On a cold February morning, alongside my mother and sisters, I found myself at The Magnolia Silos, created and made famous by the much-loved hosts of HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’ program. 

We were on a girls road trip through Texas, and as fans of the show, The Silos in Waco were a must-see destination. 

The day we arrived was brisk, and we headed straight to the bakery, which is well-known for its delicious cupcakes and pastries. So, while my travel companions saved me a place in line, I headed straight for the decorative window boxes along the front and side of the bakery.

To be honest, I didn’t expect to see much in the way of greenery or gardens in winter, and so I was pleasantly surprised to see the lovely plantings underneath the windows.

Edible plants were mixed with ornamental plants, creating a blending of soft, complimentary shades, which suited the cloudy day.

The rosemary pruned into little topiaries created the perfect backdrop for the white, ornamental kale.

There is almost always a line around the bakery, but we were fortunate only to have to wait for 10 minutes before entering. In the meantime, we were handed a bakery menu where we could select what we wanted ahead of time.

I picked the ‘Shiplap’ cupcake – because, where else was I ever going to have the opportunity to get one anywhere else? It was delicious!

This sign within the bakery echoed the sentiments of all who entered and came out with a box of much-coveted cupcakes.

Once outside of the bakery, we headed for the main store where four magnolia trees were espaliered to the left of the entrance.

Don’t let the relatively empty facade fool you – it was filled with shoppers inside. 

A grouping of lavender greeted us as we climbed the steps into the store.

 

Hanging tight to my wallet while trying to figure out how much I had budgeted for shopping, I entered the store.

It was immediately evident that Joanna has a deep love for gardening and plants although all those inside the store were artificial greenery and flowers.

Back outdoors, my sister and I posed for a picture before we headed over to the garden area.

The garden is surrounded with beds filled with roses that had recently been cut back and tulips just beginning to emerge.

The Magnolia Seed & Supply shop is filled with garden decor along with seeds available for purchase. 

Raised beds are filled with leafy greens. I like the wooden branches used to support the frost cloth.

To the side of the store was a little greenhouse with a planter full of gorgeous kale. 

I must admit that I’ve never thought of kale as ‘gorgeous’ before, but it was in this case.

On our way out, we took a photo of the silos surrounded by families and kids playing on a large expanse of artificial turf using old-fashioned lawn games provided for their use.

A quick stop for a photo.

I hope you enjoyed exploring the green spaces of The Magnolia Silos with me. I certainly did!

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Sweet potato vine trail underneath a planting of lantana and ‘Victoria Blue’ salvia.

I’ve spent a busy week on the road traveling back and forth throughout the central and northern parts of Arizona. 

While my road trips were for pleasure, there were some work elements involved, viewing the newest trends of high desert landscaping, and taking photos of pretty plants.

Planters filled with green and black sweet potato vines trail over the railing at Tlaquepaque with Mark Twan (Samuel Clemens) sitting underneath.

During the first part of the week, I spent a few days in Sedona. This colorful, high desert town holds a special place in my heart. It is where my husband and I spent our honeymoon, and we make a point of coming back up to visit every few years.

A must stop destination for us are the shops are Tlaquepaque, which is modeled after an old Mexican village. Fountains and courtyards are scattered throughout the stores, inviting visitors to sit and enjoy the dappled shade while listening to the gentle sounds of water features.

To be honest, I do enjoy perusing the galleries and shops, but the main draw for me is the beautiful container plantings. Sweet potato vine, lantana, ‘Katie’ ruellia, and salvia are artfully arranged within the containers.

A ‘Painted Lady’ butterfly drinking nectar from a lantana.

Butterflies and hummingbirds are also frequent visitors to Tlaquepaque.


Area hotels also feature lovely examples of plants that thrive in the dry heat like the trumpet vine and yucca, above.

While in Sedona, we made side trips to Flagstaff and Cottonwood before it was time to travel back home.

