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What kind of containers do you have planted in your garden?


Are they terra-cotta, glazed or plastic?  

Do you have any unique containers?

I like seeing plants that have been planted in unusual containers.  So this week, I will be sharing with you some of my favorites that I have seen on my travels throughout the United States.

Today’s unique container comes from Tennessee.


Have you ever seen a trash can used as a container for plants?

On a visit to the University of Tennessee Gardens, I visited their wonderful kitchen garden, which was filled with surprises and I came away inspired.

You can read more about my visit to these gardens and see some more pictures of these ‘trashy’ containers, here.

See you again tomorrow, when I’ll show you another unique planter that has 4 sets of tires.

When friends heard that I was going to Michigan, every single one of them told me that I must go to Mackinac Island.


To be honest, I was somewhat skeptical of whether or not I would like Mackinac Island.  I tend to not enjoy what some people would call ‘tourist traps’.


I was hopeful that Mackinac Island would be someplace that I would enjoy.  So far, our trip has been filled with fun adventures including a wine tasting and climbing a lighthouse yesterday.


So, we got up this morning, drove to the ferry and took it out to the island – about 20 minutes.



Along the way, our ferry passed underneath the Mackinac Bridge, which is the 3rd largest suspension bridge in the world and spans 5 miles.   It is designed to move up to 35 feet in windy conditions – kind of scary sounding to me.  

Later in the day, we would cross this bridge by bar, as it connects lower Michigan with the Upper Peninsula and our next destination.


On our way to the Mackinac Island, we passed a smaller island where the Round Island Lighthouse stood sentinel.
I am rapidly becoming a fan of lighthouses!


We started nearing the island and could see the buildings, including a picturesque church and its steeple.
*Pardon the photo quality – I had to take them through the window of the boat.

Our boat landed and we disembarked, anxious to explore the island.


The main street is flanked by Victorian-style buildings filled with shops, restaurants AND stores offering all types of fudge.


Fudge is a really big deal in Mackinac Island.  In fact, the people who live on this island refer to the tourists as “fudgies”.


There are over 17 different stores that sell fudge on the island.

*We stopped at one and I picked up 1 1/2 pounds of fudge.  I know that is an obscene amount of fudge, but it is easy to get carried away when you read all of the different varieties while the fragrance of fudge is wafting through the air.  To justify my large purchase, I bought a 1/2 pound of peanut butter fudge for my husband and a 1/2 pound of regular chocolate for my kids.  I’m reserving the toffee fudge for myself.


For those of you not familiar with Mackinac Island, there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island.  So, everything is brought in by horse or bicycle, whether it is wine or…


Plants!

Just 3 weeks, there was still snow in parts of the island, so the planting season is just getting underway.


It was so interesting seeing plants being hauled in by horse and by…


Bicycle!


Other items we saw being brought in by horses included boxed groceries from the mainland, furniture, merchandise for the stores – basically anything that motorized vehicles deliver to us regular folks.


Even the police rely on getting around on bikes, but they do have a police car they can use in case of emergency.


Firetrucks and ambulances are also allowed to drive the streets of the island.

Having so many horses around, delivering goods and moving people about makes a certain dirty job a necessity…


The next time my son complains about having to scoop up the dog poop in our backyard, I will point that he has it easy compared to this guy.


We enjoyed browsing through the shops along the main street and I found some gifts for my kids.  


I didn’t see any store or restaurant chains except for Starbucks, much to my mother’s delight.



Summer has definitely arrived and I loved seeing all of the colorful plantings, including this one using a bicycle.  Geraniums (Pelargoniums) and ivy were planted in the front and back baskets.


I am a huge fan of hanging baskets lining a porch or street, but I don’t have any at home, because it can be a struggle because our dry climate makes it hard to keep the roots moist without constant watering more then once a day.

  I did love this particular hanging basket,  which was made up of pink ‘Wave’ petunias, white bacopa and purple verbena.


Have you ever seen a prettier post office?

I sat down on a little bench in front and wrote post cards to my kids and sent them off.


Even the courthouse and police station put on a floral show with bright-red tulips.


There are many old buildings on Mackinac Island and plaques in front of each describe their historical importance.


I love this old fence – it has so much character, don’t you think?


Fort Mackinac was founded in 1780 and still stands today.  It is up on the hill that overlooks the main street of the island.


Here is the back view of the fort.


This beautiful building is the Michigan’s governor’s summer residence.


 Like the fort, it too sits up on the hillside.  The governor spends a few weeks during the summer there – not a bad deal, I must say.


Probably the most famous place on the island is The Grand Hotel, a 5-star hotel, built in 1887.

It is very fancy, beautiful and expensive.  


We didn’t tour the hotel, because of time constraints.  But if you want to learn more about this iconic hotel, click here.

To get a real feel for the island, its people and its history – we decided to take a carriage tour.  The tour begins downtown, but soon goes up into the more uninhabited areas of the island.


Horses pull carriages full of tourists.  The horses resemble Clydesdale horses and are raised by the Amish.

Approximately 80% of Mackinac Island is a state park.



The carriage took us through the beautiful woods of the island and our tour guide was full of interesting information.



