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Disclaimer: This garden adventure to Savannah was provided by Troy-Bilt at no cost to me, however, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

It is said that there are those who love to travel and those who love to garden. So what do you get when you pair the two together? A garden adventure!

For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, the fact that I enjoy traveling is no secret, and I frequently share my travels with you all. This particular trip was to Savannah, Georgia along with the folks at Troy-Bilt, who I work with as a brand ambassador.  Several garden bloggers from across the country are brought together to learn about the latest Troy-Bilt products, tour a garden, and participate in a service project, all of which, take place within 2-3 days.

This is my third outing with Troy-Bilt, and I was thrilled to learn that this year’s event was in Savannah. I had visited once before and could hardly wait to revisit some of the same places as well as explore new ones in the little free time that I had.

I arrived in Savannah the night before and didn’t have a meeting until later in the afternoon, so I woke up ready to walk through the historic section of the city. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to visit this city, it is quintessentially southern filled with period architecture and beautifully restored buildings.

Our hotel, The Brice, is a lovely hotel in a historic building right in downtown Savannah.  All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and you can walk to most of the popular destinations.

I must confess that I felt particularly liberated and free as I began my walk. There was no work that I had to attend to, no kids to take care of – just three hours of free time to do whatever I wanted, which was to explore my surroundings.

‘Window Selfie’

Whenever I travel, I like to observe the plants of the region. In the warm regions of the South, Spanish moss is the most iconic feature as it drapes across majestic oak trees.

You can even find it intertwined on shrubs and other plants. Spanish moss isn’t really a moss, but rather an ‘epiphyte’ that receives the nutrients and moisture that it needs from the air. Unlike parasitic plants like mistletoe, Spanish moss doesn’t have roots and doesn’t take nutrients from other plants; they just hang from them. In fact, they are a type of air plant (Tillandsia).

Planters were filled with luscious combinations of colorful annuals and perennials like this one planted with blue lobelia, red verbena, orange agastache, burgundy salvia, and snapdragons.

One of the many things that I like about traveling is to see historic buildings and landscapes as here in the Southwest; there are very few. For example, you probably wouldn’t see a sign like this in Arizona. I did climb the stairs by the way and didn’t fall.

Downtown Savannah is filled with historic buildings and large oak trees that provide welcome shade. Unique shops and restaurants invite you to step inside and tempt you with their offerings.

An example of the temptations that await is ‘Funky Bread,’ which is basically monkey bread – and delicious! I must say that I didn’t plan on eating something so fattening for breakfast – but I did!

The colorful clothing displayed in the window of this downtown boutique had me making a detour from my route. I didn’t plan on buying any clothes on this trip – but I did that too! A new dress doesn’t take up much room in a suitcase, right? 

After giving into the temptation of delicious, high-calorie food as well as buying clothes, for the rest of my walking tour, I avoided going into any more stores.

All too soon, it was time to wrap up my morning walk and get ready for my first meeting.

Shortly after our meeting at the hotel, we all headed out for a personal tour of the Coastal Georgia Botanic Gardens.  This garden is known for the bamboo planted around it, which was planted by the original owner of the land.

*Note the gathering storm clouds – they will play a part in our adventures later in the day.

Our tour was led by the director of the gardens and we visited several sections. Perhaps the most famous section is one filled with many different species of camellias many of which, are relatively rare. I don’t grow camellias as they are somewhat hard to grow in Arizona and I stay away from plants that are hard to grow, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy them in other areas.

Savannah and Phoenix have similar minimum winter temperatures, which means that we can grow many of the same plants such as citrus, lantana, salvia, etc. However, this is a plant that doesn’t grow here, but I liked it just the same. This is called ‘tractor seat’ plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea’). I don’t think I’ll ever forget the name of this one as its leaves do resemble the seat of a tractor.

Last fall, on a visit to Atlanta, I noted that many gardens had bird houses mounted on poles. This garden had them too, and I like how it looks. How about you?

Containers in my favorite shade of blue decorated the garden, filled with an assortment of plants noted for their foliage. Colorful containers are one of my favorite ways to add color to shady areas where flowering plants won’t grow.

They had a xeriscape garden filled with familiar plants such as agave, bulbine, and salvias. In a more humid climate, the leaves of these plants were larger than those that grow in drier regions of the country, like the Southwest.

