And sign up to receive the Books Leaving Footprints Newsletter. Comes out occasionally. No spam. No list swapping. Just email me! Previous gifts include a short story, a poem, and coupons. Add your name, and don't miss out!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Dow Gardens - Texture

You know I love textures! Here are four from the Dow Gardens. First is an ornamental, columnar white cedar (also called arborvitae). They are all Thuja occidentalis, but there are a number of varieties. I think this one with the "dancing" sprays of needles may be 'Hetz Wintergreen.'

ornamental cedar trees Dow Gardens

This is a Japanese Forest Grass, Hakonechloa macra, variety 'All Gold.' I'll bet in a slight breeze this just flows like water.

Japanese Forest Grass Dow Gardens

Begonias always catch my eye. There are SO many varieties and colors and leaf shapes. I have no idea what this one is. It was in their small conservatory. Almost nothing in there was labeled. It was more like just a storage space for plants that aren't hardy. But the texture of this one is fantastic.

begonia Dow Gardens

Finally, this is not anything rare at all, except it was in bloom. It's a foxtail asparagus fern, Asparagus densiflorus 'Myersii'. These began showing up in city planters a few years ago, and they are definitely a worthy addition to streetscapes.

foxtail asparagus fern Dow Gardens

I'm beginning to find some other things I might want to put in the blog, but there is still so much good stuff from Dow Gardens. I guess you'll have to come back to see what I pick next.

In other news: I spent the morning editing The Bigg Boss (15 chapters done), and then went out to distribute flyers and posters for our author event in the afternoon. Not my favorite activity by a long shot, but I got it done.

See Yellow Begonia
See Dow Gardens - Color
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Dow Gardens - Color

There are so many beautiful individual plants I could show you! Dow Gardens is like a big flower show... the good stuff just keeps coming.

But I can't move away from it just yet. Today I'll show you some of my favorite pictures that exemplify COLOR. It's no surprise that several of them are coleus (now broken into two genera, so I didn't capitalize it). We probably all know coleus... it's that great planter specimen that features beautifully variegated leaves. They are a relative of mint, but without the minty smell. They are great for showy gardens because if you pinch off the blossoms, the gorgeous leaves just keep their beauty all season long.

Here are two varieties side by side in a planter. Everything from bright and splotchy to dark and geometric


How about the 'stripe-me-pink' oyster plant? This is a variety of my Moses-in-a-boat with colored leaves. Technically Rhoeo discolor or Tradescantia discolor (names are changing faster than one can keep up).

striped oyster plant

Back to coleus for an interesting salmon color variety.

salmon coleus

I debated whether to show you this one under "color" or hold it for "design," but you get it today. This is some variety of Clematis.

magenta clematis

Finally, we're back to another display of coleus. This one is in the colors I was trying to pair in my own flower garden, maroon and yellow. So I particularly like this.


In other news: My writing workshop ended today. Great stuff! I'll be doing a post about it on the other blog.

See Philadelphia Flower Show 2011 Coleus
See Oyster Plant
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dow Gardens- Naturalistic Landscapes

One of the things that amazed me most at Dow Gardens is the emphasis on trees. Designing with trees means being able to see at least 50 years into the future and imagine what those shapes and textures and tones are going to look like. I suppose there is software now that would allow you to do this. But when Dow Gardens was created, the designer had to see it in his mind. Maybe he would sketch his vision.

Today, I want to show you some naturalistic landscapes. I'm not calling them natural because they are all planted and manipulated. I'm not even sure the waterways are natural. Certainly the smaller ones on the property were created artificially.

landscape at Dow Gardens

Some, like the one above include manicured lawns. Others, like the one below just beckon you to come find a trail through the woods.

landscape at Dow Gardens

Hard to believe this is all designed and created for the effect, isn't it?

landscape at Dow Gardens

Here's another that looks completely "wild."

landscape at Dow Gardens

The textures alone make this one yummy!

landscape at Dow Gardens

I'm working hard and having a blast at the writer workshop. Tomorrow is the last day.

See Dow Gardens- Branches
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dow Gardens - Architecture

There are still a couple of days of my seminar, and time for blogging is limited. I'll give you another quick look at Dow Gardens today. Herbert Dow is the man who founded Dow Chemical Company. His home is in the center of the Gardens. It's basically a Craftsman bungalow style, but huge. Tours are possible, but not the day I was there.

