As many of you know, late last summer I moved to a new home. The thought of starting the gardens over was overwhelming, But luckily for me, one of the things that I loved most about the new place was the potential that I saw in the landscape. I wasn’t going to have to start from scratch again, but I certainly knew that I would need to make it my own. It just needed a bit of garden restyling. You can imagine my surprise at our final walkthrough when I discovered that the previous owners stopped watering as soon as we signed the purchase and sale agreement. When we moved in everything, and I mean everything, had dried up. Plants were dead and the earth was a giant dust bowl. I prayed that everything was just dormant and would return come spring.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to visit the 2017 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. I was thrilled at the opportunity to return again and was very impressed with how much the festival has grown in the past couple of years. The thing that I love most about this festival is how inspiring it is to the backyard gardener. The festival is filled with gardening ideas that are as fun to look at as they are practical. From backyard chickens, bees, growing food and their stunning topiaries, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite scenes from this year’s 24th festival.
Earlier this year, my family and I traveled to Hawaii. One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens. This Hawaiian tropical garden was a hidden gem, that we discovered on the Big Island of Hawaii. I had no idea what to expect, nor did my family. My family indulged me a bit as we purchased our tickets. From the outside entrance, it seems as though we would only be exploring for a few moments. Three hours later, we had to pull ourselves from the beauty and awe. In the gardens alone, we took over 200 photos. From the landscape, grounds, orchids, unique tropical plantings and the crashing ocean, we were in awe. I am so thrilled to be able to share this experience with you.
It was about a 40 minute trip up to Moss Mountain Farm from Little Rock, Arkansas. As we headed up the mountain, we were struck with the natural beauty that surrounded us. P. Allen Smith narrated this area’s rich history as the bus churned up the mountain toward the elegant and simple gate house guarding the entry to Moss Mountain Farm. As we neared the farmhouse, I was struck by the beauty of this amazing Sister Oak tree. For over 300 years, she has seen, heard and witnessed rural farm life on this mountain and now 300 years later she was here to greet me too. We gathered under this oak for the start of our Moss Mountain Farm Gardens tour.
Last week my travels found me presenting at the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville, NC. It was a place that I had never ventured to, so I was thrilled to take in the city of Asheville and a “little” place called the Biltmore that I had heard so many amazing things about. The estate was built by the Vanderbilt family and it is the largest house in the United States. I toured the inside. It took me a few hours to meander through all the bedrooms, bathrooms, sitting rooms, dining room, bowling alley, and even indoor swimming pool. It was amazing. I would definitely recommend paying the extra few dollars for the audio self guided tour. However, what was even more thrilling to me was spending some time outside in the Biltmore’s gardens. Spring had begun to spring here and I wanted to explore and imagine what life was like living here. One thing was sure, you could definitely get lost in a good way. Without the use of modern technology in those days, it would be easy to hide away in many secret places on the estate.
The Nor’easter lasted over 24 hours. It began Monday afternoon and finally let up on Wednesday morning. After 60 mph wind gusts with white out conditions, we were able to finally get outside to assess the damage. We all had cabin fever at that point and wanted to make sure that everyone weathered the storm. First up was the chicken coop. I started up the snowblower and began to clear a path. We shoveled out the smaller path to the coop.
Happy New Year friends. I am so excited to share that I have been working with the HGTV Dream Home 2015. Located on Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod, this home is simply stunning. From the home, gorgeous views, landscaping, and more, I am joining three other bloggers to share this fantastic home and surrounding gardens. Click here for the scoop and don’t forget to enter for your chance to win this dream home.
Photo Credit: HGTV Dream Home 2015
|Plant containers full of edibles. This container is filled with lettuce, pansies and sugar snap peas.|
One of my favorite things in the world is watching my chickens explore their surroundings when they are out during supervised free-ranging. Chickens left unsupervised can devastate gardens and landscaping in mere minutes, especially gardens with new tender plantings. I’ve picked up many tips over the years and today I’d like to share them with you that have made life much easier with the girls and their appetite for exploration and delicious goodies. Gardening with chickens when done correctly, is a wonderful experience.