Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Flowers from my garden

As anyone in the industry knows, May and June are tests for endurance.  I cannot tell you how many times I have thought about blogging only to dismiss the idea entirely out of pure exhaustion.  Landscape design pics are coming, I promise.  We have been working on some great projects this year and I am very excited to share them with you!  

I have a friend and fellow gardener whose mind is filled to the brim with wonderful garden ideas and whose yard is filled to overflowing with amazing and unique plants.  She tries to stay as native as possible or at least tries to stick to varieties that with thrive in our UP climate.  She never fails to send me home with an idea or two and rarely sends me home without a new plant/plants from her garden (today it was verbena bonarienis).  Today I also leave my friend's with a little bit of plant envy. 

Geranium pratense "Midnight Reiter" 

I made it home this evening after work to find near perfect lighting conditions in the gardens.  It was a great opportunity to stop for a moment to enjoy the blooms and a chance to play with the manual setting on my camera. 

Iris Sibirica "Butter and Sugar"

Nepeta "Walkers Low"

Physocarpus "Little Devil"  


Iris Sibirica "Halcyon Seas"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Weekend of Gardens

Two events on the docket for our gardening friends this weekend!  Spread the word and come and see us in the vendor area at, "A Garden Extravaganza" 6th Annual Garden Conference in Marquette, MI June 15th, 2013 from 8 AM to 3:30 PM.  This event takes place at the University Center on the campus of Norther Michigan University.  Workshop topics include gardening for sustainability, how to attract birds and bees, bog gardening, container gardening, and much more. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $60.00.  This includes full access to vendor area, seminars, and workshops as well as lunch. See conference brochure: http://www.mqtbeautification.org/index.html

Jeff Epping, director of horticulture at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, will be the keynote speaker for the conference. Jeff Epping has been Director of Horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison Wisconsin since 1994. Epping and his staff have practiced and preached sustainable gardening for years, which is reflected in their environmentally friendly cultural practices and innovative award winning garden designs. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison, Epping holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture. He worked at the Chicago Botanic Garden before joining the staff at Olbrich and has visited, studied and photographed gardens throughout the US, UK, France and Thailand. Epping regularly lectures and teaches on landscape plants and designs for northern gardens. Many of his photos have been seen in regional journals, nationally recognized gardening books and professional horticultural publications

Also this weekend we will be having our annual Up Scapes Nursery Sale and Open House on Sunday June 16th from noon to 7:00 PM.  Join us for plants, snacks, and great garden conversation.  We would be happy to help you with designing a new bed, troubleshooting plant problems, and sharing some of our favorite new varieties. You can find us at E4021 East Louds Spur Road in Chatham MI.  Look for "plant sale" signs! http://uplandscapes.com/

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Michigan Natives

Collection of MI and Midwest native varieties presented at the TLC Garden Walk 

Native plants offer undeniable benefits to a home landscape.  Native plants are predisposed to do well in their native environment. They are often deer resistant, drought tolerant, and easy to maintain.  Properly placed, taking consideration to soil type, light and moisture needs, these native varieties can be self-sustaining.  In addition. . .they can be absolutely stunning. Native plants do not require supplemental watering once established nor do they need fertilization.  They are winter hearty and provide food and habitat required by native birds and butterflies.  They improve your landscape biodiversity and are an important step to improving the vitality and biological health of the upper peninsula. 

There are some limits to the wonders of native planting.  Some varieties of natives are so dependent on a specific location that transplanting is not an option. Other stunning varieties of native wild flowers, although tempered by other plants in the wild, can be highly invasive in the home garden with it's rich soil, consistent irrigation, and lack of competition.  Size can also be limiting, especially when the cute transplanted tamarack  or bushy white pine becomes a tree.  Sourcing can also be limiting as few garden centers market native varieties.

Even with these limitations, it is well worth your time and effort to try to incorporate the native into your garden.     

Some of our Favorites: (not all are native specifically to the UP, but qualify as midwest natives)  

(Carex pennsylvanica - Common Oak Sedge)

Early Spring (April 13th 2012) Staghorn Sumac in background


Comptonia peregrina - Sweet Fern 
Pinus Strobus - Dwarf White Pine 
Physocarpus opulifolius - Nine Bark (dwarf varieties are also available)
Cornus sericea - Red Twigged Dogwood 
Rhus typhina - Staghorn Sumac 
Hypericum - St John's Wort 

