Michigan in Spring!

GardenKiwi(Z5 Michigan)February 1, 2005

At the time of writing this we are under a cover of snow where the bulbs are getting ready to burst forth in all their glory as soon as Spring arrives!

When you come to Michigan, do plan to take in the Tulip Festival in Holland (do a google search for the dates) and Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. Spring time is when the Butterfly House (Meijer Gardens) is up and you can see gorgeous butterflies from all over the world flying around in the big dome that is filled with tropical plants. Michigan also has a wonderful hosta garden (search on google for Michigan hosta farm/garden) that I am still trying to visit! The gardens at MSU are a must to visit. We have some terrific greenhouses - people will post and tell you their favorites I bet - and there are lots of gardeners who are always ready to share what grows well in our beautiful State! There are usually Plant Swaps around the State mostly in the Spring and Fall and if you are in the Grand Rapids area around the 21 May drop me an email as there will be a Perennial Swap then - we combine it with a pot luck so come and meet some of the great gardeners from the area and have luch with us!

Enjoy your travels and take home great memories.

Welcome to Michigan!

Cheers - Kiwi

Here is a link that might be useful: Spring Potluck and Perennial Swap

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Kiwi -- I was very glad to see this information. We are contemplating a move to the Traverse City area. What do you know about gardening there?


    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 1:57PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

That's quite a move, Sherry! : )

The milder temps should increase the range of plants you would be able to grow. The short growing season is a draw back. With you presently being even farther north, I know you're well aware of the challenges on that front. Don't know how those longer days [duration of sunshine during the summer] you're used to may affect what you're used to growing.

I have found that there are quite a number of plants that survive Traverse City winters that - according to zone - shouldn't. I've overwintered calla lilies, glads, dusty millers [yes the annual type], occasionally a dahlia, and snapdragons. No special treatment/effort or even a layer of mulch. I chalk this up to the "heavy" snowfall that generally blankets the area.

Depending what your yard in TC happens to be soil-wise can vary. If you're lucky, of course, you might wind up with perfect soil .... but you could just as easily wind up facing the challenges of very sandy soil or very heavy clay.

: )

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 12:13PM
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Paul, thanks for this information. You're right ... it will be quite a move! (Maybe I should take my trowel with me when I look at homes and do a little digging in the yard to check soils.) We're used to very good soils here.

I figure the growing season will be a bit longer there at least (and thus a shorter winter, woo hoo!!!!!). And of course the longer days here do affect our gardens. It's been over 30 years (other than the occasional tropical vacation) since I've experienced warm and dark at the same time.

Thanks again. And if you think of any other helpful information, please post it or e-mail me directly. At this point it's looking about 75% certain we'll be making this move within 18 months.



(P.S. And I know I won't be able to grow these anymore, darn it!)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 7:17PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Nice shade of blue...what are they? Sherry you can always try to take some seeds with you and give it a try. Sometimes plants will surprise you by growing & surviving where they shouldn't.

: )

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 2:42PM
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It's Meconopsis ... my absolute, all-time favorite!

By the way, can hybrid tea roses be left in the ground over winter there? I'm guessing not, but hoping so!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 5:06PM
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Have you already visited the Traverse City area? I'm wondering how much you know about the whole area.... Are you hoping to be on or near a lake? You can feel free to email me, as I live north of Traverse and am pretty well acquainted with thw overall area.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 1:25PM
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Nancy -- I sent you an e-mail. Thanks!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 5:39PM
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AnneCecilia z5 MI

Sherry, with winter protection, you can certainly grow hybrid teas in the T.C. area and there are lots of other roses that won't need special protection at all and will thrive there. There is even a local rose society ready and happy to help - the Cherry Capital Rose Society. You'll find that Grand Traverse Bay and the peninsulas create quite a difference in climate for gardens in the area. Members of my rose society run the gamut from zone 4 to zone 6. (Let me know if you ever want more info.)
Best wishes on your move - T.C. is a great place to garden!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 9:01PM
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Anne -- That's really good news! I have about 20 hybrid teas in pots right now, which of course have to be wintered indoors here. (And I'll really miss them when we move!) I do have a good number of hardy roses as well which can survive even our Alaskan winters.

Thanks so much for your response.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 9:45PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)


Welcome to Michigan and to the Traverse City area:

Since I've already written a similar response to a previous posting regarding nurseries in the area, I thought you might enjoy the information that I've copied, pasted, slightly modified below:

As to date and to the best of my knowledge, there are two excellent nurseries in the "larger" Traverse City area. One is Pine Hill Nursery located about 10 miles north of Elk Rapids on U.S. 31 North, which is about fifteen miles north of Traverse City on the same route. Their phone number is (231) 599-2824

The other excellent nursery is located a few miles north of Frankfort, MI on M-22, which is probably within a 30 to 45 minute drive south and west of Traverse City. The name of the nursery is Crystal Gardens. Their phone number is 231-352-9321.

Although it will be a little distance to drive from Traverse City, you might consider the Dow Gardens in Midland. It's been a long time since Sue and I have been there, but I think that they may have a nice collection of various kinds of plants, walks, etc. I would give them a call before heading in that direction and have them send you some information. Their phone number is 1-800-362-4874 or 989-631-2677.

Their web address is:http://www.dowgardens.org/

I suspect that it will be about about three hour drive to Midland from Traverse City to see a relatively 'young' garden area.

The Meijer Garden in Grand Rapids might be interesting to visit as well, but they are also 'young' garden as well and can't be matched by any means by either of the two places listed below - especially by the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, Missouri. They are growing, but this garden doesn't even come close to the fabulous garden in St. Louis, Missour that I briefly discuss below.

The Meijer Gardens' web site is http://www.meijergardens.org/ and their phone number is
(888) 957-1580 or (616) 957-1580.

If you're interested in the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the "art" in the Art Institute of Chicago, and trees, shrubs, flowing plants of various kinds and types, you might also be interested in exploring the 1500 acre Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. In addition to 1500 acres, it has a research center; it has a nice gift shop; a very nice, but somewhat small, restaurant, and, of course, an absolutely wonderful horticultural library which is open to the public.

It has one of the largest collection of Rhododendrons and Azeleas that I've yet seen in one place along with many other flowering and non flowering trees and shrubs from throughout the world. When these plants are in bloom, the are a delight to the eye as well as to those photographic eyes within your group. A link to their web site is listed below to "tease" your eyes, mind and soul.


The second place to visit is the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, which is the best garden that I've had the pleasure of yet visiting. When I used to live in Peoria, IL, my daughter and I (and others) used to travel their quite frequently, especially during the Japanese Festival. This garden also has the largest Japanese Garden in the U.S.

