pins and patches.

As I mentioned earlier this summer, both my sister and my niece purchased annual state park passes this year.  I’m not sure how these work in other states, but here in Minnesota an annual state park pass costs $35 and allows you unlimited free entrance into any of the 75 Minnesota state parks for one full year.

So this summer we’ve been trying to visit as many as we can, and my sister and niece are on a quest to collect a pin and a patch from each one.  We’ve pretty much made it to all of the parks that are within an hour or so from the Twin Cities, so last weekend we took a road trip to get to some that are a little further out with our main destination being Itasca State Park.

On the way up north we stopped off at the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park.

There isn’t a whole lot to this one, but you can see the boyhood home of the famous aviator who was the first to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic.  The park itself, however, is actually named for his father who was a congressman for Minnesota from 1907 to 1917.

Unfortunately, none of the buildings were open while we were there so Debbie and Kris were super bummed that they couldn’t get their pins and patches.

We made it up to our lovely airbnb cabin on Potato Lake in Park Rapids by dinner time.

  It was a bit rainy, so we grilled some steaks and played some board games inside for the evening.  The next morning we woke up to a beautiful misty sunrise over the lake.

We decided to head to Lake Bemidji State Park on our first full day.

We admired the lake …

And then took a hike on the Bog Trail.

The trail brought us to Big Bog Lake.

We were hoping to spot some wildlife on the opposite shore, like maybe a black bear or a moose, but no such luck.  Debbie & Kris did get their pins and patches at the park office though, so they were happy about that.

After lunch, we headed in to the town of Bemidji.  Stopping off to say hello to Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe, is pretty much a requirement when visiting this area.

We then dropped Mr. Q off at the nearby disc golf course so he could play a round, and while he was doing that we hit the shops.  I’m not gonna lie, the town of Bemidji was a huge disappointment to me.   The shops were mainly full of tacky, cheap souvenirs and the entire area felt a bit sketchy to me.  We quickly decided to get out of there and head back to our cabin for the evening.

On day 2 we headed to Itasca State Park.

For those of you who may not be familiar, Itasca is famous for being the location of the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

It’s pretty much a rite of passage for Minnesota kids to walk across the Mississippi.

These days it feels rather like an Instagram set up.  Those stepping stones are just a little too perfectly spaced to be authentic.  But maybe it was always that way and I just didn’t notice that when I was a kid.

For those who may not quite have the balance required for the stepping stones, there is also a log bridge you can take across.

Although this is the quintessential photo op in Itasca State Park, the park has lots more to offer including the very nicely appointed Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center.

I especially enjoyed the historical exhibits including this one with all of its vintage camping gear.

And this exhibit of the original Lady Slipper restaurant ware from the Douglas Lodge.

I got a kick out of the original menu showing such tasty treats as peach and cottage cheese salad, and chicken giblets on toast for only 70 cents.

A dinner that included several courses and half a chicken cost a mere $1.25.  I’m not at all sure I would enjoy cantaloupe a la mode for dessert though, and Maple Pecan ice cream served with Ritz crackers?  Was that a thing?

The lodge was built in 1905, but I’m not sure what year that menu was from.

We didn’t do a ton of hiking in Itasca State Park, but we did hike up to the fire tower.

Once we got there, Mr. Q and I totally chickened out of taking the stairs to the top for the view.  My sister made it up to one platform, but my niece went all the way up.

We also checked out a short trail to see the largest white pine in Minnesota.

Just look at the size of that thing!

I think we timed our visit just right for avoiding the crowds in Itasca State Park.  Kids are back in school, but we aren’t quite at peak fall color just yet.  I bet there is a line up of people to climb up that tower to get a birds eye view of the fall colors when they are at their peak.

There was so much more to see in the park, but by mid-afternoon we decided to head back to spend a little time enjoying the amenities at our cabin such as the canoe and the fire pit.  We went for a lovely paddle on the lake, then made bbq chicken fry pies over the fire for dinner.

All in all we had a lovely time up north.  I totally recommend visiting Itasca State Park, so far it is my favorite of the Minnesota state parks we’ve visited.  How about you?  Do you have a favorite state park where you are?  Leave a comment and let us know.

the arb.

This week my Sunday mornings in the garden post isn’t coming to you from my own garden, instead I’m sharing the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in all of its glory.

The Arboretum, or the Arb for short, was founded in 1958 by some local community sponsors in partnership with the University of Minnesota.  Their mission is to ‘welcome, inform and inspire all through outstanding displays, protected natural areas, horticultural research and education’.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Honeycrisp apple you can thank the Arb for that.  It was developed here by the U of M, and was later named the Minnesota State Fruit.  I have to admit that their newer Zestar and SweeTango apples have taken over as my favorite varieties though.

My niece, Kris, had a day off mid-week last week and wanted to do something fun so she suggested a visit to the Arboretum.  I usually get out there about once a year, and every time I go I think “I should get out here more often!”  It really is worth the 50 minute drive.

There are two things I love about the Arb.

No. 1 – it’s simply a beautiful place to walk around and admire the lovely gardens.

One of my favorites is the Japanese Garden.

It’s so serene, and you know me, I like a garden that is mainly just green.

I was recently telling my bff that I’d like to visit Japan one day, but my problem is that I’d expect the entire country to look just like that photo.  I strongly suspect that it doesn’t though.

If you love color, the Annual Garden stands out in stark contrast to the Japanese Garden.

Every year the Arb does a different design for the annual garden and this year landscape designer Duane Otto decided to go with bright yellows, reds and oranges.

They’ve carried these colors to the area around the front of the visitor center building as well.

While I fully admit these beds of annuals are pretty darn spectacular, they aren’t my style at all.  I have very few bright colors like this in my own gardens, and when I do have color I tend to prefer the cooler versions rather that these hot colors.

Another favorite of mine though is the Knot Garden.

I’ve always loved the symmetrical and somewhat formal look of a knot garden.

The Rose Garden is really lovely as well.

I’d kind of like to know what they are doing to keep the Japanese beetles at bay though.  I saw very little damage from beetles on their roses, although there was some.

I don’t know that this next area has a specific name (at least not on the map I have), although it seems to be mainly conifers.

It has a ‘north woods’ feel to me for sure.

