Fun fact – in the U.S. Saguaro cactus only grows in southern Arizona.
Our friend Patty took these photos in Tucson, Arizona. Since all we have is snow in Wisconsin, I thought I would share these sunny warm pictures.
Fun fact – in the U.S. Saguaro cactus only grows in southern Arizona.
merry christmas from Amsterdam
My son Shawn was in The Netherlands last week. Here are the Christmas decorations at one of the oldest cafés in Amsterdam.
First photo: A view of the city from the top of Edinburgh Castle
Here is a blog I found in my files that I never posted-this is a departure from my flower topics for a change!
When I visited Edinburgh, the city was beyond crazy busy! The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was in full swing. Every August, for three weeks, the city of Edinburgh welcomes artists from around the world. From big names to unknowns looking to build their careers, the festival includes theater, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions, and events. The performers are scattered throughout the entire city. This made for some interesting people-watching.
The historic Edinburgh Castle was also a very memorable experience. A castle has been on this location since the 12th Century, built on volcanic rock. (A photo of the castle on the rock shown below.) It is the UK's second most-visited paid tourist attraction. I was fortunate to attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo performance on the castle esplanade in beautiful weather (people at the previous night's performance sat in pouring rain). There were 8,000+ spectators in attendance from dozens of countries on the evening I was there. The performance was amazing! I had never seen anything quite like this before. The sound of over a hundred bagpipes playing together will always stay with me.
A typical Edinburgh street. Note the soot-covered buildings. Most of Edinburgh's classic Gothic and Georgian buildings remain coated in a black residue from the industrial revolution. An attempt was made to clean the buildings, but cleaning them did additional damage to the brickwork, so the effort was abandoned.
Jedburgh Abbey, the ruins of an Augustinian abbey which was founded in the 12th century, located on the Scottish borders, about 10 miles north of England.
A 1920 anchor from the Russian cruiser Varyag at Lendalfoot, Ayrshire, Scotland
two online daylily databases
Believe it or not, as of today there are 95,107 daylilies registered in the American Daylily Society database. This is the official registry site of daylilies. I use this database if I need information about a specific plant or hybridizer, all the details are right at my fingertips. Advanced search capabilities are available to save you time. Before I put plants on my wish list, I always verify the details here to make sure they are what I want. Plus I love seeing all the creative daylily names the hybridizers come up with! Check out the American Daylily Society database: https://daylilies.org/DaylilyDB/
The second database I use is The National Gardening Association. There are 174,193 images of daylilies in this database.
What I like about this database:
rain or shine - don't miss this!
Wisconsin Daylily Society (WDS) Annual Sale
Saturday, August 21 - 10:00am-4:00 pm
Sunday, August 22 - 11:00 am-3:00 pm
This is THE largest daylily sale in the nation. There will be more than 700 DIFFERENT cultivars, which means an abundance of individual daylily plants for sale. The prices are reasonable and you get a free daylily with your purchase! All plants are bare-root, hardy and Wisconsin grown. A portion of the proceeds benefit a Wisconsin nonprofit with a horticultural mission. If you love daylilies, this is the event for you - don't miss it!
The list of available daylilies will be posted on the website link below sometime after August 15th.
Daylilies pictured were all purchased at this sale:
Top L-R 'Man of Sorrows,' and 'Heavenly Angel Ice'
Bottom L-R 'Black Falcon Ritual,' and 'Waxed Legs'
the lily auction
As a daylily lover, if you haven't heard about the Lily Auction you should explore this website. What a fun place to buy a wish list daylily. It's a treasure hunt; a website that you can browse every week to see what new cultivars have been posted for sale.
I have had good experiences purchasing daylilies on this site. Registered daylilies are available in a variety of price ranges so that anyone can take part, no matter what their income level is. You can buy daylily seeds, which are an excellent way to get fancy genetics from plants you could never afford otherwise. In addition, you can find daylily seedlings, garden tools, hostas, and iris. Plus you can get in on the excitement of bidding at an auction!
