Boskey Dell Native Nursery Visit

I’ve wanted to visit Boskey Dell Native nursery ever since it was recommended to me on an herb walk a while back. Located in West Linn, Oregon; a cute little town just south of Portland. So, when my husband decided we needed a driving adventure to Oswego Lake(another little town south of Portland) I jumped at the opportunity knowing we would be close to Boskey Dell Natives.


After a lovely lunch and community garden stop in Lake Oswego (more about that later) we found it, a Native Nursery like no other.

There are some native herbs here in the Pacific North West that I would like to take back and grow on my farm in Middle TN. Like Oregon Grape; which you have to admit seems rather appropriate considering it is native to Oregon and the official state flower. We have Mahonia aplenty in Middle Tennessee but I wanted a woodland species not so readily available like Mahonia repens, a low growing spreader.

I also am intrigued with Ceanothus (California Lilac) another Pacific Coast native herb that I have always admired in England and Scotland (before I realized it where it was from). It is a spring bloomer that pollinators just love and the blue color is just so pretty. I hope with a well drained and protected sunny spot I can convince this blue stunner to be happy in my garden where humidity and clay reign…and where cold to hot (and visa versa) weather fluctuations is the norm. A girl can dream and perhaps with a little gardening know how, well time will tell.


We arrived at Boskey Dell Natives late afternoon and when I stepped out of the car and was greeted by a small flock of hens I knew it was going to be a fun experience. The nursery was made up of rooms filled with containers based on the plant cultural needs…sun, shade, protection from winds, etc.  IMG_4876

As I rounded the first corner, there was a vintage sink under an evergreen tree with Touch-me-not or Jewelweed growing in it. Perfect since, this wild herb thrives in a wet, shady habitat.



I watched customers push their carts loaded with plants and couldn’t help but hear them talking excitedly about what they needed for where in their gardens.


As I looked around and waited to ask someone where I might find the plants I had come for I noticed all the interesting vintage architectural pieces that had been added to the greenhouse ends that gave them a warm inviting feel. IMG_4871I like to be surprised by unusual old stuff that has been repurposed and at every   turn I was delighted.IMG_4878


After I had found the native plants I was looking for, had paid for them, and was headed to the car I met the owner, Lory Duralia. A woman after my own heart, after talking to her for just a short time I knew we were kindred spirits. Lory graciously took the time to take me on a tour to show me her latest projects and explain to me how she creates and works along side mother nature to build habitats to ensure a balance in her gardens, business and life. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her sense of style is inspirational. Her love of antiques is beyond obvious and how she incorporates them into every aspect of her life is beyond fun…a page out of Country Living on steroids.IMG_4868


She showed me her new building that she built as a memorial to her mother with an owl apartment above. Every old window, door, beam, and architectural piece has a story. And as for the owls, she didn’t exactly have any but her, “if you build it they will come” attitude worked as there are a pair of screech owls who have taken up residence, now granted they aren’t in the foretold apartment but they are close, roosting on the beams just under the apartment.

IMG_4860    IMG_4861

Another project was a remodel or build out of a carport/garage where she made a habitat or respite place for people…anyone who needs a place to come and get quiet with some comfortable chairs, woodstove and a window that overlooks a small creek meandering through peaceful green woods.

IMG_4857A place to duck out of the world for a spell to collect oneself, “It works for me”, she says with a smile.


Lory’s love of flora, fauna and folks, young and old are apparent everywhere you look. She is a giver and she will be the first to tell you it comes back over and over again as she shares her passion of nature with others.

Lory in her 'happy place'

Lory in her ‘happy place’


She takes her stewardship of her piece of this earth seriously and encourages everyone to build habitats to enjoy wherever you live. Thank you Lory and I look forward to a return visit to Boskey Dell Natives soon. 🙂



Charleston is for….Gardener Lovers

Charleston is a historic port city that offers a little something for everyone, beaches, city life, history, art, education, fine restaurants, shopping and my personal favorite…gardens.

