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I enjoy traveling – especially when I get to explore new places. Last month, I journeyed to Buffalo, New York where I toured gardens, attended a writer’s workshop, and best of all, spent time with one of my favorite people.

Why Buffalo you may ask? Well, it turns out that this industrial city has beautiful green spaces, whimsical private gardens, as well as test gardens. Each August, the city hosts Garden Walk Buffalo where people from all over the U.S., Canada, and other countries descend to tour over 400 private gardens. I was in Buffalo for the Garden Communicator’s Annual Conference, which is held in a different city each year. Each year, I look forward to the conference where garden tours, educational sessions, and the tradeshow fills our days. It is also a very good time to reconnect with fellow writers.

 

I arrived in Buffalo a few days early to meet up with my BGF (Best Garden Friend), Andrea who flew all the way from Australia to attend. We met two years ago when we attended our first conference and bonded instantly. Throughout the year, we keep in touch via Facebook Messenger and look forward to spending a week together at the conference. 

Our agenda for the first day was to explore the downtown area down the street from our hotel. There were many older buildings, including our hotel, which had been beautifully refurbished, including the city hall and its art deco architecture.

 

The day was sunny, humid, and hot. Desert dwellers like me don’t deal very well with humidity, but that didn’t stop us from exploring.

 

We walked down to Canalside, which is along the banks of Lake Erie. As we explored the area, we walked through beautifully landscaped garden beds. The hosta and coleus were stunning with their contrasting colors.

While I may not be able to grow many of the plants we passed by, it doesn’t keep me from enjoying their beauty and getting inspired to create similar plantings using different plants that thrive where I live. However, there was ONE plant in this bed that currently grows in my garden – pink flowering gaura.

As we continued walking along the water front, splashes of color caught my eye. 

We had stumbled upon a ‘pot of gold at the end of a rainbow’ or in other words, a test garden where the latest flowering annuals are being tested.

Large containers filled with ‘Supertunia’ petunias look as if they are on steroids. But, this type of flower is smaller than regular petunias and flower more abundantly as you can see. The tall spikes of white and purple angelonia add a lovely vertical accent.

White alyssum, black sweet potato vine, and gomphrena make a unique grouping that works. 

I was thrilled to note that many of the plants in the test garden would grow nicely in my desert garden – during the cool season.

More pink gaura was to be seen, blooming in front of masses of Supertunia.

Lantana is a very familiar sight in arid gardens where it can survive outdoors throughout the year. However, in cold winter regions, it is treated as an annual.

Black-eyed Susan vines grew against a wooden fence surrounded by vibrant verbena and double petunias.

I love trellises made from natural materials on hand like this wood, likely fished out from the lake.

Here is another plant that currently grows in my desert garden – Salvia amistad.

Million Bells (Calibrachoa)

After the long trek from our hotel and exploring the test garden, Andrea and I were content after seeing such beautiful plants, but we were also hot, tired, and hungry.

Thankfully, we found this wonderful restaurant a couple of blocks away. The food and service were fabulous, so we came back again for dinner.

I invite you to visit Andrea’s blog where she writes about her adventures gardening in Perth, Australia. Please come back to join me for day two of our adventure where we discover another garden – this one filled with edible plants along with whimsical garden signs.

 

Over this past weekend, I found myself overwhelmed with an abundance of new plants.


It all started with a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden’s annual fall plant sale.  


I brought my son, Kai with me who was happy to follow me around pushing the cart.  

The best place to find great quality plants along with those that can be hard to find is this plant sale.  I also like to see the newest plant varieties so that I can stay up to date.

I’ve learned over the years to come to the sale with a list or else a number of unplanned plant purchases make their way home.


This year, I was proud of myself since I stuck to my list other than one extra plant.  Coral fountain, damianita, elephant’s food along with purple and white trailing lantana were going to replace plants lost this summer due to a problem with irrigation.



Ironically, I found a picture of me shopping at the plant sale, posted by the Desert Botanical Garden on their Facebook page (I’m the one on the right wearing sunglasses).  


The silver lining for my husband was that despite the fact that I came home with 14 plants, most were being replaced, so no new holes or irrigation was needed.



Later that afternoon, two UPS deliverymen showed up at my door with several boxes filled with new plants.


Yep, MORE plants!  


These plants were sent to me by Southern Living Plants to test how they will perform in Arizona.  


To say that I was happy would be an understatement.  Fourteen plants from the plant sale plus 8 of the newest varieties of plants to try out in my garden – I was in heaven.

Saturday morning dawned and we all found ourselves outdoors ready for a morning filled with gardening.



My husband and daughter, Gracie, added a new layer of compost and manure to the vegetable garden in preparation for planting carrots, garlic, leaf lettuce, radishes and Swiss chard.  Meanwhile, I got to work opening up the boxes holding my newest plants.



The first new plant variety to test was a Ligustrum ‘Sunshine’ shrub.



I liked the yellow-green color, which would add great color contrast to the garden.



Several new varieties of Nandina including ‘Flirt’, ‘Lemon Lime’, ‘Obsession’ and ‘Pink Blush’ will find a home along the side of my house, which faces south.


Opening each box and discovering a beautiful plant made me feel like it was Christmas Day.



As I was opening up the boxes of plants, the newest addition to our family (a desert tortoise called Aesop) came out to see what we were up to.



He kept walking around the patio, circling around us before he would travel to the grass for a quick snack…



Aesop has grown quite friendly and will venture out when he sees us out and about.  He will also let us pet him.



We were pleasantly surprised at how much time he spent with us.  Aesop would walk around and around the patio, just watching what we were doing.



As you can see, he can walk quickly (for a tortoise).



Back to the plants, I opened up boxes that contained two new salvias – ‘Killer Cranberry’ and ‘Little Kiss’ which will be located in filtered shade, next to the patio, where they will do best.

The last box that I unpacked revealed a completely new plant to me, which I was anxious to try.



Lomandra ‘Platinum Beauty’, which is a variegated ornamental grass.

Of the new plants, I expect the nandina varieties to do well since regular nandina does.  Salvia will also perform well in filtered shade in desert gardens.


However, I am looking forward to seeing how the ligustrum and lomandra will do in an Arizona garden.


I promise to keep you updated as to how they all perform.

Sonoran Tortoise Adoption Facility – checking out the baby tortoises.



It has been just over a month since we adopted Aesop and we have all been surprised at how much fun it has been seeing him walking to and fro in the backyard or looking outside and seeing him outside our patio door taking a drink of water from his dish.



With the cooling temperatures, he will soon hibernate, but in the meantime, Aesop has been spending more time walking around during the day as the temperatures have begun to cool somewhat.


To find out more about our adoption journey with Aesop, click here