Goodbyes are always hard. Today, I had to say goodbye to both my daughter and granddaughter as they start their new lives in Petoskey, Michigan along with my son-in-law.

my daughter and granddaughter moved to Petoskey, Michigan

My daughter is an Arizona native and this is the beginning of a wonderful adventure for her and her young family.

my daughter and granddaughter move to Petoskey, Michigan

The past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of packing, saying goodbye to her students at the local  high school where she is was a history teacher.

So why are they moving to Michigan – a place that my daughter has never visited before?

My son-in-law was hired as a professor at Northern Central Michigan College in Petoskey, which sits near the top of the ‘mitten’ of Michigan.

He had to leave quickly to get settled in before the new semester began, leaving my daughter to get everything packed up.

my granddaughter, Lily

Moving day was exciting for my granddaughter, Lily who watched as the movers took everything that was near and dear to her and put it in a big truck.

my granddaughter, Lily

After standing for awhile, she pulled out a chair to sit and watch all the activity until it was time to load up the chair she was sitting on.

my granddaughter, Lily with her grandpa

Her grandpa and I did our best to keep her occupied with all of the changes going on.

The best part of this entire process was that they moved in with us for several days while my daughter finished her last week teaching.

my granddaughter, Lily

We helped Lily keep in touch with her dad by texting him pictures that she drew for him.

With all the changes, Lily very well for a 3-year old girl whose world is going through a momentous change.

Our last week together was spent reading favorite books together, including “Goodnight Moon”, which I always read to her before her nap.  I gave her new one to take to Michigan.  

my granddaughter, Lily
my granddaughter, Lily

A date at our favorite McDonald’s was a must-do before they left.

This morning, we got up early and drove to them to the Phoenix airport for their flight.  This was to be Lily’s first time on an airplane and she was excited.

my granddaughter, Lily

This was the moment that I dreaded…saying goodbye to my daughter and Lily.

I realize that I have been incredibly blessed to have always had them living close by.  

my granddaughter, Lily

From being there the day Lily was born 3 1/2 years ago, seeing her take her first steps, wiping away her tears and enjoying her sunny presence twice a week when I would babysit her – there will be a hole that is hard to fill.

my granddaughter, Lily

Lily has also been my gardening buddy.

my granddaughter, Lily

From helping take care of the herb container we made for her mom…

my granddaughter, Lily

To watching her collect wildflowers for her ‘flower collection’ that she keeps in her jewelry box – I will miss her love for flowers.

my granddaughter, Lily

So, how am I doing after bidding goodbye to my oldest daughter and Lily?

After hugging them “goodbye” at the airport, I was doing pretty good – in fact I was rather proud of myself…no tears were shed.

That is until we were shopping at Costco a short time later and I saw a grandmother with her granddaughter and I completely broke down, making a spectable of myself.  Shoppers were probably wondering what it was at the meat counter that was making me so sad.

I regained control of myself, but then we passed by the bank that my daughter used to work at years ago and the tears started up again.

And then we passed by Lily’s favorite McDonald’s on our way home – and so it goes…

So, while my mother and grandmother’s heart is sad, it is also happy for them and their new adventure in beautiful Michigan.

Petoskey, Michigan

Petoskey, Michigan

As I mentioned before, they are moving the picturesque town of Petoskey.

Coincidentally, I visited Petoskey just last year along with my mother on one of our annual road trips.

Petoskey, Michigan

Petoskey, Michigan

It sits right on the water’s edge of Lake Michigan.

Petoskey, Michigan

The gardens are beautiful and I look forward to visiting them as often as I can – hopefully this fall.

There will be new adventures to be had discovering this new area.  I can hardly wait to help them create their new Michigan garden in the future.

As I write this, I am looking at Lily’s little work space next to my desk.

Goodbye Arizona...Hello Michigan!

On it is her latest coloring page alongside her much-loved crayons.  She would often sit next to me and “work with Grandma” while I wrote garden articles or worked on my latest landscape design.

I’ll put them away for awhile where they will wait for her to come back and visit – hopefully at Christmas.

