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With warming temperatures, many of us begin to think about changing out our cool-season annual flowers for plants that can take the heat of summer.


Last week, I gave a potting demonstration for attendees of a local home tour.  


The pots were then to be raffled off.

I planned on creating two succulent pots and one using a combination of perennials and annual flowers.


My daughter, Rachele, came with me to help carry the bags of soil, pots, plants, etc.

It was also an opportunity to spend time together before she left for the Navy.

There were to be two different potting demonstrations.  I created one succulent pot ahead of time…


This container has pink-flowering Crown of Thorns, tall Lady’s Slipper, Variegated Elephant’s Food and a gray-colored cactus.

I like to create container plantings with a tall plant for vertical interest.  The Crown of Thorns provides striking floral color.  The Elephant’s Food will trail over the edge of the pot as it grows, which adds texture and softens the container’s lines.  

Lastly, the gray-colored cactus (I admit that I don’t know what kind it is), adds great color contrast with its gray/blue color.

Soon, it was time for the first demonstration.  My daughter took photos of me talking.  The lighting is terrible because I was in the shade and behind me was the sun, but you can still see what I was doing.

Looking down at my notes.  Can you tell  I use my hands when I talk?

Planting the orange Calendula.
Adding Purple Verbena and filling the spaces with Celosia.
I just need a bit more Celosia in the front, don’t you think?

For this container, the tall vertical interest comes from Mexican Feather Grass.  The bright color is from the Calendula.  The trailing plant is Purple Verbena and gray Lavender provides the color contrast.

I used Celosia to fill in the empty spaces.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

When planning on what plant combinations will look good in a container, I simply arrange the plants, while they are still in their containers at the nursery.


Now it was time for planting the second succulent pot.

First, adding the Elephant’s Food.

Ever wonder how to plant a cactus without getting pricked?


An old towel, folded into quarters (4 layers thick) works great.  I covered the top of the Golden Barrel Cactus with the towel as I turned it over to plant.  The towel came off easily once I was finished.

Newspaper is also helpful in planting cactus.

Almost done…


Finished!

The Blue Elf Aloe provides the height for this planting combination.  Elephant’s Food will grow to trail over the side.  The Golden Barrel cactus adds color contrast with its round shape and yellow spines.  Ice plant with brightly-colored red flowers adds a needed splash of color.


The pots each went to good homes and raised money for future community projects.

Do you like growing plants in containers?  

Or maybe, you haven’t tried before.

Well, it’s not difficult.  Come back for a visit in a couple of days and I’ll share with you my container guidelines.
Guess who went plant shopping!
Not me….
But, my mom did.
She went to buy her fall vegetables at Baker’s Nursery, which is a hugely popular nursery in Phoenix.
Since I knew was going, she kindly offered to buy the remaining plants on my list.
And as another example of how wonderful she is – she took my two youngest kids (Kai and Gracie) with her and treated them to lunch.
So, what did we get?
 Dill, Parsley and Thyme, which are herbs that will do well through the winter in my garden.
Green and Purple Leaf Lettuce that I will be growing in pots and in a very unusual place that I will share later.
 Lobelia and Alyssum, which are great flowering, low-growing annuals that I will use in a unique container.

Lots of Broccoli, which is my favorite vegetable.
I didn’t get the garlic from Baker’s Nursery.  I usually buy my garlic from my local grocery store and it works just fine.  Although, you can buy different varieties from online nurseries.

The last thing they bought were Petunias, which weren’t on my list.  But, my mother loves to help foster a love for gardening with her grandchildren.  
So, she let Kai and Gracie each choose a six-pack of flowering annuals.  They choose Petunias, which they planted just after they got home.


Okay, I admit that my son looks less then thrilled.  But to be honest, that is how he looks in most of his pictures now.  He really was happy – he spent a few hours with me helping me to plant everything.

Why is it that young boys get this ‘fake’ smile once they hit 5 years old and then later – it is almost like pulling teeth to get them to smile at all?
I promise to share with you the few different things we did with our ‘goodies’ from Baker’s Nursery over the next few posts 🙂


 I love shopping for pots for my garden – I don’t think you can have too many.  All the different sizes, shapes and colors serve as inspiration for what plants I will use.

To see more, click here.

Our road trip is going very well.  We encounter both the expected and unexpected each day, which is part of the adventure.

We spent a very wet morning, visiting Niagara Falls.

The falls are truly magnificent and pictures do not adequately describe the beauty and power of the falls.
 And, no – we didn’t fall in 😉

We visited the Canadian side, which has a better view of the falls.
The ground was so wet from the mist generated from the falls.
These tulips didn’t have a chance with the sopping wet soil.
I also had to be careful with my camera because of the mist.  I would take a photo quickly and then cover up my camera.
After spending the morning at Niagara Falls, we headed toward the Finger Lakes region of New York, which is in the central part of the state.
On our way, we saw a sign for an Amish swap meet.
So of course, we had to stop by.
There were many different vendors and we saw some very nice items along with the more ‘traditional’ flea market stuff.
I had fun seeing all the food choices there.  It reminded me of ‘fair food’.  Here is a sampling of what we saw…
“Gramma’s Butterflied Potatoes” are basically a huge mound of freshly-fried potato chips covered with cheese.
My favorite food in the whole world is bread and when I saw this sign, I must admit that I was sorely tempted…
But, I resisted the temptation.
The Belgian waffle also looked good.

