Garden Touring

Today I’m sharing a recap of the fantastic garden tour I did last weekend.  Grab something to drink and get comfy because there are going to a LOT of pictures in this post!  The tour started off at the Willow library where the Willow Garden Club maintains this lovely display garden.  I wandered through and enjoyed the flowers while waiting for the maps for the tour to be handed out.  There were several varieties of columbines that were doing quite well.

There was also a Monkshead plant tucked between the columbines.  I was surprised to see how clumped it’s foliage was as when I spot these growing in the woods on our property it’s usually a single stem with just a few ‘hoods’ on it.  I’m going to have to research them a bit more to see if this is a different variety or if it’s just that it is in full sun, versus the shade ours have under the trees.  I’m aware that they can be poisonous so  I won’t be adding them to the flower beds, but I’d still like to know.

The tour organizers gave a brief welcome and introduction to the event, then handed out the maps to the four gardens and lunch location with a short write up about each, which I’ll include in my descriptions below.  Most of the gardens were open for the entire time of the tours so you could visit them in any order.

I decided to visit the two gardens closest to the lunch spot to get started.  The first garden I visited was Janet & Lee Thibert’s Garden on Nancy Lake.  They’ve done a lot of work to the property since purchasing it as a cabin property in 1989.  They tore down the cabin and built a lovely home with a verity of landscaping, including peonies, forsythia, dogwood, bleeding heart, roses and many ground cover plants.  Part of their property has gorgeous rock work that creates a very manicured feeling.  Also situation around their home are many cherry, birch, larch, maple and spruce trees.

The first part of the garden that tour visitors saw is an adjoining property they purchased a few years ago where they created an idyllic terraced grass and flower beds.  The first two beds as you descend the walkway were full of strawberries, which Janet said she uses as ground cover more than a harvest crop, although she did say she will sometimes pick a few to enjoy.  The third bed had a mix of bell flowers and other perennials.  The bottom beds were still under construction but had recently been planted with peonies and poppies that should fill in the space as they grow.

Off to the side there was a small trail through the trees that led to their home on the property next door.

It was a lovely wood style home surrounded by a lush green lawn.  Off to the side they had created a rock retaining wall and raised deck for their hot tub.  The top of the wall was adorned with pretty annuals and several cool rock sculpture ants.

Following the lawn down the opposite hillside led to a beautiful open area with more rock work that reached well above my head before the trail narrowed and led to a dock on the lake.

The front of the house was just as stunning, with more grass pathways and and rock work.  There was a water feature in the top section of the year and a few raised beds off to the side in an area that looked like it was still being developed.

The next garden was “The Birches” on Long Lake.  When I arrived I followed others down this amazing tree lined driveway which opened to an amazing country style garden packed with a variety of ferns, iris, currants, rhododendrons, a massive mock orange and other perennials planted many years ago.  The design of the garden encourages walking through the groupings of plants on several paths.

I followed a main path around the house to find this lovely view of the lake accented with more beds of wildflowers along the shore.

Off to the side was a pathway that ran along the shore.  On the other side of the lakeside lawn was a smaller path that curved around the other edge of the shore.  This area had several areas still in development including a fun boat and trellis planter in the making!

It was time for the lunch stop so I headed a few streets over to the Nuss home on Little Lost Lake.  They had a great open lawn area next to the lake where you could see their boat dock and arbor.  They had set out a large tent which was decorated with fun paper lanterns.

They even had a cute little spread of treats on the deck where they did raffle drawings for plants from several of the host gardens, including several unique and rare varieties.

While enjoying my lunch under the tent I spotted this amazing bird house.  I’m now on the hunt for something similar to add to my yard.  And I got a chuckle out of this guy’s shirt.  I need to find one for the Hubs!

After lunch I spotted this fun little fairy garden out near the driveway as I made my way back to the truck to head to the next garden – the world famous Coyote Garden.!  It was the one I was really excited to see and I knew our neighbor friend would be there helping out!

On the way to the next garden I spotted Denali in the distance and just had to pull over to get a shot considering.  It’s still amazing that we can see “the great one” hundreds of miles away.

