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For those of you who have been fortunate to have visited the ‘Emerald City’, you know how beautiful and vibrant Seattle is.

Both my mother and I have been here numerous times and decided to spend most of our time in other parts of the Northwest, but we couldn’t just pass Seattle by. We had to spend at least a little while enjoying the sights and sounds.

So where do you go in Seattle when you only have a few hours to spare?

Pike Place Market

Over 100 years old, Pike Place Market has been described as “Heaven on Earth” and “a browser’s heaven”.

I like how AAA describes this iconic place in their guidebook: “The sights, the smells, the sidewalk musicians, the seafood-tossing fishmongers and the ambling crowds all make it a sensory experience of the highest order.”

Of course, the fish mongers are perhaps, the most popular attraction as they toss large pieces of fish in order to fill orders.  

seafood
seafood
seafood
seafood

Fish mongers interact with visitors and help them find the perfect seafood for their table.

I must admit that it was fun to watch them yell and toss large fish to each other.

seafood
seafood

While I don’t eat large amounts of seafood, I do like to see the different kinds available.

Pike Place Market has so many different types of fresh fish and other seafood available.

fresh seafood, Pike Place Market

In addition to the fresh seafood, Pike Place Market is also known for their fresh produce and flowers, which was more up my alley.

Road Trip Day 4: The Ultimate Farmers Market and a Lavender Farm
Road Trip Day 4: The Ultimate Farmers Market and a Lavender Farm

The produce was so bright and colorful and looked absolutely delicious.

own blackberry bushes
own blackberry bushes

I love berries and grapes!  Once I get home, I plan on making some jam from my own blackberry bushes.

Farmers markets

Farmers markets are great places to see vegetables that may not make it to your local supermarket.

flower stalls.

Of course, I always tend to find myself spending a lot of time next to the flower stalls.

flower stalls.
flower stalls.

I decided that if I were ever to get married again  that I would have my bouquet made up of peonies.

Just a note – I have been happily married almost 29 years and have no plans on walking down the aisle again.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is also filled with shops and a large variety of ethnic food places.

Turkish Delight
Athenian Lunch SeaFood
Bavarian Meats

You can easily buy a baguette at a French bakery, pick up some fresh cheese and some fruit for a delicious lunch.

There is one place where there is always a line of people eager to get a certain beverage…

Starbucks

Pike Place Market is where the first Starbucks opened in 1971.

Starbucks

People happily wait in line for their favorite Starbucks beverage so that they can say that they visited the first one.

In addition to the seafood, fresh produce, flowers and great places to eat are a variety of shops carrying souvenirs, clothing and just about everything else.

large piggy bank

‘Rachel’ is the mascot of Pike Place Market and is a large piggy bank.  The money she collects is used to benefit social services.  People say if you rub her snout after giving a donation that you will have good luck.

The marketplace is big and ideal for walking and people watching.  There is no ‘secret’ method for seeing everything.  Simply walk into one of the many entrances and just stroll throughout.

I came away with several flavored pastas, including chocolate, habanero chili pasta and garlic chives, which I will share with my family once I get home.  

After leaving the market and Seattle, we headed up north toward Canada.  Along the way, we decided to visit the town of Sequim, which is famous for the lavender that is grown there.

I was surprised to learn that they produce the most lavender in the United States.

We decided to visit one of the lavender farm, called Purple Haze Lavender.

 Lavender Farm

The sight of the cute farm house greeted us as we drove into the parking lot for the small store onsite.

 Lavender Farm

Small lavender plants were available to buy right outside of the store.

 Lavender Farm

While the lavender won’t be in bloom until summer, it was still beautiful.

 Lavender Farm

This spot in Washington, is relatively dry, receiving only 17 inches of rain per year, which makes it a great area to grow lavender, which don’t like soggy soils.

blooming clematis

Among the grounds were blooming clematis climbing over an arbor.

Road Trip Day 4: The Ultimate Farmers Market and a Lavender Farm
Lavender Farm

Chickens, a peacock and an orchard filled with fruit trees were located alongside the lavender fields.

lavender ice-cream.

The store had just about any type of lavender product, including lavender ice-cream.

lavender ice-cream.

Who wouldn’t love a view like this?

lavender ice-cream.

We left the farm with a new appreciation for lavender.  

You can visit Sequim for their annual Lavender Festival in July.

Our journey resumed toward Port Angeles, Washington.  Tomorrow, we will tour the Olympic National Forest before leaving for Victoria, Canada.

Day 3 of our road trip began as another cloudy day and our fun-filled day contained an unexpected diversion.

Our hotel in Astoria, Oregon

Our hotel in Astoria, Oregon

The day began with a quick breakfast at our hotel in Astoria, which sits on the northeastern most point of Oregon. The plan was to head to see the house from the 80’s movie ‘The Goonies’ and then head to Fort Clatsop, which was where Lewis & Clark’s expedition ended up in the early 1800’s.

But first things first – as a fan of ‘The Goonies’, we headed toward the house first.

The Goonies

The way to the house was well marked.

Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food

The house is privately owned, but you can venture up to the house.

Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food
Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food
Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food

Doesn’t it look the same as in the movie?

Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food

The garden around the house was nice too…

California poppies

California poppies were in full bloom in the retaining wall underneath the house.

blue-flowering plant

Believe it or not, this blue-flowering plant is the annual lobelia.  Evidently, they love cool, moist weather.

The pink roses

The pink roses were so vibrant.

white clematis

There was a little arbor with white clematis.

After seeing the house, we drove back through town, along the coast of the Columbia River where you could see large ships and signs of the importance of fishing.  The sea lions along the pier were quite noisy and could be heard from far away.

As we drive through downtown Astoria, we came upon a street market. Of course, we had to stop.

 downtown Astoria, Oregon

The market stretched 3 blocks through downtown Astoria.

 downtown Astoria, Oregon

It was a live scene with vendors selling their goods, street performers, plants and unique food choices.

guitars from old cigar boxes.

While most vendors sold items you would expect to see at a street fair (things made from wood, jewelry and clothing) – there were also some unusual items such as this gentleman who made guitars from old cigar boxes.

I must confess that I went the more traditional route and bought a bracelet for me and a necklace for my daughter, Ruthie.

guitars from old cigar boxes.

Street performers played ‘Top 40’ songs, including Pharrel William’s song “Happy” using an electric guitar and drums made out of 5-gallon plastic pails.

Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food

The individual sounds from the drums varied depending on how high they were from the ground.

They were surprisingly good.

Plants had a large presence at the street fair. Different nurseries set up booths selling a beautiful variety of plants.

Clematis

Clematis

While I can’t grow hosta clematis in my desert garden, I do enjoy seeing them whenever I travel.

Lilacs

Lilacs

Weigela

Weigela

Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food

While you’d be hard pressed to find most of the plants on sale in the desert southwest, I did find one plant that was being sold that grows great in my backyard…

alvia greggii 'Lipstick

Salvia greggii ‘Lipstick’ had red and white flowers on bright green foliage. I love and so do the hummingbirds. It blooms fall, winter and spring in my garden. It was nice finding a plant that can grow in both places.

Astoria, Oregon

Fresh produce such as apples, asparagus, pears and sugar snap peas were on display.

Astoria, Oregon

This shopper was well prepared pulling a wagon filled with his purchases.

Astoria, Oregon

One thing that I have really enjoyed in the street markets I have visited on our road trip are the floral booths.

Astoria, Oregon

Gorgeous cut flowers are combined in a variety of beautiful arrangements.

Astoria, Oregon
Astoria, Oregon
Astoria, Oregon

The prices were amazing too!

Astoria, Oregon

I love peonies!

Astoria, Oregon

Before we left, we stopped by the food vendors. There were a lot of ethnic foods available including Asian, Greek, Indian and Mexican.