Their web site is given below.


Of course, now that I live in Manistee about an hour plus south of Traverse City, we don't get there as often.

Hope all of this information is helpful.

Bill & Sue

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 10:16PM
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Thanks, Bill & (or?) Sue.

You've all been very helpful, and I appreciate the information.



    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 11:00PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)

In addition to the previous gardens mentioned, there is, of course, the wonderful Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, WI, which is located about 45 miles south west of Milwaukee. From Traverse City, the easiest way to journey to Wisconsin is to take one of the ferries on Lake Michigan. The closest is the Badger located in Ludington, MI about 1.5 plus hours south of Traverse City. It travels to Manitowoc, WI, which is a wonderful small/medium sized town with a wonderful ship museum complete with a WWII submarine; the town built the hulls during the war and there was/or still is a company that built ships to traverse the Great Lakes; and the town has a wonderful old fashioned ice cream, sandwich, chocolate parlor.

Just north of the City of Chicago - near Glencoe - is the Chicago Botanic Garden, which is another luscious garden to enjoy. However, in my humble opinion, the Missouri Botanical Garden still far surpasses all the others that I've mentioned.

Not too far from Traverse City are several wineries. One of the better of the many wineries is Good Harbor Vineyards. They offer an excellent Cherry Wine. I've pasted some information below. Additional information on other Michigan Wineries can be found at this link:


Good Harbor Vineyards

Fifty acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Vignoles and Seyval are combined with state-of-the-art processing equipment and barrels to produce white vinifera, hybrid wines and champagne. A meticulous approach rewards drinkers with wines that are a pleasure with any meal.

Web: www.goodharbor.com
Email: dbsimpson@chartermi.net

34 South Manitou Trail
Lake Leelanau, MI 49653
(231) 256-7165

Directions: Take M-22 north from Traverse City through Suttons Bay to M-204 west. Go to the end of M-204 and go south on M-22 for 3/4 mile, winery on left behind Manitou Fruit Market.

Of course, since you and your group is coming up to this neck of the woods, I would also highly recommend a stop at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. If there are some concerts going on during your visit to this area of Michigan, I'd recommend a stop. They have a small gift shop on campus, a hotel and a dining room which may or may not be open to the public.

Their web site is http://www.interlochen.org/

Since your moving here, check out their web site sometime in May for the upcoming summer music programs/offerings; they range from country music to classical to nearly everything in between. And of course, they have a wonderful public radio station.

On U.S. 31 North - just a short distance north of the intersection that leads in to the Interlochen Center for the Arts is a very nice Italian restaurant called "Giovanni's"

On the outside, the place looks slightly unkept, but on the inside you'll find excellent food and service at moderate prices. I'm told that the violinist I. Perlman enjoyed his meal(s) while visiting and/or performing at Interlochen.

Another excellent place to stop and eat on your journey southward from Traverse City is the "Roadhouse Inn" or "Roadhouse Cafe". It's located on the west side of the road just as you go northward to the stop light in Bezonia (it's before the stoplight), just a few miles south of Beulah, where the Brookside Inn is located.

They serve a wide array of Mexican food, which has always been very excellent!!!! Because of the interior construction of the place, it can get a little noisy when they're extremely busy.

Since you're probably looking for temporary housing, i.e. a bed & breakfast, I'll suggest two places - a little distance south from Traverse City, but the first place is not too far from Crystal Gardens located north of Frankfort.

The Canfield House Onekama, MI Phone #: (231) 889-5756

It's an old lumber baron's home and very, very nice.

A second recommendation is the Brookside Inn Phone#: (231) 882-9688 115 US 31 in Beulah, MI 49617. Sue and I haven't stayed there, since it is only about 15-20 miles north of Manistee, but we have eaten at the restaurant several times and the food is very excellent and the dining has been generally quiet - one doesn't have to speak loudly or yell to be heard.

One of the wonderful places in Traverse City is "The Candle Factory" located on U.S. 31 north just a few blocks from the intersection along the bay in Traverse. The place is hidden, but located on the south or right hand side of the road. You'll see a rather large modern building along the right hand side and just beyond that is "The Candle Factory", which has an extensive and I do mean extensive array of candles and candle holders that I've yet seen.

Their web site is: http://www.candles.net/

Within a few few blocks (south of the Candle Factory) is "Folgarelli's" a wonderful, basically Italian, food import store with an excellent and wide variety of olvies, cheeses, meats, wines, sandwiches, etc. Their incomplete web site is also listed below, but you'll have an address and a phone number available if you and your party have difficulty locating them once you're at The Candle Factory.


Another candle place is the wonderful Bullfrog Light Company, which offers a wide array of candles that glow from top to bottom when lit. They have an outlet store on the premises. They are located east of Charlevoix and here's their web site:


And once you arrive and settle down in Traverse City, you might wish to explore the UP and stay at this outstanding B & B: The Sandtown Farmhouse B & B.

This B & B is about 1.5 hours from the bridge. The women is an excellent cook, an excellent gardener with a large front yard garden area, and she and her husband live in an old, but very comfy, Sears (kit) farmhouse (1920) with a dog, some chickens, a small vegetable garden, a small array of sheep; an orchard, and several miles of hiking trails.

Here's their web site: http://www.sandtownfarmhouse.com/

Well, I believe that's more than enough information for now.

Again, hope the information is more than useful and welcome to Michigan.

Bill & Sue

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 11:18PM
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Excellent, excellent information! We actually visited one of the wineries last year when we were in Traverse City. I don't recall which one (and we've long since drunk the evidence!), but it was very nice. Also, Missouri Botanical Garden has long been on my list of places to visit. Frankly, I don't know why I haven't already done it, since I have family in western KY, other than the fact that we're usually there in late October.

I truly appreciate all this information. I'm printing it for future reference. I may be back in the area as early as next month to look at a house.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 11:46AM
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GardenKiwi(Z5 Michigan)

Hi sherry
Bill & Sue gave you wonderful information! We camp up in Manistee National Forest every year and I also will be printing off the information. When you are in the Onekama area stop in and have a sandwich at the neat sandwich shop that is there - could be called deli. In Benzonia you will want to check out Gwen Frostics - one of the neatest places in Michigan!

I am letting a friend of mine know of your post here to the Great Lakes Forum and hopefully she will post so that you can contact her - she gardens in Traverse City.

Bring your winter woolies when you come - it can get chilly in Michigan (yes I know you are from AK!!!)

