Gift Certificates Available

Fraleighs Gift Certificates are an easy choice for those ‘difficult to buy for’ folks on your list. Our gift certificates can be used in a number of ways: Your gift can be used to buy plants from the retail nursery with the help of our expert staff, used for an on-site landscape consultation, or applied… [Continue Reading]

Festive Ivy

What will winter bring?

After the rigors of last winter the question above is a concern on a lot of minds in Michigan.  I am quick to quip: “I don’t know, but one thing is for certain: we take what we get!”  After all, we have no real choice in the matter.  We do however have a choice of… [Continue Reading]


Gift Certificates Available

Fraleighs Gift Certificates are an easy choice for those ‘difficult to buy for’ folks on your list. Our gift certificates can be used in a number of ways: Your gift can be used to buy plants from the retail nursery with the help of our expert staff, used for an on-site landscape consultation, or applied towards our professionally installed design services. Fraleighs Gift Certificates are issued on artfully hand-stamped card stock, and never expire.

See the ‘Gift Certificates’ link in our navigation bar (above) OR call in your order today to have gift certificates mailed to you or directly to the recipients. (734) 426 5067 x10Festive Ivy

Its HollyTone Time!


Remember, Fraleighs recommends an application of HollyTone fertilizer twice annually to maintain and enhance your gardens and landscapes. Halloween and April Fool’s Day are the approximate dates we set to help folks to remember to feed their plants. HollyTone is a great organic low-analysis (4-3-4) acidifying fertilizer well suited to our alkaline soil types. The HollyTone formulation also contains beneficial organisms — helper microbes — that complement and enhance healthy root systems. Perennials, shrubs, ornamental grasses, evergreens, and trees can all benefit from a twice-annual application. Stop by today — our staff would be glad to help you calculate how much you need, explain the simple application process, or arrange for our crews to make the application for you.

Beginning in 2012, Espoma tweaked the formulation of HollyTone. The product is now an even better soil acidifier with 5% instead of 2% Sulfur. That’s great for most of us contending with high soil pH. Most ornamental plants prefer a neutral-to-moderately-acidic soil, and HollyTone is now an even better way to mildly acidify gardens. Likewise, their new production method is providing a more ‘crumbly’ texture to their fertilizer, and this means less dust and hence a little less of HollyTone’s characteristic organic ‘aroma’.

Click here to learn more about the product.

What will winter bring?

After the rigors of last winter the question above is a concern on a lot of minds in Michigan.  I am quick to quip: “I don’t know, but one thing is for certain: we take what we get!”  After all, we have no real choice in the matter.  We do however have a choice of how we can prepare our landscapes for whatever winter throws at us, and now is the time to plan and act.

Fertilization:  Many folks think of spring as the time to fertilize, but its not the *only* season to nourish your gardens.  A late fall application of a low-analysis organic fertilizer such as HollyTone or one of the Dr. Earth formulations not only stockpiles nutrients into the tissues of evergreens, trees, shrubs, and perennials, but those same nutrients are held as solutes in the plant’s sap.  These solutes act as a natural antifreeze that can potentially limit freeze-damage during the depths of winter.  Halloween — or any time after the first good frosts of autumn but well before ground-freeze — is a good time to make such a fertilization.

Muching:  Getting a fresh layer of mulch laid down in the autumn as opposed to the spring can be a benefit to the overwintering landscape — not only can you cross off one more thing to do next spring, but your plants will benefit from the soil-temperature-stabilizing effects that a well maintained 3″ layer of organic mulch can provide.  Freezing and thawing repeatedly at either end of the winter is brutal on root tissues, which are typically not as cold hardy as above ground tissues to begin with.  Give your landscape’s roots a blankie; it won’t necessarily keep them warm, but it will even out the stresses of freezing and thawing.

