Easter flowers

Today has been an absolutely beautiful day in Michigan.  I can’t remember when the sun, the sky, and the temperature has been this lovely.  My daffodils are blooming and it really feels like Spring has come to stay.

I love flowers for a special table setting, and I always try to have something different for a holiday meal.  I especially love Spring flowers and decided on pink tulips this year for my Easter table.

I used antique Ball pale blue jars for vases and have been admiring the tulips every day since I placed them on the table. There is just something about the colors that are so peaceful and elegant.

Sometimes just a simple table arrangement makes all the difference in presentation of a special meal.  Our family enjoyed a special glazed ham with vegetables this year, along with my classic Easter Egg cookies.  I will always have these memories of the enjoyment I share when preparing a meal for everyone.

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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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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purple iris in bloom today

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within the past couple of days, my short purple iris have started to bloom.  in my Michigan garden, spring seems to be delayed.  i think these iris also happen to have a shorter time in the sunshine each day, which impacts their bloom time.

i chose these iris as they are hardy herbaceous perennial flowers.  the rhizomes are very easy to plant just under the surface of the soil. and, they have been steady bloomers for me for seven years now.

the flowers are shielded by the shadow of my house, and are planted in a difficult bed that drops into the side of my home where my basement egress windows are positioned.  this bed is not in a prominent area of my yard and garden, but i still enjoy seeing some color here.  i have added some taller bearded purple iris, mixed with spring blooming forget me nots, a variety of mints, and even some daylilies.

i like to think of this area of the yard as a casual garden–certainly not formal and not highly maintained.

i am so happy to see my spring iris today.  soon the rest of the bed will be in bloom, and the color will be a delight from my sunroom windows.

 

spring tulips in the market

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i was visiting Connecticut last week and while shopping in the Whole Foods store, i loved that the entrance was filled with spring flowers.  the tulips were spectacular, as well as so many other spring bulbs.  i stopped and just had to take a photograph, since i have been looking at snow and more snow for at least twelve or more weeks in Michigan.

i know i have tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths, hellebores, crocus and so many more bulbs planted in my garden to look forward to blooming. however, at this point, i am wondering if they will be floating during the spring thaw — which may be in May, or most likely June.  we have had such a steady snowpack for all of these weeks.  the density of the snow may just cause my yard to be overwhelmed with puddles of water.

now, don’t get me wrong, i do love winter.  and everything about winter.  the way the snow protects my plants–the way the snow gives us the moisture we need in our gardens–and most of all, the tremendous boost to the economy in Michigan during the entire season.  there are so many businesses in northern Michigan that rely on good cold winter weather with lots of snow for their snowmobilers, their skiers, their restaurants, and their other winter family businesses. i am so happy for them this year, because our local economy is so important these days.

when my southern friends comment on the beauty of the snow around my home, i know they don’t really understand how cold it is here.  we have had days and days of sub-zero temperatures, with wind chills in the minus 30s.  not just one or two days like this, but it seems it has been weeks of this weather.  i think this has been the defining difference in our winter season this year.  the ability to not really be outside walking around to enjoy the snow and the beauty of it all.

so, for today, i wanted to share these beautiful tulips, with the hope of a beautiful spring to come.  this was my view a couple of days ago in my yard and garden.

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forcing crocus

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while shopping in New Orleans, I found these crocus being forced for winter blooming.  well, i guess i should have started mine last October in order to be at this point today.  i did everything in my power to resist buying these, since i wasn’t certain how i would make it back to Michigan with them on the plane.

forcing bulbs is rather easy.  it just take some pre-planning.  using a shallow container such as these is a key first step.  next, plant the bulbs or corms in some potting soil and lightly water them.  make sure they are not sitting in any water.  place in a 40 degree space in the dark, like a basement or an empty refrigerator.

bring them out when the shoots are about 2 inches tall. place them in a 50 degree location and then over a period of days, move to a sunny window. watch, wait and enjoy the blooms.

usually the process takes about 12 week or slightly more. i liked these containers and the price was rather reasonable. maybe i will start my search for cute containers now, and be ready for next year.

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allium

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i have a love affair with Allium.  maybe it is because they can grow in full sun or partial shade.  maybe it is because they last so many years without having to be divided.  maybe it is because the large flowering stems grow so tall, and support such unusual flower heads.  maybe because i think this plant gives so much whimsy to the garden.  i am not really certain why i truly love having Allium bloom in my garden, but it is always one species of plant that i cannot be without.

Allium are a late spring bloomer, and in Michigan, they tend to bloom late May through June.  i have planted many types over the years and have never been disappointed.  my giant garlic Allium have flower heads that are purple compared to others that have blue or even yellow heads.

the cooler colors of purple or blue Allium seem to retreat from first notice in the garden.  therefore, the plants form a nice backdrop for many other featured plants in the garden bed. later in the season, i have other varieties which add other elements to my kitchen garden.

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