Bridge View Park

Sometimes, we get in the car and drive an hour or two to visit a garden. This is fun, but it’s even more better to find a garden when you’re not looking for one. When you drive across the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, there is a park on the west side of the highway, appropriately named Bridge View Park. The first time I went there, I was thrilled to see a garden that surrounds most of the building. There were a lot of unusual flowers, things you don’t see everyday. Of course, I have pictures and have been able to identify some I did not recognize. Many of them are annuals, and can be grown from seed. Now that I know what they are I might try a few of these in my own yard.

This spiky purple flower is Agastache foeniculum, otherwise known as anise hyssop, elk mint, giant hyssop and about 8 other names. It is a perennial, native to the United States. Growing 3-5 feet tall, it blooms from June to August. The flowers and leaves are edible and are used in salads and teas. The seeds are also used for baking into cakes and muffins. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to this plant, but not deer. It can be grown from seed, and reseeds easily.

Sometimes called Pot Marigold, this is not considered a “true” Marigold. It’s a type of Calendula, though I’m not sure exactly which. An annual, it flowers all summer and is very easy to grow from seed. The flowers are edible and are used to flavor soups and make colorful salads. They make good cut flowers but do not have an especially pleasing scent. To read a little more about Pot Marigold, visit my previous post here.

Dianthus, or Pinks, are very common in Michigan and an easy perennial to grow. To read more about these, see my blog here.

Dwarf Sunflower is a type of Helianthus. Native to the western United States, it grows about 3 feet tall. Flowers appear from summer to early fall and they are quite large, 5 or more inches across. Bees and birds are attracted to sunflowers, as are squirrels and other animals. Sunflowers are easily grown from seed, but chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels and mice will eat the seeds you have planted, or the seedling itself, if you don’t protect it in some way. Sunflowers are annuals, but will reseed if you allow the seedheads to dry on the plant. When the animals eat the seeds, some will fall to the ground to grow next year.

Salpiglossis sinuata has several interesting common names, including Painted Tongue, Velvet Trumpet Flower and, my favorite, Scalloped Tube Tongue. Growing about 2 feet tall and 12 inches wide, this is a cool weather annual and does not tolerate excessive heat. You can grow it from seed, but I’m told starting the seeds indoors works best. Once the plants are large enough, and frost danger is past, they can be planted outside. These come in many wonderful colors and bloom from late spring to first frost. They also make a great cut flowers.

Zinnias have always been one of my favorites. They are a colorful annual and are easy to grow from seed. If you missed my blog discussing them, read it here.

Nicandra physaloides is native to Peru, which explains one common name, Apple of Peru. Sounds edible, but I wouldn’t eat it, all parts of this plant are poisonous, it’s a member of the nightshade family. It’s also said to be a natural insect repellent, which explains another common name ShooFly Plant. This annual plant grows about 2-5 feet tall and blooms from late summer to early fall. It is resistant to deer. Nicandra forms seed pods with papery husks as in the photo below. Be careful where you plant it, this one will self seed and can become invasive.



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One Response to “Bridge View Park”

  1. Kem Says:

    I didn’t know there was a park there! I haven’t been to the bridge since I was 12 (only a year or two ago!). I wonder if it was there then and I just missed it?

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