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It’s hard to believe that our road trip has come to a close.


Our last day was filled with some memorable adventures.


We woke up to an overcast morning at our bed & breakfast.  

You know what the best part of staying at a B&B is?  The breakfasts!

We started out with strawberries and bananas on a bed of sweetened cream followed by french toast, sausage and eggs.  

Do you remember my telling you how popular rhubarb is in this area, in my last post?

Well, during breakfast, we also had a slice of rhubarb pie.  Can I tell you a secret?  I don’t like rhubarb.


Speaking of rhubarb – it was growing out in the garden.


Speaking of gardens, theirs was beautiful.  This lovely fountain surrounded by petunias was the focal view from the dining room.


A circular bed, edged in stones held flowering violas and chives.


White daisies filled the other perennial beds.

I think that daisies can brighten up almost anyone’s day, don’t you?


Along the side of the 100 year old Victorian home, was a side garden with a curved stone pathway that led to a covered arbor.


Purple ‘Wave’ petunias surrounded by bacopa took center stage from this window.  

I always get a kick out of the fact that we grow many of the same annuals in the desert – just at a different time of year.


The bed & breakfast was located in Amish country.  As we ate breakfast, I noticed an Amish girl working in the garden.

She was busy using hand pruners to prune away old, woody growth from some shrubs.

*Amish people do not like pictures of their faces to be taken, which is why I am only showing her from behind.


After breakfast, we got into our car and headed toward Minneapolis, which was to be our last destination.

Our flight wasn’t scheduled to take off until 7:40 pm, so we had the entire day to fill.


We decided to spend some time at the Mill City Museum.

Did you know that Minneapolis used to be the flour capitol of the world?  It’s true.


As someone who loves carbs with a passion and would rather eat bread then sweets, I knew that I had to check out this museum.


The museum is housed in the old Gold Medal Flour factory, which used to be the world’s largest flour mill.


It is 8-stories high and much of it was destroyed by a fire in the 90’s.

You can see the girders and where the floors used to be in the ruins.


The interior had some great exhibits about the history of the early flour industry and how the city of Minneapolis used the power of the Mississippi River to power the mill.

One very cool part of the museum was the Flour Tower tour.


I apologize for the bad photo, but wanted you to see the large freight elevator that visitors went on.

As you sit, a guide takes you along a journey up and down 8 floors of the mill.  Each floor opens up to a display that recreates the history of the mill.


At the top of the mill, we were allowed to get up and walk to the top of the building.


You could see the old sign, which stood tall above us.


From the rooftop, you could see the Mississippi River flowing by.


I wonder if I will ever tire of seeing the Mississippi River.  I hope not.


Across the river, you could see the old Pillsbury Flour Mill.


After leaving the mill, we head a little time left before we had to turn in our rental car and head to the airport.  So, we decided to go and see Minnehaha Falls.

The falls are located in the middle of the city and flows from the Minnehaha River before joining the Mississippi.

As you stand along the viewing area, you are sprayed by the water, which is really quite refreshing.

The falls are 53 feet tall.


During this entire road trip, my mother has been enjoying taking pictures with her new iPhone.  

Many of her photos are of me taking pictures of my camera, like this one at the falls.

It was time to wrap up our visit to Minneapolis and start toward the airport.


Our time at the airport was much longer then we had planned for.  Our 7:40 pm flight was delayed for 4 hours until 11:30 pm.

Thankfully, I had my laptop and some knitting to keep me busy while we waited.


Sunset in Minneapolis.

I was really wishing that I had been on a plane by now.  I missed my husband and kids.

The airline brought out a cart filled with snacks and drinks for all of us who had to wait.

I ate my fill of shortbread cookies and Ritz cheese crackers.

Our flight finally arrived and we soon left for home.

We had a wonderful time on our road trip and I appreciate your comments so much.

BUT, my road trip posts aren’t over yet.

I’ve saved the visit to my friend and fellow garden blogger, Amy’s garden for my last post.

I can’t wait to show you what’s growing in her garden – so come back soon!

What has your winter been like?


Has it been unusually cold or warm?  If you live in the Southwest, you have undoubtedly experienced a warmer then normal winter.  


As a result, many plants that are usually dormant in winter, are green and blooming even though it is still technically February.


I started wearing sandals 2 weeks ago, but I still haven’t broken out my shorts yet.  


Last week, I showed you my edible garden, (also known as a kitchen garden), which is located on the side of our house.


Today, I wanted to show you a peek at what is happening in the back garden during this warm winter.


This is one part of the back garden.  

This was my first vegetable garden.  Because this garden is close to the house, I like to plant vegetables that are harvested frequently such as leaf lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.  

To the right, you can see my pink trumpet vine.  Behind is a hollyhock getting ready to flower.
Against the wall is purple lilac vine in full bloom and peeking through the slats of the fence are nasturtium leaves.



I have two large rose bushes and the ‘Abraham Darby’ rose bush has a few lovely blooms.  You may notice that this rose has a rather old-fashioned appearance.  This is one of many David Austin shrub roses.

After growing 40 hybrid tea roses in the garden of our first house, I have found that I like shrub roses.  They are easier to take care of (need less pruning) and are very fragrant.


The pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) growing up against the pillar of my patio has beautiful, pink flowers.  

Normally, it suffers some frost damage during the winter, but during this warm winter, I have had pink flowers all winter long.  The flowers normally show up in spring and fall and are truly stunning.

I went out into the garden and cut the flowers for a lovely bouquet yesterday.