Here's the 411, directly from the Lily Auction home page:
Our Mission since 1995 is to bring Buyers and Sellers together in a friendly forum where everyone can interact while benefiting from the cutting-edge work of dedicated daylily hybridizers. We have a growing membership of over 14,000 friendly folks and, unlike buying and selling on social media sites, the Lily Auction keeps an easily accessed and well organized record of your sales, which can be searched and sorted in various ways.
Check it out and get busy!
Daylily pictured: Bass Gibson...and yep, I bought it on the Lily Auction.
thatched roof homes
I always wanted to see the rolling hills of the Cotswolds in south central and southeast England. When I finally visited, the Cotswolds did not disappoint...the scenery was bucolic, with medieval fairy tale towns from centuries past and cottages built with the yellow-gold limestone of the region.
The thatched roofs in particular fascinated me. I had never seen them other than in photos, or nostalgic Thomas Kinkade paintings. Many thatched-roof homes are remnants of the 19th century or they even go as far back as the 16th century. There are approximately 60,000 thatched roofs in the UK. When a roof has been professionally thatched, it should last between 40 and 50 years. The roof ridge, however, has to be replaced roughly every eight to ten years. I took some close-up roof photos so you can see the layers of straw in the thatching and the chicken wire mesh covering the top. The chicken wire is used to discourage mice, squirrels and birds (especially crows) from eating, destroying, or flying off with the straw. So interesting!
Stratford-upon-Avon is a quaint medieval town in England's West Midlands. Stratford-upon-Avon was founded by the Saxons when they invaded what is now Warwickshire in the 7th century AD. In the late 12th century it was transformed into a town.
While in Stratford-upon-Avon, I visited the 16th century home of Shakespeare managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Although the garden re-creations were not done to current standards of historical accuracy, I still enjoyed them. I found the huge holly bushes particularly beautiful. They clearly thrived in the English climate.
I also enjoyed spending a leisurely afternoon exploring the unique shops in town, seeing all the Tudor houses, and watching the boats lazily float down the River Avon.
salisbury plain, england
The iconic Stonehenge either speaks to you or it doesn't. I thought it was awesome -- very eerie and mystical. I enjoyed walking around the perimeter and seeing Stonehenge from all the different vantage points. It has a history dating back 4,500 years! You can't help but wonder what stories these stones could tell over all those years.
Read more about Stonehenge: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/
In Ireland, the people were so friendly and welcoming wherever we went. In addition to traveling through the lush, emerald-green countryside, we visited Waterford, Ireland's oldest city, where the Vikings played a prominent role (see the photo of a restored Viking ship), Jerpoint Park where we saw 12th Century remains from the Lost Town of Newtown Jerpoint, Kilkenny Castle (built in 1195), and the capital and largest city, Dublin.
Everyone told us that the Guinness Storehouse was the place to go in Dublin. That's me relaxing in the Gravity Bar with a 360 degree view of Dublin in the background. The displays on the various floors of the Storehouse were cutting-edge and thoroughly engaged all of your senses. The clock photo below is just one example.
The Glasnevin Cemetery tour in Dublin was surprisingly one of my favorites. The cemetery is 124 acres in size with 1.5 million interments. Our guide was a knowledgeable, animated high school history teacher whose love of Irish history was infectious. It was mind-boggling to see literally thousands and thousands of beautiful, intricately crafted monuments from centuries past. There were cherubs, angels, statues, and Celtic designs for as far as you could see. Just wow...
And what would a trip to Ireland be like without hearing traditional Irish music and watching Irish dancing? We spent an entertaining evening at the Merry Ploughboy Pub in Dublin -- a great time with wonderful music, dancing, and delicious food and drink.
Cardiff is a seaside city in southeast Wales in the UK. Not only is Cardiff the largest city, but it is also the capital of Wales. Several building construction projects were going on in Cardiff during my visit, so the cityscape is in flux.
I had never eaten breakfast in a castle -- well, cross that off my list! I enjoyed a traditional Welsh breakfast in Cardiff Castle while listening to melodic harp and guitar music in addition to Welsh folk songs. I also toured the medieval Gothic Cardiff Castle complex that was built in the 11th century. My second photo shows the 'arrow-loops' or 'arrow-slits' in the castle. They are narrow openings or crosses set inside walls and towers enabling defenders to launch arrows at potential invaders or attackers. It's hard to wrap your head around that concept in 2019...