Dead trees aren’t removed, despite the fire danger they pose because the island does not have a lot of topsoil.  So the fallen trees are allowed to decay, adding organic matter to the soil.


Arch Rock was an interesting limestone formation that we saw along the tour.

I highly recommend going on a carriage tour after spending time on the main street or else you miss a large part of the island’s identity and beauty.


My mother and I had a fabulous time on the island and spent longer there then we had planned.

After returning on the ferry back to the mainland, we picked up our car, headed over the Mackinac Bridge toward the Upper Peninsula, which is not known for the large amount of people who live here.  In fact, in the 2 hours we drove from the bridge, we saw few buildings, homes and people.


This is where we are – in a small town in the middle of the Upper Peninsula.

Tomorrow, we will drive through the remainder of the Upper Peninsula to Green Bay, Wisconsin and more adventures!

Do you love tulips?


How about daffodils, hyacinths or muscari?


Now, if you live in the desert like me, you probably only see these beautiful, flowering bulbs when you are traveling to cooler climates.


So, I was excited when I was contacted by Living Gardens and asked to try growing their Deluxe Dutch Garden.


Imagine different types of flowering bulbs grouped together into one basket.  It is like having an entire garden!

These bulbs have been ‘forced’ into blooming early by refrigerating the bulbs before planting them in their containers and mailing them to you.


I was so excited when my Deluxe Dutch Garden came in the mail.


The bulbs had begun to grow already.  They were yellow because they hadn’t been exposed to sunlight.  Rest assured, once they get some sun, they will green up very fast.


Believe it or not, there are six different varieties of flowering bulbs for a total of 16 bulbs in this basket container.

The blooms will not appear all at once.  Flowers will appear in succession, which will give me a long time to enjoy their beauty and fragrance.


In 2 weeks, flowers were already starting to appear.

These small white flowers are from miniature ‘Star of Bethlehem’.  


The muscari are also beginning to bloom.  I love their delicate beauty.

I can’t wait to see what else starts to grow and bloom in my Deluxe Dutch Garden basket – especially tulips!

Living Gardens imports bulbs from all over the world, many from family-run farms.  They offer many different types of bulb gardens, sure to please anyone who wants a bright spot of color to enjoy indoors during winter.

So, whether you live in the desert where these flowering bulbs can be hard to find OR if you live in a cold climate and are desperate for some sign of spring – then a container filled with flowering bulbs is just right for you.

I recommend visiting Living Gardens and seeing all that they have to offer.  I am sure you will enjoy your container garden filled with forced bulbs as much as I do mine!

**I was given a Deluxe Dutch Garden, free of charge to review.  My opinions are my own.

…of Michigan.

You know what?  I was raised on the West Coast – of California, that is.  I had never visited any of the Great Lakes before.  It has been a wonderful treat visiting the West Coast of Michigan.
My mother and I are in the midst of a Midwest road trip.  We have not really spent any time in this area and want to get to know it better.  So on Friday, we boarded an airplane from Phoenix to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As we got off the plane, it was a bit of a shock because the trees were leafless and the weather was cold.  It was like winter back home.

We spent our first two nights in Holland, Michigan, which is a Dutch settlement and home to Hope College.  

Our first full day was spent going to a tulip farm, visiting the coastal town of South Haven and then back to Holland to explore the downtown area.


The tulips, daffodils and hyacinths were just beautiful.

I don’t see many (okay any) tulips where I live and I just love their vibrant colors.
I do love daffodils, and they do grow where I live, thankfully.
The fragrance of the Hyacinths was just intoxicating and I just love the color blue in the garden, don’t you?


The gardens were just beautiful.  They also had bison on the property, which I thought was kind of unusual.  They sold bison meat in the garden store (I passed on the meat).
There was a Dutch shop next to the garden that we explored…



There was a huge display of Delft porcelain as well as wooden shoes…
They aren’t as comfortable as my mother’s regular shoes.
Our next stop was about 25 miles south at the town of South Haven.  It was a lovely sort of beach town and the downtown was a great place to shop.  



It was a very blustery day and a storm was blowing in.  But, the beach was beautiful.


The store owners were more then ready for spring to arrive and it has been unusually cold for this time of year.
They had quite a few chocolate shops and we walked into three of them, smelled the delicious fragrance of chocolate and then left before we were tempted to buy anything.
That is until we walked into the Chocolate Cafe…



We were ready to leave without buying anything until we saw this…


A six-layer chocolate cake.

Now believe it or not, we didn’t eat a slice of this cake, but it certainly made us want to give into our craving for sweets.  So we bought a large muffin and split it between the two of us 😉
We had a lovely day of shopping, but the storm clouds started to approach so we decided to leave and head back for Holland.
Once back in Holland, we made a stop at the Holland Museum, which was having a Dr. Seuss exhibition.
The walls were painted in red and white stripes like the “Cat in the Hat’s” hat.

We had a lovely time in Holland and the surrounding area.  Our next stop will be in Amish country in Indiana, which we will reach by driving through small towns in lower Michigan.


Our fun was just beginning.  Our next stop…Amish Country.