Holland, Michigan’s Windmill Island Gardens celebrates 50 years

Mother’s Day blooms abound at Windmill Island Gardens. (Photo: Flickr/Rachel Kramer)

Mother’s Day blooms abound at Windmill Island Gardens. (Photo: Flickr/Rachel Kramer)

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Windmill Island Gardens, a city-owned park in the heart of Holland, Michigan. To celebrate the anniversary, horticulture staff will implement a theme of “The Gilded Garden,” intended to evoke a sense of luxury, opulence and visual treasure.

After the tulips are done blooming, annuals will be planted in their place. The gardening staff has chosen flower cultivars in as many shades of yellow and gold as possible to evoke the rich hues of summer. Vibrant masses of golden-toned blooms, stunning color, arresting foliage, and carefully chosen plant combinations will adorn each flower bed. Over 100 varieties of annuals are included in the garden plan; over 20 are new cultivars that have never been grown on the island before.

Whether visitors are seeking a tranquil corner, a shady bench with a view of the windmill, or a velvet expanse of green lawn, the gardens at Windmill Island can provide a feast for the eyes and the soul. For nearly 50 years, the centerpiece of the gardens has been the 252-year-old DeZwaan Windmill. It symbolizes the authentic Dutch heritage of the community. For more information, click here.

Step-by-step instructions for performing an MSU Extension soil test

MSU Extension:

Taking a soil test to determine nutrient levels in the soil for a garden area or lawn is a smart thing to do. Testing the soil can save you money on fertilizer costs because you know what is already supplied by the soil. You add only the nutrients needed for optimum plant growth and excess fertilizer doesn’t end up in groundwater, lakes or streams. Soil testing can be done any time the soil is not frozen.

For established plantings, you are monitoring changes in nutrients, pH and organic matter over multiple years. Organic matter content and pH impact nutrient availability in the soil. You will want to re-test the soil every three to five years or after major changes are made, such as adding lime to raise the pH or adding sulfur to lower the pH.

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Ketchup ‘n’ Fries grafted plant coming

ketchup-n-fries-grafted-plantThe Salt at NPR :

Love growing potatoes and tomatoes? This spring, gardeners in the U.S. (and Europe) will be able to get both tuber and fruit from a single grafted plant.

It even has a catchy name: Ketchup ‘n’ Fries.

“It’s like a science project,” says Alice Doyle of SuperNaturals Grafted Vegetables, the company that’s licensing the variety for U.S. markets from the U.K. company that developed it. “It’s something that is really bizarre, but it’s going to be fun [for gardeners] to measure and see how it grows.”

This isn’t a genetically modified organism but a plant of two different nightshades: the top of a cherry tomato grafted onto a white potato.

“Tomatoes and potatoes are in the same family, and that makes it feasible,” says John Bagnasco, also of SuperNaturals.

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Genetically modified apple variety doesn’t brown, awaits USDA approval


If you (or your children) turn up your nose at brown apple slices, would you prefer fresh-looking genetically modified apples?

Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, in British Columbia, Canada, certainly hopes so. His company has created the new, non-browning, “Arctic” genetically modified apple variety, and he’s hoping for big orders from despairing parents and food service companies alike. Food service companies, he says, would no longer have to treat their sliced apples with antioxidant chemicals like calcium ascorbate to keep them looking fresh.

The cost savings “can be huge,” he says. “Right now, to make fresh-cut apple slices and put them in the bag, 35 or 40 percent of the cost is the antioxident treatment. So you could make a fresh-cut apple slice 30 percent cheaper.”

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Gardening seminar coming to Shelby Township

The Outdoor Living Extravaganza, presented by Proven Winners, is coming to Cherry Creek Golf Club in Shelby Township on Saturday, March 21, 8:30am – 4pm.

This educational gardening seminar will inspire you with new plants, design ideas and more along with an opportunity to purchase plants and other gardening goods. All participants will receive a complimentary gift bag and plant along with a host of ideas to put to use right away in your garden.

Speakers will include P. Allen Smith, Award Winning Garden Designer, Author and TV Host; Kerry Mendez, Garden Expert and Author; and John Gaydos, Director of Product Development and Promotion for Proven Winners.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.