The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

August 2, 2018

Join the International Monarch Monitoring Blitz

Filed under: Events,Insects — Tags: , , — bob @ 8:20 am

By now I’m sure you know we are in danger of losing the monarch butterfly migration in our lifetime. This critical situation was addressed in 2014 when President Obama met with President Pena Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Harper of Canada about it. At that meeting they agreed to “to establish a working group to ensure conservation of the monarch butterfly”. Since then much has been done to encourage research into the habits of monarch butterflies. One such result is the establishment of the annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz.

This is an event that takes place all across the range of the monarch butterfly that spans large parts of  The United States, Mexico and Canada. The purpose is to try to get a count of the number of monarch butterflies during a small window of time. This year the count started July 28th and runs through August 5th.

Scientists are looking for help during the Blitz, they’re asking for “citizen scientists” to step forward and pitch in for the butterfly count.  It’s simple and fun to participate as a citizen scientist, anyone can do it. All you need to do is count the number of monarchs you see in all stages of the insect’s development; egg, larva, chrysalis and adult and make some observations about milkweed plants. Once you’re done, report your findings online at the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project website.

There's another one! Add him to the tally.

There’s another one! Add him to the tally.

This is only the second year of this international event, so now’s your chance to get started as an amateur researcher. Years from now as the Blitz expands and becomes more well known, you’ll be able to proudly tell your friends you were among the earliest participants.

We’re working on our part of the Blitz right now  and hope you find the time to join in too. It’s a great way to spend some time outdoors while knowing you’re doing something tangible to help save our beloved monarch butteries.

Bob and Judy

July 31, 2018

Quilt gardens tour near Elkhart Indiana

We recently visited the Quilt Gardens, a really fun ongoing garden tour in the Elkhart Indiana region.

Volunteer gardeners from that area installed more than a million plants in eighteen gardens. Flowers and colorful foliage plants are arranged to reproduce quilt patterns on a large scale.

Vibrant flowers reproduce quilt patterns.

Vibrant flowers reproduce quilt patterns.

Ornamental peppers provide color for this quilt garden.

Ornamental peppers provide color for this quilt garden.

Another quilt garden.

Another quilt garden.

This space next to a building is transformed by this quilt garden.

This space next to a building is transformed by this quilt garden.

 

In addition to the gardens, twenty one large quilt pattern murals adorn assorted buildings along the tour.

This large quilt mural dresses up an otherwise drab wall.

This large quilt mural dresses up an otherwise drab wall.

Quilt makers will recognize the quilt patters.

Quilt makers will recognize the quilt patters.

 

The Quilt Gardens are open to the public now until October 1 and are free of charge. For downloadable maps and guides click here

Unless you’re short on time, we suggest you plan on taking at least two days to enjoy the gardens and other attractions along the way.

Bob and Judy

 

 

 

February 1, 2018

A local interpretation of Groundhog Day

Growing up in a rural area of southern Michigan, I had a chance to absorb a lot of our local farm culture. Back them there were plenty of old-timers who, in their younger days,  had farmed their acreage with teams of horses. Those gray-haired farmers had plenty of advice and time-worn proverbs to pass along. One that stands out for me is the meaning of Groundhog Day.

I don’t know the history of  Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney but the town has so successfully managed to turn Groundhog Day into its own event that many people don’t even know, or care, that this minor holiday has been around way before weatherman Phil Connors got caught in that time-loop in Pennsylvania. The first time I ever heard of the town of Punxsutawney was on an episode of  The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. I’m not sure in what context it was, I just thought it was funny to hear a cartoon character say “Punxsuatawney Pennsylvania”.

Most of the farmers in our area had some sort of livestock, often it was dairy cows. They would grow corn and hay as feed for their animals rather than purchase it off site from somewhere else. That meant storing feed on the farm; dried corn, still on the cobs, in corn-cribs and hay up in the second story hay mows above the livestock area on the ground floor. Farmers could easily judge by eye how much their livestock were eating.

