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High Summer in Serendipity Gardens

July 27, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe
Clematis on porch

Dark purple clematis are the July star of the front garden

It’s been a cool summer here in Michigan, with only three days so far with temperatures above 90 degrees. But it’s mid-July now, and the weather is beginning to heat up. I have enjoyed the cool weather, but a little heat seems quite welcome, both to me and to the plants in Serendipity Gardens. Speaking of these plants, here are a few that are adding their beauty to the garden.

On the front porch, dark purple clematis are still blooming profusely. Every year, the plant on one side grows more robustly than the plant on the other side. I am never sure why this is the case, and I have not found a solution. Perhaps I do not need to. They look gorgeous as is. What a welcoming site they are!

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A Review of A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees

June 22, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe

This image of a bee shows us how pollination happens.

Perhaps you, like me, want to learn more about bees, since you are doubtless hearing that they are in dire trouble. To do that, I read a book I came across called A Sting in the Tale, written by bumblebee expert Dave Goulson, professor of biology at Sussex University, and founder of Britain’s Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

The book opens with this lovely dedication: “For Seth, my youngest son. May there always be a flowery meadow and the sight and sound of buzzing bees for him to enjoy.”

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Lady’s Mantle: A Serendipity Gardens Favorite

June 1, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe
Lady's mantle in spring

Pleated fans of Lady’s Mantle plants are always a joy to see in the spring.

When I first planted Serendipity Gardens, I had never heard of Lady’s Mantle (alchemilla mollis). Now, though, it’s hard to imagine not having these lovely plants.

Five Reasons I Love Lady’s Mantle

1. It has the cutest baby leaves ever — elegant little fans with pleats and a scalloped edge. In early spring,  Lady’s Mantle pokes up through the leaf litter, and is a sure sign that warmer days are on their way. For me, it is one of the first plants I go looking for in the spring, and I am always glad to see it.

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Five Good News Stories from the Environment

April 30, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe
All 5 at slumber party

I read lots of articles about the environment, and sometimes I come away feeling depressed. The endless stream of issues seems so daunting. So many seem unwilling to admit we have a problem. I think of my sweet grandchildren and wonder what kind of world they will face.

To counter this feeling, I went looking for positive articles, and happily, I found quite a few. Here are summaries of and links to some of my favorites.

Ozone Layer Showing ‘Signs of Recovery’

The key point in this article is that the ozone layer is in the process of healing itself, and could perhaps return to its pre-1980 levels by mid-century. Complete healing may well not occur until even later, or even at all, but despite that caveat, this is good news. Even better news is perhaps the way in which this reversal of a problem occurred. People around the world agreed to ban man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used in spray cans and refrigerators, in the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Countries worked together.

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Three Top Bee-Pleasing Plants for Your Garden

April 20, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe
Swamp milkweed 2

This bee seems to be quite happy as he explores this sweet pink blossom.

The bees are in trouble. I did a quick Google search, which yielded three full pages of articles about this problem. If you read them, you’ll come away wanting to help. One way is to plant perennials that bees love.

What should you plant? This post will recommend three guaranteed winners: swamp milkweed, bee balm, and Lemon Queen perennial sunflower. These three will carry a garden from June through fall.

First on the Scene: Swamp Milkweed

The swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnarta) starts to bloom in June. It has lovely tight pink buds atop a two-to-three foot stalk. These buds open as the photo shows, and the bees come almost immediately.

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