Tag Archive for: Iris

Have you ever visited a garden that was not what you expected?

I recently had the opportunity to visit a small 2-acre garden run by master gardeners Mount Vernon, WA in conjunction with Washington State University. 

Pink Dogwood

Photo: Pink Dogwood

Now for those of you who kindly read through my myraid of garden travels on my Northwest road trip – this garden was somewhat different and completely unexpected.

I’ve had the opportunity through my travels to visit a number of gardens run by master gardeners and I have found them to be places for learning more about plants and gardening practices.

Discovery Garden

While I expected much of the same with this garden, I found so much more.  Within its boundaries, there were so many separate gardens including a 4 seasons, cottage, Japanese, native, shade and sun garden just to name a few.  However, in addition to the more traditional gardens, were also an imaginative children’s garden and an enabling garden for those with disabilities.  

I’ve been waiting to share the wonders of this garden with you.  I hope you enjoy the tour!

The Discovery Garden

Discovery Garden

The Discovery Garden

Discovery Garden

The Discovery Garden is located in the small town of Mount Vernon, otherwise known as the bulb-growing capital of the U.S.  It is 60 miles north of Seattle.  

Espaliered apple trees grew on the fence along the front entry.

The Discovery Garden

Small apples were ripening, which made me remember that Washington is the state where the most apples are grown.

The Discovery Garden
Entrance Garden

As we entered the gardens, we noticed helpful signs that described the theme of each sub-garden along with a list of the plants growing in it.  

The Discovery Garden
The Discovery Garden

The paths curved, creating islands where each individual garden stood.  This photo, above, shows how curving paths create a sense of mystery, leading one on to discover what is around the bend.

Four Season Garden
Four Season Garden

The Four Seasons garden showed examples of plants in bloom alongside others that will bloom later in the season.

Four Season Garden
Four Season Garden

Of course, anywhere I find peonies growing, I find it hard to tear myself away from this lovely flowering plant that can never grow in my warm desert garden.

Japanese gardens

Japanese gardens are quite popular in the Northwest and this garden had one of its own.

The Discovery Garden

My mother and I journeyed through the garden on a cloudy Saturday morning.  As we walked through the gardens, we met with one of the 27 master gardeners who take care of this garden.    

She was nice enough to take us on a tour of the gardens and told us that the entire garden was designed by master gardeners.  I must admit that the landscape designer in me was extremely impressed at how well it was designed.  

Gardeners know that most landscapes hold secrets that aren’t always evident to the casual observer and this one was no different.

tiny hummingbird's nest.

She guided us toward a tree that held a tiny hummingbird’s nest.

Anna's hummingbirds nest

They have Anna’s hummingbirds living in the gardens year round.

hummingbird

However, I was very happy to be able to see a Rufous hummingbird for the very first time, drinking nectar from nearby flowers.

The Discovery Garden

Continuing on our adventure through the garden, I spotted swaths of purple in the distance.

The Discovery Garden

Have I ever told you that I like irises almost as much as peonies?

The Discovery Garden

Thankfully, these can be grown in my Arizona garden.

The Herb Garden

The Herb Garden was next.

The Discovery Garden

The sage was in full bloom and it was hard to imagine that people grow them for their foliage and not their lovely flowers.  

variegated sage

There was even a variegated sage.

rustic plant signs

I really liked these rustic plant signs.

The Discovery Garden
Herb Garden

Within the Herb Garden, was a display with a list of herbs and how they are used as dyes.  

Who knew that basil is used as a black dye?  

Flowering Garlic Chives

Photo: Flowering Garlic Chives

Our time in this garden was limited since we had a plane to catch in Seattle in the early afternoon.  To be honest, we hadn’t expected to find so much to explore in this university garden and so we had rush to see as much as we could.

The Discovery Garden
Columbine

Photo: Columbine

The Discovery Garden

Of course, like most educational gardens, this one had a great compost working display.

Divided bins were filled with 'greens', 'browns' and 'twigs'.
Divided bins were filled with 'greens', 'browns' and 'twigs'.