Cheers - Kiwi

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 10:05PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)


Before you begin your gardening efforts in the Traverse City area, you might wish to do some extensive "homework" in the way of reading the following books, which are being listed in the order that they come to mind. Some of them are old and/or out of print, while others are new and should be still in print. The Traverse City District Library is relatively new and rather extensive, so I would begin your "homework" assignments there. ;>)

Book Recommendation 1:

The first book is Laurence Manning's "The How and Why of Better Gardening". If I were teaching a good basic class in horticulture, this is one of the basic books that I would assign my students. I have yet to read anything that surpasses it; it is a good armchair (relaxing and informative) read

FYI - for about a three year plus period, I served as President of The Herb Guild in Peoria, IL and our (then) young group did a lot of exciting and wonderful things, but that's another story.

Unfortunately, Manning's book is long out of print and you'll have to obtain a copy via the interlibrary loan system at the the Traverse City District Library or through alibris.com or abe.com - both sources of used and new books.

Book Recommendation 2:

The second book that I would recommend is Eleanor Perenyi's "Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden". Fortunately, it seems to be back in print and is available in paperback form through Amazon.com.

I've copied several 'reviews' via Amazon.com and pasted them below. As you can tell from reading the 'reviews' below, it is not a "how to" book, but upon reading it you'll gain far more insight into gardening than you can imagine.

Some of my favorite chapters are on "Failure" and on "Pruning". If I had read "pruning" while in high school, I would have enjoyed English Literature far, far better. And what's pruning have to do with English Lit? Well, you'll just have to read the book!

Review 1:

Eleanor Perenyi's book GREEN THOUGHTS is a memoir of sorts. She apparently never wrote another book on gardening, but as Alan Lacy says, sooner or later every writer who gardens will write a book about gardening. At the time her book was published in 1981, she had worked in her own garden in New England for a number of years. She says she had been gardening for 30 years, but does not indicate if she is including the years she lived in Hungary her birthplace. She was an immigrant who migrated first to Europe and then to America where she worked in New York as editor of Madamoiselle and lived and gardened in New England. Her detailed observations about gardening are of limited use to those who live and garden elsewhere in the States. However, Perenyi has many wise 'thoughts' that can be acted on in almost any garden, including the advice `don't be overly neat' - something that's taken me a while to appreciate.

Perenyi's book contains many original insights and much information not widely available at the time she wrote her book - such as gardening tips from `Organic Gardening Magazine'. Perenyi wrote only one book on gardening but she is often quoted-the main reason I wanted to read GREEN THOUGHTS. She organized her comments Alpha to Zeta (actually ends with `W' for Woman's Place), which are literally a set of small essays ranging from a paragraph in length to several pages on various topics from hedges and lawns to onions and potatoes.

My favorite essay is "Woman's Place" which appropriately enough covers the history of women in the garden from Eve to Eleanor Perenyi. She reveals the sad truth that women invented horticulture while men were off hunting in packs, only to be thrown out of the garden at a later date when men "took charge" of the fields. Over the eons, women were relegated lower and lower positions garden-wise until they became decorative ornaments - well at least in upscale gardens East and West, whether the Seraglio with it's harem or the Virgin's Bower.

In the gardens (er..vegetable patches) of traditional societies she says women became beasts of burden. Perenyi notes that Oriental women do the weeding in the rice paddies and carry the firewood in Africa. At any rate, while European upscale men were busy adapting their posh Renaissance gardens to the latest `Arabasque" notion or plowing up the 18th Century landscape under the guidance of Sir Humphrey Repton (and still hunting in packs one notes), enterprising nuns and country women with their "messy" cottage gardens preserved the diversity of the native species of plants. In the 20th Century, Gertrude Jeckyll and William Robinson discovered what the old wives had been up to and introduced "native" plants to upscale country gardens. The moral of the book is that men's overly tidy and rational gardening habits are bad and women's messy garden habits are good. Rational agriculture destroys, messy gardening preserves.
Review 2:

Bless, oh, bless Modern Library for bringing this book back into print. When I wrote the review below, it was still unavailable, so I'm delighted by its return. This time, I will be buying several copies to give as presents. One could hardly do better.

Original review:

Eleanor Perenyi is one of those people who can make anything interesting. Knowledgeable, opinionated, at times cranky, her writing is at once delightful and profound. With wit and whimsy, the books skips from the trials and tribulations of trying to find good help to the horticultural explorations of the Spanish conquistadors. The book is a real treat for anyone who loves gardens and words. In fact, I think I'll read it again.

Review 3:

I must have blinked when this book went out of print; I've had a stockpile of copies for years to give to deserving friends. Now my children are old enough to have gardens and I NEED Eleanor Perenyi. BRING HER BACK! PLEASE, PLEASE! This is the best book for gardeners ever written.

My sentiments exactly!!!!!

Book Recommendation 3:

The third book on my list is unusual in the sense that it is not exactly appropriate for Michigan - at least the central, northern, and Upper Penisula sections.

However, as a book covering the geological history, the factors that led to the soil structure; the great weathers that helped to form the land, soil, flowers, people, etc., the following book has no superior and one should be written for the State of Michigan.

It's John Madson's "Where the Sky Began: The Land of the Tallgrass Prairie." It is a wonderful armchair read and will eventually give you much to think about when you begin your gardening endeavors in Michigan.

Here again are some reviews - which really don't give justice to this excellent read.

Review 1:

"It was a flowing emerald in spring and summer when the boundless winds ran across it, a tawny ocean under the winds of autumn, and a stark and painful emptiness when the great long winds drove in from the northwest. It was Beulahland for many; Gehenna for some. It was the tall prairie."from the prologue

Originally published in 1982, Where the Sky Began, John MadsonÂs landmark publication, introduced readers across the nation to the wonders of the tallgrass prairie, sparking the current interest in prairie restoration. Now back in print, this classic tome will serve as inspiration to those just learning about the heartlandÂs native landscape and rekindle the passion of longtime prairie enthusiasts.

Review 2:

As a kid growing up in post-war Chicago suburbia, I got to see farmlands give way to housing tracts. The question I asked was "What was here before the farms?" Madson has the answer--prairie. Practically a million square miles of prairie and the first European settlers never had an idea that a vast expanse of grassland stretched roughly from the eastern border of Illinois to the Rocky Mountains.

Madson takes you to the prairie from an historical, personal, anecdotal, and geological perspective. You can practically see the prairie flora, feel the prairie air on your face, hear the prairie fauna calling you in this excellently written and touching book. Enjoy!