Thank you for spending a few moments out of your day allowing me to share what’s on my heart. I already feel better 🙂

**How about you? Do your family members live close by or far away?  How often are you able to visit?

A Small Town Visit and Holiday Traditions

If you like colorful blooms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds then you’ll want to take a close look at this drought-tolerant beauty.

Drought Tolerant and Beautiful: Mexican Bush Sage

Mexican bush sage has lovely grey-green foliage, white stems, and velvety spikes of purple.

Drought Tolerant and Beautiful: Mexican Bush Sage

It thrives in arid climates and provides glorious color spring through fall.

You may be surprised to find that the actual flowers aren’t actually purple – they are white.

Learn more about this drought-tolerant beauty and why you’ll want to add it to your garden in my latest article for Houzz.com.

 

Goodbye Arizona…Hello Michigan!

Picture a garden filled with colorful flowering plants with hummingbirds hovering about. 

Now imagine that this garden is located in a small space against the backdrop of the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona and you have paradise.

Small Space Garden: Hummingbird Paradise

Beds filled with flowering perennials are my favorite element of gardens.  Their appearance changes month to month as blooming transitions from one type of perennial to the other.

So, I was delighted to see that this hummingbird paradise was filled with beds filled with blooms of every color.

What I liked about the first perennial bed that I first saw was its curved edge, brightly colored wall in the back and the colorful tiles, which highlighted the flower colors.

A single purple-flowering, Chihuahuan sage(Leucophyllum laevigatum) anchored the corner of the bed with its height.  The purple flowers provided great color contrast with the blanket flower, coneflower, salvias and yarrow.

Coral Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii 'Coral)

Coral Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ‘Coral)

Some of my favorite hummingbird plants were growing in the garden.  Salvias are quite frankly, hummingbird magnets and grow beautifully in arid climates.

Salvia microphylla 'Lipstick'

Salvia microphylla ‘Lipstick’

While most Salvia species grow well in full sun – if you live in the low-desert, they will do best when planted in filtered shade.

Salvia greggii 'Purple'

Salvia greggii ‘Purple’

When deciding what types of plants to add to your garden that will attract hummingbirds – salvias are a sure thing.

hummingbird paradise

The deck was paved with flagstone and had two separate planting beds.  Even though each planting area wasn’t large, the plant palette was not limited since there are many perennials that don’t grow overly large, so the homeowners were able to fit in a lot of colorful plants in the confined spaces.

In the second perennial bed, two different colored hummingbird mint (Agastache spp.) plants provide height and anchor each end of the bed.  The sunny colors of blanket flower fill the middle.

Again, a brightly-colored wall adds to the beauty of this area.

hummingbird paradise

The flowers of hummingbird mint (also known as hyssop) are simply irresistible to hummingbirds.

hummingbird paradise

Besides producing pretty flowers and attracting hummingbirds, these perennials are drought tolerant, love hot/dry spaces, can be grown in zones 5-10 and are deer and rabbit resistant. They bloom summer to fall.

Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.)

Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.) come in a multitude of warm colors with shades or red, yellow and orange.

This colorful plant thrives in sunny spaces and attracts butterflies.

You’ll find this perennial growing in a wide range of gardens from zones 3 – 10.  

painted 'garden'

The homeowners made the most out of their small garden space by creating a painted ‘garden’ along a previously blank wall.

Hummingbirds weren’t bothered by us and they hovered by the hummingbird mint and salvia flowers enjoying a drink of nectar.

This special garden is a wonderful example of how a garden limited on space can be used to create a lovely hummingbird paradise.

**For more information on plants that will attract hummingbirds to your Southwest garden, I recommend Hummingbird Plants of the Southwest.

*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*



 

Creating a Hummingbird Container Garden

As summer begins to wane, my thoughts start to turn toward fall planting and upcoming holidays.

But, before I put summer “to bed”, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of our summer adventures.

Williams, AZ.

The highlight of our summer was spending a week in Williams, AZ.

Every year we head up to this small Route 66 town, which is the known as “The Gateway to the Grand Canyon”.

We travel up to this special place along with my mother, siblings and their families.  A collection of small, rustic cabins house us for the week.

This small mound of dirt is called "Danny's Mountain" by the boys (Danny is my little 4-year old nephew to the right)

This small mound of dirt is called “Danny’s Mountain” by the boys (Danny is my little 4-year old nephew to the right).

