Sunday, December 17, 2017

Foraged Greens ~~ Window Boxes Gone Wild!

The county farm market's full of clipped greenery these days.  Driving away empty handed, I can't help but imagine the field of sad scalped trees that contributed to these lush displays

There's plenty of  free foliage available at the curb or on the woodland floor.

Late fall containers seem barren following the peak brilliance of summer.  There's a lovely fix.

Using freely available natural vegetation, insert a collection of spruce, pine and shrub droppings to moist bare soil.  The longest branches and needles line the base, with upper layers of smaller needled evergreens. Even the fountain gets a cold weather lift.

The most impressive designs incorporate a variety of tones and branches with needles of varying length. Variations break up monotony, supplying depth.

Dried flowers, pinecones, and seed pods complete the look.  Hydrangea blooms are stellar. The dried blooms hold their shape until spring. Secure in the soil for windy days. 

Pine cones,
birch branches or mossy limbs with interesting color pattern add contrast and character.

When the first snow ices these arrangements, the effect is

Greenery containers add elegance to any residence, porch or balcony.

And the piney scent is divine.


Winter Porch Pots

Green Roofs

Shrubbery Flubbery

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Frederik Meijer Gardens ~~ Bucket List #4

We'd come to the realization that the "Bucket List" didn't have to be checked off in order--and eventually there'd be an expiration date.  Thus, on a sunny weekday, my husband and I played hooky to spend our wedding anniversary exploring the Meijer Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Frederik and Lena Meijer
Officially known as the Frederik Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park, it's easily accessible off the Beltline Road exit from I-94.  Meijer Gardens opened on April 20, 1995 through the generosity of the family behind the Meijer grocery chain, who donated financial support, land and their world class sculpture collection for the use and benefit of the public. It's grown since that time, recently adding an expansive Japanese Garden.

The second most-popular cultural destination in Michigan, the Garden welcomes 600,000 visitors annually.  Entry fees are modest, and it's funded mainly by donations.

Mad Mom by Otterness 2001.
Open year round, Meijer Gardens has Michigan’s largest
indoor tropical conservatory; three indoor theme gardens; the  eight acre Japanese Garden, a busy Children's Garden, Farm area, a natural native plant bluff garden, spectacular sculpture gardens a library, event facilities and a lovely cafĂ©.   The entire property is fully handicap accessible and there's an adult guided tour by open-air train as well as a children's train. 

Eve by Auguste Rodin 1881
Don't miss the gargantuan bronze American Horse (based on a DaVinci drawing) in the heart of the Garden, or the Rodin in the north Sculpture garden.

Our list includes
Natural bluff area
Tomfoolery at The American Horse by Akamu 19
official public gardens as well as lesser known destinations off the beaten path like Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Dropping by off-season, -we had the place to ourselves.  A bit rugged, but the greenhouses were full of interesting plant introductions.   A few ended up in the suitcase. 

Next?  Piet Oudoulf's Hi Line garden in Manhattan, or Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan.

Not on the Bucket List but fun:

Lafayette Greens -- Detroit Grows Upward!

Rehab Addict Detroit ~ Brush Park Edition

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Palm Beach Wagon ~~Jeep Grand Wagoneer

She invariably makes folks break into a smile.  A young man with his son in tow tapped on the window.  "My grandparents had this same car."

There's mostly happy memories associated with this early 4 x 4 sport utility vehicle.  Filled with family, headed for the lake.

Steve, who worked for AMC back in the day, calls her the "Palm Beach Wagon."

 To us she's the "Woody." 

Kids from Detroit are natural born gearheads.  Our moms, dads and granddads put together some of the greatest vehicles ever built.  With the Wags, there's nothing like the feel of that skinny steering wheel and the push of real pedal power.  Don't get me started on that front vent window.

I've loved this car forever.  But there's few left on the road.  Corrosion issues sent most of these gentle giants to the scrap yard.  Restored versions are the price of a college education. 

So when my  husband saw the Woody for sale roadside in the upper peninsula, he insisted his colleague turn the car around.  Few lucky wives get keys to a rusty wagon for Christmas.

Same kind colleague towed her south along the Mackinac Bridge that spring.

Three years, and a bare-metal restoration later, the old girl's nearly as good as new.  But she still smells like 1986--and so does the garage.

The Grand Wagoneer was built by Willys/Kaiser Jeep, American Motors Corporation, and then Jeep from 1963 to 1991.  Standard luxury appointments like leather power seats, power side and rear windows,  air conditioning, custom wheels, independent front suspension and automatic transmission set it apart from other wagons at the time.  As did the price.

On June 21, 1990 the last Grand Wagoneer rolled off the line at the Toledo Assembly Plant with a "Final Edition" Badge on the dash. 

