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.  

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

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!
 
 
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.
 
 
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…

 

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

 
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.

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

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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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! 

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?

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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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?

The last full day of our Northwest road trip began with a ferry ride yesterday.

The ferry was to take us from Victoria to Vancouver.

When we arrived for the ferry, approximately 60 minutes early, we got in line with our car – it looks like a bunch of cars stopped on a freeway.  You then turn off the engine and sit in the car or lock it up and head over to the rest stop, complete with restaurant and shops until you are notified to start boarding the ferry.

We felt a bit more experienced this time with the process of bringing our rental car onto the ferry (as it was our second time) and walking upstairs to the passenger levels.

What we weren’t prepared for was how huge this ferry was.  There were 3 levels for cars, busses and even semi-trailer trucks.

Food options consisted of a large cafe and coffee shop.

There was a very large gift shop AND a video arcade – my kids would love this!

You could also venture outside to see the beauty of the islands we passed by.

After docking just outside of Vancouver, we promptly headed toward the city.

We were somewhat surprised at how much traffic there was and it took a very long time to arrive at our hotel downtown.

This morning, after a quick breakfast, we were going to take the city trolley tour so that we could hop on and off to see the many attractions of this vibrant city.

However, we were informed because of the ongoing transit strike, that the tour was delayed.  So, we decided to go out on our own.

We headed toward Granville Island Public Market, which is located in the downtown area.  

It is a fun and creative place with artist studios where you watch art being created before your eyes – a definite draw for both locals and tourists alike.

Stores offering unique wares are scattered throughout the small island.

If you have pets, this shop in a railroad car likely have just the right thing for your 4-legged friend.

When I travel, I like to find stores that sell handcrafted items made from local residents.  I found a beautiful Christmas ornament in this little store made by an 80-year old woman.

As we walked through the streets of the public market, there was a small dog that was walking about in its own.

He was obviously at home and comfortable with his surroundings.  He paid no mind to us or any other passersby.

Now before you think that this is a lost dog – think again.  He belongs to one of the local vendors and has free reign of the market.

Our attention was drawn to a nearby lake where a family of Canadian geese were swimming.

On shore, we met up with another feathered family.  I found it symbolic that on our last day in Canada, that we would see Canadian geese.

We had hoped to see more of this beautiful city, but there was so much traffic due to the transit strike and it took a very long time to travel small distances, so we made the difficult decision to cut our visit short by a few hours and head back toward the States.

On our way out of the city, we spotted this community garden.

Vancouver is quite close to the U.S. border and we  soon found ourselves sitting a long line to cross over the border.  We settled ourselves in for a long wait.  

As we inched our way closer, we saw this archway at the actual border.  I like this wonderful statement about our two countries.

People anxious to visit the United States took turns taking pictures next to this sign while waiting for their cars to go through the border crossing.

It’s almost our turn!

While we had a wonderful time in Canada, I didn’t like having to pay for an international phone plan, which had extremely limited data (which I went over).

While waiting in line to cross, once we got within feet of the border my phone suddenly got a  ‘No Service’ signal and then once we crossed, my regular carrier took over and I was so happy to be able to use my normal cell phone allowances again.

Since we had some extra time to fill due to our shortened visit to Vancouver, we stopped by the Fairhaven historic downtown neighborhood in Bellingham, WA.  

Many of the stores had garden themed products and while I have no plans on seeing the ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ movie, I may need to read this book 🙂

We spent about an hour shopping, spending time in a clothing boutique, checking out the local bookstore and admiring some really lovely handmade woodwork.

The last night of our road trip is to be spent in Mount Vernon, WA before we leave in the morning for Seattle where we will fly home.

Mount Vernon is known for being the largest producer of flower bulbs.  They also have the Skagit Tulip Festival every April.

Choosing Mount Vernon for the last stop of our trip was largely due to its proximity from the Seattle airport AND a small garden that we wanted to visit.

LaConner Flats Farm & Garden is an 11-acre display garden of a large family-owned farm.

The gardens are free to visit and you are welcome to walk around on your own.

