Gardens & Nature

The Children’s Garden at the Rochester Hill Museum at Van Hoosen Farm

The signature activity of the Rochester Garden Club is the design, development and maintenance of the Children’s Garden located at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.  Many of our members participate in this activity and have adopted one of the several gardens at the site.  They work together to create this highly visible, well loved and very popular destination in the Rochester community.  Members share gardening tips, learn about a wide variety of garden plants and growing conditions, and develop hands-on gardening skills while having a great time and serving the community.  The Children’s Garden is located at 1005 Van Hoosen Rd, Rochester Hills MI 48306. Come by and check us out!

Great Links to Great Gardens

Another wonderful way to learn about gardens is to visit those fabulous public gardens in Southeast Michigan.  Here is a list to get you started.

Belle Isle Conservatory, Detroit

Belle Isle is a Michigan State Park that is emerging as a must-do tourist destination.  It has historic buildings, forests, boat rentals and restored habitats.  Its newest draw is the soon to be opened Oudolf Garden, designed by the world-famous Garden designer, Pier Oudolf. For more details check out this link Oudolf Garden Detroit  For details on Belle Isle visit  www.belleisleconservancy.org.

Cranbrook Gardens, Bloomfield Hills

Nestled within the in lovely rolling property of 174 acres in the heart of Bloomfield Hills, Cranbrook Gardens are free and open to the public. Visitors can explore the Sunken Garden, Reflecting Pool Japanese Garden and marvel at the extensive plantings and statuary. 

 http://housegardens.cranbrook.edu

Dow Gardens, Midland

Now almost 125 years old, the Dow Gardens welcomes over 300,000 guests per year.  Garden lovers can spend a full day exploring the 110 acres offering water features, dazzling displays of perennials and annuals, a children’s garden and much more. www.DowGardens.org.

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House Gardens, Grosse Point Shores

The Ford House and grounds is a National Historic Landmark. It was the family home of Detroit icon Edsel Ford and his family beginning in 1928.  No expense was spared as it was built, and the grounds were designed by the famous landscape architect Jens Jensen. Located at the southern tip of Lake St. Clair, its large lakefront property is a joy to explore.  The house is nice, too! www.fordhouse.org.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids

This very popular destination combines gorgeous artwork and garden designs to please the most discerning gardener.  It has a tropical conservatory, five indoor gardens, over 100 acres of outdoor gardens, nature trails and a permanent sculpture collection. Make a day of it! www.meijergardens.org.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, Ann Arbor

With two locations in Ann Arbor, the gardens and arboretum will educate and entertain. The gardens feature the importance of local ecosystems, ecologically sound horticultural practices, and encourage ecological restoration work. The arboretum contains specialty gardens, natural areas and trails, and ecosystem research in restoration practices.  http://www.lsa.umich.edu/mbg/

Michigan Nature Association – Wilcox Warnes Memorial Nature Sanctuary

This 44 acre preserve shows what Macomb County looked like before European settlement.  It has one mile of trails through a virgin forest of massive trees, wetland habitat and wildflowers.  It is nature’s idea of a garden!

Wilcox Warnes Nature Sanctuary Fact Sheet.pdf (michigannature.org)

Seven Ponds Nature Center, Dryden

Seven Ponds Nature Center is a result of very generous gifts of hundreds of acres of land, and the hard work of a consortium of private and non-profit organizations.  It currently is almost 500 acres and protects important watersheds and habitats.  Its many beautiful trails are open to the public and it has an interpretive building filled with fascinating exhibits.  This organization is regularly supported by the Rochester Garden Club. www.sevenponds.org

Tollgate Farm and Education Center, Novi

This 160 acre farmstead is preserved as a working farm with animals, community gardens and sustainable agriculture demonstrations.  Its historic buildings and landscaped grounds are fascinating to tour. It is run by MSU as an education center and horticultural research site.  http://tollgate.msu.edu

Tomlinson Arboretum, Clinton Township

This preserve started as a gift 24 acres of land located between two subdivisions. Its native plants and natural features were removed for development.  However, it is being lovingly restored and stands as an example of what can be done by local groups dedicated to restoring the natural world. Phone: 586 723 8092 http://arboretum.ctwphc.org

Links for Learning about Gardening 

Janet Macunovich – Garden A to Z | Gardening tips, landscaping ideas, choosing plants, garden solutions

Michigan Gardener Magazine

National Gardening Association

National Garden Bureau

Michigan Insect Guide

Missouri Botanical Garden

Pollinator conservation

Rochester Pollinators | Save the Monarch-Butterflies

US and International Gardens

Planters Place

Gardening in Michigan (msu.edu)

Environmental Stewardship

For many years, home gardening has meant keeping a neatly mowed lawn with a few exotic trees and well sheared shrubs, and a few flowers added for color.  Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides were applied without any thought beyond keeping the yard and plants tidy and green.  However, attitudes are beginning to change.

As homes and subdivisions continue to reach into suburban and rural areas, the natural world has retreated. People are recognizing that this loss is a problem, and the old way of gardening is giving way to a new gardening ethos. Gardeners are becoming interested in creating an environmentally friendly landscape to work with nature and enhance biodiversity.  Old methods destroyed and poisoned habitats, creating a food desert for other living things. However, people are now looking at sustainable gardening as a remedy to these losses.

It turns out that what we plant in our yards truly impacts the natural world. We are living in a time of great biological stress, changing climate and extinctions of living species. According to Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home”, planting non-native ornamental trees creates an ecological desert as these trees do not support insect and bird life native to Michigan.  Choosing instead to plant a native tree will support twenty-nine times more biodiversity than an alien tree.  Reducing the size of lawns and planting native trees, shrubs and flowers support the ecological systems on which all life depends. Small efforts by many people will create a big change in our natural world.

Below is a small sample of the many resources available to gardeners who wish to become responsible stewards of their yards.

Books: 

  • Cutbirth, Nancy and Small, Tom. 2011. Using Native Plants to Restore Community
  • Darke, Rick & Tallamy, Douglas. 2014. The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden
  • Harstad, Carolyn. 1999. Go Native!
  • Steiner, Lynn M. 2006. Landscaping with Native Plants of Michigan
  • Tallamy, Douglas. 2007. Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens
  • Tallamy, Douglas. 2020 Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard

Websites:

Homegrown National Park

  • Homegrown National Park is a grassroots call-to-action to restore biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants and creating new ecological networks.

Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes

  • WildOnes promotes environmentally friendly, sound landscaping to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. It is a national organization with over 60 chapters in 20 states. 

Wildflower Association of Michigan (wildflowersmich.org) 

  • The Wildflower Association of Michigan is an organization whose mission is to encourage the preservation and restoration of Michigan’s native plants and native plant communities.

So You Have Your List of Native Plants. Now What? | Audubon

  • The Audubon Society recognizes the link between native plants and bird habitat.  Find out how to help the birds, and design a bird friendly garden.

Native Gardening (fs.fed.us)

  • The U.S. Forest Service supports the use of native plants and has a webpage with lots of great information.