Spring story ideas

April 28, 1997
Contact: umichnews@umich.edu


Visit Michigan’s many gardens and nature centers

At the first sign of spring in Michigan, animals come out of hibernation…and so do people. The beautiful colors and scents draw nature lovers from all over the state into parks and gardens, yet few know of all of the outdoor wonders available to them. To aid in the search, the University of Michigan’s Nichols Arboretum and the Zonta Club of Northwest Wayne County have published a list of Michigan’s nature centers, outdoor museums, arboreta and botanical gardens.

“Up until now, there hasn’t been one source that lists all the public gardens and arboreta in Michigan,” said Harry Morton, director of the Nichols Arboretum. “As one of the oldest arboretums in the country, it seemed appropriate for us to take the lead in promoting our sister gardens and arboreta throughout the state.”

The tri-fold listing includes addresses, phone numbers and a brief description of any locations with unusual features. Copies can be obtained free of charge by calling Helen Jeter at (313) 531-9477, or writing to her at 14344 Mercedes, Redford, MI, 48239.

Older Americans are ready and raring to go

Americans aged 70 and older remain surprisingly productive, according to a U-M study. About 34 percent of nearly 900 older Americans surveyed grow and freeze their own food, nearly 28 percent still do some home repairs and nearly 56 percent still do some of their own yard work. U-M Institute of Gerontology researchers Susan Merrill and Lois Verbrugge conducted a study of productive activities among the very old as part of a much larger study of the physical, emotional, social, mental and financial health of older Americans. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the survey was conducted using a population-based sample of nearly 8,000 Americans aged 70 and older. All were living in the community, not in nursing homes or other institutional settings, and were interviewed in person or by telephone during an eight-month period. For more information, contact Diane Swanbrow at (313) 647-4416 or Lois Verbrugge at (313) 936-2103.

Careful planting will help avoid unwanted deer visitors

Whether seen as a doe-eyed benign garden visitor or a large-sized garden pest, white-tailed deer are becoming more common on Southeast Michigan homesteads. As abandoned farms in rural townships are developed into suburbs, the habitat deer once enjoyed and depended upon is disappearing and they are finding their way into yards and gardens. “And just like the city raccoon that raids the trash,” says Charles Cares, U-M professor emeritus of landscape architecture, “the suburban deer makes the best of its situation by raiding gardens…and knowing their likes and dislikes can help make a garden less attractive.” Cares says that yew, fir, white cedar, and rhododendrons are among the favorites for deer, while boxwood is rarely touched, making it a safe planting choice. For more information, contact Joanne Nesbit at (313) 647-4418 or Charles Cares at (313) 764-2550.

The Botanical Gardens brim with blooms in May; so could yours

May is the time for woodland wildflowers, says Connie Ballie, a horticultural assistant at the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens. From the short-bloomers such as the spring beauty and white trillium, which debut before the trees are in full leaf, to the longer-bloomers including the wood poppy and crested iris, which remain throughout the season, the woods are filled with flowers beginning in May. The Matthaei Botanical Gardens, in particular, has four marked trails that boast hundreds of wildflower species and is open to the public throughout the spring and summer. But Ballie says that people can also create their own woodland gardens by knowing a few key steps including evaluating the yard-situation, testing the soil, and knowing which flowers to plant where. For more information, contact Connie Ballie at (313) 998-7061.

Nichols ArboretumInstitute of Gerontology