This is Coyote Garden’s 25th year of garden tours!  Created by Les Brake and his partner Jerry Conrad, the garden has been featured in numerous magazines over the years.  It continues to receive kudos from well-respected garden publications all over the U.S. and was featured in last year’s fall issue of Garden Design with an article written by Dan Hinkley.  This year the garden will be profiled in the summer issue of a new magazine for the northwest – Northwest Travel and Life.

Our neighbor, Debra took a break from her duties greeting guests to walk through the garden with me and show me around.  She also introduced me to both Les and Jerry who are good friends of hers.  We started the tour on the deck of the house, which featured several pieces of Jerry’s amazing willow furniture.

The deck leads to a stone walkway along the side of the house where a variety of perennials were blooming.

This is the view from the deck, down the stone walkway.  That’s Les chatting with some ladies from the Anchorage Botanical Garden about – of course – garden stuff.  I enjoyed listening in for a bit until they started talking above my head. 🙂

Near where Les was standing was this amazing poppy.  I’ve never seen one with this coloring or pattern and it was the only one I saw there.

Looking from the pathway toward the house there is a small area of grass which leads to a narrow trail back around to the front of the house.  I’ll share more on that side in a moment.

At the end of the stone walkway you go through this curved structure that Jerry built, which leads out to an open lawn area.  This is the center of the garden as there is more beyond the grassy area that I’ll show shortly.

to the left of the grassy area is a small pathway to the lake.

Across from the curved structure is this newer back section of the garden.  It holds quite a few surprises.

As you enter this area a small gazebo structure is down another stone walkway off to the right.  It was created by Jerry using the same methods he makes the willow furniture from.  It just begs for you to sit and enjoy the garden.

Across from the gazebo is this stunning moss meadow!  I just wanted to lay down on it and pretend I was in a fairy tale movie.  It would be an unbelievable photo session location!

And here’s the view looking back from the moss meadow toward the house to give you a sense of the depth of the gardens.

We made our way back up to the original stone path off the deck and wandered behind the house on the narrow trail I mentioned before that leads around the other side of the house.  Debra told me that this large structure is new.  It replaced an older willow structure that was deteriorating after decades in the garden.

Les was also having a plant sale during the tour and thanks to Debra I already had a pink peony on reserve when I arrived.  I opted to add another to my pile since they were well priced and something I’ve been planning to add to our garden for a while now anyway.  I’ll share where they end up before the end of the season. 🙂

The last garden was Dream a Dream Dog Farm.  Veterinarian Susan Whiton, and Iditarod musher Vern Halter have combined businesses, pleasure and beauty when they decided to create this lovely bed & breakfast with a garden area to complement a bustling dog kennel.  Dream a Dream hosts many visitors every year who wish to savor the true Alaskan experience.  I was quite impressed with the spread as I walked up the driveway from the sign at the road.

Just past the house and kennel building are the main dogs’ quarters.  They were actually very quiet, napping in the sun until one saw my camera and sounded the alarm.  Luckily Vern was nearby and told them to pipe down so they all went back to napping.

Behind the house is this lovely little garden, which was well laid out to contain a lot of crops, yet still feel wide open.

The green house was cram packed and getting good use.

They had a gutter running along the side of the green house that drained into a barrel for rain water collection.  We’re setting up a similar option along our shed which will stock the water tank for the raspberries.

There were several raised beds, some with edible crops and others with flowers.  This one was cram packed with a variety of poppies mixed with a few other perennial wildflowers.

Here’s the view from the far corner at the front of the garden.  It’s amazing how much they’ve fit into this small area.

Down the hill from the garden were more raised beds and this monster rhubarb plant.  I hope the one I just adopted from a co-worker is this healthy after acclimating to our yard!

Beyond the gardens was a small enclosure for some of the older puppies.  They were so stinkin cute and super friendly.

Next to their enclosure was this Iditarod sign, which I’m sure is authentic!

This area of the property opened up to a mushing trail, which is perfect placement for training the dogs.

After exploring the gardens I visited the kennel’s building which was set up to entertain tourists and showcase Vern’s mushing career accomplishments.  The mural on the wall was a great depiction of him and it was pretty cool to stand under the bibs he’s worn on the trail.  The inside of the large bay doors also had a mural of Alaskan scenery and wildflowers.

