Beautify – May 2018

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

On The Radar:  May

Creating a Monarch Butterfly Waystation

A Walk Through Two Gardens

Blooming annuals

On The Radar:  May

by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener

By the end of the month, flower gardens will be set for the season.  May is when annuals shine.  Rules of thumb for annuals in the garden and in containers begin with the color wheel!  Make things pop with opposites… blues and oranges, yellow and reds…or go for a classy monochromatic look by layering the same color in different flowers and leaf textures.  

Keep in mind the filler, spiller, thriller rhyme in your pots and hanging baskets.

Use annuals to fill beds as you await the spread of perennials and shrubs.


Creating a Monarch Butterfly Waystation

by Barbara Platts, Extension Master Gardener in Training

Michigan to Mexico migration

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are one of the most well-known butterfly species in North America.  They are easily recognized due to their orange and black wings. The eastern monarch butterfly population has declined by 90 percent over the last 20 years due mainly to habitat loss in Michigan and Mexico, where they migrate during the colder months.  After overwintering in Mexico, monarchs travel north to seek out larval food sources where plants are plentiful. To view recent winter and summer migration patterns click here.

Monarch habitat

Monarchs need a variety of habitats to both overwinter and refuel along the way as they travel to and from Michigan. They require access to a wide variety of flowering plants to survive the annual flight. Monarchs are pollinating insects that travel to flowering plants, drinking nectar and transporting pollen.

You can easily integrate monarch food sources into your garden.  Find a location that receives at least six hours of sun a day. Light or low clay provides the best soil type and drainage, however areas with poor run off can support more tolerant plants.  Plants should be spaced relatively close together to attract the highest number of monarchs and provide shelter from both predators and the elements.

Must have food sources for monarchs include milkweed and nectar plants.  A minimum of ten milkweed plants consisting of two or more species is ideal.  Having more than one species provides a constant food source as plants mature and flower at different rates during the season. Milkweeds contain cardiac glycoside, a chemical monarchs absorb that is toxic to predators.

Monarchs also need a consistent nectar source.  This can be accomplished by planting a combination of at least four biennial or perennial native plants in your garden space to promote continuous blooms throughout the season.

Native plants

Plants that attract monarch butterflies to gardens:

Spider Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) – An early milkweed variety.  Shorter species.  Good for garden borders.

Perennial found in USDA plant hardiness zones 5-9

Height 1 to 2.5 feet

Bloom time May-July

Purple and green blooms also attract other pollinators

Plant in full sun, drought tolerant

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – Low maintenance plant with fragrant purple flowers. Has subtle onion flavor.  Can be used in cooking.

Perennial found in USDA plant hardiness zones 4-9

Height 1 to 2 feet

Bloom time April-June

Showy purple blooms on green stalks

Plant in full sun

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) – Thrives in moist soils and ponds    

Perennial found in USDA plant hardiness zones 3-4

Height 3 to 4 feet

Bloom time June-October

Fragrant pink flowers

Plant in full sun

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) – Long lasting clusters of orange flowers. Grows well in poor, dry soil.

Perennial found in USDA plant hardiness zones 4-9

Height 2 to 3 feet

Bloom time June-August

Bright orange flowers

Plant in full sun, drought resistant

Additional plants that attract monarch butterflies include perennials such as blazing star, bee balm, purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, primrose, yarrow, aster, stiff goldenrod, Ohio spiderwort, Maximillian sunflower, blanket flower, prairie phlox, spotted Joe-pye weed, common boneset and dandelion. Annuals include cosmos, zinnias, marigold and sweet alyssum.

Designing your garden

For dry condition planting (well-drained soil) you will need:

  • Minimum 100 square feet
  • Minimum 10 milkweed plants, 5 each of two different milkweed species
  • Minimum 4 biennial or perennial native species for nectar, total 19 plants in this design
  • Number of plants – 29, spaced 18″ apart

For wet condition planting (poorly drained soil) you will need:

  • Minimum 100 square feet, total 250 square feet
  • Minimum 10 plants if using one species of milkweed, 15 milkweed plants in this design
  • Minimum 4 biennial or perennial native species for nectar, total 49 plants
  • Number of plants – 64, 24 spaced 24″ apart, 40 spaced 16″ apart

Sustaining your garden

Maintain the monarch habitat by mulching.  Mulching should decrease by the third year after you have established your garden.  Some native plants may need thinning. Fertilize as needed and remove dead leaves and stalks in late spring if necessary. Water, eliminate insecticide use and remove invasive species.