Herbert Dow house

One of his sons, Alden, grew up and became an architect. He also liked to experiment with creating new materials. Apparently he invented the tiles that form the siding for his house, near one of the edges of the Garden. Yes, the water is right up there practically level with the patio. Or do you call it a dock in this case? At any rate, the lines of the roof are interesting.

Alden Dow house

Here's another view of Alden's home.

Alden Dow house

Now I have to scoot and do my writing assignment for tomorrow.

See Dow Gardens
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Hikers Haven

Sunday, I spent the day with trail friends Connie and Jerry. Jerry has hiked the Appalachian Trail. They are both long-time volunteers for the North Country Trail, and Jerry helped build the Midland to Mackinac Trail. They both also do trail maintenance on some of those miles.

hikers haven

I was welcomed and well-fed. We went to church together. After a hot afternoon, we decided to forego dinner in favor of ice cream. Perfect choice! I think the three flavors we ended up with were raspberry cheesecake, Scout mint chocolate, and turtle cheesecake.

eating ice cream

My next hiking plan may be starting to simmer. We'll see.

Then I was off to my next destination, Interlochen, where I am now.

In other news: I don't have my assignment for tomorrow finished... have to get back to work.

if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dow Gardens- Branches

One of the interesting aspects of Dow Gardens that sets it apart from some others is that it was planned with heavy emphasis on trees. This leads to a couple of unusual features. The one I'm sharing today is interesting branches.

There's not much rhyme or reason to my choice of pictures. They are simply views I liked where the picture turned out reasonably well.

interesting branches at Dow Gardens

There were lots and lots of these trees that grow in a widely spreading clump/cluster. I never did find a label for what they are (lots of exotic species in here), and I suspect they may have been pruned when young to emphasize the growth pattern. But they create peek-a-boo views from one section to another that are appealing. You can't quite tell in the photo what is beyond, but it is a waterfall.

interesting branches at Dow Gardens

Next up is a bronze beech. These have all the loveliness of a regular beech, but the leaves stay dark purple-bronze all summer.

bronze beech at Dow Gardens

I liked this hint of the rocks at pond edge and the bridge through the abstract shape formed by the branches in this one.

interesting branches at Dow Gardens

And this branch hanging over a grassy space seems impossibly long

interesting branches at Dow Gardens

Finally, although you could argue that this picture is more about the rocks, I like the contract between the roundness of those rocks and the lines of the branches.

interesting branches at Dow Gardens

In other news: I'm spending the day with some trail friends and will be heading to Interlochen Fine Arts Camp tomorrow. Stay tuned.

See Dow Gardens- Just Getting Started
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dow Gardens- Just Getting Started

Long day, all good. Need to get to bed, so I'll just give you a quick opener of the Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. Not even any explanation tonight. Sorry. Gotta catch some zzzs.

These are just three of the most formal sections of walkway/bridges sprinkled around the 110 acres.

red bridge at Dow Gardens

This one has its picture taken more often, I think.

half circle bridge at Dow Gardens
This is a short walkway section with a formal appearance. However, a great deal of the landscaping was done purposefully to make it look informal and natural. More on that another day.

walkway lined with flowers Dow Gardens

This was the activity I chose for the day at the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association Conference. Wonderful place. More on the writing later too.

See Matthaei Botanical Garden
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Friday, June 15, 2018

I Used to Have Nice Plants

I had big plans and worked hard on developing a nice flower garden for quite a few years. Then it all went downhill. For one thing, I'm continually battling really lousy soil. It's more like pure beach sand. Then there are the critters: deer, woodchucks, rabbits are the most devastating to flower beds.

Then along came 2009... the year I decided to hurry up and be the first woman to hike the entire North Country Trail. I did no garden care at all in 2009 and 2010. I've never been able to give it the time required to recover from that neglect.

Then there's the expense. You don't have to be rich, but you do have to have at least a small budget, and I no longer had room for it in my wallet.

