Monday, July 26, 2010

Amy's Musings: Belleville Garden Walk

After grudgingly (kicking and screamingly) accepting the fact that blog posts are never going to write themselves, I decided the next best thing is to con unsuspecting real-life friends into writing some guest posts.

Today, Amy Bruhn (avid gardener, master gardener volunteer since 1996, and fellow cat fancier) takes us on a Garden Walk she attended on July 18 in Belleville, Michigan.

Last Sunday, the Garden Faerie chose to go all the way to Chicago on a fancy-schmanzy Dearborn Garden Walk instead of driving to the local Dearborn (Michigan) and going on a garden walk with me. Shows me how I rate, eh? But no worries, I asked Tonja, the new president of the master gardener group I belong to and who I don’t know very well yet, if she’d like to go along with me and she said yes. And then the Garden Faerie said I could write a guest blog so she could see a little bit of what she missed. Let’s just say it was a lot different than the garden walk she went on.

The garden walk was in Belleville, a rural community that is the halfway point between my house in Dearborn and the Garden Faerie’s house in Ann Arbor. This was the fifth annual garden walk hosted by the Belleville Area District Library. The theme was “Country Gardens” and the five gardens on the walk were all very large. The smallest was just over one acre and the largest one was on ten acres. Fortunately they gave us a map and Tonja brought her husband’s GPS to help us navigate the back roads, many of which were dirt.

Since I didn’t know I would be doing this guest blog at the time, I didn’t take a lot of pictures and just enjoyed strolling through the gardens and relaxing in their beauty. But there were some things that called out to me and insisted that I take their picture, such as some of the antiques that were tucked into of the beds in the first garden.

I loved this small chair used as a plant stand. No, it’s not a full-sized chair, because could you imagine how huge the Hosta next to it would have been?

And I think a bird cage such as this would look fantastic hanging in my weeping cherry tree. Looks like I need to start hanging out on eBay again…

This garden had so much stuff tucked everywhere that it almost made my head hurt. I think they must have worked for a paver brick company because they had more brick than grass. I understand the concept about reducing the size of your lawn, but they went too far with so much hardscaping (in my opinion, at least).

I liked that they added a blue heron statue next to their pond. I wonder if it keeps the other blue herons away? We have a blue heron here in the suburbs who preys on all of my friends’ ponds, so maybe they should try a blue heron scarecrow.

See what I mean about all the brick pavers? In addition to the bricks there was an over abundance of rocks and statues, which threw it all out of balance and overwhelmed what greenery they did have. (GF: The views expressed in this entry are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the right to sue me. Please direct any correspondence directly to

This bed was larger and didn’t have quite the high ratio of statues and other objects in it, but I still didn’t find it to evoke a relaxing or peaceful feeling, which is what I want out of a garden.

But what I did really like was this guy in the tree in the photo above. Here’s a somewhat blurry close-up. I swear he’s the spittin’ image of my friend Judy’s husband! (GF: You know I have at least three regular readers--what if they know Judy?!)

I thought of the Garden Faerie at the next house. I don’t think she actually has a little fairy garden, but don’t you think she should? (GF: She doesn't. But she was under the impression that fairies are woodland creatures and is amused by the lighthouse. And by referring to herself in third person.)

And I loved the scarecrow in this vegetable garden. The garden was huge and probably could have used an entire family of scarecrows. Mom, Dad, Junior, Sissy, and there’d still be room for Grandma and Grandpa!

And whenever I see chairs or benches in a flower bed I stop and wonder if gardeners actually ever sit down in those chairs or benches. Do any of us ever get to really take a break and enjoy the product of our gardening labors? I need to learn how to do that because on the rare occasion I do sit down, I always see flowers that need dead-heading, bushes that need pruning, beds that need weeding, and others that need mulching. But I must enjoy it, or I wouldn’t keep doing it, right?

This garden was lined with long flower beds and also had large island bed plantings. Each of them was bordered by annuals – petunias in the sun and impatiens in the shade. I couldn’t imagine planting all of those annuals and assumed they must hire help to plant them and also to keep everything so well-manicured.

Here’s a closer view of the darling fountain and one of the planters on a pedestal.

They had beautiful planters interspersed throughout all of the flower beds, but they were classy and enhanced the beds and didn’t overpower them. Along with planting all those annuals, I couldn’t imagine watering all of those planters. (GF: Lazy Water-conscious gardening rules!)

This was perhaps my favorite statue. (GF: My friend Nita, who may be conned into guest posting on native and prairie plants, has the exact same one!) It gave me an idea… maybe if I gave Shadow or Faith a shovel they would help me in the garden. For some reason I doubt that would ever happen. Perhaps the Garden Faerie would have better luck with James and Fiona. (GF: Ha ha ha ha! If I could train James to spray on weeds, that could work, especially now his output is radioactive!)

Whenever I go on a garden walk I see plants that I know I should know the names of, or that I once knew but have forgotten. And I often take pictures so I can show them to the Garden Faerie and have her ID them for me. But I never do. (GF: Which saves a lot of time in me needing to admit I don't know them!) But this time, since I’m writing a guest blog, I can sneak those pictures right into the blog!

I love the shape on these purple flowers and this would make a great replacement for the loosestrife that I’m still trying to eradicate from my flower bed. So what is it? (GF: I had to cheat tweet to find out this is a perennial lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica--thanks to all the tweeps who responded. It is a cutie.)

