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For my daughter’s 21st birthday, I took her to New Orleans. I’ve been a few times, but had never seen any of the plantations just outside of town. We decided to visit the Houmas House Plantation. I chose this one due to its lovely 38 acre gardens. The only negative reviews I could find were the Plantation’s failure to recognize the part that slavery played in its history. I did a bit of research on my own and found that this Plantation housed 750 slaves, one of the largest number in the U.S. This makes it all the more disappointing that it was not touched on. I would have liked to have visited the Whitney Plantation as well, which is focused solely on slavery, but unfortunately time did not allow. We instead walked through and enjoyed the beautiful gardens, while taking time to pay our respects to those who suffered so others could live in opulence.

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As we entered the garden, we were greeted by these Louisiana natives. We couldn’t help but snap a few photos.

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The Greek Revival House sits in the center of the gardens, surrounded by enormous oak trees.

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It is nearly impossible to capture the scale of this tree. “The Thinker” in the background is s a life-sized statue.

Paths direct you through the various rooms, often guiding you through towering archways.

Ponds of varying sizes were scattered through the garden.

As well as an impressive collection of statues.

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My favorite was this lion and cub in the japanese garden. I’ve never seen one as adorable as this one. I was tempted to sneak him into my suitcase!

Late June was a bit warm in New Orleans, but it did not take away from the spectacular garden. I recommend a visit!

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Wildflower Wednesday

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Gail at Clay and Limestone hosts Wildflower Wednesday each month.

 

When I moved in over 7 years ago the wildflower meadow consisted of four-nerve daisies, prairie verbena, and mexican hats. I have since added blanket flower, horsemint, winecups, bluebonnets, black-eyed susan, tickseed sunflower and evening primrose.

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I also found this alamo vine in the front yard this week. I tried planting this before in the back and it didn’t take, so glad one just showed up on it’s own.

 

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Austin Blooms

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Well it isn’t quite Dallas Blooms, but I did come home to a few pretties blooming in the garden – including my very own tulip.

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Tulips have long been one of my favorite flowers, and when I learned about Dallas Blooms several years ago, it went straight on my bucket list. We don’t get cold enough here in Texas for most tulip varieties, but The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden combats this issue by planting 500,000 bulbs each winter! Spring is a difficult time to escape from my own garden, with so many tasks needing attention – and Dallas is nearly a 4 hour drive. This year I finally had a good excuse, with my daughter living in Dallas for 8 months, and I was more than happy to pay her a visit.

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Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and were in line at 8:45, for the gates to open at 9. We were warmly greeted outside the garden by bold primary colors.

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Once inside, you have a spectacular lake view as a backdrop to a raised bed vegetable garden. I’m always impressed with how tidy professional vegetable gardens look, so different from mine!

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As you make your way through the vegetable garden, this beautiful view opens up, teasing of what is to come.

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We were lucky enough to see these Saucer Magnolias in bloom, which my daughter nicknamed “Tulip Trees”.

This formal garden was bordered on each side by a mix of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. On the left the colors mirrored the bright colors of the garden entrance – on the right, more subtle colors of white, yellow, and blue.

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This garden contained a few surprised as well. Behind one of the borders was a pop of purple and pink hyacinths. I don’t think I’d ever put this color combination together in my own garden, but it completely worked in this case.

Every angle of the formal garden presented a different visual experience. It seems that every inch has been carefully considered.

As we continued our journey through the garden, I was amazed at the different color combinations.

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There was even an understated white garden.

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This was my favorite of the day, so beautifully designed!

A few more of my favorite pictures.

The garden was absolutely magical! I was so happy to share it with my daughter, who seemed to be as geeked out as I was.

 

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These beauties can always be counted on in the middle of winter when nothing else is blooming!

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We have an abundance of Collard Greens this year, which is fine by me – they are one of my favorites. I have tried several recipes over time, and this is an adaption from one I found several months ago.

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Start with one large yellow onion and 5 strips of bacon. Slice bacon and cook on med-high. Once the bacon starts to crisp, lower heat to medium and add onion. Cook together until soft.

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Mix 4 cups of liquid. I used 3 cups of duck stock with 1 cup of water. I’ve also made this with just chicken stock. Add 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup white vinegar to the liquid. Turn heat back up to med/high and add liquid to bacon/onion mixture.

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Once sugar and salt are dissolved add collard greens. I cut the collards into 2×2 inch squares. Lower to a simmer and cook for at least an hour.

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The collards will darken and soften during cooking, absorbing all the goodness. Add salt to taste if necessary during cooking.

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I served the collards with roast duck, and roasted duck fat potatoes.

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Desert Botanical Garden

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Growing up in the Phoenix area, I took the obligatory field trip to the Desert Botanical Garden in elementary school, but had not been back since. I really have no excuse, since I visit the area 1-2 times a year. After reading numerous posts from bloggers, I finally made it a priority. I invited my family members to come along, and 8 of us enjoyed the garden.

The desert garden is all about structure, and this one does not disappoint.

Cluster plantings also provided the wow factor.

There is also a natural trail, which shows the plants in a less formal setting.

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I loved this garden! It was a great way to spend the morning, and my membership to The WFC got me in free!

 

 

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