Is This the Garden of Eden?

After living almost three years in Michigan and hearing of the beautiful Dow Gardens, my husband and I decided it was time to check it out.

All the hype we had heard was true – it is an unbelievable place of peace and beauty. My husband commented that this was just a glimpse of what the Garden of Eden must have been. We laughed that we might see Adam and Eve and our daughter who was with us wondered if they would have any clothes on. 🙂

This beautiful place was once the home of Herbert and Grace Dow. They built their home here in 1899. Called “The Pines” the couple raised their family here. Herbert Dow conducted experiments in fruit-growing and developed gardens. Today the home is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Tours are offered to view the insides of the home where it is furnished with many of the Dow items and gives a good look at what life was like for them. We were not able to take a tour of the home but we did sit on the porch and enjoy the beautiful huge yard with its large expanse of green grass and flowers plantings everywhere.

My husband and our daughter taking a break on the big porch.

Herbert Dow was the founder of Dow Chemical Company and by his death had received over 90 patents for chemical processes, compounds and products. I do not understand all the science behind it, but the Dow Chemical Company website says he devised a new way of extracting the bromine that was trapped in underground brine. The company went on to became one of the world’s major producers of magnesium metal, agricultural chemicals, elemental chlorine, phenol and other dye chemicals. The company also was involved in producing plutonium, the element used in hydrogen bombs (a type of atomic bomb).

Herbert H Dow as a young man and then at age 58

The company has been the subject of several lawsuits for environmental concerns. In 2011 Dow agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at its chemical manufacturing and research complex in Midland, Mich.

Herbert Dow started the gardens as a hobby. He experimented growing different flowers, shrubs and trees seeing what would grow well in the sandy soil. On his death, his wife created The Herbert H and Grace A Dow Foundation. Its charter goals were to improve the lives of Michigan’s people through educational, religious, economic and cultural means. The Foundation gave the estate to Michigan for the community enjoyment. Today the 110-acre Dow Gardens welcomes over 300,000 visitors each year.

There are multiple gardens with 3 miles of accessible hard-surface walks. In the spring over 22,000 bulbs begin to bloom and in the summer over 35,000 annuals provide much color and beauty.

Walking along the path we heard the beautiful sound of running water. Turning a corner we came to a beautiful stream. It was so peaceful we had to stop and just sit and listen to the melodious sounds of the water as it flowed through the peaceful garden.

While we were there we found they had a exhibit of glass gardens by Lansing Michigan artist Craig Mitchell Smith. Mr. Smith creates beautiful floral forms out of glass. His work has been displayed at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the Epcot Center of Disney World.

My favorite was this one with blue butterflies

There was much more to see including the Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens. This area is 54 acres of woodlands, ponds, meadows and stream. It contains the nation’s longest canopy walk. It is 1400 feet long and reaches up to 40 feet above the ground. There is also a playground for children, two pedestrian bridges and a Cafe. I would have loved to see the forest although I do not think I would have attempted the canopy walk. But my arthritic knees gave out on me and we had to call it a day.

My husband and I plan to go back at some point and check out the forest. If you are ever in mid-Michigan I would highly recommend you include a visit to the Dow Gardens. It is probably as close to the Garden of Eden that we will get in this life.

Just Because

I often get gifts from friends or family members because it is my birthday, or Mother’s Day or Christmas. While I always appreciate that someone thought of me, remembered my special day and took time to purchase something for me, the best gift I just received this week was for no special day.

The person sending me the flowers said it was “just because.”

Each of the roses was a different color – and so beautiful!

I could not decide which color I loved the most. But I am definitely feeling the love!

A Bouquet of Spring

Today it is snowing again.  The snow is once more covering the flowers that I saw peeking out of the ground only yesterday.

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It was exciting to see these beautiful flowers that proclaim winter is almost over.  Now I’m hoping this snow will not harm them and as soon as the temperature climbs above freezing again – which it is supposed to do in a couple of days – they will still be standing to brighten my yard.

These flowers (crocuses) are one of the first to bloom in the spring.  We planted two different colors.  One is the purple seen in the picture above and the other is white with just edges of purple.

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This picture is not from my garden – these have not come up yet.  This is a picture on the bulbs we bought last fall and hopefully what they will look like when the bloom.

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And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,
And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,
And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring
.
–Oscar Wilde

 

 

The Making of a Man Cave

Last spring we moved into a beautiful condo.  While my husband loves that he does not have to mow the lawn on those hot summer days or shovel the snow when the bitter wind is blowing, he has found himself with more free time.

In our old home we had a beautiful hosta garden with over 200 hostas along with roses, lilies, cone flowers and so much more!  In our new home we do have room for a few flowers and he has enjoyed planting some this summer with plans for more come spring.  However, with the much smaller lawn we have it will never be enough to keep him busy.

 

Giving this free time he has returned to an earlier love – painting.  When he was younger he painted but always ended up giving his paintings to friends who expressed that they liked a particular one.  When I married him he told me about his earlier painting but he had nothing to show me.

