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.

Celebrating Our Republic: A Flower Show Celebrating Our Great Nation: Ann Arbor Garden Club

Saturday September 8, 2012: 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

A flower show at the library!! This year's flower show celebrates America. Come and see what the Ann Arbor Garden Club grows and how they use what they grow in many beautiful floral designs.

Members of the garden club will be on hand to visit and answer questions.

Grown in Detroit

Detroit is a city that has been reviving itself for decades, as new generations bring new life to the city. With the city’s growth has also come growth in urban agriculture, as people are turning vacant lots into fertile land. Some call it the greening of a gray city.

The documentary film Grown in Detroit focuses on a group of students at Detroit’s Ferguson Academy for Young Women, a high school for pregnant teens, as they work in the school's urban garden and learn how to grow nutritious food for their children. One of only three schools in the country for this population, the curriculum focuses on helping these teens care for themselves and their children, and uses urban farming as a means to teach them.

The students featured in Grown in Detroit are at first underwhelmed by the amount of physical labor required for farming. The teen moms eventually realize that they can profit from the food they are growing, as well as provide nutritious food for their children and themselves, all stemming from the fruits of their labor. It’s a beautiful film that places an eye on this unique opportunity happening for these girls -- right here in Detroit.

In addition to being available on DVD at AADL, the film is also available for instant online streaming to logged-in AADL cardholders here! You can also watch it on the Grown in Detroit website, where you pay whatever denomination you want in order to view it.

Composting

The comforting reality is: you cannot fail at composting. Nature’s whole impulse is to break down organic substances and in her service are gazillions of bacteria, fungi and crawly critters. It will happen slowly without any intervention. For the purposes of a gardener, or just your average recycler, it is very useful to speed up the process and that is where this lovely book comes in to tell you how.

I have read all the books in our collection on compost and more besides (ok, I love the stuff) but, though they all individually have merits, all you need is Composting by Bob Flowerdew. With a name like that you’ve got to trust this guy. A small, handsome book, in this case less is more, and he says it all succinctly and clearly and gets it right.

Everyone can compost. Initially it takes some effort to get set up, but then it is painless. You can take your yard scraps and weeds, your kitchen scraps and garbage, that inedible zucchini you overlooked in the garden which grew to baseball-bat length, your leaves in the fall and, if you are lucky enough to find a source, manure from animals that eat grass, and turn it all into rich, ‘black gold’, which will enrich your soil and actually inoculate it against pests which like to attack what grows in your garden. It will make your vegetables and bushes and flowers grow beyond belief and give you a rich medium for your houseplants and seedlings. Add to that the fact that you keep all of those things out of the waste cycle. Everything wins! Besides it is magical to watch and participate in the life cycle of nature.

The best apologist for compost turns out to be Walt Whitman. His poem, “This Compost” is a beautiful statement about the efficiency with which the Earth will transform waste to fertility.
“Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient, It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions.”

From Tiny To Mighty: The History, Uses, And Cultural Relevance Of The Strawberry

Tuesday, May 29 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Downtown Library | Multipurpose Room

It’s strawberry time! Join Ecology by Design owner William Kirst as he kicks off Strawberry Week with an exploration of one of the world's most amazing fruits.

With his unique sense of humor and palpable love of all things botanical, William will trace the strawberry from ancient Rome, through extensive breeding over 3 continents and hundreds of years, over wild berry patches to manicured gardens, bringing us to an understanding and appreciation of the strawberry in our own lives.

Ecology By Design's mission is to promote the growth of sustainable communities through ecological education and the design and installation of beautiful, functional, and highly productive perennial landscapes. The company provides landscape design, garden creation, ecological restoration and consultation focusing on building home landscapes that support the ecology of the Ann Arbor region.

The Forgotten Spaghetti Farmers

On this date in 1957, the BBC aired a groundbreaking report on the harvesting of spaghetti trees in southern Switzerland. Up until this time, many people in the UK did not consume spaghetti, and therefore were unaware of the painstaking process involved in spaghetti farming.

Though the images from the story are quite pastoral, spaghetti tree cultivation is not for the faint of heart. Improper care of the spaghetti tree can result in a crop of difficult-to-eat dancing spaghetti or the accidental transmogrification of the spaghetti tree into a pizza plant. At first thought, this may sound even better, but pizza plants are an invasive species, and almost always attract most of a neighborhood’s pests to one’s garden. Even worse, spaghetti storms (sometimes including meatball hail) have been known to happen in areas where genetically modified spaghetti plants are grown in large quantities. Scientists are unsure of why this may happen, but some hypothesize about a process similar to that where it rains frogs: waterspouts (spaghetti trees are largely farmed in low-lying wetlands or artificially-created ponds) rip the spaghetti from the tree limbs (which are weakened by unnaturally large spaghetti pods), transporting it to relatively high altitudes, and carrying it over large distances. The winds are capable of allowing the spaghetti to fall in a concentrated fashion in a localized area. Some tornadoes can suck up a spaghetti pond entirely, resulting in what we loosely translate as the fabled “rain of pasta.”

Sustainable Farmer and Entrepreneur Joel Salatin to Visit Ann Arbor

Joel Salatin, the well-known organic farmer, will be coming to Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater on Tuesday, April 24th by way of the People's Food Co-op of Ann Arbor (PFC), to "share how his farm serves as a prototype to the way local food can lead to our agricultural, environmental, and nutritional salvation. Noting that our food system now faces challenges in biosecurity, food safety, energy, integrity, and humane animal husbandry, he will explain how local production, processing, distribution, and patrons in the Ann Arbor area can reshape our food future."

Salatin's ideas and progress in the world of sustainable farming have been featured in Michael Pollan’s bestselling book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in the documentary films Food, Inc. and Fresh, and also in his very own books, Folks, this Ain't Normal and Holy Cows and Hog Heaven. "Since his cutting-edge sustainable farm, Polyface Inc., began inspiring people throughout the world, his charismatic nature and ability to produce provocative and poignant proclamations about the unfortunate state of our food system have made him one of the most influential voices in the sustainable food movement today."

The event will take place at the Michigan Theater in Downtown Ann Arbor on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 from 8pm to 10pm. Tickets are $15 for the General Public, and $13 for Students & PFC Members. Available at ticketmaster.com or surcharge-free at the People's Food Co-op of Ann Arbor.

English Gardens With Betty Bishop And The Ann Arbor Garden Club

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

Spring begins next week! Time to think about the wonderful outdoors and the beauty of finely-tended gardens! Join us as Ann Arbor Garden Club member Betty Bishop offers a colorful presentation of her bi-annual trips to England, touring a variety of traditional gardens.

What better way to get in the mood for spring?

Fall Leaves: Five Ways to Say Goodbye

The City of Ann Arbor Fall Leaf Management Guide offers five ways to manage leaves this fall:
-Mulching
-Compostable pickup
-Compost at home
-Free Leaf Drop-off @ Ann Arbor Compost Center
-Free Leaf Drop-off @ Recycle Ann Arbor

Grab a Rake, Help a Neighbor . . .
Neighborhood Senior Services is coordinating its 35th annual fall chore day on a Saturday, in mid-November from 10-2. Volunteers sign up online by Oct 31 at www.nssweb.org and assist raking leaves, checking smoke alarms, and helping seniors throughout Washtenaw County. 734.712.7775. Groups, individuals, and families are welcome to participate.

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