Behind-the-Scenes Peek at “Chrysanthemums and More!”

2,438 indoor chrysanthemums. 45 days. 19 mum variations.

Celebrate autumn with Meijer Gardens during Chrysanthemums & More!, a newly redesigned horticulture exhibition opening tomorrow through October 28! The exhibition features thousands of Chrysanthemums and days filled with fall-themed family activities, horticulture demonstrations, plant shows and more.

The largest of its kind in Michigan, the exhibition continues to grow with more brilliant fall colors, as bold ribbons of yellow are woven throughout the facility and outside. Don’t miss out on the focal point – Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse with its wall of chrysanthemums!

The Meijer Gardens horticulture staff has been working hard to prepare and install this beautiful exhibition over the last week using these flowering fall favorites. Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at just one of its elements – what goes into making the Seasonal Display Greenhouse come to life with fall color.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

See the stunning finished product for yourself starting tomorrow!

About the indoor chrysanthemum portion:

  • 19 variations of chrysanthemums used
  • 2,438 mums needed for indoor displays
  • 8 days of installation and set-up
  • 50+ chrysanthemum spheres created

Come see what autumn has is store during Chrysanthemums and More! through October 28. From Mum Day to Hallowee-ones, there’s something for everyone this fall.

Mum Fun Fact: Indoor and florist mum varieties are typically named after cities. Outdoor garden mums are typically named after people.

Meijer Gardens Gardening Tips – August Recap

Having an expert team of horticulturists on staff sometimes makes for an overwhelming amount questions from guests (and fellow employees) on how to grow and maintain plants of all shapes and sizes. We thought it’d be fun to share their knowledge through weekly Gardening Tip segments. Here’s a recap of August’s Gardening Tips:

Edging a Garden Bed – August 9, 2012
Manager of Outdoor Horticulture Ed McKee showed us how to keep our garden bed looking clean for the fall season.

Dividing Perennials – August 16, 2012
During this week’s tip, Ed McKee showed us how to divide and replant perennials to make a fuller garden.

Cutting & Drying Perennials – August 23, 2012
Outdoor Horticulturist Koree Mabie showed us how to cut and dry perennials to use for arrangements during the winter months.

We have more underway, so stay tuned for updates on our social media channels every Thursday. In case you happen to miss a few, look for recaps at the end of each month.

Have a question for one of our horticulture staff? Let us know and it could be made into a Gardening Tip segment!

Japanese Garden: Ahead of Schedule

Great news – The Richard and HelenDeVosJapaneseGarden is ahead of schedule!

“Due to the outpouring of generosity from donors and the community, we were able to reach and exceed our $22 million capital campaign goal in early June,” said President and CEO David Hooker.

Original plans called for construction to begin in January or February of 2013, but now groundbreaking will start months in advance.

Initial construction to the site will begin in the coming weeks, as we are eager to work on our latest endeavor. For safety reasons, the work site has been surrounded with fences and signs before construction starts.

The new garden, located in the northeast corner of our 132-acre property, will convey the essence of the Japanese tradition—tranquility, simplicity and beauty. The garden’s design elements will include scenic bridges, waterfalls, a tea house, and zen-style, moss and bonsai gardens, among other features.

The artist’s sketch of the Japanese Garden.

Garden Designer, Hoichi Kurisu, plans to move to Grand Rapids in August to oversee the design and construction of the new garden. A special boulder-setting ceremony is planned for this fall.

Keep checking for monthly updates about The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden on this blog and our webpage until its completion in spring of 2015!

What’s that big hole in the Urban Garden?

By Edward McKee, Manager of Outdoor Horticulture

When we began planning for the Lot E parking extension, we were very aware of how the increase in hard surfaces would impact water run-off within this area. We determined that a “Rain Garden” could be incorporated into this new extension of our landscape. Rain Gardens are becoming more and more common within new landscapes and being ‘retrofitted’ into existing landscapes to facilitate a more sustainable solution to water run-off.

The idea of a Rain Garden is to take all or as much as possible of the excess rain water run-off from any hardscape surface. This depression (or big hole) in our Urban Garden landscape was planted this spring with a variety of water and drought tolerant perennials. This is also beneficial for the filtration of pollutants before the rain water is returned back into the environment.

Our Rain Garden is designed to collect and hold the water run-off, allowing pollutants to settle and filter out as the water drains through the perennials and soil into the ground. The Rain Garden typically will infiltrate 30% more water than a conventional turf or lawn area.

