The Calendar Garden in New Paris, Indiana

The looping slides in the background at the December potluck were of the Calendar Garden at the DeFries Gardens in New Paris, Indiana, not far from Elkhart, Indiana, and the Michigan border.

We visited the Calendar Garden in September of 2014 as part of the Michiana Master Gardener Conference. The garden designer lead an break-out session during the conference. The Calendar Garden is set up with three concentric circular paths and four seasonal quadrants connected with four linear paths for the autumn and spring equinoxes and for the winter and summer solstices. At each quadrant--basically 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock--there is a structure: a small enclosed building with a fireplace for winter, a greenhouse for spring, a pavilion with roof-top viewing for summer, and a small partially enclosed building with a porch for autumn.

There is a pond in the center. The main path, a circle with a diameter of probably 365 feet, is brick. Every third brick is labeled for a day of the year. Cultivated plants are inside the main path and native plants are on the outside of the circle. The plantings at each area are placed to help gardeners select more plants that will add interest to their garden throughout the year. For example, the January and February areas contain a lot of conifers. Despite the seasonal placement, the overall garden looked great in September. Based on on-line photographs, the Calendar Garden--like most well designed garden with quality hardscaping--looks great year-round. On the Internet, you can find lots of information and plenty of pictures starting at

Garlic: Good for the body and taste buds

Les and Donna Abel of the Michigan Garlic Farm shared information about their 35,000 hardneck garlic plants that are planted, weeded and harvested by hand on their farm in Livingston County, where they do not use pesticides or herbicides. The hardneck garlic is particularly interesting because it must be grown by hand and cannot be mechanically farmed.

Based on over 25 years of growing gourmet garlic, the Abels talked about the differences between hardneck (or topset) and softneck garlic and between bulbs and scapes. Of the many cultivars of garlic, the Abels grow Northern Jewel, a variety from the purple stripe group. Les and Donna discussed growing (popping, planting in October/November, fertilizing, mulching and watering), harvesting in June/July, cleaning, drying, curing, storing (including freezing, but not refrigerating) and replanting.

The Abels sell their garlic products—bulbs, granules and powders (regular or smoked), braids and scapes—at farmers markets in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Canton, Dearborn, Farmington, Howell, Milford, Pittsfield and Saline. On June 11, they sold fresh scapes and dehydrated products. The Michigan Garlic Farm website contains extensive information including recipes at

Dean Krauskopf Ph.D of 760 WJR Shares Gardening Wisdom

In his annual spring talk to MGAWC members on April 9th, 2015, Dean Krauskopf, Ph.D., host of The Gardening Show on News/Talk 760 WJR, put weather conditions into a broader context, discussed the lowest temperatures the last two winters, shared the latest information about the top problems he expects gardeners to deal with this year, and provided links to accurate information that members might use or pass on to others. He also answered gardening questions from the audience. 

Dean retired from MSU as the Integrated Crop Management Agent for Southeastern Michigan. He taught many Master Gardener training classes, often speaks atGrowing with Master Gardeners, and is the inspiration for MGAWC's annual Dean Krauskopf Award for volunteer contributions to community education. His doctorate in horticulture is from North Carolina State University. 

Here are some resources that Dean provided: 

Attracting and Supporting Bluebirds in Michigan

Kurt Hagemeister, President, Michigan Bluebird Society presented 'Attracting Bluebirds in Michigan' at the MGAWC February membership meeting.

Because of habitat loss, environmental pollution, and competition of non-native bird species such as House Sparrows and European Starlings, bluebirds have suffered large declines compared to their original numbers, but bluebirds have been shown to thrive in areas where there is human-provided housing that is actively monitored. (source:

Visit the Michigan Bluebird Society's website to learn how to support the Michigan bluebird population,

Henry Ford Estate Garden Restoration

Karen Marzonie, Director of Landscapes, Henry Ford Estate-Fair Lane spoke to us about some of the history of the Henry Form Estate (HFE).  Outdoor projects include the Tea House plantings, a Garden Market Sale in May, a Garden Symposium in June and the Dearborn Symphony on the Lawn in September. Our donation made possible the restoration of the Garden Gate Door, which had to be completely reconstructed and painted back to its original color.