This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Local rock garden society meeting and plant-sale set for Sept 21; Houstonia canadensis

If you want to truly expand your knowledge the plants world; if you are interested in unusual plants, the flora of Michigan, daphnes, Asian woodland species, alpine plants, etc., etc.; if you want to pick the brains of some of the most accomplished, knowledgeable, and friendliest bunch of plant lovers in southern Michigan, I strongly recommend that you hook up with the Great Lakes Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society. The organization is having its fall garden tour and plant sale/exchange in Ann Arbor on Sept 21 at 11:30 a.m. Shoot me an e-mail and I'll give you specifics.

Meanwhile, I hereby reproduce an article by member Don LaFond from the just-released September newsletter. The topic: Houstonia canadensis (Canadian summer bluet).

"It's getting tougher to grow alpines in Michigan. The weather is getting hotter and more humid. So to find a native pant that at least looks like an alpine cushin, and is easily grown, well that's just grand.

H. canadensis growing up north (from
"Most of us know the little bluets Houstonia caerulea and H. serpyllifolia, found usually in wet areas, sometimes creating wide swathes of color in the spring. In my gravel pit garden I can't seem to keep the little blue flowers alive. H. canadensis, on the other hand, isn't blue, but will grow in dry sand. As a matter of fact if you grow H. canadensis in a dry and lean position it resemble an alpine cushion with white flowers on 2-3" stems. Some flowers have a pink blush, so maybe a good pink will be found someday.

"I was first introduced to Houstonia canadensis on a sandy gravelly bank in the back end of a cemetery in southern Michigan. I have also seen it growing in very wet areas. Both times it was growing among other plants and grasses and under shrubs. In wet areas it rambles about, nudging its flowers up through the herbage in a polka dot fashion. When not in bloom it becomes almost unnoticeable. Unlike in the wild where it always seems to be mixed up with other plants, when growing it in a garden setting without as much competition, it can make a pretty good substitute for an alpine cushion. The leaves are 1/2" long and 1/4" wide forming a cushion to 6" across. I grow it in the ground and in troughs. Grown with an Asperula, their white and pink flowers bloom together and make great friends. In the fall the cushions turn a nice rusty red and sometimes rebloom to boot. Individual cushions don't last too many years, but its seedlings are always found in my garden. Perhaps for the gardener who is a bit of a control freak it might be a bit too aggressive, but for those of use who are a little more laissez-faire, it's great plant."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Spigelia and some hydrangeas for September

Spigelia: I remember planting this strange native of Ohio and parts south many years ago. Never saw it again. That was before I knew anything water, soil and those other components that support plant life. It's an uncommon plant of moist soils and wooded stream banks, and I was delighted to see it in flower at someone's home in the Ann Arbor Hills this morning. It was a new acquisition for the home owner, and it will be interesting to see how it develops in the coming years. If you, dear reader, grow this successfully, send some pictures! The full name is Spigelia marilandica, and it is in the mostly tropical Loganiceae family (no species are native to Michigan).

Also in this person's yard: a 15-year-old elm, barely six feet in height, originally bought at 50% off from Gee Farms in Stockbridge.

I've never put my attention on hydrangeas, having always considered them the opposite of rock garden plants (where I started my gardening journeys), but check these out. The pictures are from three plants. I do believe that these are all the same type of flower, just at different phases of development.