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.

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

 

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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Garden trip: Japanese garden

Last month we visited the Frederik Meijer gardens in Grand Rapids Michigan.  A new Japanese garden installation was completed last year and covers eight acres of the space, which also includes a variety of other gardens, a conservatory, greenhouse and other educational gardening spaces.

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We were most interested in seeing the Japanese garden this year, as it has been in the works for over four years.  The plantings, bridges, waterfalls, sculpture, and other water features were simply beautiful. Now, remember, these plants have only had one year to take hold, and as every gardener knows, it takes some time for the “look” of an established garden to be solidified.

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Nevertheless, the style, design, pathways, and overall idea and concept of this garden is very well planned and executed.  The bridges were lovely, with lily pad overlooks.  The tea house was intricately placed within the garden, and the overlook of the entire garden was also quite nicely thought through and built.

As just one feature of the Meijer gardens, this Japanese garden is something special to enjoy and appreciate.  From the rocks and boulders that line the water, to the Zen and bonsai gardens, there are so many unique features to this garden to enjoy and celebrate.

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If you visit, leave enough time to also enjoy the other areas of the Meijer gardens, including the carnivorous plant exhibit and the Gwen Frostic shade garden — Such a nice tribute to a lovely Michigan artist who loved and created her art based on plant and animals.

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A new botanical garden

This past week we visited a new and developing botanical garden located in Traverse City Michigan.  On the grounds of the old Traverse City State Hospital farmland, the garden areas are coming together after century old buildings are being re-purposed and refurbished. On the site are plans for a variety of healing gardens, educational gardens, historical gardens, and space for a summer picnic after strolling the wooden paths.

Sustainability is used as a framework for the renovations for the property.  Our guide shared with us how recycled materials from the barn are being used as outdoor lighting. Even rainwater is being captured for gardening irrigation. The visitor center exterior has been designed to accommodate bees and butterflies.IMG_6822

I especially loved the renovations for the large barn which is used for events, as well as the walled garden in progress.  This garden is being built from the foundation of an old horse barn, and has the look and feel of an old English formal garden.

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The Traverse City community garden is also located at the Historic Barnes Park, and has grown to capacity this year with every garden plot taken by community residents. Members of the non-profit organization come together to garden and share knowledge and skill for growing produce, some of which is donated to the local food banks.

An interest in community gardening has grown in past years, as individuals have embraced the idea of increased fresh local vegetable consumption combined with the desire to increase exercise.  Gardening a plot of land to grow delicious food for a family certainly contributes to a healthy lifestyle.  And, sharing a common area in a community builds a bond with others which could last a lifetime.IMG_6817

If taking a trip to Traverse City this summer, be sure to include a visit to the Historic Barnes Park to see how this community is building and growing their resources to make something very special for all to enjoy.

For more information, please follow these links:    http://thebotanicgarden.org/

http://www.tccommunitygardens.org/