Gardening in Different Climates

There was a time when I enjoyed gardening and yard work. My interest began when Al and I were newly married and we purchased our first home in the Chicago suburbs. I started my gardening education by planting annual flowers in the spring, a few perennials during the summer, and by fall my focus was on bulbs. I adore tulips and hyacinths!

As my garden interest grew, I took some perennial gardening classes at the local community college and started adding beds of perennials to our large yard. Illinois is known for its rich farm soil, so even a gardening novice like myself could find success and have things growing without much attention. That is, if a full-out war with the local cottontail bunny rabbits could be averted.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Trouble in the garden

When we moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, everything I thought I knew about gardening was quickly rendered useless. All of a sudden, I found myself living in an arid climate with an elevation over 6,000 feet, and things did not grow as easily as they did in Illinois.

After many perennial and bulb failures, I switched to vegetable gardening. I thought I might have better luck growing veggies than flowers, but that too, proved to be a challenge. Eventually, my interest in gardening waned.

And now that we live in our RV, gardening is no longer an option. Oh, I tried the whole planter thing last summer. I thought it would be wonderful to enjoy some home-grown tomatoes or some fresh herbs, but the intense sun and heat in Arizona were not kind to my plants. Another gardening failure by yours truly. Not to worry, the planter pots were quickly filled with flowers purchased at Hobby Lobby ūü§¶‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹūüĆĽūüėĀ

gardening

My son with my mom in my parents large and successful garden in Illinois. Photo taken 7 years ago when my mom was still with us.

Illinois has some of the best dirt

I’ve never had the kind of gardening success that my mom and dad enjoyed. Every spring they would look forward to returning to their home in northern Illinois after their Texas Gulf Coast winter sojourn in their Motorhome. They were eager to get the earth tilled and the garden planted. Since their harvest was always way more than they could consume, they would share their bounty of vegetables with delighted neighbors.

I used to time my return visits to Illinois based on their garden. Ah, such fond memories!

Al’s side of the family used to live near Rockford, Illinois. If you’re ever in this part of the state, I highly recommend a visit to the Anderson Japanese Garden. The grounds are tranquil and beautiful and the restaurant tasty. More than once, we’d stop for breakfast or lunch at the restaurant and forgo touring the grounds if we didn’t have time.

Jumping into yard work

Monday night, our son called Al. In a somewhat frantic voice, he informed his dad of his failing water heater and was hoping Al could help. Our son has been working well over 60 hours a week at his job in management plus helping his soon to be bride with wedding day details. To say he’s stressed these days, would be an understatement.

So without hesitation, yesterday morning Al and I hopped in the truck and took the 85 mile drive from Prescott, Arizona, to our son’s home in Phoenix to deal with the leaking water heater.

As soon as we pulled up to Logan’s house, I noticed all the weeds growing up between the rock landscape. Oh don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t so bad that the homeowners association had sent a notice …. yet, but in another week or two, I assure you, he’d be receiving a “take care of your weeds” notice. After all, it is the monsoon season in the desert and considering Phoenix has received a fair amount of rain lately, everything is growing including weeds. Actually, the moisture is very welcome!

Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

With that said, the cactus are happy and touches of color from wildflowers dot the landscape.  It never ceases to amaze me what will grow and thrive in such a harsh and unforgiving environment.

So while Al was assessing the problematic water heater, I went to work pulling weeds. Now if my son were home, he would never have allowed me to do this. He usually hires out the yard work, but I knew he was too busy to even give the yard a thought and call the landscaper.

The job of pulling weeds didn’t take me long and was relatively easy, BUT the temperature was already over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. After about 20 minutes of either bending over or squatting, I was done! It was as good as it was gonna get by me.

There’s still a couple of areas that could use a tad more attention, but those areas are on the side of the house and not as easily noticeable.

The heat was brutal and for a gal that doesn’t normally sweat (I merely glisten ūüėĀ), I was sweating like a pig and light-headed. (Do pigs actually sweat? Wherever did that phrase come from? ūüź∑)

But hey, it’s a dry heat…. seriously? … even an oven is a dry heat!!! Yeah, the desert can be a dangerous place. However, it did feel good to accomplish the yard work and have the yard looking more polished.

By the time our son got home from work, the water heater was replaced and the front yard was looking good. Logan was grateful beyond words, and some serious stress was lifted. After a successful and eventful day, an exhausted mom and dad headed back up the hill to Prescott at a higher elevation where temps were almost 20 degrees cooler.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Garden or Gardening – this weeks theme

Today I reflect on the yard work I did yesterday. I don’t miss it. Quite frankly, I don’t miss gardening either, but I do miss seeing a beautiful garden of flowers. That’s when it’s time for me to visit a Botanical Garden or Arboretum. I appreciate the labor of love that goes into the design and care of a garden.