It’s not the big arboretums or public gardens that I’m talking about (although I’m sure they are wonderful), but the private courtyard gardens of the historic district downtown off the Battery point between the Cooper and Ashley River.

It is easy to get lost, physically and in thought as I wander about looking at the old homes and the gardens they sit in.  The architecture alone is incredible but combine that with a diverse variety of plant life and I’m beyond garden envy!  There are so many ideas to ponder especially for small urban gardeners.

I love taking my time to frame pictures…residents welcome the attention given to their gardens and many leave the garden doors open for tourist to take a peek inside.  A few put up ‘private’ signs which I can appreciate and respect.

I was thankful for below average temperatures in November, which meant fewer tourists so my daughter and I could walk and gush and snap photos to our hearts content.  We felt like we were on a private (self) tour and the hot latte at a local bakery tasted all the better as we warmed ourselves up before heading back out to take in more of Charleston courtyard garden life.











































A Visit to Grandad’s Apple Farm

A recent visit to Grandad’s (no, not my Grandad) Apple Farm in Hendersonville, NC really got me in the mood for fall…even though it was 98 degrees on September 24th! You can’t help but love people who are having fun at what they do. These folks seem to exude bushels of it and the entertainment starts from the minute you pull into their drive.

After all, how many times do you see a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the goat pen eating some poor bloke? The resident lama whose job is to protect the goats from harm didn’t seem to notice the large intruder in his midst. Perhaps his eyes were crossed from all the cabbage he was ingesting.

A Stegosaurus was in the pumpkin patch…how many pumpkins a day does it take to fill him up?

As my friend and tour guide Jennie and I walked into the farm market the smell of fresh baked pumpkin bread and apples wafted through the air. There were large bins of apples and the best part was they were all labeled with large signs. I especially appreciated it because it takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out which variety is which.

A very patient young lady was peeling and slicing samples for all of us customers to sample. Honey crisp was a new one to me that was really sweet. We voted for the lovely green mutsu with its crisp and tart innards (I was thinking how grateful I was to still have mine after passing through Jurassic Park on the way in!) As I wandered around and looked out the back of the building, the cornfield maze and mountains made a scenic background. Workers were bringing in apples and fall vegetables from the back to continually fill up the bins while customers were loading bags of apples, pumpkins, gourds, and veggies into their vehicles in the front.

Jennie bought apple cider and pumpkin bread and it reminded me of the apple orchards in Northern Michigan where apple cider and fresh made hot doughnuts team up to usher in autumn tourists. As we meandered about looking for more oddities I had to wonder who parks their tractor on top of a silo. Maybe they were protecting their John Deere from the dinosaurs? Or was it some mountain gnome’s idea of a practical joke? They’re everywhere you know. It was all quite perplexing to us adults but as I took one last look I felt quite sure that any visiting children would find everything in perfect order.

The Guilford County Master Gardeners

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at the Guildford County Master Gardener 9th annual Gardening Gala and Seminar. 200 garden enthusiasts listened to my presentation of “Kitchen Gardening in the Front Yard”…and what a great audience they we re. Afterwards, I had the chance to talk to many of them as I signed copies of my book, “The Cracked Pot Herb Book” and learned they were from Greensboro and surrounding areas. It is always a pleasure to hang out with a bunch of gardeners at events like these. They all come ready to learn, enjoy great food, win door prizes, buy plants and gardening accessories from the vendors and meet and chat it up with other people who love gardening. The Guildford Master Gardeners have a wonderful demonstration and community garden which I had fun meandering through. I was told they had been working hard in the gardens to get them ready for this annual fall event and it showed…they were beautiful! They had a huge rain barrel from which to water from and I have to admit I did experience a bit of rain barrel envy when I saw it. That barrel must hold a good bit of rain.

I loved their outdoor classroom and vermi-culture area. What a great facility to hold workshops and gardening demos in the garden. The public is welcome and the Master Gardener volunteers answer questions on occasion in the garden.