It’s a place where smartphones and video games give way to playing outdoors with cousins finding new places to explore.

My niece Sofie and my daughter, Ruthie

My niece Sofie and my daughter, Ruthie.

Teenage girls discover the delights of pushing each other on a tree swing.

Hummingbird Festival

Little army men toys replace video games as battle strategies are discussed and put in play.

5-month old Eric having fun with his grandpa

5-month old Eric having fun with his grandpa.

As a grandparent, it is also a special time for my husband and I to spend with our two grandchildren.

Lily

Lily

My granddaughter, Lily, was busy picking flowers for her ‘collection’.  She loves flowers and keeps them in her jewelry box.

Dare I hope that she follows in her grandma’s footsteps and becomes a horticulturist?

delicious food

Of course, what’s summer vacation without delicious food!

Before, you ask…no, I didn’t eat all these pies myself – I shared with them with 15 other family members 😉

My daughter Rachele

Fourth of July found us in the pool, waiting for fireworks to begin.

My daughter Rachele, who is in the Navy, was able to come visit with our newest family addition, Eric.  This was his first time swimming and he loved it!

Ruthie, Sofie and Gracie

Ruthie, Sofie and Gracie

At the beginning of our summer season, we had a special visitor.

My daughter, Ruthie, was adopted from China when she was 9 years old.  Her cousin, Sofie, came from the same orphanage and so did their friend, Gracie.

These girls spent their early childhood together, creating special, sisterly bonds with each other in the absence of having parents.

Now that they are all adopted and living in the U.S., they have kept in touch.  Gracie flew in to spend a few days with her ‘orphanage sisters’ and we had so much fun with her.

Pillow fights, baking sweets, enjoying good Chinese food and playing board games filled much of their time together.  

Walking along State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, CA

Walking along State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, CA

A quick trip to Southern California was taken in the beginning of June to visit Rachele.  We were able to stay in her townhouse on the Navy base.

Whenever we visit her, we take time to travel up to picturesque Santa Barbara, CA, which is where my husband and I met almost 30 years ago.  

Hummingbird Festival

Ruthie learned how squirmy little babies are when you try to get them dressed…

Hummingbird Festival

This summer, we went through a truly wonderful experience together.

We traveled to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.  Both adults and kids were looking forward to seeing planets in our solar system.  

Hummingbird Festival

While I did expect to see some great things through the telescopes, what I didn’t expect was the beautiful flowering perennials growing throughout the grounds of the observatory.

My brother, kept teasing me as I kept stopping to take pictures of the flowers.

My son, Kai, looking at Venus

My son, Kai, looking at Venus

Outdoor telescopes focused on Jupiter and Venus.

I don’t know who was more excited, the kids or the adults.  It was almost incomprehensible that we could view these faraway planets.  

My nephew, Dean, loves flowers and kept asking me what the names of them were.

My nephew, Dean, loves flowers and kept asking me what the names of them were.

I must admit that I enjoyed the flowers almost as much as I did the planets.

 My mother, helping my daughter as she looks at Saturn.

My mother, helping my daughter as she looks at Saturn.

Believe it or not, we were able to see Saturn and its rings!

Hummingbird Festival

We had a wonderful time at the observatory and learned so much.  I highly recommend visiting this or any observatory near you.  It was an unforgettable experience!

Hummingbird Festival

Hummingbird Festival

The last part of our summer fun occurred at the Hummingbird Festival, where I was asked to be a presenter.

I have two separate talks on small space hummingbird gardening and had a great time meeting new people.

Hummingbird Festival

One of my favorite parts of the festival was touring many beautiful gardens in Sedona where the festival was held.

Hummingbird Festival

I came home from the festival inspired to create a garden space dedicated to plants that attract hummingbirds.  I can hardly wait to get started this fall, which is the best time to add new plants to the garden.

In the meantime, we have increased the amount of hummingbird feeders in our backyard and have seen three hummingbirds at a single feeder 🙂

************************

Well, that was our summer fun in a nutshell.  The kids are now in school and my eyes are focused on  the fall including the upcoming Garden Writer’s Conference in Pasadena, CA in September.

**What did your ‘summer in review’ look like?  Did you travel to any new places, see old friends or have any new experiences?**  

A Few of my Favorite Things……Hummingbirds

Do you like the look of ornamental grasses? One of my favorite plants has the appearance of ornamental grass but isn’t.  

ornamental grasses

Bear grass (Nolina microcarpa) has lovely, evergreen foliage that mimics the look of grasses.  But, my favorite part is the curlicue ends of the leaves.

ornamental grass

ornamental grass

Aren’t they neat?

Like the other drought-tolerant and beautiful plants that I profile, bear grass thrives in hot, dry locations with little attention. Another bonus is that they easily handle 100+ temperatures in summer and can also survive winter temps down to -10 degrees F.

Want to learn more?  Check out my latest plant profile on Houzz.

Oleander Leaf Scorch Strikes Again…

 

Apple harvest time starts early in the desert Southwest.  In my low desert garden, it arrives precisely in the first half of June.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, this year’s apple harvest was to be a special one because for the first time, my own apple trees would provide a sufficient harvest without us having to pick the trees on the family farm.

'Anna' and 'Dorsett Golden' apple trees

On a bright and sunny June morning, I headed out into the potager (my kitchen garden) along with four teenagers and a 3-year old to pick apples.  

We harvested 4 large bags full of sweet, tart apples from my ‘Anna’ and ‘Dorsett Golden’ apple trees, which are the verities that do best in hot, desert climates.  

So, what did we plan on doing with all these apples?  

Well, besides eating them raw, the plan was to make an apple pie with a cinnamon sugar crust, apple chips and applesauce.  

making an apple pie

Now, you may think that making an apple pie would be the last thing that a teenager would want to do.  But, my kids along with my niece, look forward to this day every year.  

I make one pie a year, so we make an occasion of it.  

Before we get any further, I’d like to tell you about the participants in today’s apple adventure.  

Ruthie – my 17-year old daughter

Gracie – my 13-year old daughter

Sofie – my 16-year old niece

Gracie C. – 17-year old friend of my daughter

Lily – my 3-year old granddaughter

making an apple pie

While Ruthie and Sofie were peeling apples, Gracie C. worked on thinly slicing the apples.

A Bushel of Apples, a Pinch of Sugar and a Handful of Teenagers

Lily and Gracie had fun watching the peeling and slicing and were waiting patiently for their turn to help.

 apple slices

Lily’s job was to help mix the apple slices in a bowl filled with water with some lemon juice to keep the apples from browning.

A Bushel of Apples, a Pinch of Sugar and a Handful of Teenagers

Once the apples were ready, we made the pie crust.  I use a mixture of both butter and vegetable shortening in my pie crust.  

A Bushel of Apples, a Pinch of Sugar and a Handful of Teenagers

I taught the girls how to make a decorative pie crust edge using their fingers.

A Bushel of Apples, a Pinch of Sugar and a Handful of Teenagers

This may have been their favorite part.

A Bushel of Apples, a Pinch of Sugar and a Handful of Teenagers

To add an extra special touch to the pie, we brushed it with egg wash and then sprinkled cinnamon sugar on the top.

ready to bake in the oven

Here is the finished product, ready to bake in the oven.  

*I’d like to note that I do not claim to be a professional food photographer like my sister.  I use no special lighting and didn’t take the time to clean the counter before taking the photo 🙂    

The kids had so much fun making the pie and couldn’t wait to eat it once it we took it out of the oven, which explains why I have no ‘after’ photos of our pie!  

Now that our annual pie was finished, we got to work on our second apple recipe – Cinnamon Sugar Apple Chips.

Apple chips

Apple chips are ridiculously easy to make and they are addictive!

A Bushel of Apples, a Pinch of Sugar and a Handful of Teenagers

All you need to do is to slice them very thinly – a mandolin works great, if you have one.  There is no need to peel or core the apples, which makes this an easy recipe – simply remove any stray seeds from the slices.   

Lay the apple slices on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

apple slices

Lily had fun with the apple slices with holes in the center.

make an apple pie

We sprinkled the apples with cinnamon sugar, but this an optional step – you don’t have to add any cinnamon sugar.  

