Monday, December 1, 2014

There and I'm Going Back Again - A New Zealand Adventure

"Mom, I think I might do a study abroad this fall."
It was spring in Tennessee and my 22 year old son Zach was home from college when he tickled my ear with his latest adventure idea.
Me: Oh that sounds like fun. Where do you want to go?
Zach: New Zealand
My brain began to spin with rebellion - New Zealand was top of my bucket list of places that I wanted to visit and I wasn't quite ready to fork out extra funds for even my darlin' #3 son to spend a semester "studying" in the land of my dreams. Would he even begin to appreciate that about 80% of the plant material growing in New Zealand could never be seen growing wild anywhere else?
View from Eremia Retreat Centre over Coromandel
Zach: And my scholarship will pay for it and I'll have a paid internship.

Alfred Park in Auckland 
Ok, maybe I would take this under consideration. One condition - hubby and I would have to come and monitor his scholastic progress. It was our parental responsibility!

View from The Luge in Queenstown, NZ
So our adventure began 6 months later in early November - aka, springtime in New Zealand - with a 22 year old adventurer son as our tour guide. Two weeks touring from the south island and working our way north through flora, fauna, misty mountains, fiords, hair-pin turns, golden beaches, and more etherial sunsets than I thought my heart could handle. 
A few of my wooly friends - supposedly there are 9 sheep for every person living in New Zealand

Ulmus glabra 'Horizontalis' in Queenstown Garden

I thought I was prepared for the beauty.
Arrowtown, NZ

Wisteria arch in Queenstown Garden

I would love for someone to identify this for me!

A mound of Lady Banks Rose in Queenstown Garden

On the way to Milford Sound
I saw more varieties of ferns than I think I'll ever be able to label. 

The rhododendrons were vibrant with color enhanced by the acid soil in the Queenstown area. 

I went to New Zealand prepared to experience the wildness of the countryside and eagerly embraced the dramatic swings in temperature and landscape. We stopped dozens of time along our way as each turn held a new scenic wonder. I was captivated by the sweetly scented air that permeated my very core. But what stole my heart were the people of New Zealand. As we traveled late into the day, we often drove up to a closing resteraunt, hostel, or bed and breakfast that had put away any thoughts of evening guests. Yet time and time again we were welcomed, fed, entertained with stories from the locals who had to stick around and listen to some deep southern-USA accent. We found warmth in their graciousness, a wildness in their spirit that echoed their homeland, and a sweetness in their kindness that permeated as deeply as the jasmine scented air. The untapped natural beauty we found in New Zealand was a framework for the treasure of people who cared for and nurtured it. 

The Mussel Inn - hands down some of the best mussels and beer on this planet.  
Loved getting to know Marie and Serge and their friends - Belgium-Kiwi folk - at their Garden Retreat Bed and Breakfast
Fred Jordan explains some of the complexities of growing kiwifruit organically on his orchard "La Marguarite"- we stayed in their Katikati Kiwifruit Cottage

With wind gusting at 35-40 knots I was literally being swept away by the beauty around me. 
Sunset at Wharariki Beach 

More stories to follow on New Zealand - I just have to whittle through about 6000 photos first...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Celebrating the life of Benjamin Hanson Farley

When faced with death, Ben Farley chose to live. Our community said good-bye to Ben today, but the legacy he left of love for life and love for Jesus will continue to touch lives.

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's All In The Way You Present It

 This evening, after a dinner of salmon and asparagus perfectly grilled by the men in my house, I pulled out my new super zoom lens and started snapping photos from the comfort of my patio chair.
Pine cone clusters grouped like bananas at the top of my old white pine

Dahlias just starting to bloom among the tomatoes and squash.

Peeking over my fence into the far corner of our vegetable/flower garden. 

 And as I realize the ability to capture images in the far distance with this lens, I absentmindedly comment, "I would make a great stalker."

A cluster of containers going up my back stairs.

The pepper corner with Chili Chilly Pepper and Purple Flash Pepper. 

A comment to which my #4 son responds, "Mom, I wouldn't be saying that in public places." (Which is why I am so writing this on my blog.)

Oakleaf hydrangea "Pee Gee" 
 And #1 hubby chimes in with, "Maybe you can say you would make a great Private Investigator." He's always looking for ways to not be embarrassed by me.

Peeking through the Ginko tree at the neighbors crepe myrtle. 

 So I'm thinking I'll start the #1 Ladies' Plant Detective Agency. Yes, that would be Precious.
Spring and Summer I have to coordinate container plantings with our canoe's seasonal storage spot. 
Because you never know what may be lurking near where you store your canoe,  

Or what's coming up in your garden jungle.
So stop by for a cup of red tea and between my new powerful lens and a few years of plant nerdiness, let the #1 Ladies Plant Detective Agency work with you on solving the greatest of plant mysteries!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Garden Blogger's Fling 2014

I only have about 3000 more photos to go through from an incredible garden tour in Portland, Oregon. But one of the best parts of the tour is getting to know the other bloggers. So here's my trailer on the blogs to come about Garden Blogger's Fling 2014 - Portland!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Head To Kroger For Your Proven Winners Plants

"Honey, on your way home will you pick up some milk and eggs? Oh, and grab a couple of Proven Winners hydrangeas while you are there."
Proven Winners shrubs are as close as your local Kroger's grocery store. 
I grew this weigelia - pretty, long lasting blooms and needs some afternoon shade in Middle Tennessee. 

I'm going to try this hydrangea - any one have some experience growing it ?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bringing The Tropics To Tennessee

This afternoon I was once again swept away to the tropics when I looked out my window at this beautiful hibiscus. I found this beauty at Lowes - one of Costa Farms' selection.

And check out this Abutilon 
Well, it feels like the tropics these last two   weeks, might as well look like it.