Oh Ye of Ladle Faith

With the popularity of textural and easy to grow Succulents and Tillandsias, creative means of enjoying them soon follows. I went to the dollar store and bought a couple soup ladles. I put these simple “set abouts” together on TV this morning. What a kick in the plants! Enjoying plants throughout the home and office as “set abouts” brightens our day in a way only plants can. You can do it don’t doubt it oh ye of “ladle” faith……

Succulent and Tillandsia Soup Ladles

Saw these creative and dramatic uses for succulents at the TPIE show in Fort Lauderdale last week from my friends at Costa Farms:

Rub a dub tub!

A hot idea for succulents!


Lake Michigan Moments


Use this link to watch my video of photos I took this past year along the shores of Pere Marquette Beach. About 2 1/2 minutes that demonstrate the amazing beauty of a West Michigan shoreline beach and the drama that develops.

Oh Tannen-gone Oh Tannen-gone how lovely are your branches

The holidays are over and you are now faced with a couple of decisions. When do I get rid of the Christmas tree and what do I do with it? This of course is an easy decision if the tree is life-like, find the storage container and pack it away for another season. If it’s a fresh cut tree you need to take action soon. Good thing you resolved to be a better pro-active decision maker as a New Year’s resolution. Here are some things to ponder as you wander through your living space considering your next move.
1. I suggest the purchase of a nice foliage houseplant. A Schefflera or Ficus will motivate you to fill the space. It will also clean your indoor air in the next few months as we “plow” through the remaining winter season.
2. Many cities and municipalities offer a drop off site and in some cases pick up for your tree. This is a good choice because they have the equipment to recycle your tree into mulch and compost with heavy equipment. The mulch and compost will be used in parks as path material for hikers and other areas becoming once again one with the earth.

How lovely are your branches

3. Here’s a thought for those of you with a crafty side. The trunk can be cut into discs and converted into coasters and trivets.
4. Branches can be snipped and stored to use for staking plants.
5. Branches can be snipped with foliage as boughs and used as mulch in perennial beds in the landscape.
6. I like to stand up the tree outside in the landscape for January-April. The birds love it as shelter. You can encourage them by adding some suet or a feeder hung somewhere near the tree. Orange slices or strung popcorn is another option in the tree. In spring cut up the tree and add it to the compost pile.
7. Branches can be cut up and used as kindling for your OUTDOOR firepit. Do NOT burn them in a fireplace or wood stove indoors.
8. With permission some people sink them in a pond or lake as a fish habitat. Check first if allowed and seek permission. Make sure the tree is free of any ornaments, hooks, lights or other non-natural decorations.
9. Needles off the tree make a great natural mulch for your landscape, especially for broadleaf evergreen plants like Rhododendron, Azaleas and Holly.
10. Some of the needles can be saved to be used in potpourri and sachets, evergreen scents have that clean purifying effect on our senses when cooped up with the window closed in winter.

Oh Tannen-gone Oh Tannen-gone how lovely are your branches

Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show

Join me in Philadelphia next March for dinner and a day at the Philadelphia Flower Show! I will be in New York that week but will meet up with the touring group on Wednesday night in Philadelphia for dinner together. On Thursday together we will attend the famous Philadelphia Flower Show and on Friday Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell! This trip should be a kick in the plants and I would love to have you join me! Click the picture for more details


Gratitude for Trees

In this month of thankfulness we often take for granted the trees surrounding us. As the final colorful leaves drift to earth and our attention turns towards boughs of holiday evergreen, I was reflecting on how trees provide color, shade, oxygen, a home for wildlife, beauty, food, fuel and mark the seasons of our lives. Trees also teach us valuable lessons of diversity and perseverance and value.
Every year it seems we experience a storm event where trees in our neighborhoods remind us of their presence succumbing to a wind or ice event and causing damage. It is a natural physical reminder of “Entropy” in our lives. The definition of Entropy…..a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. We all deal with entropy in our lives, but prefer to ignore decline or deterioration. We work to move forward because you are either moving forward or backwards, not much stays the same and certainly not for long. When it comes to entropy we grow when we:
1) Recognize it as reality.
2) Develop the skill to identify it and resist apathy and complacency.
3) Understand entropy applies not only to the physical but mental too…our attitudes and relationships.


Example of tree "wind throw" and up rooted tree

Example of tree “wind throw” and up rooted treeapplies not only to the physical but mental too…our attitudes and relationships.

4) Most importantly, developing a clear understanding of what you can manage. Entropy dictates the need to manage what and how much we can manage in our realm.
This past year a major wind event felled a number of trees in our neighborhoods. When they fell it was a good reminder of necessary maintenance, planning and development to battle the ever present effects of entropy. For example, to have strong trunks, tree trunks should be tapered from top to bottom. Trees develop tapered trunks from two major events in their lives: trunks swaying back and forth in the wind and the presence of branches with leaves all along the trunk. These lessons are learned early in the life of a tree and its development. Without it they won’t be able to support the canopy of the tree when the storms of life arrive. It is just like humans, the most intelligent have the ability to hold two opposing views in their mind and still be able to function.
The wind event reminded us of the importance of a tree’s root collar. It is the area where the roots join the main stem or trunk. At the base of the tree there is a “flare” leading to the major roots.

This tree completely uprooted in the storm. Notice the taper and root collar were strong but the lateral roots were unable to support the tree

This tree completely uprooted in the storm. Notice the taper and root collar were strong but the lateral roots were unable to support the tree

The root collar is part of the tree’s trunk. Unlike roots, the trunk is not specialized to resist constant soil moisture. If the tree is planted originally too deep or has soil or mulch mounded against the root collar and bark that is not accustomed to being wet, we will eventually see decline and ultimately failure of the tree at some point. Root collar from the start makes a difference. Strong root collars still experienced a condition called wind throw because support from the lateral roots was diminished due to surrounding driveways, walks, streets or other factors diminishing a stable lateral root system. We saw the entire tree roots and all lift out of the ground and topple over.

Finally most people do not think of pruning. “Pruning” can be a good thing in our personal lives. A setback can help us re-evaluate and reset to move forward. A tree, even a large established tree benefits from pruning. Some of the trees that went over in the storm had been neglected for years. Pruning of trees is a safety issue, a tree health issue and finally is done for aesthetics. Winter is a great time for pruning of deciduous trees and strengthens and improves them for future growth.

Lessons can be learned from the storms of life. May the forest be with you.