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Do you live in a small town?


For those of us who live in cities, or in my case a suburb of a large city, visiting a small town may be as close as we get to experience the delights that they have to offer.

My husband and I recently took a trip to the delightful town of Petoskey, Michigan where our oldest daughter, Brittney moved along with her husband and daughter.


The town of Petoskey is located at the “top of the mitt” as locals like to say.  

I had been fortunate to have visited this picturesque downtown that sits on the shores of Little Traverse Bay, 1 1/2 years ago – long before we had any idea that my daughter and her family would end up there.

This time, my husband came with me and we looked forward to spending time with family as well as exploring Petoskey, which is consistently ranked as one of the “10 Best Downtowns To Visit” in America.


Like many small towns, many residents are within walking distance of the downtown area.  So, on a brisk November’s day, we set off on foot toward the downtown area.



Signs of fall could be seen all around, from the bright red berries of Ilex decidua Possumhaw to…


fallen apples filling the stomachs of squirrels and autumn leaves being raked up by homeowners.



As we walked I could see gardens getting ready for a long winter’s sleep, although some plants were still in flower.


Dried hydrangea flowers decorated many gardens, which added stark beauty.  I would love to use these dried flowers for floral arrangements in my home.
Did I mention that number one on my list of plants that I wish I could grow in my desert garden is hydrangea?


Landscapes were filled with leafless shrubs and trees along with evergreen plants.


I think that large leafless trees have a beauty all their own, don’t you?


What’s a small town without a gazebo in the local park?


Or a general store?

Yes, those are live greens, which they use to decorate with.

The arrival of the Christmas season is a big deal in many small towns and Petoskey is no exception.  

Fall-themed window displays were soon to give way to those filled with Christmas greenery and decorations.



The merchants were also transforming the interior of their stores.


Yes, that is a mannequin dressed in all her Christmas finery.  As you may have guessed this was the local florist and home decor store.


These stainless steel Christmas tree containers outside of this store were also pretty cool.  

Being a horticulturist, it is physically impossible for me to simply pass by any garden-themed store, so I went in.


Christmas trees decorated in different themes were displayed throughout the store.  I suspect that they offer tree decorating services.


While I am not personally a fan of artificial flowers, I really liked how they worked on this tree.  Of course, that could be due to the fact that they were decorated with one of my favorite flowers.


Fairy or miniature gardens are pretty popular in this area as I saw several displays throughout the stores we visited.


If I lived in area that experienced cold, long winters, I might be more likely to grow plants indoors.  
However, I am not very attentive to my indoor plants, so they usually die.  Perhaps, it’s a good thing that I live in a place where I can garden outdoors year round, thereby saving defenseless indoor plants 😉


 A large display of artificial flowers and succulents, perfect for brightening up the indoors through the winter.

Shopping with my daughter and granddaughter – can life get any better?


Next stop was the local bookstore, so of course I had to check out the gardening section.


Not surprisingly, there weren’t books on drought tolerant gardening in this region where water is plentiful.


Our next stop was to visit one of my favorite stores from my previous visit to Petoskey, ‘American Spoon‘ is a local company who sells fruit preserves and condiments from produce grown in Michigan.


I think that this was my husband’s favorite shop that we visited because there were ‘samples’.  I tried several different kinds of preserves and decided on getting my favorite, sour cherry preserves and vanilla bourbon pear conserve.

We also tried roasted pumpkin seed salsa – it was delicious, so I had to buy a jar of that too.


As I mentioned earlier, the Christmas season is celebrated throughout the gaslight district of downtown Petoskey.
What was striking to me was that the towns gaslights and stores were decorated with live evergreen wreaths and garlands – not the artificial ones that are commonplace throughout the desert Southwest.

On the first Friday of December the town hosts an Holiday Open House when streets shut down and Santa arrives to light the town Christmas tree.  Merchants vie to win the Holiday Window Contest and townspeople celebrate the first Friday of the season along with carolers and the local high school’s drum band.


I hope that you enjoyed this glimpse of a small town.  Wherever I travel, I love to explore new places and experience and observe the local traditions, gardening practices, plants, people and of course the food!

Our next visit to this small town will be in June, when the days are long and warmer.  We’ll bring the kids with us next time and explore further out to some of the other surrounding towns and take a trip to Mackinac Island, which is just over an hour away 🙂

**Have you ever lived in a small town?  What did you like about it?**
*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*
Have you ever seen a miniature garden?  They are becoming very popular and are sometimes called ‘fairy gardens’. I must admit that I’ve been quite intrigued by them and so I was very excited with the publishers of “Gardening in Miniature” sent me a book, free of charge, for my honest review.
 
If you aren’t familiar with miniature gardens, it is helpful to think of them as large gardens shrunk down in size into a tiny world that fits into a single container.
 
If you like to peruse Pinterest, you have undoubtedly seen some great examples of miniature or fairy gardens.
 
I came upon a collection of miniature gardens for sale at an antique shop in upstate New York a couple of years ago.
 
 
They were planted in old enamelware pots and bowls.
 
As you can see, there is a pathway delineated by the larger pebbles, small fiber optic grasses, and a yellow viola in this garden.
 
This garden has a tiny shovel and watering can in it.  
 
For some people, the accessories are the most enjoyable part of creating a miniature garden.  I would probably be stuck in my local Michael’s or Hobby Lobby trying to decide what small accessories to include in my little garden.
 
I must admit that I have been thinking of creating my own miniature garden.  Imagine a tiny world neatly contained inside of a pot.  For those of you who experience cold winters, you can enjoy having a little garden indoors all winter long.
 
Have you considered trying to create a miniature garden?
 
Well, if you have – then I have a great book for you to read…
 
 
Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo is a visual feast of beautiful and unique little gardens.
 
Of course, there is much more than miniature garden photos.  The book has all the information you will need to create your own tiny garden.  From container selection, a list of plants, soil type and how to care for your little garden – this book covers it all.
 
A beautiful garden is well-designed and small gardens are no different.  Gardening in Miniature offers helpful advice on how to design your tiny garden using plants, pebbles, water features and adding small furniture or figurines.
Have you ever created your own miniature garden?
 
*I was given this book, free of charge, for my honest review.

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!