Divided bins were filled with ‘greens’, ‘browns’ and ‘twigs’.  

However, my favorite part was the ‘Yuck Bin’…

Yuck Bin
Yuck Bin

One of the many reasons that I like to visit gardens whenever I travel is that I get to see plants that don’t grow where I live.

Heather Garden

This is the Heather Garden, filled with a variety of heathers.  

I admit that I haven’t seen much heather growing except for trips to Great Britain.  

Heather Garden
Heather Garden

Some of the heathers were beginning to flower.

The Discovery Garden

While there is much more to see, I want to share with you one last garden area in this post that really caught my eye.

naturescaping

Have you ever heard of ‘naturescaping’?  I haven’t, but it immediately sounded like my style of sustainable, low-maintenance garden.  

naturescaping

This area of the garden was filled with native plants and associated cultivars that receive minimal maintenance.  The plants were chosen with the goal of attracting wildlife with many plants providing shelter and food.

The Discovery Garden

I hope you have enjoyed the first part of the tour of this small garden.  

But, I’m not finished yet.  I’ve saved the best for last.  Come back next time to see the Children’s, Enabling, Native and Vegetable Gardens.  

You may even spot the elusive Peter Rabbit in Mr. McGregor’s garden…

A Hidden Garden in the Smallest Place

Our first day in Canada began with walking from our hotel to the Parliament Buildings – just a couple of blocks from our hotel.

Parliament Buildings

Victoria, is the capital of the province of British Columbia, Canada and the Parliament Buildings are quite beautiful.

This very English city is said by many “to be more English than England.”

As for me, I don’t know if I would call Victoria more English than London, but I do know that I miss the British accents ๐Ÿ™‚

Parliament Buildings

However you feel about the ‘Englishness’ of Victoria vs. London, the Parliament Buildings certainly look very English.

It’s important to note that the Europeans weren’t the first people here in British Columbia…  

Parliament Buildings

Native Americans came here first and their importance in the past and present in this Canadian province is evident everywhere – especially when you see their iconic totem poles.

Parliament Buildings

The sight of a totem pole in front of the very English architecture of the Parliament Building is a great illustration of Victoria with two different cultures coming together and calling this beautiful area ‘home’.

Parliament Buildings
Parliament Buildings

We decided to take the self-guided tour and were handed a guidebook and got started.

Road Trip Day 6: Parliament, High Tea and Unexpected Gardens
Road Trip Day 6: Parliament, High Tea and Unexpected Gardens

The rotunda was beautiful and filled with scenes describing the history of British Columbia.

 Elizabeth II is Queen of England

We all know that Elizabeth II is Queen of England, BUT she is also Queen of Canada.  So it was no surprise that a significant portion of the  tour involved things related to English royalty.

 Elizabeth II is Queen of England

This stained glass window was created for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897.

 Elizabeth II is Queen of England

And this stained glass window was made for Queen Elizabeth II for her golden jubilee in 2002.

The Queen has visited Canada many times, including the Parliament Buildings.

 legislative assembly

Here is where the legislative assembly meets when they are in session.

When it was designed, the seats were positioned two swords lengths to prevent any ‘accidents’ in the middle of a heated debate.  

Parliament Buildings contained a variety of colorful annuals.
Parliament Buildings contained a variety of colorful annuals.

Large beds outside of the Parliament Buildings contained a variety of colorful annuals.

Our next stop was at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

The Empress

Commonly referred to as ‘The Empress’, there is nothing common about this famous hotel.

The Empress

The Empress is the oldest hotel in Victoria and opened in 1908. She has over 477 rooms and is perhaps best know for her ‘Afternoon High Tea’ where participants indulge in finger sandwiches, scones and tea.

The Empress

Many people were enjoying the afternoon tea. The Empress even has their own China pattern available in the gift shop.

The Empress

While the hotel is not inexpensive, you don’t have to stay there to enjoy the experience.

 fancy Royal Mail box

Walk through the lobby and see the fancy Royal Mail box or one of the staff dressed up in period costume…

white wisteria vine and dark pink rhododendron.
white wisteria vine and dark pink rhododendron.

