Planning a trip to Michigan

nova_gwOctober 8, 2004

I am a native Floridian who has lived and gardened here all my life married to a man who grew up in the St. Clair Co. area. He has suddenly developed a need to go home [hurricane fever?] after living in Florida for many, many years. We are planning a trip around May and to be honest I have no idea what to expect. I would love to see what grows in the gardens there and hope some helpful Michigan gardeners will be able to give advise. Will anything be blooming at that time or should I try to delay our trip a little longer. The idea of being able to see tulips, daffodils, wild violets, as well as a host of other-to me in zone 9- exotic plants growing somewhere other than florists windows has me looking forward to the trip. I will be grateful for any and all suggestions! Thanks all nova

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maryliz(5b/SE lower MI)

According to a book I have, the last frost date in the St. Clair County area is May 5th, on the average. Date of last frost (depending on where you are in St. Clair County) can range from 4-15 to 5-30.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 8:30PM
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david_5311(Z 5b/6a SE Mich)

From someone who has lived in SE Michigan 40 of his 50 years (guess how old I am ;o)), and has been in love with cultivated and native plants for most of that time, May is the most beautiful month you could possibly choose to visit. Any time in May would be great, it really depends on what you want to see, and to a great extent, on the vagaries of late winter and spring weather in any given year. In SE MI, Daffodils bloom in April, later varieties up to mid May. Tulips bloom from mid April to late May. The native and cultivated flowering trees, redbuds, serviceberries. dogwoods, crabs, bloom from the last week in April to the middle of May. The native spring wildflowers mainly start in early April, reach their peak in the first 2 weeks of May, and slow down later in May. The SE Michigan oak woodlands leaf out almost like clockwork about May 15, with relatively little variation from year to year even given the weather. So, if the winter has been cold and late, the spring sometimes catches up so that things are relatively on schedule in mid May. Lilacs, often of interest to southern visitors, are usually in peak bloom in midMay. Peony and iris season is at the very end of May through the first 2 weeks of June. So that is an approximate floristic schedule. There will be some variability from year to year, but almost any time in early to mid May you will hit a home run. Cool damp weather in May almost always means longer better displays, of all of the above.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 8:59PM
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grannymarsh(z4-5 U.P. MICH)

I grew up in Algonac and we could depend on our Bridal Veil Spirea to be blooming on Memorial Day. Bring your mosquito spray, they are hungry little buggers !

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 11:21PM
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Thanks to all who took time to answer especally david 5311 with the "schedule". I relize that variations of weather may delay things alittle but we are planning on going early to mid May. While Florida gardening is pretty much a year round endevor, I admire the northern gardeners who see thier gerdens covered with snow for many months before they spring back to life. And lilacs! I hadn't even thought of being able to see these lovely plants! I have done some research and see that the Tulip Fest in Holland Michagan is around this time too! I shall be like a kid in a candy shop! After two direct hits from hurricanes this year [francis and jeanne] I may never come back!!!! [ha-ha] Thanks again nova

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 7:50AM
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spartangardener(z4 MN)

Go to East Lansing to Michigan State University's campus and prepare to be amazed. They're the nation's first land grant university, and they have an incredibly diverse collection of plants, shrubs and trees. In May, especially around the middle of May, the campus is a riot of color. I believe there are botanical gardens in Kalamazoo (Kellogg Demonstration gardens or something like that) that are also tied to Michigan State University, but I've never been to them. I've heard they're lovely as well.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2004 at 1:51PM
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I must concur with spartangardener. The grounds at MSU are gorgeous, and you might also like to visit the state capitol building in Lansing, which usually has beautiful beds. It's also a lovely building, which is open to the public for tours.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2004 at 8:28PM
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carol_mi(z6 MI)

Agreed, May is THE month, not only for the sights but for the fragrance as well. Find yourself a row of flowering crabs to walk under. You'll swear you were in heaven!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2004 at 1:49PM
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david925(z5 Scentral MI)

Hidden Lake Gardens near Tipton is another MSU property. I've never been there in the spring, but they do have a crab apple collection I've walked through in other parts of the year.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2004 at 4:37PM
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GardenKiwi(Z5 Michigan)

Hi Nova
Welcome home!
We are planning to have a perennial plant swap up in the Grand Rapids area in May and we would love to have you join us. We have a very friendly group of gardeners, we have a fantastic potluck meal together, lots of lively conversation and door prizes. If you would like to keep in touch and have more information just drop me an email at Oh - an absolute MUST part of your trip is a visit to Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids - it is absolutely glorious and you would love it I bet.

Have fun planning the trip!