Certifying your monarch waystation

You can register and certify your monarch waystation by completing an online application.  Click here.

Once certified, your habitat will be added to the Monarch Watch Registry found at

You can also purchase an official Monarch Waystation sign to install in your garden by clicking here.  


Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Accessed 4 Apr. 2018.

Missouri Department of Conservation, Accessed 4 Apr. 2018.

Monarch Butterfly Garden, Accessed 4 Apr. 2018.

Monarch Butterfly Migration, Accessed 4 Apr. 2018.

Monarch Waystation Program, Accessed 4 Apr. 2018.

photo by AEMG Nancy Denison

A Walk Through Two Gardens

by Nancy Denison, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

On our recent trip to Southern California I was able to visit the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas, just a few miles from our former home in Cardiff by the Sea. It began as a farm and then private residence of Ruth Larabee, who was an avid plant collector and naturalist. In 1957, she donated the land to the county of San Diego as a wildlife sanctuary and park. It became Quail Botanic Gardens in 1970 and while I do remember the name, I never had the opportunity to visit while living in the area. The county stopped the funding of the gardens in 1993 and the non-profit Quail Gardens Foundation, Inc. took over the operation of the garden. In 2009 the name was changed to the current SD Botanic Garden.

There are four miles of trails on 37 acres of gentle hills, with over 4,000 species and varieties of plants from all over the world.  There are gardens with plants from Mexico, the Mediterranean, New Zealand and South Africa, in addition to succulent, herb, fire safety and children’s areas as well to explore. It was a perfect spot to walk on a misty Saturday morning and the reciprocal (with our own botanical garden) free admission gave a feeling of being home again for this gardener.

Giant Golden Barrel Cacti, photo by AEMG Nancy Denison

Leaving San Diego, we drove up to Palm Springs for a few days seeking warmth and sun, which eluded us for the most part, but provided a chance to visit the Moorten Botanical Garden on S. Palm Canyon Dr.

This unique garden and “cactarium” was established in 1938 by Patricia and Chester “Slim” Moorten. Slim was an original Keystone Cop and Patricia, a biologist specializing in botany. Together, their love of the desert inspired them to begin collecting samples of plants from the surrounding areas and later Guatemala and into Mexico.

The gardens now contain about 3,000 examples of cacti and other desert plants from California and Arizona to as far away as Africa and Madagascar. The paths wander around part of the grounds of the Moorten home, the “Cactus Castle” and Palm Grove Oasis area. There are crystals, rocks and fossils in various spots as well as a few items for sale on your way out. It was a quick walk through for me with a few items I had not previously seen; the organ pipe cactus, desert willow and creosote bush were highlights. The gardens are available for weddings, meetings and concerts; and certainly an interesting spot to visit in the Palm Springs area.

Serve – May 2018

On The Radar:  May

by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener

In May, there are many opportunities to establish your volunteering for the season.  Libraries, schools, community gardens and community beautification projects are each in need of Master Gardener leadership in May.  Community gardens that donate produce to food banks are especially in need of layout, planning and planting expertise. Share the wealth of knowledge you have with your community!  

Below are some projects that are looking for Extension Master Gardener assistance. You may also check out our events page. 

PEACE Ranch:, speak with Jackie K. They are looking for a Master Gardener to guide them through the process of taking care of an existing perennial bed and a vegetable garden. 

Leelanau Christian Neighbors (LCN) is in need of a program coordinator.  Please contact Nancy Popa at 231-944-9509 for more information. LCN is a 501c(3) organization that provides a variety of services to the residents of Leelanau County.  Staffed by volunteers, their food pantry averages over 6,000 visits per year and serves over 18,000 individuals.  Their garden, which was first planted in 2017, produces fresh vegetables to help stock the food pantry.  LCN needs Extension Master Gardeners to help teach their volunteers about all aspects of growing fresh vegetables, from diagnostics to pest management and practices that protect water quality.  This EMG project can be found in the VMS (Master Gardener Volunteer Management System under Projects:  Leelanau Christian Neighbors Food Pantry Garden. LCN is located at 7322 E. Duck Lake Road (M-204), Lake Leelanau, MI  They can be found on Facebook at

 LEO CREEK PRESERVE: Master Gardener volunteers are needed to help create educational materials for a new permaculture garden and interpretive trail.  Volunteers could help with even one topic or piece of the garden.  It could be one day or multiple days and any help is welcome.  The garden will educate the community on sustainable, organic gardening.  The new permaculture garden is located on The Leelanau Trail between 4th Street and Eckerle Road in Suttons Bay.  It will be used for food production and education programs for the community.  Please contact Kate Thornhill directly with any questions or to volunteer…231-313-1980

Munson Hospice House, 450 Brook St. TC 49684. Contact Gayla Elsner at

Keep in touch with volunteering opportunities through MSUE email updates and MGANM. 

