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Roses Don’t Have to be Scary!

All About Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc.

Friendly Garden Club of Traverse City: Summer Garden Walk July 16, 2015

Charlevoix Area Garden Club, Garden Tour July 15, 2015

Periwinkle Garden Club, Frankfort Garden Tour


Roses Don’t Have to be Scary!

Karen Schmidt, Botanic Garden Board Chair, ARS Consulting Rosarian and Cherry Capital Rose Society

If you ask many gardeners why they don’t grow roses, you’ll often hear the same answers. “Roses don’t survive our tough winters. They’re disease and insect magnets – they need an arsenal of chemicals and elaborate winter protection.

The good news is that hybridizers are busy breeding stunningly beautiful roses that address many of these concerns. Test gardens in the United States and Germany are running trials on and rating roses on their performance in these areas – especially in terms of winter hardiness and disease resistance.

Here in the United States, the Texas Agri-Life Extension has been doing extensive research and field trials on roses for a number of years. Trial roses are grown with limited fertilizer, water, and pesticides over an 8-year period. Only roses that perform strongly throughout this period, exhibiting superior pest tolerance and disease resistance are chosen. They have recently added test gardens in Northern climates to check for hardiness. To see a list of Earth Kind ‘winners’, go to

Even more exciting for us Northern gardeners is the German Allgemeine Deutsche Rosenneuheitenprufung or ADR rose trials. Breeders often describe this trial as the most challenging in the world. Rose candidates are raised in eleven independent trial gardens across Germany. No winter protection or chemical sprays are used during the trial period. Roses are rated on their disease resistance, hardiness, attractiveness, fragrance, and growth type. If a rose has an ADR certification, it is a top candidate for your Northern no-spray garden! And the good news is that there are a great number of wonderful candidates. My favorite source for these roses (which are shipped bare root in early spring) is Palatine Nursery, as they have a large and impressive selection of ADR roses. Check them out at I grow many of these roses in my no-spray garden and you can too!

A few growing tips: The proper planting and feeding of roses in the North – even ADR roses – can make a big difference. If you receive your bare root roses through the mail, unpack them right away and soak the roots in a bucket of water for 24 hours. Don’t leave them in water more than two days, however. Whether you are planting a bare root or a potted rose, dig a hole twice as wide as the rose and half again as deep. Save the top third of the soil – keep the bottom two-thirds for other uses. Mix the top third of the soil with equal amounts of compost and peat moss. Place some of this mixture in the hole, so that when the rose is set in the hole, the graft (the ‘knob’ where the rose was grafted to the rootstock) sits about 3” below ground level. This is CRITICAL as it will help protect the graft from winter damage. Fill the hole by thirds, adding water with each fill. Build a ‘lip’ around the edge to hold in moisture and, if it is a bare root rose, mound the exposed canes with mulch for several weeks until you see new growth. NOTE: I dig my holes in the fall and fill with the topsoil, peat, compost mix. The bare root roses tend to arrive on the coldest, sometime snowiest, early spring day so I want to make it as easy as possible. I dig the soil mix back out of the hole, position the rose and refill the hole – then go in and warm up!

Wait until your new roses blooms before you feed them, but feed your established roses in May and July. I give mine 2 cups of the rose society’s all-natural soil amendment mix, which is similar to Rose Tone, at each feeding. If your roses look a bit peaked in between, you can always give them a drink of fish emulsion or compost tea. Stop feeding your roses anything but potassium by mid August, however, as you don’t want them putting a lot of energy into new growth that will be killed by the first heavy frost. Potassium does help your rose prepare for winter.

I don’t winterize my hardy ADR roses and just throw a shovel of mulch on the base of the more tender ones in early November (after they have gone dormant).


All About Michigan Garden Clubs

Terry Harding, Master Gardener

Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc. is a state-wide composite of garden clubs that come under the umbrella of National Garden Clubs, Inc. Michigan is divided into 6 districts with 169 garden clubs all located in the lower peninsula. District V covers northern portion of the mitt and is composed of 23 garden clubs.