Now, living in the Southwest, I am very familiar with Mexican food. But, I must admit that I have never seen these unique offerings before…

deep-fried asparagus
deep-fried asparagus

I admit that I wasn’t even the least bit tempted to try bacon-wrapped or deep-fried asparagus.

Even as an adult, I still don’t like asparagus.

On our way out, we stopped by a booth with a large number of baked goods.

Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food

We skipped the pies, but did grab 2 large cookies for lunch later.

Planters decorate the face of an empty building in downtown Astoria, Oregon

Planters decorate the face of an empty building in downtown Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon

We enjoyed our time in Astoria very much and could have easily spent another day there.

Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food

As we drove away, we spotted two deer on the side of the road…

our road trip.

The next leg of our journey led us to the second state on our road trip.

Columbia River into Washington.

We crossed the bridge over the Columbia River into Washington.

Road Trip Day 3: The Goonie House, Shopping, Flowers and Unique Food

Yeah…that’s a lot of lumber.

We arrived in Seattle before dinner and walked a 1/2 mile down the road to attend an evening church service.Then it was dinner at Chipotle.

Tomorrow, we will explore the downtown area!

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.

Amy Andrychowicz Garden

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.

Amy Andrychowicz

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

Amy's garden

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.

Midwestern Garden

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

Midwestern Garden

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.  

Midwestern Garden

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.

Midwestern Garden

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

Succulents

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.

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy, Get Busy Gardening

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.

low-growing plants

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

low-growing plants

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.

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

Enjoying the shade from the ground cover was a frog.

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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. 

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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.

beautiful clematis vines

Amy had two beautiful clematis vines just beginning to bloom.  

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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.

pink peonies

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.

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

I took A LOT of pictures of her peonies. 

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy
Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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

Swiss chard 

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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

Green Beans 

Kale

Kale 

Young pepper plants

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

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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.

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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.

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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.

Colorful Midwestern Garden of Amy

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.

Day 6 of our road trip began with gray, dreary skies and a chilly breeze.  

We decided to spend our time in Madison, Wisconsin by seeing the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, which were rated as the #1 attraction by Trip Advisor.

As we left our hotel, we were faced by roads under construction.  

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Summer is the time for all road construction throughout the midwest because cold, wintery conditions are not conducive to construction.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Once we arrived at the gardens, we were greeted by the sight of containers filled with a combination of edible and ornamental plants.

Red Sail

I love how the blue of the lobelia contrasts with the bright green of the parsley and ‘Red Sail’ lettuce.

Cabbage

Cabbage is one of my favorite edible plants to add to containers.

All of these edible plants can be grown in pots in my southwestern garden, but are planted in fall, not spring like in Wisconsin.

During this trip, we have visited three botanical gardens and have not spent one dime on admission fees.

Why?

Most major botanical gardens have a reciprocal admissions if you belong as long as you are a member of your local botanical garden and they are part of the reciprocal program.

At first glance, the gardens were beautiful and I couldn’t wait to start exploring.

Road Trip Day 6

The gardens have bee hives located in out of the way areas, which are filled with Italian bees that are said to be rather docile.

The bees play an important part in pollinating the flowering plants throughout the gardens.  The honey that is sometimes sold in the garden gift store.

Meadow Garden

The individual gardens are spaced around ‘The Great Lawn’ which is a large circular grass area where concerts are held.

The first garden I explored was the ‘Meadow Garden’.  This garden is sustainable and very low-maintenance.

It is filled with drought-tolerant grasses along with wildflowers and flowering bulbs.  What I really liked about the garden is that it does not need supplemental water or fertilizer.

Maintenance is limited to mowing twice a year.

What I didn’t like about the garden, was the mosquitos.  But, I came prepared and they mostly left me alone.

Road Trip Day 6

Walking on, I wanted to explore the herb garden because they play a huge part in my own garden.  

Road Trip Day 6

The entry to the herb garden is quite formal.  Boxwood hedges border the center garden area.

beautiful container

Edible plants combine with ornamentals for beautiful container plantings.

Road Trip Day 6

 I love flowering chives and how they used them as a border.