The grounds of the hotel were beautiful with white wisteria vine and dark pink rhododendron.

California lilac shrubs (Ceanothus)

The flowers are huge.

California lilac shrubs (Ceanothus)

A hedge of California lilac shrubs (Ceanothus) added beauty to the grounds.

Road Trip Day 6: Parliament, High Tea and Unexpected Gardens
Road Trip Day 6: Parliament, High Tea and Unexpected Gardens

I love their flowers, although they aren’t fragrant.

The Empress Hotel

The The Empress Hotel sits just off of the water.

Road Trip Day 6: Parliament, High Tea and Unexpected Gardens
Road Trip Day 6: Parliament, High Tea and Unexpected Gardens

The presence of boats, ferries, sea planes and mini-water taxis won’t let you forget that you are on an island.

British Columbia

Native American vendors sold their products nearby where I bought a pair of earrings.

British Columbia

Next, it was on to Government Street and more shopping.

British Columbia
British Columbia

There were a lot of the typical souvenir shops that each sold the same items. Many of them were rather overpriced, so I limited myself to buying a small gift for my granddaughter, Lily.

We did enjoy some of the specialty shops, but did mostly window shopping.  

Lavender

Lavender is widely planted in this area and looked great in this window box.

Soon, it was time for a lunch that really wasn’t a lunch at all…  

British Columbia

Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I will really need to get back to healthy eating when I get home!

British Columbia

Victoria is well known for their iconic lamp posts and their hanging flower baskets.

Sadly, they hadn’t hung the flower containers yet during our visit. But, have you ever wondered how they water all those baskets?

Notice the drip irrigation lines…

British Columbia

The restaurant where we ate breakfast had drip irrigation going to its flowering containers.

After doing a lot of walking and exploring, we took a small break back at our hotel before heading out to afternoon tea.  

White Heather Tea Room.

There are a number of places in Victoria that serve ‘high’ tea and we made reservations at White Heather Tea Room.

British Columbia

In addition to your choice of a number of hot tea, you get a selection of finger sandwiches, smoked salmon, mini-tarts, scones, cookies and other pastries.  Top them off with clotted cream, lemon curd and/or raspberry jam and you are in heaven!

After tea, our day was winding down and we headed toward our last stop – The Government House’s gardens.

From the description in our guidebook, I expected a few acres of nicely landscaped gardens around the house. But, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of the gardens or how beautiful they were. I even found some plants growing there that are also growing at my home in Arizona.

British Columbia

An enclosed area boasted of fragrant rose bushes, including old-fashioned roses. The sound of the water fountain made this a very peaceful spot.

blackbird

This blackbird found the fountain a great place for a welcome drink of water.

British Columbia

Benches were strewn throughout the gardens, inviting you to stop, rest and enjoy the view.

Everywhere you looked, there was a new place to discover, including somewhat hidden areas that invited you to go in further and explore.  

British Columbia
British Columbia

Parts of the gardens were covered in grass and filled with colorful rhododendrons, but there was a large section that was filled with winding garden paths flanked by colorful perennials and succulents – the majority of which, were drought tolerant.

British Columbia

*Note the agave in the lower left corner?  Many plants that grow in both cooler climates, such as peonies and hellebores, co-existed alongside agave, Santa Barbara daisy and salvias.

purple-flowering plant

Can you guess what this purple-flowering plant is?

Believe it or not, it is the herb sage. Mine flowers at home, but not this much.

Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)

Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)

'Hot Lips' (Salvia greggii)
'Hot Lips' (Salvia greggii)

‘Hot Lips’ (Salvia greggii)

This salvia is growing in my garden right now.

Several huge trees dotted the property.

Government House where the lieutenant governor resides.

The 36-acre landscape surrounds the Government House where the lieutenant governor resides.