Administration – May 2018

President’s Letter: Ready for Spring

by Michele Worden

Really – I am ready for spring.  Any minute now!  While I write this there is 2 ft of snow on the ground starting to melt in the sunshine.  It is disconcerting to walk in the woods full of snow, and hear so much bird song, when there is nothing for the birds to eat.   Remember to put out high protein food to get our birds through any cold snap.

The extended winter has really been crazy.  We had to cancel our April member meeting and the talk on herbs with Julie Krist due to Winter Storm Wilbur.  We also had to cancel our April board meeting for the same reason.  At the moment it is uncertain whether the herbs talk can be rescheduled this year.  We will keep the topic on the list for next year though!

Our May 1 meeting will need to be relocated also due to April weather. The Grand Traverse Conservation District Seedling Sale takes precedence in our meeting room at the Boardman River Nature Center.  Due to the cold weather the Seedling Sale has been delayed a few weeks. The growers cannot harvest the seedlings from the frozen ground. This means there will be seedlings in the BRNC meeting room on May 1st and the room will be unavailable.   We will be meeting at the Leelanau Government Center.

Meanwhile, some recent organization highlights include:

    • We visited the first night of the MG Training class on March 8 and signed up some new members.
    • MGANM participated in the Earth Day celebration on April 22nd at Twin Lakes park and had a terrific turnout for our living necklace project.
    • We are looking forward to the MMGA leadership conference on May 5th in Mt. Pleasant.  
    • The board voted to become a Trillium level sponsor of MG College and will fund another scholarship to the conference this year for leadership development.  Please consider applying!
    • MGANM will also be a sponsor of the Friendly Garden Club Walk this year.

We have increased our marketing efforts over the last two years and this has helped to attract new members and to strengthen community relations.  Every dollar invested in marketing has been a good investment. But we also need to plan well. On the horizon, please be on the lookout for a planning survey from MGANM.  Your prompt response will be essential to help us plan and grow stronger. The more responses we get, the better the data for planning.

Don’t forget to wear your logowear!  Help spread the word about the impact Master Gardeners have in the community by wearing your logowear.  Logowear can be purchased at the Oakland county website

Thanks for all you do!

News & Events – May 2018

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.


Planting a Smart Vegetable Garden

Presented by Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture team member

Tuesday, May 1, 6:30 pm. Light refreshments at 6 pm

*Please note this is a change of venue from our normal location*

Leelanau County Government Center, 8527 East Government Center Drive, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

All Master Gardeners and the public are invited.  A $5 donation from non- members is appreciated.

Smart Pest Management for Vegetable Gardens

Tuesday, June 5, 6:30pm with a potluck at 6:00pm

Boardman River Nature Center, 1450 Cass Road, Traverse City, MI 49685

Terrarium Workshop

Back by popular demand! Build your own terrarium at Pinehill Nursery at Village Corners

Tuesday, June 12, time TBD

1126 Carver Street, Traverse City, MI 49686

*Members Only. Fee applies. Reservation required. *

Native Garden Workbees

Learn about native plants, their usage in various types of gardens, and get hands on experience. 

Monday evenings 5:00pm-7:00pm throughout May

Wednesday mornings 9:00am-11:00am throughout May


Boardman River Nature Center

Garlic Mustard Work Bees

Saturday, May 12, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Now is your chance to bring a friend and join GTCD and the Invasive Species Network to help steward our natural areas! First, choose a location to meet us: Hickory Meadows or the BRNC. Then, dress for the weather and work with us to remove invasive garlic mustard (or plant, groom trails, or pick up.

Annual Native Plant Sale

Saturday, May 19,  8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Update your home landscape with native plants that are beautiful, well- adapted to our climate, and support a variety of animals living in our region. Plant experts will be on hand to help you pick out the perfect native plants from our selection of over 50 species. Cash, check, and credit cards will be accepted.

