The flowers of spring

As our seasons transition from spring to summer I wanted to share some of the beauty from the season.

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We had a really dreadful winter, with record rainfall, ice and storms.  When the calendar gave us spring, we had hope for warmer, drier weather. But alas, Mother Nature had a different idea.  We continued to have record wet weather through March and April. It wasn’t until early May that we finally saw a reprieve.

Of course, the plant world doesn’t mind a few wet, gray days.  And we were very ready to welcome any sign that spring and summer was really on the way.  From the early tulips, trillium, columbine, iris, flowering currant, lilacs and even iconic dandelions that we can always count on came the hope for better days ahead.  Rhododendron, snowball bush, viburnum, lupine and may-apple signal mid-spring is briefly upon us.  Some early summer flowers tease that summer will arrive soon –  poppies, clematis,  and old garden roses.

Enjoy the photos – to view the photos in a slideshow format simply click on the first photo and go from there.

 

*S.   If you need me, I will be in the garden

 

 

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A rainy walk through the Cecil & Molly Smith Garden (of Rhododendrons)

Today it rained.  Not a big deal, really, if you live in Western Oregon.  The thing is, yesterday and the four days before were sunny an beautiful!  With nothing to do but play in the garden yesterday, I was looking forward to the monthly meeting with my HPSO study group.  (Hardy Plant Society of Oregon).  And naturally, the weather took a wet turn.

But we are a pretty hardy group, and a little rain will never stop us from coming together to enjoy a great garden, landscape, nursery or lunch spot!  So this morning we met underneath dripping leaves, holding umbrellas, to walk through a little gem of a garden in St. Paul, Oregon. Cecil & Molly Smith Garden is planted under a canopy of native Douglas firs.  The many pathways take you on a tour of wooded views featuring the over 600 rhododendrons and azaleas.  Under-planted with myriad woodland species – there is something beautiful to see at every turn.

From the entrance we walked under towering trees, around corners to hillsides planted with ferns, false Solomon’s seal, bleeding hearts, hellebore’s, trillium, and even Jack-in-the-pulpit (arisaema triphyllum).  We admired the new foliage on these amazing plants, oohh’d and ahhh’d over blooms ranging in size from a thimble to the size of a teacup.  We even spotted a lovely banana slug, which was duly admired by myself and a Master Gardener friend that specializes in educating the public on slugs and snails.

It was a beautiful day – even with the rain.  In fact, I would have to say that the rain enhanced the beauty of the grounds and the foliage in the forest.

Enjoy the photos – to view the photos in a slideshow format simply click on the first photo and go from there.

*S.   If you need me, I will be in the garden

Road Trip!

It’s been almost a year since I last climbed into the passenger seat to join Tim for an adventure. We had the chance to take a load of Oregon Christmas trees to Texas this year, so away we went!

San Antonio is home to his extended family, so we made plans to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at their table this year. The trip takes us over 3 days, and since we were hauling a pretty heavy load it was 4 very long days from door to door.

We ran through rain, sunshine, mountains, desserts, interstates and two lane roads. The scenery was amazing, seasoned by the color of autumn clouds as we drove through Canby CA, Reno NV, Tucson AZ, over Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam area in AZ. We saw rainbows as we left OR, in Indian Wells NV and a Fire Rainbow in Tuscon AZ.

After we arrived there was plenty of time for taking walks with the pup. We checked out the neighborhood. And I loved seeing all the beautiful plants in the southwest gardens. There was even some early holiday decorations!

We spent a few hours at the San Antonio Botanical Garden the day after Thanksgiving. The plants and landscaping in the Botanical gardens were amazing! We strolled through the children’s vegetable garden with festive scarecrows, saw amazing cactus gardens and super cool demo areas with exotic plants like frankincense and myrrh, and a cocoa tree.

I hope you enjoyed my story, we sure had a good time. See y’all next time!

Two Oregon Tourists in Florence: The Basilica of San Croce

On our first day in Florence we set out on our adventure. I wanted to see and learn something about this historic city we had come to visit. 

And I have a confession to make here, I first learned about the Basilica of San Croce from the movie ‘A Room with a View’.  The heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, sets out to explore the city like we did, and finds herself at the Basilica San Croce. The movie doesn’t reveal much, but I knew I wanted to see it for myself. 

San Croce was commissioned to be built in 1294, and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. The nave (worship area) is covered with delicate and intricate artwork telling stories of  faith. Lined with alcoves, some are marked for prayer with candles – each has a separate story. The grand altar at the front if the church commands attention with the colorful frescos painted on the walls. The floors have many intricately decorated tombs. Some are so worn after centuries of worship the words and figures barely recognizable. The room is quite impressive with its size and all there is to see.