And while I hate grasses, I really like the shape of this one. I know the Garden Faerie told me the name of it when we were in Columbus last year, but I have since forgotten the name. Help! (GF: It's Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'). And what? You don't like grasses? How could I not know this about you?! Thud! That's me falling over. My Little Blue Stem and I are going to pout for a good 20 minutes!)


  1. My apologies to you and your Little Blue Stem. Grasses just don't do much for me. They tend to look too weedy for my taste. And then there was the volunteer project that entailed cutting back lots and lots of dead grass foliage one spring and I broke out in an awful itchy bumpty rash. So now I tend to avoid them. :-)

  2. Amy, don't feel like the Lone Ranger regarding grasses. I don't like the majority of grasses either. I have a few in the garden but for the most part I think they take up too much room. Maybe I feel that way because I have such a small garden. I enjoyed your post. GF, pretty clever of you to get someone else to post for you.

  3. I really love the look of the birdcage. It's so pretty in the garden.

  4. Just clicking "Next Post" and discovered your lovely site - even if it is a guess blogger for today. I think I'll just follow along for a while and see where you go. Would love to have you come visit me, too!

  5. Hi Amy, you had me smiling thru your entire post.

    I can empathize with your aversion to grasses. A few years ago I thought I had suddenly grown to like them but then I planted some. Apparently they don't like me. Ended up shovel pruning all but two puny, wispy things that are supposed to be lovely fountains of green foliage. If they don't shape up, they will be taking a trip to the compost pile soon.

    GF, how'd you get Amy to write this post you? Just in case I want to con somebody into writing for me...

  6. Me again, in response to your comment on my page. Amy did a great job and you were lucky to find her. I suppose an occasional post would seem like a treat--no schedule or deadlines. She had a good topic, wasn't afraid to say what she really thought, and has a sense of humor.

    I should look around for somebody to do a guest post or two. Add some variety.

  7. I see what you mean about to much hardscaping...It doesn't spell relax at all..

    I did however Like a few of the garden statutes...such as the frog relaxing, The cat with the spade and the little birdcage.

  8. Hey, they like me! Even if I'm not very fond of grasses! :-)

  9. Amy, I thought you did a smashing job of guest post...after I revived from my faint over the anti-ornamental grass comment! I loved your photos. I am always kicking myself for not taking more photos, but you have to weigh enjoying the gardens or thinking in terms of a photographer--I think it takes away from the enjoyment.

    I am all for whimsy or added interest in the garden, but some people don't know when to stop! Yikes! My favorites were the sweet little iron chair planter and the kitty.

  10. Well done Amy, I really enjoyed your guest post - and, having done a guest post myself recently I know how hard it is too!

    Some great gardens - but I don't like all that hard landscaping and zillions of statues thing either. I do love grasses though - but I've got a big garden where they can spread and fill borders! :)

  11. Wow I am behind in reading your blog. I'll catch up, lol. What a gorgeous garden, she had some beautiful decorative items but I agree maybe it was a bit overkill. ;) I like that Fairy Garden in the log, so cute! Thanks for sharing your garden walk with us.

  12. Nice meeting you Amy and thanks so much for the tour. Now if only you were nearer :)

  13. Even though Garden Benches are so inviting, I dont think we ever get to enjoy our own benches. I do however get to enjoy a bench in another gardeners abode. I dont have the desire to pluck a weed in their gardens...

    If only we could teach those fur balls to work for us in the gardens. I would have a purrrrr-fect garden with all the furry help in my surroundings...

    Love the stroll in the gardens and the mossy shoes are a hoot...

  14. Amy, You can write a post for me anytime...I have a few dates open right now~Loved this and your honest and totally delightful sense of humor in sharing the gardens on tour...Really looking at a garden is a lot more fun then taking a 1000 photos! gail

  15. This post was hysterical! Thanks for the garden tour - even though the gardens had excess pavers, annuals and garden art.

  16. Amy, LOVED your guest post, and your sense of humor, which reminded me of a certain other Michigan resident's sense of humor! I can see why you guys are friends. It would be so fun to hang out with you both and enjoy the banter. (I feel like I just did reading this post.)

    I like grasses in other people's gardens, but most are too itchy and sharp for me. I like to touch my plants. That's one reason I LOVE Japanese forest grass. Besides, it's so pretty and graceful, and it's one of the few grasses I can actually grow here in all our shade.

    The lobelia is gorgeous - I was just talking about it in a blog post today - can't wait to add it to our swale. It's gonna look great with our red lobelia. I agree with you on all that hardscape. I'd rip out a lot of it and plant gardens.

    Thanks for sharing your garden walk! It was a lot of fun.

  17. Thanks for all your nice comments, everyone. :-)

    And sorry if I offended those of you who like grasses (but glad to know I'm not the only one who doesn't care for them). I think it's all a matter of personal preferences and the property you're working with. In my case I have a very small lot and break out in a rash whenever I get too close to them.

    And I do like well-placed garden art and I did like some of the individual pieces in the hardscaped garden, but they had so many jumbled together that my eyes just danced from one to the other and I couldn't really enjoy any of them.

    I weeded and swept my patio yesterday and was going to actually sit down and enjoy the garden and then I spotted some dandelions in the lawn. Drat.

    And this isn't the first time that GF and my banter has been commented on. LOL.

  18. Very mesmerizing garden.
    I bet you really spent a lot of time for that.
    I salute you for your effort.
    Good work indeed.