Our garden should not be confused with a bog garden or other types of water gardens. A Rain Garden is designed not to be permanently wet, although well beneath the soil may remain a reservoir of moist soils. The types of perennials in our Rain Garden have been specifically selected to withstand periodic flooding, but in no way are dependent on this for survival. They are able to grow and flourish for much of the time in a drier condition.

Ed McKee gives special thanks to:
•Target store volunteers – for the help with planting
•Walters Gardens Inc. – for the perennial donation
•Our horticulturist’s Tony England & Ana Bosma – for coordinating and carrying out the installation process

The Connection: Spring Break Recap

The Connection is a membership level at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park,  comprising of a group young professionals in the area who wish to help “promote the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environments and the arts” in an innovative and way.

On April 19, The Connection held a Spring Break event that featured food from Qdoba Mexican Grill, an open bar, hands-on activities, a “Behind-the-Greens” tour with Director of Horticulture, Steve LaWarre, live entertainment, networking and more.

Recapping the event is Connection Steering Committee Member and Associate at Dykema, Elisa Lintemuth. Lintemuth has been an active member of The Connection since 2010.

Guests of The Connection mingled before the "Behind-the-Greens" tour.

Who, what, where, when?
On Thursday, April 19, I attended The Connection’s Spring Break event at Meijer Gardens. Spring was in the air as we ate dinner from Qdoba to the tropical sounds of Greg Secor of Pangea on the steel drums. After time to socialize and enjoy the open bar (with many people opting for the night’s special tropical drink), we had time to walk through the Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition as the butterflies were settling down for the night.

What did Steve LaWarre discuss?
Director of Horticulture, Steve LaWarre, gave us a private tour of the conservatory and pointed out several interesting plants. We all had the opportunity to try a seed from the cacao plant, and I learned that cacao tastes nothing like chocolate in its natural form. I had not realized what a process cacao beans go through to become cocoa and how lucky we are that early civilizations made the fortuitous discovery of chocolate! Following our tour of the conservatory, Steve directed us in planting our own Scarlet Runner Bean, which we were able to take home to enjoy.

Greg Secor of Pangea played the steel drums.

What was your favorite part of the evening?
I really enjoyed being able to go through the Butterflies exhibition with friends. Meijer Gardens was closed to the public at the time of our event, so it gave us an opportunity go through the conservatory without crowds of people around.

How can and why should people get involved in The Connection?
Personally, I enjoy being part of The Connection because it gives me a chance to meet other young professionals in the greater Grand Rapids area and to spend time with other members, who have become my friends. The events always include a delicious menu and a chance to learn something new—whether it is a behind the scenes tour of the Gardens, a sneak peak at ArtPrize and an opportunity to interact with the artists, or an informal lecture from the curator on a new exhibit. I am also looking forward to attending the Tuesday night concert series this summer with The Connection members.

If you are interested in learning more about The Connection, please come to our next event on Wednesday, June 20—we’ll be enjoying an Italian Bistro themed dinner and bocce ball on the lawn. People can find out more information about the next Connection event by e-mailing Katie Racey at or by contacting any of the Steering Committee members.

Learn from Meijer Gardens Experts at Home & Garden Show March 1-4

With decades of experience in the industry, our professional horticulturalists have an array of knowledge about plant life, gardening and always find a new twist on horticulture.

That’s why they’ll be joining Master Gardeners, greenhouse experts and horticulture educators to present during the West Michigan Home & Garden Show at DeVos Place. From March 1-4, eight of our talented horticulturalists will present on a variety of topics, from low maintenance landscapes to unusual gardening tricks to elegant floral arrangements and more. Starting on Thursday, stop by the Meijer Gardens table and meet our talented green-thumbed staff.

Straight from the mouths of our horticulturalists, here is a glance at what each presentation will be about:


Vegetable Gardening in Containers
Thursday, March 1 at 6:30PM
Ana Bosma, FMG&SP Horticulturalist

ImageI’ll cover some of the basic container gardening considerations, including what to consider when choosing your containers, location and vegetable types. The presentation will also include some container options including a few unique ideas, along with a selection of vegetable varieties well suited for specific containers. Stick around for pointers on what size container should be used for the different vegetable types and how to make your vegetable garden the best it can be this summer.


