Below are some of the upcoming events offered in our area through our Association, the Boardman River Nature Center, Plant It Wild, and The Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park. Check each of their websites for even more summer fun. Most, if not all, of these events earn either education or volunteer hours.
Saturday, Mar 10th 1-3pm by Julia Hoffley Charge: $10
Proven Winners for 2018
Wednesday Mar 14th BG is pleased to partner with Master Gardeners bringing Heidi Grasman to talk about Hot Plants for 2018. Class is FREE and will be at the Botanic Garden .
Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees
Wednesday Apr 4th 7-9pm by Linda Schubert & Janet Kivell FREE.
Growing and Caring for Orchids
Wednesday, Apr 11th 7-9pm Growing and Caring for Orchids by Jim Scrivener FREE
Straw Bale Gardening
Wednesday, Apr 18th 7-9pm by Carlleen Rose FREE
*Note: All classes will be held at the Botanic Garden Visitor Center. Pre-registration and tickets are required for all events due to space and are available on the website. https://thebotanicgarden.org/events/
This friendly fellow was my pet for a few days thanks to the help of a fellow Master Gardener. She knew I was taking an entomology class and I had to turn in a collection for points. I was desperately asking friends for help, since frost was lurking just around the corner.
Did you know that walking sticks are herbivores? Since I had it in captivity, I needed to know what to feed it. They love oak leaves, and it vigorously ate a large chunk out of the leaf I gave it. They can be destructive defoliators in parks and recreation sites when there are severe outbreaks.
They are also really good at playing hide and go seek because they resemble a stick and can remain very still. Some species cover themselves with material that resembles moss or lichens, and others change color to match their surroundings. Since they are nocturnal, and feed and move at night, they also escape predators.
I was amazed at its acrobatics in my container. It could hang upside down because it has sticky “toe pads” and non-stick “heel pads” which allowed it to grip when needed, yet be mobile without having to peel away at each step.
This insect, however, will not win the “Mother of the Year” award. Some fling their eggs from the tree tops to the ground hoping for the best. Some females are parthenogenic so do not need males to produce fertilized eggs. These eggs resemble seeds which allows for a really interesting relationship with ants. The ants collect the eggs and remove a cap to feed their larvae. This doesn’t harm the walking stick egg, so they rest comfortably in the ant nest until they hatch and walk away as a nymph. This nymph will enlarge in stages until it becomes an adult. How cool is that!
I am learning that we are surrounded by insects more than I ever realized. Some beneficial and some harmful. It has been eye opening to study some in more depth, such as my friend the walking stick.
Handmade seed containers, done in Advanced Master Gardener Lillian Mahaney’s JRMG class (photo by Adv MG L. Mahaney)
by Michael O’Brien, Master Gardener
Winter is here, and that means it’s time to begin thinking about what to grow this coming summer!
The first step is to find the seeds that were put aside from the past growing season. Well, maybe not all of them. I’m referring to the ones that need to go through a process called, “Seed Stratification.” This is a process that nature has created to insure plants don’t germinate at the wrong time of the year. Many seed species have an embryonic dormancy phase and generally will not sprout until this dormancy is broken. That means they will not germinate unless they go through a period of cold temperatures. This includes many perennials and native plants, as well as certain evergreens and maples.
Personally, I am looking to attract more bees and monarch butterflies so I’m going to plant milkweed, Asclepias. The process I am going to use will be cold and moist. To begin, I will start by separating the silky hairs from the seed. Once I have collected all of my seeds, I will then place them on a damp paper towel. Another damp paper towel gets placed on top seeds. The paper towels are put in a sealed plastic bag to keep the moisture from evaporating. Label the bag and place it in a container. The container can be stored in the refrigerator or a shed where it will be safe and undisturbed. Four to six weeks before the last frost, the seeds come out of the bag and they get planted in potting soil. These seeds will begin to sprout in about two weeks. Sprouting time will vary depending on the plant.
There is also another way to stratify you’re seeds. It’s a cold, dry method. Rather than placing the seeds on a damp paper towel, they are instead planted directly in potting soil. The seeds and soil are left dry and again in a cold area. Come spring, germinate as you normally would.
Brian Zimmerman of Four Season Nursery (photo by MG W. Miller)
October MG Meeting — “Plants Deer Don’t Eat”
by Nancy Denison, Advanced Master Gardener
The October 3rd MGANM meeting featured Brian Zimmerman and Tom Ford from Four Season Nursery in Traverse City on favorite annual topic: deer resistant plants. They shared several deer feeding tidbits, some of which were a surprise to me.
For example, deer like plants with protein — high in nitrogen, especially bucks. They also like fresh growth leaves with high water content. You could see this in the Glen Arbor area this past spring and summer, where deer were feeding on the expansive understory growth which was created by the huge storm in August 2015.
Other interesting deer facts – they do not like fuzzy leaves, gray leaves and scented foliage (lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage). Deer also follow a route, prefer the edges of a forest and have two to three fawns a year.
Suggested practices to limit deer browsing included: dogs, fencing, large crush stone mulch, motion detectors, sprinklers and fishing line double stretched between posts. Cutting back on watering and fertilizing was also discussed. In addition, you can use “Deer Stopper” and other such sprays every two weeks, but alternate between the brands so deer don’t get used to the same scent.
Several plant/shrub/tree lists were available for reference and reading pleasure, as the battle between deer and humans takes a bit of a rest over the winter months. Thanks so much to Brian and Tom for their expertise and time with us!
*To review the recommended plants lists from Brian and Tom, look at the Michigan Resources tab on our page HERE.
TC Community Garden: New Year, New Leadership, New Benefits
by Bethany Thies, Master Gardener
If you have any interest in growing your own food, you should look into renting a plot from TC Community Garden (TCCG). Located in the Historic Barns Park at the southwest corner of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, TCCG is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide a place for people in the area to gather and share a common interest in organic gardening in an urban setting.
It also offers educational opportunities to the community and provides fresh produce for numerous charities. In fact, the TCCG Teaching and Donation Garden collected over 1300 pounds of food this past growing season, which is donated on the day it is picked to Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan and distributed to area food pantries.
These three pillars of its mission – gathering, education and growing – have been the focus of the organization since it first went into operation in 2012. Explosive growth in the organization over the past few years, though, has TCCG looking at new ways of implementing this mission.
“We really took a look at the mission statement and operational model and made some adjustments to make sure we are giving members a high-quality experience at TC Community Garden,” said TCCG Board of Directors President Zach Millican.
Gathering and Growing
One such adjustment has to do with the organization’s garden plots. In years past, a member had to also manage a plot. This year, managing a plot is an add-on to membership. Any persons who support the mission may now join the garden. “We wanted membership to be more inclusive,” Millican said.
Membership fees for 2018 are $35 for an individual, $60 for a duo, $100 for a family and $175 for a business/sponsor. Membership includes free admission to most of its 2018 programming, currently about 30 events focused on promoting the TCCG’s strong fellowship. Plot rental will be extra — $65 for a 12’ by 30’ plot or $130 for a 24’ by 30’ plot — plus an active gardener fee. Plot renters will enjoy on-demand water, on-site composting, free soil amendments and cover crops, discounted starter plants and seeds, access to community tools and new this year, personal gardening assistance.
Plot renters must agree to organic growing practices, actively manage the plot through weeding, watering and pest control, and be an ambassador for the garden and park. In the past, gardeners were required to commit 12 hours to help manage the garden. However, the organization believes this detracted from members having a good gardeing experience, so it has been eliminated for 2018.
Changes have come to other areas of the organization as well. In December, TCCG members voted to hire an executive director to help run what had been a solely volunteer-run group. Kimberly Conaghan, who had been president and treasurer for two years, is stepping into the new position. Acting as the liaison between the Board of Directors and the membership, she said she is extremely honored to be TCCG’s first Executive Director. She will also be at the TCCG managing some of the new day-to-day operations.
“A big focus in 2018 is on educational programming, and more specifically, our children’s education and programming,” Conaghan said. “There will be a weekly story time in the garden followed by a garden-themed arts and craft activity, and a monthly kids’ workshop, each with a different theme, and many family-friendly events at the September 30 Harvest Festival.”
In addition, each Friday beginning in June, TCCG will also have a Garden Market Stand offering organically grown produce to the public. Members of TCCG will receive coupons and steep discounts. All excess produce will continue to be donated to local charitable causes.
Also new for 2018 will be a Farm-to-Table Dinner series. “We are still ironing out some dates and details, but they will incredible,” Conaghan said. “We are hoping to also make them zero waste and locally sourced.”
The organization’s complete programming lineup will be released in February.
With all of the growth and changes coming to TCCG in 2018, you might be asking yourself, “where do I sign up?” Membership for 2018 is happening now, and new plot renters may request a plot beginning January 1 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, you must be a member to rent a plot. You can also reach the TCCG anytime by calling 231-715-1544.
