Plants in Our Lives
We certainly hear and read a lot now about plant-based diets and the benefit to our health. The fresher the food, the more locally grown, the better it is for us. Likely, you have also learned a bit over the years about the benefits of living with plants, both inside your home and in the working environment. Our challenge is selecting the right plants for the lighting and design parameters of each space to bring maximum benefit.
Spending time in natural environments, experiencing views of natural bodies of water, mountains, trees and sky are all shown to be beneficial for our physical and mental health. For many of us, we crave time in nature, and time spent in a garden or park is both calming and restorative.
As our weather gets more extreme and less predictable, maintaining existing trees and perennials gets more challenging. We battle many new insect and disease problems related to changing climate. Some plants that in the past were considered too cold-temperature sensitive for our Zone 5, may actually do well for years at a time. Temperature fluctuations may trend warm for a few years, and then plunge again, killing established plants and disappointing those who came to see those species as hardy here.
Despite the challenges, I am grateful to be working in horticulture. We make decisions and recommendations every day that improve environments for people. I love to work with people as they plan for the inclusion of plants. I explain the process as we discuss options, look at species and varieties, and share information about how plants are grown and transported. We also talk about what to expect as plants acclimate to a new location, and how they will develop over time. This is true indoors and out. Indoors, light is always the most important variable. There are several wonderful green /living wall systems, planter systems for floor, desk top or panel top, and hundreds of interior plant varieties. We have dozens of Florida growers who produce quality plants, and ship into our Lansing location every 2-3 weeks.
In the garden, we usually start with some existing trees and plants, and make updates to accommodate current needs. Maybe a mature tree has been lost, or trees have become too large. The removal of a tree can dramatically alter the character and environment of a garden.
Often the changing needs of a family over time means that what was a play area becomes a vegetable garden, or a grass lawn gives way to create a patio and outdoor kitchen. When a home changes hands, there are often changes made to make the garden work better for the new owner, both practically and aesthetically. A good and experienced realtor will offer guidance about what to look for structurally, both inside and outside. Many homes are nearly perfect in many ways, and yet will require a bit of redecorating or remodeling to suit the new occupants.
In my mind, the key is creating a space that will please logistically and aesthetically, while keeping maintenance tasks and costs in mind. Most people expect the commitment to weekly lawn mowing from May through October, but few these days can commit to pruning shrubs spring and fall, wrapping evergreens for winter, or hand weeding extensive flower beds all season. Indoors, beautiful plants must fit both the space and budget. Where the balance lies is unique to each project, and we know the importance of listening to you, while lending our professional expertise and experience to your needs.
On the Green Side
Not Just Another Pretty Leaf
Most of us are naturally drawn to greenspace. Given the choice to walk down a sidewalk along buildings or walk through a park, I pick the park every time. Show photos of a hotel lobby with no plants and then a photo with 2-3 well placed succulents or palms, and we usually pick the planted space to stay, other factors being equal.
Research shows that we identify planted spaces as more beneficial. Is it our innate sense that life giving water is never far from green plants? Is it the shade, a place to hide from predators, or the connection between green plants and potential food sources? Whatever it is deep inside us, the effect is real.
The wonderful folks at Green Plants For Green Buildings have research data to support the benefits of using plants indoors. Research subjects report a 15% improvement in wellbeing, a 6% improvement in productivity and a 15% improvement in creativity. Check out their website for more data and useful information.
Extend Your Knowledge
Michigan is a wonderful state to grow many fruits, flowers, vegetables, and landscape plants. We are fortunate to have access to Michigan State University’s Extension Service that has many helpful programs and information. Many people don’t realize that this great service exists, or what it has to offer. Go to the MSU Extension – Gardening in Michigan home page, you will find a plethora of information.
Tabs at the top of the website offer the following information:
- Smart Gardening Resources— MSU Extension’s campaign to use earth-friendly choices. There are articles with research-based knowledge to use at home, and the long-term impacts on the community.
- Soil testing— Learn tips and watch videos on how to soil test, what the best fertilizer to use is, and how to get a self-mailer soil test kit.
- Events— Here, you will find information on workshops and programs around the state, for both Master Gardeners and novice home gardeners
- News— Here you will find pages and pages of articles on subjects about horticulture. The articles range from Demystifying Fertilizer Labels for home gardeners, to Connecting the School Garden to Curricular Standards, to Choosing the Right Christmas Tree, and so much more. You will also find information on undergraduate scholarships, and scheduled seminars and conferences you can attend.
- Programs— MSU has great programs that they offer through the Extension. The Drought Resource program provides timely weather information to agricultural producers. The Master Gardener program is an adult horticulture education and volunteer leader training program. This program is committed to improving the quality of horticulture-based volunteerism and beautifying communities across the state.
- Resources– Here you can download files on subjects in horticulture. Most are free to download, but a few will cost a small fee.
- Experts– Find experts in the horticulture field available to contact with your questions.
Click on this link to visit the MSU Extension- Gardening in Michigan
For more information on the spring clean-up service we offer, click on the link below.
Contact Al or Alexa for an estimate, or to be placed on our spring clean-up schedule.