After one night home, it was back into the car and off on another journey. This time, we brought our kids with us for a destination wedding in Skull Valley, which is a half hour outside of Prescott.

The wedding was held in the middle of the wilderness, reached by traveling over 20 minutes on a curving, unpaved road. Wildlife was plentiful as we spotted a coyote, deer, and a roadrunner, while also smelling a skunk along the way.

It was dusk when the wedding began, and the setting couldn’t have been more beautiful. A cool breeze welcomed guests to the venue that backed up onto the Prescott National Forest. 

The ceremony was beautiful, and the groom got all choked up in the midst of his vows. Guests spent a great time celebrating at the reception, held in an old barn, and we got back to the hotel late.

We took a back way back home, which involved driving some curvy mountain roads, but we traveled through little towns that we had never heard of such as Wilhoit and Peeble Valley. 

I love the fact that even after living here for over 30 years, I still enjoy the beauty of our state and yet encounter new places.

**Do you have a favorite place to visit in Arizona?

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Have you ever visited a garden filled with more than just trees and plants? Different types of garden art can add welcome interest to outdoor spaces along with a touch of whimsy.

It’s the unexpected element of encountering an unusual planter, wall hanging, or recycled items throughout the garden that can add a touch of whimsy that makes a garden unforgettable.

I was inspired by the creative uses of garden decor on a recent visit to Buffalo, and while the plants may be different than what I grow in my Arizona garden, the look can be easily replicated using desert-adapted plants.

Here is a look at my favorites.

A small bistro table is all set for tea along with moss planters in the shape of a purse and high shoe.

Got a dull expanse of wooden fence? Grab some chalk and draw some flowers – this would also work for a block wall fence too.

Old glass dishes make beautiful flowers, don’t you think?

Got an old portable fire pit? Dress it up by filling it with succulents.

Creating artistic pieces from old silverware is quite popular and I quite like this dragonfly made out of butter knives.

An old mirror not only makes a unique wall hanging, but it also reflects the beauty of the garden in front of it.

Old garden benches paired with old watering cans add a new look to this corner of a garden.

Transform an old tree stump by adding a plant on top and wooden planters below.

‘Head’ planters are a trendy whimsical element, and I love the extra splash of color that these add.

Elephants food (Portulacaria afra) would make an excellent ‘hairstyle’ for a head planter.

The elegant beauty of a rusted steel hummingbird.

Faced with the view of an uninspiring blank wooden fence? Break up the monotony by adding planters across the base and through the middle.

Succulents would look great used this way through the middle with potted lantana at the base.

An antique store kettle finds new life as a planter for purple alyssum.

Cool season annuals such as petunias or pansies would go nicely in here. Succulents are a good choice for a year-round planting.

Metal wall hangings are a great way to decorate vertical spaces.

Another stump makes a suitable resting spot for a couple of birdhouses and a colorful ladder.

A simple, yet elegant way to display the blooms in your garden in small glass jars.

Lantana, roses, Texas sage or yellow bell blossoms would look lovely displayed like this for a party.

Are you feeling inspired? I certainly am. I invite you to stroll through an antique shop, a thrift store, or even the garage sale down the street. You never know what will catch your attention and be used to add artistic flair and whimsy to your garden.  

Have you ever visited a garden taken from the pages of a book? I recently had the rather unusual experience of reliving one of my favorite book series while walking through a truly unique garden.

Over the past couple of posts, I’ve been sharing the adventures of my latest garden travels which took me to Buffalo, New York. During the week that I spent in this lovely city, I had the wonderful opportunity to tour many gardens, and a few stood out, but none as much as this one.

I was in Buffalo for the GWA (Garden Communicators) annual conference and part of our time was spent touring a variety of fabulous gardens.

Our bus pulled up in front of a beautiful Dutch colonial home, whose owner is Jim Charlier, noted area gardener as well as graphic designer. 

While the beauty of the front landscape encouraged further discovery, I was not prepared for what awaited us as we passed through the back garden gate.

