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Have you ever come upon an unexpected discovery?


I did.


Last week, my husband and I flew to Southern California for a visit with our second-oldest daughter, Rachele, who is stationed at a Navy base there.


The purpose for our trip was to be there when she got her 20-week ultrasound to see what sex her baby was (more about that later).



Of course, a trip to California wasn’t complete without visiting some of the places I grew up in.  We decided to take a trip up north to the small beach town of Carpinteria, which has a fun and funky downtown area.  


My family and I used to camp there every fall next to the beach and it was and still is one of my favorite places to visit.


Every time we visit Carpinteria, we have to stop by our favorite cupcake place – CrushCakes.
Can you tell that my husband is excited about our new grand baby?

My favorite cupcake is Vividly Vanilla and I have it every time we visit.  I should branch out and try the other flavors, but I have never gotten past this one 😉

After we had eaten our cupcakes, we ventured out and past not one but two plant nurseries.  Talk about good fortune!

I am always on the lookout for new plants, unique gardening ideas as well as photographs to share with you and also in articles I write.

While I didn’t have my regular camera, I did have my phone and was eager to discover what the first nursery had to see.

Butterflies were flying from flower to flower and the nursery was awash in beautifully blooming plants.


While walking through the nursery, my attention was caught by a lovely flowering perennials including Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) and Echinacea (purple coneflower).

Rudbeckia

Echinacea purpurea 

For those of you familiar with both of these plants – what do you think a ‘baby’ from these two plants would look like?

Well, wonder no more.  Let me introduce a new perennial that is garnering a lot of attention – ‘Echibeckia’

Echibeckia

What do you think?

Aren’t they gorgeous?


As you can see, they have golden yellow petals with orange centers.  Once the flowers begin to age, the petals turn to a darker orange.

The flowers last 2 – 3 months and make great cut flowers.  Echibeckia is hardy to zones 6 and up and would make a great addition for any perennial garden.

Echibeckia along with its parents.

I have purple coneflower and black-eyed Susan growing in my desert vegetable garden where they enjoy the fertile soil and regular water.  I may need to try Echibeckia too!

I toured through the rest of the nursery and took lots of great photos and then stopped at the nursery next door, which was very unique.  I’ll share more of my nursery visits next time.

But, back to the real purpose of my visit to California.  


We came to visit our daughter and to be there when she found out whether she was having a little boy or girl.

The ultrasound technician was showing us the baby’s heart, head and spine, which all looked great.  But, when he started to concentrate on the legs and arms – I was frankly, dying for him to get to the big question we all had – boy or girl???


I was expecting him to build up to the announcement or at least say, “Do you want to know what it is?”  But no – there was no build-up to his announcement.  In the middle of talking about the arms and how much the baby was moving he casually said, “By the way it’s a boy.”

I was looking at my daughter at that moment and she was so happy to finally know what she was having.  None of us had a preference besides a healthy baby, but it is so nice to be able to know the sex.

After the ultrasound, we drove to the nearest Target store and I helped her with deciding what items to add to her baby registry.

It never ceases to amaze me how interesting things like bottles, cribs, high chairs, mobiles and strollers suddenly become once you are expecting.

Our grandson is due in January and we couldn’t be happier.  Now our granddaughter, will have a little cousin to play with 🙂

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 🙂