I've now made a monumental decision. But first... just a few goodies that managed to bloom this year among the weeds. First a couple of iris. Nothing spectacular, but nice.

purple iris

yellow iris

I thought I had showed you pictures of my rock garden when it was at its finest. But maybe not. Can't hunt up those pictures tonight. That was around 2001. It really was lovely. I spent half an hour a day weeding, all summer long. I had a $100 a year budget, but I also liked digging up odd plants I found, or getting gifts.

Anyway, here's one plant that has been too hard to kill, despite all the grass that's trying to get it. It's a pink bush geranium, variety 'Bloody Geranium' for the dark red leaves in fall. See link at end.

pink bush geranium

Finally, here are two varieties of Dianthus, sometimes called Sweet William, or pinks. Neither one is growing in the rock garden any more. They were probably a poor choice to put there in the first place because although they are a perennial, they self-seed, and they kept moving themselves around. This variety is called 'Brilliant.' I haven't seen any for a few years. This year, there's a patch in the lawn. I mowed around it. They look lots better than the weeds we mow and call a lawn.

dianthus 'Brilliant'

I was especially happy to see this little gem. I ordered this dianthus from a specialty catalog, and love it, but it was never as prolific as the common ones. In fact, I didn't think there was any of it left. But a couple shot up. This variety is called 'Arctic Fire.'

dianthus 'Arctic Fire'

So what's my big decision? I'm not going to play in my horrible gardens here any more. The overall results are too disappointing, and I don't plan to stay home enough to try to reclaim the mess.

I'll go visit other spectacular gardens. Or I'll stroll through other people's messes and dig in the dirt with them. Maybe I'll end up volunteering a bit in some public garden.

Of course, seeing these plants try so valiantly to bloom and live makes me want to just go spend hours weeding and digging and hauling... and then no writing happens and I didn't accomplish enough in the end to make a difference in the gardens anyway.

And what's the next step in this plan? How about a big public garden tomorrow? I'm going to the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association Conference, and one of the day activity choices is Dow Gardens in Midland. Stay tuned!

In other news: I did a lot of stuff for the Writers' Rendezvous. I did some work on the Long Distance Hiker Recognition. I did a LOT of errands. I'm about half packed. Gotta get back at that. I leave at 7 am. No writing happened.

See Pink and Blue for this geranium in the fall
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Local Critter Count

Here's some of the local (in back of my house) wildlife of the past week. Nothing new, although one of them did something new.

First up is a female widow skimmer dragonfly. I actually got really good pictures of both the female and male in 2011. So, if you want to see them better, follow the link below and click on the thumbnails.

female widow skimmer dragonfly

Next, we'll do the plain old whitetail deer. Lots of them, but they do have a certain charm (until they eat all my plants).


The dead branches at the top of one of my aspen trees is a favorite spot of the birds. Today, a flicker took advantage of the perch.


Now it's back to the insect world. This one is a little creepy, but interesting. This is a bracken fern covered with rose chafer beetles. These are annoying brown beetles that will eat certain plant leaves so fast you can almost see things defoliate. They love roses, but also hollyhock and birch. Well, I guess they also like bracken. At least for mating. The ferns in this area were black with pairs of beetles. That's better than all over my rose bush. They don't bite, but they fly and they tickle when they land on you.

rose chafer beetle

Finally, the oriole. Not that this is a great picture. It's not. But it's the solution to my mystery singer. For weeks, there has been a bird here singing twitter, twitter, cheep, cheep. Over and over and over. I could not identify it or find it. I asked real birder friends. I tried to record the sound (with no success). At long last, yesterday, I heard the singer, saw it fly to the aspen, shot a picture and wow. It's the oriole! This is the first time one has ever stayed to nest around my house. I hope I can find the nest this fall to show you.

He wasn't doing a typical song for an oriole, but they are highly variable. I did find a similar one on youtube, so I'm really sure it's my mystery bird.


Saw two sandhill cranes today too. The bird I have not seen or heard this year is the meadowlark. Seems odd. They have always been dependable regular visitors.

In other news: I did some things for the Writers' Rendezvous and wrote two chapters in The Bigg Boss. Also made more rhubarb granola. This batch has more rhubarb, and I like it. I have a trip coming up. Not far away, but I'll be gone nearly a week. I think I'll be able to blog though. Stay tuned.

See Widow Skimmers
See Northern Flicker
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin