Do you love roses?

I do.

For those of you who have been following me for any length of time, you know that my love affair with roses is something that I like to share with others. For that reason, on a lovely day in May, I made a visit to the Old West town, Tombstone, Arizona.  

Old West town, Tombstone, Arizona.

This historic town has two different attractions that appeal to me and my husband. He loves old westerns, and walking along the main street and seeing where the famous gunfight took place is something he enjoys. While it’s fun to explore the real-life places from long ago, my favorite destination lies just a block off of the main street…

World's Largest Rosebush museum

At first glance, you would never know that a famous plant resides beyond the front door of this historic inn that is now a museum. However, it is in the backyard of this building, the “Rose Tree Inn”, which lies the “World’s Largest Rosebush“.

Due to my love of roses, and having heard of this famous rosebush I am excited to see it in person.

World's Largest Rosebush museum

As you walk into the little museum, you feel as if you have stepped back into time within its rose-scented interior. As I venture toward the back where the rosebush is, my first impression is of a beautifully shaded patio area.

rosebush create dappled shade.

Over the patio, the outer branches of the rosebush create dappled shade.

As you make your way toward the main part of the rose bush, the sheer enormity of its size begins to be evident.  

twisted trunk of the rosebush.

In the center of the branches, you can see the large, twisted trunk of the rosebush.

It is really hard to get the scale of how big it is from pictures – but look at how small the door looks off to the right side.

World's Largest Rosebush museum

Now, see how big it looks with me next to it in the picture, above. Note – I am fairly tall at 5’9″.

shady underneath World's Largest Rosebush

The trunk is approximately 12-feet around and very shaggy with strips bark falling off. It definitely looks old.

This photo is taken with a flash, which lights up the area considerably. In actuality, it is very shady underneath.

rose bush story

Even when you stand right next to it, you can’t quite believe the enormous size.

This rosebush is not only the world’s largest – but it is also very old. For that reason, the history of the rosebush and how it came to be in Tombstone is quite interesting.

World's Largest Rosebush museum

History

Then the rose came from Scotland in 1887, which makes it over 130 years old. A young Scottish immigrant and her husband moved to Tombstone in 1885.  Her family sent their homesick daughter a box filled with cuttings of her favorite rosebush from home.

She gave one of the cuttings to her friend, Amelia Adamson. Together they planted the rosebush in back of Amelia’s boarding house where it has obviously flourished in its new surroundings.

Years later, the rosebush began to get attention with its large size. Consequently, it was declared the world’s largest in the 1930’s.

Now, the Tombstone rosebush reaches over 8,000 square feet!  

 view of the rosebush

To get an overall view of the rosebush, you walk to the other side where there are steps to climb. Because the only part you see underneath the patio are its branches, the view from above is quite different. As a result, you have a clear view of the lacy foliage and flowers in the spring.

World's Largest Rosebush museum

Can you imagine how beautiful this would look in bloom? It is said that roses absolutely cover the entire upper part of the rosebush with fragrant, white flowers…

 Lady Bank's rose

This is a close-up of the flowers from a different Lady Bank’s rose.

World's Largest Rosebush museum

As you can imagine, holding up a rosebush this large isn’t easy. Therefore, metal rods form a checkerboard pattern that are large wooden posts hold up.

 bird's nest on World's Largest Rosebush

I spot a bird’s nest within the branches.

After I finish with my photos, I stroll back into the museum where I notice row of small rose bushes.

cutting for sale of World's Largest Rosebush

Above them is this sign…

World's Largest Rosebush museum

Well, I don’t describe myself as an ‘impulse buyer’,  I just have to buy a cutting from this historic plant.

World's Largest Rosebush

I do have a good spot for it where it can grow up on the wall in my side yard. Because it can’t climb without support, I will provide a trellis for it to grow up on.  Lady Bank’s roses also make great ground covers.

Although this rosebush was an impulse buy, it requires less maintenance than more traditional roses. I certainly can’t wait to grow a piece of the world’s largest rosebush!