As a whole, gardeners LOVE their flowers. From late spring to early fall in northern Michigan we eagerly anticipate, enjoy and finally ‘tidy-up’ after our perennial gardens. Generously, that provides 4 months of interest. There are 12 months in a year and for eight long months a flower garden is generally blah. Blah, blah, blah.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Now is the time to gaze at your garden under the snow and plan for a livelier, interesting winter garden showplace.
An effective garden design begins with structure. One focal point shrub or small tree may be all that is needed in a small garden to give it eye-popping interest. In a larger space, consider a small tree and shrubs. Draw the garden space on graph paper and place a woody plant where it provides interest from all viewing sites. Often, it is near the center of the bed or off to a background edge. Keeping things in odd numbers is an easy rule of thumb; one specimen tree with three shrubs. Consider scale, such as expected height and width of the woody plant and response to pruning. Then consider shape. Will a single trunk small tree suit the garden style or a multi trunk? Single trunk appears more formal, while multi trunk appears less formal…even with the same species. Would vase-shape or globe shape fit your idea of beauty. Finally, consider the branch. A red twig dogwood is just that… RED! Having red stems contrast with white snow for four months of the year is as good as a blossom. The peeling bark of the vase-shaped nine bark gives a different, interesting ‘look’. While at study for woody shrubs and small trees, make note of bloom time and color. Many of these plants also add a nectar source for pollinators and butterflies, a larval host for caterpillars and a berry for birds.
Another structural feature to have in a garden is hardscape. A low stone wall, cluster of large boulders, an arbor or plant support of some kind left out all season adds interest to a flat landscape. Some of these items may actually be lost in a summer garden, such as a large chunk of driftwood, only to reappear after plant dieback.
Once the garden structure is in place, move on to perennials. Which perennials in the garden have stiff stems to withstand winter weather? Purple coneflower, Iron Weed, Butterfly Weed and Penstemon come to mind. While still ‘dead’, the stems provide a place for your eye to scan or land when gazing at the garden. The sturdy stems provide a reminder that under the frost and deep snow a beautiful flowering plant sleeps. Additionally, some of these spent flower heads offer nutritious seeds for birds, especially the purple coneflower or sunflower family.
Finally, many of the clump forming grasses produce gorgeous seed heads. The tall Indian Grass blooms yellow in August and stands tall through the winter, waving with the strong winds. Shorter grasses such as Little Blue Stem and Prairie Dropseed keep their seed heads through the early winter season and end as mounds under the snow. On a slope, these mounds evoke a miniature mogul ski run.
A final word on winter interest in the garden addresses fall clean-up. In other words, don’t bother. Leaving stems and fallen plants in the garden provides insect and critter habitat crucial to their survival. These mounds and stems also provide us a vision of a garden hibernating awaiting the first thin rays of spring sun to melt the snow and send up bright spring shoots ahead of the summer flowers.
List of Plants for Winter Interest:
Serviceberry, Amelanchier laevis. Offers an arching, vase shape.
Red osier dogwood, Cornus stolonifera Red-barked stems/branches.
Little Blue Stem, Schizachyrium scoparium. Feathery seed heads in early winter, mound in deep winter.
Indian Grass, Sorghastrum nutans. Tall, fluffy seed heads.
Amaryllis, photo by AMG Michele Worden
Amaryllis – The Gift that Keeps Giving
by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener
As I enter the growing area in my garage, I see that one of my eleven potted amaryllis bulbs is about to flower. I like to maintain these plants under the grow lights in my garage to keep them short until close to blooming. Now is time, though, to take this one precocious bulb inside so it can shine!
A good time to buy amaryllis bulbs is after Christmas. You will see them on sale everywhere. I usually can’t resist. Amaryllis is a tender perennial bulb. You can keep it forever and with benign neglect (or minimal care) it will rebloom for years.
When you first get a bulb or a bulb in a kit, you want to plant the bulb in pre-moistened soil in a pot that fits tightly – no more than a one-inch space between the bulb and the pot. The roots like to be crowded. The bulb should sit up in the pot, only half covered with soil.
Put your newly planted bulb in a warm dark place until the lone flower stalk starts to emerge. I usually put it in a dark corner of my house on top of a floor heating vent. Do not water again until the flower stalk starts to emerge.
When it blooms you many need to tie it to a stake if it gets too leggy. I try to put it in a sunny area of my living room under the sky lights. Sometimes the plant will send up another flower stalk and extend the indoor blooming. Blooms last a couple weeks, though some types develop more than one flower on a stalk like a lily and can last a month or more.