Varieties of mint and thyme were nicely displayed and the herb garden also had herbs used for dyes.

*The brown plants in the background are recovering from the severe winter with new green growth slowly coming back.

Road Trip Day 6

This bed of flowering annuals was completed edged in flowering chives.

Thai pavilion

A Thai pavilion dominated the center of the Thai garden, which brought back memories for my mother who spent a few months in Thailand as a young woman.

While tropical plants cannot survive a midwest winter – the plants used in this area had a tropical appearance with large leaves while also being cold-hardy.

Thai Garden

The bridge that connects the Thai Garden to the rest of the garden, crosses over Starkweather Creek, which bisects the garden.

People can canoe or kayak up 5 miles from this side of the bridge.

Lake Monona

Boats can dock on the other side of the bridge and the creek leads out to Lake Monona.

Sunken Garden

This area is called the Sunken Garden, which is gently sloped so that rainwater flows toward the lake.

Road Trip Day 6

The formal water feature was flanked by two container plantings, which were quite contemporary in style.

Japanese iris

The pond had beautiful yellow and purple flowering Japanese iris.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Vines were used in different ways throughout the garden.

A tree provided needed support for a clematis vine with its maroon flowers.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

 Years ago, I tried growing clematis in our first home.  It did grow, but never flowered.  I learned later that it gets too hot in the desert for clematis.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Another clematis was flowering next to a beautiful host underneath a tree.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

I love pink flowers, don’t you?

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Wisteria was growing up on arbors and I never tire of viewing their lovely flowers and inhaling their heavenly fragrance.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

The vision of a rose climbing upward always makes me want to go home and grow one up the side of my house.

Paper Birch

Have you ever heard of ‘Paper Birch’ trees?

Their bark peels off in perfect sheets that is sometimes used to wrap around decorative candles.

I have always had a special place in my heart for birch trees.  Growing up in a Los Angeles suburb, we had three growing in our front yard.  I have always loved their white bark and bright-green leaves.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Underneath these birch trees was an interesting ornamental grass called dormitor quaking sedge (Carex brizoides).  I like how it lays down making it look like green waves underneath the trees.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Walking near the Perennial Garden, I spotted a blue-flowering plant that looked rather familiar.

It turned out to be a blue-flowering variety of autumn sage (Salvia greggii), ‘Blue Note’.

Can you imagine how patriotic a planting of red, white and blue autumn sage plants would look?

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Here is another lovely edible, ornamental container that caught my eye, using kale.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Don’t you just want to sit down and relax in this area?

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Pale-pink bee balm (Monarda species)was the only flower in this area of the garden, but it was more then enough alongside the ornamental grasses.

Sometimes less is more.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Walking on a paved area, I saw a planting of perennials right in the middle.  

Interestingly, there was no border or any clearly delineated space.  Just an opening without pavers where plants seemingly come up in the middle of a sea of pavers.

I kind of like this idea.  How about you?

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

If you have been reading my road trip posts, then you have probably noticed my obsession with peonies, which don’t grow in the desert.

Wherever we go, I see shrubs covered with gorgeous blooms.  

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Well, Olbrich Gardens were no exception.

I must have taken over 100 photos of all the different blooming peony varieties that they had.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

From a distance, peonies resemble bushes filled with roses.

However, once you get closer, you notice the the leaves have a different shape and so do the unopened blossoms, which are shaped into balls.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Their petals tend to be more ruffled then roses.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

And, their blossoms are huge!

We spent a lovely morning in the gardens, but it was time to hit the road for our next destination.

On my way out, I noticed an outdoor eating area with centerpieces made from plants that I was quite familiar with…

succulent containers

(Agave americana var. medio picta) was the center point of numerous succulent containers.

It wasn’t unusual to see succulent plants in many of the gardens we visited.  While they do fine in the summer months, they need to be brought indoors and protected during the cold months of the year.

Road Trip Day 6

 After taking 334 pictures of the gardens (seriously), it was time to hit the road.

Whenever possible, we try to stay off of main highways and focus on using smaller highways that run through small towns and countryside.