I am so impressed with the number of community gardens that North Carolina has and after talking to gardeners who volunteer their time to work in them I am inspired to do more with community gardens in my own neck of the woods.

The Guildford Master Gardeners took such great care of me. They booked me a room in the Proximity in Greensboro. This hotel has won many awards for their sustainable gardens and landscape. The food in their bistro was excellent as well. I ate a mushroom and quinoa stuffed pumpkin with a side salad and beet chips. Yum is all I can say about that!

Many thanks to the Guilford Master Gardeners whose volunteers worked hard to produce and staff such a large event and to the people who came to enjoy the fruits of their labor!

Garden Gnomes Sited in Europe

With all the news lately on Garden Gnomes popping up all over this country, it got me thinking so I took a look at some of my pictures I took last August and sure enough there they were…gnomes.

I wasn’t surprised to find garden gnomes in Germany because my grandmother was German and she had them at her house when I was growing up. That was probably my first experience with these funny looking creatures with the beards and pointy hats. They use to lie around in the garden with big smiles on their faces. Looking back I realize I should have suspected something was amiss, those smirky grins were similar to the ones I remember on my younger brother whenever he was up to no good.
Some of these gnomes in Rothenburg ob der tauber, Germany were a little shy at first. I spotted them hiding behind some plants so I waited around the corner and snuck up on them to snap this photo. They weren’t crazy about posing but when they realized I had bested them they obliged me with a couple of smiles. Later on an adjacent alley I found some little gnomes on this mailbox, I’m not sure what they were up to but they were a tiny variety that I hadn’t seen before. I suspect there were others but the butterflies were hiding them.
It’s so cold in Werfenwng Austria the gnomes hide out inside old Mountain Chalets. Obviously this old gnome descended from a Pine Forest Clan. He wasn’t real excited about getting his picture taken. In fact he was a bit of a curmudgeon but hey wouldn’t you be if someone made you pose on a doily? No self respecting gnome would appreciate that I’m sure.
Now the Swiss Gnomes were having a convention in Appenzell. They had come from near and far and spoke Swiss German, Italian, French and Romansh. What a commotion they were making! They for the most part were pretty happy even though I couldn’t make out a word they were saying but I suspect it was something about beer and cheese…two good reasons to hang out in Appenzell.
Another group of these Swiss Gnomes were jamming – a combination of classical, marching band, jazz and Alpen horn. They were all groovin and movin and didn’t even notice me taking a picture. Although one smart gnome was holdin out his hat… even Swiss Gnomes need beer money I guess.
While in Switzerland we stayed at my Cousin Heinz’s home in Küsnacht. One evening he and Heidi cooked us a lovely dinner which we enjoyed on the patio in the clean mountain air. Imagine my surprise when I caught these two clay gnomes sleeping out in the open beside the garden. Heinz had spotted them earlier while planting some seeds. Clearly use to people because they just laid there and snored all through dinner.

These are just a few of the garden gnomes that we saw on our trip, I haven’t even looked at the pictures I took in Poland, who gnomes what might be lurking in them?

Bury me in a Garden

Cousin Heintz and me checking up on the relatives
in Huntwangen, Switzerland

On my second visit to Switzerland my cousin Heinz picked my friend Diane and I up at the airport in Zurich and took us to the little village Hüntwangen, in the canton of Zurich where my Great Great Great Grandparents came from.

I had been there two years earlier with my husband and was anxious to show my friend. Heinz and his brother Peter still own some of the original property where my ancestors lived and farmed.

We stopped in the village and to look at the spot where my relative’s home had once stood before a fire destroyed it. My relatives lived in the customs house. (This village borders Germany). Then we walked to the chalet of my Great Aunt who had recently passed on. The house was for sale – (about $250, 000. U.S. currency). Heintz showed us around outside. The house was a traditional Swiss home with the barn attached and the remains of a small fenced garden on two sides. Heintz found an old pair of wooden skis that he used as a child in the barn. He spent many happy days in this old place with his mother’s family during school breaks and weekends.