Passing through a chamber leading out of the main sactuary we saw these renderings of The Madonna and baby. The simplicity of the images is quite moving. 

The above series of photos was taken in the Medici Chapel of the novices, reserved for the novice monks. The paintings were created on such a grand scale! With life-like detail and rich colors they almost look three dimensional.  Its awe inspiring to think of the materials and processes the artists worked with in the 13th century to create such works. 

The hallmark of early churches and cathedrals is the beautiful stained glass and frescos that adorn the walls and ceilings. This display of these pieces allowed you to see the detail up close.  I was again struck by the rich colors and texture of the artwork, and the materials used to create them. 

This next series of photos tells a different story, not about the art, or the city, but of the men that created it. 

On the opposite side of the altar the massive room holds tributes to several great men. It was this section of the church that moved me the most. 

Galileo’s tomb, and a beautiful tribute to the man and his work. 

Dante’s cenotaph. Philosopher and son of Florence, he was exiled during the Inquisition and buried elsewhere. 


The most impressive of the tombs is Michelangelo’s, as you can see.

I feel awed to have had the opportunity to visit this beautiful place. The stories told here are so familar and told so often, but I don’t tire of the images and all the different mediums the artists use to tell the story. 

Two Oregon tourists in Florence, Italy

It was a week ago that T* and I flew out of our little corner of the world, looking for some new views, & to make some memories.And so far we have done both!

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But I must say, this tourist gig is darn hard work! Between getting to our transportation on time (after figuring out how it works, that is), seeing the sites, then keeping up with all the photos we are taking to share with you all I am exhausted! But every night I fall asleep with a smile on my face, because we are in Italy!

And you can follow along on our visit. Enjoy the photos, and the story.

Our Florence adventure began when we opened the door to the B & B where we spent 3 nights. The house was built in the 1300’s. Holy wow! And the street it was located on is the oldest in the city.

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Florence is built alongside the peaceful Arno river. The famous Ponte Vecchio spans the river, with it its shops and throngs of tourists. Our room was a block away from the river, and we found ourselves crossing the bridges countless times during our stay. We watched the sunset, found the famous Love Locks and even watched fireworks with the crowd.

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There was so much to see in the many piazzas – modern art, centuries old churches with their classic domes and towers, a carousel, and so much people watching! Each hour the city walls echo with the music of the church bells tolling, and at night the historic buildings are bathed in light. We heard street music ranging from solo guitar players to an acapala mens group and symphony music. Chalk artists spend hours re-creating masterpieces on the ancient brick sidewalks, only to wash them away at the end of the night.

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We spotted graffiti in many places. Of course there was the usual writing on the walls. Florence is home to a French graffiti artist called Clet. We spotted his work and enjoyed his sense of humor, no translation needed.

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The views are classic, the buildings timeless. Even everyday views seem special in the jewel light of Florence.

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On our first day we visited the Basilica of San Croce. It was breathtaking. Here are a few teaser pics. I have much to say about our time there, so I will devote another post to our visit.

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Roses!

How are you? Its been a while. I thought it was time to get my feet wet, and try a bit of blogging again!

You may remember that I volunteer as a Master Gardener? One of the projects that I am involved with is tending the gardens at the End of the Oregon Trail Pioneer Gardens in Oregon City. The roses have begun their once-a-year show, and I have never seen the blooms look so spectacular! So I decided to share…

*for even more glimpses of the gardens please checks out our blog page: EOT Pioneer Garden

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Dog Rose

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Rosa Mundi

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Harison’s Yellow

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Rosa Mundi

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Columbine with multiflora Thunberg

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Dog Rose with multiflora Thunberg

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William Lobb moss rose

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Cardinal de Richelieu aka Old Cardinal

Bonneville Salt Flats*

The drive west on I-80 in Utah is so strangely picturesque. The Great Salt Lake accompanies you for miles, then gives way to the Salt Flats. We had a wonderful blue sky day with high topped clouds in the background. The sand and salt mix comes right up to the road bed, and some creative drivers stop and write greetings using stones and bottles. There are also many tracks leading from the road to the horizon. We even saw some people stopped to walk on the surface. It didn’t look like they were leaving any tracks!

In the distance I could see a pavilion on the side of the road that turned out to be a rest area. “What a wonderful opportunity” I thought. So we stoped for about 45 minutes. There were many excited people enjoying themselves, and we happily joined them!

Walking on the salt, it was soft and crunchy, and the water was so warm and silky. I have to say, this was a favorite stop on the road trip. So if you find yourself traveling I- 80 outside Salt Lake City make the time to stop and play! (They even have a foot wash)