A garden filled with raised beds was created especially for those with disabilities. I found it quite beautiful with beds filled with flowers and vegetables.

This citrus tree certainly looks a bit different from those grown in drier regions. Note the lichen growing on the trunk and the Spanish moss hanging from the branches.

The orchid house is filled with colorful varieties that had many of us taking close-up photographs. Have you ever grown an orchid indoors? I’ve grown two and got them to flower, but then got lazy and didn’t take care of them, which leads me to confess that I am not very good at raising houseplants.

As we got ready to leave, storm clouds were gathering on the horizon, and the wind was picking up. Although the garden had a new weather station, they kept this old one, sheltered underneath a colorful loropetalum.

Severe thunderstorms were in the forecast for most of Georgia, including Savannah. Back at the hotel as I was getting ready for dinner, I turned on the local news where the entire broadcast was dedicated to the tornado warnings for Atlanta AND Savannah! In fact, they had their camera focused on the clouds with my hotel directly underneath.  But, did that keep us from going out to dinner? 

Nope. The weather held off until we entered the restaurant and thankfully, no tornadoes. 

We did enjoy fabulous food, and I decided that an important part of traveling is enjoying the cuisine of where you are visiting. By the way, I learned that ‘yardbird’ means chicken and that brownies covered in strawberries and whipped cream are heavenly!

In invite you to join me for ‘Part 2’ where we gather together to work on the children’s garden at the Savannah Botanical Gardens.

*Have you ever visited Savannah? What was your favorite thing to visit and eat?

 

After a long, hot and wet summer, I am so thankful that fall has finally arrived in the desert Southwest.

 
For many people, autumn brings to mind brightly colored foliage that later falls to the ground and has to be raked, or if you are lucky – cleaned up using your leaf blower.
 
In partnership with the folks at Troy-Bilt and a member of the Saturday 6, I am fortunate in being able to test a variety of their products in my own garden and share with you my honest opinion.
 
Recently, I was was very excited to test one of their newest garden tools – the TB2MB JET Gas Leaf Blower.
 
Now, I must admit that autumn leaves do not make an appearance in my garden for the simple reason that I have no deciduous trees.  However, I do get a lot of use out of my regular leaf blower, which I use throughout the year for the following tasks:
 
– Cleaning up fallen leaves after I have finished pruning my shrubs.
 
– Getting rid of dirt and small rocks that are lodged in the small cracks in my patio and driveway.
 
– Moving leaf debris toward the base of shrubs and trees where it can serve as mulch.

Adding leaves to my compost bin.

– Gathering up excess leaf litter and putting it in my compost pile.

 
– Cleaning up after monsoon storms when my neighbor’s leaves blow into my garden 😉
 
As a horticulturist (and homeowner), I have used my share of different leaf blowers, so I was excited to see how Troy-Bilt’s newest hand-held, leaf blower did in my own garden.
 
 
After taking it out of the box, all of the pieces fit together and after looking at it, I thought that this was probably the ‘coolest’ looking leaf blower I’d ever seen with its aerodynamic lines.
 
But, looks are one thing – I took it out into the garden to see how well it worked.
 
 
I first used the blower to direct the leaf debris toward the base of my new orange tree, where they will serve as mulch and improve the soil as the leaves break down.  
 
Then, I moved to my driveway and patio to clean out the dirty seams and small rocks.
 
 
On a different day, I used it to clean the rock in my garden and direct the leaves toward the base of my flowering shrubs, which will appreciate the mulch.
 
 
Here are my observations after using Troy-Bilt’s Jet Gas Leaf Blower:
 
– It was not too heavy to hold.
 
– Using the pull-start was easy, but the blower can also be started using Troy-Bilt’s Jump Start Engine Starter tool.
 
– The air flow was more focused than other blowers that I have used, making it easier to direct the leaves.  It moved most of the small rocks in the seams in the driveway and cleaned out much of the dirt.
 
– The handle was comfortable and I really liked the cruise control option, which locked in the air speed.
 
– It cleaned the debris from my gravel without moving too much of my gravel with it.
 
– My husband, (who I must admit uses a leaf blower more often than I do), wanted me to mention that he likes that the intake of the Jet Gas Leaf Blower is not on the bottom.  Some leaf blowers do have the intake on the bottom, which can inadvertently suck up small pieces of gravel.
 