A picturesque garden shed stood sentinel in the side yard painted with purple and orange accents, however, it was what surrounded this small structure that was attracting the most attention.

A storybook garden invited visitors to explore the plants from the pages of Harry Potter.

Using his imagination, Charlier, used his artistic skill and gardening knowledge to select plants to represent the magical plants from the books.

The ‘Mirror of Erised’ from Book 1.

A ‘Portkey’ from book 4.

Neville’s pet toad ‘Trevor.’

Window boxes contained lovely plantings, including English ivy that trailed over the edges.

If you think that this garden would attract kids, you’d be right. Charlier’s inspiration for this storybook garden was to get his daughter interested in gardening. 

Although this Harry Potter garden may have been initially intended for his daughter, it was fun to see how many adults exclaiming over the originality and artistry, including me.

After visiting the garden, I had the strong urge to begin reading through the Harry Potter series again.

Have you ever seen a storybook themed garden?

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I enjoy traveling around the country, exploring gardens. Throughout my travels, I am constantly amazed at the unexpected gardens that I stumble upon. Recently, I was in Buffalo, New York for the annual GWA Conference. I arrived a few days early in order to spend time with my BGF (Best Garden Friend), Andrea who came all the way from Australia to attend. We set out from our hotel in the morning to see more of the downtown area of the city.

It was a hot and humid day, but we were not deterred. We passed by a farmers market down the road from our hotel where fresh produce from area farms, was laid out to tempt passersby.  

I enjoy seeing fresh seasonal produce but lament that fact that other than fresh fruit, I am limited as to what I can use without a kitchen when I am traveling.

Most farmers markets also feature plants for sale and it’s a great way to see what grows in that area.

After leaving the farmers market with a bag of blueberries, we continued our walk toward the lake side where we encountered a lovely urban community garden. The Learning Garden is located underneath an overpass and adjoins a park.

The garden serves as an outdoor classroom for Erie Community College.

Three of the sides of the garden bounded by a fence, leaving an open gateway for visitors to explore the garden.

Raised beds were filled with a variety of vegetables and herbs along with a few ornamental flowers. Tomatoes are found in almost all of the beds and this garden clearly had an Italian theme with its basil and parsley.

Intermingled with many of the edible crops were whimsical garden signs like this one nestled within a bed of kale.

This sign expresses the joy of gardening for me and I believe for many others as well. As you can see, they aren’t difficult to make and I may enlist the woodworking skills of my husband to make some for my own garden.

Andrea and I took a moment to rest our sore feet while enjoying the scenery of the garden and the busy bees roaming from flower to flower.

The raised beds followed no distinct pattern that I could ascertain – but regardless, they looked great and were obviously thriving. Vegetables were the main focus with flowering annuals such as snapdragons and alyssum adding color.

I want this sign in my vegetable garden – do you think the neighborhood cats can read?

A small greenhouse is located behind massive cucumber vines. My cucumber vines have never looked that good…

I enjoy garden art made from repurposed materials, such as this ‘spoon-fork’ flower – a definite touch of whimsy.

What do you do when you run out of room in your raised beds? Plant vegetables in fabric containers, of course!

In a sunny corner, an unusual pair of wooden chairs sat, facing each other. What a great piece of furniture for those who enjoy good conversation, like we do!

We spent over an hour exploring the garden before leaving. It was a completely unexpected garden discovery and one that I will remember for a long time.

Once we left the garden, we decided to search for a place to eat lunch. Did we select a unique eatery or small cafe for lunch?

Nope.

I’ve heard great things about Tim Hortons and we don’t have them where I live and they aren’t in Australia, where Andrea lives either, so we decided to eat lunch there to see what all the buzz was about.

 Okay, this isn’t the healthiest lunch, but I did get my pretzel bun club sandwich without mayonnaise and it was delicious.

For dessert, we ate their famous cake batter-flavored donut holes – oh my, they were wonderful! It’s probably a good thing that we don’t have one nearby or my waistline would suffer greatly.