I must confess, that I took only two photos of the house and over 300 of the garden ๐Ÿ™‚

British Columbia

While there many plants in bloom in late spring, you could also see plants that flower in winter and also those getting ready to bloom in summer.

beautiful peonies
beautiful peonies

Much to my delight, my favorite flower (that I cannot grow in my desert garden) was in bloom.  I never get over how beautiful peonies are!

Iris

Iris

Red Rhododendron

Red Rhododendron

British Columbia

These plants were growing in shallow pockets on top of this large boulder.

Large groves of Garry oak trees

Large groves of Garry oak trees stood throughout the gardens.  You could almost imagine that you were standing in a California garden.

As I stood admiring the oaks, I noticed out in the distance, a mountain range across the bay.  

Olympic National Forest in Washington state

It turns out that the view is of the mountains in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state. We were there, enjoying the beauty of those majestic mountains only the day before.

It’s really amazing how much sightseeing you can do in a short amount of time!  

British Columbia

As I finished up my tour, I circled back around the house toward the parking lot, when I saw this squirrel sitting up in the grass.

British Columbia

Whenever I find myself near a beautiful garden, I tend to disappear in order to explore more. ย My husband and my mother understand this and are so patient. ย In this instance, my mother and I had expected a smaller gardenย that would take us a few minutes to see. ย But, it was soon evident that there was more to see.

My mother understands me so well and my love for gardens.  So, after she explored parts of the garden, she patiently waited in the car for my return.

The next day of our journey involves a return trip to the world famous, Butchart Gardens. I can hardly wait!  

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.

For those of you who have been nice enough to follow my adventures on our Midwest road trip, this will be my last post.

Our last two places that we visited were Hannibal, Missouri where Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) grew up and lastly, Carthage, Missouri, which is located on Route 66 and was the home of my great-great grandparents.

Our first night in Hannibal was cold and rainy.  Thankfully, we woke up to a beautiful, sunny day.

Viewing the Mississippi River from our hotel room.

Viewing the Mississippi River from our hotel room.

The Mississippi River was beautiful to see.

The Mississippi River was beautiful to see.

Can you see the riverboat?

Can you see the riverboat?

The levee that protected the town from flooding were quite tall

The levee that protected the town from flooding were quite tall.

The town was very charming.

The town was very charming.

Midwest road trip

They had a master garden, which consisted of a vegetable garden.

Midwest road trip

They also had a butterfly garden.

Midwest road trip

Isn’t this a cute border made up of small terra-cotta pots?

Midwest road trip

I enjoyed walking through this garden and it was obvious that a lot of time and care had been spent on it.

Midwest road trip

Statue of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

Midwest road trip

Getting ready to whitewash the fence, just like Tom Sawyer.

Midwest road trip

Our unexpected stop was in Kansas.  We were only about 10 miles from the border, so we decided to venture into Kansas and see what there was to see.  It turns out there is a famous Union Civil War fort in Ft. Scott.  It is a national park and we enjoyed exploring.

Midwest road trip

Behind the fort, there was a small garden.  Most of what was growing was a variety of herbs.  But, it was the blooming irises that caught my eye…

Midwest road trip

Aren’t they beautiful?

Midwest road trip

You know what?  I really like iris and I think I will grow some in my own garden next spring.

Midwest road trip

Okay, you may be wondering what I am doing in a cemetery.  Well, this is where my great-great grandparents are buried.  They settled in a town on Route 66 called Carthage.  We were able to find their grave and it was a really wonderful way to end our Midwest road trip.

Midwest road trip

At the cemetery, I noticed a gravestone that had a Peony bush planted next to it.  Believe it or not, I have never seen a real Peony bush before.  They do not grow in the desert.  The flowers were so beautiful and fragrant.

Well, by the time you read this, I will soon be on my way to the Springfield, Missouri airport.  I had a fabulous time traveling with my mother and discovering  all sorts of neat things about the Midwest.  One thing that I discovered, is how much that I don’t know – but I do love learning about new things.

Thank you for ‘traveling’ along with me.  I cannot wait to see my husband and kids when I arrive home tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