Knock on the door

Heard a knocking on the door this morning. Discovered the racket was from the backyard. A male Downy Woodpecker drumming on the front of a nesting box.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Lake Michigan photography

I love flowers and plants, but a close second is photographing Lake Michigan on my frequent walks. Hope you enjoy a few of my recent pictures………….

Conflicted Elements

Conflicted Elements

Conflicted Elements 2

Conflicted Elements 2

Clouds and curling waves

Clouds and curling waves

Calm after chaos....storm has passed.

Calm after chaos….storm has passed.

Oh Beehive!

My son Rick was on his best “bee-hive-iour” when he noticed bee activity in the overlapping wood panels at the Kentwood Flowerland store.

Removal of the wood panels revealed an amazing hive of bees!

Removal of the wood panels revealed an amazing hive of bees!

We got some “free-bees” out of the deal with a treasure trove of honey! Bee experts carefully removed and preserved the hive plus isolated the Queen so the whole hive could be transferred to a new location where it could thrive. The whole process was really interesting. Check out the pics of these bees living in the land of “Pollenesia!”

"Un-bee-leafable"

“Un-bee-leafable”

The Queen Bee!

The Queen Bee!

Making a beehive for a new location!

Making a beehive for a new location!

Mow-tivation

I was reading with great interest a British study recently that implied the gender roles in the home are being rewritten including three quarters of women happy to tackle the job of mowing the lawn previously considered a task of the man of the household. Meanwhile six in ten men would be willing to make dinner every night and clean up afterwards as well. This survey of 2,000 Brits indicates gender roles have evolved in the home and an understanding that a chore shared is a chore halved. I believe it only makes sense that when it comes to yard work, cooking, cleaning and other household chores that teamwork always beats the culturally assigned gender roles that Mom and Dad demonstrated years ago. In the turf classes I have taught with a show of hands, hands down women believe they could do a much better job of the lawn and landscape then the man in the household. Conversely this study showed one in 5 men felt they could do a better job of cleaning and tasks their fathers would have declined to do. Whether it is weeding, mowing, cooking or vacuuming today’s home and garden inhabitants understand that a partnership beats previously culturally defined roles.

Mow and Behold!

Mow and Behold!

Out in the yard the green green grass of home (Tom Jones 1967 oh this dates me) can become a tiresome chore for household partners when the calendar turns to August. My first word of advice is to raise the deck on the mower. Cutting the grass short in the heat of summer is not a good idea and adds stress to the lawn. Longer grass blades shade the crown of the plant, increase surface area for photosynthesis and reduce weed growth and development comparatively to a scalped or short cut lawn. Irrigate in the morning when watering is most efficient (sun and wind evaporation is less) and avoid irrigating at sundown (to reduce disease stress). August is a great month to plan for rejuvenating your lawn with the coming month of September one of the best months to seed a lawn, feed a lawn and control weeds. Fall is the perfect time for lawn establishment and rejuvenation.
Some are abandoning the typical urban front lawn for alternatives and I say more “flower” to you. Even though our lawns are great for trapping dust particles, cooling the earth and generating oxygen, alternatives are available. Groundcovers and ornamental grasses are easy to grow hardy substitutes for a well groomed lawn.

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster lines a drive

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster lines a drive

Ornamental grasses are spotlighted in the landscape from August to October as they “dance” for our attention as drought tolerant landscape show stoppers. Perennial, deer resistant, drought resistant and hardy easy to grow plants, Ornamental grasses are available in a wide array of cultivars to enjoy. My neighbors looked questioningly as I replaced a large swath of lawn with ornamental Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ grasses at my lakeshore landscape, but now are true believers. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Consider ornamental grasses and move to the head of the “grass” for the “grass” of 2016. Congratulations and enjoy.

July Butterfly

The landscape celebrates July in its own quiet way with fireworks that go KaBloom! Those floriforous fireworks draw a crowd of butterflies and hummingbirds to our warm and colorful plantings. In general bright colors attract butterflies and hummingbirds to our yards. I read a quote that said a flower is simply a leaf mad in love. How true.

Milkweed in bloom at sunset

Milkweed in bloom at sunset

Colorful blooms attract pollinators and nectar lovers to our yards. Natural growing milkweed is a fragrant joy to observe during the months of June and July.

A Lacecap Hydrangea is a great example with the outer ring of showy sterile blooms that attract the attention for the less showy interior blooms. The July landscape should be a playground for butterflies and hummingbirds and it all starts by selecting the right plants to accent your yard, deck and patio. Remember sunny spaces and some water help in attracting these winged performers to put on a show. Often the next question is “Rick what are your favorites to do the job in the month of July?” I’m glad you asked, many different plants will do the job but I especially like these in the month of July.

Asclepias (Butterfly weed)
Agastache

Agastache in bloom. Its sweet licorice aroma and colorful blooms a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds

Agastache in bloom. Its sweet licorice aroma and colorful blooms a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds

Allium
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
Baptisia (False Indigo)

Baptisia one of my favorite perennials in the landscape!

Baptisia one of my favorite perennials in the landscape!

Cosmos
Crocosmia
Daylilies
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Heliopsis
Honeysuckle
Hydrangea
Joe Pye Weed
Lantana
Landscape Roses
Lychnis

Bright red roses are a draw for butterflies

Bright red roses are a draw for butterflies

Milkweed
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Nepeta
Petunias and Calibrachoa
Russian Sage
Salvia
Sedum
Tithonia Mexican Sunflower
Tickseed (Coreopsis)
Zinnias