Colorful Plants, Spiky Pots, Snakes, Roses and the Prom!

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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.

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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.

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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.

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

bakery

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.

Shiplap (Magnolia Silos)

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

Magnolia Silos

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

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

Magnolia Silos

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

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos
Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos
Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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.

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos
Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

green spaces of The Magnolia Silos

green spaces of The Magnolia Silos

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

Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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

Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

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.

At Magnolia Silos

A quick stop for a photo.

At Magnolia Silos

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

The Green Spaces of Chicago

road trip adventure

My bags are packed, and I’m ready to head out on another road trip adventure. 

I was born with the ‘travel gene,’ which is present in many people of my family, and enjoy opportunities to visit new places and experience the food, culture, and of course, the gardens! 

headed to the Lone Star state

We are headed to the Lone Star state. I must confess that other than a 1-hour layover in Austin, I’ve never set foot in Texas. I am looking forward to exploring this grand state, where many of my garden friends live. Unfortunately, there won’t be much going in the garden this time of year, but there will be so much else to explore that I almost don’t mind.

This year’s road trip is unique in that it was initially planned for last spring, but due to unfortunate circumstances, had to be rescheduled. As a result, we have to go in winter, before our airplane ticket credit expires. I must confess that other than a 1-hour layover in Austin, I’ve never set foot in Texas.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you’ve probably read about my other road trip adventures, which usually take place every year when my mother and I travel for 9-10 days, exploring a different region of the country. *If you would like to read about our past road trip experiences, type ‘road trip’ in the search bar on the right and you’ll be able to read about our visits to the Northeast, Midwest, South, Northwest, and California.

I invite you to check in daily with me on Facebook and Instagram, where I will be posting live updates as we travel through the great state of Texas.

*What are your ‘must-see’ destinations in Texas?

Texas Road Trip: Exploring the Green Spaces of the Magnolia Silos

Arizona Road Trip: Sweet potato vine trail underneath a planting of lantana and 'Victoria Blue' salvia.

Arizona Road Trip: 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.

Arizona Road Trip: 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.

Sweet potato vine, lantana, 'Katie' ruellia, and salvia

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.

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

Butterflies and hummingbirds are also frequent visitors to Tlaquepaque.

trumpet vine and yucca

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.

Arizona Road Trip

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.

Arizona Road Trip

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.

Prescott National Forest.

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?

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

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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.

Gardening Adventures in 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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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

bed of flowers

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

'pizza garden'

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

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

A fun spot to pose for a picture with friends.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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?

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

Benches were installed once planting was finished.

ornamental grasses

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

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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.

ribbon-cutting ceremony

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Botanical Gardens

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

‘Window Selfie’

Savannah Georgia: Gardening Adventures : Part 1

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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).

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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!

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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? 

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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 camelliasmany 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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

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?

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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? 

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

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?

Behind the Scenes at Botanical Interests Seed Company

Petoskey, Michigan lighthouse

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.

Petoskey, Michigan lighthouse

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.

Petoskey, Michigan

I always look forward to visits to their town of Petoskey, Michigan 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.

Petoskey, Michigan

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.

Petoskey, Michigan

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.

Petoskey, Michigan lighthouse

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.

AZ Plant Lady

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.

Petoskey

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?

Well, another road trip is drawing to a close, but not before two more fun-filled days.

California Road Trip

California Road Trip

After leaving San Francisco, we headed up toward Napa Valley.  Despite it being a rainy day, we were determined that getting a little wet wouldn’t hinder us from exploring this area.

beautiful landscapes

Our first stop was (not surprisingly) a winery.  Many wineries were surrounded by beautiful landscapes and to be honest, I like plants more than wine, so I spent more time outside than inside sampling wine.

California Road Trip
Olive trees

Olive trees and roses were prevalent in landscape beds alongside grape vines.

Young grapes

Young grapes were beginning to appear on the vine.

California Road Trip
shrubby germander (Teucrium fruiticans) shrubs.

