Michigan Master Gardener Association Events Calendar​

​Click on the link below and then on "Events"

                      Atomic Gardening 

We have long strove to modify our crops to be more disease resistant, yield better (and more) produce, and otherwise be better versions of their wild ancestors that we took interest in centuries upon centuries ago. Before the advent of modern genetically modified foods, where scientists actively and precisely manipulate the genome of the plant, the process of modifying crops was a laborious one akin to breeding dogs to select for traits. You simply had to spend a lot of time with lots of trial and error to produce a plant that had a trait you were looking for.

In the mid-20th century, however, a new technique was developed. This technique was a middle road between the agonizing slowness of generational breeding and the speed and precision of modern genetic work: atomic gardening. In the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s, atomic energy of all types seemed like the key to all the promises of the future. Researchers used radioactive materials to create “atomic gardens” (also known as gamma gardens) in a bid to force mutations in plants and create better, hardier, and interesting variations of the plants. Gardening clubs and individual gardeners helped by planting irradiated seeds produced by the research.

Arranged in a circular fashion, atomic gardens had a simple premise. Place a radioactive substance in the center of the garden, typically Cobalt-60, and then grow the plants in concentric circles around the source as a way to naturally control the dosage. The closest plants would get the highest dose, and if the garden was large enough, the dosage would be negligible by the time you got to the rings furthest from the center.

While this method of gardening yielded many unusable mutations and the crops closest to the radiation source almost always withered from exposure, the outer plants would sometimes develop useful mutations. For example, the “Todd’s Mitcham” cultivar of peppermint (released in 1971) was developed in this fashion starting with experiments in 1955 and is now popular in the peppermint industry thanks to its strong resistance to disease. Furthermore, many crops around the world trace their origins back to mid-century atomic gardening experiments including variations of food staples like rice, wheat, and tomatoes.

Although atomic gardening is not as popular as it once was, it is starting to experience a renaissance and research continues at many national laboratories—like the multi-acre atomic garden at the Institute of Radiation Breeding in Hitachiohmiya, Japan (seen in the photo here)—that have been in operation for decades and still produce new and novel variants of plants with regularity.

MG Education Hour Opportunities


 EARN 1.5 Education Hours

The recording for the Oak Wilt Webinar held on 3-24-17, is now available through the VMS.  Log into the VMS and  under State Links, click on "2017 Free Online Webinars".  You will see the link for the recording (and password) at the top of the document that opens.  Also, under State Links, you will find the 2017 Oak Wilt Presentation as a document that you can open to read or print.

Remember, you should report 1.5 education hours after viewing this video.  

Select the project "2017 Oak Wilt Disease Webinar".

Master Gardener Training Courses

Image courtesy of Better Made Potato Chips Inc.


4th - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place: 1 Tuscola Bldg

24th - General Meeting  7:00 p.m.

Place: Andersen Center


1st - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place: 1 Tuscola Bldg

28th - General Meeting 7:00 p.m.

Place: Andersen Center

8th - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place: 1 Tuscola Bldg

28th - General Meeting 7 p.m.

Place: Andersen Center


5th Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place: 1 Tuscola Bldg

25th General Meeting 7 p.m.

Place: Andersen Center

3rd - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place: 1 Tuscola Bldg

23rd - General Meeting 7 p.m. Plant Exchange

Place: T.B.A. 

7th - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place:  1 Tuscola Bldg

27th - General Garden Walk Meeting 7 p.m.
Place: T.B.A.                                                                 
2nd - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place:  1 Tuscola Bldg

22nd Annual SVMGA Picnic Meeting

Place: T.B.A. 


6th - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place: Tuscola Bldg

26th - General Meeting 7 p.m.

Place: Andersen Center

4th - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place: Tuscola Bldg

24th - General Meeting 7 p.m.

Place: Andersen Center

1st - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

Place: Tuscola Bldg

28th SVMGA Holiday Banquet/Meeting      Place: Andersen Center


6th - Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

News / Events


What's News?