Browse-prevention:  Browse was a huge problem last winter.  We had reports of starving deer eating Blue Spruce and even Boxwood.  If the local herd is that desperate, equally desperate measures may be necessary to counter the damage.  Rodent and rabbit browse beneath the snow (oftentimes girdling small trees) was also a problem.  In all cases, there are methods to reduce or eliminate browse: repellent sprays (e.g. I Must Garden All Season Deer Repellent) can be effective if applied in a regular timely fashion.  This can be a challenge when we have a long period of sub-freezing temperatures.  An alternative is to use scent-based granular repellents (e.g. I Must Garden Animal Repellent) — these can be sprinkled around the would-be-tasty-morsels in your garden after snowfalls or even hung in sachets from branches to keep it above the snows and ‘active’ for a little longer.  If voles and mice have been consuming the roots of your perennials in winters past, you may want to apply some systemic repellent (e.g. Repellex Systemic Tablets) to head off a recurrence.  Lastly, it should be noted that in many cases only exclusionary measures will provide relief in high-pressure browse areas.  Fencing, netting, and wraps may be the only answer in some cases.  If, after last winter, you think that this may describe your situation, we encourage you to contact us to formulate a exclusionary strategy ASAP.  Such measures are best and most easily effected before the onset winter.

Watering:  The heavens have provided ample moisture thus far, but lets plan to water our newly installed plants — especially the evergreens — at least once more late in the fall; after Thanksgiving but before the ground freezes is ideal.  The moisture that is in the plant’s tissues just prior to ground freeze has to keep the plant hydrated until the thaw.  The less established a plant’s root system, the less moisture it will have in reserve, so a late fall drink can make a big difference.  Also, if you had plants that showed signs of ‘winter burn’ coming out of last winter, these would be good candidates for a late fall irrigation as well.

All of the above measures are ones that won’t really cause any harm if we have a mild winter (fingers crossed!), but could make the difference between life and death for some elements in your landscape.  Its all simple stuff that can act as relatively cheap ‘insurance.’

If you have further questions or would like to formulate a strategy to prepare your landscape for winter, please contact us before the snow flies!


Oh, deer…. there’s the rub.

The onset of chillier weather reminds us that another season of deer damage is upon us. Specifically, the buck rub is beginning — the time in which adult male deer scrape the itchy velvet off their antlers. For scratching posts, they usually choose clear-trunked deciduous trees of small-to-medium size — about the same size of newly purchased, planted, and establishing landscape trees. What the general public may be unaware of is that bucks tend to be excellent appraisers of tree value — they always seem to choose the most expensive and beautiful young trees to maul! At best a buck rubbed tree is wounded and disfigured, at worst it can be girdled and wind up dying. It is important to note that deer are territorial and creatures of habit — if you see one of your prized trees rubbed lightly, it is critical to take immediate measures to prevent subsequent rubs from occurring.

Fraleighs stocks a number of products that will fend off buck rub, the most effective being trunk guards — sturdy tubes of black plastic mesh that can be affixed around the trunk of small-to-medium sized trees using zip-ties. While some find the trunk-guards unsightly, they are cheap and effective insurance versus a wounded or dying tree, AND they needn’t be left on year-round; just in the fall and early winter.

Contact our deer-damage abatement experts to learn more!



Fraleighs October 2014 Sale:

Shop early for best selection!

MIX AND MATCH: *Potted* Shrubs & Trees,

and any Perennials we have yet to tuck away for the winter

1-3 pieces 25% off,

4-6 pieces 33% off, 

7+ PIECES 40% OFF!




Sale does not apply to any associated labor and freight fees, prior purchases, special orders, or design-build installations. Discount valid on in-stock merchandise only.

There are more fall flowers than just Mums!

We’re all familiar with the stock-and-staple blooms of fall: Mums, Sedum, Asters, and Black-eyed Susans to name a few.  Here’s a gallery of a few fall-bloomers that might not immediately come to mind, plus a Black-eyed Susan that is more disease resistant than the industry standard ‘Goldsturm':



The bridge on Jackson Road over Mill Creek just west of the nursery reopened as of this morning after a summer-long construction project.  No more detours for Fraleigh’s customers, clients, or staff!!! IMG_4484cer

A Bouquet of Butterflies


To paraphrase a certain movie about baseball: “Plant it and they will come.”  Above is a rogues gallery of flying flowers, and two-thirds of the images were taken here at Fraleighs!  With the addition of key flowers and forage plants in your landscape, you too can have a bouquet of butterflies; seek out our staff to find out why we love perennials such as Blazing Star, Milkweeds, Joe-Pye Weed, Iron Weed, Goldenrod, Coneflower, and Sedum to name a few.  Or start with the National Wildlife Federation’s link to Butterfly Gardening before stopping out to see us:

Happiness, now with stripes.