Book Recommendation 4:

If you're seriously considering the planting of fragrant plants, there is no better book - in my mind - than "The Fragrant Year" by Helen Van Pelt Wilson and Leonie Bell.

Unfortunately, it is long out of print, but copies are available via the interlibrary loan system and/or through such sources as alibris.com or abe.com.

It has an excellent section on old roses and the making of the moist and dry forms of pot-pourri (in the appendix). Although some information may be a little dated, it is exceptional and should be gracing every serious gardener's library.

Book Recommendation 5:

Actually, they are two small booklets published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden some years ago and have probably been revised and updated. The first is their "Handbook on Soils" and the second is their "Handbook on Mulches".

In the early edition of the "Handbook on Soils", the folks at the BBG gave the best illustration of the reason for good, deep, and extensive soil preparation. The book showed side by side photographs of the roots of plants growing (or at least, attempting to) in a compacted soil and roots of plants growing in a deeply and well prepared soil.

Since the soil around this neck of the woods varies from a sandy mixture to clay, either one of these booklets might be handy to have around - or at least have reference to before beginning your gardening efforts.

Book Recommendations 6:

There is an excellent series of books on growing - whatever - in "Cold Climates." I obtained my copis from a site which often has excellent "bargains", including shipping prices on all sorts of things.

Here are the books:

"Growing Perennials in Cold Climates" by Mike Heger and John Whitman;

"Growing Shrubs and Small Trees in Cold Climates" by Nancy Rose, Don Selinger, and John Whitman;

"Growing Roses in Cold Climates" by Jerry Olson and John Whitman;

All three books are loaded with photographs, recommendations, resources or sources; and give excellent advice. (The book on roses could have been a little more profusely illustrated - Peter Beales' book on "Roses" is vastly superior when it comes to illustrations.

Book Recommendation 7:

Although it may seem to be a repeat, I, sometimes, prefer Michael A. Dirr's book: "Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs", which is still in print. If you're not familiar with Dirr, here's some information on the man. He used to teach at the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign and is the author of Manual of Woody Landscape Plants - the major reference source on the subject. ******

Michael A. Dirr is a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia. He is the author of eleven books, including Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia and the text and reference book, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, and has published more than 300 scientific and popular papers and articles. His teaching, lectures, seminars, garden study tours, and plant introduction programs have contributed enormously to greater horticultural awareness. He has received the highest teaching and gardening awards from the University of Georgia, American Society of Horticultural Science, American Horticultural Society, American Nursery & Landscape Association, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Southern Nursery Association, and Garden Club of America.
Awards for Michael Dirr

* American Horticultural Society's Teaching Award
* Arthur Hoyt Scott Garden and Horticultural Award
* ASHS Undergraduate Educator Award
* Medal of Honor from the Garden Clubs of America
* Southern Nurseryman's Association (SNA) Slater Wight Memorial Award


If you're wondering what the asterisks are for, Sue and I were immensely intrigue by the Amur Maple (Acer Ginnala) and finally located one - or so we thought - at one of the nuseries mentioned in a previous posting. The leaves of the tree we brought home didn't anywhere near the leaves on page 17 of the book mentioned above.

A look through his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants verified that we had another so called "amur" maple, which have planted in our back yard.

I am still on the lookout for the "real McCoy", but haven't found a source as yet.

We are also on the lookout for the "Downey Serviceberry" (Amelanchier aborea) which we noted on pages 39-40 of the book mentioned above. We have seen sources for the shrub form, but not the tree form as yet.

Obviously, Professor Dirr is an excellent resource and for those interested, he has recently written a book on Hydrangeas.

Book Recommendation 8:

Since it is "wooded" - to say the least - in this neck of the woods of Michigan, you might also enjoy Rick Darke's "The American Woodland Garden".

Again, I am posting several reviews for your enjoyment.

Review 1:

I LOVE this book! I have a pretty extensive library of gardening books, but after relocating to the Northeast and starting landscaping projects here on our wooded lot, I felt I needed more references before going any further. Very few books I've looked at do an adequate job of dealing with shade and woodland gardening with the focus on planting native species. There are a great many very pretty books, with boring, dry or even worthless text, but this book utilizes very readable material and photographic compositions that are helpful AND beautiful. The use of photos of grouped plantings, as opposed to individual specimen photography made it far easier visualize possibilities in my own landscaping projects, and I especially liked his photos contrasting various garden views from one season to the next, emphasizing the idea that the beauty of our woodland landscapes aren't just about the obvious drama of spring or fall, but the unique structure and color of each phase of the year. I feel Mr. Darke did a fantastic job with both his text and photography, providing the ideal balance between beauty and practicality, creating a lovely, readable book that also serves as a great gardening reference.

Review 2:

The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest. Rick Darke

This is one of the most powerful books about our natural world that I have read in a long time. When I picked it up I expected nothing more that a pleasant read and some attractive photographs. This book contains far more. The author manages to combine science-based knowledge of forest ecology with the eye of the artist and the insight of a philosopher. I haven't enjoyed a tree or garden book in years and I don't even live on that side of the continent.

More than half the population of the U.S. lives on land that used to be one vast deciduous forest. Only a patchwork of remnants remains. Rick Darke, author of "The American Woodland Garden" has attempted the difficult task of writing and photographing a portrait of this forest and offering a guide for those who consider creating a woodland garden both for beauty and for their conservation value.

The photographs alone make this book a worthwhile purchase, especially those of the photographic study of one stretch of Red Clay Creek in Pennsylvania. The author portrays, in photographs and notes, the natural patterns and processes of this tiny section of creek that he passed daily on his way to work. He writes "What began as a simple exercise in observation has proved to be one of the most essential elements in my education as a gardener." The resulting series of photographs is both simple and profound. Most of us know little stream beds like this; often we pass them routinely in our day-to-day commuting. We seldom pause to record the details - a flower is in bloom, a branch has fallen, the way one tree's foliage complements another. But for the author there were complex lessons to be learned, not least of which was the inevitability of change in the forest. Not only seasonal changes, but the effects of high winds, heavy rain and, of course, the hand of man.

Make sure to read the preface to understand the author's frame of reference (I often skip it, thinking `same old, same old') but this one conveys you comfortably into the realm of the forest and into the author's world view. His first chapter "A Forest Aesthetic - The Eye of the Artist" shows you the colour cycles and architecture of the forest, while the second chapter is the aforementioned study of the woodland stream. The third and fourth chapters relate the spirit of the forest to the spirit of a woodland garden. The final, and longest, chapter details the plants of the woodland.