March, 2017


   The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a serious threat to Michigan’s eastern hemlock, and forest health experts from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are asking residents in west Michigan to check their trees for this harmful insect.
   These tiny insects secrete white wax as they feed on sap. HWA feeding also can kill needles, shoots and branches. Over time, growth slows as trees become less vigorous. Eventually, infected trees may take on a grayish-green appearance. HWA often kills infested trees when combined with other stress factors, such as drought.
   Hemlock woolly adelgid has been found in several locations in Park, Port Sheldon and Spring Lake townships in Ottawa County, as well as in Norton Shores and Whitehall in Muskegon County.
Efforts to find additional HWA locations are ramping up across the state. In cooperation with MDARD, Michigan State University and others, DNR staff this winter will be searching for HWA in state parks, state game areas and eastern hemlock trees all over Michigan.
   "We’re asking for assistance from the public in detecting occurrences of hemlock woolly adelgid in Michigan,” said Roger Mech, DNR forest health specialist. “While people are out enjoying our natural resources, we hope they’ll take a moment to check their trees.”
Quickly detecting and eliminating HWA is critical to slowing the spread of this insect. Eggs and very young adelgids can be carried by birds and can be moved on people’s clothing, hemlock nursery trees, logs or firewood.
Hemlock trees can be protected from HWA with proper insecticide treatments.
   “Citizen involvement in reporting and treating HWA is crucial for the future of hemlock trees in Michigan,” said John Bedford, MDARD Pest Response Program specialist. “Examine your hemlocks, or have them examined by a qualified arborist and, if HWA is found, treat them or have them treated.”
   Eastern hemlock is an essential component of Michigan’s forests. Hemlock also is a critical component of wildlife habitat. Brook trout, for example, are more common in streams running through hemlock forests. More than 12 percent (2.3 million acres) of Michigan’s forests contain eastern hemlock.
A statewide response strategy requires knowing precisely where hemlock woolly adelgid occurs. The insects have entered Michigan several times in the past decade from HWA-infested areas of the U.S. Each time HWA has been detected in Michigan, MDARD, the DNR, MSU and the U.S. Forest Service have joined forces to address this threat.
   If you find a possible HWA infestation, take photos, note the location of the affected trees and contact MDARD at800-292-3939 or MDA-info@mic higan.gov. To prevent spread, do not move the potentially infested material.
For more information about hemlock woolly adelgid, visit the Forest Service’s Forest Health Protection website:
http://na.fs.fed.us/fh p/hwa/. For information about treatments, go to www.michigan.gov/hwa.

The Garden staff have put together this month’s eNewsletter with colorful articles.

  • If you are looking for general information on the gardens, please check: http://www.hrt.msu.edu/our-gardens/
    If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to Jennifer Sweet (hgardens@msu.edu) or Dr. Art Cameron (cameron@msu.edu) MSU Horticulture Gardens Director.

Michigan Potatoes

There’s a good chance that when you think of potatoes you think of Idaho (and rightly so as the state grows over 14 billion pounds of potatoes per year). There’s also a good chance that you don’t think of Michigan.

However, Michigan does have a significant potato industry (they’re ranked 8th in the United States and produce over 1.6 billion pounds per year) and, more importantly, most of the Michigan potato crop is devoted to what the industry calls “processing potatoes”. Processing potatoes are potatoes destined to be turned into something else instead of simply bagged and sold for people to take home to slice, dice, and otherwise prepare on their own. Of all those millions upon millions of potatoes used expressly for potato chip processing, a whopping 70% are grown in Michigan.

The relationship between potatoes and Michigan isn’t a recent development either. The well-known Better Made Potato Chips company, for example, has operated out of Detroit since the 1930s (and continues to do so) and at the time the company was started it was only one of 31 potato chip companies operating out of the city.

