The Display Garden On Suncrest

A Community Garden Oasis

Garden Funding

The Display Garden on Suncrest is self-funded. The primary fund-raising event is called “Tea Thyme in the Garden.” This event is held in July each year. Another popular fund raiser for the garden is the sale of “Bricks for the Garden Pathways.” Other contributions and memorial gifts have included benches, statuary, outdoor musical instruments, gazebo, arborvitae maze, trees, various plants and monetary donations.

Tea Thyme in the Garden 2015

Tea Thyme in the Garden 2014

Tea Thyme in the Garden 2013

July 14th, 2013 marked the 10th annual Tea Thyme in the Garden event. The Tea was sold out early in the year and once again was a huge success! Tea Thyme in the Garden is held the second Sunday in July each year when the Display Garden on Suncrest shows its best and when the weather is perfect.

There are two seatings for the 236 Tea patrons, 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. In addition to the tea and light fare prepared and served by Master Gardeners, Tea Thyme patrons enjoy strolling through the garden to the strains of beautiful live music. Good conversation, door prizes, raffle items, and a silent auction all contribute to an enjoyable afternoon at Tea Thyme in the Garden.

Recipes for the delightful fare served at Tea Thyme in the Garden are available in the Master Gardeners’ Garden Delights Cookbook, Volume III. The cookbook includes the Tea Thyme recipes and many other delicious recipes contributed by the Master Gardeners of Lapeer County. Cookbooks can be purchased at the Tea or through any Master Gardener in Lapeer County.

Bricks for the Garden Pathways

Currently, there are 297 engraved bricks that have been placed in the garden pathways. Some of the bricks are memorials placed there by friends and families of people who have enjoyed the garden. There are personal commemorative bricks and some that honor major contributors to the garden. Others honor those who have gardened here and, in the Children’s bed, some honor the children who have visited or played in the garden.

For a list of donors please click here :


Print and use the order form below for purchasing a brick for the garden pathway or pick up a form when you visit the garden. Forms are available on the south wall of the pavilion. Bricks may be purchased for $50.00, which includes three lines of engraving, or $75.00 for a picture and three lines of engraving. Child friendly bricks to honor a youth may even include a child’s signature.

Brick Order Form 11-2014.pdf

Best Practices/Garden Projects

Garden Compost Pile

In Michigan, composting is the law! Refer to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act of 1990. Any Michigan resident who does not have curbside pickup of yard waste must compost this waste. The compost pile at the Display Garden is located behind the white fence on the west side of the garden. Master Gardeners deposit garden waste from weeding and other garden activities on the pile. As these organic materials decompose, they form humus rich in nutrients. This humus is then used for plantings and to maintain the soil in the Display Garden. Visit the compost pile to learn how to make compost and pick up an instructional flyer, “Building the Compost Pile,” from the mailbox nearby.

Fun Fact: Any organic material that was once alive can be composted including leaves, grass, sawdust, coffee grounds and manure. Do not compost dog or cat feces which may contain disease causing parasites.

Rain Barrel

In 2010 a 35 gallon rain barrel was installed in the Display Garden to collect runoff from the tool shed roof. Using rain barrels helps reduce storm water runoff, increases infiltration and recharges ground water. In addition, water from a rain barrel is full of nutrients that are good for the home garden, house plants and other outdoor uses around the home. Water from a rain barrel can be used to divert runoff to desired garden areas and multiple rain barrels can be attached to a single downspout. They are easy to install and can be used to collect water for dry periods in the garden. For a home gardener, the use of rain barrels can result in a 40 - 50% savings in the summer months when water uses peak. Pick up an instructional flyer, “Make Your Own Rain Barrel,” from the mailbox near the compost pile. The Rain Barrel in the Display Garden was made from an old pickle barrel!

Fun Fact: On a typical home with a roof area of 1,200 square feet with four downspouts, only 0.3 inches of rainfall are needed to fill a 55 gallon barrel.

Purple Martin Birdhouse

In May, 2010, the Purple Martin house was installed in the Woody Ornamentals Garden Bed. Purple Martins are the largest member of the Swallow family and their primary benefit to the garden is their consumption of flying insects such as dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, mayflies, stinkbugs, leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, June bugs and others. Since they feed during flight, their flying antics can be quite entertaining. They also have a distinct bird song that changes from an early morning ‘dawn song’ to afternoon ‘chatter.’

It may take several years to attract a pair of Purple Martins to nest. In the meantime, the bird house must be maintained and kept free of the nests of competitor birds such as the House Sparrow and the European Starling. This is done by lowering the bird house on the pole and clearing away any nesting materials placed by these aggressive non-native birds. Once a Purple Martin colony is established, a careful watch will be kept on the birds and their nesting habits, counting chicks and keeping predators or other aggressive bird species away.

Fun Fact: Mosquitoes comprise a very small portion of the diet of Purple Martins. These birds feed during the day at an average 100 - 200 feet above the ground. Most mosquitoes are nocturnal and rest during the day unless disturbed.

Honey Bees

In April of 2011, a beehive was installed at the west end of the Heuchera garden bed. The hive was donated by Mej’s Mystical Meadows Farm. In May, a three-pound package of bees was installed in the hive to start the colony. In early July, the bees were seen swarming. Swarming occurs for a variety of reasons such as overcrowding in the hive or not enough space to store honey, etc. About half of the bees leave the hive with the old queen and seek a new home. A new queen emerges to take over the existing hive. It is a natural way that bees multiply. The beehive was originally decorated as a miniature, green house with a copper roof. After swarming, an additional section was added to accommodate more bees. Bees benefit the garden by pollinating the flowers as they forage for nectar. An additional benefit is the 60 lbs of honey that was collected from the hive in 2011. Jane Schade, who is a master gardener and also an experienced beekeeper, maintains the hive with the assistance of Mej’s Mystical Meadows Farm.

 The winter of 2013-2014 was brutally cold and long. This proved detrimental to the

colony of bees. Spring time inspection of the beehive revealed the entire colony

had perished due to the extreme conditions. All hope was not lost and by July

there was a replacement colony busy collecting nectar from the local flowers.

Spring of 2015 had the hive with extra queen bee cells. This prompted beekeeper

management action so as not to lose the "new" swarm. The addition of another

beehive was located to the south of the garden in the Survivor bed.

2016 brought a need to repaint the beehive. The colony had dwindled in size and 

was not able to survive the winter but the "new" swarm from last year did very well.

In mid June the refurbished hive was installed in the garden with a healthy brood.

It proved to be an exceptional year with 100 pounds of honey being produced.

2020 & 2021: The bee hives were not at this location due to corona virus constraints.

Fun Fact:

There are 20,000 varieties of bees world-wide and 400 varieties live in Michigan.

Butterfly Chrysalis Display

When the caterpillar is full grown and stops eating, it becomes a pupa. 

The pupa of butterflies is also called a chrysalis.

Depending on the species, the pupa may be suspended under a branch, hidden in leaves or buried underground. 

The pupa of many moths is protected inside a cocoon of silk.

This stage can last from a few weeks, a month or even longer. 

Some species have a pupal stage that lasts for two years.

It may look like nothing is going on but big changes are happening inside. 

Special cells that were present in the larva are now growing rapidly. 

They will become the legs, wings, eyes and other parts of the adult butterfly. 

Many of the original larva cells will provide energy for these growing adult cells.

Fun Fact:

There are over 17,500 recorded butterfly species in the whole world. 

Out of this number, 750 can be found in America.

This Monarch Chrysalis Display is courtesy of Howard Guldi. The art work by Kelly Zuehlk