Perennials (S for sun SH for shade)
Allium Cernuum - Nodding Wild Onion (S)
Coreopsis (S)
Echinachea (S) - Purple Cone Flower 
Liatris - Blue Star (S)
Lobelia Cardinalis - Cardinal Flower (S)
Penstemon - Beard Tongue (S)
Tradescantia Ohienisis - Common Spiderwort (S)
Aster Divaricatus - White Wood Aster (SH)
Carex Pensylvanica (SH)
Polemonium Reptans - Jacobs Ladder (SH)
Sedum Turnatum - Woodland stonecrop sedum (SH)
Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Weed (S)
Asclepias Syriaca - Common Milkweed (S) (be careful to stick to only one asclepias variety in your garden.  More than one will cause issues with pollination and asclepias will take over!)
Baptisia - Wild Indigo (S)
Chelone glabra - Turtle head (SH)
Eupatorium purpureum - Joe Pye Weed (S) 
Opunita humifusa - Eastern Prickly Pear (Cacti for the north woods!) (S)
Rudbeckia hirta - Black Eyed Susan (S)
Solidago - Goldenrod (S-SH depending on variety)

Above is the list of plants we have had success with in the UP and northern Wisconsin regions.  Please do your research for your specific situation.  Plants will only thrive if given what they want.  It easier and ultimately more successful to find the perfect plant for a spot rather than amend the spot for the plant.  

Where to find them:
Up Scapes Nursery - Call us for availability on native shrubs and perennials 906-439-5387

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2013 Home and Garden Show, Escanaba MI

Even though we still have a couple feet of snow on the ground and signs of spring seem further away than ever, we are deep into preparation for the upcoming season.  Machinery is getting an annual spring tune up, details are coming together on design plans for our spring installs, new equipment purchases are being researched, and our plant order is ready to be finalized.  Soon we will be buried under spring clean-ups, early design installs, and grass growing faster than we can keep up with it!  

Just looking at the list of things that need to be completed before the snow melts can send my head spinning, but if you are feeling the need for spring and would like to get in on a little of the excitement, join us for the 2013 Kiwanis Home & Garden Show and Pancake Days in Escanaba, MI.  The show begins on the evening of April 12 and goes through Sunday the 14th. Craftsman, landscape designers, builders, and other home and garden specialists fill the Ruth Butler building on the UP Fairgrounds.  Bring your ideas and pictures and discuss your options with a captive audience of some of the most qualified men and women in the business.  Show admission is free, although attendees are encouraged to eat up at the pancake feed - all you can eat pancakes and fixings for $5 ($3 children). All proceeds from the show and pancake feed will benefit the community.

If you are in the area or want to make a special trip, this show is definitely worth it. We will have a booth this year and would love to see you!  Any questions?  Contact us at: service@uplandscapes.com   

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thinking Inside the Box

While designing our booth for the 2013 Escanaba Home and Garden Show (stay posted for more info!), Michael decided he wanted to create a few custom planters made from steel.  After throwing around a few ideas and sketches we put the project aside for when we had more time.  I was delighted when I pulled into the garage this evening after school to find this first planter, a smaller version of the ones for the show, finished.  I was a little disappointed I missed the process, but coming home to the final product was quite fun! Although some of our original designs had more complexity, I must say I am in love with the streamlined character of this one.  The finished size on this planter is about 10"x10".  

It is simple but bold.  The patina offers such a richness and character.  This container is just begging to be filled to overflowing.  What will fill it?  Only imagination will tell!  

Steel, welding, and little chemistry 

Dried hydrangeas are the only fill I can come up with on this cold and snowy March night, but oh does this help me visualize the potential.  

Spring come soon!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Perhaps the part I like most about landscape design is the transformation of outdoor space.      

Each spring this transformation takes place changing drab darkness into color, texture, and interest.

The final product is the goal - a finished outdoor kitchen, a new patio, a foundation planting, or perennial gardens, but me, the process is the best part.  

Problem areas can be assessed 

Re-envisioned  to their full potential 

and allowed to begin the process of transformation

It is living art, taking the old 

and giving it a fresh face 

It is about starting small 

and maturing 

It is about seeing potential 

and watching it realized 

The results can be stunning, but my favorite aspect is watching how we get there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Winter Interest in the Garden

Winter has been hard to over look this year.  Although I am told we are still below normal snow levels, this is the most snow I have seen in my life.  This latest storm has me home bound and entirely snowed in for nearly 48 hours.  The road is unplowed and our section of the UP seems entirely abandoned, left to drifting banks, bitter winds, and blowing flakes.  As I put another log on the wood stove and start a pot of tea, I invite you to join me in discussing the winter garden.   

Winter interest in the garden takes on special qualities when snow is involved.  Snow is a master sculptor and can turn a dingy fall landscape into a brilliant gallery of shape.  Choosing the correct plant can add to the splendor and enhance your garden design.  Leaves, flowers and grass are my first love, but I can still appreciate the forms that emerge in the snow covered winter landscape.  

I have always loved the winter deciduous tree.  My dad first taught me how to draw them when I was very little.  I would fill notebooks with countless short, tall, skinny, lumpy, rough, winter trees enjoying how striking they appeared on crisp white paper.  In the winter landscape, the deciduous tree provides the same striking form and allows the viewer to enjoy its other features like their skeletal shape or the texture of the bark that are less noticeable in full summer foliage.   

