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I have spent the past few weeks indoors whenever possible avoiding the desert heat.  While I do venture outdoors occasionally to do consults and take a weekly tour of the garden to make sure everything is okay.
 
We did lose a small tree and some branches during a fierce monsoon storm over the weekend, but I was grateful for the rain and the cool temperatures that followed.
 
Last week, I showed you some of my favorite plant photos.  This week, I would like to share with you some of my favorite DIY blog posts, most of which you can do inside.
One of my favorite DIY projects was creating natural air-fresheners.
 
I don’t know about you, but I do not like the heavy, artificial smells of air-freshener sprays – not to mention the idea of chemicals floating through the air.  So, the idea of making air-fresheners using  plants definitely appealed to me.
 
 
I hope you are inspired to make you own!

Do you have friends with whom you share a common interest?


I do.


My friend and fellow blogger, Amy Andrychowicz of Get Busy Gardening loves gardening as much as I do.  Amy and I have spent time together in Arizona and later in Florida.



Last week, while on a road trip through the Midwest, I made sure to make a stop in Minneapolis to visit with Amy and see her garden in person.




You may be wondering what a gardener from a hot, dry climate would have in common with one from a cold, temperate climate?  


My winter temps can get down to 20 – 25 degrees in my desert garden while Amy’s goes all the way down to -30 to -25 degrees.  That is up to a 50 degree difference!

But, believe it or not, there are a large number of plants that can grow in both climates.


Entering Amy’s back garden, my attention was immediately drawn to her large beds filled with colorful perennials.


I love iris!

I am always taking pictures of iris throughout my travels.  While they can grow very well in Arizona, I have never grown them myself.  


The major difference between growing irises in the Southwest and the Midwest is the time that they bloom.  Iris will bloom earlier in the spring while their bloom won’t start until late spring in cooler regions.


After seeing Amy’s in full bloom, I may need to rethink planting these beautiful plants in my own garden.


Succulents aren’t just for the warmer regions.  I have encountered prickly pear cacti in some unexpected places including upstate New York.

Here, Amy has a prickly pear enjoying the sun flanked by two variegated sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ that produces reddish flowers in late summer to early autumn.

This plant also can grow in desert gardens, but does best in the upper desert regions or in the low desert in fertile soil and filtered shade.


You might not expect to see water harvesting practiced outside of arid regions. But you can see examples of water harvesting throughout the United States.

This is Amy’s rain garden.  The middle of the garden is sloped into a swale that channels and retains rainwater allowing it to soak into the soil.  Plants are planted along the sides of the swale who benefit from the extra water.


A water feature was surrounded by low-growing plants including one that caught my eye.


This ground cover had attractive, gray foliage covered with lovely, white flowers.  I wasn’t familiar with this plant and asked Amy what it was.


I love the name of this plant, ‘Snow in Summer’ (Cerastium tomentosum).  While it thrives in hot, dry conditions, it does not grow in warmer zones 8 – 11.



Enjoying the shade from the ground cover was a frog.


I always enjoy seeing plants that aren’t commonly grown where I live.  I have always liked the tiny flowers of coral bells (Heuchera species).  It blooms throughout the summer in cooler climates. 


Do you like blue flowers?  I do.  I first saw Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ growing on a visit to the Lurie Gardens in Chicago.

This lovely perennial won’t grow in my desert garden, so I’m always excited to see it during my travels.



Amy had two beautiful clematis vines just beginning to bloom.  

I must admit to being slightly envious of her being able to grow these lovely, flowering vines.  Years ago after moving to Arizona, I tried growing clematis.  While it did grow, it never flowered.  Clematis aren’t meant to be grown in hot, dry climates.

Aren’t these single, deep pink peonies gorgeous?

While I am usually content with the large amount of plants that I can grow in my desert garden, peonies are top on my list of plants that I wish would grow in warmer climates such as mine.

