Posts Tagged With: gardens

PEACE ARCH PARK GARDENS.

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The Peace Arch is a meaning filled place, the gardens expansive and of great beauty. Both the Canadian and U.S. side have a flag in flowers. The maple leaf flag is very showy.

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The gardens are spectacular and expansive.  Our little cameras, without the height to get the beauty and drama cannot do them justice.

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Jim is hiding on the bridge. You have to enlarge the photo to see him.

 

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Giant rhubarb, a plant new to me. So tropical looking and not edible. One stalk could make ten pies.

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You have to be good to get a piece of your sculpture in the garden. Entrants came from all over the world, and locally,too, of course.  Oakland California, Washington, Hong Kong to name a few.

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reminded me of M.C. Escher

Looking like origami birds, the artist put them together in a similar way as an M.C. Escher drawing.

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It was hard to pick a favorite, but this overhead arch entrance to a garden was high on my list.

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I really loved this form, but you couldn’t take a picture without getting reflections. Jim enjoyed trying to get certain reflections from it.

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I love benches and this one, though partly made from plants, fascinates me. It is a permanent part of the garden and was here when we visited in 2009,

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Washington has rainforest type moisture and grows what I might consider indoor plants- outside. None of these can take a hard freeze.

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I haven’t seen a fuchsia in thirty years.  In my neck of the woods you won’t even see them in the nurseries.  The parks complex covers about 40 acres. It was really fun for me to spend a couple of hours enjoying a grand garden.

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TOURIST IN MY OWN TOWN.

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My car needed an oil change, it is a hybrid meaning gas/electric car, so, of course it needs regular maintenance. I decided to have it done right close in town at  7 am and walk around town and look at it from a tourists perspective. A coffee klatch was enjoying coffee and sweet treats at Aria Bakery. And another group was sitting outside at tables at Grounds.

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It used to be the coffee crowd gathered at the “famous” Murphys Hotel. They were empty both outside and in. Change is the only constant in life, so ’tis said.

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Not all change is pleasant. The necessity to have to chain a table to prevent theft at this one time coffee shop turned real estate company made me sad. In fact when we first moved to town, I remember a rancher complaining that he hung his long-sleeved shirt on the fence when it got warm, only to have it stolen and he groaned about the changes with new people moving in.

 

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I forget how charming it is to have a creek running through town. I took a similar picture at a campground in Monroe, Washington. But I had never looked closely over the bridge in town. Trees and vines and burbling waters sluicing over the rocks.

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On the opposite side of the bridge, the folks who live there have built up an inviting patio with a water wheel to run their barbecue spit.

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The bench at this candle shop was left unchained. Maybe it is all a matter of trust.

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In the backyard of an old friend, since deceased, is this unusual tree.

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He told me it came from another country as a seed in the pocket of a miner headed for the gold fields. He had no idea what it is. The light green pods are beautiful and unusual. I tried to grow one from the seed and failed. I’m going to try again.

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A cute idea to paint a rusting old sprinkling can and hang it on the fence with a plant in it.

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A cluster of bird houses is always a good idea. Made for very small birds, decorative and useful enough to foil a cat from reaching into one.

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An appropriate sign for a store that sells bathroom machineries. They are most unusual and I always haul people inside for a look. Probably the most fascinating store in Murphys. Plus, the employees believe they have a ghost.

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On one of the back streets stands a rustic gold miner’s shack, a fairly large one compared to others I’ve seen. It was occupied by a Miwuk Indian man when I first moved to Murphys. He had a chair in the Murphys Hotel where he sat everyday and told stories to anyone who would listen.  Gone, now, too.

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Whenever I see a beautiful sunflower I automatically think of  Van Gogh,  such a pleasant thought.

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This corner covered with a showy clematis vine made a worthy picture. Part of my somewhat intense scrutiny of downtown gardens was triggered by having lunch with a friend about June 1st. We wandered town and I happened upon a lavender colored rose that was also very fragrant. I wanted to find it again, hoping I could talk the owner into giving me a cutting from it. It is rare to find a fragrant rose these days. But I couldn’t find anyone around town who knows this rose, or could help me find it. I smelled a lot of blah roses.

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An obvious antique something or other decorates another garden. But what is it?  I looked and looked at it without discovering a use for it. I suppose it could be a fence “post” corner. Maybe someone else knows?