Bake the apples in a 200 degree F oven for 1 hour and then turn the apple slices over and bake for another hour.  

The apples should be crispy and melt in your mouth.  A word of caution – they won’t last long!  

***********************

make an apple pie

While this photo protrays three normal teenage girls, their story is anything but average.

Their story together began years ago, before they were adopted and came to the U.S.  

All of these girls grew up together in an orphanage in China. They formed deep bonds with each other and became each other’s family in the absence of parents.  They often referred to themselves as “orphanage sisters”.  

Unlike many adoptions, the girls waited until they were older to be adopted.  Sofie and Gracie C. were adopted in 2006 and Ruthie in 2007.  

Along with several other “orphanage sisters”, who were also adopted, we had a reunion several years ago in Colorado and since then, both the parents and kids have stayed in touch.  

Gracie C. flew into town to visit with Ruthie and Sofie and it was so wonderful seeing them together again!

**You can read about our adoption journey to get Ruthie, here.**

Do you like flowering perennials?  

I do.  I enjoy their soft texture, flowers, and the pollinators that come to enjoy their flowers.  

Today, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite perennials that I have growing in my garden.

Gaura lindheimeri

Gaura lindheimeri is a drought-tolerant perennial that produces small, delicate flowers that resemble butterflies floating in the air.  

Available in white and pink colors, they are grown as a perennial or used as an annual in colder climates.  This is one of the few plants that you can find growing in a desert garden and in more temperate climates such as the Midwest and Northeast.  

This lovely perennial deserves to be seen more in the garden and I’d love to share more about gaura with you and why you’ll want to add it to your landscape in my latest Houzz article.  

Great Design Plant: Gaura Lindheimeri

It’s hotter than he**  (dare I use the word “hell”?) outside in June and while most desert dwellers can be found hibernating indoors enjoying air-conditioned temperatures in the 70’s – you’ll find a few of us darting outdoors to pick apples.

June is apple harvesting time in the desert

While parts of the country wait until late summer and on into early fall to harvest apples – June is apple harvesting time in the desert.

June is apple harvesting time in the desert

apple harvesting

Many people don’t realize that apple trees can grow in the desert Southwest – so do apricots, peaches and plums.  

The key to growing these types of fruit trees is our relatively cold temperatures.  They need a certain number of “chilling hours”, which are when temperatures are within 32 – 45 degrees F.  

When summer temperatures are hovering in the 100+ range, it’s hard to recall what cold winter temperatures feel like, but it’s those chilly temps that make it possible to grow apple trees.

family farm

In the past years, I have harvested my apples from among the several apple trees located on the family farm.  

But, not this year.  

June is apple harvesting time

Three years ago, we transformed our side garden, creating a “potager”, which is a French term for a kitchen garden filled with fruits, herbs, vegetables alongside ornamental plants.  

In the potager, we have the largest of our vegetable gardens, blackberry bushes, two peach trees, an orange tree and two apple trees.

blackberry bushes

The apple trees are located toward the end of the garden with the blackberry bushes growing against the wall.  

This was what they looked like 1 1/2 years ago.  Since then, they have grown quickly and are filled with apples, ready for us to pick.

A Sweet and Tart Apple Harvest

Today, we will head out in the morning and pick our apples.  There are so many growing, that I won’t need any from the family farm.  

Normally, I make applesauce and an apple pie from apples.  This year, I will make those but will add to it.  We will also be making apple chips and apple sugar.  Who knows?  If we get a ton of apples, I may need to find more things to make with them.  

My daughter, Ruthie, and niece, Sofie, will help me along with a very special friend who is their “orphanage sister”.    

**Next time, I’ll share their special story along with all the goodies we make along with helpful links so you can make them yourself with apples from the supermarket.

Winter Vegetable Harvest: Broccoli and How to Freeze It

Whenever I look back on my garden travels, I find that my favorites tend to be the smaller ones with more of a personal feel.  Ones that I can take my time walking through without feeling like I have to hurry in order to see the entire garden.

Recently, I visited a small garden run by Washington State University that is located in Mount Vernon, WA.  The WSU Discovery Garden was designed by master gardeners and divided up into multiple smaller-themed gardens filled with creative elements.

