Cook some classics with green tomatoes

The Detroit News:

I may have a ripe tomato before the frost hits. Feeling full of gratitude that most of my garden survived the cruel winter just a few months ago, I planted several varieties of tomatoes in containers on my deck. The plants grew tall, the buds finally formed and then the cooler weather and gray skies put the kibosh on all of it. The one Early Girl that I was watching longingly as it began to redden and ripen turned up in a squirrel’s jaws the next morning. My voice was the scream heard ’round the block.

So, I’ve adopted a new philosophy: When life gives you green tomatoes, put them in a frying pan, a pickle jar or a cake or a soup or a casserole. Don’t bemoan that the lovely heirlooms are taking their sweet time coming around; instead, take action and put those green tomatoes to good use.

Read the full story here…

Where are the monarch butterflies?

Detroit Free Press:

Look closely outside. Something’s missing. Something orange, black, white and fluttery.

Monarch butterflies, once a ubiquitous spring and summer presence throughout Michigan, are yet again a rare sighting this year.

It’s the result of two factors: An ongoing crash in the migratory monarch’s populations due to the loss of habitat — particularly milkweed — and Michigan’s long, cold winter causing many returning butterflies to hang farther south or to arrive much later than usual.

“It’s really a big difference. It’s a tragedy,” said Diane Pruden, a Milford Township resident who serves as a citizen researcher for Monarch Watch, a nonprofit education, conservation and research program based at the University of Kansas.

Read the rest of the story here…

‘The Mackinac Grand’ named the 2014 Peony of the Year

peony-the-mackinac-grand-jul-14The American Peony Society has selected the peony ‘The Mackinac Grand’ to receive the APS Gold Medal Award and to be the 2014 Peony of the Year.

‘The Mackinac Grand’ was originated by David L. Reath in 1992. Blooming early to midseason, this medium-sized plant has warm red, semi-double and ruffled blooms. On sunny days, the flowers exhibit a gamut of red, from deep shades in the shadows to fiery red highlights and the sparkle of sunlight from the petal’s gloss. From afar, the color has great carrying power and always attracts attention. The bush itself has an open, somewhat spreading habit, with strong, rigid stalks. ‘The Mackinac Grand’ is a strong grower and reliable bloomer; performance improves with age and stem increase.

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.