northern Mi near lake huron

egbarAugust 2, 2013

I found GardenWeb forums a couple months ago when I was selling my Illinois house. Until now I have spent most of my GardenWeb time on the house forum section. Now I have sold that house and moved north (three weeks ago)I am expanding to garden and landscape issues. Although my Illinois Zone was the same as my Michigan one, soil and other conditions seem very different here. Because we are only 2 blocks from Lake Huron it is more humid, and I suspect temperatures are not as extreme. I believe this area may be subject to cold more in line with zone 4 off and on and would like to keep my plantings more toward zone 4 cold hardiness since I don't relish buying expensive plants only to have them killed by the cold.
I want to post 2 photos of my current project, and would love suggestions for permanent plantings when I am ready for that in the late fall and the spring.

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scrub tree on left was growing into the power lines and we could forsee nothing but trouble with it as it matured. That and the dead ash tree which was to the right of the photo have been removed. All the plantings removed and transplanted, brick retaining wall will come down completely. These are beds which the previous owner had put on the neighbors property and which I got permission to remove so we can install a fence at the perimeter of our own property (about a foot and a half to the edge of the brick patio and toward the neighbors garage. I will be allowed to use the far right bed as a compost pile. I have very generous neighbors. In exchange I will be keeping an eye on their lot and building until they sell it or are ready to build on it. Once our fence is installed, I will be planting the perimeter with perennials, shrubs, raspberries, sweet autumn clematis and the red climbing honeysuckle which is now on the side of the garage. The tree removal guys drove over the brick patio with their bobcat and collapsed it in places, causing it to be wavy. We will pound the bricks back down and I will use the space for a container garden for herbs and salad fixings. The land here is almost all sand and has little nutrients, so I will be better off until my compost heap can produce humus to do container gardening for the first year or two. I will not have to water as often and will have more nutrients available for the plants to start out with enriched potting soil. Looking forward to hearing from those with more experience gardening very near the great lakes. I am enjoying walking the neighborhoods and examining plantings others have chosen. Currently also trying to find out where the local gardeners club and ag extension offices are! Thanks in advance for any comments or information you wish to share! deb in michigan

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 7:27AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I live on the Keweenaw peninsula, further north than you, and we are in a solid zone 5. I can grow things here that I couldn't grow when I lived near Rochester, MN, which is much further south. I wish someone who lived just to the south of Lake Huron would chip in, but in case they don't, let me tell you what it is like here.

Being right below Lake Superior (actually we have Lake Superior on both sides, because of living on the peninsula) we have lake effect snow. We have a lot of lake effect snow. This keeps the ground well insulated all winter. In addition, being next to the lake, the lake actually keeps our temperatures warmer in the winter (cooler in the summer). It generally is 5-10 degrees warmer here, at any given time (in the winter), than it is in Rochester (which is where I moved here from).

So, being right next to the lake, you might just have a warmer zone then you expect. I don't like all the snow here in the winter time, but I sure love the way it insulates my garden!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 11:10AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I live in Sterling Heights. I'm about 40 miles south of Lake Huron. About 7 miles from Lake St Clair. Zone 6a The soil here is a clay loam I'm not that much into ornamental landscaping more into edible landscaping. I grow peaches, pluots, nectarines, raspberries, strawberries, currants, blueberries, and blackberries. The lakes do keep this area warm. I will be adding a Chicago Hardy Fig tree next spring.
I'm more into fruit production than looks, but want it to look decent. I have some ornamentals also. I'm still experimenting with a lot of plants. I also have a cottage on the St Clair river. it is a challenge to grow there as I'm in heavy shade from the old growth oaks and maples. I have Cornelian dogwoods for berry production there (Cornus Mas). I don't have much light for anything else. I do forage wild red and black raspberries, and wild blackberries there. Can you tell I'm into berries?
So I can't be of much help as far as what to plant, I'm in another zone. Best as you said find the local garden clubs.
I'm also grow a number of tropical's in pots for fun. Cacti and various plants like night blooming jasmine, jade plants, and other tropical bushes and trees in pots. Some potted plants are approaching 40 years of age.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 4:00PM
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thanks jel and drew, have either of you posted pictures of your plantings or gardens? I love berries and am thinking maybe a couple of pear trees if I can find ones sturdy enough to withstand snow and ice. We get far less snow here on the east side of the state, a lot of lake effect snow comes from the nw and blows itself out before it gets as far as the east side here. Now if we get a Noreaster (once in this does happen, they tell me) the bets are off. Still, I love snow, so all is well. just going to have to call this a work in progress. I have my fence in now and have decided on and planted yellow knockout fragrant roses and summer wine ninebark. I have all winter to plot and plan the rest of the shrubs, trees, and perennials, and plan on adding a few plants every year for the forseeable future. thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 5:15PM
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that is a beautiful building. Welcome to the great state of Michigan. I live south of you in metro detroit next to lake saint clair. Pear trees will definitely do good. I live in a subdivision and grow raspberries, blackberries, apple trees, cheery trees as well as veggies. Let us know how you do.