It also reminds me a lot of the Japanese Garden, but with a more natural feel.

The thing that all of these gardens have in common is that I won’t likely ever have a space like them in my own garden, but I still enjoy admiring them.

And that brings me to the 2nd thing I love about the Arboretum.

No. 2 – In addition to providing beautiful eye candy, the Arb also aims to educate.  It is part of the University of Minnesota after all.  I get lots of ideas for plant varieties, or plant combinations to add to my own garden when I visit.

Kris and I spent a bit of time checking out the Herb Garden.

I was trying to pick out some different herbs to add to my herb planter next year.

Although my herbs grew really well this year, the reality is that I don’t cook much so they felt really rather wasted.  So as we were going through the herb garden, especially the section with the scented herbs, it occurred to me that I might enjoy growing some herbs for their scent rather than for cooking.

My herb planter is situated right next to our outdoor dining table on the deck and I’ve noticed how the scent of the basil and the mint drift over while I’m seated there.

So next year I’d like to try growing some lemon balm, lemon verbena, and definitely one of the scented geraniums, like the chocolate mint.

I also thought this Society Garlic plant looked really nice in a clay pot.

That would be a fun addition to my deck as well.

I’ve never really grown hostas for their flowers, but while in the Japanese garden I noticed a hosta that had a deep purple flower that was really pretty en masse.

I was able to locate that hosta in the hosta glade where it was labeled as hosta clausa.

So now I can add that one to my wish list of plants for my garden.

I’d recently been wondering if I could grow a Japanese Forest Grass, or Hakonechloa.

I’d done some cursory research online and mostly found varieties that grow in zones 5 to 9.  I wasn’t sure if I could put one in my zone 4 garden.  But hey, if the Arb can grow it, so can I (theoretically).  Further research online tells me that this particular species, H. macra, is the most cold hearty of the bunch.  This is also one of the few ornamental grasses that perform well in the shade.  This plant is also definitely being added to my plant wish list.

In addition to the garden layouts in the central part of the arboretum, they also have educational and demonstration areas further out including a hedge display that showcases different varieties of plants suitable for use as hedging, the shrub walk to show different varieties of shrubs that will grow in our area, a weeping tree collection, an azalea and rhododendron collection, a crab apple tree collection, an iris garden, a peony garden, a section showing varieties of ornamental grasses, and one of my favorites, a hydrangea collection.

I had to laugh when I saw this in the hydrangea area …

What you’re looking at in the foreground is the Endless Summer hydrangea which is supposed to be a macrophylla hydrangea that blooms on new wood, and thus will bloom in our northern climate.  Behind it are all of the paniculatas that actually do bloom well in our climate.  I feel like this one picture says it all and I can get off my Endless Summer soap box.  Apparently even the Arb can’t get it to bloom!

They also have a dahlia trial garden at the Arb, and although I don’t grow dahlias myself (they are way too high maintenance for me), I couldn’t resist stopping to take a look.

I can definitely see why dahlias have seen a resurgence in popularity lately though.

They certainly can be magnificent.

Some of the flowers on these are the size of dinner plates.

How about you?  Do you grow dahlias?

There is so much more to see at the Arb than what I’ve touched on here, but I figure this post has gotten long enough.  I hope to make another visit there when the fall colors arrive, so stay tuned for a potential post on that.

The MN Landscape Arboretum was named the Best Botanical Garden by USA Today in 2017 and 2019.  It really is pretty dang fabulous.  The next time I am whining about the fact that we don’t have any amazing gardens here in Minnesota like the one I visited at Dunrobin Castle in Scotland

would you please remind me that although we may not have any castles here, we do still have some pretty amazing gardens!

bon voyage Viking Mississippi.

I wasn’t planning to post anything today (I thought I’d give myself the holiday off), but I just had to share this quick post for all of you fellow cruisers out there.

Mr. Q, my sister and I were having dinner on Saturday night, about to start a game night, when I remembered reading that the brand new Viking Mississippi ship was in St. Paul about to set sail on its inaugural voyage.  So on a whim we decided to scrap game night and drive into St. Paul to see if we could catch a glimpse of the ship.

Despite having lived in the Twin Cities for 35 years, I actually had no idea that there was a ‘port’ in downtown St. Paul.  The address was on Shepard Road, so we figured we’d just cruise down Shepard and see what we could see from the street.

Turned out that the ship was pretty easy to spot, and not only that but a parking spot had just opened up at nearby Lower Landing Park.  So we parked the car and got out for a closer look.

That’s Mr. Q and my sister, Debbie.

OK, so Lambert’s Landing isn’t what most of us cruisers would picture as a ‘port’, it’s technically a ‘landing’, an area along the river where ships can tie up to load and unload.  There aren’t any buildings or anything like that.  But it is cool to know that in the 1800’s this was one of the busiest steamboat landings in the U.S.

It was a gorgeous evening, the weather was perfect.  We took a stroll along the river while waiting for the ship to set sail.

You get a nice view of the Comcast building across the river.

We also got to see the brand new Viking Mississippi up close and personal.

This ship was designed specifically for cruising on the Mississippi river and according to Viking it is the biggest vessel currently sailing in this region with 193 staterooms (check out details and photos on the Viking website).  It is also the first Viking ship built in the U.S. (it was built in Louisiana).

You can’t quite see it properly, but that is an infinity plunge pool on the upper deck aft.

I have to admit, at first we found it rather crazy that people would pay $9,000 (and up) per couple to sail along the Mississippi stopping in places like Red Wing, LaCrosse and Dubuque, Iowa.  We joked about whether or not they were serving regional foods (like they do on their European river cruises), and what would that include?  Tater tot hot dish?  Lutefisk?  Walleye?  Spam?  Surely they will serve cheese curds when they get to the Wisconsin portion of the river.

I checked out the shore excursions being offered for Red Wing and they included a trip to the National Eagle Center, a tour of Maiden Rock Winery (we have visited both, check out this post), and a visit to the Red Wing Pottery Museum (we tried to go there during our Great River Road road trip, but it was closed).  I looked at some of the excursions offered at other ports too, and there were quite a few that looked like placed I’d love to see like the Stonefield Historic Site in Wisconsin, and visiting Mark Twain’s hometown.  So maybe it’s not so crazy after all, I think those passengers are going to have an amazing trip.