We then walked into what appeared to be someone’s home which it was but also a small restaurant where we had some breakfast. Since I speak no Swiss German and my cousin is fluid in English, Heinz proceeded to ask the owner about some of our relatives. Since both of my Grandparents were from here, seems I am more connected to this village than Heinz. We had a good laugh over that and then he said we should go and check on some of my relatives.

He walked us over to a cemetery where the gardeners, yes gardeners were busy weeding and planting out the gravesites with summer annuals. I looked at him funny because he had told me on the last visit we couldn’t visit our ancestors gravesites because after 25 years they dispose of them (compost I guess) and give their spaces to the newly departed. It is because space is such a premium in a small country he explained. When we got there I realized that was the case and these sites were within the last two decades. But as he pointed out as the village was still very small and not many new folks ever moved in that many of them were indeed related to me.

It is interesting to be able to go back and see where your relatives once lived and worked. It gives you of sense of grounding that I can’t really explain; a piece of belonging really.

Heintz explained to me that when a loved one passes on in Switzerland you can put them in a cemetery for 25 years. You must provide finances to pay for the gardener during that 25 year internment or commit to doing it yourself but if you don’t keep it up you will be billed. At the end of 25 years you can have the headstone if you wish or if you are still here to get it.

This past August I was blessed to travel to Switzerland, Germany, Poland and Austria. This time we saw some other cemeteries in Switzerland and in Austria that were gardens and I’ve decided that I want to be buried in a well tended garden covered with herbs! I know I’m going to being living in an eternal garden with the Master Gardener Himself after I take my last breath but it makes me happy to think that my gravesite full of beautiful plants and flowers could bring peace and joy, a reminder of what is to come in heaven to those still on this earth.

These cemeteries are such a contrast to the ones I have visited in the states. No artificial flowers allowed here. They even provide vases and water if you want to pick fresh flowers to place on the gravesite.

Werfenweng, Austria

Salzburg, Austria

Bienveue a Lafayette

We recently visited Lafayette (pronounced ‘Laugh’ Fayette), LA where our son and his lovely wife toured us around. What a cool place to live. It’s like going to a foreign country without leaving the states. I never thought I would be telling folks I’m from the North when I live in Tennessee. Everything is new and different…flora, fauna, food and French weaved throughout, turning every outing into an adventure. The people are easy going and fun – loving as evidenced in the culture of southern Louisiana.
First stop was the welcome center where they had of course tons of information about the area but also, a small garden area, and a lake that boils with fish and turtles when you toss a slice of bread over the walkway railing.
Black-eyed Susan vines, knockout roses, trumpet flowers and agapanthus were blooming in the garden. We saw agapanthus in bloom throughout the area…it must be hardy this far south.

A music festival was going on in Opelousas, the heart of zydeco (in fact they’re claim to fame is “Zydeco capital of the world”. We danced a few steps when we realized we can’t dance like the natives…they’ve got some moves!

A trip to Lafayette would not be complete without a bowl of gumbo with roux the color of chocolate – yum. We went to a Sunday brunch at “The Blue Dog Café” where the mimosas flowed while the zydeco band (Hadley Catille and the Sharecropper) played on. Crawfish enchiladas and oyster stuffing were new to us and the creamed spinach was spicy. In fact most everything is spicy!
Drove a short distance to the country and toured an organic farm that grows and sells tilapia, veggies, fruit and a myriad of other natural products. The Grotreaux have a delightful family – 10 children between the ages of 5 and 12 who work, study, and play hard.
I had never seen a tilapia operation before. The fish are raised in ponds housed in greenhouses, fed four times a day and harvested once a week (2,000 lbs.) for market. Organic vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers are harvested and sold at the local farmers market. Folks can also come to the farm and buy fresh fish and produce.
A short drive to St. Martin Lake proved successful in the hunt for gators to photograph. They are unique critters that I enjoyed watching from the window of a truck. Oh yeah, the cypress trees with their knees exposed and hanging with Spanish moss where also a sight for Deep South newbies. One final drive to see what I believe is a type of agave that my son had noticed and couldn’t wait to show me. You can see from the picture that it is ginormus – taller than the house! If anyone knows what this monster is, please tell…

Perennials and Natives by a girl named Toni

Whenever I travel I’m always on the lookout for a cool garden type spot to visit. While in Grayton Beach, FL I saw a sign for Toni’s Farm Market with a sign pointing the way on a little side-road just off the main highway. Following the sign I quickly found Perennials and Natives by a girl named Toni.

