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Add some eye candy to your garden this fall


Photo credit: Longfield Gardens Dutch Master daffodils, Involve tulips and Muscari provide several layers of color in the garden.

Photo credit: Longfield Gardens
Dutch Master daffodils, Involve tulips and Muscari provide several layers of color in the garden.

By Melinda Myers

Shorten the winter season with the help of spring flowering bulbs that you plant in fall. These beauties often provide the first bit of color, fragrance and winter relief each year.

Look for new and unique ways to incorporate bulbs into your landscape. Create a seasonal water feature with a river of blue scillas and grape hyacinths meandering through the garden. Welcome visitors with a front door or walkway garden that blooms from early spring through early summer and is loaded with crocus, tulips, daffodils and allium.

Don’t overlook those shady spots. Many of these locations provide enough early season sun, before the trees leaf out, for bulbs to grow and flower. Use more shade tolerant spring bloomers like snowdrops, grape hyacinths, scillas, anemones, daffodils, fritillarias and Camassias in shady areas among hostas, ferns and other shade tolerant perennials.

Whether you’re new or experienced, growing bulbs is an easy endeavor. Just follow these simple steps to a beautiful spring garden.

Selection

Purchase bulbs that are dense and firm, and free of bruises or mold. Shop early for the best selection. Mail order sources will ship your bulbs at the proper planting time. If you buy locally, store the bulbs in a dry, well-ventilated and cool 60-degree location until it’s time to plant.

Don’t let deer, rabbits and chipmunks dissuade you from planting.  Include hyacinths, grape hyacinths, scillas, glory-of-the-snow, fritillarias, alliums and Camassias that the animals tend to overlook.

Design Ideas 

Include a variety of bulbs for added color throughout spring. Early bloomers like Glory of the Snow, crocus, early tulips and daffodils, and grape hyacinths (Muscari) are followed by mid-season daffodils and tulips along with fritillarias. Late spring blooming tulips and alliums finish off the spring display.

Combine several bulbs that bloom at the same time to double the floral impact or at different times to extend the color throughout the spring. You can create your own combinations or look for prepackaged combinations prepared by experts like those at Longfield Gardens (www.Longfield-Gardens.com). Low growing White Splendor anemone along with Ocean Magic grape hyacinth make a striking combination for under shrubs. The yellow blossoms of Dutch Master daffodils, pink Involve tulips and purplish blue grape hyacinths will give you several layers of color in the garden.

Or add a bit of eye-catching red to the garden throughout the spring with the Really Red collection of tulips. Red Emperor starts things out in early spring, followed by Oxford and ends with double-flowering Red Princess and Sky High Scarlet.

Location

Plant bulbs in well-drained soil for best results. Avoid areas such as next to the dryer vent or against the south side foundation of your home that tend to warm up early in spring or experience a winter thaw.  These bulbs often sprout too early and subsequent cold temperatures can limit or eliminate their bloom.

Reduce maintenance and boost your garden’s beauty by mixing bulbs with perennials. Once the bulbs are done blooming, the neighboring perennials mask the fading bulb foliage.

When and How to Plant

Increase growing success in poor soils by incorporating several inches of compost, peat moss or other organic matter into the top 12 inches of soil. This improves drainage in clay soil and the water-holding ability of sandy and rocky soils. Then be sure to incorporate a low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer.

Wait to plant your bulbs until the soil cools. This is any time after the night temperatures are consistently 40 to 50 degrees, but several weeks before the ground freezes.

Plant spring blooming bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is tall. Water thoroughly to remove air pockets and encourage fall root growth.  Add a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and reduce the risk of early sprouting.

So break out your trowel and garden gloves and get busy planting. You’ll be glad you did when spring arrives and your yard and garden are filled with a rainbow of beautiful flowers.

Melinda Myers has over 30 years of gardening experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Longfield Gardens for her expertise to write this article.  

Posted in Awesome Autumn, FeaturedComments Off on Add some eye candy to your garden this fall

5 ways to prepare your outdoor living space for fall


bloom-outdoor-living-1

(BPT) – While everyone eagerly waits for spring each year and wishes summer could last a month or two longer, when it comes down to it, fall just might be America’s favorite season. It’s warm but not hot, the air has that clean crispness that’s hard to describe and perhaps the biggest draw, pumpkin-flavored everything. And let’s not forget about all those bright, beautiful leaf colors that come with the change in weather. So why start shutting down your outdoor living space with the first sign of fall?

Packing it in early is something dynamic design duo, Colin and Justin, would never consider. The home improvement stars of “Cabin Pressure” and “Game of Homes” make the most of their beautiful Western Red Cedar deck all year around.

“Oh my gosh  every single day, we’re on the deck – whether it’s summer, spring, fall, winter or whatever,” says Justin. “A deck isn’t just for three months of the year; a deck is what you want it to be. And if you love the great outdoors as much as we do, you can make it work.”

Here, then, are Colin and Justin’s top five design solutions to help extend your outdoor living well into the autumn months:

Start with the right deck 

bloom-outdoor-living-2Just because you procrastinated, doesn’t mean you need to wait until next spring to build or start designing a show-stopping deck. Whatever your plans, though, one thing almost everyone agrees upon is that there’s nothing quite like the rich, textural warmth of a Western Red Cedar deck to create a beautiful all-season outdoor living space. Low maintenance, surprisingly affordable and easy to work with, Real Cedar can’t be beat.