So whether you’re sitting at a summer BBQ in Detroit, Michigan, shopping for a Super Bowl party in Austin, Texas,  or picking up a snack at a gas station in Fresno, California, there’s a very good chance that your potato chips started life somewhere in the farm country of Michigan.

Will Michigan honor Monarchs? 

Backers of state insect campaign say butterfly needs a boost.

   Maine has its honeybee. Massachusetts has its ladybug.

Mississippi, the Magnolia state, has two state insects: the firefly and ladybug.  Michigan has no state insect.  It has a state fish, the brook trout; a state bird, the robin; even a state fossil, the mastodon, unlikely as that may be. 

     Ilse Gebhard, a retired chemist from Kalamazoo, hopes that will change.  She is part of a Michigan campaign to protect the monarch butterfly.  She and others have expressed support for Michigan Senate Bill 812, introduced in February 2016 by Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion.  It designates the monarch as Michigan's official state insect. 

   "Designating it will not give it any extra protection, like threatened or endangered status, Gebhard said.  "But it is a way to make people more aware of it and its conservation needs.  They may want to protect it because it is the state symbol."

     Gebhard, 76, maintains a butterfly garden at her home.  Tending to it and analyzing the results is her way of helping monarchs and other pollinators.  Scientists now say the monarch could face extinction in 20 years. Its numbers have plummeted, dropping from a billion seen on its winter grounds in 1996-97 to just 35 million in 2013-14.

   The reasons are varied, from habitat loss in Mexico on the preserves where it winters, to storms and drought conditions that decimate populations.  Farmers also are using more herbicides that kill milkweed, monarchs' sole food source.  Adult monarchs lay their eggs on mildweed.  The yound caterpillars emerge and eat the plant to survive.  It if disappears, so do monarch butterflies.

   Gebhard plants native mildweed, which is free from pesticides. Ever a scientist, she tallies the number of butterflies that arrive and lay their eggs in her garden, then counts the butterflies that develop from the caterpillars that emerge.  She uploads her data to Monarch Watch, an international citizen science project (monarchwatch.org).

   The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed listing the eastern monarch population as a threatened species in 2014.  The agency is reviewing data to determine if it is warranted.

   In Michigan, more than 1,300 people have signed an online petition to "SAY YES TO THE MONARCH AS OUR OFFICIAL STATE INSECT" (bit.ly/monarchpetition.)

   Michigan is one of only three states without a state insect.  Seven states already list the monarch.

   "It's time to remedy that and designate the monarch butterfly with that honor."  Marleau's bill has been referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.  

   No action has been taken, as of this writing, but if Gebhard and others have their way, that could soon change. (Ref: Michigan BLUE Magazine. Howard Meyerson)



SVMGA's volunteer booth may be found at SVRC Marketplace in 2017!
     Saginaw Downtown Redevelopment Plans include Downtown Saginaw Farmers' Market partnership
SVRC Industries, Inc. is pleased to announce its recent purchase of 203 S. Washington Avenue in Saginaw, MI, the former Saginaw News building.  
     SVRC Industries, Inc., currently has four locations in the City of Saginaw.  SVRC has been operating for over 50 years and its mission is to create and sustain opportunities and support systems for persons with barriers to employment and community access. 
     SVRC along with community partners, the Saginaw Downtown Development Authority and the Downtown Saginaw Farmers' Market, Incorporated, look forward to the redevelopment of 100,000 square foot mixed-use facility, SVRC Marketplace, projected to open Spring, 2017.  Plans are for the Downtown Saginaw Farmers' Market to relocate to the Marketplace with a permanent seasonal outdoor pavilion and a year-round indoor Market, food processing hub, retail & office spaces, rental commercial kitchens/refrigeration/freezer space, new headquarters of SVRC Industries, business & entrepreneurial support services.

*Did You Know that... 

Michigan State University Extension's link helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. 
You will find 90 different newsletters you can subscribe to, with links to all kinds of reports, PDF files, and updates on what is happening in Michigan.

