Gardener's Grapevine 2011.08.11

Written by David Green.

Ahhh summer...sun, beautiful flowers and bounty from the garden, is there any season more loved?

I hope by this time everyone has had a chance to take a look at the flowers downtown. We hit a winner with that combination this year.

Art and I went to Smoke on the Water at Toledo’s Promenade Park with friends Saturday and enjoyed the music, ribs and waterfront. We drove down Monroe Street past the museum on the way home and someone has planted a beautiful area in the median of the street. There were so many different flowers planted I couldn’t begin to name them all, but they put canas in the middle and graduated down from there with different heights of flowers to some that hugged the curb of the planter. It was stunning and impossible not to notice.

The Garden Club in Morenci has long discussions on what will work in the baskets downtown. We discuss: what will last the longest and not burn out, what is going to “pop” giving us the most color to draw attention to our quaint little town, and which nursery has given us the best quality and price so far. Most people don’t realize how heavy those planters are, but ask a city worker and they will tell you they are not as light as you might think. Every community has a civic organization that tries to make the downtown area more beautiful and July/August is the time when their efforts are at their peak.

Our garden is really doing well this year. We are harvesting tomatoes, squash, peppers and weeds! It is truly baffling how without our care the vegetables die, but the weeds don’t need anything to give an outstanding show. Now last week I spoke about how much I enjoy wildflowers and I know that all wildflowers are weeds. That’s all well and good until they are in my vegetables and flowerbeds. The thistles were beautiful along the roadside; they are not, however, beautiful in my gardens. This must be the year of the thistle; I have never had more than one or two on our property. This year they are everywhere and I no sooner pull one than three more pop up.  I don’t think there is a more annoying weed unless it’s the dandelion. 

There are different varieties of perennial phlox, most people think of it as the creeping ground cover that blooms in the spring. I grow that along with the tall variety that is between four and five feet tall. This has been a wonderful year for the phlox. Some of the varieties smell so good. I have five varieties and the white is the most fragrant. This is an excellent choice of perennial if you are looking for something tall that is not picky about its sun as long as it gets a little. It requires little care and is very resilient in hardiness.

Other perennials that work well in very hot dry weather is coneflower, daisy and coreopsis. I like to have a bed of coneflower because all winter long the birds will feed on the seeds. I suppose I should feel that way about the thistle also, but no matter how you look at it, they just don’t look right in a cultivated garden.

I tend to let the flowers alone in the winter instead of cleaning them up after the hard frost. The birds will make use of the seeds and some of the dead foliage is used in their nests. I know the squirrels like the dead grasses for their nests because you sometimes see them in the fall running with it in their mouths. They use sticks and stalks for the bases and grasses to line the nest. There are small round seeds on the phlox and it is fun to watch the squirrels try to get them. They can’t climb the stalks as they are too weak to hold their weight, so they climb our fence and attempt to pull the head off the plant to reach the seeds. They toss a lot of blooms on the ground to get the seeds.

Squirrels are either very aggravating to a gardener or lots of entertainment. I don’t fight them as you can’t win. I very much enjoy their antics. We feed our birds sunflower seeds in the winter and of course a few sunflowers always come up in the spring. They make their heads and bloom by August and are pretty dry in September/October. The squirrels have a blast getting ahold of the heads for the seeds. These stalks they can climb, but by the time they are dried the heads hang down and are hard to reach. The squirrels just hang upside down holding on by their feet and stuff the seeds in their mouths until their little cheeks are puffed as far out as possible. I have no use for the sunflowers so why not enjoy the entertainment! 

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017