Amy’s garden was filled with beautiful, flowering peonies of varying colors.


I took A LOT of pictures of her peonies. 




There was even a lovely bouquet of peonies decorating the dining room table.


Amy’s back garden is divided up into individual beds and one entire side of the garden is filled with her impressive vegetable garden.



You may be surprised to find that growing vegetables is largely the same no matter where you live.  The main difference is the gardening calendar.  For example, I plant Swiss chard in October and enjoy eating it through March.  In Amy’s garden, Swiss chard isn’t planted until late spring.  


Swiss chard


The raised vegetable beds were painted in bright colors, which contrasted beautifully with the vegetables growing inside.  Even when the beds stand empty, they still add color to the landscape.

Green Beans

Kale



Young pepper plants took advantage of a hot, sunny location in which they will thrive.


One thing that is different in vegetable gardening is the practice of ‘winter sowing’.  When Amy first told me about this method of sowing and germinating seeds, I was fascinated.

Basically, seeds are planted in containers with holes poked on the bottom for drainage.  The containers are then covered with plastic tops also covered with holes.  

In mid-winter, the containers are set outside.  Snow and later, rain water the plants inside the containers and the seeds germinate once temperatures start to warm up.

Amy has a great blog post about winter sowing that I highly recommend.

As we got ready to leave, we walked through the side garden, which had a wooden bridge.



Different varieties of thyme were planted amount the pavers for a lovely effect.  


Thyme can make a great ground cover in areas that receive little foot traffic.


In the front garden, I noticed the characteristic flowers of columbine growing underneath the shade tree.

I don’t often see red columbine.  Amy’s reseeds readily, so she always has columbine coming up.



This is a sweet, pink columbine that has smaller, but more plentiful flowers.

I had visited Amy’s garden through her blog, Get Busy Gardening for a long time and it was so wonderful to be able to see it in person.  It is beautiful!


I encourage you to visit Amy’s blog, which is filled with a lot of helpful advice – even for those of us who live in the Southwest.

I love to travel.


A lot.


For the past few years, I leave my husband and kids behind and embark on a road trip along with my mother where we explore a different region of the United States.


We fly into one city, rent a car and several days (and states later) fly out of a different city.

I must admit that I love planning our trips and I have a binder filled with our itinerary and places of interest.

We named our first road trip “The Midwest”, which began along the west coast of Michigan.  We ended up in Springfield, Missouri with stops in Indiana Amish country and visits to historical Abraham Lincoln sites in Illinois along the way.

What I love about these trips are meeting the people and learning the regional differences in food and culture.  For example, who knew that a ‘regular’ ice-cream cone is 3 scoops?  
My favorite memory from this trip was walking into our bed & breakfast in Amish country to find the owner entertaining three elderly Amish women who were watching the royal wedding on television.

You can read my blog posts from our first trip here.


Our second trip took us to the Northeast.  We began in Columbus, Ohio (where I visited an old friend) and ended in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Along the way we drove through West Virginia, eastern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and Vermont.

Memories that stand out for this road trip are visits to my grandfather’s grave outside of Pittsburgh and seeing the graves of my third-great grandparents.  Seeing Niagara Falls in person was breath-taking and I enjoyed walking through some small towns in upstate New York.  Vermont is a great place to visit and lots of good food – cheese, ice-cream and maple syrup.

You can read my blog posts from our second road trip here.


Last year, our annual road trip found us in the South.  Our journey began in Savannah, Georgia and ended in Louisville, Kentucky.  Stops along the way included Charleston – South Carolina, Asheville – North Carolina and Tennessee.

The special memories that stand out were seeing the colorful window boxes along the historical streets of Charleston and the fabulous kitchen gardens of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Visiting plantations in Georgia and touring the thoroughbred horse farms in Kentucky was so interesting.

We visited a bourbon distillery Kentucky and had a tasting (I learned that I don’t like bourbon) and later visited the first KFC, which has a museum where it all started.