Washington State University

Last week, I shared with you about some of the themed gardens, including the Four Seasons, Herb, Naturescape, Shade as well as the composting area along with its ‘Yuck Bin’.   

While these gardens were fun to explore, I’ve saved the best for last!

Children's Garden

I am a strong proponent of teaching children the joys of gardening, so I was especially excited to explore the Children’s Garden.

Children's Garden

The gateway to the garden started down a ‘yellow brick road’ through an archway with weeping mulberry growing on it, creating the impression of entering through a green tunnel into a land of make-believe.

themed gardens

The curving pathway that ran down the center of the garden, included the game of ‘hopscotch’.  I confess that I had an overwhelming impulse to hop down the pathway, but restrained myself.  But, it did bring back memories of playing hopscotch on the playground when I was in elementary school!

themed gardens

For those who may be unfamiliar with the rules of ‘hopscotch’, there were helpful instructions.

themed gardens

Other areas in the garden included a small playground set and a bench that encircled a small tree.

themed gardens

Two vertical gardening towers stood sentinel in the center of the garden and was planted with strawberries and carrots.

themed gardens

In the corner of the Children’s Garden, sat Alice with the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter.

themed gardens

An unusual ‘hotel’ was sitting off to the side.  This insect hotel has lots of nooks and crannies for solitary bees and other pollinating insects to stay.  In addition, insects that stay in the ‘hotel’ also help to keep damaging insects away from the garden.

themed gardens

Insect hotels are typically made up of scrap bits of wood and hollow bamboo reeds.

This hotel was quite fancy and had a roof planted with hen and chicks succulents.

A giant checkerboard

A giant checkerboard beckoned kids (& adults) to try their hand at a friendly game.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

Of course, instructions were also included.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable
Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

Visitors strolling along the ‘yellow brick road’ must pass underneath an arch with a flying monkey keeping watch.

Enabling Garden

The next garden on our tour was the Enabling Garden.  

The word “enabling” means to “give someone the means to do something”, which is exactly what this garden does.  It gives people with disabilities the means to garden.  

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

This garden bed was created for those who are visually impaired.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

It’s filled with a variety of plants along with rock to provide a variety of textures that are experienced primarily through touch.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

The velvety feel of lamb’s ear is a favorite of many gardeners and I find myself always reaching out to touch their leaves.  

White rock is used to create small planting islands and helps visually impaired visitors to experience the separate planting islands in the raised bed.

hens & chicks

A collection of ‘hens & chicks’ add spiky texture that can be touched safely.    

A variety of mosses also grew in the garden.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

This raised bed was built with a sitting ledge around it, which makes it easier for those who have trouble standing or bending over to garden.  With this type of bed, you can simply sit on the edge and tend to the garden.  

I have several clients who have had raised beds built since they can no longer bend down to garden for a variety of reasons.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

At first glance, can you tell how this planting bed can be enabling?  

Note the empty area underneath the bed – can you see how it would make someone who was wheelchair bound or uses a walker be able to get up close to garden?  

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

Besides having garden beds to enable people with disabilities to garden, there was a helpful display with a variety of gardening tools that can make gardening easier.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

Each tool had a description of how it can help make routine gardening tasks easier, which is helpful for those with disabilities and even those who don’t.

hand pruners

Photo: 2010

The display of enabling gardening tools spoke directly to my heart as a mother of a child with disabilities.  

My son, Kai, has a disability that affects his joints, which makes everyday tasks difficult.  He loves to help me in the garden, but even using a pair of hand pruners is hard for him to use correctly.

March 2006

Photo: March 2006

In Kai’s short life, he has had several operations, which have left him wheelchair bound for weeks at a time and having a place where he could enjoy everyday activities, such as gardening, would be a blessing.  

You can read about Kai’s story here.

Native Plant Garden

Walking through the garden, I noticed a sign pointing off to the outer area of the garden toward the Native Plant Garden.

Native Plant Garden

Being in the Northwest, you can imagine that the path through patches of lush greenery.  

Native Plant Garden

As a landscape consultant, I hear of people’s frustration at trying to grow certain plants.  