Cardiff Castle is rented out for parties, weddings and even as a filming location, in addition to the tour revenue. This helps defray the cost of castle upkeep. So I guess you'd call it a "working" castle.
The last photo is of the Cardiff waterfront. While at Cardiff Bay I also saw the Senedd - the National Assembly for Wales, the Wales Millennium Centre, and the Pierhead Building. A carnival was in full-swing at the waterfront, so there was music and activity well into the evening.
belfast, northern ireland
As I crossed the border from Ireland into Northern Ireland my first thought was how much the beautiful rural scenery reminded me of western Wisconsin, but once in the populated areas the country had a flavor all its own.
Titanic Belfast (pictured above) opened in 2012 as a tribute to Belfast's maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city's Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built. (The RMS stands for Royal Mail Steamer/Royal Merchant Ship.) Also noteworthy is that filming of Game of Thrones seasons 1-7 took place in Northern Ireland including the Titanic Studios in Belfast.
What I found most interesting were the painted murals on Belfast's 'Peace Walls.' The Peace Walls are located in what was once an area of violent conflict decades ago (The Troubles). The murals are definitely a walk through the history of this city. Recently painted murals are more graffiti-based and convey a message of peace. I posted just a few for you to see, in addition to some city photos.
Visiting London had always been one of my dreams. What I loved the most about London was the diversity. It was not unusual to hear five or six different languages in a matter of minutes while out walking. I enjoyed a conversation with our Iranian Uber driver and hearing his story. And it was fun taking a photo of a family on the London Eye and having them take our photo despite the fact that we didn't totally understand each other's language.
Along with the diversity came a great variety of ethnic restaurants to experience. I ate, for the first time, at a Lebanese restaurant (loved it). Traditional breakfast buffets in the UK always included trays of sausages, mushrooms, baked tomatoes, and baked beans--regular and barbecue! This, in addition to, porridge, eggs, crumpets, scones, fresh breads, croissants, muffins, a variety of granola, clotted cream, jams/marmalade, and several cheeses. Believe me when I say eating breakfast each day was awesome. Coffee was WAY stronger in the UK than in the US. There was a little water-adding going on at first, but after a week or so, not so much :)
What was hard to get used to in London was the insane amount of traffic! You better pay attention, because Londoners don't dally around. It was disconcerting to have four lanes of fast, congested traffic (driving on the opposite side of the road than in the US) and seeing bicycles and motorcycles whiz by *in between* the four lanes of traffic. Not to mention cars jumping the curbs to cut in front of each other. "Mama Mia!" to quote our Italian driver as he yelled and gestured out the car window on the way from Heathrow Airport. With 8+ million people, intense traffic is expected, but if I had to drive in London on a daily basis I'm pretty sure I would need anxiety meds.
While in London a few of the landmarks we saw included London Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, Kensington Gardens, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, and Hyde Park. We also took a Thames River cruise to see Tower Bridge and toured the Tower of London, in addition to visiting a few pubs. London is a contrasting mix of contemporary modern architecture alongside of historic buildings from centuries past.
Photos: The London landscape of the Thames River taken from the top of the London Eye, a pub that served fish and chips, the doorway of a pasta/pizza restaurant, me on the London Eye, the Tower of London, a British Royal Guard, and Tower Bridge.
shuffling the deck
It's that time of year...time to shuffle daylilies around my yard, while deciding what will stay and what will go. To complicate matters, last weekend I purchased more daylilies at the Wisconsin Daylily Society Sale in Madison. Their annual sale is one of the premier daylily events, not only in the state of Wisconsin, but in the entire nation. This year my friend Sally joined Ange and I so she could experience the adrenaline rush of being in the huge tent, surrounded by 700+ different daylily cultivars. You have to fill what is on your list and make some quick decisions, because there are dozens of other daylily addicts on the exact same frenzied mission that you are. Plants disappear fast! And yes, time definitely stands still while you are rushing around the tent grappling for daylilies.
