We are officially halfway through our road trip through the upper midwest. (Feel free to read about days one, two and three). 


When we go on our road trips, not all of our destinations are necessarily known to draw tourists.  Sometimes we have to spend the night in an area just because it is on the way to our next destination.  


It is during these times that we get acquainted with small towns.  I have never lived in a small town – I have lived in suburbs my entire life.


That was where we found ourselves last night – in a small town halfway through the lower part of the  Upper Peninsula of Michigan.



The only restaurant in town was Bob’s Big Boy and we were greeted by a giant moose dressed as Bob.  The food was good and it reminded me of eating at Bob’s Big Boy restaurants as a child in California.

For some reason, there was a moose dressed in another outfit in front of our hotel as well.


This is the view from our hotel this morning.  It was cloudy and cold at 41 degrees.  

We dressed warmly and left on our way toward Wisconsin and further adventures.


This is the view that we saw from the car 90-percent of the time as we drove through the Upper Peninsula, which is sparsely populated.

As we were driving, I saw a young bear cub romping toward the trees and the beach – pretty cool!


We crossed into Wisconsin and stopped by a small restaurant that is a favorite among locals.  As we stepped out of our car, we noticed that the temperature was 40 degrees warmer (81 degrees) then where we had left from that morning. 


The food was good, but basic.  Bratwursts, hot dogs and burgers made up the menu.  You could tell that the restaurant was very popular with newspaper articles posted on the walls, t-shirts for sale and a lot of customers.


When in Wisconsin, you shop for cheese.  My husband loves cheese, so I made sure to buy some for him.


There were many types of cheese and while my husband likes trying out unique flavors, I figured that he wasn’t up to having chocolate cheese fudge.

I did end up buying garlic cheddar, smoked cheddar and chipotle cheddar cheeses.

An piece of a tree trunk makes a nice planter for annual flowers at the entrance to the Green Bay Botanical Garden.

As we entered Green Bay, Wisconsin, we decided to visit the local botanical garden.


As my loved ones know, when I am in a garden, I tend to walk off and disappear as I take pictures of plants.  Thankfully, my husband and my mother are understanding about this tendency.

Curve your garden paths to add interest and a bit of mystery as to what is around the bend.

As a horticulturist and garden writer, I have a large photo library of plants.  Some of the writing I do is not limited to the southwest, but for all regions of the United States.  So, I like to take opportunities when I travel to take photos of plants that I will use later.

Newly-opened pink roses bloom next to dark-colored buds that have yet to open.

I have a list of plants that I would love to have in my garden – but that do not grow in my desert climate.

Red Peonies

One of those plants on my list are peonies.  

I love their full, ruffled flowers borne above bright-green foliage.

Did I mention that they are also wonderfully fragrant?

Lavender Peonies

The Green Bay Botanical Gardens were filled with flowering peonies in a myriad of different colors.

Maroon Peonies

I have photographed peonies on previous trips, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see so many different-colored peonies in one place.


Peonies bloom once a year in late spring into early summer depending on the variety and climate.

They die back to the ground in winter.


While peonies will grow in most climates, but they need cold temperatures in winter, so they do not grow well in zones 9 and above.

Bleeding Hearts ‘Alba’

Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) are another flowering plant that I would grow, if I could.  They love cool, shady gardens.  Their flowers resemble a ‘bleeding heart’, hence their common name.

Available in both pink and white forms, this flowering perennial is just lovely.

White Bleeding Hearts


Do you have a bird bath in your garden?  I like the simplicity of this stone one.


When visiting botanical gardens, I am always getting new ideas for the garden.  

While I have seen trellises created from branches before, I think this is the best one I have seen.  The branches are large enough to be able to provide support for climbing plants.  Rebar posts are used to anchor the trellis.

I think that I may have to make some for my own garden.

False Indigo (Baptisia australis)
Blue-flowering plants help to visually cool the garden, which can be welcome during the warm summer months.

Blue Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis sylvatica)

Blue flowering plants look great when paired with white, pink or pale yellow plants.

Willow Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana)

From a design standpoint, I like how a strip of blue phlox was planted to divide two separate plantings – don’t you?

Wild Red Columbine (Columbine canadensis)

Wild red columbine was planted throughout the garden, in order to attract ruby-throated hummingbirds, which is the only hummingbird species found in Wisconsin.
As I got ready to leave the garden, I spotted this guy working very hard cutting back the weeds/grass with a brush cutter.  The slope was steep and it was a hot day – it made me glad that my garden doesn’t have steep slopes.

*After leaving the gardens, we drove through the city of Green Bay.  Now, if you haven’t heard of the fervent fan base of the Green Bay Packers football team, than you must have your head buried in the sand.

Packer Stadium

Spend just a few minutes in the city and it is obvious that they love their football team.

How do I know this?


Across the street from the stadium are homes that back up to the street.  Without exception, every house has some sort of Packer decoration.


From a decorated gate, a raised deck encircled with etched glass with the Packer emblem and a giant football statue – the neighborhood has it all.


You can even buy cheese in your favorite Packer shape.

*I hope you are enjoying reading about our road trip adventures.  Thank you to those of you who have commented!

Tomorrow, we are off to more road trip adventures!
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

7 replies
  1. Rhonda Thomas
    Rhonda Thomas says:

    You should find some good squeaky cheese curds while you are in Wisconsin! Fried cheese curds are yummy too and most restaurants will have them on the menu. Have fun!

    Reply
  2. Indie
    Indie says:

    How fun! I am a terrible road-tripper (life-long problem with motion sickness), but I love the concept, and I love seeing new places. That cheese store sounds like so much fun! And what pretty gardens! Even in North Carolina it was hard to grow peonies. That is one plant that I am very excited to grow now that I live in Massachusetts!

    Reply
  3. JOHN SHORTLAND, Cotswold Hills, England.
    JOHN SHORTLAND, Cotswold Hills, England. says:

    I am so enjoying your road trip, Noelle. I am also pleased that for once I am not being envious of what you can grow in your hot climate – here in my garden in England, the peonies are in full bloom and the bleeding hearts have just finished. The white ones look fabulous against the lushness of ferns and they grow just as well in pots as in the borders.

    Best wishes
    John

    Reply

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