Some “Grow”-tivation

In July the summer heat can lower the “bloom” on some people’s enthusiasm for gardening. It’s at that point I need to give them some “grow”-tivation. We all need a little boost now and then. Besides, my Mom told me there would be “daisies” like this.

Mom told me there would be "Daisies" like this

Mom told me there would be “Daisies” like this!

Some would refer to it as the dog days of summer. I love July, love the heat, and only need to think back a few months to the long cold winter to appreciate what July has to offer. Fortunately there are a number of plants that are heat lovers and thrive in July.
Succulents have developed a new found popularity in the midst of water concerns in some areas across the U.S. Succulents come in many shapes and sizes and are easy to grow provided you don’t drown them with kindness. Herbs are a great choice too. Herbs are sun lovers and thrive in the heat. Basil, Lavender or Oregano are a few examples.

I think Basil planted near tomatoes makes them taste better but I can’t scientifically prove it!

There are many “own root” or shrub roses available to today’s homeowner from the “Drift” series of groundcover roses to “Easy Elegance” roses they are a workhorse in the landscape. I have some Proven Winners “Home Run” roses in my yard and they have continuous blooms and great disease resistance to both black spot and powdery mildew. They are heat tolerant, cold hardy with no winter covering and require no deadheading. I give them a general pruning back and feedings a couple times a year and that’s it!
Remember a light layer of mulch helps plants through the summer months cooling the roots and helping retain some soil moisture. When watering, try watering at the base of the plants as “mulch” as possible and morning is a great time to water.
Everywhere I go people tell me they enjoy my garden puns and sense of “humus” to which I say thank you very “mulch!” They then tell me in addition to the puns they like my lists. So here goes, my list of heat loving plants to try. Give a few a try….I knew you had it “zinnia!”
Annuals: Celosia, Cosmos, Cleome, Gazania, Scaevola, Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Gomphrena, Zinnias.
Perennials: Agastache, Coreopsis, Crocosmia, Echinacea (coneflowers), Ornamental grasses, Gaura, Gaillardia, Sedum, Nepeta, Helianthus, Heliopsis, Yarrow.
Woody Flowering: Own-root Roses, Buddleia (check out new dwarf butterfly bushes like ‘Lo and Behold’), Panicle Hydrangeas.
Rick Vuyst


Every day I drink a lot of tap water without giving it a thought. I wet my “plants” with water from the hose expecting it to be there so my hydrangeas don’t wilt. I’ve always lived close to Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes here in Michigan.

Running for fresh water with Team World Vision

Running for fresh water with Team World Vision

As a gardener and a runner, water is important to me, but I am so blessed with it I often take for granted the plentiful resource it is at my disposal. I was reading the other day that, of the world’s total water supply, over 96 percent is saline. And, of the total freshwater, over 68 percent is locked up in ice and glaciers with an other 30 percent of freshwater in the ground. Those are amazing statistics if what I read is true. Of course everyone would agree that every child deserves clean water. Yet I’ve come to learn that more than 1,000 children a day die from unsafe water… more than from AIDS and malaria combined.

Team World Vision!

Team World Vision!

Clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene can prevent disease and deaths of children in our world. World Vision is one of the largest providers of clean water in the developing world due to the support of World Vision donors all around the world. New or rehabilitated wells and water points as well as sanitation facilities help many children, families, get the sustained clean water they need to live… something many of us take for granted everyday.

This October I will be running for Team World Vision to help raise money for this important cause. Would you take a moment to look at my Team World Vision page and consider helping provide clean water to those in need? Here is the link and thank you very “mulch!”

Please support me here: Team World Vision: Rick Vuyst – Madison Square Church

Rick Vuyst

A June Swoon

OK here we go… the month of June arrives the landscape goes Ka-Bloom!
June is a month we swoon over the natural beauty of bloomers in the landscape. My Mom told me there would be “daisies” like this. It’s a combination of sunshine along with perennials in their prime while the May planted annuals take root and begin to perform on nature’s stage. The landscape Roses radiate while the Peonies pop in their prime. Allium giganteum tower above the garden’s performance, while Sweet Woodruff and blooming Ajuga provide a carpet under stunning Iris. And no, Ajuga is not a spring break hot spot in the Caribbean.

Leucanthemum Daisy May Proven Winners

Leucanthemum Daisy May Proven Winners

June can make you swoon to the intoxicating aroma of flowers in bloom as the landscape is full of life, arguably one of the most beautiful months of the year in Michigan. If you “plant”-isize about a beautiful garden June is your month.
Don’t let your commitment swoon to the garden as we approach the days of summer. Remember a thin layer of an inch or so of mulch for your landscape plants helps cool the roots and retain moisture as well as minimize weeds. Also remember your fledgling annuals are growing in leaps and bounds and are hungry. So are your Roses. They are heavy feeders and June is an important month to provide both dry and water soluble feeding to maximize performance. The hanging baskets that have been up since Mother’s day also need a feeding and attention when it comes to water on warm windy days. It’s easy to tell when they need water by just pushing up on the base of the basket with your hand and feeling the weight of the basket. Because soil contracts from the sides of the basket when dry, make sure to water thoroughly until the water is running out of the base of the basket.
Don’t forget to pinch your Mum in June! Pinch back mums to 6 to 10 inches above the ground until early July. This will provide nice sized blooming plants in fall that don’t become too tall and flop over in the landscape.
June is a great month for planting herbs. Herbs love the longer days and the sunlight it provides. Enjoy the aroma of basil in the warm sun. I’m convinced basil planted in close proximity of tomatoes makes them taste better. No scientific evidence, just a thought to help you “plant” ahead. Use parsley as an ornamental plant border. Sage makes a great filler plant in mixed containers. Golden oregano is an outstanding and hardy perennial groundcover! Herbs grow best in a good humus soil with lots of sunlight.
OK, I’m sending you to your “bloom”…..enjoy the romance of a June Swoon!

