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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Stunning Beauty at Zion National Park

Although the sun hadn’t risen yet, it was no longer pitch dark in the tent. As I breathed in the crisp cold air, I was reminded of the inclement weather the day before. ¬†With each exhale, I could see my breath. ¬†Yeah, it was cold.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Yesterday was a mixed bag of interesting weather at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes.

I glanced over to my left.  Ashton was totally cocooned in her sleeping bag and still sound asleep. How we managed to fall asleep with the tent whipping about in the severe wind while being pelted with sleet and snow remains a mystery to me.  But we slept great.

Tenting in snowI quietly grabbed my toiletry bag, a towel, change of clothes, and quickly walked down the road to the restroom.

The moment I stepped into the building I breathed a sigh of relief …. heat, glorious heat …. a reprieve from the below freezing temperature. The restroom was heated and offered warm water. ¬†Aaaaahhhhh!

I slowly got ready for the day, and when I returned to the tent Ashton was awake. Now it was her turn to get ready, and while she did that, I headed back over to the dunes with the camera.

Coral Pink Sand dunes

“Come on mom. We gotta get going!”

I could’ve spent hours with the camera exploring the sand dunes, but we both knew we needed to hurry and get to Zion National Park as soon as possible. ¬†We didn’t have a campsite reservation and were keeping our fingers crossed that we’d be able to snag a first come, first serve campsite at the South Campground. ¬†It was imperative we join the line as soon as we could. ¬†The earlier, the better!

Zion National Park

We entered Zion National Park via the east entrance

Zion National Park

Waiting patiently for a campsite at the first come, first serve South Campground. We waited in line for over 2 hours, which wasn’t bad from what we hear ūüė≤

We arrived at the South Campground in Zion National Park about 8:30 a.m. to a long line of cars and small RV’s all waiting for a campsite. ¬†Yeah, we realized we were already late to the game. It wasn’t looking good for us. Check out time was 11:00 which meant it’d be just a matter of time before we’d find out if we were one of the lucky ones to get a site. ¬†As soon as a campsite was vacated, the camp hosts quickly assigned the site to the next camper in line. It was sheer craziness!

Right about 11:00, we were given a site. Yippee! Our new friends in the small Class C motorhome behind us also managed to get a site.  We were some of the last ones to snag sites and felt incredibly lucky.

South Campground Zion National Park

Our campsite in Zion National Park

Ashton and I quickly set up camp and started fixing lunch. Remember, we’d been planning¬†this trip for several weeks which also included meal planning and prepping. No going out to eat for these gals!Coleman Camp StoveGrilled chicken

With tummies full, we were ready to explore Zion National Park. From our campsite, we walked over to the visitor center and caught the shuttle. The shuttle system here is awesome, and at this time of the year, it’s the only option to enter the national park.

We stayed on the shuttle until it reached the end of the line at the end of the canyon; Temple of Sinawava stop. The half hour drive allowed us to get an overview of the national park so we could prioritize what we wanted to explore.

Shuttle in Zion National Park

Ashton admiring the views from the comfort of the shuttle. Great shuttle system in Zion National Park.

The end of the canyon or rather stop #9 Temple of Sinawava is the gateway to the famous Narrows¬†hiking trail, which isn’t a trail per se as much as it is a hike through water. ¬†The ‘trail’ was actually closed during our visit due to high fast waters from snow melt. It wasn’t a hike of Riverside Walk Zion National Parkinterest to Ashton and me anyway, but we did have a curiosity and therefore decided to hike the Riverside Walk trail¬†which leads to the beginning of¬†The Narrows.

The paved Riverside Walk is rated as easy and according to the park info is 2.2 miles round trip (3.5 km) and should take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.

This is a great hike for anyone including families with small children, elderly, and most of the trail is handicap accessible.

We were pleasantly surprised as to how much we enjoyed this hike. It was the perfect first trail easing us into the stunning beauty of Zion … not that we needed any easing!

The Narrows Zion National Park

Ashton views the start of The Narrows trail – yes the trail is THROUGH the water!

hanging garden Zion National Park

Ashton photographing the hanging garden.

We were fascinated by the ‘hanging gardens’ … a sight we’ve never seen or even heard of before. Water seeping out of the rock sandstone creates a wonderfully lush garden filled with ferns, wildflowers, and mosses. Water was slowly cascading in small streams, sometimes dribbles, and occasionally it looked like miniature waterfalls … all on the the side of a huge rock wall.

hanging garden Zion National Park

Ashton admiring the hanging garden – Zion National Park – Riverside Walk

hanging garden Zion National Park

Unbeknownst to us, Zion National Park is famous for these weeping walls and hanging gardens. Unfortunately, our photographic images did not capture the dripping water. Suffice it to say, we found the steady streams of water and lush vegetation intriguing and beautiful. It captivated our attention and kept our cameras working. No wonder they say the hike can take one to two hours.