Each District has a District Director and Sue Soderberg is our District V Director. It’s her job to keep in touch with all 23 clubs and what is happening in those clubs. She is a board member of Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc. that meets 4 times a year to conduct state-wide business.

There are many benefits to belonging to a garden club that is a part of National Garden Clubs, Inc. and Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc.   Special schools (Environmental Study School, Gardening Study School, Landscape Design School, and Flower Show School) sponsored in Michigan are open to garden club members as well as the general public.

Each School is composed of 4 different courses, each lasting usually two days. These schools require registration and a fee for attending and are offered in various districts in Michigan. Information is advertised on Michigan Gardens, Inc. website:

Environmental Study School subjects covered: Conservation of air, water and land; Appreciation of how everything is inter-related; Permaculture and sustainable agriculture; preservation of our natural world and field trips.

Flower Show School subjects covered: Horticulture; Design Elements, principles and mechanics of creating arrangements; Flower show National standards, how to write a schedule and put a flower show together.

Gardening Study School subjects covered: Basic botany, soils, plant propagation; Plant diseases and pests; Growing vegetables and container gardening; Pruning techniques and plant identification; growing fruits and woody ornamentals; teaching tour of a garden. The Master Gardener program was designed using this study school as its model.

Landscape Design School subjects covered: Elements of Design and Site design; Planning home grounds, plant selection; Design for environment and public landscapes; Structures and design accessories; Basics of site design and how to read a plan; Designing for low maintenance; Tour of gardens to evaluate them.

I will be reporting on District V clubs, particularly the ones located in Benzie, Cadillac, Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties in upcoming Real Dirt issues. Of course there are other garden area clubs that are not members of Michigan and National Garden Clubs. I hope to give you an overview of those as well. Needless to say, there is a club out there for everyone, so stay tuned. Maybe you will find one that suits your needs.

District V Garden Clubs in Michigan:


district V garden clubs

Photo courtesy of The Friendly Garden Club of Traverse City


Friendly Garden Club of Traverse City

Becky Smits, Master Gardener in Training

It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon in July on Old Mission Peninsula. My friend picked me up in her convertible, and we were off to tour six lovely gardens featured by the Friendly Garden Club of Traverse City at their Annual Summer Garden Walk. Each year the Club selects a garden to feature in the walk, then locates other tour-worthy gardens nearby to include. The Club’s objectives are to stimulate knowledge and promote the love of gardening, landscape and floral design; to aid in the protection of native trees, plants and wildlife; and to encourage civic beautification and environmental responsibility. The garden walk incorporated all of these objectives and was certainly inspiring. Club members were on hand at each garden to help identify plants and point out unique features.

First up, was an informal semi-shaded garden near the shore of East Bay. Homeowner Cindy has made the most of a triangular lot, dominated by huge stands of tall grasses and tall yellow daisies along the property’s edge which create a natural, flowing fence. Several non-hardy, exotic plants are located throughout the garden in pots, which are brought inside for the winter months. In the back corner, a bit of shade had been created by balancing a vintage canoe against the fence, so shade-loving annuals including impatiens can thrive.

A short drive away was a shady garden tucked into a wooded hillside. Ground covers are king in this garden, as well as many native woodland species. While perhaps not as showy as their sun-loving counterparts, the varied colors and textures of shade plants lend a tranquil air to the space. Poster boards with pictures of the space coming alive in spring showed it full of trillium and fiddleheads. As we rounded the corner to the back of the house, we were surprised by a terraced, sun-dappled slope lovingly planted with perennials and shrubs. An arbor graces one edge of the space, covered with vining, flowering plants. Rock walls around a swimming pool form a sitting area, perfect for enjoying the afternoon sun. Homeowner Rhonda has created a whimsical fairy garden at the base of a gnarled tree, featuring small doors and windows and a pebble-lined “river” to spark the imaginations of her grandchildren.