Besides selling native and perennial plants, Toni has a farm market with fresh Florida raised Vegetables. She drives to various farms each day to load up on just picked produce to sell at her market.

This is no ordinary farm market, it is located in a beautiful building that Toni and her late husband created artful ways to display fresh produce. Besides fresh veggies, local artist sell their wares in the gift shop area. Handmade soap caught my attention – it might have been the fact that herbs were in the soap and the woman who makes it was making a delivery on her bicycle. A site you don’t see everyday.

If that isn’t enough, Toni grows fresh herbs and greens just outside the back door in stacked pots and other crafty containers for customers to cut. It doesn’t get any fresher then that! She recently added a kitchen where she can conduct cooking classes or serve up tea and coffee.

If you are looking for a place to roost while visiting the Emerald Coast, look no further. Toni rents the upstairs apartment out for vacationers. It’s the best of Agri-tourism with a gorgeous beach just down the street. You can find it on the VRBO website.

Toni was a joy to talk with and so welcoming. She shared fun ideas and her hopes and dreams for her business in the future. All the best Toni – thanks for the tomatoes – delicious!

Find Toni and her farm market at 114 Arbor Lane, Grayton Beach, FL – email her at

Pickets Garden and Gift Shop

Vacationing in the pan handle of Florida is not complete without stopping by Pickets garden gift shop. Located in the heart of Seagrove Beach, this quaint little shop and garden is a ‘green refuge’ after gathering too many rays on the beach. A cool, restful place to duck out of the hustle and bustle of vacationing families and college students on spring break.

The cottage/shop sits in a shady spot just off the main drag of 30-A, between Rosemary Beach and Sea Side. It is surrounded by a white picket fence. The owner, Jo Ann Mathis enjoys gardening and tells me she has planted every plant on the place.

After strolling through the gardens I had two plants I couldn’t identify. One was on the corner of a small but sweet English garden complete with boxwoods, roses, statuary, brick walkways and of course a small picket fence. This shrub or small tree had a purple-blue bloom that had a very unusual fragrance (like grape bubble gum). Mrs. Mathis quickly pointed out that it was a Texas mountain laurel – Sophora secundiflora, that she had brought back from Texas herself. After eight years it was finally blooming! A sight to behold indeed. I wonder if they would grow in Tennessee?

The other unusual plant was a low growing (12-18 inches) evergreen with incredible berries. It turns out this is a Coral berry, Ardisia crenata that was dug up and transplanted. This plant’s native range stretches from Japan to northern India. Jo Ann says it is a handsome plant year ‘round and loves the shade. I was so intrigued I did some research. It is on the invasive species list. Like many landscape plants it has escaped cultivation and run amok, naturalizing in Northern and central Florida and is not recommended for home landscape. It seems birds eat the berries then disperse the seeds throughout the wild shading other less hardy plants (it can grow 2-4feet in height). However, I don’t know if it would be invasive in other states. It is worth having in a pot on a screened-in porch at the very least. I tried to buy one at the local nurseries but had no luck finding it for sale. Perhaps I can get a berry and start one from seed. It is a beautiful plant, invasive or not and looks great in Jo Ann’s lovely garden.

The shop itself has gifts for the home and garden that anyone can appreciate. In fact I treat myself every time I visit this area. It is a favorite haunt for residents and snow birds alike. Check it out for yourself the next time you visit Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Dwarf Conifers Survive UPS