Baby’s Breath Work Bee

Thursday, May 31,  10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Thursday, June 7,  10:00am-12:00pm

Saturday, June 16,  10:00am-12:00pm

Join the Invasive Species Network (ISN) and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy as we work to remove invasive baby’s breath from Elberta Beach in Benzie County! Spreading easily over northwest Michigan’s beaches and dunes, baby’s breath crowds out native plants and degrades important habitat. We need your help to restore Elberta Beach back to a diverse, healthy landscape! With a deep taproot, removal is hard work but extremely rewarding. Shovels and other tools will be provided but please bring your own work gloves to protect your hands while using shovels. Long pants are recommended as there is some poison ivy on the beach.  We will meet at Elberta Beach parking lot. Water and other refreshments will be provided. Feel free to join us at one or all of the dates!

Japanese Barberry Trade-Up Day

June 16,  10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Trade in your landscaped Japanese barberry for a coupon to a local landscaper or nursery! Receive a $5.00 coupon for every plant you bring us (up to $50.00). We’ll properly dispose of your invasive species and you can go shopping for a non-invasive alternative!

Registration: RSVPs are required – please contact ISN Outreach Specialist Emily Cook at or 231.941.0960 x 20.


Plant It Wild

“Wildflowers at Pete’s Woods”

Wednesdays, May 2 and 9, 10:00am-12:00pm

Walk with Paula Dreeszen to see all the eye-popping Michigan native wildflowers in Pete’s Woods. Fabulous Spring hike.

Location: GTRLC’s Pete’s Woods Trailhead on Swamp Rd.

Misty Ridge Greenhouse

Monday, May 14, 10:30am – 12:00pm

Visit the greenhouse with growers Paul and Jody Zemsta.  They will explain their propagation practices and have plants to sell.

Location: 6171 N 11 Rd, Mesick

“The State of Native Plants”

Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 pm

Cheryl Gross will host a presentation on the state of native plants in the US and abroad.  Come and learn about what other areas/gardens are doing with natives.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 955 James Street, Frankfort.

“Dunes Wildflowers at Baldy”

Wednesday, June 13, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Join Paula Dreeszen on a 1.5 mile hike to see dunes wildflowers. Possible Yellow Lady Slippers?

Location: GTRLC’s Mt. Baldy Trailhead. M-22.

Plant Sale

Friday, June 15, 10:00am – 2:00pm

Manistee Conservation District & PIW host plant sale with Vern Stephens of Designs by Nature.  MCD Fund Raiser. Great plants!

Location: 8840 Chippewa Hwy # 1, Bear Lake

“Pollinators…State of Affairs”

Wednesday, June 20, 7:00 pm

Carolyn Thayer will present the current findings, research, and methods to protect pollinators.  As up to 2/3 of our food requires insect pollination, learn about this important topic.

The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park

Creating Spring & Summer Porch Pots

Wenesday, May 2, 6:30pm-8:30pm

With floral designer Terry Hooper of Hooper’s Farm Gardens guiding us through the process of creating gorgeous spring and summer porch pots! The $35 fee for this make-and-take class covers all materials needed. This class is open to the public. Advance registration is required and limited to 15 participants.

Volunteer Garden Caretaker Training

Thursday, May 3, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Are you looking for an engaging and interactive volunteer opportunity? Garden caretakers dig in the dirt! Tasks include weeding, watering and monitoring the health of our plants across multiple Garden spaces and containers. Meet on the upper level of The Botanic Garden Visitor Center. We are currently in need of volunteer caretakers for the Maple Allee and the FireWise garden areas.

Growing a Cutting Garden

Wednesday, June 6 7:00pm-9:00pm

Discover how to grow a cutting garden. Michelle Shackelford will discuss growing and tending a wide array of cut flowers, her overall process, and she’ll also demonstrate how to make a beautiful bouquet straight from the garden.

Steward – March 2018

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

It’s March, Time To Check For Spider Mites

Book Review: 10,000 Garden Questions Answered by 20 Experts

Spider Mites, UC Statewide IPM Project

It’s March, Time To Check For Spider Mites

by Michael O’Brien, Extension Master Gardener

Cold temperatures have been with us for a while.  This causes our furnaces to run more frequently and that makes our homes less humid.  That combination makes houseplants’ soil dry out quickly.  All these factors put together make a perfect environment for spider mites.  