I’d forgotten what a festive atmosphere there is during a sail away.  There were probably 40 to 50 people on shore to watch the ship depart.  Just as the sun was sinking below the horizon, the ship pushed away from the landing and sounded its horn making us all jump.

As the ship sailed past, the three of us were reminded of how much we loved our Viking cruise on the Danube and we realized we can’t wait to take another cruise!

We waved and shouted bon voyage to the lucky people on board while dreaming of our next cruise (spoiler alert, we’re thinking Norway, next fall).

How about you?  Are you a cruiser?  Or are you in the ‘ugh, how awful to be stuck on a boat’ category?  Leave a comment and let me know.

 

steep and hilly.

We had some absolutely perfect weather this past Sunday, so my sister, niece and I decided to take advantage of it and do some hiking.  My niece purchased an annual state park pass, and we are getting lots of use out of it.

We started out in Whitewater State Park, which is near Winona, MN.  The list of trails in this park all seem to have one thing in common, the guide describes them as steep and hilly.  Personally I’m more of a ‘flat and wooded’ sort of hiker, but I was game to try ‘steep and hilly’ if it meant getting an amazing view.  So we headed for the Chimney Rock Trail.

Hmmm, a ‘moderate’ 1 hour hike, that seems easily doable, right?

It starts out pleasantly enough with a stone bridge over the Whitewater River.

As soon as you’re across, you see some steps in front of you.

But that, my friends, is only the beginning.  There are over 100 steps leading up to Chimney Rock, interspersed with some narrow, rocky trails.

It was fun to check out Chimney Rock, but I have to admit I wasn’t brave enough to crawl inside (although plenty of others were).

Although going up is physically challenging, for me it’s coming back down that totally freaks me out.  I was so focused on not slipping and falling that I didn’t even take any photos on the way down.

But we made it down safely, and then decided maybe the Trout Run Creek Trail, which was described as flat with packed dirt was more our speed.

It was really lovely.  We were surrounded by leafy forest that was filled with bird song.

However, we’d only gone a little way down this trail when we saw a turn off for Inspiration Point.  There were a couple of hikers coming down from that trail and they told us we really shouldn’t miss it.  Sure, it’s steep and there are over 100 more stairs, but it’s so worth it.

And I thought the first trail was scary.  Yikes!

If you like narrow, rocky trails with a steep drop off beside you, or lots and lots of rickety wooden stairs, you’ll love this trail.

But I have to agree that it was worth it to get to Inspiration Point.

That being said, none of the three of us were actually brave enough to go stand at the very end of the point.  Luckily that other lone hiker went out there so I could include her in my photo to try and capture the scale of the place.

The view was pretty spectacular, even from where we stood (in safety).

Unfortunately my photos definitely don’t do it justice.

I have to confess that my fear of heights kept me from really admiring the beauty up there.  And on the way down I was too concerned with not falling to my death to get any photos.  But I found this great post on daytripper28.com with good photos of these trails, including a picture of the rather frightening stairs coming down from Inspiration Point, so go check it out if you want to see what I’m talking about.

After making it back to the car in one piece, we decided to head over to Carley State Park.  This is a much smaller, and less spectacular, park.  But my sister and niece want to get to as many of the Minnesota state parks as possible, and it was just a short distance from Whitewater.  We did a quick hike through the woods there just so that they could check it off their list.

We decided to take the scenic route home from there and stop off in Lake City.

If you aren’t familiar, Lake City is located on the Minnesota side of Lake Pepin.

Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River (ie. it was not created by a man made damn).  It’s known as the birthplace of water skiing which was invented here in 1922 (you can read more about that here).

We didn’t realize it beforehand, but Lake City was celebrating Water Ski Days last weekend.  We arrived just in time to have roads blocked by the parade, but too early to see the water ski show.

That’s OK, we found a great ice cream place and enjoyed some waffle cones while wandering around lakeside.

As I enjoyed my white chocolate raspberry ice cream I was reminded of what a beautiful state Minnesota is.  So tell me, where do you live and what are some of the prettiest spots near you?  And are you a fan of steep and hilly, or is flat and wooded more your style as well?

 

 

loving life on the edge.

First up, congrats to Cyndi.  I drew her name to win the paint giveaway from my previous post about Charleston.  Today I’m sharing the last post from our trip.  Be sure to read all the way to the end for another paint giveaway!

While the first half of our trip to Charleston was spent exploring historical sites and admiring beautiful homes and gardens, the 2nd half was spent at the beach.  Folly Beach, to be specific.  We packed up all of our stuff, checked out of our first hotel and drove about 20 minutes to hotel #2 so that we could stay right on the beach.

Here is how visitfolly.com describes Folly Beach …

Folly Beach, South Carolina is one of America’s last true beach towns. Just minutes from historic downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is a 12 square mile barrier island that is packed with things to do, see and eat. This is a funky, laid-back, come-as-you-are kind of beach. The pace is invitingly slow, the people are captivatingly unique and the shops and restaurants will receive you with good old fashioned Southern charm and hospitality. It won’t take long for you to feel right at home.

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River, visitors enjoy six miles of wide beaches, surfing, fishing, biking, kayaking, boating, eco-tours, and sea wildlife including several endangered species. The sunsets on Folly are legendary, so make sure you have plenty of space on your camera or smart phone … seriously, free up lots of space!

A few steps from the beach, downtown Folly features an eclectic array of locally owned stores and restaurants. Fun bohemian clothing, beach knick-knacks and surf shops are mixed with fantastic seafood restaurants, casual cafes and one-of-a-kind bars. With live music coming from all directions and fruity cocktails calling your name, your cares will melt away as you become lost in the Folly lifestyle. And when the sun goes down, Center Street becomes a lively mix of beach-casual nightlife and rooftop dance clubs.

Whether you need a beach front home for 20 or a romantic room for the two of you, Folly Beach is the perfect spot for vacations, reunions, beach weddings, or just a quick weekend getaway. Come visit us at ‘The Edge of America’ … you’ll love life on the edge.

I have to say, for a marketing blurb, it’s fairly accurate.  Folly absolutely felt like a funky, laid-back beach town.  We had some great seafood, some delicious cocktails and listened to some live music.  Everyone we met there was friendly and welcoming.  The staff at our hotel were exceptionally good (and after the really awful staff at our first hotel, this was a welcome change).