Road Trip Day 6

The Wisconsin countryside is green.  I mean really green!

Dairy farms dotted the landscape along with beautiful scenery.  We thoroughly enjoyed our journey.

Tomorrow, we spend time along the towns by the Mississippi River before heading toward Minnesota Amish country.

**I wanted to thank those of you who have left such wonderful comments.  I appreciate them so much!

Did you have the opportunity to get away for awhile this summer?

Our summer has been a bit tough this year.  The reason is that my son, Kai, had hip surgery (his 5th) and was confined to a wheelchair this summer.  He was in quite a lot of pain for the first few weeks, which thankfully subsided in July.

We were blessed to go on a family vacation toward the end of July before school started.  Every year, we go on a trip with my mother, my siblings and their families.  This year, we decided to go to Pinetop, Arizona.

Salt River Canyon

We got on the road and started heading east from Phoenix.  The mountains of the high desert were beautiful along Salt River Canyon and we could see swimmers below.

Believe it or not, I have never been to the Eastern part of our state even though I have lived here for over 27 years.

Getting Away From It All

Parts of the highway wound back and forth.

As we neared our destination, I began to see the pine trees that promised cooler weather.

Arizona

Pinetop, Arizona

We finally arrived at the cabin that my mother had rented for us all to stay in.

It was quite big – 7 bedrooms and plenty of bathrooms to go around for 5 individual families.

We stayed on the bottom floor so that Kai could get around easily.

Arizona

Pinetop, Arizona

A few of our mornings were spent going for walks.

Arizona

Pinetop, Arizona

We love to walk outdoors, but in the summer it is tough because of the heat.  So this was a real treat for us.

If I were at home, I would be busy writing, gardening, managing the kids and/or consulting instead of taking a walk outdoors on a beautiful morning.  Pure heaven!

Arizona

There were some beautiful gardens in the surrounding neighborhood.

Pinetop, Arizona

This was my favorite garden.

Did you know that you can grow these flowering perennials in the desert?  It’s true.  The only difference is that they will bloom in spring rather then in summer.

friendly cat

We didn’t see any wild animals, but did pet a friendly cat and saw a horse getting new shoes.

Pinetop, Arizona

This kids favorite house had a model train track set up throughout the entire front yard.

Pinetop, Arizona

The kids were interested in the model trains and small buildings while I like to observe the miniature landscape plants.

Pinetop, Arizona
Pinetop, Arizona

This is one vine that you probably will not find growing in the low desert.  This is a lovely Clematis vine and I have grown one before years ago when we lived in Phoenix.  The problem was – it never flowered because it was too hot.

I haven’t grown one since.  

bountiful vegetable garden

We passed this bountiful vegetable garden.

Pinetop, Arizona

I love this terraced garden, don’t you?

landscape

You don’t have to rely solely on flowers for color in the landscape.  I love the trailing ivy underneath these oak trees.

Besides our walks, there was fun to be had back at the cabin…

Pinetop, Arizona

The kids had fun racing monster trucks down the driveway every evening after dinner.

It was nice for Kai to be able to participate in racing without having to run.

Gracie

Gracie enjoyed sitting on the porch and reading her favorite book.

grandma

On rainy afternoons, grandma kept the kids busy with art projects.

making dinner

During the week, each family was responsible for making dinner for everyone.  It was nice only having to cook once the entire week.

Kai

After dinner, the big kids would carry Kai and his wheelchair upstairs to play.

They would ‘charge’ the bad guy armed with a plastic gun and a cushion for a shield.

Kai

They usually triumphed over the villain.

Kai

Of course, we made sure to spend time fishing.

Pinetop, Arizona

My husband kept our fishing line untangled and our hooks baited.

fishing

We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the peace and quiet of fishing.

fishing

Unfortunately, there was a little too much peace and quiet since we didn’t catch any.  Not even a nibble.

Pinetop, Arizona

On our last day, we hiked around the lake enjoying the beauty of the woods.

