The Garden Beds
In 1997, the Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) Service and the Master Gardeners of Lapeer County established the first Display Garden behind the Lyle Stewart Building in Lapeer, Michigan. Originally, the garden included beds for annuals, perennials, butterflies and prairie plants. The garden entrance was framed by Rugosa roses. In 2002, MSUE moved out of the Lyle Stewart Building and the garden was relocated to its current home. The majority of the plants were moved in a single day by the Master Gardener volunteers. Over the years, since the Garden was relocated, there have been many additions and expansions. Currently there are sixteen garden beds within the Garden.
Approximately 625 feet of handicapped-accessible brick pathways meander through the garden beds. Along the path there are many places to stop and rest on benches throughout the garden. Statuary, waterfalls, fountains and bird baths add interest and contribute to a peaceful, natural setting. The gazebo near the Japanese Garden offers shelter from sun or rain. The garden is populated by birds, butterflies and other insects, in addition to frogs, toads, and rabbits.
Please click on each picture for a larger view.
The main entrance to the garden is south of the pavilion and it is framed by an arch that carries a welcome sign. Often a climbing annual is planted on the arch and a mixed border is planted along the pathway to carry color and texture throughout the growing season. Plant selection changes from year to year, often showcasing a new variety or an old, long-forgotten favorite.
This garden bed contains a changing display of annual plants. Master Gardeners use a variety of different plants to experiment with various color and texture combinations to form an aesthetically pleasing display. Some of the annuals planted here include begonias, geraniums, nicotiana, petunias, snapdragons and sweet alyssum. Annuals can also be found in other beds throughout the Display Garden.
The tall evergreens housing two unique birdhouses distinguish the
Birdhouse Garden Bed. Evergreens mixed in this garden include: Pyramidal Yew,
Calgary Carpet Juniper, Dwarf Hinoki Cypress, and Gold Crest Cypress. Also, to
add texture are a male and female Blue Princess Holly and a Mountain Fire Pieris.
In the spring, Iris can be found blooming in the center of this woodland setting.
Annuals provide color on both the east and west sides all summer long. Also, a
topiary bear stands in the shade of the evergreens near two benches, one bench
is a memorial to Eleanor West. A sign marks this spot as a favorite stopping place
of a Master Gardener fondly remembered, Shirley Walker. Daylilies and Hostas
add their color and texture along with a little boxwood hedge. The benches
provide a delightful view of the perennial garden, the kissing doves fountain and
whimsical creatures placed throughout the Children’s Garden Bed.
Towering over this garden bed are a stunning cup plant and a tall ironweed. Peeking out among the many butterfly favorites planted here are three wren houses and a butterfly sculpture. Milkweed is a garden resident as well as Butterfly Weed, Yarrow, Heuchera, Coreopsis and Agastaches, to name a few.
A stepping stone path through the garden bed is hugged and often covered by the mass of flowers irresistible to butterflies. Take a seat on the stone bench across the pathway on the edge of the Woody Ornamentals Bed to watch the butterflies or listen to the cheerful songs of the wrens.
The Children’s Garden bed is designed for both active play and learning. Here a windmill stands tall above the garden. The children plant vegetables underneath the windmill. The arborvitae maze and tall garden grasses
guarded by a dragon named Snap offer places for the children to run and play and hide. In the grasses, a swinging bridge and
a pirate’s deck give way to the ‘jumping off rock’ where the children tumble down and crawl through giant, gaily painted tires. There is a human sundial, a balance beam and a small house with a living roof with
a garden on it. Perennials cover the roof with strawberries along the lower end for
the children to pick.
In addition to the many play areas and whimsical decorative statuary, the garden provides a living laboratory where the children learn through the seasons about the life cycle of plants, and the rewards of growing, harvesting and eating their own vegetables and herbs. As they take walking field trips through the entire Display
Garden, the children observe the garden wildlife, birds, bees, butterflies, frogs, fish and a variety of insects. They learn about composting and find worms and ants in the compost area. The soil from the compost bins is used by the children in the vegetable and herb gardens which they plant here.
Giant hollow logs the children can crawl through had to make way for the living roof house so were moved near the pavilion to their own area called Log Jam.
Perennials and annuals brighten the garden bed throughout the season and a hops covered tunnel fascinates the children while inviting a seat in the shade on tiny child‐sized benches. The tunnel also features a hopscotch game gaily painted by children. The musical instruments in the garden were placed in memory of “Miss Becky” by the
Arms family and the Suncrest Daycare Families, Staff and Friends.
