Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Visit Traverse City Michigan

Even though I now live in Ohio, most of my life was spent in Michigan. As the cliche goes, it's where I was born and raised. I have come to love Ohio, but Michigan will always be home. Yes, it's a little too cold for me in the winter, but it's so beautiful otherwise that I forgive it for that. Every few years, I'm drawn back there to visit, and we always start in Traverse City. And one of the prettiest parts of Traverse City is the Old Mission Peninsula. This beach and lighthouse is found at the tip of the peninsula.
One of my favorite parts of Traverse City is the many wineries located nearby. Something about the sandy soil and the warming effect of Lake Michigan makes it an ideal spot to grow wine grapes. So everywhere you look, there's a winery, and they all offer tasting rooms. As a bonus, many of the wineries have incredible views like this. Oh I almost forgot, they have delicious wine too!

Near Traverse City you will find Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which Good Morning America named the Most Beautiful Place in America. Needless to say, I agree with them. If you ever get a chance to visit this gorgeous corner of Michigan, you will not be sorry. From sandy beaches and inland lakes,

  to sand dunes and lighthouses,

to views to take your breath away,

and sunsets over the shore,

you would be hard pressed to find a prettier place on earth. Now my photos don't even begin to cover all the various aspects of this area. There's a charming downtown, beautiful homes, beaches on every side, waterfront views everywhere you look, even a maritime university right in town.
But I haven't even addressed the recreation options, which are many. 
 Now can you see why it's one of my favorite spots on earth? Well, maybe you just need to visit and see for yourself!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Random Robin

I've been on vacation, and when I go on vacation I take hundreds of photos. As you can imagine, it takes me awhile to sort through them all. In the meantime, I thought I'd put up some random garden shots with no particular theme. This summer is vastly different than last year. Last summer I was recovering from a knee injury while dealing with a terrible drought. Those two events combined meant for a really bad year in the garden. Well, this year we have had plenty of rain, and I am no longer working outside the home. So this has been a banner year for everything outside. The veggie garden is going gangbusters, and giving us lots of goodies. When we returned from our trip, we picked about twenty cucumbers! Lucky for us, we love them. And of course I made some pickles.
I am a big fan of purple coneflowers, and over the years I have tried quite a few of the different varieties. I was disappointed in most of them, so I vowed to stick to the tried and true basics of either purple or white. 

But this coconut lime version has come back for several years now. It has interesting flowers, but the plant itself never gets any bigger or spreads in any way.

One coneflower that I really enjoyed was called Green Envy, but it didn't return the next year. So I bought them again, and they also disappeared. Lo and behold, this one lonely little Green Envy sent out a bloom. I had no idea they were still alive. Such a pretty little thing. Maybe I'll buy them again.
Another reappearance has been a couple of my phlox. I think this one is called Pixie Miracle Grace. This is the best it has ever looked, but it has never spread or gotten any larger. I also have Phlox Nicky, and it has never done much either. I got rid of most plants that have been letdowns, but for some reason the phlox has been allowed to stay.
Liatris, or gayfeather is one of those easy care flowers that everyone can grow. Well, almost everyone. Mine disappeared after a few years, so I replanted. Only one bloom, but maybe next year they'll do better. With my love of butterflies, liatris is mandatory.
It's almost time for the dahlias to appear!
Using moisture control soil in my containers has been a smart decision. They dry out so quickly, and even without frequent watering they often failed. This year they are thriving. I'm so pleased!

Pink has been the theme around here several times in the past, but I finally decided to stick with it every year, at least as far as annuals go. The brick on my home is a pinkish red, so pink just works. I have a lot of pink zinnias planted, and they never let me down. They bloom and bloom all summer long, and never show any mildew.

That's quite enough of the random shots, back to editing vacation photos! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Order Versus Chaos

It's been a rainy summer, something we rarely see in these parts. We might have rainy springs, but once summer rolls around, it usually turns hot and dry. Well, so far this summer the weather has been just right. Not too hot, and frequent pop up storms to keep the lawn green. It's just so rare we don't quite know how to act without constantly dragging the hose around the yard! But I've got to say, it's much appreciated. The garden has literally never looked better.
Perhaps it's because this is the first summer in many years that I am not working, so I have plenty of time to work on it. Or maybe it's because I've been tweaking it, and thinning out some of the clutter. Either way, I'm pleased with the progress. Honestly, it almost feels "done".
Done? What a concept. I dare say it's a rare gardener who says her garden is done. Oh I'm sure I'll find spots to work on soon, but I'm actually trying very hard not to over work it. I'm enjoying the garden a little tidier these days, with a little less exuberance.
Perhaps this is a nod to my husband's love of order and neatness. I am not quite as tidy as he is, but almost. When I was working, I would come in and frantically begin to clear the mess and chaos left by others. When I walk into my orderly home, I breathe a sigh of relief. It is only when things are in order that I can truly relax.
But that same attitude is harder to implement in my gardening. I want every flower I see! Now I am not totally cured, by any means. 
But I am trying harder. I'm giving up the cottage garden look that I enjoy in photos. I just can't seem to get that look without it looking like a mess. Besides, my home is not a cottage. 

The biggest challenge was landscaping my new patio. This was my chance to implement my new way of thinking, and I think I did it pretty well. I have no real training in landscaping other than reading books and garden blogs. But I still know most of the salient points. The most important point was knowing when to stop adding things. Heck, that's always been my trouble!
Still, don't come by and expect everything to be perfect. It's a long way from that! But still, I'd be happy to show you around Robin's Nest.