It was a perfect day for touring gardens and it was so much fun to see the different styles and methods used by each host.  I’ll be putting a few of the ideas I got during the tours in reserve for our property and look forward to attending again next year and seeing some new gardens!

 

A Day Trip to Kenai

Over the weekend the Hubs and I made a quick trip down to Kenai to visit family who come up from Arizona each year to fish for salmon.  This year we were blessed with fantastic weather and a few extra familiar faces as additional family friends were in the area too.

The fishing was quite slow the day we were there, but it made time for conversation between those fishing and those of us watching from the walkway above.  The Hubs caught up with his uncle and cousins as they cast.

I enjoyed the sunshine and the view of the river which was full of others fishing on the opposite bank and boats making their way up and down the river.

It was quite calming to watch them all cast and reel repeatedly with patience as they joked about prior visits to the river, shared old stories from their childhood days together and caught up on each other’s lives.

Eventually the fish did start to bite and it was a team effort to make sure they were reeled in successfully.  It’s a great example of why we love Alaska – its a place where others willingly stop what they are doing to help you out, knowing that you’ll do the same for them when the tables turn.

The Hub’s cousin seemed to have the best luck with the fish, although several played hard to get.  One even jumped back out of the net after being scooped up – prompting some interesting net wielding!

Several fish teased the anglers by brushing by their legs in the water.  Another decided to give the cousin a good splash when he was running the net for someone else, but that he didn’t complain too much and quickly got back to helping out.

There were a few surprise catches too, including this rainbow trout that we all thought was a dolly at first.

During one of the lulls I spotted this dog napping on a boat drifting down the river.  A little while later they were heading upstream and the same dog was standing at the bow, tail wagging like it was the best day ever. 🙂

I took a break to relax in the sun on a nearby bench which was apparently the good luck charm for the group, because that’s when the fish finally started biting.  Although they still played jokes on the guys, swimming into their stringer of other fish or along the shoreline that was covered in tree branches and sticks, making it likely to tear the nets.  But with every fish that was caught the smiles got bigger and bigger.

And every time I sat back to relax I’d hear “Fish On!” and jump up to see who had a taunt line.

As the day wore on the other fishermen in the area left to go home for dinner so we soon had the area to ourselves and it was just our group in the water.

Another friend of the cousins’ stopped by to chat and ended up running the net for them several times.

It seemed their luck had turned and they were all happy to show off their handiwork as a team.

The Hubs and I had to head out to make the 4+ hour drive back home for the work-week, but we left the guys to fish under Alaska’s midnight sun and share more stories – or create new ones.  Several of them will head back to the lower 48 this week, but we’ll see them again next year when they return.

The Hubs will head back down this weekend to join those still here in the river and catch fish of our own, so hopefully soon our freezer will be well stocked for the colder months to come. 🙂

Bubbling Brook Farmhouse Market

Hi everyone!  I hope you had a fabulous weekend.  The Hubs and I visited family from Arizona in Kenai and I went on a wonderful garden tour.  I’ll be sharing recaps of both of those events this week, but today I wanted to share a bit about the Bubbling Brook Farmhouse Market I attended the previous weekend.  This is the 2nd year for the event, although last year it was put on by a different organizer and was called Urban Junktion.

Several of the same vendors returned this year, including one of my faves Rustique Designs, who has made a couple of pieces for our home.  I made a bee-line for her booth when I arrived and made sure to check every nook and cranny of her displays to find new unique items.  I’ll share what I got at the end of this post.  I was so busy shopping her beautiful displays and chatting with her about ideas for some more custom pieces that I  forgot to get a picture of her booth.  Although I’m sure if I’d remembered to it would have been so crowded you couldn’t see much as she was one of the most popular vendors at the show, but you can see it right after she set up here on her Facebook page.

