Planning (And Planting!) Your Perfect Pure Michigan-Inspired Garden

Nothing soothes a winter-weary soul quite like the languid lure of gardening. Green thumbs know well the joy of poring over seed catalogs, daydreaming of bountiful blooms and homegrown goodness. But you don’t need to be a green thumb to enjoy the fruits of this labor! A garden-inspired getaway to the Great Lakes Bay Region - ripe and ready with tips, tricks and inspiration – will prepare you for planning and planting your perfect Pure Michigan garden! Grab your gardening gloves… it’s time to go and grow!

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O'Deay

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O’Deay

Beautiful Learning

The 110-acre landscape at Dow Gardens will both excite your eye and calm your mind as you stroll through diverse gardens including the “Pollinator”, “Herb”, “Stream Walk”, “Color”, “Pineside”, “Rose”, and “Children’s Garden”. (Psst! The Children’s Garden is a must for the young and young-at-heart, complete with forts and gigantic bubble-making opportunities!)

- Admission is just $5 for adults, $1 for children ages 6 – 17, and free for children ages 5 and younger.

Private Garden Tour: Take time for private pleasures. Enjoy a two-hour, in-depth, guided walk (for five adults or more) for $20 plus admission.

- Mark Your Calendar: May 10 and June 14 are Dow Garden’s Tuesday Evening Tours - evening strolls with Senior Horticulturist Chuck Martin! (Just imagine what you’ll learn here; you may want to bring a notebook!) Admission is just $5.

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O'Deay

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O’Deay

Insider Tip: Dow Gardens is, indeed, spectacular, but don’t leave without perusing the gift shop located inside. Gardening decor to daily essentials, signs to seeds – this place is filled with unique garden discoveries!  

Know, Then Grow

Just like gardens themselves, no two gardeners are alike! While some aim to grow delicious flavors, others long for bounty of the beautiful kind. Chippewa Nature Center is 1,200 acres of a little something for everyone, and simply walking about the nature preserve may inspire new interests! Admission is free. (Yes, free!)

Heads up! Once a year, Chippewa Nature Center holds their Native Plant Sale, a.k.a. the time to stock up on yard plants that are both easy on the budget and beneficial to the planet! Your chance to bulk up: May 27 – 28! (Hint: Make sure you clear out your trunk; you’re going to want the space to bring home your finds!)

Discover The Hill

 

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O'Deay

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O’Deay

Dahlia Hill, that is! Eight terraces, 3,000-plus dahlias (with over 250 varieties), and a working art studio and museum – this gem in Midland is mesmerizing, memorable, and designed to inspire.  What’s it like to be engulfed in dahlias? Often referred to as the quintessential cut flower, English plantsman Christopher Lloyd said it best: “Dahlias spell excitement and we can do with some of that in our lives.”

- Open to the public from dawn to dusk, seven days a week from April to November; free admission.

- Considering gardening with these “sassy, but elegant” flowers? The Dahlia Hill Society Tuber Sale is the place to be: May 21 & 28, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Hundreds of varieties will be available at or below cost (think $2 each and 6/$10) and expert volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.

Disclaimer: Planting bright and beautiful dahlias may cause your neighbors extreme jealousy; proceed with caution!

Dig This Gardening Décor

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O'Deay

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O’Deay

Some gardeners are dazzled by soil composition; others relish every rose species imaginable. And still others … enjoy digging for deals and gardening décor nearly as much as (or maybe more than) hands-on growing!

- Find something for every kind of gardener at Warmbier Farms, an absolute mecca of home and gardening supplies! For decorative statues and fountains to rubber gardening boots and wide-brimmed hats, too, make it a point to visit May 12 – 15 for “Best of the Garden”. With live demonstrations and specials galore, you’ll nab knowledge, gardening items  and ideas.

- Or head into Tumble Weed Farms, the outdoor garden center with lawn and garden décor (and one of seven shops and over 40,000 square feet) at Pride and Country Village of Unique Shops. (Psst! Gardeners might “dig” the attire in the Schoolhouse Fashion Boutique, too!)

