Take an Autumn Prairie Plant Hike! @Furstenberg Nature Area

Sunday September 22, 2013: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm -- Furstenberg Nature Area

Natural Area Preservation (City of Ann Arbor) volunteer and Master Gardener Aunita Erskine lead a nature walk through Furstenberg's Native Garden.

Learn about the ecology of the park, how to identify many of the autumn prairie plants and how people have historically used some of the plants for food and medicine.

Furstenberg is off Fuller, across from Huron High School. Meet in the parking lot near the Native Plant Garden.

This event is intended for all ages.

The Gardens of Ann Arbor - A Walk Through the History of the Ann Arbor Garden Club

For more than 80 years the Ann Arbor Garden Club has been beautifying the public and private lands of Ann Arbor. Old News is launching a new Feature on the history of the AAGC this Wednesday, Septemeber 11, at 7:00 p.m. at the Pittsfield Branch Library. Grace Shackman's article highlights the Garden Club's commitment to their original mission, to assist the citizens of Ann Arbor to grow a beautiful city through education, outreach, community service and public events. The Feature includes hundreds of articles and photos from the archives of the Ann Arbor News.

Yardscaping

Have a corner in your backyard that needs some sprucing up? Have some unused objects hanging around that you just don't want to get rid of like an old, unused metal toolbox or some scraps of copper or aluminum tubing? Well, there are several books recently published that will give the outdoor artist in you some ideas for repurposing them. The Revolutionary Yardscape is every dumpster diver, scrap hound, or flea market enthusiast's dream, providing plenty of ideas for found items like plastic pallet strapping, wine bottle corks, reclaimed lumber, pipes, empty window frames, broken concrete slabs, and scrap stone, just for starters. It includes where to find specific items like at scrapyards or surplus sales. I love the reuse of an old oxygen tank from a hospital surplus sale as a planter! I also learned about items I never knew the name of like the reuse of a bollard as a garden hose guide. Projects range from very intensive to easy and he provides the info to get you through: like how to cut difficult materials including stone, steel, or acrylic sheets, or what to use to bend metal pipes. Another great book on this same subject is Handmade Garden Projects. I found the projects easier to accomplish in this book but just as creative. The easiest project was for garden lighting called: 'Canning Jar Lanterns', a great day project to do with kids. So whether you want an outdoor project to do in a day or over the course of many, these two books should give you plenty of ideas! For even more ideas click here.

Magazines A-Z: Birds & Blooms

Whether it's birds & blooms or sun & fun, there's no better time to get out in your yard and make things happen. Recently added to the library's magazine collection is Birds & Blooms: Beauty in Your Own Backyard. Loaded with lists of which birds are attracted to which flowers, and what to plant, considering soil, shade and seasons.

Also, if you're looking for simple projects to try in your backyard, the 'project section' in this magazine features feeders, birdhouses, garden crafts and large garden projects that will transform your backyard!

Branching out with other similar titles you might also try, English Garden, Gardens Illustrated, Fine Gardening, or Horticulture: the Art & Science of Smart Gardening.

Lovin' the Lavender

One of my favorite scents is lavender and with spring planting upon us, I turned to the Lavender Lover's Handbook, for inspiration. Lavender not only smells intoxicating, the flowers are gorgeous, and it can be used in a variety of recipes. From flower arranging to wreath making to cooking, this book provides the information needed to utilize lavender in many ways and in a variety of forms. The author also describes the different varieties of lavender, as well as how to grow and maintain them in abundance. The author should know, she has a 5-acre farm in Oregon with some 5000 lavender plants. It is open to the public and has the romantic name of Lavender at Stonegate. The library owns several other books on lavender, like Lavender : the grower's guide and Lavender : how to grow and use the fragrant herb I also have just heard about the Michigan Lavender Festival in Armada that takes place in July! A rewarding summer sipping sweet lavender lemonade!

Garden Problem Solver

Spring is here, and we’ve had a few warm days finally, so let’s talk gardening. I know you’ve got seeds ordered and sprouting indoors! We’ve got a new and pretty little book called Garden Problem Solver that has suggestions for just that. It has wonderful illustrations of images of disease and damage with possible solutions to bring the foliage back to health and get rid of pests. It talks about various problems encountered by a variety of ornamentals, vegetables, fruit, and weeds.

