Dan Buettner has studied five places around the world where residents are famed for their longevity: Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Icaria in Greece, and Loma Linda in California and Sardinia in Italy.
People living in these so-called “blue zones” have certain factors in common – social support networks, daily exercise habits and a plant-based diet, for starters. But they share another unexpected commonality. In each community, people are gardening well into old age – their 80s, 90s and beyond.
Could nurturing your green thumb help you live to 100?
It is well-known that an outdoor lifestyle with moderate physical activity is linked to longer life, and gardening is an easy way to accomplish both. “If you garden, you’re getting some low-intensity physical activity most days, and you tend to work routinely,” says Buettner.
He says there is evidence that gardeners live longer and are less stressed. A variety of studies confirm this, pointing to both the physical and mental health benefits of gardening.
Archive for the Clippings department
Whether you’re out in the woods or wandering through city streetscapes, keep your eyes open—you may spot one of Michigan’s largest trees!
Started by ReLeaf Michigan in 1993, the Big Tree Hunt takes place every two years and helps catalog the state’s biggest trees. Your assignment: Seek out the most majestic trees in your area and report them, because tree-spotters can earn certificates and prizes. “This is a really fun reason to get out and enjoy nature,” said Melinda Jones, executive director of ReLeaf Michigan. “It also helps raise awareness and enjoyment of the trees in our landscape.”
The Big Tree Hunt is one way to discover candidates for the National Register of Big Trees, which so far includes 19 Michigan trees. The biggest tree spotted on the last hunt is a sycamore in Lenawee County with a 315-inch girth.
ReLeaf Michigan is a nonprofit group that encourages planting trees. Entries, either online or hard copy, will be accepted until September 3, 2019. Find out how to participate by visiting www.bigtreehunt.com or calling 800-642-7353.
During the 2018 Michigan Herb Associates (MHA) spring conference in Lansing, herb enthusiasts from throughout the state celebrated and learned about herbs. Through a silent auction and herbal plant sale, conference attendees raised $3,000 for Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens. The Michigan State University Department of Horticulture graciously contributed the plants for the auction and sale.
Since its founding in 1987, MHA has donated more than $121,000 to the state’s 4-H Foundation in support of three specialty areas at Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens: the Peter Rabbit Herb Garden, Garden of Delight, and Herbal Tea Garden. The gardens are located at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
“We are in a renaissance for edible gardening, and the increased attendance at MHA annual conferences echoes the rising interest in learning how to grow and use herbs,” said Jeanne Hawkins, MHA president. “Fresh herbs make everything else in the garden taste better, plus they are pretty and smell wonderful.”
Michigan Herb Associates is a statewide organization dedicated to sharing herbal knowledge. To learn more, click here.
The North American Japanese Gardens Association (NAJGA) is holding a regional event at Cranbrook Gardens in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan on May 17-19, 2018. This event—”Creation & Rejuvenation: Six Japanese-Style Gardens in Michigan”—brings together garden professionals and hobbyists to explore the challenges and benefits of Japanese gardens in the Midwest using six case studies. Garden tours include the Cranbrook Japanese Garden, Freer House, McGregor Reflecting Pool and Sculpture Gardens, Kathleen and Milton Muelder Japanese Garden, Shigematsu Memorial Garden, The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, and Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Click here for more information.
In 1866, an Italian botanist named Odoardo Beccari was scouring through the jungles of Malaysia when he unearthed something truly alien-like: a plant, to be sure, but a plant with no leaves, no chlorophyll, and which did not perform photosynthesis and appeared to live underground. It looked more like a fungus or, perhaps more astutely, an insect or arachnid.
Beccari documented the discovery, filing away his illustrations and notes on the new species. And then, nothing. This weird, subterranean plant was never seen or heard from again.
That is, until just last year. Biologists from the Crop Research Institution in the Czech Republic happened to be exploring the exact same region of rainforest that Beccari had trudged through 151 years prior, when they spotted a bizarre flower poking through the leaf litter. They didn’t know it right away, but they had just rediscovered Beccari’s otherworldly plant. The picture above represents the first time the species has ever been photographed.
Three leading Dutch organizations have been collaborating with the aim of making tulip breeding and production faster and more sustainable. Using the latest technologies, it is now possible to identify the DNA sequence of the common garden tulip genome (Tulipa gesneriana), one of the biggest genomes ever sequenced. Its size is estimated to be nearly 11 times larger than that of humans.
The tulip genome reveals how the DNA determines the characteristics of a tulip. DNA patterns that are linked to desirable characteristics will soon be used in advanced breeding so that these characteristics can be combined to give new, improved varieties. With this knowledge, new tulip varieties that are resistant to common diseases can be developed faster and in a more targeted way. This will also reduce the use of plant protection products.
Hans van den Heuvel, Director Research & Development at Dümmen Orange, says: “The tulip genome makes the human genome look tiny: the entire human genome fits into one tulip chromosome. With the technology that was available at the turn of the century, this job would have taken over 100 years—an impossible task. But now we can do it in a matter of days. Data analysis is in full swing and there is no doubt that it will produce information that will transform tulip breeding, making it faster, more predictive, and above all ‘greener’ because we will focus on varieties that can be grown sustainably.”
Passengers flying into, or out of, the Lansing airport in the dark might notice a pink glow coming from the south side of the Michigan State University campus. The high pressure sodium (HPS) lights in the teaching greenhouses have been mostly replaced with LED lighting modules.
