Cheryl English, an advanced master gardener, composter, craftswoman and writer, makes her “The Late Show” presentation Oct. 11 at the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township.

Cheryl English, an advanced master gardener, composter, craftswoman and writer, makes her “The Late Show” presentation Oct. 11 at the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Extend your garden season into the fall with different species

By: Kara Szymanski | C&G Newspapers | Published October 23, 2018

 Members of the Shelby Gardeners Club listen to English’s presentation.

Members of the Shelby Gardeners Club listen to English’s presentation.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 English displays her Black Cat Pottery at the event.

English displays her Black Cat Pottery at the event.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Gardeners Club hosted a presentation, “The Late Show,” on the topic of how to extend your garden into the fall with different types of species Oct. 11 at the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center, 4101 River Bends Drive in Shelby Township.

Choosing different types of species native to Michigan to plant in your garden can determine how long it will last into the cold of the fall season.

Cheryl English, an advanced master gardener, composter, craftswoman, writer, and owner and creator of Black Cat Pottery in Detroit, presented a large number of plant species native to Michigan and other states, and provided tips for cultivating them.

English has worked with more than 200 different species on her property.

She called her presentation “The Late Show” because the plants she talked about bloom late in the season. The species she spoke about were all ones she has had experience growing in her own garden, which she opens to the public three times per year: the first Saturday after Memorial Day, the first Saturday in December and the first Saturday in May.

English said plants that are not native to Michigan will struggle to live because they are not used to the Michigan weather conditions and changes.

English covered about 20 different native species during the presentation. Some of the native plant species she mentioned were the white snakeroot, which blooms in late summer to fall; the sneezeweed, which blooms in the fall; the blue wood aster, which blooms in the fall; the zigzag goldenrod, which also blooms in the fall; and the prairie rosinweed, which blooms in late summer to fall.

English stated that she chooses plants that will support wildlife that can benefit from her garden, so that they too can help support her garden in return. She said examples are plants that will help bees or monarch butterflies.

“If you want to support pollinators, you can pick native species that will do that. Many people see native species as messy and wild. Let’s change the cultural standards of gardening,” she said. “If no one’s getting anything to eat in your yard, your yard is a desert,” said English.

She elaborated on some plants to attract pollinators.

“White turtlehead is the host for the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly, so that’s the thing to look at when looking at getting native plants, is who can I get in here,” she said. “I would like to see the Karner blue butterfly; I have the host plant, and when people come to see my garden, I can tell them about how beautiful the movement is, and this is the host plant for an endangered butterfly.”

Bottle gentian is pollinated by big bumble bees, English said.

“(There is) not a lot of blue in the fall, which makes this plant very valuable in the garden. They are exquisite,” said English.

She also recommended blue-stemmed goldenrod to give gardens some color.

“If you put this in some shade, the yellow will really pop,” she said.

She said that people should consider what they can do for the garden, rather than what the garden can do for them.

“I’m trying to garden according to where I live,” she said. “Mother Nature is a wonderful designer.”

During the presentation, English answered questions about native species and a variety of gardening topics. One audience member asked about black-eyed Susan and trouble she was having with the leaves turning brown. She said she watered them with a sprinkler.

English said the sprinkler was the problem and contributed to fungal issues. English said that when she had black-eyed Susan, she almost never watered them and they did not have fungal issues.

She shared another observation about black-eyed Susan.

“When the plant dies, it drops its seeds, so you don’t really notice it died. So you think it’s the same plant, but it’s not, because it’s the grandchild of the plant, and they’re really good at self-seeding,” said English.

Linda Pelloni, the Shelby Gardener’s Club’s vice president, found English on Facebook and thought that her presentation would be a great topic for the club.

“I first saw her (English’s) pottery, and then noticed that she presents, and emailed her to preschedule for the fall topic. Then I visited her studio and suggested she bring her pottery for the club members to look at and possibly purchase,” said Pelloni.

English creates pottery at her studio, Black Cat Pottery, where her garden is located. Her artwork is inspired by her garden.

For more information on the club’s events, visit www.shelby.org/gardeners, call (586) 781-6742 or visit its Facebook page. For more information on Black Cat Pottery, visit blackcatpottery.com or call (313) 885-3385.