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O'Deay

Photo Courtesy of Jen Wainwright O’Deay

blog headshot

 

Jen Wainwright O’Deay is a freelance writer in Bridgeport, Mich. She specializes in creating effective connection through marketing communications copy, feature articles and content/blog posts. You can find her camping with her family, reading Thoreau, or at: www.feelthesewords.com

Pack Up Your Pets and Hit the Road with These Dog-Friendly Michigan Destinations

Going on a trip wouldn’t be the same without the entire family – especially your furry family members! In celebration of warm weather arriving for spring, we put together a list of just a few pet-friendly destinations in Michigan. So, pack up Fido and Fluffy and hit the road.

Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of Sharon Hubbard at Porcupine Mountains

Photo courtesy of Sharon Hubbard at Porcupine Mountains

Take a weekend trip to Traverse City, where you can climb mountains of sand, play on dog-friendly beaches and spend quality time with your furry friend. Spend the day in their Victorian downtown district, home to more than 150 shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Treat your furry friend to a special treat at D.O.G Bakery with a variety of treats, guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest pooch.

A trip with your pets wouldn’t be complete without going to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Miles of sand, bluffs that tower 450’ above Lake Michigan, lush forests, clear inland lakes, and unique flora and fauna make up the natural world of Sleeping Bear Dunes. The high dunes afford spectacular views across the lake, something you and your pooch are both sure to enjoy.

Don’t want your pooch to feel left out? Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has put a new twist on accommodating the entire family. Dog Dreams Inn is located on the property and all about pampering your pooch. Access to your dog provides the ultimate in flexibility, cage-free social environment encouraging dog interaction and activity, fully trained, professional staff gives each dog the attention and assistance they need, daily exercise and fenced in outdoor play area, and separate potty/play areas to help support the overall wellness of dogs.

Heading farther north? The Upper Peninsula has a number of great dog-friendly hotels, resorts, cabins and campgrounds so you and your furry family members can get a good night’s rest before exploring the magnificent U.P. scenery.

West Michigan

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Peterson

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Peterson

Well-known for its strong Dutch history, Holland is historic yet hip and the perfect place to take your furry companion. Browse downtown’s trendy boutiques or stroll the tree-shaded campus of Hope College. Hike Holland’s soaring Lake Michigan sand dunes or simply relax on our soft sandy beach at Kirk Park. Urban excitement and homespun simplicity. A sophisticated city wrapped up in small-town charm. Do ALL of this with your furry family member by your side. Here’s a list of pet-friendly places in Holland. 

If a stop at a Michigan winery is on your summer to-do list, bring your pup to Round Barn Winery in Baroda. In addition to a variety of hand-crafted wines, this brewery and distillery also produces microbrews, vodka, and fruit brandies. Dogs are allowed on the grounds to explore with you, though they are not allowed in the buildings.

Take your dog for a walk on over 1,000 acres of beautiful undeveloped woods and sand dunes at Grand Mere State Park. With 985 acres of hiking trails, over 1 mile of Lake Michigan beach for sunbathing and swimming. Your pup can enjoy the day with you while on a leash within the beach and swimming area. Norman F. Kruse State Park in Muskegon is another option for a day at the beach with your furry best friend.

Metro Detroit

Start the morning with a walk along the scenic Detroit Riverfront, which is a beautiful place to walk dogs and meet with other dog owners. Stop in at a local bakery so Fido can fuel up with some homemade tasty treats. For example, the Bow Wow Bake Shoppe in Grosse Pointe Woods offers healthy and scrumptious cupcakes, biscuits, cakes and more all freshly baked daily just for dogs.

Photo courtesy of Anton Ochss

Head up the pet-friendly Dequindre Cut toward Eastern Market to shop around for the latest and greatest in pet supplies at Detroit’s newest urban pet supply store, 3 Dogs 1 Cat 4 Detroit. The store offers trendy, stylish and quality merchandise, from food and treats to popular accessories.