Ivy climbed up the walls of buildings and neatly trimmed boxwood shrubs enclosed areas filled with roses and shrubby germander (Teucrium fruiticans) shrubs.  

oak trees and tall poplar trees

The green hills were studded with oak trees and tall poplar trees were also used throughout the area.

Cornerstone Sonoma

The next morning was sunny and warm making it a perfect day to spend exploring  Cornerstone Sonoma with its trendy stores and gardens.

California Road Trip
California Road Trip

Many of the stores were filled with items for both home and garden while others offered stylish clothing with a casual theme.  

California Road Trip

An artisan created ollas onsite.  These clay containers are buried in the ground and are an old-fashioned way to water plants that have seen a resurgence in popularity. 

California Road Trip

Also offered for sale were shallow basins that mimic the appearance of wood.  They were filled with water and used as containers for plants.

California Road Trip

Old grape vines were used as borders for garden beds as well as for an accent piece in the garden – you could also buy some for your own garden.

California Road Trip

Unique, rusted metal containers were for sale, just waiting to be taken home and planted.

purple hop bush (Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea') and bush morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum)

Throughout the shopping area were creative container plantings that I really liked.  They were housed in square metal containers and filled with purple hop bush (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’) and bush morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum).  The focus on these containers wasn’t on flowers but rather on the colorful foliage of the plants.

Sunset Magazine

One very exciting element of Cornerstone Sonoma is their new partnership with the folks at Sunset Magazine who are moving their test gardens and their test kitchen to this popular spot in Napa Valley.

California Road Trip

While the official opening isn’t until mid-May, the Sunset Test Gardens were well on their way to being completed.

California Road Trip
California Road Trip

Large amounts of plants were still waiting to be planted in the new Sunset test gardens, which is where new plant varieties will be evaluated while also allowing the public to see them up close.

California Road Trip

Landscapers were hard at work planting the new gardens.

California Road Trip

 There are a lot of creative garden structures and I hope to see these gardens someday once everything is finished.

Cornerstone Gardens

Next on our tour was the existing Cornerstone Gardens, which are described on their website “as  an ever-changing series of gardens, showcasing innovative designs from international and local landscape architects and designers.  They create a cultural and creative haven, celebrating the connection between art, architecture and nature”. 

“There are currently nine Cornerstone Gardens. 

Continually in a state of evolution, some garden installations will be in place for a season, while others will remain for several seasons.”

California Road Trip

Approaching the gardens, the main path takes you by a grassy area, dappled with shade.  The focal part of this area is the ‘plastic pinwheel flower garden’.  Passersby enjoy this fun take on a traditional flower bed – especially kids.

California Road Trip

Individual gardens were surrounded by Japanese privet hedges, creating a sense of mystery as you walk toward the entry into each one.

One of my favorites was In the Air by Conway Chen Chang.  “This garden is intended to give the viewer a better sense of the human relationship to air in a very playful and whimsical way.”

Wisteria Vine

Wisteria Vine

California Road Trip
Clematis flowers

Clematis flowers

A curved path with uniquely-shaped step stones sits beneath curved metal rebar with clematis vines.

Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) and Agave salmiana.
Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) and Agave salmiana.

The next garden was filled with plants that are popular in the Southwest, including Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) and Agave salmiana.

Garden of Contrast by James Van Sweden and Sheila Brady

“This is an experience of contrasting texture, form, color, and scent that changes with the seasons.”

Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) and Agave salmiana.

I love contrasting textures in the landscape and using agave with its bold shapes alongside ornamental grasses and their wispy texture creates drama in the garden.

California Road Trip
Eucalyptus trees

Eucalyptus trees

This garden was the most unusual, in my opinion and paid homage to the eucalyptus tree.

Eucalyptus Soliloquy by Walter Hood & Alma Dusolier

“A celebration of the non-native eucalyptus trees in the Sonoma Valley.”

Driving throughout Southern, Central and Northern California, eucalyptus trees are almost as  familiar as native oak trees.

California Road Trip

Wire cages held strips of eucalyptus bark and decorative eucalyptus seed pods were piled at the base.