Speaking of our hotel, we stayed at Tides Folly Beach.

What I thought was really unique about this hotel was that every room was truly ocean-front.  In the photo above you’re looking at the street facing side of the building.  This is where the open air hallways and doors to the rooms are.  I’ve put a little arrow on the photo to show the location of our room, we were on the 7th floor.

Once you step into the room, all you’ll notice is the wall of glass looking out the opposite side onto the Atlantic Ocean.

Full disclosure, I did not take that photo.  I borrowed it from the web.  However, that is basically what our room looked like with the exception of the pretty aqua colored bed spreads.  We had some really drab beige colored spreads that were itchy and kind of gross.  Also, our room never looked that tidy.  One of the outcomes of COVID is that most hotels no longer clean your room during your stay.  I’ve stayed in … let’s see … five hotel rooms over the last year and none of them offered maid service every day.  The Disney hotels cleaned your room every 3rd day, but the rest did not clean the room at all regardless of duration of stay.  The Tides staff did say that you can request maid service, but you have to do so 24 hours in advance.  We probably should have done that because by day 3 there was so much sand on our floor that we may as well have been sleeping on the beach.

But … that view!

That view was worth having a little sand on the floor.

While lying in bed you couldn’t even see the beach, just the water, so it felt a lot like being on a cruise ship with the vast ocean outside your window (minus the motion of the ship).

I was fascinated by the pelicans that would glide silently past our balcony.  Since we were on the 7th floor, they were right at eye level.  I was never quick enough with my camera to get a photo of them from the room, but I did snap this one from the beach.

Looking down from our juliette balcony (if you aren’t familiar, this is a balcony that is only about 2′ wide, no space for chairs) you’ll see the pool.

I took that photo in the early morning before it was full of screaming children playing.  For the remainder of the daylight hours the pool was packed full.  As a result, we never went there, choosing instead to spend our time on the beach.

If you step out the door from your room into the open air hallway, you’ll see Center Street which basically ends at the hotel.

This street is lined with restaurants, bars and souvenir shops.  I’ve put an arrow on the photo showing our favorite place to eat, Rita’s Seaside Grille.

We ate there three times … no wait … four times.  Three of which were breakfast.  They had the most amazing Belgian waffles and a delicious peach bellini mimosa.

In the end, our favorite thing to do at the beach is to get up early and walk along the shore.

In my experience not all beach locales are conducive to this activity.  For example, we once stayed at La Jolla de Mismaloya in Puerto Vallarta which is situated in a cove that didn’t allow you to walk much in either direction.

But you can walk quite far on Folly Beach (the beach is six miles long).  We walked to the southern-most tip of the island where the Folly River meets the Atlantic one morning, and as you can see we pretty much had it entirely to ourselves.

We debated walking up the other direction to see the Morris Island lighthouse, but in the end we decided we weren’t up for the 8 miles round trip.

We enjoyed checking out some of the beachfront homes while we were out walking.

Mr. Q and I dreamed about how amazing it would be to live right on the beach.  We don’t even need a big ol’ fancy house like that one.  We’d be happy in a little cottage by the sea.  But as seems to be the trend in most waterfront locations, there are only a handful of small vintage cottages remaining.  I suspect that they get torn down to make way for the huge, expensive homes.  Although, to be fair, Hurricane Hugo did blast through Folly Beach in 1989 damaging many of the homes.  That may also explain why there are so few small, older beach cottages left.

One last thing.  Before you get the impression that the beach always looked like this …

Let me clarify.

That’s how it looked at 7 a.m. before anyone showed up.  Later in the day this beach was positively packed with people.

If you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful beach vacation, this may not be the spot for you.  However, it’s a great spot for families, and for those looking for more of a party atmosphere.

As we realized at the end of our beach stay, Mr. Q and I are really rather lame.  We could have done so much more in Folly Beach, rented bikes, taken surfing lessons, played volleyball, danced all night at the rooftop bars, but instead we mostly just relaxed on the beach, ate delicious seafood, and enjoyed a few cocktails.

FYI, that shrimp was delicious, and the cocktail was called ‘And Just Like That’, so clearly I had to have one (it was your basic Cosmopolitan with the addition of POM juice).

As you can probably tell from my photos, we were blessed with absolutely perfect weather the entire time we were in Folly.  This was a great way to end our Charleston vacation.  Although we stayed right there on the beach, you could also easily plan a day at Folly Beach while staying in Charleston as well.

Before I totally wrap up my Charleston blog posts, I have another paint giveaway for you guys.  Obviously, this one is inspired by the colors of Folly Beach; Stormy Seas, Endless Shore and Wharf.

The rules:  To be eligible to win, simply leave a comment on this blog post (you could tell me about your favorite beach.  Folly Beach was fabulous, but my all-time favorite beach is definitely White Bay on Jost van Dyke.)

Your comment must be left on this blog post, not on Facebook or Instagram.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Sunday, May 22, 2022 at the stroke of midnight (U.S. Central time).

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $95, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, May 27, 2022 another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint I’m giving away today.

when biscuits get vicious.

Whenever I travel, I like to look up local brick and mortar shops that carry the products I like to use such as Dixie Belle Paint, or I.O.D. or re.design with prima transfers.  If a shop carries those products, they also tend to have other things that appeal to me.

So when I was planning our trip to Charleston, I visited the ‘find a retailer’ pages on the Dixie Belle website and the Iron Orchid Designs website.   I ended up finding a shop in Summerville, South Carolina called A Brush of Color that carried the I.O.D. stuff, and another called Antiques & Artisans Village that carried Dixie Belle products.

In addition to that, one of my lovely readers, Victoria, lives in South Carolina and when I asked her for recommendations on things to do she suggested eating at a place called Vicious Biscuit.  I looked them up online and found that they had a location in Summerville as well.

Then I did a little more research on YouTube and learned that Summerville has a self-guided historic homes tour and that you can get a guide and map at their Visitor’s Center.

Well, it seemed like a day trip to Summerville was a no-brainer.  It was also easily accomplished because we had a rental car.  It’s about a 40 minute drive from Charleston, so a car was necessary.

Our first stop in Summerville was Vicious Biscuit so that we could fortify ourselves for the day.