Heading up the Peninsula, our next stop was at Chris and Colleen’s 1885 farmhouse with a barn and acres of perennial gardens, planted to take advantage of the sun and shade throughout the yard. Hostas, ferns and hydrangeas bursting in bloom dominated the shady areas near the house and under a huge tree. Next to the barn, a gently sloped rock garden is filled with colorful flowers. The homeowner has a “nursery” garden, where cuttings and seedlings are nurtured. A plot of vegetables is near the kitchen, along with an experimental row of hops. On the day of the tour, several plein air artists were present, painting their interpretation of garden scenes. Family weddings have been hosted in the barn and gardens.   An arbor fashioned from vintage French doors flanked by a low boxwood hedge serves as a background for wedding photos.

Our next stop was at Cathy and Brad’s lovely home up on a hill overlooking West Bay. Pretty, cottage-style gardens featuring pink, purple and white surround the home. Calming water features and mounds of lavender, monarda bee balm, lilies and other sun-loving perennials blend in this sunny space, along with potted annuals. A French-style potager garden featuring vegetables and herbs is behind the house, carefully surrounded by metal fencing buried in the soil at the base to discourage Peter Cottontail and his friends. A wooden table and chairs in the center provides a spot to take a break from gardening or share a glass of iced-tea with friends.

The garden of Cameron and Dan was the furthest north on our tour. Volunteers offered cookies and golf cart rides up to the home from the parking area. A hillside garden edged with rocks loaded with an abundance of perennials including roses, delphiniums and hosta provides a pleasant spot for the homeowners to enjoy from their back porch. The family has a Williamsburg style raised bed vegetable and herb garden with a decorative fence, sitting area and potting shed handy for keeping tools nearby.

The final garden in the tour featured roses upon roses, as well as many other perennials including monarda, daisies and huge masses of red lucifer. This formal garden features a red brick terraced area leading up to the home that is loaded with a variety of showy flowers. More intimate gardens to the side and rear of the home form “rooms” that invite homeowner Elaine to enjoy from her breakfast nook. On our way back to the car, we noticed an unexpected, informal hedge of raspberries in full ripeness along the drive which seemed to be offered to passersby to enjoy.

The tour complete, we were full of ideas to try in our own gardens. My friend was motivated to tackle a barren slope in her yard to emulate the hillside gardens we saw. I was excited to fill my shady garden with a wider variety of plants in varying heights. The day gave us memories and inspiration to carry us through the winter months as we dream of new ideas to try, and look forward to the Club’s next tour in July 2016. Photos from the 2015 tour can be seen on the Club’s website at


Charlevoix Area Garden Club, Garden Tour, July 15, 2015

Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, with garden descriptions provided by CAGC

Mark your calendar to visit the Charlevoix Area Garden Club’s Garden tour in July 13, 2016! The CAGC is a large club with many active members. This allowed them to host tours of wonderful gardens and offer a delicious catered lunch at Castle Farms. The Castle Farms’ Gardens were on the tour and are well worth a visit on their own. The luncheon tables were beautifully decorated by club members. The table settings were a tour in-and-of themselves! Following is a quick summary of the 2015 gardens on the tour.

The Secret Garden

High ornamental rock berms and tall greenery strategically placed at the perimeter helped the owners create their perfect secret garden. Curious onlookers try to peek through the lush walls only to discover more mystery lies beyond. Gale and Kim turned the rocky soil of a shipping era wood yard into their own private oasis with expansive decks, rock ledges, colorful flora and pathways leading to totem poles and a swing grotto.

An Organic Garden

Carla certainly knows how to make the most of her small organic garden. With over 50 years’ experience growing vegetables, her goal has been realized. She replaced her lawn with fruits and vegetables bordered by colorful ornamentals at the property edge. If you are looking for this knowledgeable gardener, you will most likely find her in the greenhouse cultivating new plants!