The Herb Garden was introduced to the public in 2007. At
that time it was located in the center of the main garden at Suncrest. As of Spring
2014 it was relocated to the south end of the same garden. The move was very
educational and at the same time quite challenging. The Herb Garden now has
trees to provide some shade.
As soon as the snow starts
melting in April you will see life springing forth throughout all of the garden
beds. The Bloodroot, Crocus, Daffodils (non-herb), and Pansies show off their
blooms giving us a promise of warmer weather. There are herbs blooming
throughout the growing season and into the late fall. Some plantings will
change from year to year to share different ideas of how to incorporate herbs
into your landscaping and still be able to use them.
herbs have been planted into four categories. The first, from the east end of
the garden bed is the Herbal Tea section. This area is undergoing a great
change, so keep your eyes open. Then comes Crafters & Dyers; in this area
part or all of the plants can be used for dying wool or clothing, making paint,
making potpourri and more. Next is the Culinary group; which is on either side
of the center pathway. Most of the plants in this area are annuals. Last but
not least the Medicinal; there are plants in this section that you wouldn’t think of as
herbs but they are, and some of them play a major role in our medicine today. You
will also find plants in more than one category, for instance; lavender,
peppermint, and thyme are in all four.
Thank you for taking an
interest in our gardens. Hope to see you there.
Please take a minute and sign
our guest book.
When entering from the north parking area to the west of the facility, the Heucheras garden is situated to the west or right of the sidewalk entrance. It provides a charming border along the red stone pathway through the Eastern White Pines. There are nine varieties of Heucheras growing here, among them, Mocha, Marmalade, Black Current and Midnight. Some of the more common varieties such as the brilliant Firefly are also among the nine. Lady’s Mantle, Cushion Spurge and a variety of annuals also brighten this garden bed. The edge of this garden bed is bordered by two benches which offer a panoramic view of the Hydrangea Garden Bed, the Rock Garden Bed, the Hosta Garden Bed and the North Entrance Arch.
More than thirty-nine varieties of hostas co-exist in this amazing garden bed. Nestled under the shade of an evergreen near the Rock Garden Bed, such exotically named hostas as Cheatin Heart, So Sweet, Fragrant Bouquet, Little Doll, Aphrodite and Sea Fire can be found. Some of the larger varieties include El Capitan, Emily Dickinson, Sagae and Patriot. Large and small varieties with showy leaves and blossoms are beautifully arranged. Bordering the hosta Garden Bed are round stepping stones commemorating the placement of hostas in the bed over the years. Some were moved here from the original Display Garden site established in 1997.
New to the garden in 2011, the Hydrangea Garden Bed boasts varieties such as Big Daddy, Invincible Spirit and Lace Cap. Also included are a Sambucas Elderberry and Hens and Chicks. This entrance bed borders the walkway entrance that was created with the 2011 addition to the Lapeer County Medical Facility. The walkway offers an expansive view of the entire Display Garden. At the top of the walkway, near the north side of the pavilion, is a small bed of catmint with a cherub statue in its center.
The Japanese Garden Bed is home to a waterfall surrounded by a miniature rock garden covered with several varieties of Sedum including Golden Acre, Coral Carpet and Baby Tears. Nearby a Japanese Maple, Twist of Lime Hosta, Blood Grass and Ostrich Ferns grow along a dry river bed crossed by a red Japanese bridge near the garden fence. Distinctive plantings of a low-growing, Henry Lauder Walking Stick Tree, a Japanese Sawara and a Golden Hinoki False Cypress add year round color and interest. Spreading across the garden bed is a green carpet of evergreen Herniaria near a planting of Bamboo. Japanese statuary and rocks dot the landscape contributing to a sense of calm and peace.
This garden bed features a gazebo, which is guarded on the west by tall Arborvitae and on the north by the Ornamental Grasses Garden Bed. Pause in the gazebo and listen to the waterfall. On a rainy day, you may hear the rain dripping throught the rain chains or, in more fair weather, the movement of gentle breezes in the nearby grasses. The gazebo was funded by Peterson & Son Lincoln-Mercury and family and friends of Harvey Leinihger. Two memorial benches placed in the gazebo offer a restful, cool place for meditation or quiet conversation. Each bench bears a separate memorial, one for Bill Charles and the other for Ethel C. Swan.
Kissing Doves Fountain
Roses surround the Kissing Doves Fountain. Varieties planted here include Knockout, Hybrid Tea, Carpet and Buck Shrub. Rest awhile on the benches in the nearby Birdhouse Garden Bed and enjoy the view.
