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!

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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