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.

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!

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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Lenten Rose

Well worth the wait is the Lenten Rose or Helleborus.  It has taken around three years for my plants to really take hold and offer up beautiful flowers.  I love my three plants, and this Spring they have produced a lovely effect in my shade border.

Michigan is a great location for these plantings, as sometimes warm, wet or humid conditions that are present in other States, would lead to disease.

I especially love their speckled flowers and the shape of the leaves.  The colors are muted in each of these cultivars, although I believe that adds to their charm.  Somehow this plant reminds me of days gone by, and old friend, or gardens of the past.

I wish my whole border was filled with Lenten Rose, as I have come to really love their beautiful blossoms when Spring is just emerging in Michigan.

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planting pickles and peppers

After a full Spring season of garden clean-up and a fresh layer of mulch for the paths, my kitchen garden is back in operation.

Earlier this week I had a chance to plant my summer small-sized cucumber pickles and mild sweet peppers.  The garden continues to be filled with herbs, some vegetables, and perennial flowers for flower arranging and simple enjoyment around the perimeter.

An assortment of bulbs bloom from mid-Spring through Summer, including daffodils, tulips, small iris, bearded iris, and an assortment of Allium. I did have some herb loss from our very cold Winter, which included several sage and thyme plants.

I am always so pleased to watch my kitchen garden plantings come back year after year. My perennial herbs are sage, thyme, lavender, sorrel, lemon balm, walking onions, lambs ear, oregano, chives, rue, savory, marjoram, comfrey, and horseradish.  I planted annual herbs this year of flat leaf parsley, rosemary, lemon verbena, chamomile and basil either in ground or in planters.  I also have a variety of other kitchen garden plantings which include garlic planted last fall and garlic chives.

Nothing is better than enjoying fresh herbs in summer recipes.  Summer crisp and crunchy pickles off the vine, sliced and sprinkled with sea salt are worth the wait.  I usually plant a bush type pickle for my small space garden.

The garden is 30 feet by 30 feet surrounded by a wooden picket fence, which has been lined inside with green chicken wire to prevent rabbit entry. The paths are mulched with hardwood mulch, and the beds are lined with brick.

My Fourth of July tomatoes are planted near my deck this year, however; mache, arugula and other lettuce varieties are also being grown in the kitchen garden.  Anticipation!

 

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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spring garden clean up and pruning

I have been working in my yard cleaning up the garden beds and removing leaves, debris and cold damaged tips from my boxwood and other evergreens.  Today, I looked at my tree rose, and removed some of the cross branches.  This rose probably could be pruned back, however; I simply cannot ever do this task in the spring.  I know this rose blooms from old wood, and i especially love the pink fragrant blooms every year. I hate to even lose just one of them.

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So, my pruning seems to concentrate on just a few stray branches and for the rest, I tend to use plant ties to hold the branches in the best position for the plant.

I recently was asked to try out these multi-binder re-usable plant ties, and have found them to be very flexible to use.  I like that the ties are made from rubber and will hold up to a wide range of temperature fluctuation.  The are expected to work in temperatures from -20 to 150+ degrees.  I know my garden has experienced the -20 this past winter, but I hope I will not have to test out the 150+ degrees during the upcoming summer months.

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The ties can be ordered in a variety of sizes.  I used one small rubber tie to attach one of the rose-tree branches to the rose trellis.  The branch was secure and could be easily adjusted, if I decide the weight of the branch needs extra assistance to support. I like the space that the tie allows for movement, wind, and growth.

The rubber structure is an improvement over my other plastic clamps, which broke this winter under the temperature stress.

I look forward to doing more testing of this product in the coming weeks.  For more information, please follow this link:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Reusable-plant-tie-5-pack-tomato-plant-flower-tie-binder-clematic-climb-ziptie-/261835323797?xxPageName=STRK:MESE:IT