For this weeks photo theme, let’s share images and/or tales of gardens or gardening. Do you have a favorite garden you’ve visited or do you enjoy the task of gardening? Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your post.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Perhaps you could use a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy ūü§ó share and connect!

Upcoming prompts –¬† Birds, Black & White, Reflections …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
 9 Piece Garden Tools Set
 White Ceramic Planter Set / Kitchen Herb Garden

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Flowers

I don’t know about you, but I love flowers. They bring a smile to my face, and have a way of brightening up my day.

flower gardens in Denver Colorado

Denver, Colorado

I used to enjoy gardening when we lived in a sticks and bricks home, but living a nomadic life isn’t conducive to gardening. So to fulfill my passion for flowers, I enjoy visiting public gardens of all kinds as well as seek out fields of wildflowers in nature wherever I can.

roses

Wandering Wednesday Photo inspiration

For this weeks photo inspiration, prompt, challenge, theme (still haven’t decided what to call this ūü§£) …. let’s share images of flowers.

Wandering Wednesday ….

Next weeks photo theme is – Patriotic and the following Wednesday will be – Food.¬†¬†Start searching through your archives or get out there and shoot. Let’s share and connect!

(affiliate links)
Garden Tools Set
Collapsible & Expandable Plastic Vase
Set of 3 Reusable Grocery Bags

A Zen of a Day

After a wonderful visit in the Chicago suburbs, it was time for us to move on.  The drive took about an hour and a half and put us closer to the Wisconsin border.  Shortly after our arrival, we met our new neighbor.

Rockford, Illinois

Trooper coming to check out that big white box near his barn.

We set up house¬†at¬†Al’s sister’s place, which is¬†located a few miles north of Rockford, Illinois, and less than ten miles from the Wisconsin line.¬† His sister owns a lovely seven acre piece of property complete with a beautiful home, large barn, some out buildings, plenty of room for us to park, and Trooper.

boondocking

Barn on the right and tack room/out building behind the truck.

The next ten days were filled with lots of visiting with sister(s)¬†– Al’s other sister lives nearby as well.¬† There was no shortage of food, drink,¬†or laughter.Japanese Tea GardenI did sneak off for a day, allowing the siblings the time to reminisce and me to have a little time to myself.¬† I called it my Zen day.Japanese Garden

With camera in hand, I set off for the Anderson Japanese Gardens.¬† One of the first lines used on their website says, “Inspires the mind and energizes the soul”.¬† Sounded perfect and exactly what I was¬†looking for to enjoy a Zen kind of day.Japanese Garden

The three essential elements used to create a Japanese garden are;
* stone = structure of the landscape
* water = represents life-giving force
* plants = provide the color and changes throughout the seasonJapanese Garden

Secondary elements include; lanterns, water basins, pagodas, arbors, and bridges.Japanese Garden

Japanese Gardens

The Founder and History:
Construction of Anderson Japanese Gardens began in 1978, when Rockford businessman John Anderson was inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. With the ongoing assistance of renowned Master Craftsman and designer Hoichi Kurisu, the Andersons’ swampy backyard along Rockford’s Spring Creek was transformed into a Japanese-style landscape. From groundbreaking to today, the placement of every rock, alignment of every tree, and layout of all paths has been made with careful consideration by Mr. Kurisu. In 1998, John and Linda Anderson donated the Gardens as a supported organization to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association. It now exists as a not-for-profit entity and continues to grow and change to this day.Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens are very carefully designed and patiently pruned according to aesthetic principles to create a work of natural art that inspires calm, renewal, discovery, and an invigorated soul.Japanese Gardens

I spent several¬†hours strolling the gardens and snapping lots of photographs.¬† I was a little disappointed that they don’t allow tripods, but with many of the trails narrow, I can understand why.Japanese Garden

However, that didn’t stop me from playing around with the shutter speed on my camera.¬† I was bound and determined to finally capture flowing water in a soft way.Japanese GardensThe slow shutter speed would¬†require me to stabilize the camera somehow.¬† With a little thought, I found boulders to¬†aid me¬†in my quest.¬†Japanese Garden

I set my camera on an uneven boulder with the strap securely wound around my wrist (having the camera topple into the water was not part of the plan).  I then set the 2 second timer and hoped for the best.Japanese GardenUnfortunately, without the assistance of a tripod the boulders dictated the angle of the composition.  Overall, it was fun experimenting with the different settings on my camera and using a neutral density filter for the first time.Japanese Garden

