Web Extra: Hop on board the garden railroad

To read the full article by Sandie Parrott on Sean Rosenkrans’ garden railroad, pick up a copy of the April, 2014 issue of Michigan Gardener in stores or find it in our digital edition.

Captions and photos by Sandie Parrott

Rosenkrans controls all the trains from his transformer platform. Moisture or anything else on the rails means he has to regularly clean them and adjust speeds to keep the trains moving.

Rosenkrans controls all the trains from his transformer platform. Moisture or anything else on the rails means he has to regularly clean them and adjust speeds to keep the trains moving.

 

A “steam” locomotive pulls flat cars with logs through a forested lumber camp (evergreens and seedlings), with the village in the background. The scene includes a sawmill with a handmade sawdust burner, campsite with tent, campers and hungry bears, and a covered bridge.

A “steam” locomotive pulls flat cars with logs through a forested lumber camp (evergreens and seedlings), with the village in the background. The scene includes a sawmill with a handmade sawdust burner, campsite with tent, campers and hungry bears, and a covered bridge.

 

The hippodrome is the main circus building along with fortune teller and ticket booths, a merry-go-round, and gnome village. Animals, performers, and visitors complete the scene.

The hippodrome is the main circus building along with fortune teller and ticket booths, a merry-go-round, and gnome village. Animals, performers, and visitors complete the scene.

 

The bathroom garden began when a neighbor was throwing away an old sink. Rosenkrans hung it on an old door with a mirror and added a pump for washing hands. The tub came from another neighbor’s remodeling project. Now it has a pump and helps to water plants. The commode was found by the side of the road. Hostas are planted in the bowl and pansies in the tank.

The bathroom garden began when a neighbor was throwing away an old sink. Rosenkrans hung it on an old door with a mirror and added a pump for washing hands. The tub came from another neighbor’s remodeling project. Now it has a pump and helps to water plants. The commode was found by the side of the road. Hostas are planted in the bowl and pansies in the tank.

Web Extra: Pruning to make great evergreens

To read the full article by Janet Macunovich on pruning evergreens, pick up a copy of the Nov/Dec, 2013 issue of Michigan Gardener in stores or find it in our digital edition.

Captions by Janet Macunovich / Photos by Steven Nikkila

Even a tiny branch (circled) has great potential. Once clipping changes its position from shaded interior to sunny outer edge, this wimpy twig can become a husky, densely feathered leader.

Even a tiny branch (circled) has great potential. Once clipping changes its position from shaded interior to sunny outer edge, this wimpy twig can become a husky, densely feathered leader.

 

Evergreen pruning can be done at any time. I can even thin at one time, and cut back overall at a different time. I take advantage of that in winter when we need long branches for decorations. Look at all the great cuttings I've gathered just from thinning this boxwood (left) and these hollies (right).

Evergreen pruning can be done at any time. I can even thin at one time, and cut back overall at a different time. I take advantage of that in winter when we need long branches for decorations. Look at all the great cuttings I’ve gathered just from thinning this boxwood (left) and these hollies (right).

 

Work with the natural shape of the plant and you can do all the cutting at once, using pruners. Most stems are clipped by one year's growth. The thickest are cut by two years'. These shrubs were a matched set five minutes ago. They will be again in five more minutes once I've clipped the one on the left.

Work with the natural shape of the plant and you can do all the cutting at once, using pruners. Most stems are clipped by one year’s growth. The thickest are cut by two years’. These shrubs were a matched set five minutes ago. They will be again in five more minutes once I’ve clipped the one on the left.

 

If a shrub has become too big (photo 1), I wait until early spring to cut and thin. For instance, I cut and thinned these boxwoods shortly after budbreak (photo 2). At other times all this previously sheltered wood and foliage would have been suddenly exposed to summer heat or wintry cold. Such quick changes can kill leaves and make wood die back even further than it was cut. Recovery was well underway in August of that same year (photo 3).

If a shrub has become too big (photo 1), I wait until early spring to cut and thin. For instance, I cut and thinned these boxwoods shortly after budbreak (photo 2). At other times all this previously sheltered wood and foliage would have been suddenly exposed to summer heat or wintry cold. Such quick changes can kill leaves and make wood die back even further than it was cut. Recovery was well underway in August of that same year (photo 3).

Website Extra: The artistic country garden

The garden of Judy and Larry Rowe reflects their love of art and creativity

To read the full profile on Judy and Larry Rowe, pick up a copy of the June, 2013 issue of Michigan Gardener in stores or find it in our digital edition.

Photos by Sandie Parrott

Purchased from a neighbor, this manure spreader is the center of attention in the front yard, along with a white dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Weaver’s White’) and a pink-purple rhododendron (‘Elsie Lee’).

Purchased from a neighbor, this manure spreader is the center of attention in the front yard, along with a white dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Weaver’s White’) and a pink-purple rhododendron (‘Elsie Lee’).


 
Larry made the arbor for this corner garden that sits next to their sunroom where they relax and listen to singing birds playing in the water. There are two ‘Jackmanii' clematis on the arbor, several hostas, and two Alberta spruces for seclusion.

Larry made the arbor for this corner garden that sits next to their sunroom where they relax and listen to singing birds playing in the water. There are two ‘Jackmanii’ clematis on the arbor, several hostas, and two Alberta spruces for seclusion.


