Heaven let your light shine down

Had a friend compliment me as a modern day “Ansel Adams.” I don’t deserve that high praise however if it means my love for nature, writing and photography is appreciated I’ll accept that. Here are some Pere Marquette Lake Michigan shoreline photographs I took on Christmas morning 2017.

Heaven let your light shine down





Reflections on a morning walk
Nature’s Christmas icicle ornaments






Turning water into ice

Holiday Hanging Baskets

Why should the seasons of spring and summer get all the fun when it comes to hanging baskets? A holiday basket can be made incorporating materials from the landscape along with some ornamentation to make a hanging display for porch or patio. The arrangements are a unique and festive welcome to guests who arrive and an enjoyable everyday sight for you. View from indoors looking through the window as it hangs in an entryway or on a deck.

Holiday Hanging Baskets

These holiday baskets use natural materials featuring aromatic boughs of evergreen. The gift that keeps giving they are inviting and attractive from November through February. As Jack Frost adds his natural touch in the cold months the basket will glisten and dazzle. Their appeal and glitter is enhanced by the natural movement of a hanging arrangement versus a static pot or planter.

Position basket in a pot at table level to make arranging easier

Place the basket to be arranged in a pot on a table to make arranging easier.

Light weight potting soil is added to the hanging basket first to provide the foundation for the stems and branches. Once placed outside this is the soil that will freeze and hold the branches and stems in place for months.
Next, as we do with spring planters, work from the center to the outside of the pot thinking “Thriller” in the center, “Filler” as the next layer and then finally “Spiller” as we work to the outside rim of the basket.
Branches for the basket should be cut at a 45 degree angle making them easier to press into the soil until firmly in place.

This basket “pines” for your attention

“Thriller”: Branches of Birch, Scotch Pine, Willow, Red or Gold Twig Dogwood are examples of “thriller” centerpiece visual vertical placements in the center of the basket. These are the first additions to the basket working them into the center of the arrangement.

“Filler”: Working towards the outside of the basket we now fill with evergreen branches. Fraser Fir, Scotch or Austrian Pine, Douglas Fir, Colorado or White Spruce branches make great filler branches making up the bulk of the basket. These aromatic evergreens provide the gravitas for the visual mass of the holiday arrangement.

The addition of some LED lights gives the basket glitter

“Spiller”: White Pine with its long needles and nostalgic look provide a perfect addition as their pendulating look will crook or spill over the side increasing the size of the basket well beyond its borders. Adding some Cedar or Juniper provides visual interest whether used to augment the filler portion of the basket or as a spiller.

This basket will “spruce” up the place!

Finally comes the ornamentation portion of the project giving the basket your personal touch. Pine cones or Berry stems provide a natural means of ornamentation. Unbreakable plastic color ball ornaments can be wired to the branches using multi-color or a themed single color. Florist wire available in many bright colors is easy to work with and can weave throughout your arrangement adding additional interest. The addition of LED lighting in the basket will make it glitter in the nighttime hours, especially when nature adds the frosty touch.

Check it out…as easy as One, Two, “Tree”

LED lights are available in miniature so they subtly add to the feel of the basket without sticking out. You can avoid outlets or extension cords by purchasing some battery operated sets to nestle between the branches or your basket.
Deck the halls with some Holiday Hanging Baskets this season. “Season’s Greenings” and Happy Holidays with a little help from Mother Nature.

A stroke of genius

September is an ideal month for innovation in the garden. Fall Mums, Asters, Pansies, fall annuals and spring flowering bulbs arrive to help you rejuvenate your landscape canvas. It is truly a stroke of genius to garden in September. Plants put in the ground have plenty of time to root before winter and will be well established to perform in spring. Peonies, Iris and other perennials can be divided and moved. Tulips, Daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs can be planted. Flowering shrubs and perennials as well as trees establish well when planted this month. Here are some ideas for artistic splashes of color for your landscape that you can invest in now.
• For an artistic stroke to your landscape, plant Allium cristophii or Allium schubertii bulbs. You will be rewarded next spring with stunning unusual splashes of color in dramatic fashion!

The amazing look of Allium

Neighbors taking walks through the neighborhood will be sure to ask what those unusual flowers are!
• For a stroke of color combine sub-zero pansies with spring flowering bulbs planted in September. The pansies are available in a kaleidoscope of colors and will bloom this fall. They will bloom again when the snow clears, in spring the bulbs planted below them will grow through the pansies to flower above them. A bed of bright yellow pansies with purple tulips is an amazing sight in spring. Or blue pansies with yellow daffodils will provide dramatic drifts of color next spring.

Fall planted pansies and Tulips planted in fall will be a treat next spring

• Buy and plant ornamental grasses in September. They provide immediate interest and will establish themselves now for future enjoyment. Most grasses have inflorescence (plumes of “flowers”) in fall and the foliage gives visual interest swaying in the breeze. Hardy and reliable as well as deer resistant they can dramatically change a landscape quickly. Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is a favorite of mine.
• Plant ornamental kale this month for unusual and interesting color through November. Although it won’t overwinter you will love the enjoyment it will bring you in the fall months. It will tolerate some frosts and even becomes more dramatic after a few cold nights. Plan on it looking great all the way to Thanksgiving Day.


• Colorful mums can be planted in containers with colorful stems of willow, dogwood or other branches poked through the soil as vertical interest. After the fall season the chrysanthemums can be planted in the ground for winter, cut back and mulched to return again next spring.

• Henry’s Garnet Itea is a fun flowering shrub with long lasting red fall color. It blooms in summer and puts on a great show in fall year after year. Or try an Oakleaf Hydrangea with its dark red to burgundy foliage on cinnamon colored exfoliating stems. When it comes to flowering shrubs I will always opt for a panicle hydrangea in September with ‘Limelight’ one of my favorites.

These pansies are smiling because its pansy planting season!

September is a wonderful month to experiment in your landscape with great success. The weather is friendly to plants and enjoyable for people to be outside expressing their artistic abilities with plants. Time spent planting this month is simply a stroke of genius.