May 16, 2015
Dan Austin of Historic Detroit has an excellent article on the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle that begins:
If Belle Isle is Detroit’s crown, then the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is its brightest emerald, full of brilliant green ferns, palms and cacti and plant life from all over the world.
The conservatory, opened in the center of the island on Aug. 18, 1904, the same day as its next door neighbor, the Belle Isle Aquarium. Both were designed by Albert Kahn, who for the conservatory turned to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for inspiration. It sits on 13 acres and features a lily pond on its north side and is fronted by formal perennial gardens on the west. These gardens are home to theLevi L. Barbour Memorial Fountain. For the first 51 years of its existence, the building was known as simply the Conservatory or the Horticulture Building. Today, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is the oldest, continually operating conservatory in the United States.
The building covers about an acre and has five areas, each housing a different climate, and features a north wing and a south wing and a 100,600 cubic feet dome 85 feet high to accommodate soaring palms and other tropical plants. The north wing houses hundreds of cacti and desert plants, and just beyond that is a room packed with ferns from floor to ceiling. The south is home to hundreds of tropical plants and the Children’s Christian Temperance Fountain. The collection also includes perennial gardens and displays of annuals. The show house, remodeled in 1980, features a continuous display of blooming plants.
Definitely read on at Historic Detroit on for how the Conservatory got its name and became home to the largest municipally owned orchid collection in the country. There’s also a great historic photo gallery.
Here’s the official site for Belle Isle Conservatory. The hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM and the Belle Isle Aquarium is open Saturdays and Sundays as well.
More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.
May 14, 2015
John McCormick aka Michigan Nut shared this gorgeous shot from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore showing Lake Superior at its calmest.
PS: John’s Pictured Rocks gallery will knock your socks off!
May 2, 2015
April 25, 2015
Last weekend the Freep reported that the delicate biosphere that characterized Isle Royale National Park is about to fall apart. The wolf count is down from nine last year to only three, and Michigan Tech ecologist John Vucetich says he wouldn’t be surprised if none remain next winter.
“What’s really important here is not the presence of wolves, per se,” Vucetich said. “But the wolves need to be able to perform their ecological function — predation. Predation has been essentially nil for the past four years now.”
That’s led to a 22% increase in the moose population for each of the past four years, he said, taking the island population from 500 to 1,200 moose. An individual moose consumes up to 40 pounds of vegetation a day.
“One of the most basic lessons we know in ecology, wherever creatures like moose live, you have to have a top predator,” he said. “If you don’t, the herbivore can cause a great deal of harm to the vegetation.”
… Vucetich and his colleague at Michigan Tech, Rolf Peterson, both support a “genetic rescue” of the island’s wolf population — bringing in wolves from elsewhere to bolster island wolves and help facilitate breeding. The U.S. Forest Service is studying the concept, but that process may take years. If the remaining wolf population doesn’t survive, and the Forest Service ultimately approves of the plan, it may mean creating a whole new pack on the island.
I think that this poses very interesting questions about our role in the ecosystems we seek to preserve. Are we to watch what happens and not interfere like a kid watching an ant farm or a Star Fleet team, or do we accept the responsibility of our decision to preserve and seek to maintain the natural balances and populations? As our climate changes, we will no doubt be called to make these decisions more and more frequently as flora and fauna lose the ability to survive in the places we have set aside for them.
THE URGE. Walk 40 miles in two days searching for a lover that may not even exist. Return home to parents and siblings the next day. The life of a dispersing wolf, unsatisfied.
It’s a great series featuring images by George Desort, Rolf Peterson, John Vucetich, and Brian Rajdl along with text by John Vucetich and Michael Paul Nelson. Click to see this photo bigger on Facebook and then use your left arrow to page through them.
Definitely visit isleroyalewolf.org for lots more about the predator/prey balance of one of Michigan’s most fascinating places.
April 20, 2015
We can call it “Shipwreck Sunday” – With Lake Michigan ice gone for the season the crystal clear, deep blue waters of northern Michigan are back (albeit still VERY VERY cold at an average of 38 degrees).
During a routine patrol this past Friday, an aircrew captured these photos of a handful of the many shipwrecks along the Lake Michigan shoreline. These photos were taken near Sleeping Bear Point northeast along the shoreline to Leland, Michigan up to Northport.
Information on the shipwrecks is scarce, please post if you recognize any of the photographed sites.
View the Coast Guard’s photo bigger and click through for photos of other wrecks including the James McBride. Definitely follow them on Facebook for more cool shots of Michigan’s coastline from above!
Regarding the Rising Sun, the Leelanau Enterprise shares Leelanau historian George Weeks account of the wreck that includes a photo of the grounded Sun:
In October 1917, the Rising Sun went to High Island to get potatoes, rutabagas and lumber to take to Benton Harbor. On 29 October, in one of the early-season snowstorms that sweep the Lakes, the Rising Sun went aground at Pyramid Point. Lifeboats were launched and all thirty-two people aboard eventually saved.
As was often the case with Great Lakes wrecks, shoreline residents, not the U.S. Coast Guard, were the first to provide assistance. In this case, Fred Baker, summoned in the night by survivors pounding at the door of his home atop the Port Oneida bluff, was the first to respond. He hastened to his barn, quickly unloaded 60 bushels of potatoes that were on his wagon, hitched his team, and went down to the beach. The survivors, including a woman found unconscious on the beach, were brought to Baker’s house. (By the 1990s, Baker’s daughter, Lucille, who was four years old at the time of the wreck, was still residing at Port Oneida, the wife of Jack Barratt, great grandson of Port Oneida settler Carsten Burfiend.)
The Coast Guard beach rescue rig arrived from Glen Haven, pulled by two teams of horses borrowed from D.H. Day. A man who was asleep when the others abandoned ship was rescued by the guardsmen.
Remains of the Rising Sun are visible from the shore on a clear day, and are popular for recreational divers. As with other wrecks, the remains are protected objects within the Manitou Passage Bottomland Preserve.
Read more about the Rising Sun, it’s caro and final voyage and the House of David that owned it from Chris Mills and see more shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.
Port Crescent State Park, Michigan, photo by Zack Schindler
…is located at the tip of Michigan’s “thumb” along three miles of sandy shoreline of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. Some of the modern campsites offer a waterfront view, either of the Bay or the Old Pinnebog River channel. Port Crescent recently added a new camper cabin which sleeps six and has a scenic view of Saginaw Bay. A wooden boardwalk parallels the day-use shoreline offering many scenic vistas of Saginaw Bay. The park also offers excellent fishing, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and hunting opportunities.
March 24, 2015
USA Today is polling their readers to see what they think the 10 best state parks in the nation are. The entry page for the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park says:
The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, or the “Porkies” as its known to frequent visitors, encompasses 60,000 acres of lakes, rivers and virgin forest. The park offers camping on the shores of Lake Superior, 90 miles of hiking trails, kayak rentals, mountain biking and, in the winter, access to the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Mich. is currently ranked #2 of 20.
You can click here to vote if you’re so inclined.
John took this evening shot in October 2014 near the east end off the Lake of the Clouds. View it bigger on Flickr, see more staggering photos in his Autumn in Michigan slideshow, and definitely follow him on Facebook at Michigan Nut Photography.