For the gardener or designer the lesson, beyond a deeper understanding of the woodland itself, is not to copy the forest but to reflect it, to make the most of colours, patterns and processes and to celebrate the spirit of the forest and bring it closer.

It would demean this book to call it a coffee table book, although the large format and superb illustrations would earn it a place on any coffee table. But by all means put it on your coffee table, because you will want it handy to pick up again and again as you keep returning to take this spiritual journey again and again with the author.

Book Recommendation 9:

A supplement to the above book is W. George Schmid's book: An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials. Although I slightly prefer the book above by Darke, this is an excellent reference source for a wide variety of commom and unusuals shade perennials.

Here again are a few reviews.

Review 1:

This includes all of the classics, a bunch of new herbaceous shade perennials, many, many wildflowers, and hundreds of ferns, both old and new for the shady garden.
It covers herbaceous perennials only, as the title implies, but there are thousands of them. A few are missing, but that is a good thing. They are weedy and shouldn't be planted anyway.
I liked the personal stories and connection of the author with each of the genera, and the attention paid to culture, diseases, propagation and heat and cold hardiness.
As in any encyclopedia, the plants are arranged by genus name and within the genus by species and cultivar names, alphabetically. For the plants illustrated in color, the names are in bold letters. You must know the Latin names of plants, but a huge index lists all of common names and tells you what the Latin name for it is. It also gives cross references for synonyms, different scientific names that have been given to the same plant. It takes a while to get the gist of it, but it is worth the time.
A book that will give great shade gardening information for many years to come. It should be in every serious shade gardeners library.

Review 2:

If a book could earn six or seven stars, this would be it. Schmid divides An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials into two sections: a brief (but extremely important) overview of analyzing the conditions prevailing within shady areas, and the much longer encyclopedia itself. A practical man, he does not mince words on what works and what doesn't. The encyclopedia deftly conjures portraits for a species giving light, soil, and water requirements, and idiosyncratic likes or dislikes of a species or variety with growth habits, flowering season, and often advice on transplanting or dividing. And while packing all of this in, he is eminently readable. WOW!
Our county Master Gardeners now have An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials in our reference library because of the depth of information given, and I will soon be buying it.

Book Recommendation 10:

If all of the above is far, far too much, then you can skip all of the above and concentrate on Ruth Stout's wonderful little book: 'How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening."

Years ago, there was a wonderful little 16mm film on her and her method of gardening and I showed it to the members of The Herb Guild of which I was president at the time. In the film, we discovered that Ruth was the sister of Rex Stout, the mystery writer.

We also "discovered" something else. Ruth lived in rural Connecticut and like to garden in the nude. In the film, her husband made the remark that she must have spent a lot of time in the garden on that particular day. Of course, Ruth was a little curious as to how her husband knew that she had spent much of the day in the garden. Well, he repiled, he noticed both the long number of cars driving rather slowly pass their house.

Interesting woman and one gem of a little book.

One (well almost) final note....

I forgot to mention that there is a young lady just staring a gardening business some where before or passed Arcadia, MI on Route M-22. Sue and I were out on a "Sunday" drive and we happened to notice her sign on the west side of the road. We ended up purchasing a number of good healthy plants and found her to be extraordinarily familiar with a wide variety of plants - both those she was selling and plants in general.

If you're in the neighborhood during the season, stop by and give her full consideration.

Now for a final note.....

If you move in during the early to mid spring, take a long, leisurely journey from Traverse City on route M-22. If you're up for a full day's drive, you can head north on M-22 and make the trip northward and then head south down to Manistee and thence back up to Traverse City via US 31 north.

Along the way, you'll not only enjoy the small - somewhat upscale - towns on the route, but you'll enjoy a wonderful array of various kinds of scenery, especially Trilliums when they are in full blooms.

On one of our journeys - in reverse, since we started from Manistee - Sue and I had an impromptu picnic. We stopped at one of the grocery stores in one of the towns and purcased some buns, some meats, fruits, etc. Then we "borrowed" some napkins, plastic utensils, and some mustard, ketchup, etc. from a fast food restaurant and found a picnic table near a small pond and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

The small town of Elk Rapids located on the edge of US 31 north - about 15 or so miles north of Traverse City is a wonderful place to have a picnic and enjoy the edge of Lake Michigan at the same time. The town is very picturesque and wonderful for walking, enjoying the streams, ponds, and small gardens buried within the town. During the early spring/summer, Canada Geese mothers are tending their young.

Well, I do believe that this is enough information for this round. Again, I hope that you enjoy your time in Michigan.

And, oh yes, if you feel that you're being inundated with all sorts of hopefully useful information, we have a confession to make: we are both Librarians.

Bill & Sue

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 2:44AM
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Keli(z5 MI)

Hi Sherry, Kiwi told me to pop over here to welcome you. I live in Traverse City, if you'd like to get together let me know.

In addition to all the great info everyone else has given you there are four or five nurseries within Traverse City, including a branch of Pine Hill Nursery.

Depending on where you live the soil can either be clay, great growing soil, or sand. I'm close to the bay so I have to deal with the sand :( I would definitely recommend taking a shovel with you when you go house hunting. If you can end up on an old orchard or farmers field that's the best for gardening. When you start house hunting if you've got questions about certain areas of town feel free to drop me a line.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 7:04AM
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Thanks everyone! You are all so kind. This information is just great. Exactly what I need to know.

Bill & Sue -- Actually we visited the new library in October when we were in TC. It's fantastic. That's important to us. (I used the computers there to check e-mail, etc.) Thanks so much for the reading recommendations.

Kiwi -- What is Gwen Frostics?

Keli -- Isn't the sand easier to amend than clay? I'm blessed with really good soils where I am right now. I know I'll have some work to do if I get either sand or clay. I may fly out next month to look at a property in Long Lake Township.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 11:49AM
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GardenKiwi(Z5 Michigan)

Hi Sherry
If you check out this link it will tell you all about Gwen Frostic, her shop (must see place) and her works. There are other links there to check out -

On BOOKS I am not a librarian BUT I can tell you that if I only could have one book on gardening and I could benefit from it anywhere in the world, it would be THE RUTH STOUT NO WORK GARDEN BOOK by Ruth Stout. It is out of print but you can still find it by checking at Amazon. I used her method here in Kalamazoo on reasonably good soil, my sisterinlaw used it in Denver used same method to take care of her clay soil, and some members in my family, in New Zealand, used the method to amend their sandy soil. Great book! Well written by a very down-to-earth woman with her own unique sense of humor.

LIBRARY in TC - I have also been there - was tickled pink to find that they had a Macintosh computer I could use to check my email! Great history section in that library.

