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Make Maple Magic, Like in Serendipity Gardens

April 14, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe

If you want to plant a tree that attracts and supports wildlife, improves the environment in your yard and pleases people as well, a red maple might be a good choice. The red maple, or acer rubrum, is native to the United States.

The Maples in Serendipity Gardens

Seven maple trees grow in Serendipity Gardens, ranging in size from 5 to 50 feet. We planted only three of the six, and each of those has its story:

  • We purchased a red Japanese maple several years ago that had been pruned to arch out to one side. We planted it at the back of our pond, with the idea that it would arch up and over the pond. It does that, but its growth is so slow that the look we had in mind is hard to see. If I were buying a tree for that spot today, it would not be a Japanese maple, lovely though it is.
  • I purchased a membership to the Arbor Day Foundation and got ten trees of my choice plus a free red maple (an offer you can take advantage of today). That one seems to be growing well. It began its life in Serendipity Gardens as a stick. Today it is about five feet tall.
  • The third maple we planted was a gift from one of our sons-in-law. It is a silver maple, planted in honor of our dog Gina that died. We put her ashes in the planting hole. The tree has grown very quickly and is now about 15 to 20 feet tall. We call it the “Gina tree.”

Of the remaining four maples, one planted itself beside the driveway, and we let it stay. The other … Read More

Fab Four: “How-To” Books from Serendipity Gardens

April 7, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe


In last week’s post, I shared some books about the philosophy of gardening. The books below are more practical books about the how of gardening. They tell readers what to plant to attract wildlife, including birds, bees, and bugs; when and where to plant most any plant; and how to care for all the plants you’ve added to your garden.

Gardening for the Birds

Bird-by-Bird Gardening, by Sally Roth. I like this book for novice birders because it makes its suggestions based on bird families. “The big clues to bird families are eating habits and behavior,” … Read More

Gardening Books that Have Shaped Serendipity Gardens

March 31, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe


I started collecting gardening books when I began Serendipity Gardens.

Here are five of my favorites that talk about the “why” of gardens — and the reasons I like them. In one way or another, they have shaped my gardening choices and have made Serendipity Gardens what it is. In my post next week, I will focus on books that are more about the “how” of gardening.

Second Nature, by Michael Pollan. I like this book particularly because it is so well- reasoned and thoughtful (as all books by Pollan are). It was one of the first books I read on what … Read More

Thoughts about “Going Native” in Serendipity Gardens

March 25, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe

Alien and native

Quite a few years ago, I learned how much I enjoy watching the antics of birds and frogs in Serendipity Gardens. I patted myself on the back because I did not use pesticides, did not rake leaves in the fall, and left lots of seedheads for birds through the winter. “I am gardening for wildlife, and I want to share my expertise on this topic with others,” I said to myself. Thus I began Serendipity Gardens, the blog.

How little I knew!

Being coached (thanks to Molly Greene)  that Twitter would be one of the best ways to draw … Read More

Looking for Spring in Serendipity Gardens

March 17, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe

Call to Action2

Snowiest Winter on Record

Our most recent mid-March snow of six inches pushed the record books. It is now officially the snowiest winter ever in Southeast Michigan — over 90 inches.

Normally, at this time of year, I’d be venturing out on nice days to look for spring. I would lift up the dried plant tops to see the spring miracles underneath. This year, because of the snow cover, I’ll have to take a pretend journey. Come along with me …

First of all, the Red-winged Blackbirds are back in Serendipity Gardens, as … Read More

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