Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Michigan (Day 3)

I actually came close to "plant overload" today. I wouldn't have thought it possible if I hadn't experienced this same "overload" in the Netherlands back in April. It was hot and sunny and I think I barely kept hydrated. I certainly saw plenty of plants today and took over 1,600 photos! We spent the morning touring many of the Michigan State University (MSU) farms and gardens. We started by visiting the MSU organic student farm which was pretty neat. We then viewed the arboretum and spent more time in the 4H Childrens Garden (the four pictures directly above). Note the neat pallet planter and vertical planter (Woolly Pocket). I have lots of ideas to share with Kris when I get back and while this wasn't my first visit to this garden, I certainly appreciated some of the changes and new areas. There was a summer kids club gathering in that garden during our tour and it was neat to see the kids so excited to arrive and dive right in to activities. The top four photos were of the trial gardens at MSU which are located right on campus not far from the 4H Childrens Garden. They do a wonderful job and I added to my photos of the many plants in these extensive gardens from those I took last night as well.

We then went mobile on the bus and had box lunches on the way to C. Raker & Sons Inc. nursery (Litchfield, MI). This nursery, founded in 1978, is the leading wholesale commercial supplier for plugs and liners in North America. They annually process more than 200 million plants (wow!). I was aware that Raker had a trial garden but I wasn't prepared for the SIZE! See the photos below. Needless to say, I wandered every square inch of the display and took many photos. I saw some neat varieties and a couple dozen plants I've never even heard of yet. I enjoyed seeing so many well-maintained plants like the 'Royal Hawaiian Black Coral' elephant ear (Colocasia hybrida) seen two photos down. They had various collections of varieties from different seed companies and their All-America Selections display and trial gardens were quite nice as well. They were a very hospitable company and provided dinner for our group. By chance, for dinner I ended up sitting with the Raker family (mom, dad, two daughters, etc.) and enjoyed chatting with everyone. It was a long day with two more nurseries and a botanic garden on the tour tomorrow (chance of rain, 50%).

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