Several Detroit-area hotels and motels welcome pets including the Holiday Inn Express Detroit, the Westin Southfield and the Quality Inn – Troy. Click for a full list of pet-friendly hotels in metro Detroit.

These are just a few places that cater to pampered pets on vacation. Use the list to find more dog-friendly attractions and accommodations in Michigan.

Do you know any other pet-friendly attractions in Michigan? Tell us! 

Experience Winter Cycling in Grand Rapids This Season

If you’re looking for a new activity to enjoy during your Pure Michigan Snow Day, or just need a new way of staying active, try winter cycling! Using fat-tire bikes, you can experience the joyful scenery of the state while also staying fit. Guest blogger Howard Meyerson provides some suggestions of top Grand Rapids trails for your cycling pleasure. 

When the lure of winter woods grows strong and the urge to ride is even stronger, Grand Rapids is the place to be. Outside magazine, in 2010, named Grand Rapids a “Best Town for Mountain Biking.” Michigan’s second largest city is also now becoming a hub for winter biking trails.

Grand Rapids and the surrounding area offers riders a choice of groomed, winter cycling trails. Free demo-days are offered on some by bike shops in the area. Curious riders or enthusiasts can come out on those days and test-drive the newest fat-tire designs.

Fat-bikes, as they are commonly called, have soft, wide tires and comfortable frames that make riding in wet and snowy conditions easy. They appeared on the Michigan cycling scene several years ago and were considered a fad, but riders soon found their utility and comfort appealing. Stable with enhanced traction, they opened the door to winter riding at a time of year when most bikes stay in storage.

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Lance Climie, clubhouse manager at Indian Trails Golf Course, Photo Courtesy of Howard Meyerson

If you’re looking for a good winter cycling trail, or to try-out a fat-tire bicycle, visit these top trails around Grand Rapids, in no particular order:

  1. Indian Trails Golf Course:  Located 15-minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, at 2776 Kalamazoo Ave SE, the golf center has become a popular in-city riding destination with 3-miles of groomed trail in rolling, wooded terrain. Riders gather at the heated clubhouse for hot chili and beer by the fireplace.  The trail is open to the public from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday in January and February. It closes at 7 p.m. on race nights. A $5 daily trail-pass or $20 seasonal pass is required to ride. Wednesday is free demo-day on the trail and area bike shops bring 10 to 15 fat-bikes to try.
  2. Merrell Trail: The very popular 4 to 5-mile groomed winter forest bike trail at 2908 10 Mile Rd. NE, Rockford, has become a destination for intermediate and advanced riders. It is maintained by the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance. There is no charge to ride. The trail opened in 2012 and was developed by WMMBA, Plainfield Township, Kent County Parks, the Wolverine World wide Foundation and Merrell.
  3. Deep Lake Trail: The hilly woods of Yankee Springs State Recreation Area are a magnet for mountain bikers year-round. The long-popular Barry County cycling trail at 2526 S. Yankee Springs Rd., Middleville, offers seven groomed miles for winter riding. It is maintained by the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance.  There is no charge to ride.
  4. Cannonsburg Ski Area: This is hilly terrain. The ski area at 6800 Cannonsburg Rd. NE, Belmont, grooms a 5 to 6-mile loop for fat-tire bicycles. Trail fees are $5/day, $30 for the season. Rental bikes are available.

James Gunderman riding at Indian Trails Golf Course, Photo Courtesy of Howard Meyerson

If you’re thinking to try winter fat-tire cycling, be sure to:

  1. Wear a helmet.
  2. Dress warm, but not too warm. Think hat and gloves.
  3. Choose layers for active play.
  4. Pick footwear that will keep your feet warm.

Howard Meyerson is lifelong outdoor enthusiast and freelance writer/photographer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His work appears in a variety of publications.

Have you ever cycled in the winter? Share your experiences with us by commenting below!