This year the sale was held at Olbrich Park, right next to scenic Lake Monona and the weather was absolutely perfect. I bought some plants that were on my long-standing wish list and got some for friends and family, as well. Sally purchased some super daylilies for herself, her mom, and her sister who are also daylily aficionados. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at "Monty's Blue Plate Diner," one of our favorite places to eat when in Madison--it's a renovated gas station. And we managed to squeeze in a visit to "Penzey's" which is nearby East Towne Mall. This was Christmas in August!
All told, the three of us had a most awesome day. More please :)
Wisconsin Daylily Society
Monty's Blue Plate Diner
Recently I visited Sunset Gardens in Galesville, WI. What a fun place to go! They have absolutely anything and everything garden related: annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, whimsy, plus they offer landscaping and floral services. I'll let the photos do the talking.
After visiting Sunset Gardens, Ange and I enjoyed breakfast at The Garden of Eatin' cafe in the Galesville town square. I'm pretty sure this is only place around where you can eat a great breakfast while listening to Led Zeppelin -- and how perfect is that?
Visit Sunset Gardens website: http://www.sunsetgardensgreenhouse.com/
Visit the Garden of Eatin' website: http://gardenofeatinwi.com/
visiting springwood gardens
Last July Ange and I had the opportunity to visit Karol Emmerich's Springwood Gardens, just outside of Minneapolis. For those of you who don't live in the daylily world, Karol is a cutting-edge, world-renowned daylily hybridizer who recently won the prestigious 2018 Stout Silver Medal Award for her cultivar "Entwined in the Vine."
Upon arrival my head was on a swivel, not knowing which direction to look first. The daylilies were just three days past peak so there was riotous bloom everywhere. Karol's gardens are definitely an adrenaline rush for anyone who loves daylilies. The gardens are so tastefully designed with numerous walkways to enjoy the never ending daylilies, companion plants, landscaping, and scenic vistas. Although my photos convey the beautiful scenery and flowers, they cannot begin to recreate the true scope and feeling of what you experience in real life.
Karol was a very gracious host and we were fortunate to be the only visitors on the day we came. It was interesting to learn about the rigorous process of culling 'good' plants and growing on only the 'great' plants that adhere to her high set of standards. She keeps sections of first year, second year and third year seedlings to evaluate. Plants that successfully make it through third year evaluation continue to be grown in clumps to see how they fare over the test of time. Of the thousands of seedlings Karol grows, only a select few make it to the finish line for registration each year.
Of course I had to purchase a memento of my visit. A division of "Deliverer" (pictured below) is now happily planted in my garden. And finally, you have to appreciate how memorable this visit was, when as we were leaving, Ange (who is not the flower child in this family) exclaimed, "Wow! I'm glad we came here. This was really something to see!" I think his statement says it all.
Be sure to check out Springwood Gardens' website: www.springwoodgardens.com
My photos are only a teaser compared to what you can find here. Learn about the dream that started Springwood Gardens, the historic house and property, the huge renovation, building the gardens and greenhouse, and you can check out all of Karol's gorgeous daylily introductions and seedlings that may be future introductions. Your wish list will grow larger--guaranteed. I know mine did!
Photos below: The registered daylilies have names by their photos. The ones without names are either seedlings, or I did not take note of their name.
On a recent visit to Minneapolis I experienced the winding streets of Tangletown. It’s one of the few neighborhoods that does not conform to the regular street grid and has a very different feel than the rest of the city. The southwest Minneapolis streets are arranged willy-nilly, which is how it got the name Tangletown. While I was in the neighborhood I visited Tangletown Gardens. There's no way I could miss that!
Tangletown Gardens is just as unique as the neighborhood in which it resides. What a fun place to visit! It's an oasis right in the middle of the city. There are both indoor and outdoor areas to explore. Live music was playing next door and food and beverages were being served, which added to the ambiance. If you're ever in the area, give Tangletown Gardens a look-see.
I’ll let a few of my photos tell the story…
jung garden center
I have fond memories of paging through Jung garden catalogs when they were mailed to our home. I always kept the catalogs because they had good plant information and attractive photos to refer to until the next catalog arrived. Even though all the information is online now, I still sometimes miss having the actual catalog in my hands.