Our first two Monarch caterpillars of the season were spotted today in the patch of Ascelpias incarnata that grows next to Fraleighs’ Retail Sales Office: IMG_3705ce

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration…



July 2011 in southeast Michigan has proven itself to be dry and beastly hot.  Fraleighs has been receiving a number of questions about drought stress and watering, so it might be time to summarize a few things:

With recent daytime high temperatures topping out in the nineties and marginal rainfall totals, just about the entire landscape would benefit from supplemental irrigation.  This is especially true for newly planted and establishing plants.  Plants selected for ‘drought tolerance’ will not exhibit this trait until their root systems are fully established.  How long it takes for a plant to become established depends a little on what type of plant it is and a whole lot on how large it is at the time of planting.   Smaller perennials and shrubs may only need one growing season to become established in their new environment, whereas a large tree may take several years to become fully rooted-in to the point where supplemental irrigation is a luxury rather than a necessity.  It is up to the conscientious gardener to provide the additional water to ‘even out’ nature’s deficits until a plant is established.

The next question we regularly are asked to address is the frequency of watering.  How often?  This is never a question we can answer with a glib ‘once a day’ or ‘once a week’.  Too many variables exist to have a pat answer, other than to say ‘monitor your soil moisture.’   We’ve found that a trowel and a dollop of common sense are as useful for watering as is a hose.  Frequently checking the soil moisture 6-8 inches below the surface is the single best way to determine how much (or little) supplemental irrigation needs to be applied.  ‘Evenly moist’ is the target for most plants, especially newly establishing ones.  ‘Moist’ means neither soaking wet nor bone dry but comfortably in between.  ‘Evenly’ means don’t let the soil dry out completely between waterings either.  The common sense part comes in the form of ‘the hotter, windier, and drier that it has been the more frequently I need to monitor the soil, and the more frequently I’ll probably need to water’.  Theprobably part kicks in because not all soil types are the same in how they retain moisture — sand dries out much faster than loam, and clay can sometimes retain irrigation too well, leading to situations of over-watering for some plants.  That’s where the appropriately frequent soil moisture monitoring becomes so critical to determining how much and when supplemental irrigation is needed.

How should the supplemental irrigation be applied?  Again, there is no single answer, but whatever means are used should  result in ‘evenly moist’ monitored to a depth of 6-8 inches.  Will an automated irrigation system make this happen?  Probably, but it must be adjusted to compensate for weather and soil conditions.  Will a hand-held hose work?  Yes, in capable hands a hose can be very precise, but time consuming.   How about a compromise (heck, even the politicians are considering it these days!) — maintain an automated irrigation system and supplement with a manually activated sprinkler on the thirstier beds?  We even sell special hydration bladders (TreeCOVErs &ArborRain systems) to assist in the spot-watering of establishing larger shrubs and trees.  It is also worth noting that slower, lower volume irrigation is more effective than quick, high volume waterings that tend to run off rather than soak in to the soil.

Lastly, it is worth acknowledging that severe conditions (such as the recent heat) take their toll most heavily on marginal plants; otherwise established plants that are poorly suited to their environment will be the ones that perish.  If that sad outcome befalls one of your plants, be sure to mention it to our staff as you select a replacement –  we’ll be glad to help you find an option better suited to your site conditions.

Update: for further information from Michigan State University on the topic, visit:

The dos & don’ts of irrigating landscape plants

Update: for even more insight into watering techniques and hydration biology:

Janet Macunovich’s “You Can Leave a Hose to Water, But You Can’t Make it Think”