The library has a plethora of great books on gardening. Everything from what to plant when and where, to how to take care of it. Happy gardening! Think spring!

Cabin Fever

If you are anything like me, March rolls around and you begin to crave the juicy flavor of a sun-warmed tomato or the crunch of a raw sugar snap pea. OK, maybe I started to crave those back in November..but, March is when I can actually allow myself to think about what delicious food I am going to grow. It is also when I can take little steps to growing this food, such as ordering/planting seeds and beginning to plan the layout of my garden. Around this time my imagination runs rampant and I end up with way more seeds and varieties of tomatoes than I could ever plant, let alone eat. With the help of some resources from AADL, you can wrap up in a blanket with a warm cup of tea, and look forward to the day when the sun is once again shining and you are not under 5 layers of clothes.

With books such as The Backyard Homestead, Great Garden Companions, and Easy Vegetable Garden Plans…you can begin to plan your summer growing experience.

Don’t have enough land to plant a garden? Have no fear! You can plant in containers if you only have a porch or a deck. There are many books that offer solutions to the problem of not having available land to plant a traditional garden. To see a list of books that address this and other issues that may arise when you are trying to garden in a small space, click here.

I would also recommend making a trip to the AADL location and browsing the gardening section. You can also browse our collection online here.

Also, if you do not have the space to garden but still want to get your hands dirty, there are many opportunities for you! Community gardens like Better Together Community Garden or organizations such as Growing Hope in Ypsilanti exist so you can get outside and work with the earth no matter what your living situation may be.

Get ready, summer is just around the corner!

Unexpected Houseplant

I love gardening and look forward to spring when all the new buds start coming up. In the winter I continue my plant obsession indoors and a great way to get inspired was by perusing the book, the Unexpected Houseplant by Tovah Martin. Beautiful pictures, wonderful ideas, some plants and trees I never even considered for the indoors like Cupressus arizonica (or Blue Ice), or heard of before like Kangaroo Paws. Her writing draws you into her Victorian home located on 7 acres in Connecticut and overflowing with abundant flowers, herbs, and beautiful plant combos like sedum 'Angelina' with blue fescue. The plants are just as much a part of the pictures as the containers and the rooms themselves. The book's chapters are divided into seasons and describe not only each houseplant for the season, but the care, light exposure, water requirements, optimum temps, and any problems to note. Tovah Martin has a blog you can follow called Plantswise and many books, one in particular covers the rediscovered joy of terrariums, called The New Terrarium.

Beautiful No-Mow Yards

Seed catalogs are appearing in my mailbox. So, in spite of the white stuff outside, it is time to begin dreaming about and planning for next year’s garden. Part of my long-term plan has been to retire the lawn – by that I mean the green stuff that grows and has to be cut. But what do you replace it with? When I found this book, I knew I had found my answer. Actually, 50 potential answers. For that is how many lawn alternatives are highlighted in this wonderful book, Beautiful No-Mow Yards.

Let’s face it, a lush, green lawn, cut to the perfect height is lovely. But it takes a lot of water, fertilizer, time and machinery to keep it that way. And, lovely though it may be, it is a bit of a waste when you consider the alternatives, such as: a rain garden, a meadow, an edible garden, a living carpet, a shade garden, ponds, patios, play areas and, my personal favorite, a stroll garden. Even if you cannot consider giving up the lawn, there are ideas here for a ‘smarter’, eco-friendly lawn. For more ideas along those lines take a look at this website.

Beautiful pictures and how-to details about making the transition, with what-to details about planting, make this book practical as well as inspiring. Dream now, for spring cannot be far, can it?

Master Gardener Bonnie Ion Discusses The Flowers Of India

Wednesday November 14, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

Having traveled in India, Bonnie Ion will present both images and history about the flowers of India.

Bonnie has been traveling the world since age 16 and gardening for the past 30+ years. Trained as a landscape architect, she is also a Master Gardener, and Michigan Garden Club lecturer.

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