The Green Green Grass of Home

By on Jul 2, 2020 in lawn |

Summer in the city and the back of my neck is getting dirty and gritty. Your lawn is getting brown or shall we say has a summer tan? Heat and drought can move your lawn to a dormant condition. Here are some things NOT to do aside from the obvious don’t park your car on the lawn (heat tracks) or leave the kiddie pool in one place for a week rule (big dead circles). Camping tents or a bounce house can have the same effect. It is however a good time of year if you have decided to convert some turf area to a garden bed. Pinned black plastic will use the power of the sun to kill the grass over the next couple months without you having to dig it up. In September you will have an outlined bed with a lot less work to plant the garden of your dreams. With stay at home orders I’m sure the home lawn is getting more traffic than usual. With that in mind now that the heat of summer has arrived here...

Weed Need to Talk

By on Jun 25, 2020 in Weeds |

Weed need to talk. Those roadside weeds might look pretty from your air conditioned car at 70 mph but they have a dark side up close and personal. I was out running the other evening and noticed the finches playing and feasting in a field of wild teasel Dipsacus sylvestris. Many of those blooming weeds we see coloring our roadsides in July have 3 common characteristics. 1) They are not native and were introduced years ago (usually from Europe). 2) They produce copious amounts of seed (thus the abundance) and 3) They have characteristics that crowd out other native species. Wild teasel or Dipsacus sylvestris or Dipsacus fullonum (which looks and sounds like a caption you would see below Wile Coyote in a Road Runner episode) has light lavender florets that bloom their way up the cone. The plant was introduced from Europe in the 1700s and can reach a height well over my head. If you like...

A plant with a rich history…Baptisia

By on Jun 12, 2020 in Kick in the Plants! |

Baptisia australis or “false indigo” is native to North America from the Hudson Bay in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. A hardy and herbaceous perennial it seems to grow well in both northern and southern zones. The plant has never tried to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes so the moniker “false indigo” seems somewhat unfair. Baptisia australis has always been used as a dye but considered “inferior” to dye made from “real” true indigo, Indigofera tinctoria native to Asia. Settlers to the New World saw native Americans were dyeing things blue with a different kind of plant, and called it “false indigo.” Not as effective as the true indigo plant, necessity is the mother of invention so they named it false indigo and the rest is history. The Baptisia element of the name comes from the Greek root bapto- meaning to dip or to immerse. The plant was called...

Trees do “social distancing” too

By on May 29, 2020 in Trees |

Social distancing practiced by trees. I have from time to time while walking through a wooded area noticed the uppermost branches of certain tree species that don’t like to touch one another. Way up there in the tops of the trees they seem to be practicing social distancing. This phenomenon known as crown shyness or canopy shyness is when branches in the crown do not touch branches from other trees forming channel-like gaps in forest canopy. There are hypotheses it occurs in order to reduce the spread of harmful insects. Some believe spacing naturally occurs so trees can optimize light exposure for the process of photosynthesis in both their leaves and leaves of foliage on the forest floor. Others believe trees understand they sway in wind and in order to keep branches from breaking they keep a safe distance. Whatever the natural reason it is mostly accepted that crown shyness is an...

June is the month to swoon over flowers

By on May 28, 2020 in Spring |

As we turn the corner to the month of June it’s time to swoon over the plethora of bloom that awaits us. As the flowering annuals planted in the month of May kick into gear and perennials and roses show off, the month of June is arguably one of the best months of the year to enjoy the landscape. The days are long as we approach the summer solstice giving us a lot of time to enjoy the beauty around us. Plant growth with the long warm days will be at a maximum so it’s a great time to be thinking about feeding hungry hard working plants at this time. Grabbed my camera to shoot a few pictures in the garden to celebrate as we turn the corner to June and approach the first days of summer! Peonies take center stage Peony the Prom Queen of the garden The perfect Peony Peony power! Peonies are easy to grow in Michigan Stunning Peonies The Prom Queen of the landscape Alliums are...


By on May 21, 2020 in Books |

An update on my 104 year old friend Ted Szczepanski. I have been visiting with him over the past year after his son had requested I sign a copy of my book ‘Operation Rumination’ for him last year. I’ve enjoyed my visits and conversations with him as I try to gain wisdom, insights and the secrets to a long healthy life. I’ve learned from Ted and intend to include wisdom from this sagacious centenarian in a book I hope to release later this year. The past few months I have not been able to visit due to lock down and stay at home orders. What I feared came to pass when his son emailed me that “Dad” was sick and getting tested. He tested positive for Covid-19. I am happy to report today that Ted has beaten Covid-19. World War II veteran, 95th Division Infantry Prisoner of war for 6 months in France Father of 3 kids Successful Businessman (with his...

Container Gardening Tips Video

By on May 15, 2020 in Spring |

Here is my YouTube video with Container Gardening Tips. Now that the weather is warming up it’s time to get growing with exciting container combinations!   

Flower Moon Frost Warning

By on May 7, 2020 in Spring |

May’s full moon is known as the “flower moon” or “corn planting” moon. Understandably, the flower moon, like many monthly moon names, can be traced back to how Native Americans tracked the seasons. Algonquin tribes are credited with coining the phrase “flower moon” in North America. A new or full Moon that occurs within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit is a sight to see. Perigee means the point nearest a planet or a satellite (such as the moon) reached by an object orbiting it. In 2020 the full flower moon and clear skies for viewing preceded a strong cold front that followed bringing back frigid and unseasonable weather along with the threat of hard frosts threatening newly emerged tender foliage and flowering trees. So what about plants that have been in your yard all winter? They naturally harden-off and are...