Feeding livestock through the winter could be a challenge if the previous growing season’s harvest was below normal. Groundhog Day was, according to those farmers I knew, the half-way point of winter. By that they meant, if you still had half of your feed or more left in storage by Groundhog Day, you will make it through to spring. If not, then potentially you would run short of feed.

In our rural elementary school, Groundhogs Day was a fairly big deal. Our teachers never mentioned the practical side of the day but we did learn about the whole six weeks before spring thing. My classmates would come in to school on the morning of February second and excitedly report if they thought there was enough sunlight for a groundhog to cast a shadow.

I still use this day as reminder when I look in my deep-freezer and estimate how much frozen garden produce I have left from last year’s harvest.

Bob

 

August 22, 2017

Monet Garden of Muskegon

Filed under: Events,Flowers — bob @ 4:37 pm

A couple of weeks ago while traveling in the west side of the state, we had some extra time on our hands so we decided to turn off the highway and do a little bit of site seeing. We turned on Google maps and it made a suggestion for us based on our location. All it said was “corner of 5th and Clay” and displayed an unflattering photo of a utility pole with some plants behind it. We decided to “bite” and made the detour to 5th and Clay. There we discovered the Monet Garden of Muskegon. It’s a wonderful urban oasis designed, planted and maintained by the Lakeshore Garden Masters an independent garden club based in Muskegon County. According to their website, the garden was planted in 2001. It’s heartening to know that an independent group of volunteers can keep a project like this going for 16 years.

View of the garden  from the middle of the intersection.

View of the garden from the middle of the intersection.

After driving through the city streets it was a bit surprising to see the garden for the first time from my car since we didn’t do a online search for it.

The gardeners have install a bridge reminiscent of the one in Monet famous painting.

The gardeners have install a bridge reminiscent of the one in Monet famous painting.

I’ve never been to Giverny to see Monet’s house and gardens so the paintings and published photos are all I have as a reference.

Moving water adds another dimension of interest.

Moving water adds another dimension of interest.

It’s pretty neat to see the designers’ interpretation of Monet’s original. I’m thinking they must have visited Giverny, France.

Vertical feature's like this arch over the pathway gives the illusion that the garden is larger than it actually is.

Vertical feature’s like this arch over the pathway gives the illusion that the garden is larger than it actually is.

We spent an hour or so at the garden in the afternoon on a week day and with no other visitors there, we had the whole garden to ourselves. It’s a relatively quiet spot with little car or truck traffic. There’s no cost for admission, you just park in the street and walk through.

Bob

May 11, 2017

Mother’s day plant sale at Matthaei Botanical Gardens this weekend

Filed under: Events,Flowers — Tags: , — bob @ 12:05 pm

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens – Nichols Arboretum annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale is coming up this weekend, May 13 and 14.

About three weeks ago I visited the Gardens and got a sneak peek at the plants growing in the greenhouse. I can tell you that these are no ordinary, anonymous plants grown by an impersonal factory growing operation. They are lovingly grown and tended by Adrienne O’Brien and her helpers right in the greenhouse at the Botanical Gardens. When I was there, the plants were still young but were growing strong and looked absolutely wonderful.

Horticulturist Adrienne _________ leads  team of plant grower at Matthaei Botanical Gardens - Nichols Arboretum

Horticulturist Adrienne O’ Brien leads her team of plant growers at Matthaei Botanical Gardens – Nichols Arboretum.

 

A month ago Adrienne was worried that the plants were ahead of schedule.

A month ago Adrienne was worried that the plants were ahead of schedule.

Now the plants are ready to go home to Mother’s house.

The plants will be sold in the same greenhouse that they were grown in.

The plants will be sold in the same greenhouse that they were grown in.

Wide variety of beautiful hanging baskets

Wide variety of beautiful hanging baskets

Container plants make a great gift for Mom on Mother's Day.

Container plants make a great gift for Mom on Mother’s Day.

Whimsical planters like these are lots of fun.

Whimsical planters like these are lots of fun.

 

The sale runs from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm both days (9:00 am if you are a member). Matthaei Botanical Gardens is located at 1800 N. Dixboro Road, south of Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor. See you there!

Bob

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