Here is a link that might be useful: my website

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 10:42PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Hi egbar,

I just posted a number of photos of the garden at home (but not the one at our camp in the woods) over in the hosta forum. They're not the greatest photos, but the show all of the front and street side 'side' yard. And, I put a lot of description of the yard and garden there too. If you'd like to see, you can click the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hosta forum posting - lots of photos of my yard

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:03AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Oh, the camp garden is entirely different. I don't have any hosta there other than 4 that are in pots (because the deer love hosta). I have a lot more variety there too, and plant everything in berms (or, maybe you'll think this is odd, in boats) because the ground is very rocky and poor. I have some photos on my phone and will upload a few of them here. I love to share photos, so just remember... you asked for them :-)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:05AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

This gazebo is just off to the side of our little cabin, and the berm is right in front of the cabin.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:09AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Honeysuckle growing in a planter box at the front of the cabin deck.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:14AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Iris blooming in one of our two boat planters! Have you seen enough yet? I can do more. Not sure if that's an offer or a threat :-)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:17AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Now that I see the pic a little larger (not on my phone), I see that not just the iris was blooming. There's lupin in the background and soapwort in the front. Between the soapwort are creeping phlox, but they were finished blooming for the season when this photo was taken. On the ends, you see liatris and it didn't bloom until maybe 6 weeks after this photo. It is still in bloom right now.

Our second boat planter is a little larger and was just put in this summer. I still have a few plants to add to it. It contains small poppies, coneflower, husker red penstemon, lobelia (cardinal flowers), globemaster alliums, and walker's low catmint.

We really go all out for the color at the camp gardens. Since we have five wooded acres, with two very nice size clearings, we've got plenty of space to keep adding for the next few years. Watering though, is the real problem there, as we have a small well which does run dry in the late summer, and no electricity other than our generator. That means most water for the gardens has to be collected some way and carried by buckets to where it is needed.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:26AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Jet, I love the photos! Wow that boat looks so cool! Great idea, too bad I actually use my boat of that size. And my soil is rich, but all the same. I lack that knack of making the landscape look so nice. I'm working on it though.
Please show us your other boat planter.
My garden here in Sterling Heights is pure function and not looks. I did design the raised bed layout though.
Raspberries are in the back. From about July 15th till first frost I get about 15-30 raspberries a day. This photo was taken yesterday and the first frost is not here yet.
The three 4x4 beds have a blueberry plant in the center surrounded by strawberries. I have all kinds, June bearing, everrbearing, pineberries, musk, and alpine. The everbearing and alpines are still producing.
The raspberry bed is 2x24 feet. I have a 2nd bed on the side of the house. I added 1x4 boxes this year to add beneficial flowers. ones that attract pollinators, and predatory insects. It should be more attractive looking next year when the flowers will be mature. I have yet to even fill them. Well except one, growing some radishes in it.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 8:39AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Here's a photo of the trees i planted in the yard. I plan on using BYOC (back yard orchard culture). Again all function and no form. Not pretty, but functional. The trees will be kept at between 6 to 8 feet tall with summer pruning. Part of the BYOC plan. Also trees ripen at different dates, providing fruit all of the growing season. In the back is a trellis of 8 blackberry bushes. They should produce 20-30 pounds of fruit next year. All 8 blackberries, and all 5 trees are different cultivars. I'll be adding one or two more trees.
This garden, and all plants were put in this spring, so the garden is new. All cultivars ripen at different dates so I should have fruit all season. The trees are starting in front to back then left.
Indian Free peach, an heirloom peach grown by Thomas Jefferson. Arctic Glo nectarine, 4n1 pluot tree, Spice Zee neactaplum, and on the back left PF Lucky 13 peach.
I want to add Old Mixon Free peach. Another grown by Jefferson. In the front yard for looks and function a Weeping Santa Rosa Plum will be added. Since it weeps, it doesn't need to be pruned, grows to 10 feet tall.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Oct 17, 13 at 9:09

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 8:50AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Here is a photo of my biggest bed 8x12 ft. I grew corn this year, but next year strawberries will be in it. Photo was taken on 2013 07 16. I harvested over 65 ears. Silver Choice SE was the cultivar.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 8:57AM
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