I hope you have enjoyed our Buffalo garden travels so far. You can click here to read about our adventures at the test garden filled with colorful annuals. Next up, a garden from the pages of Harry Potter!

 

**You can follow Andrea’s gardening adventures on her blog.

 

 

I enjoy traveling – especially when I get to explore new places. Last month, I journeyed to Buffalo, New York where I toured gardens, attended a writer’s workshop, and best of all, spent time with one of my favorite people.

Why Buffalo you may ask? Well, it turns out that this industrial city has beautiful green spaces, whimsical private gardens, as well as test gardens. Each August, the city hosts Garden Walk Buffalo where people from all over the U.S., Canada, and other countries descend to tour over 400 private gardens. I was in Buffalo for the Garden Communicator’s Annual Conference, which is held in a different city each year. Each year, I look forward to the conference where garden tours, educational sessions, and the tradeshow fills our days. It is also a very good time to reconnect with fellow writers.

 

I arrived in Buffalo a few days early to meet up with my BGF (Best Garden Friend), Andrea who flew all the way from Australia to attend. We met two years ago when we attended our first conference and bonded instantly. Throughout the year, we keep in touch via Facebook Messenger and look forward to spending a week together at the conference. 

Our agenda for the first day was to explore the downtown area down the street from our hotel. There were many older buildings, including our hotel, which had been beautifully refurbished, including the city hall and its art deco architecture.

 

The day was sunny, humid, and hot. Desert dwellers like me don’t deal very well with humidity, but that didn’t stop us from exploring.

 

We walked down to Canalside, which is along the banks of Lake Erie. As we explored the area, we walked through beautifully landscaped garden beds. The hosta and coleus were stunning with their contrasting colors.

While I may not be able to grow many of the plants we passed by, it doesn’t keep me from enjoying their beauty and getting inspired to create similar plantings using different plants that thrive where I live. However, there was ONE plant in this bed that currently grows in my garden – pink flowering gaura.

As we continued walking along the water front, splashes of color caught my eye. 

We had stumbled upon a ‘pot of gold at the end of a rainbow’ or in other words, a test garden where the latest flowering annuals are being tested.

Large containers filled with ‘Supertunia’ petunias look as if they are on steroids. But, this type of flower is smaller than regular petunias and flower more abundantly as you can see. The tall spikes of white and purple angelonia add a lovely vertical accent.

White alyssum, black sweet potato vine, and gomphrena make a unique grouping that works. 

I was thrilled to note that many of the plants in the test garden would grow nicely in my desert garden – during the cool season.

More pink gaura was to be seen, blooming in front of masses of Supertunia.

Lantana is a very familiar sight in arid gardens where it can survive outdoors throughout the year. However, in cold winter regions, it is treated as an annual.

Black-eyed Susan vines grew against a wooden fence surrounded by vibrant verbena and double petunias.

I love trellises made from natural materials on hand like this wood, likely fished out from the lake.

Here is another plant that currently grows in my desert garden – Salvia amistad.

Million Bells (Calibrachoa)

After the long trek from our hotel and exploring the test garden, Andrea and I were content after seeing such beautiful plants, but we were also hot, tired, and hungry.

Thankfully, we found this wonderful restaurant a couple of blocks away. The food and service were fabulous, so we came back again for dinner.

I invite you to visit Andrea’s blog where she writes about her adventures gardening in Perth, Australia. Please come back to join me for day two of our adventure where we discover another garden – this one filled with edible plants along with whimsical garden signs.

 

Echeveria and aloe planted in an old water fountain in Santa Barbara, CA.

Water features have long had a prominent spot in the landscape, where the both the beauty and sound of water help to create an enjoyable outdoor atmosphere.

However, water features can be high maintenance, messy to clean, and can be problematic in arid climates where water is a precious resource. Because of these reasons, it’s not unusual to see an empty water feature sitting empty without purpose.

