Invasive-plant removal efforts to start this summer on Belle Isle

Efforts to remove invasive plant species on Belle Isle in the Detroit River begin this summer, thanks in large part to a $470,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Friends of the Detroit River (FDR), a nonprofit based in southeast Michigan.

The two-year project, which is currently in the planning phase, aims to control invasive plant species already present on Belle Isle—Michigan’s 102nd state park—and prevent additional invasive species through an outreach and education program that builds public awareness about invasive species and ways to minimize their introduction and spread on the island park.

“The Detroit River is a designated area of concern,” said FDR project manager Sam Lovall. “One of this project’s objectives is to remove the river’s top two impairments: loss of fish and wildlife habitat and degradation of fish and wildlife populations. We can assist in doing this through invasive plant species removal on the island.”

Improving habitat diversity
Four invasive plant species—including phragmites, which encompass 50 acres of the island, reed canary grass, purple loosestrife and Japanese knotweed—will be targeted for removal. “Invasive plant species can monopolize the landscape, growing in large groves, patches and stands that destroy the diversity of the habitat,” Lovall said. “The more plant species that live in an area, the healthier that area tends to be.”

Partnership makes it possible
The Belle Isle Conservancy—in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources—will oversee volunteer efforts, enlisting organizations such as the Greening of Detroit and Student Conservation Association to assist in removal of invasive species and evaluation of progress.

For more information on Belle Isle Park, visit and Information on Friends of the Detroit River can be found at

Shelby Township Gardeners Club hosts garden walk

The Shelby Gardeners Club organizes and hosts a garden walk every two years. The 2014 garden walk is on July 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It features six residential gardens, as well as the public Heritage Gardens on the township’s municipal grounds, and the Shadbush Teaching Gardens.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Shelby Township Library or the Shelby Township Parks & Recreation Office for $10, or $12 on the day of the walk at Heritage Gardens and the Library. The location of the residential gardens included in the walk are printed on the tickets. For further information, contact Sue at 586-726-7529.

Hidden Lake Gardens renovates tropical dome

The tropical house under renovation at Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton, MI. (Photo courtesy Hidden Lake Gardens)

The tropical house under renovation at Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton, MI. (Photo: Hidden Lake Gardens)

Hidden Lake Gardens is excited to announce that their tropical dome is being renovated this summer. The Date Palm tree and the Fan Palm tree have out grown the space and are threatening to compromise the dome structure and they must be removed. Though they are sad to say goodbye to these old friends, their removal provides a unique opportunity for other improvements to the facility.

Hidden Lake has created a plan for retaining some of the key plants while adding new plantings with more color and flowers along with a water feature, upgraded electrical, lights, plumbing, and painting. Additionally they will be making repairs to the outside sandstone walls and addressing water drainage. The end result will be a new, exciting and fresh tropical environment for visitors to the gardens.

The Tropical Dome is now closed and the refreshed Tropical environment will reopen later this summer. The Arid Dome, Temperate House and the Bonsai Collection at the Conservatory, as well as all gardens at Hidden Lake, will continue to be open to the public during this process.

Look up for power lines when planting trees


Does anything look odd about these trees planted under the power lines? We drove past right after a tree crew removed the top third of each of them. This example serves as a reminder to always keep power lines and the mature size of a tree in mind before planting.


Unlocking the secrets of healthy soil

MSU Extension:

Understanding healthy soil biology is quickly becoming the “next frontier” for science exploration. Michigan State University professor of nematology George Bird reminds us that “Like the oxygen we breathe, no life can exist without soil.” Similarly, soil cannot function without life.

While soil scientists have long understood the physical and chemical properties of the ground we garden in, new research is unlocking secrets of the “living component” of soils that make them able to regenerate and function as a living ecosystem. So, what does this mean? Do we need a bunch of earthworms sliding around to make our soils healthy?

According to Bird, a large percentage of the living component is microscopic, not visible to the naked eye. Like magic, organisms such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes, flagellates and actinomycetes work in harmony with one another to release, or mineralize, nutrients and make them available to plant roots. Often these very organisms become the “gatekeeper” of essential elements to enter plant roots. What Bird describes as “gardener’s friends,” these diminutive creatures work in tandem with plant roots and each other, allowing the soil to respond to management practices in a predictable manner and preventing soil degradation.

Read the full article…