The Big Three List

By popular demand here is my “big three” list. What is the big three list you say? It is a list of plants that meet  today’s landscape criteria of popular demand. I’m simply sharing my favorites that meet the following criteria:

1) I want it to be colorful or bloom a long time (more than just a week or two).

2) I want it to be deer resistant.

3) I want it to be relatively easy to grow.

The people have spoken making it clear these are the characteristics they are looking for in a plant. With that in mind and without further ado….and I mean “ado” because “adieu” means goodbye….here are my favorites!

Rick’s favorites for long lasting bloom or color easy to grow deer resistant plants

Agastache (Perennials also called Hyssop with long lasting blooms)
Allium (Bulb)
Baptisia (Perennial known as False Indigo)
Begonia (Annual…’s “Big Begonia” varieties are amazing performers)
Bleeding Heart (Perennial “everblooming” varieties vs. old fashioned
Buddleia (Flowering shrub “Butterfly bush” …great new low growing varieties available today)
Carex (Colorful perennial foliage sedge)
Cleome (Flowering Annual)
Coleus (Annual with colorful foliage)
Coneflowers (Perennial Echinacea)
Coreopsis (Perennial)
Crocosmia (Perennial that attracts hummingbirds big time)
Gaura (Perennial with blooms that look like little butterflies in the wind)
Gomphrena (Annual sun lover with very long lasting blooms)
Helianthus (Perennial)
Helichrysum (Annual for colorful foliage also known as licorice plant)
Heliopsis (Perennial)
Hellebores (Perennial also known as Lenten Rose….blooms early in the season)
Heuchera (Perennial with very colorful foliage and small long lasting blooms)
Hydrangea (Flowering shrub with many new reliable varieties available)
Hypoestes (Colorful annual foliage)
Landscape Roses (today’s varieties of own-root roses also known as shrub roses)
Lavender (Perennial with long lasting blooms and a headliner on this list)
Leucanthemum (Perennial…..some people call them daisies)
Nepeta (Perennial with long long lasting blooms…a headliner on this list)
Nicotiana (Flowering annual)
Ornamental Chives (Perennial)
Ornamental Grasses (Perennial and Annual grasses)
Russian Sage (Perennial)
Scented Geraniums (Annual)
Sedum (Perennial with drought resistance….great new upright varieties available today)
Spirea (Flowering Shrub)
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum)
Tiarella (Perennial with colorful foliage and small long lasting blooms)
Viburnum (Flowering shrub….the fall color is a bonus!)
Vitex (Flowering Shrub that on a hot day smells like Vick’s Vapo Rub to me)
Weigela (Flowering shrub)
Yarrow (Perennial also known as Achillea)

For a list of deer resistant plants you can visit my list at


Hit the ground running

Hit the Ground Running!
May is an exciting month for me with the 5th Third River Bank Run and the end of frost dates (hopefully) here in West Michigan. Our last frost date is usually around May 10 so we can “hit the ground running” in the month of May planting our flowers, vegetables and herbs out in the garden. It’s a kick in the “plants” to get our outdoor living lifestyles in high gear as we anticipate the summer months ahead.

5th 3rd River Bank Run

5th 3rd River Bank Run

When we hit the ground running remember that the soil you plant in is the “stomach” of the plant. The quality and preparation of the soil is key as the foundation of the plants you put in the ground or container. When planting vegetables and herbs a healthy soil will mean healthy plants and ultimately a healthy you! The key to healthy soils is three primary elements, Carbon, Minerals and Biology. Carbon comes from amendments you add like compost providing good soil structure. These amendments improve soil structure so it can breathe as well as maintain a good balance between moisture retention and drainage. Minerals are depleted or locked up in many of our soils. Good quality natural fertilizers with some micro-nutrients will help. More importantly the third element “biology” plays a key role in unlocking the nutrients and minerals to your plants.
"Dirty" thoughts

“Dirty” thoughts

The addition of beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae will keep you and your plants happy and healthy or should I say “well grounded”. The addition of ground up leaves, compost and some Dairy Doo to existing parent soils I have found quickly increases the “biology” of the soil evident alone by the earthworms, texture and even the aroma of the soil. That’s when I know those tomato plants I put in the ground are going to produce some good summertime eating!
As it relates to Flowering Annuals “lettuce” have some fun and plant one on me! Many of today’s generation of flowering annuals are easy care, all season colorful bloomers trialed and tested for performance and disease resistance. Some of my favorites to plant for reliable summertime color well into fall are:
Calibrachoa,Cleome,Pennisetum purpureum Euphorbia Diamond Frost, “Big” Begonias, Gomphrena, Supertunia or Wave Petunias just to name a very few. pottery and annuals 2
Make sure to plant up some containers and go to pot! I just can’t contain myself when it comes to the countless possibilities of plants and container styles to express one ’s self! When planting in containers remember a drainage hole at the bottom is important and the quality of the soil you use will have a big role in your success. wordpress-aug-4I like to incorporate a slow release 3 to 4 month fertilizer worked into the soil at the time of planting and then supplement in season with a water soluble fertilizer for best results. Pick out your flowers and when planting work from the center out thinking “focal” first, then “filler” then “edger” and finally “trailer” over the side of the pot. Voila we’ve hit the ground running!