Getting ready to start working on your garden? Us to! We are lucky enough to have a couple of amazingly talented and extremely experienced landscape professionals on staff with us at Brys Estate! Ron and Miriam Belic have shared their tips and tricks for a successful spring season!
Spring is a season full of exciting new blossoms, growth and colors. In Northern Michigan, we usually spend early spring watching the snow melt, uncovering our dormant lavender plants. Once the weather allows, the lavender season starts as the fields are inspected for any damage from the past winter and the weeding begins (and continues until the snow flies again). It is during this time that our lavender plants will undergo a drastic change in color and appearance. The key is - don't get too worried about your plants' appearance during this time and give them a chance to shake off the harsh affects of winter. By late spring the plants should start showing their true colors. This is also the time to plant any replacement plants and move or remove all unwanted foliage or whole plants. It is important to address any irrigation or maintenance issues before the summer starts so you have a plan to keep your plants healthy and well cared for. The previous season's weeding, pruning, fertilization and proper irrigation will help give your plants the best chance for a promising new season.
By late June, the tops of your plants should be a healthy green with stems of new flowers beginning to peek out. Throughout the season, remember our top 4 lavender growing tips:
Once the snow cover is gone from our perennial garden, it's time for the work to begin! Our landscape is inspected for any kind of winter damage as all remaining debris from the past fall is cleared away. Ron and Miriam then use an all-purpose granular fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide on the perennial beds. Fresh mulch is applied prior to the plants emerging from the soil and once temperatures rise, new plants can be added or replaced as needed. June is usually the best time for planting both annuals and perennials since the threat of frost is over. For bulbs, plant spring bulbs in the fall and fall bulbs in the spring. Pruning of flowers and removing anything dead, dying or decayed should be done throughout the growing season. Deadheading, or removing the dead flower head of a plant, is often quite time consuming but does encourage more flowering and helps with visual appearance. The first to come alive will be the spring bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths while perennials will fill in from mid spring to early fall and annuals planted after the threat of frost will carry color throughout the entire season.
Blueberries & Strawberries
Our blueberry and strawberry patches are a Secret Garden family favorite! In addition to u-pick, we collect berries throughout the season to use in our baked goods, drinks and custom Moomer's ice cream flavors. If you want to start your own berry patches this year, its best to plant in mid-spring if you live in Northern Michigan. The site conditions for blueberries and strawberries are vastly different. Blueberries require a more acidic soil, around 4.5 to 5.5 on the pH scale, while strawberries prefer neutral soil with the pH closer to 6.8. Another difference in caring for these crops is the composition of the fertilizer. Blueberries require a more well-rounded fertilizer with many nutrients and minerals. Strawberries specifically prefer fertilizers with more phosphorus and potassium than the average. Blueberries also require a healthy balance of water and fertilizer in order to maintain the growth and health of the woody shrub.
Strawberry and blueberry care also have a lot in common. First...WEEDS. Weed control is the most time consuming aspect of any garden. All of our weeding at the Secret Garden is done by hand with little mechanical means and none of our fruit is sprayed with herbicides or pesticides. Watering both crops while the fruit is setting is critical for healthy growth and a successful harvest. And the most important tip for any fruit or vegetable garden: plan ahead. Creating a plan for your garden will help eliminate any surprise issues that could pop up along the way. Planning will also leave you more time to enjoy the beauty of your accomplishments rather than getting frustrated if things don't go as planned.
Meet Our Professional Landscapers!
Ron and Miriam have been with us at Brys Estate since 2004 and are the reason the Secret Garden is thriving! With over 40 years of combined experience in the landscape and nursery field, it's because of them that we were able to create our garden paradise. Their experience includes a wide variety of areas within the landscape field such as management, design, installation, irrigation, maintenance and retail. It is their background in landscaping, the daily challenges they encounter on the job and their ongoing education that drives them to continue expanding our gardens and pushing the limits here at Brys Estate.
Ron is a graduate of Michigan State University and Northwestern Michigan College with degrees in Landscape and Nursery and Applied Plant Science respectively. He is also a Certified Green Industry Professional through the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA). The MNLA also granted him the title of Michigan Certified Nurseryman, which he has held for the past 10 years.
Miriam completed the Master Gardener Program through the Michigan State University Extension in 1996 and the Floral Design Training in 1998. Like Ron, for the past 10 years, she has held the title of Certified Green Industry Professional through the MNLA and Michigan Certified Nurseryman through the MNLA board.
Keep an eye out for Ron and Miriam next time you visit Brys Estate! You can see them out and about working at the Secret Garden, on the Tasting Room grounds or the farmhouse gardens! And in addition to all their work on the grounds, as a team, they sew many of our handmade products and work in the winery doing bottling and shipment packing. So say "hi!", ask them a question, see what they're working on! We are so excited to start our spring preparations and we look forward to sharing our beautiful gardens with you this season! Come see what's new in 2019!
Brys Secret Garden's Assistant Manager & In-House Blogger
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