I was pleasantly surprised when he began painting again.  In the small house we rented when we first downsized from our home before buying the condo there was little room for him to paint.  With the purchase of our condo I took over the second bedroom and filled it with my books, my music and my computer.  My poor husband still had no room to paint.

He decided to make himself a studio/painting room in our unfinished basement.  Hard at work on the room he has added his favorite “big” chair and a game table so it has become more than just a place to paint.  Every man needs a man cave and he now has one.  While he still has painting and trim work to do, he is almost ready for a game night with friends.

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Game table all ready for a game of checkers with friends

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He has his easy chair and a TV ready to hook up

What is great is that he now has plenty of work for not only painting but can also display some of his work.

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Painting table with a new canvas ready for his next project

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His creation series – I had a hard job getting a good shot of this – but it is based on Genesis 1 and 2

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Here’s a better picture of his Creation Series taken at a showing of his work at the local Clinton County Art Gallery

He also loves maps and has some terrific antique maps of London and Paris that he had no where to display.  Now he can put them up on the walls of his studio/mancave and enjoy.

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I was feeling a little guilty taking the extra room for my space, so now I can better enjoy my area knowing my husband has a space all his own to enjoy.

One of the reasons we bought the condo was to get everything on one floor for me.  I had a knee replacement that did not go well and arthritis in the other knee so stairs are difficult for me.   With this new space I think I may be going up and down stairs again.  As he has completed steps in this decorating I have been called to check it out.  Putting up paneling, painting the floor, putting down rugs, putting up lights – all have required my inspection.  Now he is talking about me coming down stairs to sit in his easy chair and read or blog while he paints.

I have to remind him it is a “man-cave” and women are not allowed.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen of the Shade Garden

Along with our addiction to scrabble   –   (My Addiction Cost Me 27 Days in 2017)   –  my husband and I share a love of hostas.

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It started innocently enough.  We bought a house with a large above ground pool.  It was surrounded by lots and lots of concrete.  Concrete slab for the pool equipment and a large concrete slab with two ugly metal sheds.  There were no trees or flowers and very little grass in the back yard.

Since I hate getting water in my face in the shower, I was clearly not going to use the pool.  After one year of trying to keep the pool clean with all the time and money that required, my husband decided it was not worth it for the two or three times a month he would swim.

So – out with the pool and all that concrete!

Now what?

We decided to plant some hostas.  We had never grown hostas before but after my husband had planted so many trees in our background and it was very shady, it seemed like a good choice.

At first we had a small area of hostas under the trees next to the house.  But now it has grown until almost all of our back yard is filled with hostas.  The small patch of yard still left should be gone by the end of this summer as my husband is busy dividing the ones we have and transplanting them to other spots in the yard.

 

Hostas come in all sizes – from four-inch dwarfs to six-foot giants.  They come in different shades of green, blue and chartreuse.  During the summer they produce spikes of pink, lavender or white flowers.  While the flowers are beautiful, it is their foliage that makes them such a wonderful plant for the shade garden.

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Hostas came to America in the 1800’s from Korea, China and Japan.  Hostas are mentioned as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD).  They are mentioned in Japan as early as 710 AD.  There were originally about 40 species from Asia but today due to selective breeding there are about 8,000 cultivars.

If you are looking for a plant that provides beauty year after year requiring little care and lots of variety in flowers and foliage, check out the hostas, Queen of the shade garden.

 

 

 

The Garden that Love Built

 

 

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In November 2001 my husband and I moved into our new home.  It had no trees or flowers anywhere on the property. In the backyard, a deck opened onto an above ground swimming pool.  The backyard was ugly and hot with lots of concrete and rock around the pool.  Two metal sheds sat on large slabs of concrete.  My husband, who loves flowers and trees wanted to get rid of the pool.  But I wanted to try to learn to swim so I convinced him to keep the pool for our first summer in the house.

The next summer I was only in the pool three or four times because every evening when I came home from work all I wanted to do was just lie down.  I was constantly exhausted.

In November 2002 we discovered why I was feeling so badly.  After a visit to the doctor and then a biopsy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A very aggressive cancer and my doctor told me the chances of my living ten more years were only 25 percent.

I have shared that story in other blogs:

Cancer Survivor

Coincidence or An Act of God?

I’m Still Beautiful!!!

That spring my husband took down the pool and began planting.  It was therapy for him and something he could do to be close to me for the days/weeks I was too weak to move from my bed.  He put a chair next to the patio doors and I would sit and watch him plant beautiful flowers and trees.  He said for every tree he planted, I would get another year of life.  Our property now has 34 trees!

My children teased me that they are going to come over and cut down some trees because he now has me up to almost 90 years of life.

oh no

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The yard has remained a work in progress.  Each year we said we have enough plants and each year we add more.

This is not only a beautiful garden – an oasis in our backyard, but it is a garden made with love.