California Road Trip
pond filled with waterlilies

The wire cages framed an attractive view with a pond filled with waterlilies.

California Road Trip
California Road Trip

Rise by Roger Raiche and David McCrory

“A tubular experience that stirs and arrange of emotional response.  A place for interaction and play.”

I loved the use of contrasting colors and textures in this garden, don’t you?

Field of grape vines.

The view at the end of the ‘tunnel’ was a field of grape vines.

Cornerstone Sonoma

We spent a wonderful morning at Cornerstone Sonoma and I highly recommend visiting if you ever find yourself in San Francisco (it’s about 1 hour north).

California Road Trip

California Road Trip

As we left Napa Valley, heading back toward to San Francisco and our airline flight back home, I found that crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge the perfect way to finish a fabulous road trip.

California Road Trip

California Road Trip

Thank you so very much for coming along with me.  

We will be back on the road next year!

Arizona Road Trip: Flowers, Containers, and a Wedding

San Francisco has been a popular destination for me and my family.  While I was born and grew up in Southern California, both my parents are from the northern part of the state.  As a result, trips to the San Francisco area were frequent events in my childhood as well early in my marriage when our two oldest girls were young.

For this part of our road trip, we decided to do something that we had never done in San Francisco – visit Alcatraz – or more specifically, the gardens of Alcatraz.

gardens of Alcatraz

Believe it or not, Alcatraz has gardens, many of which were created and tended by the inmates themselves.

island of Alcatraz

The boat ride to the island of Alcatraz is very short as it is only 1-mile away.

city of San Francisco

However, as you leave the dock, the views of the city of San Francisco as spectacular.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower, which was built in 1933, stands sentinel as boats come and go.

Golden Gate Bridge

Off in the distance, the Golden Gate Bridge traverses the gap between the city of San Francisco to the south over to Marin County to the north.

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

As we neared the Alcatraz Island, you could see the much of the city.

22-acre island

As you approach the 22-acre island, you notice that part of the island is covered in greenery.

Century plant (Agave americana)

Century plant (Agave americana) grows wild along the hillside and many were flowering.

U.S. military prison

Getting ready to dock, you get a good glimpse of the structures on the island, which housed prisoners 1934 – 1963.  Before that, it was a U.S. military prison.

California Road Trip: Day 8 - The Gardens of Alcatraz

It was believed, and correctly so, that no inmate could successfully escape through the waters of the bay with its strong currents.

California Road Trip: Day 8 - The Gardens of Alcatraz

After you disembark from the boat, you are greeted by a park ranger who gives you guidelines for your visit.  Basically, you can’t take food anywhere on the island (other than the dock area) and you must not remove any plant material.

California Road Trip: Day 8 - The Gardens of Alcatraz

There are a large number of birds who call this island their home and this was nesting season, so some of the areas were off limits.

California Road Trip: Day 8 - The Gardens of Alcatraz

Now, it was time to climb up to the top where the prison building was located – the equivalent of 13 stories.  There was a tram for those who couldn’t make the walk to the top.

gradual slope with no stairs

The walk to the top was a gradual slope with no stairs.  These stairs were roped off.

California Road Trip: Day 8 - The Gardens of Alcatraz

I was so proud when I reached the top and looked down to see how far I had come.

prison

We entered the prison, which offers a great audio tour.  

prison
prison

The cells were still there and some were set up as they were when this prison still held inmates.

Details of escape attempts were shared during the tour.

prison

Former inmates said the it was torture to be able to see the city just off in the distance while they were stuck in this horrible place that was cold and drafty.

prison

The part of the tour that was really difficult was walking into a cell where prisoners were held in solitary confinement.  Once the doors closed, there was no light and total darkness.

While the prison tour was very interesting, I was much more interested in the gardens on this rocky island.

San Francisco
San Francisco
visit Alcatraz

The gardens begin along the roadside the leads up toward the top of the island where the prison is located.  

visit Alcatraz
visit Alcatraz
visit Alcatraz

It was almost surreal to be walking along, enjoying the beauty of colorful plants and mixtures of textures on the way to a stark prison where prisoners would be, for the most part, quite miserable.

visit Alcatraz

One of the few bright spots for the inmates were the gardens that they tended.