Why pink, and not bright white? It’s all about the usable light spectrum that plants need. Plants actually do best with the red and blue light, which appears pink when mixed. Plants reflect green light waves, which is why plants are green. MSU has purchased green-lensed glasses to counter the effects of the pinkish light on eyes. With the green “sunglasses,” things appear normal under the new lights. Reportedly, the electricity usage will be reduced by up to 50% compared to the old fixtures. The old fixtures also cast quite a large shadow over the plants during the day. The new LED’s are very narrow and barely noticeable above the benches.
Dr. Kristin Getter and Dr. Roberto Lopez were instrumental in pursuing this new technology
for the teaching greenhouses. In the two houses that Dr. Lopez will be using for his class, the HPS lights were kept in half of each house so he will be able to demonstrate the effects of light type on plant growth to his students.
So, the next time you’re flying over campus, just note that the pink glow is the newest in
lighting technology and impress your fellow passengers.
On Thursday, January 4, 7:00 p.m., the Garden Club of Michigan and Friends of Detroit Film Theatre co-host a special screening of “FIVE SEASONS: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf,” a new documentary about the internationally renowned Dutch garden designer and plantsman Piet Oudolf.
Oudolf’s projects include The High Line (New York) and the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park (Chicago), as well as many others throughout the world. At the invitation of the Garden Club of Michigan, Oudolf has committed to design a garden in Detroit on Belle Isle. Piet Oudolf and filmmaker Thomas Piper will be present at the screening to discuss the Belle Isle garden proposal with audience members.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Garden Club of Michigan will host two public meetings November 14 and November 28 to gather public input on a proposed garden in Detroit’s Belle Isle Park. The garden will be designed by internationally renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf.
Oudolf’s acclaimed gardens include the Lurie Garden in Chicago and the Highline in New York City, among scores of gardens around the world. He is one of today’s premier garden designers for public landscapes and is a leading figure of the “New Perennial” movement that is characterized by utilizing herbaceous perennials and grasses. His garden designs are artistic, ecologically inspired, accessible, welcoming, and enjoyed year-round.
After touring Detroit with the Garden Club of Michigan this past spring, Oudolf selected Belle Isle Park as the proposed site for one of his acclaimed garden designs. The site, located near the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon Tower between the Remick Band Shell and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, will be a connector in the cultural heart of the park. It also will help revitalize the island and attract garden lovers from near and far. The proposed garden will be paid for through donations and fundraising that will cover all the design, installation and maintenance costs.
Oudolf described the proposed Belle Isle site as a connector for people and activities on the island and “an opportunity to reinvigorate the adjacent structures and facilities.”
Open house dates & details
At the open houses, participants will view a short video of Oudolf discussing his vision for the garden and providing insight into the preferred site location. He also will respond to a few questions submitted by the public ahead of time. Both open houses will take place at the Flynn Pavilion (4435 Muse Road, Belle Isle Park, Detroit).
First open house: Tuesday, November 14, 6 to 8 p.m.
Second open house: Tuesday, November 28, 3 to 5 p.m. Will address questions that arise from the first open house.
“It is vital that the community has an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal,” said Scott Pratt, chief of Southern Field Operations for the DNR. “It is equally important that the DNR and the garden club ensure that the garden will be financially sustainable and has the support of state and city agencies.”
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced that Japanese stiltgrass, an invasive plant originating in Asia, recently has been positively identified on private property in Scio Township, near Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County. This identification, confirmed by the University of Michigan Herbarium, is the first detection of this species in Michigan.
Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) has been on Michigan’s invasive species watch list since 2015 due to the grass’s presence in nearby states, including Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. The species is believed to have arrived in the U.S. from Asia in the early 20th century, when it was used as a packing material for fine china. It is now widely distributed along the East Coast and in southern states.
Why be concerned?
“This annual grass is considered highly invasive, taking hold in areas of disturbed soil along banks, roadways and woods,” said Greg Norwood, invasive species coordinator for the DNR’s Wildlife Division. “Seeds can be transported by water or on animals, and seeds can remain viable in the soil for 3 to 5 years. Because deer don’t feed on Japanese stiltgrass, it often takes over in areas where deer browse on native plants and leave open patches of soil.”
What is being done?
The DNR is collaborating with The Stewardship Network, a nonprofit conservation group based in Ann Arbor, and other partners to identify the extent of the infestation. To date, small “satellite” populations have been located on the original property and a nearby site. The primary infestation was treated with herbicide, and plant material was burned. The small patches of grass at the satellite locations were removed by hand and disposed of.
How can you help?
The DNR is asking anyone to be on the lookout for Japanese stiltgrass and to report the location and photos of any suspected findings to Greg Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Japanese stiltgrass looks like some native grasses, so it may not appear out of the ordinary to the general observer. Here is what to look for:
• A thin, bamboo-like grass with jointed stems and well-spaced leaves.
• Smooth green leaves 2 to 3 inches long and one-half inch wide, tapering to points at both ends, often with an off-center silver stripe or mid-rib.
• 1- to 3-foot-high beds of grass, with some stems running across the ground and others shooting upright.
• Roots, both at the base and stem joints, that are weakly attached to the soil and easy to pull up.
• One to three slender, green flower spikes at the stem tips, appearing in August or September.
There are a few common plants in Michigan that easily may be mistaken for Japanese stiltgrass.
More information about invasive species, including identification information for Japanese stiltgrass, can be found at www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies.