Archives for November 2016

A Belated Glance At Halloween

halloween-2016-12I know this post is 4 days after the fact. So sorry for that. I rarely am able to write a post in one sitting. Photographs for a post may take plenty of sittings.  I hope late is better than never! I do so enjoy the Halloween holiday, so I am writing belatedly.  It would be tough for me to let Halloween pass, unacknowledged. To follow is the stale news of my late fall gardening life. Rob made a point of choosing 4 pumpkins for me to carve for my Halloween at home. He knows I love that fall holiday that celebrates in a lighthearted way the coming of the dark time. Halloween is a silly gateway to those serious months in which there will be no gardening. I carve pumpkins, light them up, buy treats for the kids, and turn my porch light on. Buck fixes chili. It is a party that comes to us. The pumpkins Rob chose were big. The walls were thick. The rind was tough. Really tough. It makes sense that a very large pumpkin would have thick walls and a tough rind. How else would a pumpkin emerge, grow, and stand up? Nature at work is a study in how living things work. I am still learning. Love that party. Luckily, my carving day was this past Sunday. I had a whole day to deal with thick walls and the tough rind.

halloween-2016-13I had time to think over how I would carve these pumpkins.  Cutting a lid, and scooping them out took plenty of time. I have learned from many years of exposure to Buck that any task at hand requires a sensible and thoughtful approach to the work.  Years ago, I gutted and carved my pumpkins at home in the kitchen. How exhausting it was to haul those big pumpkins up a steep flight of stairs from the basement. I never liked that part. In the back of my mind fluttering around was why would I carry a pumpkin upstairs, and carry at least a third of it back downstairs? Why, indeed. This seemed not only inefficient, but not in the spirit of good fun. Fun that is too much work is not that much fun. Emptying every pumpkin of the seeds and goo permeated every surface of our kitchen. What a mess. For the past few years, I have cleaned out and carved my pumpkins at work, on a table at a perfect height for me to work. A giant trash was strategically placed to accept, via that miracle we know as gravity, all of what it takes to make a pumpkin ready for carving.

dsc_0114My pumpkins had those same incredible stems as all of the pumpkins Rob purchased this fall for the shop. His choices inspired lots of gardeners interested in representing the fall season. I was a happy member of that group. By the afternoon on Sunday, my pumpkins were ready to carve. Did I have a plan for the carving? No. Did I draw on the pumpkins? No. I just took up my knife, and plunged in.

halloween-2016-15The carved pumpkins took up residence the morning of Halloween day in the pots out front. The candle inside was all about fire power. I lit them at 4:30 in the afternoon. I knew they would burn at least 12 hours. Rob’s Belgian made outdoor candles emit a lot of light, and easily handle a windy night. Each pumpkin was encircled with a ring of faux black hydrangea stems.  Fake flowers have their moment.

halloween-2016-16I took pictures at 5:30 pm. That heavy duty candle had already turned my carved eyebrows black. The flame is obvious. What I did not see until I looked at this picture the next day was the fall color on my Limelight hydrangeas. The fall season in the garden is indeed beautiful.

halloween-2016-17I was happy to see that my group of 4 pumpkins were representing the spirit of Halloween in my garden. By 5:15 pm I was ready for Halloween. Meaning, I was ready for company. Buck and I did get company.

halloween-2016-2Trick or treat

halloween-2016-6trick or treat

halloween-2016-9Halloween  visitor

halloween-2016-4trick or treater

halloween-2016-3this green Halloween visitor was my favorite

halloween-2016-1kids with their family

halloween-2016-8more kids with their family

halloween-2016-11dressed to the nines for Halloween

halloween-2016-5another family celebrating Halloween

halloween-2016-10beautiful

Halloween 2016skull scary

img_4390three girls

img_4387horns on fire

img_4366Our house

img_4362-2lighted pumpkin after dark

img_4359pumpkin ablaze

img_4360well after dark

img_4416This Halloween visitor was a grandfather, escorting his grand kids through my neighborhood. He told me that his grand kids were afraid to stand next to him. How hilarious. The best part of Halloween? A lot of fun and mock horror celebrated by a community. Celebrating Halloween is a version of community gardening.

