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People, towns, businesses, farms and gardens all grow in Michigan soil.


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Autumn as Prelude

It’s time to get ready for winter. The days are still mild enough to enjoy being outside and there is a lot to take care of. My list stays the same from year to year. Keep the grass mowed. Rake the leaves. Caulk around windows and doors. Get the snow thrower and shovels ready. Put the storm windows in place. Get out the warm coats, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves. Put the window scrapers in the car.

Here in Jackson at the Cascades Park, I’ve been watching the geese get ready for travel. They are training in formation flying and the frequency and volume of their comm checks is easy to hear. The ducks are more mellow, but they will also leave soon for places warmer and snowless. While I enjoy watching them at a distance, I won’t miss the duck-duck-goose spatter they leave on the walkway.

Solitary heron at the shoreline.

Solitary heron at the shoreline.

I often notice a solitary heron standing near the overgrown shoreline. He will become a snow bird in the South very soon. I think he’s a blue heron, but I’m ready to be corrected. I never saw a mate; better luck next year.

Sunbathing turtles.

Sunbathing turtles.

There is quite a bit of open water and turtles are a common sight. Here in Michigan, they become dormant during the freezing month and wait in a burrow they dug in the muck. I don’t know if this pair are Blanding’s turtles, but Blanding’s do like weedy wetlands and ponds. They are easiest to spot on a sunny day when they sit out on logs, soaking up the rays.

I will remember all of this fondly when we become part of snow country.

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Romantic Spring Flower Combinations

White money plant and pink tulips are a sweet combination

White money plant and pink tulips are a sweet combination

If you like a calm and romantic mood in the garden, try pairing money plant (Lunaria annua) and pink tulips.

Money plant is available with either white or purple blooms that open in early May, depending on the spring weather. Match the timing with an early-May tulip. Try a stronger, deeper shade of pink if you are using the purple variety (Lunaria annua) and a more delicate pink for the white variety (L. annua var. albiflora).

Tulips like a sunny location and at least average soil. So does money plant, which grows in average to rich soil and partial to full sun. The blooms stay for a couple of weeks, and the seed pods are popular in decorating since they resemble coins. Money plant goes easily from seed. You can plant in the fall or the spring. It is a biennial. This years seeds sprout to become next years plants. This years plants will not return in the spring. It’s important that the seeds reach the soil, so avoid using mulch in this garden. The seed pods will blow in the wind to different locations and you can pot them up as gifts for your friends. You can also save seed pods in glassine envelopes for party favors.

Tulips are perennial in Michigan and can live for decades if they don’t become over-crowded or heavily browsed. If the blooms look less vigorous that you remember, dig up the bulbs after the leaves have turned yellow or brown and gone limp. Expect to see several bulbs instead of one. Plant all the bulbs that look healthy and discard the others in the trash. Tulips are usually planted at a depth equal to 3 times their height. Tulips planted too early are also easier for the squirrels to find      . Doug Green writing in Doug Green’s Garden recommends planting spring-blooming bulbs 4 to 6 weeks before the ground freezes. Since Michigan stretches from Zone 4a to 6a, you should plant when the ground in your yard freezes, not the mid-October date that is sometimes mentioned.

The leaves of both money plant and tulips will fade and dry out. Consider using a third plant in the garden. Look for annuals that will last until frost and hide the dying leaves. Pansies are a good choice. They are available in a variety of colors and like full sun.

Money plant seeds. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

Money plant seeds. Image courtesy of wikipedia.