No matter where you live – the desert, jungle or in the Arctic Circle – the easiest way to garden is to grow plants that are native to your area.  

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

The next best thing is to grow plants that are adapted to your area, which are native to climates similar to yours.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

If you follow that simple piece of advice, you will enjoy a beautiful garden with a minimum of work since the plants will thrive with little to no attention because they are adapted to your climate.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

When traveling, I always like to take time to learn more about the native plants that grow there.

Meadow Garden.

Walking back toward the main areas of the garden, we passed by the Meadow Garden.  

Meadow Garden.

The garden consisted of grasses and wildflowers.

Meadow Garden.

Throughout the year, you’ll find different flowers in bloom.

Vegetable Garden.

The last garden we visited was the Vegetable Garden.  

However, it wasn’t just anyone’s vegetable garden…

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

It belonged to an infamous gardener. 

Mr. McGregor's garden

Mr. McGregor’s garden was a good-sized plot filled with a variety of vegetables, including some that I decided to try in my garden in the fall.

Mr. McGregor's garden
Mr. McGregor's garden

This lovely row of leafy greens are green and purple spinach.  I didn’t know that there was such thing as purple spinach.  But, I do like to add unexpected color in my garden and so I will be sure to add this to my garden.

Garlic

Garlic was growing nicely and would be ready to harvest in a month.  You can tell when it is ready to be harvested with the outer leeaves begin to yellow and turn brown.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

This crop caught my eye.  

Can you tell what these are?  

Potatoes!  

To be completely honest, I’ve grown them a few times, but it is a lot of work for only a few potatoes in my desert garden so I don’t plant them anymore.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

A healthy crop of sugar snap peas were in full flower.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

I particularly love the color and shape of their flowers, don’t you?  

This is one crop that I do plant each year.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

An old wheelbarrow planted with radishes caught me eye as did the watering can with its strawberries.  

My brother-in-law found an old, rusty wheelbarrow for my garden and I can’t wait to plant it!  

It was obvious that Mr. McGregor took very good care of his garden and it was well fenced in.

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

But, that didn’t keep a particular rabbit from getting in 🙂  

Thank you for joining me on a tour of this special garden.  If you ever find yourself driving north of Seattle, toward Vancouver, take an hour and visit – you won’t be disappointed!  

****************************  

On another note, we just returned from a weekend trip to Southern California where we visited my daughter, Rachele, who is stationed there in the Navy.  

While we always have fun visiting her, it is even more so now because we also get to spend time with our new grandson!

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

He is absolutely darling and smiles more than any baby I’ve ever seen.  He is one happy baby!

Themed Gardens: Children's, Enabling, Native & Vegetable

When we visit, we are able to stay on the Navy base with our daughter in her townhouse, which makes visiting her easier and less expensive than having to stay in a hotel.  

As often occurs whenever we visit, we usually find ourselves driving the short distance to Santa Barbara. This California city is not only a beautiful place to visit, but it also holds a special place in my heart since it is where I met my husband in college.  

We are back home now but look forward to seeing Rachele and her son, Eric, next month when they come out to visit us 🙂

Have you ever visited a garden that was not what you expected?

I recently had the opportunity to visit a small 2-acre garden run by master gardeners Mount Vernon, WA in conjunction with Washington State University. 

Pink Dogwood

Photo: Pink Dogwood

Now for those of you who kindly read through my myraid of garden travels on my Northwest road trip – this garden was somewhat different and completely unexpected.

I’ve had the opportunity through my travels to visit a number of gardens run by master gardeners and I have found them to be places for learning more about plants and gardening practices.

Discovery Garden

While I expected much of the same with this garden, I found so much more.  Within its boundaries, there were so many separate gardens including a 4 seasons, cottage, Japanese, native, shade and sun garden just to name a few.  However, in addition to the more traditional gardens, were also an imaginative children’s garden and an enabling garden for those with disabilities.  

I’ve been waiting to share the wonders of this garden with you.  I hope you enjoy the tour!

The Discovery Garden

Discovery Garden

The Discovery Garden

Discovery Garden

The Discovery Garden is located in the small town of Mount Vernon, otherwise known as the bulb-growing capital of the U.S.  It is 60 miles north of Seattle.  