The next booth was Sweet Louise Designs who had a variety of adorable home decor pieces and furniture.  Although I didn’t find anything that screamed “take me home” I enjoyed browsing their adorable displays.  I almost pulled the trigger on this heart piece for my nephew’s wedding in October but the colors weren’t quite right.  I’m going to check in with the bride and groom to see what they think and may order a custom one for them instead. 🙂

Another booth that drew me in was Snarl Design, eclectic industrial style.  They had some ingenious light fixtures that included spigot knobs as the switch!  I chatted with the owner for a while about the insulator lights the Hubs and I made for our island and how I loved the history behind them.  I’ll definitely be following Snarl online to see their other creations as they continue to grow.

Of course I had to stop by Brown Chicken, Brown Cow’s booth to browse.  I’ve been a fan of hers for quite some time and love her style.  Thanks to a custom order I placed, I’ll be adding a fun new sign to my kitchen from her in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to see that.

I fell in love with The Distressed Mermaid’s sign.  It was a fresh idea for an old window and a perfect fit for her style.  If I had a little girls room I’d order one of a mermaid just like that!  Although I was in the market for accessories more than furniture I enjoyed browsing her booth and will be watching her online to see what else she creates in the future.

My friend Anne-tiques had a booth full of her Harry Potter themed furniture and accessories, which was a huge hit.  I couldn’t get a shot of her booth without gobs of people in it, but you can see the details of several of the pieces on her page.

A well-known local vendor, Blessed and Distressed was also at the market, which is their last show before they relocate out of state.  Their new hometown is gaining an amazing resource!

Spunky Monkey had amazing scented candles and wine themed decor.  This husband and wife team had a great booth set-up and unique items.  I’d never heard of them before, so I’m glad I was able to meet them and add them to the list of vendors I’ll be watching for future gift and home decor shopping.

Right behind Spunky Monkey was Pioneer Peonies – which made for the most amazing aromatic combination!   I enjoyed picking a bouquet of white, blush and pink peonies to take home at just $2/stem and learned several helpful tips to plan my own peonies.

The local Hannah Yoter band was playing during the event who fit the vintage vibe perfectly.  They’ve been getting some great press recently so be sure to check them out and see them in person if you can.

Outside the event hall there were several food trucks, which was perfect because I’d sure worked up an appetite with all my shopping.  The Barbecue Babes truck was super cute, but since I’d just had BBQ the day prior, I opted to try out a vendor who is a sister to a good friend of ours.

I was pretty bummed that I missed Love’s 907 at the Palmer Garden Faire the weekend prior, so I’m glad they were at the market event.  I ordered the Philly steak, which was messy but pretty darn tasty.  I enjoyed filling my belly in the warm sunshine and wished I’d had room to try their ice cream too!

So here’s a quick look at what I got at the market.  This fun wooden bead garland with lace tassels from Rustique Designs.  They found a home on the mantel well above Brinley’s reach so it stays as pretty as I bought it!

I also got these Rea Dunn mugs from Rustique Designs.  It’s the perfect start to my collection, which will be displayed in the dining room after I pick up the rack I had to have sent to my sister’s house since they wouldn’t ship to Alaska.  First world problems here….

I also got this fun sign from Rustique Designs for the guest bathroom.  I thought it was a perfect for for the space. 🙂

And lastly here’s my bouquet of peonies in my recently upcycled vase. It’s been a wonderful addition to my desk and I love enjoying their fragrance when I’m editing photos.

It wasn’t a huge haul, but like I mentioned, there are a few custom pieces in the works so you’ll be seeing more from these talented vendors.  Next year’s market will be held June 23-24, 2018, so be sure to mark your calendars now and follow Bubbling Brook Farmhouse on Facebook for updates!

4-Wheel Adventures & An Alaskan Spa Treatment

While my sister was visiting we made arrangements to borrow a couple of extra 4-wheelers and hit the trails, which is one of our favorite things to do during the summer.  The dogs are quite accustomed to riding in our side-by-side and quickly jump in the rig to go.  Apparently, Stoli thought he was driving this time!

Since we went on a weekday there were only a handful of other people out on the trails so we had the area pretty much to ourselves.  It had rained quite a bit the week prior to our outing so there were several areas of standing water to navigate.  The trail from the parking lot is fairly wooded until it opens up near the river.

This particular location has a variety of trails that criss-cross each other so we had many to choose from.  We let the Hubs lead with the goal of getting as close to the glacier as possible.