Next, we headed to the plant section…


Spring is in full swing and there are beautiful container combinations everywhere you looked…



It was a hot day…about 89 degrees and a bit humid, so I took the opportunity to sit for a few minutes on an ‘Adirondack’ chair.


I admired the fresh vegetables…


Before leaving, we stopped to buy fresh bread from an Amish woman and her little brother….
We bought a inexpensive foam cooler for the car where we keep some fresh Amish cheese, fruit and bread for snacking on.

We arrived in Geneva, which is in New York’s wine country.  Geneva is located right on the shore of Seneca lake.

Because there were many different wineries, we stopped by one to buy some wine for my youngest sister and her husband.  

While my mother tasted the wine and made her selection, I headed out to a small garden I saw next to the store…




Did you know that there is a species of Prickly Pear that is native to New York?  According to the sign above, there is.  


I just loved seeing succulents planted in an old pair of boots.

I love Dicentra, don’t you?


The poppies were huge…




Grapevines and the beginnings of grapes…


The water from the lake helps to keep the vineyards warm enough to grow grapes.


As we left the winery, we spotted a red fox trotting by the roadside.

He was awfully cute and since we don’t have foxes where I live, we stopped by the road to watch him.

He didn’t care that we were nearby – he was concentrating on catching dinner…


He did catch dinner while we watched and swallowed it in one gulp.
We had a fabulous day 🙂


Our next stop is to the historical places and picturesque towns of upstate New York.

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.

We woke up this morning in Amish country and couldn’t wait to get started exploring some more.  As we drove through the countryside, we noticed an unusual amount of Amish buggies out on the road.

As we passed some of the farms, we noticed a huge gathering of buggies and horses…

Horses gathered together while their buggies were parked in a row.
 
Horses play a huge part in Amish life.

As we drove into one of the small towns, I was on the lookout for the one Amish delicacy that I love…
You have not lived until you have tasted an Amish soft pretzel.  They make them from fresh dough and bake them in a convection oven.
As I sat in the sunshine eating my pretzel, it was just a small piece of heaven.
There are also other Amish delicacies….
Some of which, I have no desire to try….
I forgot to mention an incident from yesterday…
We were in the parking lot of Target, having picked up some essentials, when we heard a long siren go off, warning the city about ???.  We didn’t know what the signal meant.  There were clouds off in the distance, but they didn’t look too threatening.

My mom went and asked the lady who worked at Target what told us that it was the tornado siren that is tested every Wednesday afternoon.

So, we obviously stuck out as tourists – but seriously, we don’t get huge tornadoes in Arizona.
For lunch today, we ate slices of fresh Amish wheat bread and some of our Amish butter.  It was delicious.
McDonald’s has designated parking for trucks, buses, Amish buggies and RV’s.


Fairy Gardening is quite popular in this area.  I like to imagine tiny fairies living in the garden.
The Amish countryside is so beautiful – I had so much fun taking pictures…


As we left Ohio for Pennsylvania, we had to drive through a small part of West Viriginia.

Super cute town.
 

Our goal this afternoon was to visit the grave of my grandfather along with my great-grandparents.
My mother sprinkled some of her mother’s ashes on her father’s grave.
Then it was time to visit another cemetery where my 3rd great-grandparents were buried.
We had a hard time finding this cemetery.  First of all, it is small and has not had any new burials for years.  As a result, there was no address for this cemetery.  I did follow the directions, but they made no sense..  My mother and I were ready to give up and drove into a parking lot to explore our options. 
 As we got ready to leave, I looked u[ AND there it was!  Right across the street! 
It is always quite humbling to me to walk through a cemetery and see how long ago someone passed away.  I imagine what kind of life that they had.
Both of my 3rd great-parents are buried underneath this marker.  The dates are beginning to fade.
Many of the grave stones showed that death occurred for many in the 1800’s.
 You will be proud to note that the trunk of our rental car is quite neat and clean, except for my Diet Dr. Pepper.
The same cannot be said for the interior of the car, however…


 The backseat is filled with our cooler that containers our fruit and Amish butter cheese.
Bags are filled with homemade Amish wheat bread and of course, we had some leftover pizza from tonight’s dinner.  The remaining bags are full of the results of our shopping.

We are having a fabulous time.

Tomorrow, we are off Niagara Falls!

I love school holidays….


I don’t have to get up early to get kids ready… 


I don’t have to worry about helping getting their homework done…


And the kids are happy!


Last Monday, while my wonderful husband was busy nailing wooden planks for our new vegetable garden fence, I spent the morning outside with my youngest daughter, Gracie in the garden.



First, we took down our regular bird feeder and hung dried sunflowers for the birds.

We grew sunflowers last summer and saved the flower heads for a winter treat for our birds.

 
Then we turned our attention to our older vegetable garden.

Gracie planted some new sunflower seeds while I planted cucumber and basil seeds.

I have been working on a new project.  I am growing vegetables and flowers together in pots.


All my pots are in the ‘in between’ stage.  This one has red and green leaf lettuce and dianthus.

I also just planted a small cucumber variety in front of the small trellises and there are also some newly germinated cosmos as well.


The nasturtiums are beginning to bloom.  They make great companion plants in the vegetable garden and help to repel damaging insects.



My sugar snap peas are also beginning to bloom.

We had a great time in the garden, enjoying our warmer then usual February weather.

How about you?

Have you gone out in your garden lately?