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After my car was finished, I drove to the chiropractor’s health center in Tuolumne County. Change is a constant? This climbing wall was once 12 feet tall. It has grown to 45 feet tall. Wow!  Not for the timid. Good exercise no doubt and a competitive sport . I’d like to see it in action. Maybe someday.

 

 

 

 

 

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THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

We take a bus to visit one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China. I’m so excited, I can hardly believe I’m going to actually walk on the Great Wall of China. On the way, Vicki gives us a history while we look at the passing scene out the windows. We see the Beijing Romance Club, a matchmaking club, which seemed strange in 2006. Now, don’t we all know about on-line matchmaking?  We see farms, fruit orchards, vendors along the highway lay out their produce on blankets. Highway workers in droves sweep the edges of the roads with straw brooms. I mean straw brooms that look like “witches” brooms. China doesn’t buy machinery to do a task that can be accomplished by human labor, though, that is changing. But what then do you do with a huge population of workers without work asks Vicki?  People don’t drive as fast here and the highway is teeming with people on foot.

The walk up to one of the Great Wall’s entrance places is lined with vendors, since the Great Wall is the biggest tourist attraction in all of Asia.

I took a picture of this camel and was shushed away by the owner. Vicki explained that this man makes his living by charging for pictures taken of his camel, usually with mom and the kids standing near it. I felt bad for my “sin”, but I couldn’t read the sign nor undo the picture. Vicki explained that most of these vendors have been licensed to sell here because they were once farmers displaced by the flooding of the Yangtze River.

We enter near one of the towers built to house the soldiers and their families who lived  there and manned the towers all day and night.  I was stunned to learn that. It isn’t as though the Great wall could be driven to from a nearby city during the 1200’s. Somehow, I thought the wall was its own defense, a deterrent. Vicki took us to an entrance that is the farthest from Beijing city center, and not as busy as others. Notice the dip on the right to take rain water away from the steps.

This gives you an idea of the height of the walls at the top, just over five feet tall.  From magazine pictures and travel ads I’d seen, I  thought of the wall as this smooth brick roadway for miles. It is smooth here.  This section has been restored and looks quite new.

I guess I expected an even structure built in a ring at the Chinese borders, never giving much thought to the undulating terrain of the mountain passes it guarded. It is mind-boggling just trying to see in the distance as it traces the tops of the mountains in every direction you look.

It’s uphill, jagged, stairs both straight and crooked; weathered and broken.

You can hike the wall for days, or weeks. We met a family that backpacked in for miles and found vistas, and wild animals, and broken, crumbling sections of the wall where they could climb down and explore the woods and meadows.

When you look over the edge, you realize that the wall is much taller than it looks on the “inside”.  Here Vicki pointed out the remnants of an old fruit orchard the soldiers and their families depended on when they guarded the border. They had to grow their own food and carry or pipe water to farm on the Chinese side of the wall.  On the opposite side, it was part of their job to cut away all vegetation within 30 feet of the enemy side of the wall. Ascending and descending the wall many times a day, to toilet, haul water, tend gardens, and other tasks,  tests the sense of believability.

This is a spot where soldiers could get out to their work detail off the wall.

In inclement weather, you can imagine how treacherous it would be to patrol this wall. It drains one way and then another. Like castle walls, cut outs were built for the soldiers to fire their arrows at raiders below.  The towers and exits are located I’m guessing about every 300 to 400 feet, or so. Inside those towers, all open to the air above, the families kept warm by body heat and a charcoal brazier, also used for cooking. The feat of building the wall is hard to put your mind around. It at one time stretched 13,171 miles. And, while we were in China, news came that archeologists had uncovered another 400 kilometer section of earthen and stone wall from ancient times. The original wall was started in 200 B.C.   Each section has a distinct character, an individuality,  as one worker differed slightly in his method than another. Hauling and mixing the cement in a remote area, hauling the water, again, it tests the sense of believability. I expect they used horses and donkeys to help with the work. Even so, a monumental achievement.

You can see this section of the wall is  shorter, warmer and sunnier.

This was an emotional experience for me. I felt it was worth the whole trip’s expense just to see the wall. I cast one last look at this impossible place, straining my eyes through the mist to see, as far as I could, this amazing wall etched like a painting  on the mountain tops. I hated to leave.

