Plant Pic, 052619 edition

Lilac bush in backyard

This is our first spring in the forever home we moved into in September, so it is VERY exciting from a gardening standpoint. We’re still figuring out exactly what we have sprouting and trying to chart the hours of sun while the weather remains stubbornly overcast many days.

Last fall, my favorite local greenhouse (Keit’s in Bay City) put its perennials on deep discount, as I knew they would, and I snatched up two lilacs and a viburnum. My husband got sick of hearing me talk about finding plants and getting them nestled in before winter, but now we’re reaping the benefits. The lilacs I installed next to our patio are only waist high, but blossoming enough that the perfume gently fills the air.

I’m looking forward to many more years of these scents. And you can bet that I’ll be prowling the sale offerings again come fall.

The morel of the story

morel mushrooms arranged in a circle

When we finished prowling our new backyard for morels on Tuesday, this was the final tally. We soaked them in water, melted some butter, cut them in halves and cooked them about 3 minutes. As advised by a friend, we poured the soaking water out over the stubs, hoping to prompt further growth.

Say hello to our little friends

bee with face in raspberry blossom

bee with face in raspberry blossom

Some of the most helpful residents of our yard are too plentiful to name or even number: the bees who keep our raspberry patch humming.

We rarely see honeybees. We sometimes see a tiny bee we have yet to identify. Most of our friends are bumblebees, but they are quite docile. Sometimes early in the morning we catch them sleeping on the leaves, which we find quite cute.

raspberry patch

This is the raspberry patch we share. We moved here four Februarys ago and brought a few dozen mature plants with us. Despite pruning and periodically giving plants away, we still have little to no space between bushes, and must carefully lift branches to move through and pick berries. This isn’t so bad, though, because we have to lift branches to check underneath for berries anyway; we just have to be careful of breakage as we walk between. As we do this, the bees ignore us or simply fly to one of the many other bushes.

bags of berries in the freezerThis is what happens to the berries right now: straight into the freezer.

First they get spread out on a plate (or a baking sheet if there are a lot that day), so they freeze separately. If you dump them into a container without doing this, you will get one giant clump of berry.

When the individual berries have frozen, they go into Ziploc gallon freezer bags. Sometime this winter they  probably will become another batch of wine, but this fall we are doing hard apple cider first.

Next summer I hope to begin beekeeping. In the meantime, we are happy to share our raspberries with our bee friends.

bee flying in raspberry bush


Plant Pics, 100916 edition

flower bed

flower bed

On Wednesday I drove to neighboring Midland (Michigan). I was picking up honey from an entomologist friend and when she suggested Tuesday or Wednesday to meet, I jumped on the latter because it’s a Farmers Market day. (The other is Saturday. More on the Midland Area Farmers Market within the next week.)

Midland can be an odd place. It’s very much a company town, and that company is Dow Chemical. Because this global behemoth needs to keep employees happy in a town of 42,000 people, there are amenities that don’t usually show up in small Midwestern cities. Also, things are neat and attractive, hence its Sparkle City nickname. That’s not a compliment; it’s a dig at the gentrification and greenbelting.

One positive is that the public plantings often are stunning. This is especially true downtown, where the beds and containers sport interesting plants and combinations – so much so that I had to stop for pictures just outside the market.

flower bed

I love texture, so I’m intrigued by this prickly plant against this feathery one.

flower bed

Looking back up the hill toward Main Street.

purple flower bed

Color groupings are common, such as this purple…

red flower bed

…and this red.

flower bed closeup

Sometimes the combinations are ones that never would have occurred to me, like the one above where the flowers and foliage have no similarities at all.

tall tropical plant in flower bed




I wonder if my hibiscus would like a tall tropical plant friend like this one.








plant closeups

These prickly things among the zinnias remind me of baby birds.

plant closeups

More satisfaction for my texture obsession.

Plant Pics, 032416 edition

Pitcher plant
One variety of orchid, in a smaller room off to one side.
One variety of orchid, in a smaller room off to one side.

While I love tending baby insects at Dow Gardens‘ annual Butterflies in Bloom, it is also fabulous to hang out among the plants of the conservatory for a couple of hours at a time. It’s a large version of a dream space, something I could only wish for my own home.

A wall-mounted plant, from the front and from the side.
A wall-mounted plant, from the front and from the side. Like most of the conservatory plants, it is not labeled.
Plant with twisting leaves
This twisty plant is the kind of thing I would take home …
Plant with narrow triangular leaves that are red on the back, green with spots on the front
… ditto this one.
Plant with what look like tiny peppers, half yellow and half red
This pepper-looking plant has caught other people’s eyes too.
Pitcher plant
Pitcher plants are tough to maintain at home. I killed a hanging version but hope to have success another time.
Another variety of orchid.
Another variety of orchid.

Plant Pics, 031816 edition

Criss-crossing roots

Vertical photo of tree with many entwined trunksThe conservatory at Dow Gardens is a wondrous place even when there aren’t butterflies flitting about inside, as there are right now during Butterflies in Bloom.

The building, all metal and glass and angles from the outside, is bright and welcoming inside. Tropical plants are everywhere, from sturdy decades-old trees to fragile orchids.

The flowers are of course beautiful and I’m a huge foliage fan, but I’ve been finding myself intrigued by what I see when I look down.


Base of three-trunked tree with curled roots wrapping around inside of huge pot
This looks like a perfect spot for a small animal to curl up and sleep.
Criss-crossing roots
This reminds me of clasped hands.
Gnarled base of a tropical plant with many stubs where branches were lopped off close to the trunk
I envision some mythical creature living in here.

Blue Morning Glory a Happy Surprise

Morning glories, one taking an unusual turn.
Morning glories, one taking an unusual turn.

Summer is over, but the yard still is blossoming.

This morning I got a bonus for filling the birdbath. As I put down the hose and turned toward the front door, I saw a light blue morning glory. That’s right, blue. I tried to do it justice in the photo above, but it was tricky.

Most of our blossoms are purple, some white, occasionally pink. This is the first blue I’ve seen, and I especially love the two purple stripes.

I generally let the morning glories be as long as they don’t interfere with other plants. I guide them away from the honeysuckle, for example, and out of the vegetables.

The hibiscus and morning glory coexisting.
The hibiscus and morning glory coexisting.

The vines were unwoven from around most stems of the hibiscus, shown above, and wound around the downspout instead. A side trailer of them weaves through the beaten-up white metal table, pink and purple prettying up the rust (a little).

My favorite winding blossoms right now come from the moonvine. Sometimes its tendrils seem to grow 6 inches in a day. To me the blooms are interesting even when they’re closed, because I like the strong pale green limbs that allow them to open and shut repeatedly.

A moonvine blossom just opening for the night.
A moonvine blossom just opening for the night.