KELI - I hope that you check in with her when you go to TC - be sure to borrow a shovel from her - or better yet, take her along with you!

Don't forget that our Spring Perennial Swap is coming up on 21 May - just south of Grand Rapids. If you are going to be in the area I hope you will plan to join us and come meet other Michigan gardeners.

Let us know when you plan to be in Michigan and perhaps some of us can get together with you for lunch.

Keep warm!
cheers - Kiwi

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 2:57PM
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Oh, dear. I fear if I visit the Gwen Frostic Studio (I peeked at the link), I may not have enough money left to buy a house! I'm afraid that's just the kind of place I like and would spend way too much. Seriously, I'll keep it in mind as a must-visit place in the future. Thanks for mentioning it.

I'll be checking back on this forum often in order to absorb some of the collective wisdom here. You are all very kind!


    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 3:06PM
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Oh.....My.....Goodnes...Thank-You all at the Great Lakes Forum !!! I live 30 miles south of Lansing in the woods, and just stumbled on this forum. Getting ready to retire this year so hubby and I can garden together (yippeee). He won't listen to nothin I say so now I know what books to buy, so he can see things in writing and I can really know what I'm talking. We planned on traveling all over the U.S.,but looks like we need to start right here in "our own backyard"(so to speak).

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 6:15PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)

Gee whizz! or Whoops!

I forgot one book that you may also be interested in reading and/or adding to your library - now that you will be able to grow Peonies in this neck of the woods.

In addition to adding a copy to our library, I gave a copy of this book to Caroll Harper, who along with her husband, operates the extraordinary Sandtown Farmhouse B & B just north of Engadine, MI in the UP. Not only was Caroll delighted to add this book to her library, but she was happy to note that one of the sources listed in the book was located in the UP. I am not certain that they are "open" for tours in the blooming season, but anyone so interested may contact the nursery.

If Sue and I find out that the company is open for tours, especially during the bloom season, we may include it on our UP travels one day.

Sorry, but I have forgotten the name of the Peony nursery - so you'll have to look up the book at your local library or purchase a copy.

Decades ago, my grandmother gave my mother a "Memorial Day" Peony - at least that's the name that she gave it, when we kids became interested in it - shortly she and my father built their home. Now that both of our parents have passed away, the three of us would like to have a portion of this peony.

Given the understanding that peonies don't like to be overly divided and/or planted numerous times, I went looking for it in Jane's book and finally found out the real name of this "Memorial Day" peony. I will be giving this peony to several members of the immediate family this season, once I find a source. Again, my apologies for not naming the "real" name of this "Memorial Day" Peony, but I don't have the book on hand.

At any rate, the name of this wonderful book on peonies is entitled "Peonies" and it is written by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall. It is available through numerous sources online sources such as Amazon, abe.com and alibris.com. as well as local bookstores.

Here again is an editorial review and a purchaser's review.

The editorial review:

Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall's Peonies is a ravishing book--the sort of book that you covet from the moment you see it--but it isn't just lovely to look at, it is also a wonderful read. It tells the long and fascinating history of this most beautiful of flowers, tracing its origins in the wild to its cultivation in the Imperial gardens of China and Japan and its journey to the West. The characters encountered along the way include an empress who arranged for the planting of many thousands of tree peonies, yet murdered her baby daughter and in her 70s took two brothers half her age as lovers, and a French missionary who spent most of his life in China collecting over 1,500 species of peony, most of which were sent back to France. As befits its subject, the book is lavishly illustrated with paintings and photographs that are both informative and appealing.

But this is not just a wonderful story well told. It is also a serious work of reference giving comprehensive information on peony varieties, how to grow them, where to find them, and where to see them. It's written with the international reader in mind, so references include information relevant to the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand as well as Great Britain and Europe. --Stephanie Donaldson

From the Publisher

With their dramatically showy flowers, peonies are among the most sumptuous blooms in the garden. These lush perennials work their enchantment every day of the year in this gorgeous-and practical-full-color gardening book. Award-winning garden designer Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall provides advice on planting 200 varieties of peonies; extensive lists detailing size, flower shape, and color of both tree and herbaceous peonies; garden plans; and a Top Ten list selecting peonies for fragrance, cut flowers, autumn color, early, late, and long flowering, robustness, and much more. With stunning illustrations and information on peon ies' history around the world, their depiction in fine and decorative art, and their use in 20th-century gardens created by Gertrude Jekyll, William Robinson, and other notable designers, Peonies will delight gardeners everywhere. 200 photographs in full color 733/8 x 933/4" Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall's garden designs have won awards at England's renowned Chelsea Flower Show. Author of several gardening books, she lives in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, England.

A purchaser's review:

If you are a peony lover, you will treasure this book. Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall not only knows her peonies and traces their fascinating history through the imperial courts of China and Japan, but she interweaves this with a history of how peonies have been used in paintings and porcelain. The beautiful pictures included not only show the various peony cultivars, but show the peony as it is used in Asian porcelains, paintings and European paintings. This book and its photographs are so lovely, that I expected to pay much more for it. It's a bargain, if you are a peony lover. Al Rogers "Peonies" is a bit more explicit about growing and cultivation, but this book compliments his, because of the romance it brings to the peony. It is also practical, listing the cultivars, showing many pictures, and recommending the more successful cultivars. If you love peonies and want to know more about their place in history, I heartily recommend Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Peonies."

Again, I hope you find this information useful.

Bill & Sue

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 7:36PM
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Actually, we are able to grow peonies here in Alaska. In fact, they do exceptionally well here. They are another favorite of mine. I'll have to look up the book you recommend.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 10:40PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

On a rose note, a couple years ago I planted some "mini" roses [in my ignorance I was unaware that this merely refered to the flower size!] in front of a birdbath. They've overwintered with no prob. Didn't even make any real effort to protect them [The bath is in the middle of my folks' backyard. A truly unsheltered place.] Can't tell ya what hybrid they are ... these were just from a pot my little sis had received from a student at the end of the year. So they're just whatever generic mini roses the box stores tend to sell around Easter, Mother's Day, etc.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 8:08PM
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MissBeth(z5 MI)

Hi, Sherry!
I garden in the Traverse City area (I'm about 15 minutes from Elk Rapids), and I'd be happy to share any kind of info or experiences you'd like. My primary focus is perennials. Just let me know what kind of things you'd like to know.
I'm one of those folks with the very poor, sandy soil that takes awhile to amend and build up organic matter. But many things grow well, once you improve the soil. (However, if you end up with the sandy stuff, an automatic sprinkler system or drip irrigation will make a big difference!)