If it hadn’t been for the temperature approaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit with 80% plus humidity, I would’ve spent the entire day exploring every inch of this 12 acre Japanese Garden (which I may have done anyway).¬† Regardless of the August heat, it was still a¬†Zen of a day.Japanese Garden

Today was a good Day РWordPress Photo Challenge
Creating Your Own Japanese Garden
Kenroy Home Waterdrop Natural Slate Tabletop Fountain

From prairie to suburbia

After exploring waterfalls, cornfields, and indulging in root beer floats, it was time to leave the Illinois prairie and head into Chicago’s suburbs to visit family.IllinoisWe’re quickly reminded about the Illinois tollway.¬† With the two¬†additional axles on the¬†Fifth Wheel¬†(toll fee based on number of axels), our first toll was $7.50 and we only¬† used this stretch of road for about 10 miles.¬† (Thank you Hildi.¬† Once again¬†hubby listens to the GPS instead of¬†the wife.¬† Wife would’ve saved the¬†money by rerouting)¬† Oh well ūüôā¬† Before leaving Colorado, I¬†considered¬†purchasing¬†the Illinois I-Pass but didn’t think we’d use the tollway enough to make it cost effective, plus I had concerns there would be a mail delay and the darn thing would arrive at our daughters home after we hit the road.¬† Illinois I-Pass

Sycamore IllinoisHaving the I-Pass makes it very convenient since there’s no stopping involved.¬† You get to pass the toll plaza without slowing down as the little contraption is scanned through the windshield.¬† Also the cost of the toll in most cases is half price with the I-Pass.¬† And trust me, those tolls add up real quick.

Hildi has us exit¬†Interstate 88 shortly¬†after the toll plaza and takes us through some small towns.¬† It’s a fun drive.¬† Al nor I have driven through this part of Illinois in nearly twenty-five years.¬† With the exception of a little growth, much has remained the same.

We pulled into the Paul Wolff Campground with low expectations considering we were rather disappointed with the Starved Rock State Park Campground.¬† Wow, what a pleasant surprise.¬† There’s 89 paved sites with 50 amp electric and¬†10 primitive walk-in tent sites.¬† Water spigots are scattered precariously throughout the grounds.¬† We snagged a large pull-thru site with a water spigot nearby to hook up to.

Elgin Illinois

Paul Wolff Campground, Elgin, Illinois

The more popular RV loop offers shaded sites amongst a grove of large trees.¬† We chose¬†the open meadow loop to¬†optimize TV and internet reception.¬† This is a Kane County¬†run Forest Preserve and is maintained impeccably.¬† It’s located on the far¬†west side of the city of Elgin in northern Illinois.

Paul Wolff Campground

9 miles of trails meander through the Burnidge Forest Preserve/Paul Wolff Campground. This is one of the mowed meadow trails. I loved all the wildflowers.

I grew up east of Elgin, Illinois, and my dad still lives in the house where I¬†was raised.¬† Thus, the Paul Wolff Campground was a great find and the quick 15 mile drive to dad’s house made for lots of enjoyable visits.

gardening in Illinois

picking cucumbers and tomatoes with my dad in his garden

My dad’s house is within walking distance to the train station and usually¬†we never pass up at least one¬†sojourn into Chicago anytime we’re back in the area.¬†¬† The Metra train¬†even has a stop¬†near the campground; Big Timber Road.¬† After serious consideration, we took a pass on the day in the city opting to focus on family visits, especially since our son, Logan,¬†surprised everyone with¬†a visit.

Illinois farm stand

Logan and I visit the local farm stand to pick up dinner

Logan had flown to Chicago from Phoenix earlier in the week for a business trip and ended up extending his stay so he could spent some time with his Illinois relatives.  My dad was thrilled to see him, as were his aunts.

When it was time for¬†Al and I¬†to drop Logan off at O’Hare Airport, I did the driving.¬† I was a little nervous driving the big truck¬†through congested traffic, especially at Chicago’s O’Hare.¬† When I lived in the area years ago, I always had little cars.¬†I managed the big truck just fine, but was relieved to¬†get that drive out of the way.¬† We encountered stop and go traffic, insane¬†road construction,¬†heavy congestion, and mean pointing police officers at the airport, and of course tolls.

Al and I decided it was best I drive since this was my old stomping grounds and I know the roads better than he does.¬† Hubby doesn’t like it when I give him directions (aka –¬†tell him how to drive).¬† Hildi (the GPS mistress) can tell him how to drive, Ingrid (the wife) cannot.¬† Must be that marital thing!

Next up, we move over to Al’s sister’s place……

Gardening

88 year old Dad says, “Oh no. What happened to my flowers?” In the foreground, you’ll notice the weight of the blooms toppled the limbs. With a little attention, they’ll be upright in no time.

Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles

Dale Chihuly in Denver

As I continued to do more and more research on things to see and do in Denver, Colorado, I came across the Denver Botanic Garden  website and realized they were featuring a Chihuly exhibit.Chihully in Denver

You can’t imagine how excited I became upon this discovery.¬† When we were in Phoenix this past winter, I had every intention of visiting the Chihuly exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens.¬† However, my body due to illness had other plans and thus I had to forgo the exhibition.Denver Botanic GardenSo here I am, months later sitting in Denver, and I get to see first hand this gifted artists’ creations.¬†Chihuly blown glass

I was shocked by how many pieces of blown glass were strategically placed throughout the gardens.  The Denver Botanic Garden in and of itself is worth a visit and then add to it the Chihuly blown glass exhibit and this becomes a must see.Chihuly blown glass

Ah, but to entice you further….. the first Monday of the month is free admittance day to the Denver Botanic Garden.¬† Chihuly, flowers, and free?¬†¬† Yes, I was one happy camper ūüôāDenver Botanic Garden

It’s obvious to me that Mr. Chihuly modeled the below¬†glass sculptures after me and my curly hair.¬† Amazing likeness!Chihully in Denver Colorado

Chihully in Denver ColoradoI enjoyed myself so much that I may need to revisit and won’t even mind paying an admittance fee….. it is most definitely worth it.flowers and bees

I leave you with a few more photos of my day.¬† You can never be too rich, too thin, or¬†have too many photos….. eh!Denver Botanic GardenDenver Botanic GardenChihuly glass blowing
Denver Botanic Garden
gardening and art in Denver Colorado
Denver Botanic Garden

Chihuly 2015 Wall Calendar
gc_183444_2 Florene – Decorative II – print of famous chihuly glass art in red – Greeting Cards-12 Greeting Cards with envelopes

A Field of Roses

As the calendar is¬†about to flip to another year, I find myself once again traveling on the road with spotty internet service.¬† Mind you, no complaints on my end, it’s just the kind of New Year’s post I had in mind will need to be postponed.¬† For now, I’m focused on where we intend to park for the night and the weather.

Since it’s cold, rainy, and in some places snowing, I thought I’d share images that look more like summer than winter.¬† I know, hard to think about rose bushes being harvested in December, but that’s the desert southwest for you………

Now that I had witnessed the harvesting of cotton, I had hoped to have similar luck with the harvesting of the rose bushes.  With each necessary or unnecessary visit to a nearby store, I glanced across the rose fields in hopes of seeing the equipment used for the plucking of these beautiful flowers.  rose petals

As I repeatedly drove past the fields, a barren field of tilled land caught my attention. I was intrigued by the color.  There was a reddish hue almost mirage like to the barren field that was once graced with rose bushes.  Unfortunately, I missed the actual harvesting of these plants.  I wondered, could that reddish hue be new growth?  Had the field already been replanted?  Since it looked merely tilled, I doubted anything new was growing.

With one eye kept on the road (I am driving after all), I struggled to make out what was causing that reddish tint.  My curiosity was getting the better of me and my destination was no longer of importance, thus I turned my little red truck around in search of a place to park.  I felt compelled to examine this field a little closer.roses

In an attempt to respect the “no trespassing” signs, I¬†walked as close as I felt comfortable to discover what was behind the effects of the mirage……. Rose Petals!….oh my gosh…. the field was covered in rows of pink and red rose petals.¬† Oh, how I wanted to get closer, but that would have required jumping over a small concrete irrigation ditch AND trespassing.

Not easily deterred by signs or rules, it was the jumping over the irrigation ditch that caused me to pause.¬† I assessed the distance and my agile jumping abilities.¬† It was¬†then that¬†I heard the voices in my head…..¬† “Mr. H, this is the Maricopa County Sheriff’s department.¬† Your wife ……..”rose harvestingOk then….¬†I shook my¬†head as if to clear the imaginary voices and images in my mind, then quickly returned to the truck and headed down the road to check on another rose field.¬† Hum, no equipment anywhere in sight, but it was obvious several rows of rose bushes¬†had been removed.¬† It appeared, the rose bushes were being harvested by color.

Although my¬†time in Phoenix, Arizona,¬†has come to an end, the images of roses continue to make me smile.¬† The images of the cotton fields continue to intrigue me.¬† I wonder where this fascination stems from.¬†¬† Was I a farmer in a past life?¬† Nah, I think not.¬† I am merely an appreciative recipient¬†of¬†the plants¬†bounty¬†ūüôā

fields of rosesAll photos were taken  in mid-December!  Camera used;
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47K 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 24xOptical Zoom – Black