One former inmate enjoyed gardening on the island so much that he went on to have a

 successful career as a landscaper once he was released.

visit Alcatraz

As you might imagine, it was a privilege to work in the gardens and gave prisoners a brief respite from their incarceration.  Inmates were trained how to care for plants, many of which were donated.

 red valerian (Centranthus ruber)

While the garden plants on Alcatraz aren’t native, they do thrive in the harsh climate of the island.  This red valerian (Centranthus ruber) does so well on Alcatraz, that is growing out of a wall.

Canada geese with their goslings explore part of the garden.

Canada geese with their goslings explore part of the garden.

A seagull sits on her nest amidst colorful ice plant.

A seagull sits on her nest amidst colorful ice plant.

Parts of the garden were roped off because feathered residents of the island were nesting and raising their young.

Officer's Row Gardens.

However, we were still able to see them from above.  This section of the garden was called the Officer’s Row Gardens.

Officer's Row Gardens.
Officer's Row Gardens.

The inmates and staff weren’t the only residents of the island.  The families of the staff also called Alcatraz home and assisted in the creation and care of the gardens. 

Officer's Row Gardens.
Officer's Row Gardens.

As there are no prison staff or inmates to take care of the gardens anymore, volunteers come to maintain the garden areas.

 Gardens of Alcatraz
 Gardens of Alcatraz

What a cool way to volunteer!

 Gardens of Alcatraz

Built in 1929 the warden’s house was created after the popular Mission Revival style.  In 1970, a fire destroyed much of the house.  The skeleton still stands.

 Gardens of Alcatraz

The Bay Bridge visible from an old window from the warden’s residence.

Our visit to Alcatraz lasted about 2 hours, which took us through the prison building and allowed plenty of time to explore the picturesque gardens.

It also serves as a good reminder that it pays to follow the law 🙂

If you would like to learn more about the gardens of Alcatraz, click here.

What is the tallest tree that you have seen?  

Redwoods State Park , See how tiny I am compared to the trees?

Big Basin Redwoods State Park , See how tiny I am compared to the trees?

How about one that is over 250 ft. tall?

Our journey took us to a place that I have been to at least ten times – from trips as a small child, a teenager, as a young mother and finally as a grandmother.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located in the mountains outside of Santa Cruz, California, and as you will see, it is a truly incredible place filled with stunning beauty among giant redwood trees.

Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Upon entering the park, you notice the shady conditions with spots of sunlight shining through.

On the left is a large cross-section of a redwood tree that fell in 1934.

What is special about this tree is its age.

Redwoods State Park

Tree rings tell the age of a tree and this tree has lived through many historic events, including the birth of Jesus, indicated by my finger.

Redwoods State Park

This outer ring is from when Lewis & Clark’s expedition in 1804.

Redwoods State Park
Redwoods State Park
Redwoods State Park , Coastal redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens).

As many times as I have seen this display, it never ceases to amaze me at the longevity of these Coastal redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens).

Visitors take a leisurely stroll along the .8 mile-long path that meanders through the redwood grove.

Redwoods State Park

The enormous height and size of the trees are hard to understand until you see someone standing next to them.

Compare the perspective from the photograph above and the one of the same area below, except now I am standing at the end of the path.

Coastal redwood trees

It’s hard to see me, as I am so dwarfed by the trees.

Coastal redwood trees grow along a narrow corridor from Big Sur to southern Oregon.

Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Rainfall is just one way that the redwoods receive the water they need.  The fog that primarily occurs in summer can provide up to 50% of their water needs.  

The lower leaves (needles) are flat, which allows water droplets from the fog to drip down to the root zone.  The upper needles that are exposed to more sunlight are rounder and have a thicker coating, which protects them from excess evapotranspiration (losing water from their leaves).

wooden cave

The walk through the trees is quite educational, with certain trees singled out for special attention. 