Beth - Z5 MI near Traverse City

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 5:33PM
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Hi, Beth. Thanks so much for the offer of information. I'll also be growing mostly perennials (at least, it's what I do right now). I'm looking forward to gaining at least a zone in this move! I've noticed that many of the homes for sale include irrigation systems.

I'm sure in the next few months as we prepare for this move (have to find a house first, of course!), I'll have lots of questions and I'll probably take you up on your offer.

By the way ... I've been watching your weather down there and it sure is cloudy a lot. Is that normal for this time of year?



    Bookmark   February 25, 2005 at 4:13PM
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MissBeth(z5 MI)

I think Michigan is supposed to be the 3rd most cloudy state IN THE WINTER. Don't remember what the other top 2 were - either or both of Washington/Oregon, and...?

Summer, on the other hand, can be really delightful - with lots of sunny days, and temps generally in the 70's to low 80's (or at least that's what I remember when it's the middle of winter!)

Beth - Z5 MI near Traverse City

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 4:29PM
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Wow! I guess that explains it. We've been watching the weather forecast and also looking at a TC web cam. Other than the fact that the cars are different in the posted pic, one would swear it's the same picture day after day ... cloudy! Good news about the summer, though. Lower 80's will be plenty warm for me.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 11:56AM
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I lived in the UP for a few years when in college - Houghton. By the end of winter, we were just mopey for the lack of sun. It really does get to people. It only makes spring all the sweeter.

Down here in SE Mich, I think our winter has been quite sunny this year.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 1:23AM
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GardenKiwi(Z5 Michigan)

Aaaaaaah - Springtime!

Robins are hopping around, the snow is finally gone - even where it was piled up after shoveling, snowdrops have been nodding away for the past couple of weeks and the crocus are in their full glory. The daffodils are up thru the soil about 4 inches as are iris and tulips. Now - to keep the deer away so that the tulips can bloom - time to get out the old saucepan and cook up the mix of garlic and chili pepper flakes to spray around the yard - the deer do't like that and it is the only way I can protect the hosta shoots from the brutes!

The perennial swap and pot luck is on 21 May in Byron Center - not long now - what to take to share? - hmmm - decisions decisions!

I just love spring in Michigan!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 4:19PM
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Missy, Traverse City, Mi Z5

After reading all of these posts, I have two questions. Where is Byron Center, and why did someone refer to Dow Gardens as a young garden? It has been around since 1899.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 9:34PM
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GardenKiwi(Z5 Michigan)

Hi Trustmissy

Byron Center is just south of Grand Rapids on hiway 131. The Swap will be held at a home just about a mile off the hiway exit to Byron Center and very easy to get to. For more info on the swap check out the link I am including.

I have no idea why the Dow Gardens were referred to as "young"! They sure have been around a heck of a lot longer than I - and I am no spring chicken!

I see you are growing roses - do you have a problem with the Japanese Beetles getting on them? What do you do about them?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 12:29AM
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murphyl(Metro Detroit)

Kudzu, pachysandra and beetles: Japanese imports we can do without...

I put milky spore throughout our property two years ago, which is starting to make a dent in the grub crop. Since I don't have scads of roses, I usually just go around every day or so with a bucket of hot soapy water, pick the little brutes off the plants and drop 'em in. I've also been known to step on ground-level beetles and leave them "pour encourager les autres" - don't know if this actually helps or not, but you do feel better after doing it. :)

Whatever you do, don't use Safer's traps or any other pheromone-based Japanese beetle trap. As far as the beetles are concerned, you've just installed a hundred-foot-tall neon sign that says "XXX Entertainment! GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS!" The pheromone used in beetle traps will attract beetles from literally miles away - 1/2 mile is the minimum. Unless you like the idea of your roses getting lap dances from every sex-crazed beetle in the county, steer clear.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 12:25PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)

Trustmissy and others:

I referred to the Dow Gardens as "young", because (1) the best (IMHO) garden in the U.S. - the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis - is not only older, but has far more to offer and (2) the Dow Garden's seems to be incomplete when compared to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL; the Boerner Botanical Garden in Hales Corner, Wisconsin, the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL and Robert Allerton Park in Monticello, IL - all of whom have web pages for anyone who wishes to explore them.

I would also place the Meijer Garden in Grand Rapids, MI as a "young" garden although it seems to be developing - growing into maturity - faster than the Dow Garden in Midland, who is basically standing still in its apparent old age. ;>)

Please don't get the wrong impression from me. The Dow Garden is nice, but not as superbly sumptuous as the other visual and sensual delights listed above.

Best regards,

Bill & Sue

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 7:57PM
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Missy, Traverse City, Mi Z5

So far I have not had any problem with Japanese beetles, but they sure had a problem with them at Dow Gardens last year. Their roses looked terrible, and they were treating them by picking the JB and drowning them in soapy water. I use insecticides as needed, but I don't think the JBs have hit Bay City yet.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 9:52PM
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GardenKiwi(Z5 Michigan)

Today is another glorious one in SW Michigan - about two weeks of lovely sunshine and warm (for this time of year) temps - just a perfect spring so far.

I just saw a woodchuck out in the neighbors yard - about 5 feet from the property line - I have been keeping an eye out - I think it is a pregnant female as there has been one with her babies out in the woods for the past three years. They went nuts over the coneflowers the past summers so I will have to keep a close eye on things. I haven't seen any sign of the foxes yet this spring -- it was cute to see them and the babies last year playing in the sunshine - the cats will stick close to home once they appear. The deer were around a couple of weeks ago but since my tulips are still in bud (and not been nibbled to the ground) I presume they are haunting someone elses gardens. Time to get out the gold color Dial deodorant soap, grate that up into large pieces about an 1"x2" and put that around the tender perennials and tulips - seems to keep the deer and other critters at bay. I also make up a "potion" of 1/4 cup each garlic flakes and red chili pepper flakes - simmer that in 4 cups water for 20 minutes and then use the liquid 1 cup to 2 gal water to spray around all the gardens and yard. Yes, it smells but think Italian! Pretend you are making spaghetti and left the windows open so's the neighbors could inhale the fragrance! That also keeps the beasties away from my plants.

Time to go out and rake up some of the oak leaves that are still in the gardens - talk to you all later.

Cheers - Rita in Kalamazoo

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 3:00PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)

Howdy - once again:

New Discoveries of Interest

Although this is an old posting, I thought that I would provide some updated information with regard to some interesting nurseries; small garden places; and one unique Mom & Pop operation, which might be of interest to those visiting this post.