Hydrangea Paniculata "grandiflora" (PeeGee Hydrangea)

Winter interest in the garden is achieved by providing architectural forms for snow to shape.  Plants that hold seed heads or dried flowers like the hydrangea above can offer interest and an open plateau.  My favorites:

Hydrangea Arborescens "Anabelle" - Huge erect flower heads perfect for both interior decorating and winter interest.  Thrives in the shade.
Hydrangea Paniculata "Limelight" - Excellent lime flower color which dries and holds for long lasting winter interest.  

Undisturbed snow mounds over metal. 

Larch and rhododendron peak out from their snowy bed.  Rhododendron is an evergreen whose leaves will shrivel but hold firm through the winter.    

Weeping larch (larix decidua 'pendula') is coniferous, needle and cone bearing, but not an evergreen.  It loses its needles in the fall and sprouts fresh and soft in the spring. 

Dogwoods, even wild as this native red osier dogwood, are now noticeable without their green foliage.  Cultivars make the dogwood a great choice for the home garden.  Some of my favorites:

Cornus sericea "flaviramea" - Bright yellow stems offer a fabulous winter effect 
Cornus baileyi - Red twigged dogwood with porcelain blue fruit

Fruit trees and bushes that hold their berries can offer show stopping color in the dead of winter.  Some of my favorites:  

Malus 'Bailears' Ruby Tears (weeping crabapple) - not overly messy, gorgeous weeping 
form and long lasting fruit.  
Aronia melanocarpa 'Autumn Magic' - beautiful drought tolerant cultivar from University of BC.  Covered in late may flowers followed by edible berries which can be eaten fresh, used for baking, jams, and juices, that is if you can beat the birds.  
Cotoneaster apiculatus - Cranberry Cotoneaster pink flowers in June followed by bring red fall berries.  Although, if you have snow like we do, this low grower will be buried pretty early in the winter season.  

Miscanthus sinensis - Zebra Grass 

Only the tallest grass varieties have been able to make a showing in my garden this season.  Snow long ago blanketed my blue oat grasses and small sedges.  In early January a thaw and ice rain crushed weaker stemmed feather reed and panicum grasses and they too are now buried under several feet of snow.  Zebra grass has offered the best performance this year in my winter landscape.  Zebra grass is from the miscanthus or maiden grass family and is know for its long holding seed heads and sturdy stems which makes it a good pick for adding winter interest. Other big winter impact grasses:

Sorghanstrum nutans - Indian grass 
Calamagrostis x acutiflora - Feather reed grass - an excellent grass choice regardless, but it does provide better winter interest in areas that receive less snow.

The wind still blows, the snow still falls, and (for the mean time) it appears winter is here to stay.  What plants are brightening your winter landscape?  I would love to hear from you! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Going Crazy for Carex

Michael and I tend to discuss plants a lot. It just comes with the territory of working in the industry and being self-admitting plant geeks.  Although we have our individual favorites, a recently trending plant we can both agree on would be sedges.  Carex comprises a huge genus of over 15000 species of grassy plants in the family Cyeraceae commonly known as sedges.  Sedges are generally low growing, mounded form grasses characterized by triangular stems and panicles of flowerheads.  There are many native varieties of sedges which have brought them to the forefront of design plans with the most recent push for sustainability. (Stay posted for discussions on sustainable design - a popular but also smart trend in landscape design)  

Sedges can be spiky and thick 
carex oshimensis 

Or hairlike and fine
carex pennsylvania 

They thrive in both sun and shade, making them a great option any place you would plant hosta. They are low maintenance, drought tolerant, deer resistant. 

They are amazing in mass
Carex elata

can be used as an accent

Carex elata 

or in a mixed bed with other perennials and shrubs 

Try this striking carex/hosta combo 

carex oshimensis and hosta "patriot"

 Or how about this?
 20% carex munkingumensis, 40% geranium, 40% Allium Anglumosum "summer beauty" 

Not all sedges are zone tolerant, but with 15000 species, there are enough to choose from that will thrive in the UP.

Here is a list of our favorites:
carex oshimensis - Varigated Japanese Sedge zone 5, so avoid or plant only in protected areas in zone 4 or lower. (variegated varieties of almost all plants are generally less hearty than their solid color counterparts so plant with care!) 
carex pensylvania - Common Oak Sedge zone 4 hearty 
carex vulpinoidea - Fox Sedge zone 3 hearty and native
carex munkingumensis - Palm Sedge zone 2 hearty and a midwest native.  

Although sedges are not readily available at most nursery centers, their popularity is on the rise along with many other ornamental grass varieties. We will be bringing in several sedge varieties this spring to Up Scapes' design center nursery so call for availability 906-439-five three eight seven!  Unlike most grasses, sedges are at home in the shade and the sun which give them wide appeal for shade gardeners looking for added texture. So join us in going crazy for carex!