In both my garden travels and work as a landscape consultant, I like to discover new uses for water features or ways to mimic the appearance of water, which succulents can fulfill beautifully.

A sink full of succulent plants spill out in the Barrio Garden section of the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Water features and succulents can add welcome interest, from simulating the movement of water with their shapes to taking the place of water in the basin.

Plumbing hardware can be used, along with succulents, to create an artistic arrangement in the garden such as these galvanized buckets and water pipes.

Succulents can also add a lovely planting around water features like the example above with lady’s slipper (Euphorbia macrocarpus), and it’s unique ‘Medusa-like’ growth habit adds an unexpected design element. It is important to keep succulents far enough away from getting any over splash from the water as they need dry soil to grow in.

Containers filled with succulents can make an attractive backdrop for a water feature as they are low-maintenance and their distinctive shapes add welcome texture.

Visit any nursery, and you’ll notice how popular succulents are, as they make up a larger percentage of the plants on display, tempting people to add them to their gardens.

So go ahead and give your water feature new life with succulents!

Disclaimer: This garden adventure to Savannah was provided by Troy-Bilt at no cost to me, however, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

After our first full day in Savannah, we woke to a beautiful morning and got ready for a day working at the Savannah Botanical Gardens.

The folks at Troy-Bilt organized this service project, along with the organization, Planet In Action, whose purpose was to donate materials and labor for the Children’s Garden section. As part of a group of garden bloggers, who are Troy-Bilt ambassadors, I was eager to take part in this event.

The garden suffered damage from Hurricane Matthew last year, and we were asked to create additional feature areas for the children’s section. 

Existing garden features included a fun twist on a ‘bed of flowers.’

A ‘pizza garden’ filled with plants that are frequently found on top of a pizza.

A fun spot to pose for a picture with friends.

Instructions were given, and we paired off to work on one of four projects. They included creating a dedicated seating area for the kids (complete with new benches), planting an orchard, adding a berry patch, and a new path between the main gardens and the children’s section.

We had worked on the design for the new spaces ahead of time, so were able to get right to work, once we arrived.

I worked on the berry patch planting blueberries and thornless blackberries. Using an auger made it easy to dig holes – I wonder if I can ask for one for Christmas?

The orchard was planted with lemon, orange, and fig trees.

New planting beds were added around the corners of the concrete pad.

Benches were installed once planting was finished.

A pathway was created, leading to the main gardens and the children’s with daylilies and ornamental grasses.

A film crew recorded the transformation of the garden and the story behind it.

We took a quick pause to take a photo of our original Troy-Bilt group with Amy Andrychowicz of Get Busy Gardening, Helen Yoest of Gardening With Confidence, Dave Townsend, of Growing the Home Garden, and myself. This is the third time that we have gathered together working with Troy-Bilt.

Once the projects were finished, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new areas, and Troy-Bilt gifted the gardens with a check to assist with their upkeep.

The Savannah Botanical Gardens is a hidden gem that offers free admission to all and it was a pleasure to work with the folks who volunteer their time and talents to keep it running. 

We joined with new garden blogger friends to create these new areas, including Teresa O’Connor of Seasonal Wisdom, Rochelle Greayer of Pith & Vigor, Kenny Point of Veggie Gardening Tips, Eric Rochow of Garden Fork TV, Erin Schanen of The Impatient Gardener, and Kim Wilson of Sand & Sisal.

If you ever find yourself in Savannah, I encourage you to visit this special garden.

Disclaimer: This garden adventure to Savannah was provided by Troy-Bilt at no cost to me, however, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

It is said that there are those who love to travel and those who love to garden. So what do you get when you pair the two together? A garden adventure!

For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, the fact that I enjoy traveling is no secret, and I frequently share my travels with you all. This particular trip was to Savannah, Georgia along with the folks at Troy-Bilt, who I work with as a brand ambassador.  Several garden bloggers from across the country are brought together to learn about the latest Troy-Bilt products, tour a garden, and participate in a service project, all of which, take place within 2-3 days.