This plant grows quickly and can be grown as either a vine or a sprawling shrub.


Another plant that usually shuts down for winter is coral fountain (Rusellia equisetiformis).  I love the arching branches of this perennial and its orange/red blossoms.


One plant that still looks like winter, is my bougainvillea.

A few days ago, I asked you on my facebook page if you love or hate bougainvillea.  I had an overwhelming response with most of you saying that you liked it.

I have two bougainvillea.  I used to have more, but while I love the beauty of bougainvillea, I don’t particularly like to prune them, so two words for me.


The blue sky is really the perfect backdrop for the orange, tubular flowers of orange jubilee (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee).  

For those who want a tall shrub that grows quickly, then orange jubilee is a great choice.

I recommend using it against a bare wall or to screen out pool equipment.

In fact, I visited a client who used orange jubilee as ‘green curtains‘ for her home.


Right now, my purple lilac vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) has taken center stage in the back garden.

Growing up my south-facing wall, they burst forth in a profusion of purple blooms every February and last into March.

The whiskey barrel planter is a holding area where I have planted my extra plants.  I’m not sure what I will do with it later.


In addition to growing purple lilac vine up walls, I also like to grow it as a groundcover too.  

*This vine is easy to find in nurseries in winter and spring, when they are in flower.  However, you can have a hard time finding it in summer and fall.  So if you want one, get it now.

Behind my purple lilac groundcover vine, I have red bird-of-paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) growing.  But,  because it is dormant in winter, it isn’t much to look at right now – but I’ll show you how lovely they are this summer.


Hollyhocks have a special place in my garden.  I love these old-fashioned flowers and their flowers are truly stunning in spring (they flower in the summer in cooler climates).

They self-seed and come up every year for me.  In a month, the flowers will start to burst forth and I can hardly wait.

The hollyhocks are located next to my smaller vegetable garden and receive enough water from the garden without me having to give them supplemental water.


Another old-fashioned favorite flower are nasturtiums.  These flowers have a place inside of all of my vegetable gardens.

Not only are they beautiful, nasturtiums also repel bad bugs from bothering my vegetables.  Another bonus is that their leaves and flowers are edible.

The bloom in late winter and through spring.  I let them dry up in summer before pulling them out.  They do drop some seeds, so I always have new ones coming up the next year in the garden.


I have several pots in front of my smaller vegetable garden.  In them, I plant a combination of vegetables and flowers, including bacopa, which trails over the edges of pots.


There are carrots and leaf lettuce growing in my second vegetable garden.

  I step outside into the garden whenever I need a few carrots for dinner and they taste so delicious.


In the same garden, I am growing celery for the first time.  I must say, that I am quite impressed at how well it is growing and can’t wait to taste it.

Last week, I mentioned showing you a part of my garden that I have NEVER shown anyone.

This is my side yard – NOT a garden…


This is the space where we store garden equipment, trash cans and our garden shed.  I also have my compost bin in this area.  

You can see only half of the side yard in this photo, but you aren’t missing anything by not seeing the rest.

Another purple lilac vine grows along the fence, which hides part of the side yard and a large ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde provides welcome shade.

Our second bougainvillea is located along the wall.  It is never watered and it has been 3 years since it has been pruned.  As you can see, it does just fine being ignored.

And so, I hope you have enjoyed peeking into parts of my back garden.  Of course, I haven’t shown it all to you – just the parts that are blooming.

In a few months, I will show the other areas when they are in bloom.

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So, what is blooming in your garden this month?

Do you have a favorite winter/spring blooming plant?


We are more then half-way through our road trip and are having a fabulous time.

We have encountered great food, not so great food, interesting tourist destinations, beautiful plants as well as some over-hyped destinations.

Our typical road trip day begins with breakfast at the hotel and then we head to our car, turn on the GPS and get on the highway.  We have brought some audio book CD’s which are fun to listen too.

We try to stay off of major highways because you cannot see much besides trees on either side of the road.  To experience more of each area we visit, we travel on minor highways.  BUT, our GPS is always trying to get us back onto the major highways.

We visited Washington Jefferson College in Washington, PA – the second oldest college in the US, after Harvard.  
 Both my grandfather and great-father attended this college.  

After visiting the college, we walked up and down the main street of Washington.

There was some pretty Clematis growing underneath a Gingko tree…

Roses were in full bloom as well….


Before we left Washington, we drove up to my great-great-great-grandfathers farm.  Or, where it used to be.  It is now filled with beautiful homes.  I tried to imagine what it used to look like and felt a connection to standing on land he used to farm.

Later, we headed up to New York state.  On our way, we stopped by the tiny town of Volant, which is located in Amish country in New York.  

Don’t you just want to sit on this porch?
I found an antique colander, which I will turn into a planter.
The weather has been warm….in the 80’s.  I must admit that it is a bit too warm for me.  I know, I know….I live in the desert.  How can it be too warm for me?
Well, I am a wimp when it comes to humidity – I like dry heat 😉
This tiny town was hosting a progressive tea party.  Each store was hosting part of the meal.  Over a thousand people were expected.  Thankfully, we came the day before.
Blue Lobelia, White Bacopa, Sweet Potato Vine, Geraniums and Marigold.
Spring has arrived and colorful containers are filled with beautiful flowers.
 
Lupine

I fell in love with the Lupine, above.  
 
 Guess where we went the next day?
We visited Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side, which has a better view.
Tomorrow, I’ll share with you our visit to the falls and then our travels to the Finger Lakes region with its wineries and hidden garden I found.