The website below gives some history, facts and pictures of this one of seven of the greatest world wonders.

http://www.chinahighlights.com/greatwall/fact/

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WHAT I MISS ON THE ROAD

Flowers are equivalent to stars, as beautiful but earthly. The heavy rains brought bounteous blossoms, and leaves, too. Like this strawberry. The blossoms tell of the delicious fruits I’ll miss. Yesterday, while pulling weeds, Karen and I got the last of the asparagus hiding  in the weeds.  We ate the spears raw while we rested.

Red valerian, easy to grow, any soil, pot or in the ground.

Iris blooms the size of softballs.

At one time I had about 50 different varieties. Not all bloom at the same time.

Two days ago, this azalea had zero blooms.

Spiraea, too, has larger flower heads than usual.

The only Rhododendron I have left after moving them away from an ancient oak that didn’t like the water during warm weather. The others didn’t survive, but the majestic oak will live on to shade another generation or two.  (Several oak species die a slow death if watered in the summer.)

The bleeding heart and lily of the valley, along with a few others sit potted beneath the oak. This is the first time since I’ve  been ramblin’ that I’ve seen my daffodils in full bloom, my lilacs, cyclamens, honey suckle  and other stars of the earth. I do miss my garden when I’m on the road.  I enjoy other people’s gardens and public gardens I’d never see from home. It’s a good mix of two lifestyles.

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WE DON’T MELT.

Rain is part of the forecast for two more days. My oldest sister visits from Sonoma, and we decided not to let the rain discourage us when it is badly needed by the plants we cherish and depend upon.

Living in a tourist town, I go about my business and don’t become a tourist until someone visits. Something I hadn’t noticed until yesterday?  New murals, cleverly covering the wall in front of Murphys Grille where people eat outside. Flirty feet.

In fact, the feet are what you would be seeing if the wall wasn’t there.

Clever and fun; a little wink of whimsical art in my own town. Makes me think about how un-quaint Murphys used to be. But, I won’t go there. We had lunch at Cactus Jacks. For a truly delicious sandwich, chicken pesto on foccacia bread with Cactus Jack’s special salsa which contains cactus in the mix, you can’t go wrong.

We peeked into shops and between raindrops, I caught some pretty faces, kind of wishing I’d planted pansies at home.

Changing lifestyles doesn’t allow much time for gardening. I’ll enjoy other’s gardens instead.

Later, brother Will braved hail and rain to share a light supper with us. A nicoise salad and a bowl of soup.

My taxes finished; a nice relaxing day. None of us melted. April rain brings May flowers. I hope the same is true of New Mexico where I”m headed later this month, back to the Motor Home.

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MEET THE FAMILY

Most of us have several families, children, siblings, cousins, or pets.  I have a family of plants. I didn’t start out to name them, but  each one is a story. This is Kristanne, who had me baby-sit her plants when she was moving out of her apartment. It almost created a border incident as we traveled to Southern California, picked up her houseplants, with a much smaller version of this giant, returned home by way of Arizona, and re-entered California. The border guard wanted to know what all those plants were sticking out of the windows in the back seat,  and poking out of an uncloseable trunk.  After a suspicious examination he said:  “Do you always take your plants with you on vacation?”

Now, what to do with it?  Damaged by frost while the tile floor was redone after a flood in December, it has lost some of its beauty. It is full of sharp, points. Nearly impossible to move. It needs re-potting. Its gotta go.

Uncle Charlie is a split leaf philodendron, given to my best friend, Betty, (now deceased). She named it and lovingly cared for it, split it,  and shared it many times in defiance of her husband’s family who rejected and ostracized his gay brother Charlie.  I need to nourish that statement for Betty.

My mother-in-law Alta, gave me many plants, and two survive, this soft begonia…

…and this very fitting mother-in-laws tongue. It is twisted and woody and old and should be tossed. But, Alta has been with me for so many years. How can I do that to her, no matter how sharp her tongue was?

My mother had a black thumb, so she often bought plants for me so she could enjoy them at my house. This lipstick plant is about three feet long, and very plain when not in bloom. Do I really need to keep it?

Then there’s moses-in -a-boat from my dear friend Anne.

And a rosary plant from Aunt Kathleen.

My Jeannie, hoya, I’ve had for 51 years.

And, a fiddle-leaf philodendron that is nine feet tall and spreads another seven feet along my dining room ceiling. It, too, struggles with a too small pot and neglect. It’s time. But…they’re family!

 

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