Karen Atkins is the owner of Proper Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She designed the Victorian Gardens for the Merrick Art Gallery, the Pioneer Entrance Garden for Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, and many award-winning gardens for residential clients. Karen loves to help and hear from other gardeners.


Dahlias are on sale!
by Karen Atkins - posted 06/03/14

If you haven't gotten your dahlias in yet - do not despair. While I normally put mine in a month before the latest frost - I love a good sale. A little effort now and you will feel spoiled rotten later. Plant them a few inches higher than the bag recommends and you will almost be back on schedule, like you planted them on time. Even better - you are getting them at half the price. It only takes a few minutes to plunge them into the ground. Keep them well watered until you see the first green shoots and then there is no hand-holding neccessary. While I love all of the colors for the cutting garden, in the perennial beds I lean toward the oranges and burgundies. I do this because they really put me in a fall mood when the rest of the garden is ready for bed and they are still thriving, and they complement pumpkins and mums in containers at that time. Swing by your nursery and grab a bag (or two at the sale price!) You'll be so glad you did. 

Garden on! K.

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Plant Virginia Creeper Now
by Karen Atkins - posted 05/13/14

This vine is relentless, and will engulf a house in no time. With some temerity, I am planting it by my chicken pen. I cannot wait to see the shiny green ivy-like leaves scramble up. Since the drama queen turns a brilliant red in fall, I want her to have time to get really possessive over the summer! I'll keep you posted, and let me know where you are planning to employ this scarlet beauty. Happy Spring!

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Thank you Leslie Library!
by Karen Atkins - posted 04/16/14

Dear Head Librarian, Barb, at Leslie Library:

Thank you for taking such good care of me and for assembling such a nice group of gardeners. We talked about ensuring a continuous succession of bloom and creating winter interest. These are important subjects, in Michigan for your quality of life.

The cover picture for this blog illustrates a great companion planting and a quick way to double your blooms.

Thank you for having me - the email checklists will be sent out today.


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