Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Beautiful plantings

by Ann L. Fouty Features Editor

May 02, 2013

The Lochmoor Club with a 128-acre course is beautiful.

The private, family-oriented golf club in Grosse Pointe Woods was recognized with a Keep Michigan Beautiful award for its dedication to transforming its grounds and making environmental improvements. The fall 2012 award was presented to the club by Keep Michigan Beautiful, Inc.

“It’s an honor to have received this prestigious award from the Keep Michigan Beautiful group,” said Jerry Gadette, Lochmoor’s president. “The club is very proud of our horticulturist, Leslie Lindbloom, who has worked on the beautification of our club since we began this project in 1995.”

The flatland farm was purchased in 1917 by a group of golf aficionados, including Edsel Ford. The grounds had been compacted from decades of use and were uninteresting from a landscape point of view. Hundreds of trees died and were removed. Fast forward to 2012 when annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees provide landscaping worthy of tours by learned gardeners and now a state award.

Lindbloom and her crew of one, Ed Astfalk, this month will plant 400 to 500 flats of annuals from the clubhouse across the 110-acre golf course, around each hole, by the pool and the tennis courts.

Among the sunpatiens, coleus, the snapdragon look-alike angelonia and petunias, Lindbloom said, she seeks the unusual flora that make a visual impact.

She has already planted weeping blue atlas cedars, Japanese maple, Japanese tree peonies, golden chain trees, fernspray false cypress, ground-covering polka dot plants and in a protected, alcove mountain laurel, among others.

“There is something blooming from May through October,” she said.

Lindbloom added the most spectacular months are July and August when so much is in bloom. The grounds are a vision of color to greet visitors attending club-hosted golf tournaments and the swim meets.

The club’s ash trees succumbed to the Emerald ash borer. The Dutch elm disease attacked and killed elm trees, except for a 78-inch diameter American elm on the fifth green. The tree has been designated the second oldest elm in the state, according to Lindbloom who accompanies officials from the Big Tree Program who annually measure the tree.

“In 1995, they (the club’s board) brought in a superintendent (Michael Jones) with an eye for turf and ornamentals, working on a plan to replace 100 to 400 trees. We lost almost 200 ash,” Lindbloom said. “This is a small course with no great vistas. Without the trees, it would be less pleasant.”

Lindbloom, who has a degree in geology but a passion for landscaping and horticulture, began her job by diversifying the tree species.

Guarding against possible future devastating disease, such as the Dutch elm disease, she said she has incorporated many varieties of tree species.

“I started with a couple yews,” she said.

Lindbloom branched out planting both deciduous species and conifer.

And she began creating flower beds, using a mixture of perennials, shrubs and annuals. “There is nothing (no bed) that is all annual,” she said.

She and her crew tackled the entrance and driveway first. “It’s a dramatic change.”

This was followed by a creation of gardens around the clubhouse, the pool and on each of the golf course holes.

“In addition to all this, in late 1999, 2000, the whole golf course was re-engineered to capture water,” she said.

Instead of dumping water into the city sewer system, a 35-foot, two-acre reservoir was built. Three ponds were also built on the course. All run off is directed into the ponds and then in the reservoir and reuse for irrigation.

“We capture all irrigation (runoff) and the rain water. We are helping the city with run off. It saves us a ton of money. Our goal is to capture all the water. We use fertilizer and don’t want to put that into the system. The last two years, we have been redoing all drains on the greens and fairway. It is dug to get rid of the standing water,” she said.

Lindbloom said her goal is to be as environmentally conscious as she can, including either having a dog on the grounds to discourage geese from nesting or relocating geese once they have settled in.

Lindbloom and Astfalk’s focus is on taking care of the more than 50 flower beds and keeping the Queen Anne’s lace, Canadian thistle and phragmites, among other weeds, in check.

“We do a lot of hoeing and weeding,” she laughed.

It’s obvious her efforts have blossomed and are being recognized.

“The hope of this project was to implement a plan to update, beautify and make progressive environmental changes to our over 100-year-old club. We feel that we have accomplished our goal and are proud to have received this coveted award,” Gadette said.