 

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The Trees In The Neighborhood

fall colorMy neighborhood is like countless others all across this country.  Rows of homes bisected by a road. It is an older neighborhood, dating back to the 1930’s. The size of the right of way trees speak to that age. The right of way?  The ROW is that strip of land between the sidewalk and the street.  In my neighborhood, the right of way is planted with trees and grass. Yes, you do see a dead tree dead ahead. Large growing shade trees, or street trees, take poorly to having their roots confined between parallel ribbons of concrete. Many of the maples on my street are in serious decline, victims of their own roots that grow round and round in between the bands of concrete, rather than having the opportunity to stretch out, and live large.  Girdling roots will eventually strangle a tree. OK, this horticulture discussion is finished.  The neighborhood trees in full fall color deserve a mention, do they not? I toured my neighborhood this morning, just to see the fall color on the trees.

fall colorIt was not in the cards for me to take a fall color trip to some more rural location.  I work most every day.  My fall color trip through the neighborhood took an hour this morning. During the summer months, the trees are a fairly uniform shade of green. In the fall, every tree represents the fall season individually. A tree tour in my neighborhood is the best in the fall. Each tree turns color on their own schedule.  Some trees go yellow for fall. Others go red.  The sugar maples are the most incredible combination of yellow, peach, orange and red imaginable. This sugar maple, just a block away from home, is beautiful, and fiery.

trees-in-fall-color-16Fall color is a phenomena not completely understood.  Day length is key to triggering fall color.  But temperature, weather and placement all play a roll. Sometimes the science has to take a back seat to the experience. The fall in Michigan is a season like no other.  The air is crisp.  The falling leaves give way from the branches of the trees, and silently waft their way to the ground. The fallen leaves crisp up, and crunch underfoot.  The sun low in the sky ignites the color.

trees-in-fall-color-17A Japanese maple in its summer green grows on to become riveting red in the fall. Good landscape design in my zone takes the fall season color into consideration. I am in favor of a landscape that thoughtfully places evergreen trees in beautiful concert with deciduous trees. Contrast in the landscape makes for a very pretty party. No season is more about contrast than the fall.

trees-in-fall-color-12the sweet gum across the street in full fall color

trees-in-fall-color-13A maple ablaze backed up by a pair of spruce

trees-in-fall-color-14Older Japanese maple decked out for fall trees-in-fall-color-10Japanese maple and burning bush glowing red

trees-in-fall-color-18fall yellow

trees-in-fall-color-4Dogwood

trees-in-fall-color-6Linden

black gum fall color
Black gum

Venus dogwood in fall colorI planted 4 Venus dogwoods in the right of way in front of my house this summer. They have beautiful fall color right now. Planting dogwoods in the right of way is a gamble. The city may dislike my choice of a ROW tree. We will see. This fall season in Michigan-incredibly beautiful. The neighborhood trees are looking really good right now. The fall gardening season is a moment to treasure. Agreed?

 

 

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Holiday Preview 2016

open-house-7The kick off for the Detroit Garden Works holiday preview weekend is tonight.  I have spent most of the last 2 weeks helping to get the shop ready for our only evening event of the year. It is a party for all of those gardeners who shop here, and help keep our business going. We thank all of you.  It is also an opportunity for Rob to display all of his lighting ideas for the winter to come. If you are in the area, our event runs from 5 to 9.  We have complimentary valet parking, a light dinner, and drinks. It is terrifically good fun, should you have a mind to attend.  If not, the event goes on Friday and Saturday 9-5, and Sunday 12-4.  As there is more I have to do before 5, I will leave you with these pictures. And I will post more of the evening party for those who are too far away to come. Next week, I promise I will be back to writing-of course about the gardening season ahead. Hope to see you later!