SVMGA 2018 Calendar Dates


The garden will be designed by internationally renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf.
Oudolf’s acclaimed gardens include the Lurie Garden in Chicago and the Highline in New York City, among scores of gardens around the world. He is one today's premier garden designers for public landscapes and is a leading figure of the "New Perennial" movement that is characterized by utilizing herbaceous perennials and grasses. His garden designs are artistic, ecologically inspired, accessible, welcoming and enjoyed year-round. 
After touring Detroit with the Garden Club of Michigan this past spring, Oudolf selected Belle Isle Park as the proposed site for one of his acclaimed garden designs. The site, located near the Nancy Brown Carillon Peace tower between the Remick Band Shell and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, will be a connector in the cultural heart of the park. It also will help revitalize the island and attract garden lovers from near and far. The proposed garden will be paid for through donations and fundraising that will cover all the design, installation and maintenance costs.
Oudolf described the proposed Belle Isle site as a connector for people and activities on the island and "an opportunity to reinvigorate the adjacent structures and facilities."

Genesee County
Jan 15, 2018 – Apr 23, 2018 | GCCARD Building, 605 N. Saginaw Street (Suite 1A), Flint, MI, 48502

Dickinson County
Jan 18, 2018 – Apr 26, 2018 | Bay College West, 2801 U.S. 2, Iron Mountain, MI 4801

Washtenaw County
Jan 24, 2018 – May 2, 2018 | Washtenaw Western Service Building, MSU Extension, 705 N. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Kalamazoo County
Jan 24, 2018 – May 2, 2018 | Kalamazoo RESA - Wile Auditorium 1819 E. Milham Ave Portage, MI 490

Macomb County
Mar 1, 2018 – Jun 7, 2018 | Verkuilen Building, Assembly Rooms A&B 28115 Dunham Rd., Suite 12, Clinton Twp, MI 48036

Grand Traverse County
Mar 8, 2018 – Jun 14, 2018 | Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center; 6686 S Center Hwy, Traverse City, MI 49684

Wayne County
Mar 10, 2018 – Jun 30, 2018 | Charles R. Drew Transition Center, 9600 Wyoming St., Detroit, MI 48204

Michigan Gardener shares this link for upcoming event and class details. 


Is your garden being taken over by franken flowers? If you’ve got orange petunias, it almost certainly is - and it’s proof of a disturbing GM (Genetically Modified) invasion by stealth.

Beauty is beguiling, and what could be more delightful than a garden lined with bright orange petunias?  And they have such pretty, evocative names: African Sunset, Pegasus Orange Morn, Potunia Plus Papaya, Bonnie Orange, Sanguna Patio Salmon ...  But petunias are not naturally orange and, when these varieties first appeared on the market two years ago, they were a suburban border sensation. Such a change from staid old purple and blue.  Legions of Britons snapped them up for their beds, hanging baskets and patios and, just a few months ago, experts hailed them ‘the fashionable colour for 2017.

But now we know something sinister lurks in those glowing petals. These are illegal ‘Franken-flowers’, genetically modified with DNA taken from maize plants to create their unnatural orange hue. They should never have been introduced here, but somehow evaded Britain’s bio border defenses.  This lack of oversight means there isn’t even an estimate of how many orange petunias are in the UK, or where they are.  And no one can say for certain what other GM plants are lurking in our gardens.  It is tempting just to shrug and say: ‘Oh well, they’re only flowers.’ But the story emerging this week of how scientifically altered plants have infiltrated our shores should sound loud alarm bells — for some experts are warning that the bedding plants may harbor threats, as yet unknown, to crops and pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies.

Genetically modified (GM) orange petunia seeds and plants first featured in British catalogs early in 2015. Apparently, the products were sourced from the Continent.  But Defra — the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs — took action only this month, when it issued an edict telling sellers of suspected GM petunias to stop selling them.

                   Source:  The Daily Mail /  London