Recently Ange and I had some business to take care of in Stevens Point, WI. On the way to our destination we almost drove right past the Jung Gardening Center -- bigger than life! WHOA, stop the car! We (or more correctly I) had to take a closer look. This was my first garden center experience of 2018 and it certainly amped up my excitement for warmer weather.
It was fun walking around, taking my time to check out all the gardening items. Jung's have an amazing display of hundreds of different seed varieties, in addition to just about anything and everything 'garden' you can possibly think of. The staff at Jung's are well on the way to having the shelves fully stocked for the spring rush of customers. I can only imagine how the Center will look once all the annuals and perennials arrive. It will be total sensory overload in a most incredible way! Is this the best time of year, or what?
my latest obsession
I've been kind of obsessed with lupines lately. And there is (of course) a story:
At my office, Vonnie is the resident plant whisperer. She has this mystical ability to convince ANY plant to grow and thrive, be it inside or out. She created a perennial garden by the front office entrance to greet visitors with bright colors and greenery. In this garden Vonnie planted some beautiful hybrid lupines. I have watched these plants grow and bloom like crazy. One of them has blooms that remind me of candy corn! If the spent blooms are cut off, they keep on blooming for well over a month. Lupines do not like hot temperatures and grow best in northern climates. They are toxic if ingested and may cause some discomfort, but I seriously doubt that any office visitors will feel the need to eat these beauties. Lupines do best in soil that is not amended and, well, kind of crappy. Isn't that every gardener's dream? Another plus is the early bloom in a spring garden where not much else is going on.
Lupines have never been on my radar -- until now. I decided that I *needed* a hybrid lupine of my own. So over lunch hour last week, I bought one to try out. I went with the two-tone lemon variety named 'Gallery Yellow.' And I may have to (gasp) move a daylily for it to have a spot.
In addition to the beautiful hybrid lupines, there are also wild lupines. Every year in Mercer, Wisconsin there is an annual Lupine Junefest to celebrate the lupine bloom. Mercer is in northern Wisconsin - not too far from the upper peninsula of Michigan. I know about this Festival only because I have friends who rented a cabin to go fishing in Mercer during that time. Here is a photo they took last year at a random roadside with an iPhone. They said that many roadsides in the vicinity of Mercer look just like this -- lupines as far as you can see. Amazing!
trail's end in amish country
Road trip! And you can probably tell from the first photo what I liked the best. Ange and I drove down Highway 33 towards Ontario, WI, right through Amish country. I bet we passed by 20-30 Amish farms. It was a gorgeous spring day and many farmers and horses were out plowing the fields. Quite a few carriages were on the highway, as well.
Our destination was Trail's End, which is an Amish-owned salvage yard and farm. (I have heard it referred to as "the Amish Wal-Mart.") It is located a mile or two before you get to Ontario on Little Ridge Road. Ange and I were looking for some cast iron antique parts to re-purpose a TV stand. Upon arrival we were overwhelmed with the sheer volume of STUFF. And it was everywhere. We literally didn't know which way to go first. There were even semi trailers parked in the fields that were filled with junk! Believe me when I say we have never seen *anything* quite like this.
I asked the Amish gentleman who owns the place where all the stuff came from. He said he has friends who just drop the junk off when they no longer need it. It's a win-win. His friends get rid of their junk and he sells it. And sell it he does...there was a steady stream of buyers. We came home with the back of our SUV filled with salvage. Ange's 'To-Do' list just grew larger.
What a great place to find antique whimsy for your flower garden! There were dozens of plows, milk cans, cider presses, sausage stuffers, pulleys, planters, an assortment of wheels, and every garden tool under the sun. I bought an antique cast iron 'rotary tiller sunflower spike wheel' (pictured) to put in my daylily garden. Ange is going to mount it on a cast-iron pole for me. We thought the prices were very reasonable.
Ange and I enjoyed four hours of unadulterated FUN climbing over piles and piles of junk and making discoveries. Even after four hours, we didn't see it all. I'm confident in saying that we'll be going back in the future!
if it's about
my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!