A Rose Garden and More

A row of whimsical birdhouses dance proudly above tea roses and hydrangeas, as if they grew from the stems of the colorful flowers that surround them. John and Phyllis’ use of color, plant variety and textures creates a cottage garden that enhances a paradise summer home where they can relax and “enjoy God’s beautiful creation”.

In-town Country Garden or The Place to Entertain

This beautiful country garden epitomizes summering in Charlevoix the Beautiful. A white picket fence surrounds the perennial gardens of hydrangeas, hostas, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, shade gardens and paths that twist along an organic layout. A beautiful farmer’s table and chairs set the mood and a pergola awaits visitors.

Castle Farms Gardens

With over 100 years of history, Castle Farms is listed on the National and State Historic Registries. Their formal gardens and courtyards rival any of their foreign French predecessors for their size. Visitors can enjoy French Renaissance arches, flowing fountains, lush gardens, boxwood hedges and gazebos with fragrant blooms.

An English Country Garden

A short distance from town Alan and Leslie have created one of Charlevoix’s true country garden walks. Step beyond very natural edges to discover a charming English garden with numerous paths that venture around beautiful barns, rock gardens, secret gardens, ponds and yard art that keep it whimsical… and all so English. Meandering paths lead past beautiful flower beds and into the pure relaxation and enjoyment of Michigan’s countryside at its best.


Periwinkle Garden Club, Frankfort Garden Tour

Susie Anderson

2015 was Periwinkle Garden Club’s first attempt at hosting a garden walk. The weather was perfect. Low 70’s, sunshine and a nice breeze. We felt that the attendance was good for a first-time event. We had people from both the Onekema and TC area, along with many tourists. Our District V Director, Sue Soderberg, also attended.

All of the gardens were within walking distance except for Wes and Sharon’s. They have several acres of land out on River Road. Visitors first walked up their drive and past a wild and carefree garden before entering their house. Wes felt that it would be easier for attendees to go through the front door, then out the back. There is a tree growing through their roof and a pond in the corner of the great room. Once outside, visitors can stroll along the paths through the natural landscape and view sculptures done by both Wes and local student artists, or sit in the gazebo or on the deck and enjoy the pond. They can visit the tree house in the woods and view the gardens and wildlife from there. Across the road, one could take a longer walk on the paths through the meadow of natural grasses and blooming flora interspersed with sculptures, and at the back of the meadow find a darling playhouse.

After the out-of town garden, it was a short drive into downtown Frankfort where visitors could park anywhere and start the walking tour.

Mary calls her garden “God’s garden”, where plants are allowed to reseed wherever they fall and grow with abandonment. All of her roses are David Austin old English roses. H er ten year granddaughter provided and served lemonade in the gazebo. Mary had beautiful painting of flowers hung there, which made the place even more delightful. She has alyssum and fever few growing throughout the garden, which make your think that fairies might live here! Beautiful Delphiniums and oriental lilies. Truly a delightful place.

Stroll down one block on Michigan Ave. to Leelanau. Take a right and go two blocks to:

Becky’s: the house sits on a corner lot. The front and east yards are all gardens. Hydrangeas, daisies, day lilies, Hostas and ground cover make the porch an inviting place to sit and watch people stroll by. The back yard is surrounded by a white picket fence. More Hydrangeas and Hosta can be found here. Becky has pops of color in pots filled with beautiful red Geraniums, both in the garden and on the back deck.

Back to Leelanau, Michigan and a short walk to Nippissing St..

Nancy’s: Nancy was inspired after she attended a wedding held in a Japanese garden in San Diego. Upon her return she started researching Japanese gardens. To strike a more Asian note, the retaining wall at the back of her yard was painted red. Decks and fencing were built by the same company that built her home. Lupine and Japanese iris are just a few of the plants found here.

Across the street is Joan’s. This is more of a landscaped yard than a garden. Beautiful flowering shrubs, Hostas and Helebores can be found around the house and perimeter of the yard. Joan is a charter member of the Periwinkle Garden Club, which was formed in 1972 by Eileen Labre Scharlow.

Our next walk will be in July of 2017.