As we approached the sandy area along the river, Stoli decided that he didn’t want to ride and since we didn’t let him drive, he hopped out and led the caravan at a run.

Along the river the trail opens up to a wide sandy shoreline and vegetated sand dunes off to the left.

There were some larger vehicles up on the dunes, so we opted to stay along the river heading toward the glacier, which we could see in the distance.

My sister got a pretty good shot of her hubby on the 4-wheeler with the glacier in the background when we paused to consider the trails we could take from this point.

We decided to hang out on the shore and let the dogs play a bit before continuing so they could get some energy out, while my sister walked the beach looking for good shots.

Stoli led the way when we decided to head out along the river bank as far as we could go before heading up into the tree line.

You’re probably wondering where the spa treatment part of the title for this post comes in by now.  Well I’m about to tell you.  The trails got pretty muddy once we headed into the trees and we soon realized the river was too high to cross so we started exploring the wooded trails.

While fording a larger puddle my brother-in-law had a little mishap and ended up tipping his rig over right in the deepest part of the puddle, coating his entire right side in silty muddy water.  Once we made sure that both he and the rig were ok, we all enjoyed a good laugh about the moment and I teased him that women pay big money to be shipped glacier mud for facials and he just coated almost his entire body for free! 🙂

My sister was apparently too stunned to get a shot of him in said puddle before we pulled him out, but I’m sure you can imagine the sight.

Once we got the rig running again we made a b-line for the truck so we could get him warmed up and dried out.  We didn’t make it to the glacier but it was a fun outing regardless.  While they didn’t get to take their picture on the glacier I did get some shots of my sister along the beautiful river that’s just minutes from our house in Hatcher Pass.

I tried to take her up to the historic Independence Mine at the top of the pass that day, but the fog had rolled in, hiding the mine.  We made it as far as the red cabins at the main parking lot before calling it and heading back down the river.

I’m glad they both got to experience a bit of the local sights and outdoor adventures this area of Alaska offers.  Plus they went home with several fun stories to share – which is always the sign of a great trip!

4th of July in Glacier View

Is this week been a blur to anyone else?  We’ve been busy getting back into the normal routine after my sister and brother-in-law headed home and catching up on things that fell to the wayside while they were here.  We’re also making progress on the new deck out back and the cedar soaking tub that will go on it!  I’ll be sharing all of that once we get closer to the finish line.

In the meantime I’ve got a couple of things we did while my sister was here to share.  Today that’s our visit to Glacier View for their annual 4th of July celebration which includes launching cars off a cliff!  It’s definitely a unique way to mark the occasion, but when you live in the land of midnight sun fireworks don’t quite have the same effect so this is a good way to get some oooohhh’s and aaahhh’s from a crowd instead.  All of the vehicles used are donated and typically on their last legs so this is their last hoorah before they head to the scrap pile.  I guess it’s a unique form of combining recycling and entertainment!

The event takes place on private property owned by a guiding company which does have a view of the glacier, although from the spot along the river we claimed for the show it’s only a small view.  I’m sure it’s much more impressive from the top of the cliff where the cars launched from.  But it was pretty along the river, so my sister and I explored a bit while we waited for the show to start.

There were lots of big pieces of driftwood along the banks, showing just how powerful the river can be.  In fact this same river has claimed several houses down river after swelling from spring rains and snow thaw.

We found a few interesting items tangled up in the driftwood like this paddle, likely lost from one of the many rafting tours that go down this stretch of the river.

My sister was in awe of the scenery and took numerous photos so I took of few of her in action. 🙂  We also spotted these strange flowers growing near the river.  I’ve never seen anything like them before.  They look like something right out of a Dr. Seuss story!

When the show was about to start the organizers started to move the vehicles that would be launched off the cliff toward to top.  This snow machine was a last minute entry and the first they’d ever had.  Since there was no snow to be had at this time of year, they strapped it to the top of a side-by-side for it’s journey to the cliff side.

As they got the cars ready up top we watched a few more folks take a trip down the zip line that spans over the area where the crowd had gathered.  My sister and I considered trying it out but we ran out of time after the show as we had to pick up some 4-wheelers we were borrowing from friends for another adventure.  I’ll share about that tomorrow!