 
I must admit that I like using leaf blowers and I was having so much fun with Troy-Bilt’s newest leaf blower, that I actually enjoyed cleaning my garden.
 
If you want to learn more about Troy-Bilt’s most powerful handheld leaf blower, they created a video, which shows how it works.
 
**So, would you like to have one of these in your own garage or garden shed?  The folks at Troy-Bilt are giving one away to one of you!
 
To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment.
 For an extra entry, follow me on Facebook Twitter and/or Google+ and be sure to let me know when you leave a comment.
(Be sure to leave your email address if it’s not on your profile, or I won’t have any way to contact you.)
 
I will pick a random entry on Monday, October 27th.
 
Good Luck!
*Disclosure: I was provided the leaf blower free of charge for my honest review.

Have you ever visited a community garden?  


I had the opportunity to help create a community garden with some very special friends in Miami, Florida.

Me (Noelle Johnson), Matt Mattus, Helen Yoest, Amy Andrychowicz, Steve Asbell and Dave Townsend – the ‘Saturday6’
 
So, who are these special friends? 
 
They are garden bloggers, like me and we’ve been brought together through our partnership with the folks at Troy-Bilt. We came from all over the United States and came together to work with the folks at a service project in Miami.
 
 
As part of our partnership, we share our gardening knowledge via Troybilt’s gardening newsletter – ‘The Dirt’, Facebook and Twitter.  We also create how-to videos and test Troybilt equipment and offer our honest opinions. 
This year, we were invited by Troybilt to help create a community garden as part of their continuing efforts to give back to the community.  



The day we all arrived in Miami, we had the opportunity to tour the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, which you can read about here.  


The next morning, we all gathered on a vacant lot in the Perrine Neighborhood in Miami.

 
 
The local dry cleaner allowed the property adjacent to their store to be used for this inner-city community garden.
 
 
We were excited to be creating an edible garden for the surrounding neighborhood.
 
Imagine six gardeners together, trying to plan out a community garden.  Believe it or not, it all went smoothly and we all agreed on a plan as to where to put the raised beds and what size they should be.
 
 
We measured out the placement for the beds with assistance from the folks at Troybilt and the Miami chapter of “Keep America Beautiful“.
 

 

 
The surrounding community was very excited about the garden.  We were happy to meet the Perrine neighborhood community activist, Ms. Townsend who would help to distribute the produce from the garden.
 
Steve Asbell (The Rainforest Gardener), took time to talk with her about the different vegetables and flowers that we would be planting in the garden.
 
 
Ms. Townsend, was very interested in learning about the plants and seeds we would be planting.  She listened carefully when Matt Mattus (Growing With Plantsexplained to her how the seeds would grow.
 
*This special lady takes care of those in her neighborhood, including picking up day-old bread from the local supermarket, putting it in her car trunk and then delivers it to those in need.
 
 
Once the outlines were painted, we used cement block to create the sides of the of the beds.
 
You may wonder why we put cardboard on the bottom of the garden beds.  Well, the cardboard will form a nice barrier to keep the grass from growing through and will also serve to ‘smother’ the grass.
 
Initially, we had discussed planting some fruit trees alongside the raised vegetable beds, but we ran into a little problem with that plan…
 
Limestone rock lay right underneath the grass, making digging all but impossible.
 
 
We filled the beds with topsoil and aged steer manure in alternating layers.
 
 
Troybilt supplied us with the necessary garden equipment including a cultivator, which we used to help mix the layers of topsoil and manure together.
 
 
I have a smaller cultivator that attaches to my Troybilt string trimmer that I like to use in my vegetable gardens.  
 
You can read more about my gardening adventures with my Troybilt cultivator, here.
 
 
Amy Andrychowicz (Get Busy Gardening) and Dave Townsend (Growing the Home Garden) raked the soil smooth while Helen Yoest (Gardening With Confidence) filled the holes of the cement block with soil for planting.
 
Community members posing for a picture with a Troybilt representative.
 
Members of the community came out to watch our progress, including the neighborhood police officer.
 
 
We took a quick break for lunch then took a picture with people from the neighborhood, Troybilt, Keep America Beautiful and officials from the Human Services Department who were on hand.
 
Local Master Gardener, Sheila Martinez, assists Dave Townsend with planting.
 
After lunch it was time for my favorite part – planting!
 