Obedient Plants for your Landscape
Friday, March 2 at 2:30PM
Edward McKee, FMG&SP Manager of Outdoor Horticulture


Low maintenance, easy care and no fuss plants are in demand.  My talk will focus on plants that require little fuss, remain a manageable size, and retain their shape without constant pruning or shaping. Use any of these obedient plants in your garden to create an easy care and beautiful landscape.

Ideas for the 2013 Garden with Flowering Bulbs
Friday, March 2 at 4:30PM
Lucinda Grover & Rick Margo, FMG&SP Horticulturalists

ImageImageWe’ll be discussing flowering bulb ideas, as well as some containers for spring and summer. A review of blooming times and ideas for combining different bulbs to bloom in time or sequentially throughout the seasons will also be included in our program. Interested in forced bulbs? We’ll touch on forced bulbs and their use in the landscape or containers.


A Bar of Soap, Black Stockings and a Cheese Grater: Using the Unusual in the Garden
Saturday, March 3 at Noon

Ian Warnock, FMG&SP Lead Horticulturalist

I got the idea for this lecture from when I was a wee boy and started my horticultural career by growing a handful of peas in a five gallon plastic bucket. I try to recycle and re-use other objects in the garden for practical and whimsical reasons. I’ve never been keen on using harsh chemicals, and try to use simple and benign methods of pest and disease control. Some of the ideas are old, some are new, some I’ve borrowed and some… well, you be the judge! Dare to be different and don’t just push the envelope… tear it apart!

A New Twist on Terrariums
Saturday, March 3 at 3:30PM
Mandi Stade, FMG&SP Horticulturalist 


My presentation will feature new, fun ideas for anyone interested in creating terrariums at home. I will cover the basics of constructing terrariums—discussing tools, materials, plants, design themes, step-by-step instruction, and general care tips. My goal is to inspire people to get creative in utilizing common glass items around the house as terrarium containers and by using trinkets or natural items to personalize their terrariums.


Adding Beauty to Your Garden While Deterring Deer
Sunday, March 4 at 12:30PM

Tony England, FMG&SP Horticulturalist


Are deer eating all of your plant life? Find out which plants with flowers can both attract hummingbirds and butterflies while deterring deer. I’ll discuss what kinds of plants can be added to the landscape that will help keep deer out of the garden. Additional information about these plants will help any gardener choose which plant is best for different areas of their garden.

Simply Elegant Floral Arrangements
Sunday, March 4 at 2PM

Rose Allerding, FMG&SP Horticulturalist

With spring around the corner, adding a beautiful floral arrangement can brighten any room. Find out how to create a simple, but tasteful arrangement using minimal flowers or plant material. I will discuss which simple vases and tools will be needed to make your arrangement a reality.

Have a question already? Comment and we’ll try to answer your question during the Home & Garden Show (or below). 

Enriching the Wildflower Meadow through Fire

To people driving by, it may have looked like a fire but it actually wasn’t. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park conducted a controlled burn of the Doehne Wildflower Meadow on March 29.

Controlled burns are very safe, easily controlled, slow and well planned. During a controlled burn, fire is used to control fire-intolerant non-native species while giving fire-adaptive native species a lengthened growing season. Other benefits include:

* Returning nutrients from the dead vegetation back to the soil
* Stimulating seed germination, sprouting and growth
* Allowing more rainfall to reach the ground
* Destroying plant pathogens, reducing the incidence of disease

“Burning is a natural process and occurs in many ecosystems,” says Steve LaWarre, Director of Horticulture for Meijer Gardens. “By executing this burn, we re-introduced a natural process to the Doehne Wildflower Meadow’s ecosystem.”

The meadow was donated by Harry and Elin Doehne and the Wildflower Association and installed in the fall of 2002. It is approximately three-quarters of an acre and representative of a wildflower prairie. It contains 30 to 40 species of forbs and grasses native to Michigan.

“The Wildflower Association is very pleased with how efficiently the burn was done,” says Cheryl Tolley of the Wildflower Association. “Since this hasn’t been done with the meadow before, it has been an educational process for everyone involved, which fits with the Wildflower Association’s mission as well. I think people will be amazed at the difference and how quickly the new forbes and grasses come up through the rich black dirt.”

Steve and Cheryl agree, “We hope to do this again in a few years.”

Control burn at Meijer Gardens –