Finally we were ready for the main event and it didn’t disappoint. First up was a little Subaru painted like Lighting McQueen.  It got pretty good air off the cliff and landed on target near a pond at the bottom.

Next up was the snow machine, which gave a stunning launch with a dust trail as it left the cliff.  It flipped after impact giving a unique perspective.  It was a great first entry in the ‘lightweight’ division as they called it!

The third vehicle was another coup which had apparently been named Felica according to the roof’s paint job…

That was followed by a star spangled van, which turned out to be a dud.  It konked out before it had enough steam to make it off the ramp and rolled back into the trees.  They got it running again later and did launch it but forgot to warn the crowd so we could watch and I missed seeing it land.

There was also a full-size truck in the line-up that gave a pretty good performance with high air and a decent soar before it nose-dived and flipped on landing.

My favorite of the day was the old police patrol car.  It looked like a scene right out of Dukes of Hazard and I kept hearing “Just some good ‘ole boys…” play in my head as I watched it descend.  It gave a magnificent belly-flop at the end just as if it was Boss Hog himself driving!

I applaud the organizers and the community for a great down-home event.  We were told that it’s grown every year since it began and this year was the biggest they’ve ever had.  In fact they had sold out of food tickets when we arrived at lunch time so we hit the food truck and managed to get the last few slices of pizza they had!  We had a great time watching the show and plan to return next year now that we know what to expect and what to bring.  If you’d like to see more photos and videos of the action visit the event’s Facebook page here.

Garden Art Refresh with Spray Paint

My sister and I hit the Palmer Garden & Art Faire while she was here visiting and got in a bit of browsing (and shopping) before the rain let loose.  I’ll share some of those finds soon but today I wanted to show you some quick updates I did to other pieces of garden art.

The first is Mr. Froggy.  I’ve had him for ages and adore him to pieces but he was looking pretty worn from his many seasons in the garden.  While I loved his coloring I knew I wouldn’t be able to recreate something similar with my painting skills and honestly didn’t have a lot of extra time to give him a makeover.  So I picked up some textured spray paint to give him a simple neutral stone look.

It took a couple coats and he’s still not perfect, but he’s looking much better.  He looks rather handsome in my flower bed this year next to a big piece of driftwood as the flowers slowly encroach around him.

The second piece is this artichoke shaped finial I snagged at the thrift store over the winter for a couple bucks.  It’s SUPER heavy so at least it will hold up to the dogs on the deck, but the color was pretty blah.  I dug through our paint cabinet and found some simple grey, which gave it a nice updated look.

I’m still not super crazy about it so it may still see another paint job for a different look – perhaps a little ORB to make it look cast iron, but for now it looks pretty nice next to the pots on the deck.  I’d love to hear what you think about both make-overs!

DIY Compost Bins

Part of our green house project was creating a compost system to supply nutrient rich fertilizer for our crops.  After a bit of Pinterest browsing, I came across an idea that used plastic barrels raised on a stand so they could be filled, rotated and emptied easily.  I showed the picture to the Hubs and he whipped me up these.

I placed them right behind the green house where they get full sun exposure and there’s extra room for the stand supports. Although they currently sit on a slight incline I plan to remedy that when I add gravel around the green house so that they sit level.

The design is fairly simple.  He cut a panel door in the side of the barrels and created holes for the metal rod to go through the center of each barrel.  In a stroke of genius he added a weight to the opposite side of the barrel from the door so that the hardware wouldn’t cause the barrel to always rest with the door upside down.  He also added several large bolts that protrude into the barrel from the outside to help with the mixing process when it’s spun.

I’m still figuring out the right ratios of brown and green material and haven’t been great about keeping it damp to aid in the break down, but it also hasn’t been very warm here this summer so I’m not sure that if I had I would see much difference.  Luckily there’s never a shortage of material to add to the bins so we’ll continue the trial and error method with a bit of research until I get it just right.

If you compost I’d love to hear your tips and tricks both for cultivating the pile and using the resulting material in your garden!  Leave me a comment with what works or what doesn’t for you – it might just be something that helps me decrease this learning curve. 🙂