You can read my blog posts from our third road trip here.

I am so excited for our next journey!  

Are you curious to know where we are going?


We have named this road trip “Upper Midwest”.

Our journey begins in Grand Rapids, Michigan and will end up in Minneapolis, Minnesota several days later.

For those of you who have followed me for awhile, you know that I like to blog from the road and this trip will be no different.  

**Any suggestions of what to see and do along the way would be appreciated!


For more links to previous travel blog posts to places like the Caribbean, California, the East Coast, Florida as well as popular Arizona travel spots – click here.
As you read this, I am busy helping to build a community garden along with the Saturday6 and  Troy-bilt in Miami, Florida.
 
So, while I am “out of the office”, I thought that I would share with you links to the blog posts that are most often ‘clicked’ on.
 
I hope you find them helpful and I promise to tell you about my trip when I get home!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Best wishes for a fabulous weekend!

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing a Google search and entered ‘azplantlady’ to see what would come up.


I do this, not because I want to see links to what I have written.  Rather, it is to see what other sites might have say about my blog.  It is a good way to keep in touch with what others want to see and occasionally thank others who link to my blog.


It was during this most recent search that I found a link to a website that had my name on it.  So, I clicked it and saw something that I wasn’t expecting…



At first glance, there appears to be nothing out of the ordinary about this post about freezing herbs. 

That is until you see the post that I wrote…


It was my same blog post appearing on someone else’s blog.

And it got worse…

Every blog post that I had written in the past 18 months appeared on this blog.  

I had become the victim of ‘blog scraping’, which is when the content from a blog is stolen and re-printed without permission.  Blog scraping is often done using automated software that searches for and copies content.

Unfortunately, this is not a new problem and I had heard about it happening before.  But, knowing that it existed still didn’t prepare me for how upsetting it was to find out that it had been done to me.

Why do people copy content from other blogs, you may ask?  Well in this case, the blog linked to a website that sold potting soil.  The blog owner had not only my blog posts, but posts from other gardening blogs as well.  By having so much gardening content, the website came up on various online searches on gardening topics, which then led people to see the potting soil offered for sale.

Like many websites that steal content, there was no contact information available.  


Thankfully, there were some things that I could try to do to see if the copied material could be removed.  But, success wasn’t assured.

The first thing I had to do was find out who the owner of this blog was.  So, I went to Whois.com and entered the blog address.  I found out a lot from their free search.  I was able to get the name and address of the person who was stealing my content – but I wasn’t going to waste my time contacting her because she obviously knew that she was doing something wrong – she purposely left all identifying links off of her blog with no way to contact her.

In addition to finding out who the guilty person was, I also found out who the server was who hosted her blog by visiting Whois.com.  Usually it is either GoDaddy or HostGator, which was the server in this case.  

I went to HostGator.com where I was able to get information on how to file a complaint of copyright infringement (DCMA complaint).  It sounds complicated, but it really wasn’t.  Basically, they instructed me how to write a letter with my allegations, which I then signed and sent off in the mail.

To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes of my complaint being addressed right away, so I was pleasantly surprised to get an email from them 3 days after sending my letter where they acknowledged my complaint.  

The owner of the other blog was given 48 hours by HostGator to reply to my allegations.

Two days later while I went online to search for the other blog, I saw the following…


The folks at HostGator disabled the entire blog!

I was quite happy to say the least because it wasn’t just my content that was being stolen, but that from many other bloggers who probably didn’t have any idea that their writing had been stolen.

I wonder if the blog owner has even noticed that their blog was taken down? The reason I am curious about this is that the blog owner had 18 other domains listed under Whois.com and I suspect that they may be doing the same thing in order to sell their products via other websites.

Well, I am pleased to say that my blog is no longer being ‘scraped’ and so I got my happy ending 🙂


I will be sure to check online now and then to make sure that no one else is taking what doesn’t belong to them.