Sheila Martinez, a local Master Gardener, assisted us throughout the day and will be in charge of caring for the garden.
 
 
I had fun planting the first bed with tomatoes and herbs including flat-leaf parsley, purple basil and rosemary.
 
Other beds included strawberries, peppers, leaf lettuce, collard greens and onions.  Beans were planted from seed.
 
 
The holes in the cement block was filled with soil so that we could add companion plants, which help to attract pollinators as well as repel bad bugs from damaging the vegetables.
 
To that end, we planted sage, basil, green onions and marigolds in the holes, which will not only help to protect the edible plants but also add beauty to each garden.
 

 

After a productive day in the garden, we were tired but happy with all we had accomplished.
 
This is the second year that we have all been part of the Saturday6.  Imagine how much fun six garden bloggers have when they get together!
 
Last year we all met in Arizona and enjoyed a great time, which you can read about here.
 
I am so grateful to be a part of this group of great people and the opportunity to work with Troybilt again.  I will be reviewing another piece of Troybilt equipment this year and giving one away, so stay tuned!
 
 
 

 

I have been enjoying sharing with you about my recent trip to the beautiful gardens of Vizcaya, located in Miami, Florida. The trip and garden visit came as a part of my partnership with the folks at Troy-Bilt.  These gardens are inspired by Italian gardens and use plants that thrive in tropical climates.


Last time, we explored the secret garden, climbed up the man-made hill and saw a most magnificent, covered patio.


Today, I invite you to journey with me as we explore the gardens further…

 
The second part of our garden journey begins at the top of the man-made hill, looking toward the house.
 

 

On top of the wall, are examples of the stonework present throughout the gardens.  Most of it was made from limestone, which had a real ‘aged’ appearance.
 
 
This is a photo that I shared on my Instagram account of the mangrove forest.
 
Mangroves are trees that grow along coastal areas in the tropics in areas where most other plants cannot grow because of the salty water.  They are an important of the ecosystem and help to prevent erosion.
 

 

*Imagine how spooky this area would look on a foggy day?
 
 

 

A large staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) was mounted from the side of a Royal Palm tree.  They are epiphytes, which mean that they get water and nutrients from the air and not from the host plant.
 
When wet, this large staghorn fern can weigh up to 200 pounds!
 
 
 If you look carefully, you can Spanish moss hanging from the Southern Live Oak, which also grow in the desert – they just don’t get as big here.
 
*Did you know that Spanish moss is NOT a moss?  It is another example of an epiphyte and gets its water and nutrients from the air.  I have some from my trip to Savannah, Georgia last year that I used to make a terrarium.
 
 
A brown anole, which is a lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas.  They are considered an invasive species in Florida.
 
 
This is a green anole, which is NOT considered invasive.


**A special thanks to my friend and garden companion, Steve Asbell, who explained the difference between these two lizards.
 
 

More examples of the statuary throughout the garden with ferns in the background.



Orchids grew naturally outdoors, which made me slightly jealous, although I have been able to grow them indoors.





There were even orchids growing in trees, which is where they are often found growing in the wild.  Most cultivated orchids are epiphytes, which means that they get their water and nutrients from the air.



As we neared the end of our journey through the garden, we encountered a fence with vines growing all over it concealing another secret garden.  There was a small hole, so I peeked through.



Looking through the hole, I saw another area of the garden that was closed off from the public.  I’m not sure if there are any plans to open this section called the Marine Garden, but I definitely wanted to explore it further.

 
As our time in the garden ended, I was so grateful to have been given the chance to view such a beautiful place.
 
I hope you enjoyed this ‘virtual’ tour.  If you are ever in Miami, I encourage you to take time to explore the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
 
***********************
 
If you want to explore this garden further and learn more about its history, check out my friend Steve’s latest blog post.
 
Next time, I will share with you our next Floridian adventure, which was to create a community garden.  While vegetable gardening is much the same wherever you live (except for the plsnyinh calendar) we did encounter an unusual barrier, which I will share in my next post.
 
*I traveled to Miami as part of a group called the Saturday6, which is a group of six garden-bloggers from around the country brought together by the folks at Troybilt.

 

 

 

Last week, I visited Miami along with five of my garden-blogger friends, hosted by Troybilt.  We had two days together, packed with activities including building a community garden, which I’ll tell you about later.  


The first part of our trip took place at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.