Having lived in the south for a decade or so when I was younger, I developed an appreciation for a good biscuit.  So I was super excited about this place.

There was a bit of a line to get in when we got there, so we knew it was going to be good.

I ordered what I consider one of the quintessential southern breakfasts, and also one of my personal favorites, biscuits and gravy with a scrambled egg on top.

Yum, it was delicious!

By the way, for those of you who have always wondered about the Dixie Belle paint color called Sawmill Gravy, this is what it’s named after.  The sausage gravy that goes over biscuits.

Mr. Q ordered the Vicious Beignets.

He was a little disappointed that these weren’t authentic beignets, but instead were deep fried biscuit dough.  But once he got over that, he loved them.

All I can say is that it seems to be a good thing when biscuits get vicious!  Thanks for that recommendation Victoria!

After filling up on biscuits, we headed to the Summerville Visitor’s Center to grab that historic homes guide.  While we were at it, we picked up a couple of other visitor guides as well.

As it turned out, we had missed their Flowertown Festival by one week (it was the previous weekend).  Judging by the number of porta-potties they still had in town, I’m guessing we dodged a bullet there.  I’m not sure we would have enjoyed dealing with those crowds.

Instead, we pretty much had the place to ourselves for the self-guided home tour.  And that was just fine with us.

All of the homes on the tour were built in the 1800’s including the one above which dates to somewhere around 1885.

One of my favorite houses on the tour was the William Prioleau House.  This house was built in 1896 in the Queen Anne style.  I just love that metal roof, although I’m guessing the rusty-ness of it is probably a bad thing (I’m sorry, but the practical, accountant side of my brain is now thinking how crazy expensive it would be to replace that roof, if you could even find someone willing to tackle the job!).

The Oliver House (below) is well known for its mansard roof and the distinctive circular wrought iron gate leading to the front walk.  It was built in 1888.

The Samuel Lord/Elizabeth Arden House (below) was built in 1891 and is considered more representative of Charleston homes.

This house was purchased by Elizabeth Arden in 1954, and that red door is the door that inspired her Red Door perfume.

I was a little confused when Mr. Q read from the guide and told me this next house was a crack house.

It seemed like a strange thing to put on a historic home tour.  But no, it’s actually the Kracke House and was built in 1886.

The Blake Washington House (below) was built in 1862.

This is a typical plantation style house with wide open porches both up and down that wrap around the house.  I am green with envy over those porches, wouldn’t they be fun to furnish?  If you look closely you might be able to see that the ceilings of the porches are painted in a pale sky blue.

Painting your porch ceiling blue is a southern thing, and I’ve heard two explanations for it.  The first, more pragmatic, reason is that it confuses wasps and/or birds into thinking the ceiling is really the sky so they don’t build their nests there.  But the second explanation I’ve heard is that painting your porch ceiling the color of water was supposed to keep ghosts away because spirits can’t cross water.  In fact, this color is called ‘haint blue’ for that reason, ‘haint’ being a Gullah term for a ghost, or more specifically, a restless spirit.

So, hey, that explains another Dixie Belle color, Haint Blue.

And as a sidebar, my own porch ceiling is painted in this color because I always loved the blue porch ceilings when I lived in the south.

Little did I realize that I was also keeping restless spirits at bay.  It’s a win/win.

After checking out the historic homes, we headed to the first shop on my list, A Brush of Color.

Just from the setup outside, I knew this shop was going to be right up my alley.

And just inside the door I knew I was in the right place.

Doesn’t that look just like something I would do (for those who don’t recognize it, that is a portion of the IOD transfer called Label Ephemera).

And isn’t this buffet gorgeous?

That is the IOD Midnight Garden transfer, and since this shop sold Annie Sloan chalk paint, I’m sure those are Annie Sloan paints.  But you could create a similar blended look using Dixie Belle’s Collard Greens, Kudzu and Spanish Moss.

The shop owner here was super friendly and welcoming.  I chatted with her for quite a while.  Unfortunately her shipment of the newest IOD release hadn’t come in yet, so I wasn’t able to find the newest paint inlay that I am obsessed with (I did order it online when I got home and you’ll see it here eventually).

After checking out a couple of other shops on the main street of Summerville, we hopped into the car and headed to the second shop on my list, Antiques and Artisans Village.  I neglected to take any photos of that one.  It was your typical strip mall location with a big space divided into ‘booths’ for various vendors.  It was mostly antique dealers, which I only enjoy in very small doses (high prices, lots of knick knacks, etc).  They did have a fairly good selection of Dixie Belle products though.

One last thing before we leave Summerville.  I just had to share this …

We saw this near the park, and I have to admit it brought a tear to my eye.  What a sweet gesture and a lovely way to remember a beloved pet.

After drooling over the window boxes, taking the hidden alley tour, walking around south of Broad, and visiting Middleton Place and Summerville, the last half of our Charleston vacation was spent at the beach.  I’ll have one last post next week about that, so stay tuned for that.

Typically in the past when I’ve traveled I’ve brought home something to give away here on the blog, but I neglected to do that this time.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t still have a Charleston themed giveaway!

It was easy to find lots of options in the Dixie Belle paint line that were appropriate.  I debated including Haint Blue, Sawmill Gravy, or Collard Greens but I ended up with these three colors; Kudzu, Antebellum Blue and Spanish Moss plus one of their flat medium brushes.

The rules:  Simply leave a comment on this blog post letting me know what has been your favorite post about Charleston to be eligible to win.

Your comment must be left on this blog post, not on Facebook or Instagram.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Sunday, May 15, 2022 at the stroke of midnight (U.S. Central time).

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $95, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, May 20, 2022 another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint I’m giving away today.

the best laid plans.

One thing I don’t think I’ve mentioned about our recent trip is why we originally chose to visit Charleston in April.  The timing was supposed to coincide with the blooming of the azaleas.

According to my research, azaleas bloom anywhere from mid-March to late April in South Carolina.  I was never able to take a trip during azalea season while I was employed because that was also the exact timing of our annual audit.  So one of the items on my post-retirement bucket list was a trip to see the azaleas in bloom (another is a trip to the Netherlands to see the tulips in bloom, maybe next year?).

