TROY — Recently named an official Master Gardeners Volunteer, Andrea Machicao of Miami County showcased her garden as part of the 2018 Miami County in Bloom Garden Tour on June 16.
“Our [Master Gardeners] main objective is to educate people about green and growing,” said Machicao. “If people have a problem with an insect or a disease, they can come into the Extension office.” She advises that first and foremost people need to know what the plant is because different plants have different diseases.
Machicao labeled every plant and tree in her gardens, allowing for easy identification. An average of 350 people visited the gardens during the tour, the gardens located in Troy, Covington and Pleasant Hill.
Located in Troy, the footprint of Machicao’s property is about one and one-third acres. Her gardens spread throughout her land, with stones paths, a bridge and metal art and sculptures interspersed. Her gardens include: shrub garden; thicket; her husband’s vegetable garden; big box garden; shade garden; and general landscaping around the house.
“With gardening it’s always evolving. It’s never finished. You just have to plan ahead a little bit,” said Machicao. Overall Machicao has been gardening for about 23 years. She and her husband moved to the location in Troy about 7 years ago and have been evolving their gardens since then.
The Miami County in Bloom Garden Tour happens every two years. This year is the first time that Andrea’s garden has been part of the tour. She recently graduated from the Master Gardeners class, which means she is an official Master Gardener Volunteer. Andrea served as an intern for a year before she graduated.
“They’re [the gardens] all so different. It’s wonderful,” said Machicao. Six other gardens were part of the tour, including: Julie and Scott McMiller of Troy; Sharon and Joe Bledsoe of Pleasant Hill; Sue and Norv Deeter of Pleasant Hill; Robin and Thom Ingle of Pleasant Hill; Mary-Kate and Bill Peters of Covington; and Cathy and Tom Carter of Covington.
Working with nature
“Learning to deal with the soil is an important thing,” said Machicao. “Without good soil you won’t get good plants. Our soil here [Ohio] with the alkaline clay — it’s very nutritious. But sometimes that nutrition is blocked because of the PH [potential of Hydrogen].”
She added that she tends to use a peat moss when she plants, which lowers the PH a little bit and supplies the organic materials to the clay to help it drain a little better.
“The dogwoods need a little extra care because they don’t like our alkaline soil. So they need a little acidifying treatment fertilizer,” said Machicao. She also gives a little fertilizer boost to her roses. “But everything else is pretty much on its own.”
Machicao was a microbiology major in college. “As far as the roundup type chemicals, I have become more and more conservative over the years,” said Machicao. She still uses a chemical for thistle because she said that “it’s almost impossible” to dig up. She will also use it on poison ivy.
“I really love nature and spending time outside,” said Machicao. “As a kid I would go up to northern Wisconsin. My dad and his brother bought a spot on a lake about fifty or sixty years ago. There wasn’t even a road.”
She said that they had to row the lumber across the lake in a rowboat to build their house, which her father and his brother built it with their own two hands. “Appreciating nature, I think, came from those experiences in Wisconsin, in the forest,” said Machicao.
At the end of May Andrea had to remove a Spruce tree that was leaning terribly, she said. Where the spruce was previously she put plants she bought from big box stores. These include: rising sun redbud tree, which produces light yellow and orange tips, along with ctenanthe, coreopsis, hostas, and spider warts.
“The budget was exhausted. I went to big box stores and I planted everything in here for around a hundred-seventy dollars,” said Machicao.
This year she took out several other Spruce trees, adding that she has one spruce in the front yard the she suspects will have to be removed in the near future. Her shrub garden is new from last year, as it replaces spruce trees that had to be excavated.
“The spruce aren’t native [to Ohio] and so they’re tight growth makes them subject to fungal diseases, starts killing them from the bottom up,” said Machicao. “It’s seldom that one thing will kill a tree. But if they’re stressed and there’s weather that’s not cooperative, the fungal diseases can start taking over.”
The spruce in the front yard has landscape fabric around it, which also covers much of the land of her gardens. She said that has been pulling large amounts of landscape fabric from underneath her grass and plants. Machicao isn’t sure who placed the fabric or when, but admits that excavating the spruce trees was a big job with having to excavate the fabric.
The bridge and thicket
A red bridge in the backyard leads to the thicket and goes over a drainage easement, along which she planted several small cypress trees. These trees will help soak up any stagnant water.
“It’s kind of a focal point in the back and it makes it so much easier to come back here,” she said, referring to the thicket, an area with a lot of shaded plants and trees.
Her husband’s brother built the bridge, but has since passed away. “It was really special to have that bridge here. He was a civil engineer and he designed the bridge and a couple of family friends built it for us,” said Machicao.
She said that in the thicket she planted as many natives as she could get her hands on. She also utilized the bark and lumber from the spruce trees that were taken down as a border in the thicket.
Many of the plants in the backyard are shaded plants. She also has a pawpaw, bur oak tree and a buckeye tree, all Ohio natives. The big trees provide a lot of shade in the backyard.
She added a stone border to her shade garden because she said that it’s a lot of work to keep the grass out of the beds.
“There’s another invasive that is very, very important to make people aware of,” said Machicao. “And it’s called lesser celandine.”
“It comes out in very early spring, almost before anything else. It grows, it blooms, and then it fades off and disappears for the rest of the season.” But she said that “it’s still in there” and it grows in a very thick mat, spreading by various means and has tubers under the ground.
“It can seed itself. It can grow by runners. It is a nightmare,” Machicao said. “Chokes out everything else. Even worse, it’s completely poisonous and nothing eats it.”
She said that basically chemical means is the only way to get ride of it, “which is also a problem because [lesser celandine] spreads around streams.”
Machicao said that her sister, who lives east of Cleveland, had mistaken lesser celandine for a yellow wildflower. Machicao added that it’s important that people are aware of this invasive plant because “it’s sneaky and grows during the time of year when a lot of people aren’t out in their yards because of the weather, and then it disappears when you are out.”
For more information on the Master Gardeners visit: www.mastergardener.osu.edu/home