 
Larry made the wishing well from an old barbeque grill. The arbor Larry also made is covered with clematis, while clay drain tiles serve as a border. Insulators line the paths to keep hoses out of the gardens and prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), hardy in Michigan, surrounds a planted cactus dish garden.

Larry made the wishing well from an old barbeque grill. The arbor Larry also made is covered with clematis, while clay drain tiles serve as a border. Insulators line the paths to keep hoses out of the gardens and prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), hardy in Michigan, surrounds a planted cactus dish garden.


 
Judy collects cacti, even though most are not hardy in Michigan and must be taken inside. The pot of succulents is made of five drain tiles turned upside down and wired together to form a flower shape. The display is crowned by a hypertufa pot made by a fellow Master Gardener.

Judy collects cacti, even though most are not hardy in Michigan and must be taken inside. The pot of succulents is made of five drain tiles turned upside down and wired together to form a flower shape. The display is crowned by a hypertufa pot made by a fellow Master Gardener.

Website Extra: Janet’s Journal – Give your garden a raise

Photos by Steven Nikkila

For the full article on raised garden beds by Janet Macunovich, pickup a copy of the June, 2013 issue of Michigan Gardener in stores or find it in our digital edition.

Most landscapes offer the possibility of building raised beds from recycled material. For example, we removed the raised beds constructed at this house as an accent edging 30 years ago. The pressure treated lumber was mostly intact. We couldn't pull out the spikes that held it together, so we sawed it into sections intending to haul it away. We reconsidered when we learned there would be an extra charge to dispose of it since it could not be accepted at the organic waste site.

Most landscapes offer the possibility of building raised beds from recycled material. For example, we removed the raised beds constructed at this house as an accent edging 30 years ago. The pressure treated lumber was mostly intact. We couldn’t pull out the spikes that held it together, so we sawed it into sections intending to haul it away. We reconsidered when we learned there would be an extra charge to dispose of it since it could not be accepted at the organic waste site.


 
In the back yard at the same house, a steeply sloping corner that ccalready begun filling the area with sod and soil cut out in other projects in the yard. The plan had been to retain this bed with straw bales now, replacing them with a fieldstone wall once funds were available. We revised that to reuse the lumber.

In the back yard at the same house, a steeply sloping corner that ccalready begun filling the area with sod and soil cut out in other projects in the yard. The plan had been to retain this bed with straw bales now, replacing them with a fieldstone wall once funds were available. We revised that to reuse the lumber.


 
It was a puzzle to piece together the lumber we'd pulled out of the front beds in this new space, but simple math assured us there was enough to make the missing third edge of this triangular raised bed. So now, the earth holds two sides of the bed and we've retained the third with a wall that should last at least five years and probably much longer. No more mowing headaches—just a deep raised bed.

It was a puzzle to piece together the lumber we’d pulled out of the front beds in this new space, but simple math assured us there was enough to make the missing third edge of this triangular raised bed. So now, the earth holds two sides of the bed and we’ve retained the third with a wall that should last at least five years and probably much longer. No more mowing headaches—just a deep raised bed.


 
Mortared brick raised beds are worth considering if regular and varied pressure will affect the sides. That's often the case at botanical gardens where many people perch there regularly and wheeled vehicles frequently pass and occasionally bump the beds.

Mortared brick raised beds are worth considering if regular and varied pressure will affect the sides. That’s often the case at botanical gardens where many people perch there regularly and wheeled vehicles frequently pass and occasionally bump the beds.


 
As with wood, use some imagination and mixed stone can be recycled too. Karen and George Thompson made their steep slope into this large, safe garden by cleverly combining two sets of salvaged blocks plus a few bricks.

As with wood, use some imagination and mixed stone can be recycled too. Karen and George Thompson made their steep slope into this large, safe garden by cleverly combining two sets of salvaged blocks plus a few bricks.


 
George works out a pattern...

George works out a pattern…


 
...and settles on this elegant solution. Note the brick and block combination on the lowest terrace.

…and settles on this elegant solution. Note the brick and block combination on the lowest terrace.

Profile Website Extra: More photos of Bob Grese’s garden

Continued from page 50 of the May 2013 issue.

Photos by Sandie Parrott

Bob Grese tends to a witch hazel tree (Hamamelis virginiana). Native Americans used the tree bark to treat sores, tumors, skin ulcers, sore muscles, coughs, and colds. Yellow blooms in early spring and yellow fall color make this a beautiful tree.

Bob Grese tends to a witch hazel tree (Hamamelis virginiana). Native Americans used the tree bark to treat sores, tumors, skin ulcers, sore muscles, coughs, and colds. Yellow blooms in early spring and yellow fall color make this a beautiful tree.


 
The striking plumes of bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix) in late summer are beautiful in any garden setting.

The striking plumes of bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix) in late summer are beautiful in any garden setting.


 
Grese grew Yukon Gold potatoes in what is typically called a grow bag. They are great reusable containers for vegetables and now come in many colors and sizes.

Grese grew Yukon Gold potatoes in what is typically called a grow bag. They are great reusable containers for vegetables and now come in many colors and sizes.


 
One of Grese’s favorites is prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum). “I love the broad leaves and tall stalks. The leaves orient on a north-south axis and are wonderful backlit against the sun. The coarse texture is an effective contrast with fine-leaved plants,” he described.

One of Grese’s favorites is prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum). “I love the broad leaves and tall stalks. The leaves orient on a north-south axis and are wonderful backlit against the sun. The coarse texture is an effective contrast with fine-leaved plants,” he described.