Espaliered apple trees grew on the fence along the front entry.

The Discovery Garden

Small apples were ripening, which made me remember that Washington is the state where the most apples are grown.

The Discovery Garden
Entrance Garden

As we entered the gardens, we noticed helpful signs that described the theme of each sub-garden along with a list of the plants growing in it.  

The Discovery Garden
The Discovery Garden

The paths curved, creating islands where each individual garden stood.  This photo, above, shows how curving paths create a sense of mystery, leading one on to discover what is around the bend.

Four Season Garden
Four Season Garden

The Four Seasons garden showed examples of plants in bloom alongside others that will bloom later in the season.

Four Season Garden
Four Season Garden

Of course, anywhere I find peonies growing, I find it hard to tear myself away from this lovely flowering plant that can never grow in my warm desert garden.

Japanese gardens

Japanese gardens are quite popular in the Northwest and this garden had one of its own.

The Discovery Garden

My mother and I journeyed through the garden on a cloudy Saturday morning.  As we walked through the gardens, we met with one of the 27 master gardeners who take care of this garden.    

She was nice enough to take us on a tour of the gardens and told us that the entire garden was designed by master gardeners.  I must admit that the landscape designer in me was extremely impressed at how well it was designed.  

Gardeners know that most landscapes hold secrets that aren’t always evident to the casual observer and this one was no different.

tiny hummingbird's nest.

She guided us toward a tree that held a tiny hummingbird’s nest.

Anna's hummingbirds nest

They have Anna’s hummingbirds living in the gardens year round.

hummingbird

However, I was very happy to be able to see a Rufous hummingbird for the very first time, drinking nectar from nearby flowers.

The Discovery Garden

Continuing on our adventure through the garden, I spotted swaths of purple in the distance.

The Discovery Garden

Have I ever told you that I like irises almost as much as peonies?

The Discovery Garden

Thankfully, these can be grown in my Arizona garden.

The Herb Garden

The Herb Garden was next.

The Discovery Garden

The sage was in full bloom and it was hard to imagine that people grow them for their foliage and not their lovely flowers.  

variegated sage

There was even a variegated sage.

rustic plant signs

I really liked these rustic plant signs.

The Discovery Garden
Herb Garden

Within the Herb Garden, was a display with a list of herbs and how they are used as dyes.  

Who knew that basil is used as a black dye?  

Flowering Garlic Chives

Photo: Flowering Garlic Chives

Our time in this garden was limited since we had a plane to catch in Seattle in the early afternoon.  To be honest, we hadn’t expected to find so much to explore in this university garden and so we had rush to see as much as we could.

The Discovery Garden
Columbine

Photo: Columbine

The Discovery Garden

Of course, like most educational gardens, this one had a great compost working display.

Divided bins were filled with 'greens', 'browns' and 'twigs'.
Divided bins were filled with 'greens', 'browns' and 'twigs'.

Divided bins were filled with ‘greens’, ‘browns’ and ‘twigs’.  

However, my favorite part was the ‘Yuck Bin’…

Yuck Bin
Yuck Bin

One of the many reasons that I like to visit gardens whenever I travel is that I get to see plants that don’t grow where I live.

Heather Garden

This is the Heather Garden, filled with a variety of heathers.  

I admit that I haven’t seen much heather growing except for trips to Great Britain.  

Heather Garden
Heather Garden

Some of the heathers were beginning to flower.

The Discovery Garden

While there is much more to see, I want to share with you one last garden area in this post that really caught my eye.

naturescaping

Have you ever heard of ‘naturescaping’?  I haven’t, but it immediately sounded like my style of sustainable, low-maintenance garden.  

naturescaping

This area of the garden was filled with native plants and associated cultivars that receive minimal maintenance.  The plants were chosen with the goal of attracting wildlife with many plants providing shelter and food.

The Discovery Garden

I hope you have enjoyed the first part of the tour of this small garden.  

But, I’m not finished yet.  I’ve saved the best for last.  Come back next time to see the Children’s, Enabling, Native and Vegetable Gardens.  

You may even spot the elusive Peter Rabbit in Mr. McGregor’s garden…

A Hidden Garden in the Smallest Place