But as all of you gardeners out there know, the timing of spring blooms can be somewhat unpredictable.  The weather can have an impact, it can depend on how soon things start to warm up.  So even though we visited Charleston the first two weeks of April, we pretty much missed most of the azaleas, except for that little patch of them in Waterfront Park that I shared earlier.

  I suspect that the storm we flew in on (with torrential rain and high winds) didn’t help either.

My grand plan for viewing azaleas included a trip to Middleton Place, the oldest landscaped gardens in America.  The gardens were originally laid out in 1741 and they were inspired by the gardens at Versailles.

Here is how I was picturing the gardens at Middleton (photo borrowed from the web) …

And here is how they actually looked.

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans …

And although I was disappointed to have missed the azaleas, I definitely was not disappointed with our visit to Middleton Place.

You have to remember that when we left home there was still snow on the ground, and actually, it was snowing when we returned home too!  So I was quite happy to wander around these gardens and just admire the green.  The fact that is was also a gloriously sunny day and around 70 degrees didn’t hurt either.

It was not crowded at all the day we visited.  Probably because most people were aware that the azaleas were done.  I suspect that when the azaleas are at their most magnificent, the place is packed.

There were a handful of azalea blooms here and there, and a few of the camellias still had flowers as well.  So I did see some color.

But Middleton Place is definitely worth a visit even if there isn’t anything blooming.

There are 110 acres full of paths, formal gardens, and secret gardens to explore.

Just beware that, as all the signs say, the gators are real.

Yikes!  I have to admit, those guys freaked me out a little.  But they pretty much seemed to be minding their own business, and we didn’t get too close to them.

Prior to the civil war, the house at Middleton Place consisted of a main center building with a ‘flanker’ on either side.  It was burned down by union troops in 1865.  The south flanker was the least damaged and thus was repaired and continued to function as a home until 1975 when it was turned into a museum.

It’s certainly a lovely building, but probably not quite what you picture in your head when you hear ‘plantation’.

You can pay extra for a guided tour of the inside (which is the only way to get inside), but we chose to forgo that.

You don’t have to pay extra to explore the stable yards which serve as an open air museum with costumed artisans explaining the functions of the various buildings and the craftmanship of the era.

We chatted with the blacksmith who showed us how they made nails, the cooper who was making wooden buckets, the potter who was making clay pots, and the seamstress who was spinning wool.  All four of them knew a lot about their craft and it was very interesting to visit with them.

They also have livestock including cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and horses at Middleton.

Now you know I’m always keeping an eye out for furniture inspiration, and I found some in the candle making building.

Isn’t that an awesome chippy cupboard?  I love the zinc top that is nailed all around the edge.

Despite missing the azaleas, I enjoyed visiting Middleton Place.  However, if you’re looking for a more traditional visit to a “plantation” while in the south, this may not fill the bill.  There are a few other options in the area including Drayton Hall and Magnolia Plantation.

Do you have any recommendations to share with others?  If so, be sure to leave a comment and let us know!

south of broad.

On our recent Charleston vacation, we stayed at the La Quinta Charleston Riverview, which is just across the Ashley River from the historic part of town.  Let me just say, this hotel was not great.  The traffic noise in our room was deafening, the hotel staff were awful (we had two hangers in our room and when we stopped at the front desk to ask for more we got a shrug and ‘I don’t know if we have any extra hangers’).  The included breakfast was so bad we only ate it once (and that was with a spoon because when we asked for forks we got another shrug and ‘we don’t have any forks’, apparently there is a hanger and fork shortage in the south).  I could go on, but suffice to say, I do not recommend staying at this hotel.  There must be better options out there.

That being said, we chose it because it was on the cheaper end … so I have to remind myself that you get what you pay for.  Lesson learned, it might be wise to pay a little more for your hotel.  I will say that it was in a pretty convenient location though if you have a car.  It was less than a 10 minute drive into the heart of historic downtown, and there was plenty of free parking at the hotel.  Although their website says that they have a free shuttle to downtown, when we arrived we were told that they no longer provide a shuttle.  Fortunately, we had rented a car and weren’t counting on their shuttle.

After our formal guided walking tour the previous day, on day two in Charleston we decided to just wander the historic district on our own.  We drove to an area called the Battery because my research told me that there was free parking to be had if you got there early.

  Since we’re early risers, and we were skipping that bad hotel breakfast, it was no problem to be parking the car in one of those free spots by 8 a.m.  Although it was overcast and the forecast called for rain, we never did get wet.

We walked along the battery towards Bakehouse Charleston where we knew we could get good coffee and some pastries (and FYI, their frozen mint lemonade is totally delicious too).

It’s a lovely walk where you can admire beautiful old antebellum houses along one side, and pretty water views along the other (and there are those free parking spaces in the foreground, as you can see they were filling up already).

This house along the Battery caught my eye.  It stood out because it was looking a little worse for the wear (this would have been a good one for your dad to fix up Connie), I wonder if it’s a popular stop on the many ghost tours that are offered in Charleston.

Check out that big ol’ crack in the foundation.  Yikes!  I can just imagine how expensive it is to maintain these old homes.  I’m so glad there are people out there willing to do it.  And FYI, this was the exception, not the rule.  For the most part the homes along here were in immaculate condition.

Once we were fortified with coffee and pastries, we headed out towards Waterfront Park.

This is where I found some of the only azaleas blooming for the entire trip (more on that in a future post).

This is also where you’ll find the Pineapple Fountain.

It’s a lovely place to just stroll around.

Just a sidebar note for any of my fellow cruisers out there, there was a Carnival ship docked right there at the pier.

So if you ever end up on a cruise that stops in Charleston, I can tell you that you are going to be docked right in the heart of the historic district and everything I’m sharing with you in this post is within easy walking distance of the ship.

And this brings me to one of the absolute highlights of our trip, for me at least.  Wandering through the neighborhood called South of Broad.

First off, if you want to avoid the crowds, this is one way to do it.  We did see the occasional horse drawn carriage full of tourists,

but for the most part Mr. Q and I had these streets all to ourselves except for the locals out walking their dogs, and the gardeners who were out cleaning up after the previous night’s storms.

My goal was simply to admire the houses …

and the gardens …

up close and personal-like (gosh I envy their boxwood!).  And there’s no better way to do that than on foot.