Riverside Walk Zion

The Riverside Walk offered plenty of entertainment and stimulation

After admiring the hanging garden and trying our best to capture its essence, it was time to stroll over to the bank of the Virgin River. ¬†All that looking up was putting a crimp in our necks ūüėĄ

Virgin River Zion

Ashton photographing me, photographing her along the Virgin River

As we meandered back to the shuttle stop, we couldn’t help stopping several more times just to take in our surroundings. We were in awe! We were hiking in a gorge with Navajo sandstone rock rising skyward. On one side of the trail we were kept amused by the weeping, vegetated rock and on the other side we were admiring the rushing Virgin River.Zion National Park

Our senses were on overload and this was just the beginning. Time to stop at the Zion Lodge for a cup of coffee and then we’re off to hike the Emerald Pools…..

Coleman Camp Propane Grill/Stove

Gals & Guys

While hanging¬†at the EXPO, the four of us discussed getting together one more time before Linda and Mike hit the road.¬† They were off to explore parts of northern Arizona while Al and I were extending our time in Phoenix just a little longer to help our son with some projects on his house.Phoenix Botanical GardenAlthough the EXPO provided the guys with¬†shooting opportunity, it was just enough shooting to wet Al and Mike’s appetite.¬† As I listened to the two guys conversing, much of the language was lost on me as I’m not necessarily a fan of guns.¬† Thus, the conversation sounded more like, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours”.¬† Ah yes, boys and their toys.

sporting clays

the guys get ready to shoot sporting clays – safety first.

Mike is more of a pistol shooter while Al is predominantly a shotgunner.  The previous week the guys, along with their sons, spent time at the Pistol Range at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility allowing Mike to share all his toys with Al.  Now it was time for Al to share his toys.  Plans were quickly forged for Al to introduce Mike to Sporting Clays.

Wanting Mike’s first experience to be a fun one, Al arranged to have a large, slow-moving target brought in.hot air balloons“Aim for the smiley face, Mike”.¬† In all seriousness, I’m not sure what the balloonist was thinking landing in the middle of a clay target shooting range.¬† In the photo above, you can see to the left of the picnic table is shooting station number 13.

Ben Avery shooting range

Staff members were quick to approach the balloon.

sporting clays

balloon lands in the center of a clay target shooting range

Since this occurred prior to 7:00 a.m., no shooters were on the line just yet as shooting doesn’t start until seven.¬†¬†Staff quickly informs the balloonist that it was not ok to land.¬† After some conversing and laughing the pilot fired off the burner and off they went for a safer spot to land.hot air balloons

I’m sure it was an exciting morning for everyone.¬† Oh well, Mike and Al will just have to aim at the little black disc in the air.

The guys of course had a great time shooting, but Linda and I were more interested in seeing the desert flowers.  After all, spring in the desert is beautiful and not to be missed.  Thus, the two of us were off to the Desert Botanical Gardens.

Phoenix Botanical Garden

Me¬†and Linda crushing maze as we tour the “plants & people of the Sonoran Desert” loop

Phoenix Botanical Garden

We match!

This was our second attempt to visit the Botanical Garden.¬† The winds kept us away the first time, and although we missed the peak of the wildflowers, the weather was perfect; sunny, in the upper 70’s/low 80’s, with a gentle breeze.

Phoenix Botanical GardenWe were excited to see all the cactus just beginning to bloom including the saguaro. The saguaro cactus are late spring bloomers, but seem to bloom a little earlier at the Desert Botanical Garden than in the wild.Phoenix Garden

Phoenix GardenSitting on 140 acres, the Botanical Garden is a museum of living plants with more than 50,000 in its collection.

There’s five main loops, each focusing on a variety of plants; wildflower loop, desert discovery, herb garden, nature loop, and plants & people loop.

There’s additional exhibits including a butterfly pavilion.¬† It’s a beautiful botanical garden as¬†seen in¬†the photos.

 

It was a great day for both the guys¬†and the gals ūüôā

Plants of Arizona (Falcon Guides)
Sloggers 442DB01 Women’s Wide Brim Braided Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard – Dark Brown – Rated UPF 50+ Maximum Sun Protection

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