“We recommend getting your big ticket items first, around which you can seasonally adjust and tailor your look with different smaller and more affordable purchases,” says Colin. “And with decks, it’s worth investing in a really good product to start with like Western Red Cedar, which will last and last and last. Honestly, it just gets better with age, improving as the years pass, and it really is a showstopper.”

Screen it in 

Unless you’ve got a screened-in porch, you may still have to shield your outdoor living space from the occasional nippy breeze. For Colin and Justin, this is easily rectified with movable wicker screens that they store inside during the summer months.

“They’ve got a lovely weighty bottom to them,” says Justin. “The wind passes right through them and that’s a good tip for anyone using freestanding screens on the outside. If they’re too solid, the wind can catch them. But if they’re fretwork or open panels or cutout work, they’re good.”

Heat things up

Paradoxically, as the days grow shorter, you’ll wish they would last longer. There’s no more perfect way to cap off a perfect fall day than by sitting around a fire with friends and family.

“In the autumn, we have two propane operated fire bowls that sit smack dab in the center of our Western Red Cedar deck,” says Colin. Their gas-powered fire is safely contained in a stone bowl and leaves no ashes or embers. “And those fire bowls help us stretch out our summer a little bit. We also have two big patio heaters, which we can direct inward at either end of our terrace and they really makes a big difference.”

Bundle up with textiles

Sometimes all it takes to warm up your outdoor living space is some simple, yet chic, soft furnishings and yes, maybe even a change in wardrobe. (But don’t worry – you don’t have to say good-bye to your beloved flips flops, just “until we meet again next spring.”)

“We take out lots of really lovely textural throw pillows and rich woolen blankets – think Pendleton and Hudson’s Bay striped blankets – and we cozy up,” says Justin, adding, “And don’t forget your winter woollies. When the weather is changing, sometimes it’s less about what you add and more about what you put on in terms of clothing.”

Install a BBQ cover 

If you’re like Colin & Justin, you enjoy the thrill of the grill year round. This is where an easy-to-build, Real Cedar BBQ Cover really earns its keep. Made from nature’s most resilient building material, this sturdy and beautiful structure is going to last you a very long time. Just think of all the cookout possibilities!

“We BBQ all the time,” says Colin, “So we got a cover. That way we don’t have to worry about weather.”

For free downloadable project plans, visit RealCedar.com or for more fast facts on building with Real Cedar, download their free DIY app – available on the Apple App Store for iOS and at Google Play for Android.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off on 5 ways to prepare your outdoor living space for fall

Man injured in fall from tree


Steve Shears and family.

Steve Shears and family.

By Judy Reed

 

A Solon Township man suffered severe injuries when he fell out of a tree last month.

According to Solon Township Fire Chief Jeff Drake, the call came in at 9:55 a.m., December 14. He said that Steve Shears, 43, fell about 15 feet from a tree he was trimming at 3291 Wiersma, and was sent to Butterworth Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

According to Steve’s sister, Brandie, he was helping his father take down a tree for someone when the accident occurred. She said he was unconscious for about 20 minutes, and suffered some memory loss. He also is receiving some therapy for help with walking, speech, and some special therapy for his eyesight on his left side. He spent several days at Mary Free Bed after leaving Butterworth, and is now home with his family.

According to Brandie, Steve works in construction but he won’t be able to work for several months. If anyone would like to help financially, Sue’s Country Kitchen, located at 12 N. First Street, is taking donations for him.

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Time for apples


Maple Ginger Sweet Potatoes with Apples

Fall is here and that means Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crop—the apple—is ripe and ready to tantalize your taste buds.
Michigan is the nation’s third largest producer of apples, producing an average of 18 million bushels each year. About 37,000 acres are used for apple production, with the majority of farms covering less than 200 acres, and 950 apple growers living and working in regions near Lake Michigan and along the western part of the state.
Michigan also plays a vital role in processed apples. About 60 percent of Michigan’s apples are processed into another product such as pie filling, applesauce, jellies, butter, juice, cider and vinegar. We are also the leading producer of slices for commercially-prepared apple pie.
Varieties

Longtime favorite varieties still dominate Michigan’s orchards. The most prevalent variety remains the Red Delicious, followed closely by the Golden Delicious. The Gala is rapidly gaining on tradition, however.  The Honeycrisp variety is continually growing in popularity. Look for it in September and October, and enjoy it while you can, as it will most likely be gone by mid-November! A growing number of Honeycrisp tree plantings still aren’t in pace with its popularity among consumers! Honeycrisp has a crisp, juicy bite and a sweet flavor. They are best for fresh eating and also a great addition to salads.
How to store

Apples bruise easily so handle them gently. Refrigerate in the crisper section; cool air helps maintain quality. Store apples in a ventilated bag away from foods with strong odors
Nutrition

Everyone knows Michigan Apples taste great, but they also keep you healthy and strong. Apples are a naturally fat-free, saturated fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free food, and are an excellent source of fiber. Loaded with powerful flavonoids and antioxidants, they’re perfect for every diet and every part of your body.
Recipes

The Michigan Apples website (www.michiganapples.com) gives tips on which apples work best in baking and cooking, and has some great recipes submitted by Michigan residents. Try the one on this page by Mary Gardner, of Cedar Springs, who was runner-up in the 2011 recipe contest.


If you have a favorite apple recipe, send it to us at news@cedarspringspost.com.

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