1. Waterscapes

One of the more interesting places that Sue and I have found - last summer - is Waterscapes, which is located south and a litte west of Traverse City.

In addition to a wide array of water landscaping supplies, designs, materials, fishes & plants, this company offers 13 pond garden areas on display and has a number of "light nights" offered during the early summer to early fall season. Even if you do not have plans or a budget for the creation of either a pond or a fountain display, this is a most interesting place to visit - even for a Sunday drive.

On our first visit - with a friend - I discovered a most interesting contraption - a specially designed copper revolving sprinkler system that was very unique. I am not so certain about its watering efficiency, but I was most intrigue with it. Unfortunately, we arrived a wee bit late in the season as they had a small number of these devices for sale - $35.00 - but since the last one was being used to water a portion of their lawn, the wife didn't want to part with it.

Needless to say, Sue and I did purchase a floating/standing solar powered battery operated "Globe" that slowly changed colors. At night, the thing looks like a "alien landing light" - so dubbed by Sue. So far, we haven't had any alien space ships land in our back yard. Perhaps, I am in need of another one.

At any rate, here's the link to their web site. Scroll down to get their phone number, give them a call, and find out when their next "night light" open house occurs and put yourself on their mailing list.

Waterscapes Unlimited

2. Jennifer Smeltzer's Rural Garden Center

The next place on the list is Jennifer Smeltzer's small rural garden center - located on Route 22 - just south of
Acardia, Michigan. It is a truly a beginning Mom and Pop operation, but Jennifer has a wealth of knowledge that she will enjoy sharing with you in addition to her selection of unusual or unique plant offerings. If she doesn't have want you wish to add to your garden, she'll be most happy to obtain it for you.

Since I can't remember the name of her garden shop, I'll give you her phone number, which, of course, is also located in the phone book for the Manistee area.

Jennifer Smeltzer - (231) 889-5998.

3. Greystone Gardens

The next place on the list is Greystone Gardens, which is located about 15 miles north of Frankfort, Michigan about 1.5 miles to the east of Route 22.

Sue and I found it through the efforts of one of her friends at work who had been out for a "Sunday Drive" one weekend. Since Sue and I were already headed up to Jennifer's place and thence to Crystal Gardens a few miles north of Frankfort, Michigan, we decided to go the "extra mile" to see what this small operation had to offer.

We were both astonish and pleased with the range of selections and the prices they were asking for their plants in good sized pots. We purchased a number of annuals and a few weeks went back for more - another one of our purpose filled "Sunday Drives".

4. The Iris Farm

The same friend who informed us of the Greystone Gardens spot noted above also discovered the Iris Farm, which is located about 6 miles west of Traverse City, MI on Route 72.

Since we were on one of our purpose filled "Sunday Drives" Sue and I ended up visiting this lovely place; sat down in a large shed; looked through the selection of photographs of Iris's, and placed an order for a fall pick up.

The Iris's were just peaking and there were cars everywhere and people picking out their Iris selection for a fall planting. Of course, an equal number of these folks were also taking cuttings of the flowers coming into or in bloom, which this farm also sells during the blooming season. Prices for Iris roots were very reasonable and it was nice to see them in bloom as well.

Although this unique operation does not have a web site, - I couldn't find one in a quick search on Google, I have provided a link below and a photograph of what this place looks like when in bloom.

The Iris Farm - Map and Information

5. Cedar Hedge Gardens

During the course of one of our discussions - I was looking for a particular Hosta, Jennifer Smeltzer informed me that she knew of a woman who ran a small Hosta nursery near Interlochen, Michigan.

So again - on one of our journeys, Sue and I finally found the place - a unique home operation. Sorry, but I've forgotten the name of the woman who owns this home grown nursery, but I will tell you Hosta lover's that this place is a must visit - if only to enjoy the quiet shade garden areas graced by statuary and chimes that she has created.

Although she is generally open during the gardening season, I would recommend that you give her a jingle before traveling to experience her unique and wonderful shade garden and/or make your selection of her extensive array of Hostas.

Again, here is the link providing information and a general map - ask for directions.

Cedar Hedge Gardens

6. Sweet Meadow Farm Garden Nursery

While I was talking with the owner of the Cedar Hedge Gardens, she informed me that there was another, unique Garden center located not too far away.

Although we ventured towards this place late on a Saturday afternoon, we were disappointed to find out that it was closed. So we now have a good excuse to embark on another one of our purpose filled "Sunday Drives", but this time we'll travel a bit early on a Saturday.

Here's the link to this place, which I am told is also very unique, as they specialize in unique Perennials, Shrubs, Annuals, and Garden Art.

Sorry, I don't have a link for you, but here's there phone number

Sweet Meadow Farm Garden Nursery - Phone (231) 642-6416

Well, I do hope that this additional information is of interest to those reading this far down in this lengthy posting. ;>)

7. Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'

Of course, I must end this additional information with a "plug" for recently discovering the above mentioned plant. I've added two of these lovelies to our garden and am happy to say that both of these real "Michigan natives" - (they were discovered in a nursery in Zeeland, MI) are doing very well.

Here's a link to some information and a few photos of this beautiful gem. And below that link is a photograph that literally inspired me to add a few to our growing shade garden.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'

Hope this additional information is of interest to those reading this far down. ;>)

Be well and may your gardening experiences be joyous.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 9:17PM
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I've got a question for what seems to be a pretty knowledgeable group. I live in Lansing and have a semi-shady patch where tulips come up in the early spring and chrysanthemums in the late summer/early fall. I'm looking for some perennials to fill in between. I've thought about irises and daisies. Oh yeah, I'm also a hack gardener with more ambition than time.

Also, I'd recommend the gardens on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 12:30PM
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karenforroses(z5 NorthernMI)

Sherry, I just came across this old post and wondered if you've made your move to Traverse City. I live in T.C. and would be glad to be of help. We have wonderful garden clubs, a super rose society, and we are in the process of designing and building a 25-acre botanic garden just blocks from towntown T,C. Our rose society is making a day-long 'nursery tour' on May 19 - it's a fun annual event. If you are here in TC, do join us.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Missy, Traverse City, Mi Z5

Even though this post is almost 10 years old, I enjoyed reading it. I have recently moved from Bay City, MI to Traverse City and I have been trying to discover good gardening centers. I have noted the ones mentioned in this post and plan on checking them all out this Spring. Does anyone know if there are any good tree suppliers in the area, ones that have large trees? The Tri City area of Michigan has a wealth of great garden centers and tree sellers, and I'm hoping I don't have to travel there to get my stuff.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 7:50PM
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