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I enjoy traveling – especially when I get to explore new places. Last month, I journeyed to Buffalo, New York where I toured gardens, attended a writer’s workshop, and best of all, spent time with one of my favorite people.

Why Buffalo you may ask? Well, it turns out that this industrial city has beautiful green spaces, whimsical private gardens, as well as test gardens. Each August, the city hosts Garden Walk Buffalo where people from all over the U.S., Canada, and other countries descend to tour over 400 private gardens. I was in Buffalo for the Garden Communicator’s Annual Conference, which is held in a different city each year. Each year, I look forward to the conference where garden tours, educational sessions, and the tradeshow fills our days. It is also a very good time to reconnect with fellow writers.

 

I arrived in Buffalo a few days early to meet up with my BGF (Best Garden Friend), Andrea who flew all the way from Australia to attend. We met two years ago when we attended our first conference and bonded instantly. Throughout the year, we keep in touch via Facebook Messenger and look forward to spending a week together at the conference. 

Our agenda for the first day was to explore the downtown area down the street from our hotel. There were many older buildings, including our hotel, which had been beautifully refurbished, including the city hall and its art deco architecture.

 

The day was sunny, humid, and hot. Desert dwellers like me don’t deal very well with humidity, but that didn’t stop us from exploring.

 

We walked down to Canalside, which is along the banks of Lake Erie. As we explored the area, we walked through beautifully landscaped garden beds. The hosta and coleus were stunning with their contrasting colors.

While I may not be able to grow many of the plants we passed by, it doesn’t keep me from enjoying their beauty and getting inspired to create similar plantings using different plants that thrive where I live. However, there was ONE plant in this bed that currently grows in my garden – pink flowering gaura.

As we continued walking along the water front, splashes of color caught my eye. 

We had stumbled upon a ‘pot of gold at the end of a rainbow’ or in other words, a test garden where the latest flowering annuals are being tested.

Large containers filled with ‘Supertunia’ petunias look as if they are on steroids. But, this type of flower is smaller than regular petunias and flower more abundantly as you can see. The tall spikes of white and purple angelonia add a lovely vertical accent.

White alyssum, black sweet potato vine, and gomphrena make a unique grouping that works. 

I was thrilled to note that many of the plants in the test garden would grow nicely in my desert garden – during the cool season.

More pink gaura was to be seen, blooming in front of masses of Supertunia.

Lantana is a very familiar sight in arid gardens where it can survive outdoors throughout the year. However, in cold winter regions, it is treated as an annual.

Black-eyed Susan vines grew against a wooden fence surrounded by vibrant verbena and double petunias.

I love trellises made from natural materials on hand like this wood, likely fished out from the lake.

Here is another plant that currently grows in my desert garden – Salvia amistad.

Million Bells (Calibrachoa)

After the long trek from our hotel and exploring the test garden, Andrea and I were content after seeing such beautiful plants, but we were also hot, tired, and hungry.

Thankfully, we found this wonderful restaurant a couple of blocks away. The food and service were fabulous, so we came back again for dinner.

I invite you to visit Andrea’s blog where she writes about her adventures gardening in Perth, Australia. Please come back to join me for day two of our adventure where we discover another garden – this one filled with edible plants along with whimsical garden signs.

 

Last July, we had some guests visiting us from Missouri.  There visit was to be only 48 hours and so we planned a day trip, packed with activities in order to show them parts of our beautiful state.


So, we took them up to Sedona, which is a stunningly beautiful area, less then 2 hours from our home.  As we started the drive north of Phoenix, our friends were amazed at the beauty of the desert and marveled at all of the Saguaro cacti that dotted the landscape.


Soon, the cacti disappeared and pinyon pine started to appear and we soon saw the red mountains of Sedona in the distance.




Sedona is one of my favorite places to visit and we make it up there at least once a year.


Our primary destination in Sedona was a place called ‘Tlaquapaque’, which is a recreation of a Mexican village.  This recreated village is actually full of shops – mostly full of creations from local artists.  Although, I must admit that my favorite store is the Christmas store 🙂


There is just something so inviting about an archway that says “Shops” over it, isn’t there?


Tlaquepaque is a very beautiful place with many specimen trees, shrubs and plants.


As we walked around, our guests headed straight for the shops, while I spent most of my time looking at the gardens.  

I was especially interested in the beautiful container plantings that they had.
Here are a few of my favorites….

Coreopsis, Zinnias and Toadflax


Coleus and Impatiens

An entire walkway was lined with containers full of annuals.

Potted Geraniums and Variegated Ivy

Did you know that Bougainvillea make great container plants?  Look how beautiful they look when trained upward against a wall, below.


Bougainvillea don’t like wet soil and like to be watered deeply and then allowed to dry out in between, which makes them suitable for containers.
 

Indian Fig Prickly Pear

I thought this was an interesting potted plant.  Now most Prickly Pear species are NOT suitable for being planted in pots because of their thorns and ‘glochids’, which are the tiny, brown hairs that get stuck in your fingers.

But, Indian Fig Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a thornless species of Prickly Pear, which makes it okay for use in a container.

Petunias and Purple Coneflower
As I walked around taking photos, I noticed that I was close to my favorite Christmas store, so I ducked inside….


This store (I forgot the name) features beautiful, handmade Christmas ornaments.  I have bought some of my favorite decorations here.  

The display above features a dried agave stalk that they have hung ornaments from.
I resisted the urge to buy more ornaments for myself, but I did purchase an ornament for our guests to take home to remember their trip to Arizona.  It was a dried, red chili with a Santa face and beard painted on it.

As I stepped out of the store, I heard Indian song and drums….


 Imagine my surprise to see an Indian hoop dancer, performing.



My family and our guests enjoyed the performance very much.  

Especially my daughter, Gracie (far right), who in the past was scared of Indians because of their painted faces (from the movies, I think).

She loved the performance and afterward…. 



Posed for this picture and shared it with her school.


We had a fabulous day with our friends and on our way home, decided to treat them to another regional treat….

In-n-Out Burger 🙂