I’m fairly sure that Mr. Q deserves a medal of some kind for being OK with just wandering around this neighborhood for a couple of hours, stopping every 30 seconds so I could take another picture.

And even being willing to pose next to a giant planter to show the scale.  Seriously, that thing was huge.

Speaking of huge planters, check these out.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

Charleston is known for something called a single house, and there were quite a few examples in this neighborhood.

A single house is one room wide, with a porch running the length of the house down the side.  That door you see in the photo above leads to stairs up to the porch.  The actual front door to the house is in the middle of the porch.  If you want to learn more about single houses, check out this informative article from charlestonlivability.com.

Another really cool detail on the houses in Charleston were the gas lanterns.  I initially thought the flickering flames they gave off were some kind of fancy light bulb, but I asked our guide on the Alley tour and he said they were genuinely gas fueled flames.  Since it was a rather dreary overcast day, those lanterns added a warm, cozy feel.  They also go a long way towards convincing you that you are visiting a bygone era somehow.

Now, get ready for some serious eye candy … well, at least for my fellow gardeners out there.  I totally stopped and drooled over every garden we passed by.  Some of them were front and center for everyone to see.

While others were tucked away behind wrought iron.

Wrought iron being another thing that Charleston is known for.

Is there any better combination than wrought iron and wisteria?

This planted staircase also caught my eye.

Isn’t that unique?  I don’t know that I could do anything like that here in Minnesota.  What plant would survive our winters in that little amount of soil?  And how would you clear a foot of snow off those steps without disturbing the plants?  Hmmmm.

I’m afraid I might be coming off as some kind of snoop here, peering through gates and over hedges (and just to be clear, I did not trespass.  I stayed on the public sidewalk or street the entire time).  But my philosophy on gardening is this; if you go to this much trouble to have a beautiful garden, you probably want other people to see and admire it too.

Tell me fellow gardeners, am I wrong?  Does anyone garden simply for their own enjoyment, unwilling to share the beauty with others?

I didn’t just admire the gardens, I drooled over the houses too.

Our self-guided tour was made even easier by the frequent presence of plaques giving the history of notable houses.

We saw quite a few of these, and they gave lots of interesting information.

So if those aren’t an invitation to snoop around, I don’t know what is.

If you ever get to Charleston, I absolutely recommend taking some time to just walk around this beautiful neighborhood.  Get some coffee to go at Bakehouse Charleston and then just stroll around.  While it’s easy to get turned around, the area is small enough that you never can actually get lost (kind of like Venice, right bff?!).  There always seems to be a glimpse of the water around the next corner to re-orient you.

Although I have some more posts coming up about some day trips we took from Charleston, this is the last one about Charleston proper.  Just in case any of you are planning a trip there, I can also recommend the following things we did:

Touring the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

This is a great way to learn about the history of Charleston.

Visiting the Gibbes museum of art.

The Gibbes is small (at least compared to our MIA here in Minneapolis), but really well done.  If you’re interested in furniture (um, you are, right?), it’s worth a quick visit.  My favorite exhibit was the miniature portraits though.  Definitely go see those.

Taking a food tour with Bulldog Tours.

This is a great way to learn a little bit about the cuisine in Charleston and how it was formed by the varied cultural influences of French Huguenot and English settlers, and of course the African slaves, combined with the local food sources available.  I admit, I never did quite understand where the banana pudding came into play, but it was delicious.

Eating amazing BBQ at Home Team BBQ.

They have a few different locations, we ate at the one on the Ashley River Road.  It’s fairly unassuming looking from the outside.  We just stumbled upon it when driving back to our hotel one afternoon.  Mr. Q had the BBQ nachos with pulled pork, and yes, he ate all of it!  I discovered my love of Carolina mustard based bbq sauce there.  Yum!

So, I’m curious.  What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation.  Would you also be content to walk around and admire beautiful houses and gardens?  Do you enjoy museums?  Are you interested in the local cuisine?  Or do you prefer more adventurous activities like rock climbing or skiing?  Or maybe you’d rather just a sit on a beach with a cocktail (don’t worry, that activity is coming up later too).  Leave a comment and let me know!

the hidden alleys of charleston.

As I mentioned recently, I have a thing for alleys with the exception of Minneapolis alleys that have a 6″ thick crust of ice in the winter and you’re trying to load a dresser into your van.  But otherwise, alleys always have a mysterious allure that draws me in and makes me want to see where they lead.

And the narrower, the better, right?  Well, as long as you’re on foot.

I think part of the appeal of the alley is that you can get a sneak peek into areas that aren’t necessarily seen from the regular street, without getting arrested for trespassing.

So when I saw that there was a walking tour in Charleston called Charleston’s Hidden Alleys & Passages, naturally I had to book it.

We booked the tour for our first morning in Charleston so we could get the lay of the land and have an idea which areas we wanted to go back and explore further later in our stay.

We were a little worried about the weather forecast.  We had flown in the night before during severe thunderstorms and a tornado watch (something I absolutely do not recommend).  And there was the potential for more severe thunderstorms the day of our tour.  As you can see in my photos, things were definitely wet.

But miraculously, aside from a brief light drizzle, we stayed pretty dry.  We never even pulled out the umbrellas we’d brought along.

And really, I think the overcast skies just added a misty romantic ambiance to the experience.

From a photography point of view, the gray skies made it much easier for me to get great photos in these alleys where the shadows would have been very deep and dark on a bright, sunny day.

One of the alleys we visited was the Philadelphia Alley.

How amazing is it that this alley was created in 1766 and we are still walking on it today.

According to our guide the bricks making up this alley were made by slaves, and the slave children had the job of turning the bricks as they dried in the sun.  As a result, their small handprints can be seen in many of the bricks.

Legend has it that this alley was also a popular spot for duels and that it’s haunted to this day by a man who lost his life there.  I didn’t run into him, but hey, you never know.  I will admit that between the ghostly handprints and the story of duels being fought, it was a little spooky.

One of the last stops on our tour was the Gateway Walk.

The Gateway Walk is an informal trail through gardens and graveyards.  It’s named for the many wrought iron gates that you pass through along the way.

Part of this walkway leads you through the Unitarian churchyard.

Oh my gosh you guys, is this not what you picture every southern cemetery must look like?