The story doesn't end there.  Chrysler LLC promises to unveil the new Grand Wagoneer and smaller Wagoneer in 2019 or 2020.


Alleged prototype sightings bear little resemblance to the iconic Woody. But it looks hot.  Like a Grand Cherokee and a Range Rover had a child together.

With a rumored price tag of over $100,000, she'll legitimately remain the Palm Beach Wagon. 

Hope wood side panels remain an option.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hot Plants -- How Midwest Plants Can Survive Extreme Heat

She said yes!  Then, the robust hydrangea planted in the yard in anticipation of the firstborn's wedding  suddenly collapsed, brilliant blooms curling inward. 

For the past week temperatures have topped ninety degrees by mid-afternoon.  How can tender and newly planted flowers and shrubs survive this persistent heat?

Water is essential, but not the only defense.  Early morning watering helps, but if a plant is located in hot afternoon sun, it may still wilt.  If wind accompanies the heat, supplement water intake with hydration.  Direct a sold stream of H2O to the root and drip line of the plant.  Water on the leaves could act as a magnifier in the hot sun--so minimize overspray.

Some sagging isn't hazardous to the long-term health of a plant, particularly if it's well established.  Plants, like people,
tend to droop in high heat, but normally the luster's restored as soon as temperatures are back in the seventies to mid-eighties. 

Heat scorched leaves may be unavoidable and should be snipped away.  They won't hurt the plant, clipping only improves aesthetics and promotes regrowth.

Nevertheless, more than a couple days of significant wilt ,( i.e. reduction of the plant to less than a third of  normal height) can be deadly. 

If that's the case, the solution isn't terribly pretty--but it works.  Throw shade!  Fashion an open sided heat shield.  Nothing fancy, prop up some cardboard or a sheet.  Don't lay the material directly on the plant.  Leave room for air to circulate,  or a "hothouse" effect will follow. 

Once the heat wave passes, trim any permanent damage and increase water for a few weeks.

Don't fertilize until the plant is back in fighting shape.

By the time fall nuptials occur, the hydrangea should be big and blooming. 

But all eyes will be on the bride ...

Hot Topics:

Rockery and Roll -- Xeriscape Gardening

Will My Plants Survive This Drought?

Friday, April 28, 2017

How (Not) To Grow Basil. ~~~ Hello Oregano!

I love everything about basil.  Love the leafy look, the rich scent, love to slice it chiffonade style, and, of course, there's the taste, either fresh or newly dried. 

But I can't grow it.  Newly planted green sprouts quickly turn black and/or disintegrate, both indoors and out.  It's killin' me. 

Hello oregano!
Research suggests allow at least six hours of sun, and good drainage.  I tried large sunny pots last year, but after a few weeks, the plant disappeared. 

Herbs brought into the garden shed last fall thrived.  Oregano took over the work bench, and thyme is everywhere.

Basil went caput. 

This summer I'll plant in indirect sunlight, avoid overwatering and leave more room around the plant.  Pots are likely the best location to avoid critters. 

Homemade Margherita Pizza with Basil

We shall see Basil. 

It's not over yet ...

More blogs about basil:

Look What Survived the Winter in My Garden

Spring Frost Damage to Trees and Plants

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Losing Impatiens in 2017

In 2018 impatiens blight is likely to return
Sickly stems and yellowed leaves reappeared in mid-summer last season.

Seems the balsam blight has tucked in.

Despite the hope that downy mildew would fizzle after a three year quarantine, impatiens remain diseased after four years.

Good garden practices can't overcome the trifecta of nature.  Cooler temperatures, wet springs and cold winters create a susceptible host for the pathogen.  As a water mold, impatiens blight thrives in cooler humid environments in the range of 59 to 73 degrees. Once infected,
midsummer heat is no antidote for these tender annuals.

It's not difficult to be seduced by full flowering flats each spring.  It's simply not worth the cost and effort  to purchase and plant annuals which may not survive the season, and could contaminate the surrounding soil to boot. 

As soon as the signs of blight appear {drooping leaves, tiny white flecks on the underside} there's no going back.  There's no cure. Pull the plants out and dispose of them far away.  Do not compost. 

Begonias are the new impatiens
If you succumb to the understandable lure of these colorful shade annuals, it's recommended that starters be quarantined for at least two weeks.  Check for signs of the disease.  Don't plant in the same location as the prior year (or two.)

While the busy lizzie blight is not transferable to surrounding plant species, it is recommended that plants within a three foot radius be removed. Still, I can't bring myself to remove a healthy plant simply because of unruly neighbors. 

Avoid the grief--it's far less frustrating to plant fill the yard any of number of colorful alternatives:

What to Plant Instead of Impatiens?

Should I Plant Coleus Instead of Impatiens?

Begonias are the New Impatiens

Plants That Thrive Where the Sun Don't Shine