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.

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Windmill Island Gardens: Holland MI

windmill replica also located in the gardens

IMG_2753

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.

IMG_2731

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES   IMG_2747

Spring Cara Cara and tangerine salad

A spring citrus salad can be so refreshing.  The pastel color of the fruit helps to make the salad presentation bright, light and fresh.  I chose to use Cara Cara navel oranges for my Easter salad this year.  I found them at Whole Foods this past weekend, and their sweet taste is delightful. This variety has a very low acidic taste.  I also noted that this fruit was grown in California, which encouraged me to make the purchase. Their rose-pink color was so attractive on the plate in contrast with the tangerines.  Another option would be to use blood oranges, which I could not find in my market.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I used a salad dressing recipe from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2015 edition which was super easy and perfect for this salad.

Combine these ingredients to make the dressing:  1/4 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt.  Shake or stir very well in a salad dressing jar.

Then, plate the salad.  I used baby arugula, with slices of Cara Cara and tangerine, topped with chopped pistachios.  Add a drizzle of the dressing.  Delicious, Bright, and so very Spring!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

 

My garden will be awake soon

I can’t wait until Spring.  Today we had some sunshine and blue skies.  Even though the outdoor temperature was only 22 F this afternoon,  the sky looked spectacular.  I gazed out my window at my snow-filled picket fence garden and continued to dream about warmer days.

March is a good time of year to review what gardening tools need to be replaced, and which ones should just be cleaned and organized.  It is still too cold for me to be cleaning off my garden bench, but taking an assessment of what should be replaced has been completed. I also spend time looking through my photos of last years’ garden during the Spring months. Here are a couple of photos of my garden in early Spring from 2014.

IMG_9161

Over recent years, garden hose technology has advanced. Last year, I remember being sprayed by the leaking hose, having wet socks and garden clogs, or trying to turn it off with frustration.  So, I am replacing my hose this year.  I found this 150 foot expandable Gorilla hose and it arrived earlier this week.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

First of all, it feels like a quality product.  It is lightweight with brass connections.  One end of the hose has a stopcock, which will allow me to fill my watering cans and turn off the water in one turn. This is just what I need as I like to use a hose sometimes, but often prefer a watering can for certain tender perennials. I like the ability to direct the water around my flowers. The hose length is longer than any other hose I have ever owned.  As the black fabric cover expands, it stretches as the water fills the hose. The hose has a double layer latex core. I placed this hose on my garden hose cart, and noticed immediately that it takes up less space than my old green garden hose. The design is well thought out and manufactured.  The hose already has several five star online recommendations, so I know this is the one for my garden. I am looking forward to using a hose that will not kink, leak or tangle this growing season.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

IMG_9177

For more information about the 150 foot Gorilla hose, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R59MIAE/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

leather leaf viburnum

Image

recently i read that no garden can have too many viburnum plantings.  i must agree.  i have totally fallen in love with these woody shrubs.  when we moved into this home that was built during the early 80’s the perimeter of the yard was planted with several ten foot tall viburnum.  i wasn’t quite sure what type they were, but when i discovered that they were leather leaf, i was thrilled.

the leaves have a superb texture and magnificent size. during the colder winter months, the leaves droop similar to a rhododendron. however, this past winter, with temperatures well below minus 10, the leaves fell off totally.  i was heartbroken–thinking that perhaps i had lost my row of shrubbery.  each day, i looked out my front window to see the cold blowing wind hitting them on the western side of my home.  it would be spring time before i would know if they could hold up to the bitter cold minus 40 degree temperatures in my typically zone 5 garden.

Image

as you can see, during the past few weeks, these viburnum have made a wonderful recovery.  the leaves are returning slowly, though they have not grown to the eighth inch lengths quite yet.  but, the plants have been putting forth beautiful leaves and the showy white spring flowers.  yes, it is almost June, but i am so happy.   i have several leather leaf shrubs, and my neighbor has an equal amount that face my yard.   with afternoon sun, and mostly shade, the plantings are very low maintenance.

Image

needless to say, i have been shopping for different varieties of viburnum for other areas of my yard.  with Korean Spice already planted across the yard from these, i have purchased two summer snowflake viburnum which will be delivered this coming week.  true love.