After it blooms, it will produce several long thin green leaves. Just keep it watered and lightly fertilized like any house plant. In the summer I put them on my deck in bright but not really direct sunlight. Towards fall I try to remember to stop watering it and let it dry out so that it can go dormant. In a good year I remember to take It inside my garage early enough (August or September) to rebloom for Christmas time. Otherwise, I just take it indoors with the other plants in mid-October and plan to enjoy it over the winter.
Amaryllis needs about three months of a dark, dry dormancy to rebloom. I put the pots in my garage (kept at 50-60 degrees F) in a dark corner in a brown paper grocery bag. I tuck the bags in out of the way corners, and try to remember to check on them occasionally. I have heard people also put them inside in closets.
This year my resolution is to not forget about them. Last May I noticed a long pale ghostly white flower stalk peeking out of the top of a bag in the corner of the garage. It was a full-size amaryllis that had grown in darkness in the bag! I quickly checked all my bulbs. Some had bloomed in the bags…LOL. Luckily, the green returned to the white stalks when I moved then into the light, and we enjoyed the leggy flowers in late May. Still beautiful, if a tab unseasonal. Happily, this year I actually have some ready to go for Christmas!
But I will still probably buy more after Christmas.
“The Reason for Flowers”, photo by MG Nancy Denison
Book Review — The Reason for Flowers
by Nancy Denison, Advanced Master Gardener
Have you read the book, The Reason for Flowers by Stephen Buchmann? I found it at a local bookstore, on sale, and thought it might be a good addition to my small collection of gardening /plant books. It was published by Scribner, in 2015, and authored by a pollination ecologist, entomologist and adjunct professor at the University of Arizona. He previously published, The Forgotten Pollinator and Honey Bees: Letters From the Hive.
The Reason for Flowers is organized into five sections, each with two or three chapters combining historical facts and everyday examples in an easy to read and interesting style.
Part One, entitled “Sexuality and Origins,” explains how flowers evolved from small leaves bunched together at the stem tip to losing their green color and developing petal and bract structures over time. Buchmann likens flowers to “cafes and rest stops,” offering pollinators a wealth of four types of food: nectar, pollen, floral oils and the edible body tissues of some.
Part Two—”Growing, Breeding and Selling” tells of the history of ornamental gardens including flowers, topiaries, obelisks, figurines and more. Flowers were used for burials and funerals dating back to Neanderthals, as well as for research and breeding from Asia to Europe and the Americas. Today we can get our cut flowers from a small florist to a big box warehouse. Not too long ago, California was the mainstay for the cut flower industry. However, Columbia, Ecuador and Costa Rica with their rich soil, constant climate and 12 hours of daylight all year, are now the largest producers of flowers for our markets.
“Foods, Flavors and Scents” takes on how we eat the flowers of plants such as broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes and the importance of knowing what plants are non- edible. The information on saffron, cloves and honey adds to the awareness of how all things in nature are so interconnected. The chapter describing the ancient use of flower or plant oil for fragrance begins with the Arabs prior to the 10th century when they learned how to distill fragrance from fresh flowers creating the first rose water. The use of flower oils and essences for our wellbeing is as strong as ever today.
Part Four’s chapters offers some history of the secret language of meaning in giving and receiving flowers and how all cultures have used flowers as the subject of poems, stories, myths and art, from the early Sumerians to the Grimm Brothers versions of the French and German fairy tales to the landscape paintings by early Asian cultures.
Lastly, “Flowers in the Service of Science and Medicine” explains how the scientific study of flowers has changed how we see our world. Linnaeus, Mendel and Darwin among many others, brought to light how plants regenerate, travel from one part of the world to another, can be modified, provide food, shelter and cures for simple and serious ailments. Simply put, we need nature and nature needs us!
The book closes with appendices on flower statistics, recipes, how to care for cut flowers and online resources for conservation organizations.
Sometimes a book just pops out at you and you discover it is just what you need!
Suttons Bay Rain Garden workers, 2017. Photo by Village of Suttons Bay
Get the Most Value Out of Your Time: Garden More!
by Nate Walton, Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor, MSUE-Leelanau County
Increasing technology in the workplace has its benefits…and its costs. One of the greatest costs, as I see it, is the devaluing of time. Technology allows us to accomplish more in a shorter period of time, which also means that more is expected of us for the same rate of pay. In many modern jobs, employees are paid based on the time spent at work rather than the value of their output. In addition, there is also an implicit (or even explicit) expectation that you should be “available” outside of normal work hours as well. The result of this combination is a perceived (or real) reduction in the value of our time. But do not despair! There is a solution.