The centerpiece of the garden is made up of circular beds of rose bushes surrounding a gazebo – an ideal place for a wedding.

The backdrop for the roses and gazebo are formally shaped shrubs underplanted with flowering perennials.

However, it was what was behind the formal garden space that really interested me…

Behind the formally-pruned shrubs were the more informal areas of the garden.

Trees, shrubs and perennials were planted in a carefree mixture, tied together by pathways of green grass.

To be honest, there were plenty of weeds intermixed with the flowering shrubs and plants.  But, it is this untamed, natural type of garden that I like best.

Several, large flowering shrubs provided vivid displays of color.

As we were admiring the flowers, we rounded the corner and came face to face with four little goats…

They were busy eating the fresh green grass and initially paid no attention to us.

A little robin stood in our path and was quite friendly.

He didn’t move until we got quit close and then hopped to the fence. Robins are rare in my neck of the woods, so I always look forward to seeing them when I travel.

The goats finally noticed our presence and came over to see if we had any food to share.  Sadly, we didn’t.

I crouched down to take a picture of the friendliest goat and didn’t realize how close I was until he licked my camera’s lens.

Even though we didn’t have any food for them that didn’t stop one of them from following my mother as we walked along the path.

The pathway along the goat’s enclosure was just on the other side of the formal garden, which was separated by large shrubs.

Alongside the pathway, I saw a plant that I have rarely seen before – holly!

As we neared the end of our tour of the garden, I looked back toward our cute little friends and was trying to figure out how I could possibly talk my husband and HOA into letting us have goats 😉

This garden is surrounded by fields of wheat and the Cascade mountain range can be seen in the distance.

It is well worth the visit if you ever find yourself traveling in Northern Washington State.

We have had so many wonderful adventures during our fifth annual road trip.  But, I am excited to come home and see my husband, kids, grandkids, dogs, garden – you get the picture…

Our last day in Victoria was reserved for a visit to a very famous garden.  Butchart Gardens is the place to go for visitors to Victoria.

Years ago, my in-laws took me and my husband, as a college graduation gift, to Seattle and Victoria.  The year was 1998, and I was finishing up the last semester of my horticulture degree.

Flush with my new knowledge of plants and horticultural practices, I was especially looking forward to visiting this beautiful garden. Fast forward 17 years later, I was excited to go back.

My mother and fellow travel companion.

Immediately upon leaving the parking lot, we were faced with fragrant, yellow wisteria that draped over an arbor.

Walking a few steps further, was another splash of color with anemone flowers in pinks, purples and white.

I hadn’t even gone through the entrance and I had already taken a number of pictures – it was going to be a veritable photographic feast!

Like most areas in Victoria, colorful hanging baskets could be seen all over the garden.

Butchart Gardens are over 100 years old and were created by the Butchart family.  Almost one million visitors come to visit this special place, which sits about 30 minutes outside of Victoria.

Today, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite areas in the garden.

Garden art is tastefully spread throughout the garden, usually in the form of animals.

One of my favorite color combinations is the bright green, spiky foliage of iris and its vibrant, purple flowers.

One of the many things that I liked was that the trash receptacles had plants growing on top.

I really think that this was a great idea.  Imagine trash cans acting as the base for plants that add beauty. I love it!

Here are a couple more…

The garden is separated into several smaller gardens. My favorite is the Sunken Garden.

This spectacular garden was created in a former quarry.

A long stairway leads to the bottom of the garden and winding paths invite your to explore more.  

It was interesting to watch the people exclaim over the beauty of the gardens many were from other countries including Australia, China, Great Britain, Japan and Spain plus the good old U.S.A.

Because I had visited the gardens before, I didn’t feel as if I had to hurry in order to be able to see everything.  Today, I decided to walk slowly through my favorite parts.  As a result, I spent most of my time in the Sunken Garden.

At the end of the Sunken Garden is a lake with a ‘dancing’ fountain.

Different variations of spray patterns made onlookers stop for a few minutes to enjoy the dancing waters.

After climbing out of the Sunken Garden, I strolled through other areas of the garden on my way to the Rose Garden.  

Blankets of flowers surround, what I believe are crab apple trees.

Love the black bearded iris, don’t you?

Brightly-colored dahlia.

Clematis growing up on an old stump.

There is one flower in the Butchart Gardens that is a favorite of many.  This is the Himalayan blue poppy.

You can find them scattered throughout the gardens and their vivid blue flowers attract everyone’s attention.

They aren’t easy to grow.  To get them to germinate, you need to place the seeds in a moist paper towel and put in a Ziploc bag. Then you place the bag with the paper towel and seeds and stick in the refrigerator (in the vegetable crisper) for 4 weeks before planting.

There are blue poppy seeds available in the and I bought two packages to try to grow them in my own garden.  

There are several water features scattered throughout the gardens and I liked this one with the three fish, encircled with colorful anemone flowers.

The Japanese Garden is not to be missed.  I love the varying shades of green and contrasting textures.

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to take care of many garden spaces within Butchart Gardens.

Watching these young girls working, planting new annual flowers, reminded me of the years spent as a horticulturist on golf courses.

These are but a select few of the 319 photos I took of these truly stunning gardens.

I hope you enjoyed them!

Before leaving Butchart Gardens, a visit to this special place isn’t complete without rubbing the nose of the ‘mascot’.

This is ‘Tacca’, which is a bronze replica of a wild boar – the original was created in 1620 in Italy. ‘Taco’ is named for the sculptor who made the original.

It is said that if you rub his snout, you will have good luck.  So, millions of visitors have rubbed Tacca’s snout over the years.

After leaving the gardens, we drove onto get on the ferry to Vancouver, where we will embark on the next adventure of our trip.

More to come tomorrow!

Our first day in Canada began with walking from our hotel to the Parliament Buildings – just a couple of blocks from our hotel.

Victoria, is the capital of the province of British Columbia, Canada and the Parliament Buildings are quite beautiful.

This very English city is said by many “to be more English than England.”

As for me, I don’t know if I would call Victoria more English than London, but I do know that I miss the British accents 🙂

However you feel about the ‘Englishness’ of Victoria vs. London, the Parliament Buildings certainly look very English.

It’s important to note that the Europeans weren’t the first people here in British Columbia…  

Native Americans came here first and their importance in the past and present in this Canadian province is evident everywhere – especially when you see their iconic totem poles.

The sight of a totem pole in front of the very English architecture of the Parliament Building is a great illustration of Victoria with two different cultures coming together and calling this beautiful area ‘home’.

We decided to take the self-guided tour and were handed a guidebook and got started.

The rotunda was beautiful and filled with scenes describing the history of British Columbia.

We all know that Elizabeth II is Queen of England, BUT she is also Queen of Canada.  So it was no surprise that a significant portion of the  tour involved things related to English royalty.

This stained glass window was created for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897.

And this stained glass window was made for Queen Elizabeth II for her golden jubilee in 2002.

The Queen has visited Canada many times, including the Parliament Buildings.

Here is where the legislative assembly meets when they are in session.

When it was designed, the seats were positioned two swords lengths to prevent any ‘accidents’ in the middle of a heated debate.  

Large beds outside of the Parliament Buildings contained a variety of colorful annuals.

Our next stop was at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Commonly referred to as ‘The Empress’, there is nothing common about this famous hotel.

The Empress is the oldest hotel in Victoria and opened in 1908. She has over 477 rooms and is perhaps best know for her ‘Afternoon High Tea’ where participants indulge in finger sandwiches, scones and tea.

Many people were enjoying the afternoon tea. The Empress even has their own China pattern available in the gift shop.

While the hotel is not inexpensive, you don’t have to stay there to enjoy the experience.

Walk through the lobby and see the fancy Royal Mail box or one of the staff dressed up in period costume…

The grounds of the hotel were beautiful with white wisteria vine and dark pink rhododendron.

The flowers are huge.

A hedge of California lilac shrubs (Ceanothus) added beauty to the grounds.

I love their flowers, although they aren’t fragrant.

