fresh garden lettuce is so spectacular, that it is hard to compare to anything found in a market.  For this reason, I think everyone should have a small kitchen garden. So satisfying!

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.

Grape tomato frittata

I am still harvesting grape tomatoes from my two summer plants which cost $1.82 each at the VanOogethem farm and greenhouse last May.  I have been using them in so many great dishes this Fall and just love the fact that my little kitchen garden can produce this product so easily for us.

One of my favorite ways to use these little tomatoes has to be in vegetable frittatas.  I found another great recipe to share that was simply so tasty for any meal of the day.

It was adapted from Bobby Deen’s Everyday Eats cookbook.  Gather these ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small thinly sliced white onion, 1 small sliced zucchini, 1 cup of grape tomatoes which have been sliced in half, fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste, 4 large eggs and 1 cup of egg beaters, Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat oil in a large 10 inch non-stick skillet, and saute the onion and zucchini about four minutes.  Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and continue to heat on the stove top.

Next, in a bowl, beat eggs, salt, pepper and a couple of tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Pour over the vegetables and cook until the eggs set for a couple of minutes.  I usually tilt the pan back and forth so that the eggs cook evenly.

Take the skillet off the stove top and bake in the oven about 13 minutes until brown.  Serve warm and enjoy! This is a perfect recipe to serve with a side salad, fresh fruit, a breakfast meat, or with a popover. This recipe will easily serve six people.

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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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Japanese Tea Ceremony

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Just a few miles away from Midland, we were able to experience an authentic Japanese Tea Ceremony.  The tea house was constructed in 1985 and is used for a variety of functions.

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We were served green tea and Japanese sweets in the traditional mIMG_9196anner.  The tea house has 8 reed mats and was constructed from Japanese architectural designs and with transplanted construction workers for the project.  There were no nails used on this building. The wood is natural and not treated with paint or stains.

The gardens surrounding the tea house are decorated with some elements traditionally found in Japanese gardens including a red bridge near the Saginaw River.  The area is peaceful and compliments the tea house. This experience was both relaxing and intersting.

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http://www.japaneseculturalcenter.org/index.html