Michigan’s Extension Master Gardener volunteer program is undergoing some changes in 2018 in order to meet the standards set by the Extension Master Gardener National Committee. Since its inception in 1972, the Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program has grown from a small volunteer program in a single state, to a program with over 90,000 volunteers in 49 states and 10 Canadian provinces. With this growth has arisen a need for the national entity to set standards that ensure the sustained growth and effectiveness of all state and county programs as they work to fulfill the EMG mission. Our Michigan EMG program meets or exceeds the majority of those standards with one exception: our annual hours required for re-certification.
In order to bring our state program in line with the minimum national standards, the Michigan EMG committee, with input from individual EMGs, EMG groups and EMG associations, will be increasing the annual volunteer and continuing education hours needed to re-certify by five hours each, effective January 1, 2018. This means that in order to re-certify next January (2019) all Michigan EMGs will need to complete and report in the VMS by Dec. 31, 2018, a minimum of 20 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours. MSUE staff and VMS Ambassadors will do our best to help you be successful in meeting these standards in 2018.
As you can see, your time spent gardening is still perceived as extremely valuable, so valuable in fact that we are asking for more of it! Gardening is an activity that, thankfully, has escaped many of the costs of modern technology. So this spring you can rejoice as you turn off your electronic devices and spend some valuable hours gardening and educating your community as a Master Gardener Volunteer!
2017 newly certified Master Gardeners
Master Gardener Coordinator’s Corner
Nate Walton, Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor, MSUE-Leelanau County
Looking back on 2017, for me it was a year of firsts. I had my first day on the job as your Master Gardener Coordinator on June 12th, my first visit to a biodynamic tea farm (Light of Day Organics) and the first MSU Extension Plant Diagnostic Clinic staffed by Master Gardeners in Benzie County! The list could go on and on, especially if I included some of the new EMG projects started this year. With a combined workforce of 123 certified EMGs and trainees, you all have really been working hard for positive change in our northern Lower Peninsula communities this year.
In recognition of all that you have accomplished, I also had the great pleasure of hosting my first EMG awards luncheon this year in partnership with MGANM. Highlights of the luncheon included the wonderful decorations by the MGANM decorations committee (chaired by Evelyn Laman), the silent auction with many unique items donated by local businesses and artisans and the deeelicious lunch catered by 9 Bean Rows of Suttons Bay.
During the awards ceremony, honors were bestowed upon Kelly Dillan, Sue Soderberg and Sue Warren, all of whom received their 500 hour pins this year!
-We also welcomed the newly certified EMGs Paula Ciccone, Sandy Coobac, Victor Dinsmore, Christine Koubek, Julia Page, Nancy Popa, Michael O’brien, Lori Piggot and Amy Tongue to our ranks.
-In addition, Joanne Johnsen, Becky Johnson and Glynis Waycaster were all recognized for achieving Advanced Master Gardener status.
– We also delivered well-deserved 250 hour pins to Sandra Clark, Michele Buday, Nancy Larson, Kathy Pilon, Lori Oberson, Judith Reich, Cynthia Sack, Steve Stephens and Marvin Walter.
-Ann McInnis was also recognized for the remarkable achievement of topping the 2500 hours mark this year!
-Our Master Gardeners of the Year this year were Tom Patton for Leelanau County, Sue Warren for Benzie County and Rebecca Mang for Grand Traverse County.
Let these happily hard-working EMGs be an inspiration to all of us as we move into the New Year!
Speaking of the New Year, 2018 is shaping up to be another great year for our local EMG program. We will be hosting an EMG training program at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (March 8th – June 14th) on Thursday evenings (5:30 – 9:30 pm). Enrollment is open and can be accessed by following this link. Please tell your friends, family and neighbors about this exciting opportunity to join the Master Gardener Volunteer program! Also, let me know if you would be interested in helping out with the course in any way and/or if you would be interested in serving as a Mentor to a new trainee. Stay tuned for more ways to volunteer this winter/spring and in the meantime, have a great 2018!
Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan members make our world more beautiful by participating in gardening projects, educational programs, activities and CONNECTING A COMMUNITY OF GARDENERS THROUGH LEARNING!
8527 East Government Center Drive (Suite 107) – Suttons Bay, MI 49682 Phone: 231-256-9888 :: Email: email@example.com