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.

garden visit: applewood estate

the applewood estate, former home of Charles S. Mott and his wife Ruth, is located in Flint Michigan.  the home and gardens are open to the public for group tours and events.  our garden club visited 18 of the landscaped acres a few weeks ago.  the home and property spans 65 acres of orchards, trees and farmland.  the Mott family is well-known for Mott applesauce, although the family sold that business many years ago.  Mr. Mott is well-known as a former vice-president with General Motors in Michigan.

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Mrs. Mott loved flowers and her garden rooms throughout the estate showed various displays of her designs. we toured trial gardens, demonstration gardens, formal gardens, and even a lovely cutting garden.  two of the photos show the rows of flowers placed in an area of the estate with perfect sun and growing conditions, hidden from normal view.  here, Mrs. Mott could come and select flowers for vases in her home, perfectly staked for straight stems.  lovely!

the gardens also include a lawn bowling green, an English croquet lawn, perennial gardens, rose gardens, butterfly gardens, an allee, specimen trees, vegetable and herb gardens, and of course an apple orchard.  this home is on the National Register of Historic Places

daisy and roses


this year, i planted some daisy near my knock out roses.  i really admire how the flowers complement each other.  they have been blooming side-by-side for several weeks now and with weekly dead-heading have been continuing to bloom and look pretty at the back of my home.

although this site is not full sun, it does receive almost the full requirement for exceptional blooming.  this is a well-drained area which is required for both roses and for leucanthemum.  i have both of these plants staked for stability.

these daisy can be easily divided when needed, and will grow quite vigorously even after being transplanted from my personal experience.

i find pairing plants together is a challenge for me, as often one plant seems to be more hardy than the other, with an imbalance in growth. these two plants have grown nicely this year and have complemented each other in my garden.

garlic chives and globe thistle


another favorite herb of mine happens to be garlic chives.  the white flowers attract both bees and butterflies to my garden in the late summer.  these garlic chives, which are sometimes called Chinese chives, have garlic flavored leaves which i use to flavor Asian inspired dishes.

the plant is from the Allium family and garlic chives are known as Allium tuberosum. some alliums are grown for the flowers and others are grown for food.  i like to think that i grow garlic chives for both reasons.  the plants grow well in my Michigan garden, as they are zoned for three through nine planting.

my globe thistle plant is somewhat similar in shape and growth to the garlic chives.  this perennial has spiny leaves with round flower heads.  the flowers are blue, with the name echinops coming from the Greek meaning hedgehog.

globe thistle requires full sun and can be dead-headed to encourage re-blooming. the plant comes from the aster family.  this year, bunnies in my garden actually ate one of my globe thistle plants, but it is making a comeback since i protected the base of the plant with green garden wire fencing.  i plan to move the globe thistle later this fall into an interior spot within my picketed fence garden.

lysimachia or loosestrife


i love my gardening friends.  i totally recommend joining a garden club.  even though i am an advanced master gardener, i am on a big learning curve when it come to plants, flowers, shrubs, annuals, perennials, and the like.  i have learned so very much from my gardening friends.  and better yet, gardeners like to share their plants.

this is one plant that was shared with me.  as i have come to know my gardening friends, i realize that it is very difficult to throw away plants, and loosestrife is a plant that tends to clump and creep.  it is perfect for those full sun and partial shady spots that you don’t want to maintain.  loosestrife will fill-in the area, and maybe get too big.  hence, time to share with another friend.

loosestrife likes moist soil. so, i have it planted in a corner by my rain barrel, where the gutter sometimes overflows.  the loosestrife loves it.

some people may talk about purple loosestrife, but that plant is invasive and of a different genus.

my loosestrife is blooming today and looks very happy in my garden.



in yards filled with pets or small children comes a caution about having these beautiful flowers nearby.  foxgloves are very poisonous–that means, all parts of these plants and flowers.  so, think twice about planting them.  but, if you decide to have them in your garden, beware–as soon you will become addicted.

the botanical name for foxgloves is digitalis, and that is from the latin word for finger.  so, the name refers to the finger-like shape of the flowers.  foxgloves will grow in sun and part shade with very rich soil.

again, if you desire beautiful flowers—provide very good soil with nutrients.  if the weather is dry, be certain to water these flowers  foxgloves will self-seed, but are considered a biennial plant.

foxgloves grow very tall, so i place them near my fence for support.  they want to face the sunshine, so they seem to direct their blooms away from the inside of my garden.  i really like the look of these flowers and purchased two different varieties two years ago, so this year is my first set of blooms.  last year, the green leafy plant grew, but no flowers.

it was worth the wait.

lamb’s ears



sometimes called wooly betony, lamb’s ears are another one of my favorite plants.  they are primarily mound forming grown for the soft fuzzy leaves that seem to have a white appearance.  during the summer, they grow taller with the leaves taking on a felt-like texture.

some varieties will flower, and others seem to spread more along the ground. i have always had excellent growth patterns with lamb’s ears, except one summer where the temperatures were very humid and the weather rainy.  i believe my lamb’s ears began to have crown rot.  i did cut the foliage back, and the plant recovered nicely when the cooler temperatures returned.

it is important to cut back the foliage in the late fall when the gardening season is over, as the leaves could smother the crowns of the plants.  i find a nicely shredded leaf mulch covers them through the winter, and if removed when the warmer spring temperatures return, my lamb’s ears quickly turn green.

another similar plant to lamb’s ears is rose campion.  the silver-grey stems make the plant  eye catching, with very soft leaves similar to the lamb’s ears. this perennial grows much taller in the garden, and flowers beautifully. rose campion is available in white or crimson.  this year, i just purchased a rose campion and look forward to watching it grow in my kitchen garden.