Here is a link that might be useful: Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

    Bookmark   October 14, 2004 at 2:53PM
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Thanks again to all who answered! I am going to have to start planning a map to be sure I see all the "MUSTS" Michigan has to offer. Oh yeah - and the hubbie's family too! ha-ha nova

    Bookmark   October 17, 2004 at 1:06PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Hmmm -- if I'm remembering correctly -- if you hit Meijer gardens in early May, you will be able to catch the "Butterflies are Blooming" exhibit. Though I know you're primarily interested in seeing the northern plants/gardens, this exhibit of live tropical butterflies is pretty nifty.

In May, you should be able to catch sight of some of the various trilliums that flourish here. Those are my favorite native spring flower.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2004 at 2:17PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Don't forget the Michigan State and U of M botanical gardens. Then there is the Lower Huron Metro Park where you could hike and see trillium and other plants in bloom. There are trails by the river running through that are great if you take the time to look.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2004 at 11:05PM
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As stated by you: "I believe there are botanical gardens in Kalamazoo (Kellogg Demonstration gardens or something like that) that are also tied to Michigan State University, but I've never been to them. I've heard they're lovely as well."

I lived for several years in Kalamazoo, and, am not aware of a botanical garden. Where you perhaps referring to the Nature Preserve?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 2:09PM
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tadeusz5(z5 il)

Nova; How about Tulips, Azaleas , Rhododendrons, Nurseries, Garden visits, great Speakers ,plants to buy, all in one shot.

On May 19-22, 2005 In Holland,Michigan, the Lake Michigan
Chapter of the Azalea Society of America will be hosting the Annual Convention, you , general public, and the other members of the
gardening forum are cordially invited to participate.,

Please vist the link below for the convention information which lists plants , speakers, garden visits, nursery visits, registration information .

Here is a link that might be useful: Tulips/Azaleas/Rhododendrons

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 11:05PM
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chuckr30(z5, GR-MI)

Re: Live Butterfly exhibit in Grand Rapids

This is going on right now, and is in the first part of March. It is no longer than 2 weeks, so it will be over by May. Sorry. But I've been there several times and it's very neat.

They hatch butterflies in the indoor garden area (which is about 3-4 stories high and all glass) and the butterflies are all over, sometimes landing on you. You can watch them feed on the flowers, etc. They are all sizes and all colors. It's impressive if you've never seen anything like it.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 4:19PM
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On your way through, stop at the Toledo Botanical Gardens. I live close to it and visit frequently for inspiration.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 10:30PM
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There are a few nice gardens at MSU, as well as the campus in general. See the 4H garden and the Horticulture Demonstration Gardens and of course, Beal Garden - the nation's oldest teaching garden. There is also the Landscape Arbouretum to walk through.

The big garden is down in the Irish Hills. We visited it a few years ago. It is Hidden Lake Garden and it is west and south of Ann Arbor. It has a conservatory and more demonstration gardens, a Bonsai collection, a dwarf and rare conifer collection and a huge arboretum. We drove through on a very hot day in August and should go back and really see it again.

The month of May is glorious around here. Here is a shot taken May 8 last year in my front garden. If you have broadband or a cable modem. click on "large" or "original" under the photo to see it larger. If you go "next" or "previous", you can see more photos. The dates are under the photos if I did not type them in the captions.
May 8
My side garden (with tulips and dafs against ivory siding in the photos) gets southern exposure and the bulbs there bloom a month earlier than they should.

Here is a link that might be useful: My flowers - click on a pic to enlarge

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 9:53PM
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Cranbrook is definitely worth a visit as well!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cranbrook House & Gardens

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 4:33PM
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RiverLiver(z5 southernMich)

Unless you want to be very unpopular with your husband's family, or have weeks on your hands to visit, it is unlikely that you will be able to hit the west side of the state (Holland & Grand Rapids etc.)which will be around 4 hours from Ste. Clair Co. But Hidden Gardens would be a nice trip. I don't disagree that May is a beautiful month in Michigan. As a gardener it is my favorite, because it really caps off several months of yearning to see color and some sun. However, if you are looking for wild explosions of flowers, as you have in the south in the spring, you might be disappointed, as at that time we are just beginning to put annuals in the ground, and most of our perennials are not blooming yet. But listen to Dave, who is in S.E. Michigan. What you will have the advantage of seeing is our native plants (wildflowers) blooming, as well as the flowering fruit trees, which are glorious. You will also see many of the late bulbs that require overwintering that you cannot grow. So, it is best to visit the kind of arboretum or nature center that has native plants and lots of trees. BTW, Michiganders wondering about the Kzoo arboretum, you are thinking of the Kellogg Biological Station around Gull Lake, which belongs to MSU.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 5:16PM
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Thanks for the update on the arboretum at the Kellogg Biological Station around Gull Lake which belongs to MSU.
That would be in Richland, and not Kalamazoo.
I wasn't sure if someone meant the gardens in Crane Park maintained by the Garden Council when mentioning Kalamazoo.
That is also a lovely, once privately owned garden.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 11:02AM
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There's also an arboretum at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Could that be what flowerfarmer meant by the nature preserve?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 3:49PM
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