Meet the team behind Gardening Simplified.
A West Michigan native and life-long gardener, Rick served as host of the award winning Flowerland show on NewsRadio WOOD 1300 and 106.9 FM and nationally on iHeart radio from May 1, 1993 to June 4, 2022. The show won 7 MAB’s for broadcasting excellence. He was also known as “Mr Green Thumb” for WZZM TV 13, the West Michigan ABC television affiliate for over 20 years. After 46 years at Flowerland, an independent garden center, Rick “rewired” – not retired! – in July 2022. Rick is the author of three books. In addition to his love of gardening, Rick is a health enthusiast, an avid runner, and loves photography on the Lake Michigan shoreline and in the garden where he lives in West Michigan. Rick is entered as an artist in the 2022 ArtPrize competition for his photography of the 2019 and 2020 shoreline erosion event along the Lake Michigan shoreline. His personal website is https://thankyouverymulch.com/
I have developed and maintained a number of home gardens through the years. I’ve experienced many soil types including the heavy “blue clay” of Byron Center Michigan. My garden today is at my home near the Lake Michigan shoreline. I love the “tempering” effect of the lake causing the landscape to wake slowly in spring and moderate the onset of winter in the fall. Lake effect snow provides plenty of insulation for my overwintering plants! The challenges I face with my garden near the lakeshore are sand (the soil drains too well!) and deer pressure. Because “the buck stops here” I have built a large fenced enclosure so I can enjoy my flowering annuals, vines, hydrangeas cannas and vegetable plants. Outside the “compound” I continue to garden but have to use containers and repellants as well as deer resistant plants like ornamental grasses, Prickly Pear Cactus, Nepeta and Buddleia to name a few. Living in an area where milkweed is plentiful, I love planting pollinator friendly plants and enjoy attracting and watching the monarch butterflies as well as the hummingbirds my garden attracts. Living near the “big lake” and other nearby inland lakes with plenty of tree cover, the variety of birds in this area are significant making bird watching and feeding fun and rewarding. For years I was the purchasing agent of tropical plants and “houseplants” for an independent garden center so I enjoy incorporating a tropical feel in the garden during summer and the joy of houseplants in the home in winter. I’m always posting plant pictures, nature and weather pictures in social media so look for “Rick Vuyst” on Facebook or other social media platforms. I wanted to be a meteorologist and have many meteorological friends but life had other plans. At least we as gardeners are always talking about the weather and watching the forecasts especially during frost season!
Stacey did not grow up in a gardening family, but was naturally drawn to nature her whole life. While earning her linguistics degree from the University of Michigan, she realized that her hobby could become her livelihood, and moved to New York City to attend the New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture. In New York, she worked as a rooftop gardener, then served as the horticulturist at the former Tavern on the Green restaurant (that’s where all her grey hair came from). She then got what thought was her dream job as a garden editor at Martha Stewart Living magazine, where she co-hosted her first radio program on Sirius Satellite Radio. After seven years there, she relocated to West Michigan to join the marketing team at Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs/Spring Meadow Nursery. Turns out, this really is her dream job, as she gets to spend every day as part of an amazing team of plant lovers, writing articles, making videos, and recording this show to spread the love of plants to gardeners of all skill levels. Her first book, Edible Spots and Pots, was published by Rodale in 2014.
When she’s not in the garden, she’s in the kitchen, trying out a new recipe, out in nature hiking, botanizing, and birding, or curled up in a comfy spot knitting.
My garden is on a standard .25 acre city lot here in West Michigan. It’s on top of what was once a sand dune and 95% of it is full, blazing sun, so everything I grow has to be very drought tolerant. It also has to be deer resistant, because, much to my surprise and despite living near a busy downtown area, herds of deer frequent our neighborhood throughout the year. That makes it tough to grow the vegetables that I love, but we manage to grow a few crops thanks to some homemade deer exclosures made from PVC pipes and window screening. It’s neither pretty nor convenient, but at least I get tomatoes.
The rest of my garden is devoted primarily to native perennials and shrubs that attract and sustain birds and insects. I have a great love for bugs of all types (except tomato hornworms, they definitely creep me out!) and find the most satisfaction in my garden watching the interaction between plants and animals. To see more of my garden – and lots of the bugs that visit it, follow me on Instagram – @GardenStacey.
Adriana Robinson is the engineer and producer for the Gardening Simplified show, as well as the full-time photographer and videographer for Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs. You can see more of her skills on our YouTube channel. When she’s not behind the soundboard or camera, you’ll find her hiking or camping with her Siberian husky, Atlas, tending to her vegetable garden, or working on her latest stained glass project.