These little mites are part of the arachnid family and a closely related species in the Tetranychus genus.  Spider mites live in colonies and are generally found on the underside of leaves.  They are less than 1/20 of an inch long which makes them very difficult to see with the naked eye.  Cloudy days make it even more difficult to notice them when inspecting plants.  

Spider mites cause damage by puncturing the plant’s cells and sucking out the contents.  Spider mites also create webs.  A generation of mites can complete a lifecycle in less than a week when food and temperatures are conducive.  Many times, when spider mites are discovered on plants it’s already become an epidemic.

There are some indicators to look for that help determine whether a plant has spider mites.  One of the first signs is stippling on leaves.  The term stippling means there are little white dots appearing on leaves.  Next, the plant begins to develop many bronze leaves that quickly turn yellow, followed by leaf drop. The third phase, webbing, is noticeable on the leaves and stems as seen in the picture above.  It is very important to wash your hands before touching any other plants.  As these mites are very small and can appear transparent, it’s a good idea to have a 10x magnifier loupe, or greater, to see these pests.  Click here to see an inexpensive loupe.

Spider mites 2, UC Statewide IPM Project

Spider mites can be very damaging to a plant and in extreme cases can kill the plant.  When it comes to treating the plant, there is a difference between outdoor plants versus an indoor plant.  There are many beneficial insects outdoors that will feed on the mites. Indoor plants don’t have these beneficial insects to keep the mite’s life cycle in check.  These mites can be passed on to another plant quickly and easily just by touching the plant, clothing rubbing against leaves or a pet coming into contact with your plants.  

Before treating an indoor plant it’s a good idea to use a loupe to gauge the extent of the outbreak.  This way it is easier to see if the treatment is effective.  To treat this problem, it’s recommended using insecticidal soap or insecticidal oil.  Both petroleum-based horticultural oils and plant-based oils such as neem, canola or cottonseed oils are also acceptable.  Be sure to read the manufacturer’s label first and use proper IPM principles.

Book: 10,000 Garden Questions Answered by 20 Experts (photo on Amazon)

Book Review: 10,000 Garden Questions Answered by 20 Experts

by Nancy Denison, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

I acquired Volumes 1 & 2 of 10,000 Garden Questions Answered by 20 Experts, edited by Marjorie Dietz, from my mother-in-law.  She was cleaning out her four very large bookcases in preparation for moving west more than 10 years ago.  I look at them every once in a while, but then I close them up just as fast.  With each volume containing over 700 pages AND 10,000 questions, it was a bit mind boggling to even begin to search for an answer to anything.

So, with winter slowly moving along, I thought I’d dive in to see what I might find.  This set was first published in 1944 by Doubleday, with new editions in 1959 and 1974, and was an American Garden Guild Book.  There are 10 garden experts, such as Bebe Miles, Helen Van Pelt Wilson and Donald Wyman, listed as contributors, with many more listed as advisors, editors or artists.

In the Introduction to the third edition, Marjorie Dietz called it the “family bible” of garden information.  The questions are divided into 16 general areas from “Soils and Fertilizers” to “Roses and Houseplants” to “Regional Gardening Problems.”  In this edition, botanical names were updated to conform to the International Code for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants.  Under the first editor, F.F. Rockwell, these books were first begun in response to many requests from readers of The Home Garden Magazine.  It was hoped to give the home gardener practical information for personal gardening issues.

There is a small section on how the books are put together and how best to use them most effectively.  Each of the sections begins with basic information about that subject and then how to utilize the index for more specificity.  I find the sheer amount of questions a bit distracting.  For example, in the “Soils and Fertilizers” section there are questions about soil problems…eroded soil, depleted soil, neglected soil, poor soil… and on and on.  So, the questions and answers do cover just about everything on each particular topic.  Beneficial in some ways, annoying in others.

Topics covered in Vol. 1 include “Planning and Landscaping,” “Tree and Shrub Selection,” “Design Principles,” “Herb Gardens” and more.  Vol. 2 continues with the “Home Vegetable Garden,” “House Plants,” “Weeds,” and “Regional Garden Problems,” with “Sources for Further Information” concluding the book.

I had hoped, a little, that the books might be of value.  But alas, on Amazon they could be found for $6 and under, except for a couple of listings for much more. I guess I’ll just be happy with the sentimental value and the “historical” perspective of gardening they present.


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