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After spending a fun-filled morning in Ojai, exploring the secret Taft Gardens, we traveled north toward the small town of Los Olivos, which is located approximately 35 miles north of Santa Barbara.



On our way out Ojai, we sat at an intersection where the traffic light was visible between the branches of an old, oak tree.

I love that the value of the tree was taken into consideration, and it was allowed to stay. 

After leaving Ojai, our journey took us through picturesque, winding roads through the mountains, many of which, were dotted with avocado trees.

Some of the avocado groves were planted on very steep mountainsides.  I wouldn’t want to be the one to pick them – I’d probably fall down the mountain.


Los Olivos is located in the Santa Ynez Valley, near the Danish town of Solvang.  It is home to a large number of wineries along with famous celebrities who like the peace and privacy while being within a few hours drive of Hollywood.

Upon entering Los Olivos, we drove by the entrance to a very famous (or infamous) property.  


This is the entrance to ‘Neverland’, which is Michael Jackson’s former estate.  The last I heard, it was listed for sale for a mere $100 million dollars.  

We decided to pass on buying this property and drove onto the main street in Los Olivos.

Small restaurants, wine tasting rooms, stores offering olive oil tasting and a smattering of gift shops dot the main road.


While I was enjoying the wares for sale in the stores, my attention was drawn to the plants that decorated the main street.

Lavender trumpet vine (Clytostoma callistegioides) and white Iceberg roses

A large Lady Banks rose rests on a dead tree trunk.

Spanish lavender and white Iceberg roses

White Iceberg roses are frequently used throughout many areas in Southern California.  I’ve seen it in parking lots, along roadways, and by storefronts.  It’s easy to grow and resistant to pests and disease.


Before leaving Los Olivos, we had to stop by a nursery that my mother had visited numerous times.


The majority of the nursery was filled with a large variety of succulents, many of which, were combined with garden art elements including fairy gardens.

A variety of Echeveria adds a whimsical touch to this fairy house.

A combination of moss and succulents help create this fairy farm.
The fairy gardens were created by one person who was truly talented.  Most of the gardens were quite large and out of my price range, typically costing between $200 – 600.  But, at least I could appreciate them and take pictures 🙂

Spider Web Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum)

A plant rack made from metal pipes.

There was such a large selection of garden art that I was sorely tempted to buy something, but there were too many choices so I contented myself with taking pictures of those that I liked.  What’s even better, is that taking photos is free!


Blue is one of my favorite colors to add to the garden, and I often recommend to my clients to add pieces of garden art in vibrant shades of blue.  The reason for this is, is that blue creates dramatic color contrast, and there aren’t many plants that produce blue flowers.


This was my favorite fairy garden.  The whitewashed building reminded me of the homes on the Aran Islands, my husband I saw in Ireland.  I also enjoyed the geese hiding among the succulent plants.  It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the container that holds this miniature garden is at least two ft. wide.

After spending the afternoon in Los Olivos, it was time to travel south to Santa Barbara, which has been described as “America’s Riviera”.



Santa Barbara holds a special place in my life.  As a child, my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all lived in Santa Barbara, so I spent a lot of my childhood there.

It is also the place where I went to college and met my husband.  

We drove by the house that my grandparents used to live in.  Memories of this home include Christmases past and summer dinners in the backyard.

The late 1970’s


Today

I was happy that I was able to recognize the house right away, even after almost 40 years.


The end of our day was nearing, and we drove to my aunt’s house on the other side of Santa Barbara.  My uncle, who is an architect, built this house in 1976, and I have memories of visiting the work site and later spending weekends there with my cousin, who was the same age.

The house is perched on the side of the hill; that overlooks the ocean and the Channel Islands.


It was so nice to be able to step into a welcoming home with family and a home-cooked dinner instead of staying in a hotel that night.

Then it was time to sleep and prepare for our next day’s adventure, which would involve exploring Santa Barbara further, including a historic mansion and its gardens in nearby Montecito.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to come alongside us as we journey up the coast of California 🙂
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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!