I had flown on the red-eye from Phoenix to Miami and was running on 2 hours of sleep when we arrived at Vizcaya.  

Though I was running on empty by the time I arrived at Vizcaya, once I entered the Italian-inspired gardens, I felt like I had stepped onto an European estate and I was instantly re-energized and ready to explore.

We all enjoyed a personal tour of the house (no picture-taking allowed in the house).  While the mansion was beautiful – I am a gardener through and through – not an interior decorator, so I was anxious to get out and see the gardens.

My friend, Steve Asbell (who has a blog called The Rainforest Garden) accompanied me as we explored the gardens.  His knowledge of tropical plants would prove invaluable as he showed me many of his favorite plants in the gardens.



The gardens were created to mimic the look and feel of Italian gardens, using plants adapted to Miami’s warm, tropical climate.

I really felt as if I was in Europe as we strolled through the gardens.

I would love to share with you some of the beautiful plants and areas of the gardens in the photos below.

Enjoy!


As we stepped out of the house, we were greeted by the sight of Biscayne Bay and a stone barge that was built as a breakwater to help protect against the rising tide.



Although there are quite a few differences between gardening in the tropics and the desert – there are quite a few plants that grow well in both places.


The first plant that I recognized was Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’, which is a huge favorite of many desert dwellers.  I have two growing from cuttings in my own garden.


A tea house stood amidst a backdrop of mangroves that was accessed by crossing a Venetian- style bridge.


This beautiful, flowering perennial is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha).  I have seen it grown as an annual during a visit to the White House and as a perennial here in AZ.  In Florida, it also grows as a perennial.

I really love the red backdrop, which really makes the fuzzy, purple flowers ‘pop’ visually.



Every garden should have a ‘secret garden’ don’t you think?

A decorative stairway leads down to the secret garden of Vizcaya where colorful plants include yellow Peruvian Candle (Sanchezia speciosa) while the fuchsia plants are a variety of Ti Plant (Cordyline ‘Red Sister’).


Wall pots held a variety of succulents.


I fell in love with the colorful Kalanchoe luciae ‘Fantastic’ growing alongside a ‘Blue Elf’ Aloe (which is often seen in desert gardens).

*I have a Kalanchoe growing in a container, but it is not this colorful variety. 


Formally-pruned shrubs form a maze in the center of the gardens.


A row of statues flanked the walkway, which is a design element that I really love to see in large gardens.


Barefoot in the garden.


You could easily think you are in Spain as you view this formal fountain and the palm trees in the background.

Notice the Australian Pine trees in the pots?  They are old!  These trees were last repotted in 1922.


Water is a vital element in many large gardens. 






A hill was installed across the garden from the house to block the sun’s rays.  The narrow tracks in the middle were created so that the gardeners could get their wheelbarrows up the steps of the hill.


At the top of the hill stood this stone planter with some very pretty plants – I have no idea what they are, but that didn’t stop me from admiring them just the same.


At the top of the hill stood the ultimate patio, or as it is called in Vizcaya – ‘the Casino’ where guests could sit outdoors in the shade.  


Here in the desert, we would add misters, which would make it a great place to hang out in the summer.

I hope you have enjoyed the first part of our garden tour.  Next time, we will explore a ‘spooky’ forest, view another secret garden and see an orchid garden.


* My trip to Miami and the gardens of Vizcaya was a result of my being one of the Saturday6 – a group of six garden bloggers brought together by Troybilt.

Last week, I hinted at the garden video that I created for the folks at Troybilt as part of my paid partnership with the ‘Saturday 6’.


In the past, I have been in gardening videos, but I had a film crew who did all the filming and editing for the videos for their website.


This time, there was no film crew.  I was asked to create a homemade ‘how-to’ video for Troybilt on a gardening subject that I selected.


I decided to create a video on one of my favorite subjects…

“How to grow vegetables with ornamental plants in containers.”



The video is supposed to be amateurish and not polished.  I can assure you that I fulfilled their requirements.  There is no way that anyone can mistake my video as professionally done.


But, I had fun and I hope you like it.




 




*I have partnered with the folks at Troy-Bilt and am hosting a giveaway of their equipment that they are providing free of charge.

Thank you all for entering my giveaway for a TroyBilt string trimmer, JumpStart electronic starter and your choice of attachment.

 

And the winner is….