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Night Light

jan7a-017The late fall, winter, and early spring in my zone occupies a solid 6 months of every year. For gardeners, this amounts to being occupied by an army of unfriendly conditions. The cold, the quiet, the somber color of the landscape, the desertion of the birds, the leafless trees, the snow, and the sunless skies that preside over the dormant garden are enough to make any gardener black out. There are a few bright and light spots. The late November and December holidays are a celebration any and all can enjoy. There is nothing like a celebration to banish the winter blues. It is not surprising that the holidays have roots in an ancient late season festival of lights. The quality and duration of light is a major consideration in the planning of a garden or landscape. It is equally important to a warm winter garden.

holiday-17We have sunny skies and 60 degrees forecast for this week, but the beginning of winter is but 5 weeks away. Nature in particularly stingy in the light department given the arrival of that moment. The shortest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice, will be the 21st day of December this year. On that day, my city will have 9 hours and 32 minutes of daylight, and 14 hours and 28 minutes of nighttime. At that moment, the north pole will be tilted away from the sun the furthest distance it will be all year. I rue that day. The gray days and the long black nights that attend our winter are tough to take.  I will not be paying so much attention to the beginning of the dark in late December. I have holidays to celebrate. But January, February and March can be dark. A plan in advance to light the winter night just makes sense.

dec-20-2012-038It is a given in my household that all of my containers will be dressed for the winter season. They may have fresh cut twigs, or stems from my garden, fresh cut greens, or holiday picks-but no matter how I choose to handle the decor part, all of them will provide some light. Empty containers over the winter is a lost opportunity. Winter containers without lighting is much the same. Dressing containers for the winter to come is a form of antibiotic that can help make the insult of the winter easier. This rectangular pot which I plant for summer lights the way down the stairs from the deck to the yard. This is a great idea for 2 aging corgis, and my aging self going down those stairs. Incandescent garland light strings have the lights very closely spaced.  There are 300 lights per strand.  This pots has two strands tucked into the greens. I can see this pot from my bedroom window.  This light is the last thing I see before I go to sleep. Sweet.

dec-20-2011-034I go to work, and come home from work in the dark now. The dark days are ascending. This picture of winter container arrangements that were lighted that Rob made for me several years ago at the end of my driveway meant that I had light in my garden, early and late in the day. The morning light was as beautiful as it was cheery. Fiery expressions in the winter-how I appreciate them.

dec-20-2011-007On those winter nights when I was out late, I could see my way to the door, courtesy of these lighted winter pots. I was happy to have my way to the garage door at 8pm easy to navigate. Great lighting not only illuminates the winter landscape, it makes the winter easier to bear. I do have landscape lighting, which I rarely use in the summer months. The summer daylight goes fashionably late in my zone. But come winter, I appreciate my landscape lighting. And a little supplementary lighting in my winter containers makes that just past 4 in the afternoon and at 7am a dose of light that I appreciate. Your containers stuffed with natural materials for the winter, and glowingly lighted, may prove to be an effective antidote to the gray days and the very long dark nights to come.
jan7a-020I do believe that landscape lighting is an integral part of a great landscape design. I routinely plan for my lighting designer, Kevin McMahon from Moonlit Lighting, to propose a lighting scheme. Those lighting schemes are tailored individually to each client. Landscape lighting is not my forte. I take Kevin’s lead.  But lighting containers is a specialty. That specialty evolved from Rob’s interest in lighting, and his passion for lighting up the winter night.

dsc06326We have for many years incorporated his light strands into our winter containers.  Like everything on the planet, lighting has evolved. Though for years we stocked all manner of incandescent light strands for containers, the LED light revolution has changed all of that. Finally LED light strings are available with lights that exude a warm glow. Their initial harsh blue light was unattractive to both the landscape and people. No doubt they are more expensive than the 100 count incandescent light strings that were reliable for one season only. The Dutch manufactured lights that Detroit Garden Works carries now are good for 10 years and 50,000 hours. They draw very little power. The investment up front is greater, but the rewards are better than greater. Lighting your garden in the winter has never been easier. Your electric bill will be small.

dong-2011-020This pot of twigs that Rob designed and installed last year with C-6 incandecent light strings at the base have the fire power that only incandescent lights can deliver. These lights come with a price from DTE energy. The good news is that any gardener seeking to banish the dark has a lot of choices.

nov-25-2012-012The front of the shop in December from some years ago would have been dark indeed without the lighting.  My advice? Dress your pots for the winter season. Do not forget to light them. Light up your night.

 

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