This is my third outing with Troy-Bilt, and I was thrilled to learn that this year’s event was in Savannah. I had visited once before and could hardly wait to revisit some of the same places as well as explore new ones in the little free time that I had.

I arrived in Savannah the night before and didn’t have a meeting until later in the afternoon, so I woke up ready to walk through the historic section of the city. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to visit this city, it is quintessentially southern filled with period architecture and beautifully restored buildings.

Our hotel, The Brice, is a lovely hotel in a historic building right in downtown Savannah.  All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and you can walk to most of the popular destinations.

I must confess that I felt particularly liberated and free as I began my walk. There was no work that I had to attend to, no kids to take care of – just three hours of free time to do whatever I wanted, which was to explore my surroundings.

‘Window Selfie’

Whenever I travel, I like to observe the plants of the region. In the warm regions of the South, Spanish moss is the most iconic feature as it drapes across majestic oak trees.

You can even find it intertwined on shrubs and other plants. Spanish moss isn’t really a moss, but rather an ‘epiphyte’ that receives the nutrients and moisture that it needs from the air. Unlike parasitic plants like mistletoe, Spanish moss doesn’t have roots and doesn’t take nutrients from other plants; they just hang from them. In fact, they are a type of air plant (Tillandsia).

Planters were filled with luscious combinations of colorful annuals and perennials like this one planted with blue lobelia, red verbena, orange agastache, burgundy salvia, and snapdragons.

One of the many things that I like about traveling is to see historic buildings and landscapes as here in the Southwest; there are very few. For example, you probably wouldn’t see a sign like this in Arizona. I did climb the stairs by the way and didn’t fall.

Downtown Savannah is filled with historic buildings and large oak trees that provide welcome shade. Unique shops and restaurants invite you to step inside and tempt you with their offerings.

An example of the temptations that await is ‘Funky Bread,’ which is basically monkey bread – and delicious! I must say that I didn’t plan on eating something so fattening for breakfast – but I did!

The colorful clothing displayed in the window of this downtown boutique had me making a detour from my route. I didn’t plan on buying any clothes on this trip – but I did that too! A new dress doesn’t take up much room in a suitcase, right? 

After giving into the temptation of delicious, high-calorie food as well as buying clothes, for the rest of my walking tour, I avoided going into any more stores.

All too soon, it was time to wrap up my morning walk and get ready for my first meeting.

Shortly after our meeting at the hotel, we all headed out for a personal tour of the Coastal Georgia Botanic Gardens.  This garden is known for the bamboo planted around it, which was planted by the original owner of the land.

*Note the gathering storm clouds – they will play a part in our adventures later in the day.

Our tour was led by the director of the gardens and we visited several sections. Perhaps the most famous section is one filled with many different species of camellias many of which, are relatively rare. I don’t grow camellias as they are somewhat hard to grow in Arizona and I stay away from plants that are hard to grow, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy them in other areas.

Savannah and Phoenix have similar minimum winter temperatures, which means that we can grow many of the same plants such as citrus, lantana, salvia, etc. However, this is a plant that doesn’t grow here, but I liked it just the same. This is called ‘tractor seat’ plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea’). I don’t think I’ll ever forget the name of this one as its leaves do resemble the seat of a tractor.

Last fall, on a visit to Atlanta, I noted that many gardens had bird houses mounted on poles. This garden had them too, and I like how it looks. How about you?

Containers in my favorite shade of blue decorated the garden, filled with an assortment of plants noted for their foliage. Colorful containers are one of my favorite ways to add color to shady areas where flowering plants won’t grow.

They had a xeriscape garden filled with familiar plants such as agave, bulbine, and salvias. In a more humid climate, the leaves of these plants were larger than those that grow in drier regions of the country, like the Southwest.

A garden filled with raised beds was created especially for those with disabilities. I found it quite beautiful with beds filled with flowers and vegetables.