Our favorite has always been the tree that has a ‘wooden cave’ inside its base.

wooden cave

The Fremont tree has a hollow base that was created from a fire long ago.  John C. Fremont was exploring California in 1846 and allegedly camped inside the tree.

Over time, the outer part of the tree has been slowly growing back over the old fire damage, creating a ‘wooden cave’.  The opening is gradually closing up, making it difficult for adults to step inside without doing a lot of crouching.

While these trees are very long-lived, our family has seen the Fremont tree change. 

-In the 1950’s my mother and her entire family of six, could walk through the hole of the tree and stand up inside.

– In the 1970’s I did the same with my family.

– Once the 1990’s came around, I brought my kids to this place and while we had to crouch to enter the tree, we still could.

– Fast forward to 2016, and the opening is too small for me to want to crouch to get inside

– I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get back up 😉

Redwoods State Park

Walking next to these old, majestic trees, you cannot help but get a healthy perspective on what’s going on in your life and the world when you consider all the history that they have lived through.

Redwoods State Park
Redwoods State Park
Redwoods State Park

The photos above are all of the same tree.  It took three separate photos to get the entire tree.

Redwoods State Park

The photos above are all of the same tree.  It took three separate photos to get the entire tree.

Redwoods State Park

The lush undergrowth is filled with ferns, greenery, and some shade-loving iris.

After leaving the Big Basin Redwoods, we drove up the adjoining mountain, 5 minutes away on a hunt for a cabin that used to belong to our family.

The visitor center has been recently renovated and is filled with great displays, which detail the ecosystem of the majestic beauties including the wildlife and other plants.

If you ever find yourself in San Francisco, I invite you to take the 1 hour and 20-minute journey to this special place.  While you are in Santa Cruz, you can stop by the beach and the Boardwalk.

The cabin was owned by my mother and her siblings.  For years, we would all travel to the cabin where we would spend our summer vacation together with aunts, uncles, and cousins.

The cabin had three self-contained levels and a deck around the middle level.  We had heard that the cabin was not being used and that they path to the cabin had been blocked.  To be honest, we weren’t sure if it still existed.

So, I headed up a different trail, lower down, hoping to see our much-loved, albeit very rustic, cabin.

Old Family Cabin

Imagine my surprise and delight when I found the cabin looking much the same as it did 16 years ago.

Fun-filled memories began to come back, including my cousin’s wedding held down in the forest and her reception on the deck of the cabin.

Our cabin was balanced precariously on the side of a hillside and had no foundation.  Believe it or not, it rested on jacks.

Back in 1989, we were staying there when there was an earthquake; that was a pre-cursor to the large one that hit the San Francisco area in October for 1989.  The cabin didn’t slip down the hill then and is still standing.

Old Family Cabin

There are no occupants of the cabin, and we are not sure what the owners have planned.  Maybe they want to build a new cabin someday?

At this point of our trip, we were ready to head north to San Francisco.  Like most of our road trip, we don’t always travel the fastest way – our goal is to enjoy the journey, so we decided to travel on Highway 1 along the coast through the small towns of Pescadero and Half Moon Bay.

Pescadero

Pescadero is one of the few areas that has remained largely untouched in the 20 years since I had been there.  The church, with its tall steeple, still is the highest point in the town.

grocery stores

The two small grocery stores have a nice selection of baked goods – especially sourdough bread.  Californians are serious about their sourdough!

Pescadero
Creative container

A few miles down the road is the larger town of Half Moon Bay.  The main street is filled with very interesting boutiques, restaurants, and galleries.  This beach town is also known for its nurseries.

Creative container plantings lined the street.

Succulents
Succulents

Succulents grow like they are on steroids in northern California!

Surfer's Paradise

If you think that you have heard of Half Moon Bay before, you likely have.  Surfers flock to the beaches of this small town where waves 25 – 50 ft. and more are known to occur. 

San Francisco,

San Francisco, here we come!

California Road Trip: Day 8 – The Gardens of Alcatraz