North Entrance Arch
Inviting visitors into the garden, the pathway through the North Entrance Arch is bordered on the right by the Children’s Garden Bed on the left by the Birdhouse Garden Bed. Similar to the main Welcome Entrance Arch, it is planted with climbers and other annuals. In 2011, when this arch was installed, Morning Glories and Geraniums were planted here.
Ornamental Grasses Garden
A signpost denoting Fred’s Hideaway marks the entrance to the Ornamental Grasses Garden Bed. A stepping stone path winds through the grasses to a hidden bench. The path is visible in the spring but is nearly hidden by the grasses when autumn arrives. Among the grasses
featured here are numerous varieties of Fescue, Fountain, Miscanthus, Ravenna, Panicum Virgatum and others. Some of these grasses such as the, Giant Reed grow to over twenty feet in height and have deeply seated roots. The signpost recognizes Fred Swords, a former Master Gardener and friend who helped establish this garden bed.
The Perennial Garden Bed was expanded in 2011. It contains a massive planting of dazzling flowers. The varieties are extensive and beautiful blooms continuously color this garden bed throughout the growing season. New in the
garden in 2012 is the addition of Acanthus
(Bear's Breeches). Image below.
The older section of this garden bed is dominated by a beautiful goat’s beard and a stunning clematis display. Veronica, baby’s breath, pasque flower, potentilla , peony, iris, primrose, giant allium, and rudbeckia load this bed with tantalizing colors and textures. In the newly revised section a stepping stone path passes under an arch of an Etiole Violette Clematis. Some of the new plantings include Lychnis, Salvia, Chrysanthemum, Delphininium, Echinacea, and Heliopisis.
Rising out of the hill at the northwest corner of the pavilion, The Rock Garden Bed is home to more than sixteen different varieties of Sedum including Dragon’s Blood, Murale, Llikadense and Variegata. Sun-tolerant Hostas, Ajuga, Edelweiss, Hens and Chicks, Candytuft, Creeping Phlox, and Gaultheria are a few of the many rock garden varieties that cling to the rocks and creep through the crevices. In spring tiny unusual varieties of tulips, Pinnochio, Calypso and Chopin, appear with tricolor Crocus along the inner edge of the brick pathway which circles through this garden bed. Also tucked in among the rocks are a dwarf Alberta Spruce and a Dwarf Mugo Pine which provide unexpected depth and texture.
Follow the sidewalk around the south end of the Lapeer County Medical Care Facility to find this garden bed located at the entrance to the facility. It is well worth the walk! The bed showcases a variety of roses, including Rugosa, Shrub, Floribunda, Climber, Knock Out and Hybrid Tea. A featured rose in this bed is the Buck Rose named for Dr. Griffith Buck, a rose hybridizer and professor at Iowa State University. Buck Roses are a type of Shrub Rose with blossoms that strongly resemble the blossoms of the Hybrid Tea Rose. A bench donated by the Lapeer Horticulture Society in memory of Fred Swords is also located in this garden bed. Roses can also be found in other beds within in the Display Garden.
Water Garden and Perimeter
The Water Garden, first installed in 2009 and revised in 2011, includes a dramatic waterfall, water lilies and aquatic grasses including, Variegated Cattail and Blue Rush. The water garden is also stocked with gold fish and a variety of green frogs and bull frogs have moved in and can be seen lounging on lily pads or on the rock perimeter. Various perennials, grasses and annuals surround the perimeter of the water garden including Weigelia, Daisies, Heuchera, Red Feather Grass and more. On the back of the waterfall is a small rock garden filled with mixed varieties of Hosta, Sedum, Dwarf Arborvitae and a Miniature White Spruce. A magnificent dragonfly sculpture soars above the water garden completing this beautiful natural setting.
Fun and Funky
Located in the center of the garden is
“Fun & Funky”. This bed is an area of
transition. Originally the location of the Herb Garden filled with Mint, Salt Wort, Amaranth, and a few other self seeding and running type of plants.
It has undergone a 2 step process:
First was to eradicate the once desired plants. Second is to bring a spotlight to new, unusual or underused plants. Each year you will find something different planted in the way of annuals.
Anchoring the bed are the three metal obelisks, each planted with Clematis and
some form of annual vine until the Clematis get established. A rainbow of
Echinacea is planted near the rocks and a trio of Caryopteris highlights the point
facing the Ornamental grasses.
Located to the south, just behind the white fence, is an area designated for plants in need of special attention.
Please click on each picture for a larger view.