This citrus tree certainly looks a bit different from those grown in drier regions. Note the lichen growing on the trunk and the Spanish moss hanging from the branches.

The orchid house is filled with colorful varieties that had many of us taking close-up photographs. Have you ever grown an orchid indoors? I’ve grown two and got them to flower, but then got lazy and didn’t take care of them, which leads me to confess that I am not very good at raising houseplants.

As we got ready to leave, storm clouds were gathering on the horizon, and the wind was picking up. Although the garden had a new weather station, they kept this old one, sheltered underneath a colorful loropetalum.

Severe thunderstorms were in the forecast for most of Georgia, including Savannah. Back at the hotel as I was getting ready for dinner, I turned on the local news where the entire broadcast was dedicated to the tornado warnings for Atlanta AND Savannah! In fact, they had their camera focused on the clouds with my hotel directly underneath.  But, did that keep us from going out to dinner? 

Nope. The weather held off until we entered the restaurant and thankfully, no tornadoes. 

We did enjoy fabulous food, and I decided that an important part of traveling is enjoying the cuisine of where you are visiting. By the way, I learned that ‘yardbird’ means chicken and that brownies covered in strawberries and whipped cream are heavenly!

In invite you to join me for ‘Part 2’ where we gather together to work on the children’s garden at the Savannah Botanical Gardens.

*Have you ever visited Savannah? What was your favorite thing to visit and eat?

 

Petoskey, Michigan Lighthouse

While spring break is a time where masses of people escape the cold for warmer climates (like Arizona), we decided to do the exact opposite.  We flew out of warm, sunny Phoenix and headed to cold and snowy Michigan.

Now before you start to question my sanity, I have an excellent reason for bundling up and bracing myself for the cold, windy weather.  My daughter and her family call Michigan their home now, and since then, we try to make it out at least twice a year, and spring break just happened to be the best time to do it.

I always look forward to visits to their town of Petoskey, which sits on the shore of Little Traverse Bay.  It is a popular summer destination, and I spent several weeks here last year helping my daughter move into her new house and add new plants to her garden.

It is always fun pulling out my warm weather gear, which seldom gets used at home.  I knit these fingerless mittens a few years ago and rarely have a chance to wear them.

As a Southern California native and Arizona resident, I must admit that I have relatively little experience with cold weather so, it has been fun exploring the landscape and seeing the effects of winter.  Seeing the bay frozen in time where we waded in with our feet last June was exciting.

At the beginning of our week, the temperatures were in the mid 20’s with a brisk wind, and we were excited to see an unexpected snow shower.

I realize that many of you who have lived in areas with cold winters may be rolling your eyes at this point, but for someone who has always lived where winters are mild, the weather has been a novelty.

However, the novelty quickly wore off this morning when I stepped outside, and it was a frigid 16 degrees, and I learned why people start their cars a few minutes before they get in to let them heat up inside.  But, I braved the few steps from the house to the car, and we were off to my granddaughter Lily’s preschool class where I was to give a presentation on the desert and Arizona.

I brought photographs of the animals, cactuses, and flowers of the desert.  The kids were a great audience and seemed especially impressed with the following pictures:

  • The height of a saguaro cactus with people standing at its base 
  • A bird poking its head out of a hole in the saguaro
  • Cactus flowers
  • Aesop – our desert tortoise

I was struck by how different the desert is from the Michigan landscape and felt honored to expand their horizons.

On the way back from pre-school, we were tasked with bringing the classroom pet, ‘Snowball’ the guinea pig home where he will stay with Lily for spring break.  Doing little tasks such as this bring back happy memories of when our kids were little.

We will be home soon, and spring is a busy time for me.  I have new plants coming in the mail (straight from the grower) for me to test in my Arizona garden, I’ll be showcasing two new plants from the folks at Monrovia, and in a couple of weeks, I’ll be traveling again – this time to Savannah, Georgia for a fun project that I’m excited to share with you soon.

*What are you doing for spring break?