Filled with ancient tombstones and trees draped with spanish moss?

And camellias?  It definitely should have camellias.

Is that the most perfect shade of pink?

I really couldn’t stop taking photos of this place.

You might be wondering to yourself why the Unitarians don’t take better care of their graveyard, keeping it mowed, weed-free and tidy.

Instead it looks overgrown and unkempt.

But apparently this churchyard “is a garden that is allowed to flow and blossom and bloom right over and around the many old gravestones. This natural state is in keeping with Unitarian beliefs about the web of creation.”

I kind of love that concept, how about you?

Although this tour was very well done, I have to say that I wish our guide had focused more on the alleys themselves.

He led us through the alleys while talking about the history of Charleston in general.  So, while it was lovely to be walking through all of these amazing spots, in many cases he never even mentioned the name of the alley or any history associated with it.  I found a lot more information online while writing this post and I wish he had shared more of that with us.  This is not to say that he wasn’t incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Charleston, super charming, and quite entertaining.

Would I take this tour again?  Absolutely.  In a heartbeat.  It was a great way to get some background history on Charleston, and to get your bearings.  It also was definitely off the beaten path.  And trust me, that beaten path in Charleston is pretty well beaten.  But if you want to save yourself the $30/person we paid for it, with a little research and planning you could also easily wander these alleys on your own using info available online here and here.  My next post will explain how we did exactly that the following day, so be sure to stay tuned.

the window boxes of charleston.

First up, congrats to Jill H.!  I drew her name at random to win my giveaway of paint from Dixie Belle’s new Desert Collection.  I’ve got a couple more giveaways planned for the next month or two, so if you didn’t win this time, don’t give up.  There will be more chances coming soon.

Well dear readers, I have to confess that I have pulled a fast one.  Mr. Q and I were in Charleston, South Carolina over the past two weeks.  I probably err on the side of caution, but I’ve always felt it unwise to broadcast it to the world when our house is going to sit empty … well, semi-empty anyway.  Our cat, Lucy, was on guard duty.  And Ken kept an eye on Lucy, and things in general, from next door.

But now we are back!  And we had an amazing time.  So, fair warning, you’re going to see a few Charleston themed posts coming up because I took a lot of photos.  Charleston has to be one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited.  It has a lot going for it, gorgeous old homes, stunning gardens, delicious food, and lots of history.

I’ll be sharing more on all of those things, but for today I wanted to share something that I saw all over the place in Charleston … beautiful window boxes!

As you may know, we have several window boxes at our house.  So I was definitely scoping out the various combinations of plants to get ideas for my own window boxes this year.

One trend that I noted in Charleston were window boxes that included some perennials in the mix rather than just relying on flowering annuals.  The lime green heuchera in the box below is gorgeous combined with pansies and petunias.

Here is another box that used the same lime green heuchera.

I love how they used a lemon cypress to add some vertical interest in the middle of that one too.  I may have to copy that idea.

This next box includes a deep purple heuchera that contrasts beautifully with the variegated leaves of that tropical looking plant (I don’t know what that plant is, so if any of you are familiar with it please be sure to leave a comment to let us know).

That box is a great example of using foliage rather than flowers to make a statement.

I would guess that you can keep perennials alive in a window box year round in the southern climate of Charleston (hardiness zone 8).  Unfortunately, here in Minnesota our winter temps get far too low to keep most perennials from freezing beyond recovery unless they are in the ground.  The rule of thumb for a perennial surviving winter in an above ground planter is to choose a plant with a hardiness zone two times lower than your normal zone.  Since the twin cities are a zone 4, I’d need to find plants hardy to zone 2 before I could expect them to survive the winter in a planter.

Of course, I could also simply treat the heuchera (or any perennial) as an annual and replant it every year.

I saw a few other options for more permanent window box plants, like boxwood.

At least I’m fairly sure that’s boxwood (if any of you know differently, let me know).  There aren’t many varieties of boxwood that do well in my area, so I’m not that familiar with it.  But I love the idea of underplanting an evergreen of some kind with flowering annuals.

Here’s another example of a box using an evergreen.

There were a few gardeners who were really thinking outside the box (pardon the pun) when it came to plant choices for their window boxes.

I love the use of cyclamen in this one …

And how unique is the use of orchids in this next one?

Now, I’m not sure, but I believe that big round leafed plant is a leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum).  Apparently this plant used to be considered a ligularia, but has been reclassified.

Here is it in another box …

I saw quite a lot of this plant growing in the ground as well.  Clearly whatever it’s called, it does very well in the Charleston climate.

I would never have thought to use a calla lily in a window box, and here it is combined with more of that lime green heuchera and some yellow pansies creating an amazing bright pop of color.

I have to admit I’m not usually a huge fan of yellow, but that combination is gorgeous.

I’m going to go off on a tangent for just a moment and admire the green color on those shutters and how beautifully it works with the plant choices in the window boxes as well.

Around the other side of this same house, they went in a slightly different direction with their plant choices incorporating some purple tones.

I saw window boxes with more monochromatic themes in Charleston too.

Such as this one with white begonias, euphorbia and bacopa.

And this one in purply pinks.

I was thinking that tall plant is a mandevilla.  I’ve only seen mandevilla’s as a vine, but apparently they come in a mounding variety as well.  Or maybe that is a different plant entirely, does anyone know?

The cool color scheme of this next one with its pop of blue pansies and purple Scaevola aemula combined with white alyssum and snap dragons really appeals to me.

You’d have to swap out the pansies when the weather becomes too hot for them (they like it cool).  I’m guessing that the owner of this window box pulls them out and puts something else in for summer.

I was especially impressed by the combination of gerbera daisies and kalanchoe in this next window box.  Those pinks match each other almost perfectly.

And to cap it off, this one was decorated for Easter.

See what I mean?  There are little eggs tucked in here and there.  It’s subtle, and I love it.

As you can see, everywhere I looked in Charleston I saw gorgeous window boxes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them as much as I did.  I’ve certainly come away with a few ideas that I plan to use in my own window boxes this year (you know, once they finally thaw out).  How about you?  Do you have any favorite plants, or combination of plants that you like to use?  If so, be sure to leave a comment and let us know!

I also hope you’ll stay tuned for more posts about our recent trip to Charleston.