 

“fastdog” who selected a cultivator as their attachment.
 
Congratulations!  
I will be sending you an email soon.
 
For those of you who didn’t win – I encourage you to visit your local Lowe’s store and check them out for yourself.  All of these TroyBilt products are wonderful and would be an asset in any garden.
 
 
For another chance to win TroyBilt equipment, check out the Saturday 6 link, for my fellow bloggers who will soon be giving away TroyBilt products on their blogs.




Wouldn’t it be great to have one basic tool that you could attach a different gardening power tools too?  I am so excited to show you this new product from the folks at Troy-Bilt who I have partnered with on this new campaign.

This may look like an ordinary string trimmer, but it is so much more…

 
 
Leave it to folks at TroyBilt to create a line of string trimmers that can be interchanged with a variety of gardening tools such as a cultivator and a pole chain saw (pictured above with the string trimmer attachment).
 
But TroyBilt didn’t stop there – they also created turbo leaf blower, lawn edger, hedge trimmer, broom and brush cutter attachments as well.

 
 
Earlier this year, I was asked to be a part of the ‘Saturday 6’, which is a group six of garden bloggers from around the country.  As part of TroyBilt’s Saturday 6, we have been asked to evaluate a number of their products and give our honest opinion about their performance.
 


I must admit that my favorite attachment has been my new cultivator.

Of course, my husband would differ and say that our new TroyBilt string trimmer is his favorite.

 
 
I have been waiting patiently (not really) to use the cultivator in my vegetable gardens since my TroyBilt equipment arrived in March.
 
But, I have had to wait until my lettuce was done for the season and then harvest my garlic before I could cultivate the soil.
 
Finally, the day arrived for my TrimmerPlus Add-On Cultivator to make its debut in my garden.
 
 
Before using the cultivator, I had to start it first.
 
 One complaint that I have with using power equipment is the pull-start.  It can be very hard for women to use a pull-start (me included).  In the past, I would call a crew member over to start equipment for me.  Since I don’t have a crew anymore, I often ask my husband to help me if I can’t start it myself.

 

Well, I don’t have to worry about pull-starts anymore, thanks to TroyBilt.

 

 

 

 

 

They have created the JumpStart, which is an electrical starter that easily starts most of their power equipment without using the pull-start.

 

 

 

 

 

All you need to do is to fit the JumpStart into a special portal…
 
 
And it starts up easily!  The JumpStart is battery powered and can be plugged in to re-charge.
 
The equipment does have a pull-start, so the JumpStart is optional.  I have had no problem using the pull-start of my favorite TroyBilt cultivator/string trimmer, but the JumpStart is easier to use.
 
Before cultivating my soil, I added compost, manure, blood and bone meal to my vegetable garden.  Now, I was ready to mix my amendments in.
 
 
The cultivator was lightweight, easy to use and tilled my soil perfectly without going too deep.
 

 
One of my vegetable gardens is rather narrow, which makes my new cultivator easy to use because it can work in narrow spaces.  Unlike larger tillers, this cultivator is perfect for smaller spaces and is easier to handle.
 
 
After I was finished tilling my vegetable gardens, there were some left over bits and pieces of plants that got caught up in the tines.  It was easy to remove them afterward by taking the tines off and cleaning them. 
 
In the past, tilling soil using a rake or shovel always took me a lot longer and I was a tired, hot, sweaty mess afterward with a sore back to boot.
With my new cultivator, I can till my soil quickly, without the negative side effects 😉
 
 
As a Certified Arborist, I am often instructing my clients how to prune and care for their trees.  While I don’t prune their trees for them, I do like to prune my own trees whenever possible.
 
 
I had a little pruning to perform for my Desert Willow, so the cultivator attachment came off and the TrimmerPlus Add-On Pole Chain Saw was attached (no tools are needed to add the different attachments).
 
 
This branch had suffered damage in a wind storm when part of it peeled off.  It left the branch weak, so it needed to be removed.  I started by pruning away the top part of the branch first.
 
The pole chain saw worked very well for me.  It comes with an additional extension pole for when you need to reach higher up (up to 11 feet), but I didn’t need it for this limb.  It is self-oiling, which keeps the bar and chain lubricated.
 
Using a pole chain saw saves you from having to climb a ladder to prune branches that are high up and it is lighter then using a regular chain saw.
 