We had a wonderful trip and 2 days after we returned home, it was time for the kids to start school.

**Thank you for letting me take you along on our summer vacation.**

Salt River Canyon

Family Vacation Getaway…

I asked this question years ago, to a room full of people as I was giving my first landscape presentation.  I was quite nervous as I began my presentation, but once I asked the question, “Raise your hand if you have ever killed a plant,”  almost everyone raised their hands.  A few people also laughed when my hand also went up and I immediately felt a little less nervous.

I think it would be very hard to find anyone who has a garden who has never killed a plant, don’t you?  Over the years, I have heard many stories, some very humorous about mishaps in the garden which ended with dead plants.  I would like to share mine with you….

Raise your hand if you have ever killed a plant

Over 18 years ago, we  moved into our new home in Phoenix.  It was a small, older, ranch style house that had quite a few roses and a lot of room for a garden.  I was so excited to have my own piece of land to grow plants in, I could hardly wait to get started.  I sent for plant catalogs and couldn’t wait to select what I would grow.

I selected a beautiful Clematis vine and some Shasta Daisies.  It seemed like it took forever for them to arrive in the mail.  As soon as they arrived, I opened the box and was a little disappointed at how small the plants were.  But, I planted my Clematis and Daisies and had visions of how wonderful they would look once they started flowering.

Shasta Daisy

*Courtesy of Wikipedia

You may notice that the picture of the Shasta Daisy above is not mine.  There is a good reason for that….I killed all of my Shasta Daisies.  You see, I decided that the tiny plants that arrived in the mail needed a little help growing.  So, I gave each 2″ plant a handful of lawn fertilizer. 

I was sure that the added fertilizer would work miracles and I couldn’t wait to see how much faster they would grow.  Well, most of you are probably already laughing at my mistake, but I was so surprised when I went out into the garden the next morning to find little brown, dried out plants.  So, lesson #1 that I learned was to read the directions on the fertilizer bag and that more is definitely not better when it comes to fertilizer.  I burned my little plants by adding too much fertilizer.

So, now that I learned my first lesson, I was sure to fertilize my new Clematis vine carefully.

Raise your hand if you have ever killed a plant

*This is my photo, buy NOT my Clematis vine.   I took this photo in a garden full of flowers in Wales.

Again, I do not have a photo of my Clematis vine flowering for one very good reason….it never flowered.  It did grow foliage, but after a year, it was only about 3 ft. high and kind of sad looking.  Lesson #2, just because a plant says it will grow in zone 9, does not mean that it will thrive in my desert climate.  The USDA Plant Hardiness zones is based on the lowest average temperature of a given region.  Phoenix is in zone 9.  But, the zones do not take into account the heat of a particular area.  It turns out that Clematis does not like the intense heat of our summers and as a result, mine never flowered.  

And so, a recap of what I learned….

First – a tiny amount of fertilizer goes very far and amending the soil with organic matter is preferable.  I now only fertilize when a plant that shows a specific nutrient deficiency (I make exceptions for citrus trees and roses, which fertilize regularly).

Second, just because a plant looks pretty in a catalog and says it grows in zone 9, it doesn’t mean that it can handle the heat of our summer.  Sunset magazine has created a new hardiness zone map that factors in many different variables of a given region: low and high temperatures, humidity, soil type, length of growing season and rainfall.  You can access this information, which covers all regions of the United States.  *Many nurseries and those in the plant industry in the western US use the Sunset zones instead of the USDA hardiness maps since they are much more accurate.

 Well, for those of you who may be new to gardening, I hope my experiences will help you so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did.  Many beautiful plants are very easy to grow in our desert climate….you just have to do a little research to find out which ones.  

I would like to offer one last bit of advice….wherever you live, don’t rely on the plants you see offered in the big box stores – they are notorious for selling bright, flowering plants that will soon turn brown and die after you plant them.  This doesn’t mean that you have a black thumb….it means that some of the plants that they sell do not necessarily thrive in your climate.

Now, I would love to hear your stories…..have you ever killed a plant?