I can see clearly now the snow is gone

By on Feb 23, 2018 in Early Spring |

My apologies to Johnny Nash for the variation on his song lyrics but it’s exciting to see the snow go away. Everything goes nuts when the soil temperatures climb to 60 degrees plus in spring. When will that happen? Every year is different. Here in southwest Michigan usually sometime in mid April. I have had people write me, call me, ask me in response to GDD comments I have made on the air. That would be “growing degree days” and their fascination with the process. They are living it but not realizing it. Anyone who in spring has not carried a soil thermometer around with them has not truly lived life to the fullest. Probe the soil in anticipation of 60 degree ground temperatures and you my friend are alive. We all live with the air temperature forecasts projected by meteorologists to plan our week’s activities with their 7 day forecasts. But if you want an earthy experience...

A Garden You will Love

By on Feb 10, 2018 in Houseplants |

A GARDEN YOU WILL LOVE Time spent in a garden is a metaphor on life. The objective is not to “prove” yourself. Your intent should be to “improve” yourself and the quality of your environment. A garden by definition is a space, a plot, a pot, a place where plants are cultivated. This can be just about anywhere and size does not matter. It’s the cultivation part that matters. It is projected that in the coming years the percentage of city dwellers will increase from 54% to 66% of the world’s population. A move from the rural to the accessibility of city life. Older generations like the convenience of walking distance and younger generations like the opportunities for experience and lifestyle. This move will change how we love our gardens and we will use plant material in tighter or smaller spaces. It has also produced a resurgence in indoor foliage plants for “breathing” rooms. Cultivate...

Two Plants with a lot of character

By on Jan 27, 2018 in Houseplants |

As always some stress will reveal character and in the case of plants show how well grounded they are. Plants with fibrous and shallow roots tend to be less adaptable or easy to grow than those with tuberous, thick or rhizomatous roots. When people complain of their vines not blooming or their houseplant’s demise the root of the problem is exactly that, the roots. Take as an example a couple of houseplants that are the closest living thing to plastic known to man. The Zamioculcas zamifolia and the Sanseveria plant. Often seen in office environments or airport terminals these two seem to thrive on neglect. Both have thick waxy leaves and low rates of transpiration. You have to however look at the business end of these plants to see thick roots, in the case of a ZZ plant tubers allowing it to go long lengths without water. Adaptable to harsh environments the ZZ plant is native to Africa...

A lesson from a Ficus tree

By on Jan 27, 2018 in Houseplants |

I watch the Ficus benjamina trees that are shipped from Florida to Michigan. When they arrive their glossy leaves have a very pronounced midrib. That’s the visible line right down the middle of the leaf from petiole to the tip. Over time as they endure the cloudy low light seasons of Michigan weather, that midrib begins to disappear on the foliage. Important when it lived in the Florida sun, the midrib would cause the foliage to fold up in half to conserve moisture. Not needed in Michigan the foliage indoors becomes flat trying to absorb what light it can. In addition seasonally up to half the foliage drops off the plant as a defensive mechanism. When that happens if you run for the watering to can and apply more water you simply rot the roots and speed the decline. Here too I see a correlation between the landscape and our lives. When plants are situated in a shaded or dark place they...

Heaven let your light shine down

By on Dec 26, 2017 in Lake Michigan |

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.