 
My husband has been using our TroyBilt 4-Cycle Gas Straight Shaft String Trimmer for weeks now.  His initial impression was that it was more powerful then our old trimmer.  It also has a larger cutting width (18″) and as a result, edging our lawn goes more quickly.
 
 
There is no need to mix oil and gas – it runs on regular gasoline.  One of the most frustrating tasks when using a string trimmer is to having to refill the string – not a problem with TroyBilt’s string trimmer, which has the ‘Click N Trim’ Pro cutting head. You can simply thread the line through the eyelets and twist to wind up the line.  No more taking apart the cutting head.
 
The string trimmer can be started with the JumpStart, which I mentioned earlier.  But, the pull start is surprisingly easy to use due to the ‘Spring Assist Starting Technology’.
(I must admit that I like to use the pull-start, because I am thrilled with how easy it is to do with all my TroyBilt equipment, compared to the pull-starts of other equipment that I have used in the past).
 
Do you have a garage or shed full of garden equipment, with room for little else?  Wouldn’t it be great to have a string trimmer that can be used with a variety of attachments? 
 
Think of how much room you would save!
 
Okay, here is the part you have been waiting for…
 
**TROYBILT GIVEAWAY** 
for readers of my blog.
 
Would you like to have a TroyBilt string trimmer with your choice of attachment for your garden?
 
The wonderful folks at TroyBilt are giving away a their top-of-the-line TB6044 XP Straight Shaft String Trimmer.
 
 
Plus, your choice of one of the following attachments:
 
 
Now, if that isn’t enough, TroyBilt will also giveaway their JumpStart cordless engine starter to the winner along with the string trimmer, and choice of attachment.
 
1. To enter, simply leave me a comment with your choice of attachment.  (Be sure to leave your email address if it’s not on your profile, or I won’t have any way to contact you.)
 
2. For a bonus entry, become a new follower of my blog,  ‘Like’ me on Facebook or ‘follow’ me on Twitter – (be sure to let me know in your comment).
 
Let your friends know about this great giveaway and I will select a random winner in one week!
**I am paid for my involvement with the Saturday 6 and the equipment, described above, was provided to me at no cost by TroyBilt, who wanted my honest opinion – good or bad.  I can honestly state that I am very impressed by the quality and design of their power equipment.

A few Saturdays ago, I woke up early in the morning instead of sleeping in.


I drove to a site in downtown Phoenix in order to participate in our local chapter of Keep America Beautiful.


The gate led into a 15-acre site on Indian School Road and Central Avenue.



This site is “the largest transformation of vacant land happening right now in the country.”

Other volunteers were trickling into the area and we met in the center where we were given t-shirts, tools and assignments.


TroyBilt, is a huge supporter of The Great American Clean-Up and they had TroyBilt  equipmen ready to be used to help clear weeds from the lot.

Over 4 million volunteers across the country, come together to help improve their community through a chapter of ‘Keep America Beautiful’. 

The focus is on “waste reduction, recycling, beautification and community greening.”

The available assignments that day included weeding, trash pick-up, painting and creating ‘art’ from recycled materials.


I volunteered to help paint picnic benches and raised garden beds.


We used clear deck stain on all the wood surfaces.

I was able to make some new friends while we worked side by side.


After I had finished painting, I walked around seeing the other projects being done including some of the recycled art that will later be displayed at the site.


A group of girls were working hard on making a shield for a figure that was to be created out of recycled material.

This was the first time that I had participated in this kind of event and it was such a rewarding experience.

Click on the following links to see how you can participate in keeping your community beautiful:


A week ago, I received a very special delivery of what I like to call ‘toys’ for my garden.


It was almost like Christmas and the person who delivered them was even wearing red, just like ‘Santa’.

I mentioned last month, that I was asked to be a partner with the folks of TroyBilt’s Saturday 6 to test and review their outdoor power. 
 
TroyBilt brought us all together and introduced us to their exceptional line of gardening tools.
 
Well, I knew which ones I wanted to play with in my garden.  
 
 
Would you believe that I even volunteered to mow the back lawn?
 
**Soon, I will show you how I used my new garden tools and here is the best part…
 
I will be having a giveaway where you can win a very cool tool yourself.
 
Stay tuned…
*Disclosure: I am paid for my partnership with Troy-Bilt and provided outdoor power equipment free of charge for my honest review.