The The Empress Hotel sits just off of the water.

The presence of boats, ferries, sea planes and mini-water taxis won’t let you forget that you are on an island.

Native American vendors sold their products nearby where I bought a pair of earrings.

Next, it was on to Government Street and more shopping.

There were a lot of the typical souvenir shops that each sold the same items. Many of them were rather overpriced, so I limited myself to buying a small gift for my granddaughter, Lily.

We did enjoy some of the specialty shops, but did mostly window shopping.  

Lavender is widely planted in this area and looked great in this window box.

Soon, it was time for a lunch that really wasn’t a lunch at all…  

Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I will really need to get back to healthy eating when I get home!

Victoria is well known for their iconic lamp posts and their hanging flower baskets.

Sadly, they hadn’t hung the flower containers yet during our visit. But, have you ever wondered how they water all those baskets?

Notice the drip irrigation lines…

The restaurant where we ate breakfast had drip irrigation going to its flowering containers.

After doing a lot of walking and exploring, we took a small break back at our hotel before heading out to afternoon tea.  

There are a number of places in Victoria that serve ‘high’ tea and we made reservations at White Heather Tea Room.

In addition to your choice of a number of hot tea, you get a selection of finger sandwiches, smoked salmon, mini-tarts, scones, cookies and other pastries.  Top them off with clotted cream, lemon curd and/or raspberry jam and you are in heaven!

After tea, our day was winding down and we headed toward our last stop – The Government House’s gardens.

From the description in our guidebook, I expected a few acres of nicely landscaped gardens around the house. But, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of the gardens or how beautiful they were. I even found some plants growing there that are also growing at my home in Arizona.

An enclosed area boasted of fragrant rose bushes, including old-fashioned roses. The sound of the water fountain made this a very peaceful spot.

This blackbird found the fountain a great place for a welcome drink of water.

Benches were strewn throughout the gardens, inviting you to stop, rest and enjoy the view.

Everywhere you looked, there was a new place to discover, including somewhat hidden areas that invited you to go in further and explore.  

Parts of the gardens were covered in grass and filled with colorful rhododendrons, but there was a large section that was filled with winding garden paths flanked by colorful perennials and succulents – the majority of which, were drought tolerant.

*Note the agave in the lower left corner?  Many plants that grow in both cooler climates, such as peonies and hellebores, co-existed alongside agave, Santa Barbara daisy and salvias.

Can you guess what this purple-flowering plant is?

Believe it or not, it is the herb sage. Mine flowers at home, but not this much.

Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)

‘Hot Lips’ (Salvia greggii)

This salvia is growing in my garden right now.

Several huge trees dotted the property.

The 36-acre landscape surrounds the Government House where the lieutenant governor resides.

I must confess, that I took only two photos of the house and over 300 of the garden 🙂

While there many plants in bloom in late spring, you could also see plants that flower in winter and also those getting ready to bloom in summer.

Much to my delight, my favorite flower (that I cannot grow in my desert garden) was in bloom.  I never get over how beautiful peonies are!

Iris

Red Rhododendron

These plants were growing in shallow pockets on top of this large boulder.

Large groves of Garry oak trees stood throughout the gardens.  You could almost imagine that you were standing in a California garden.

As I stood admiring the oaks, I noticed out in the distance, a mountain range across the bay.  

It turns out that the view is of the mountains in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state. We were there, enjoying the beauty of those majestic mountains only the day before.

It’s really amazing how much sightseeing you can do in a short amount of time!  

As I finished up my tour, I circled back around the house toward the parking lot, when I saw this squirrel sitting up in the grass.

  Whenever I find myself near a beautiful garden, I tend to disappear in order to explore more.  My husband and my mother understand this and are so patient.  In this instance, my mother and I had expected a smaller garden that would take us a few minutes to see.  But, it was soon evident that there was more to see.

My mother understands me so well and my love for gardens.  So, after she explored parts of the garden, she patiently waited in the car for my return.

The next day of our journey involves a return trip to the world famous, Butchart Gardens. I can hardly wait!