Saturday, September 10, 2016

I'm Little But I'm Loud!

It has been a tough year in the garden at Wits' End.  A long, cold, late spring that kept temperatures below normal and soil saturated well into May made for a tough start for things like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  When the heat did arrive, there was no sliding into summer, but rather a headlong dive into home plate (90+ degrees) accompanied--at my house, at least--by weeks on end of no rainfall of any kind.  By mid-July, we were more than 10 inches behind on precipitation for the year and in the midst of a severe drought.  And did I mention that while I was leading a tour in Ireland in late May and early June, what I can only assume must have been a herd of bison-sized rabbits moved through the garden like a locust plague and gnawed any and every plant they could reach completely to the ground?  I returned from Ireland 48 hours before a group of nearly 60 people were to arrive for a garden tour to find total destruction and disarray.  

Through it all, though, there were a few survivors. The rabbits--for whatever reason--missed two of my 'Candyland Red' cherry tomatoes, a new All-America Selections winner for 2016 that I was trialing and I have to say, it has turned out to be the "little tomato that could"!  Dainty and attractive in every aspect, from foliage to flower to fruit, I love it just as much for its ornamental character as I do for its tiny, but supersweet fruits that pack a flavorful punch!  Its stems are dainty, also, so it needs a bit of support (you'll see one of the cage wires in the photo below), or you can let it scramble through your flower beds (yes, you can plant vegetables and flowers together--it's 2016, after all!) and lean on its neighbors for support.  I find it nice to walk the garden each morning, seeing what's new and snacking on a handful of tiny tomatoes along the way.

My All-America Selections trial package arrived a bit late this spring--too late to start the cabbage, kohlrabi and a handful of others before the heat of summer set in, but thankfully, here in the South, those are perfect autumn crops and I'll be sowing them in the coming days and making a full report as they grow and mature.  I also have some pumpkins coming along and if I can keep the squash beetles at bay for just a few more weeks, might have enough for a Halloween jack-o-lantern or two. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Back Where It All Began

Just a quick post--mostly pictures--of a recent trip that I took home to Kansas. After speaking in Kansas City, I spent a couple of days with my parents and managed to get out with the camera a time or two.  I love sharing the back roads and Kansas has plenty of them to discover!
A sepia tone version of the old grain elevator at Lasita, Kansas. Now a ghost town, Lasita was once an important stop on the LK&W Railroad.

Looking out across the prairie, trees were always an indication that fresh water--a river, creek, stream, or spring, was nearby. Cottonwoods, in particular, were indicators of fresh water.

Watercress (with the round leaves) is an edible green that only grows in the freshest, cleanest water sources. You'll rarely, if ever, find it growing in a sluggish, muddy stream. It is always in the cleanest, clearest streams and springs. Here, it grows with a tiny species of Equisetum, also known as horsetail or scouring rush.

The water in this spring is so clean! Everything in the photograph is underwater, even though it looks like the upper portion of the photo may be the creek bank. I assure you it's not!

There are no trees I love more than these big, old burr oaks that have been standing on the prairie for a century or more (some of them two centuries, easily).

These old back roads are the roads of  my childhood, where we would go fishing, exploring, or just out for a Sunday drive. There were many Sunday afternoons spent on these old roads with my grandfather.

Pillsbury Crossing, near Manhattan, KS, was a flat, shallow, stone ledge in the river where, unless it had just rained, the water ran only 3 or 4 inches deep over the rock. It was a very popular crossing for wagon trains as the settlers expanded westward across the prairie.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Emerald Isle and Virginia Garden Week

 I am very happy to FINALLY announce our first two travel destinations for 2016! The end of April finds us closer to home than usual, but visiting some truly remarkable gardens during Virginia's Historic Garden Week. We'll also see some sights in Washington, DC!  Beginning the last week of May and carrying over into early June, we will spend 10 days exploring the stunning gardens and countryside of the Emerald Isle. We're off to Ireland!

Please email me at and I will be happy to email you itineraries of your very own!  I hope some of you will join us!

Historic Virginia Garden Week
April 21-29, 2016

Spend a week with us visiting some of the most exceptional historic cities, homes and gardens that Virginia has to offer, as well as the most famous monuments in Washington, DC!

COST: The cost of this trip is $2,200.00 including accommodations, bus travel to the gardens, and all meals included in the itinerary.  If you have traveled with Garden Travelers previously, the cost is $2,100.00 per person.  If you have traveled with Garden Travelers on four or more trips, please ask about your special price.

DEPOSIT OF $5OO.OO DUE BY FEB. 15, 2016.  FINAL PAYMENT DUE MARCH 15.  WE DO ACCEPT VISA AND MASTERCARD. A fee of 2.5% will be assessed for credit card payments to cover the fees charged by the banks for processing. Payment in full will gladly be accepted at any time. Deposit will be fully refundable before February 15, 2016. After that date, see our return policy in the “Terms & Conditions” below.

AIRFARE:  Airfare is NOT included in the price of this trip. All participants will be given the name and location of the host hotel in Alexandria, Virginia (you will fly into Washington, DC) and will be responsible for their own transportation to the hotel prior to 6:00 p.m. on April 21, 2016. The tour will officially start with a Welcome Dinner for the group that evening.

Email me at for an email 

copy of the fully detailed itinerary and pricing!

The Emerald Isle
Dublin and Southern Ireland
May 25-June 7, 2016

Bantry House & Garden, one of the most stunning homes & gardens in Ireland!

Blarney Castle, where you'll have the chance to kiss the Blarney Stone!

Corke Lodge and its exceptional exotic garden!

Helen Dillon's world-renowned garden in Dublin!
These are just a small sampling of the beautiful gardens we'll visit. For a fully detailed itinerary with pricing, email me at

COST: The cost of this tour is $4,295.00 per person based on double occupancy and a minimum of 20 travelers. Single supplement is available upon request.

PAYMENT SCHEDULE: A deposit of $1,000.00 per traveler is due at the time of booking. Deposits will be refundable until February 15, 2016. Payment in full is due no later than March 25, 2016. We will gladly accept payment in full at any time.

INCLUDED: Daily breakfast, some lunches and dinners as described in the itinerary, hotel accommodations, transportation by private coach, entry fees into all places visited by the group as part of the itinerary, fees/tips for the local guides hired as part of a site visit.

NOT INCLUDED: Airfare, travel insurance, any meals not described in the itinerary, bus driver gratuity, any personal travel (taxis, trains, buses, etc.) that participant chooses to use during free time. 
AIRFARE: Garden Travelers does not book group or individual airfares for the majority of our trips. This allows our travelers to use airline miles or credit card points to pay for their airfares through direct association with the airlines, which they are unable to do through our company. We are, however, happy to assist anyone who has questions and will monitor and happily recommend flight itineraries that seem reasonable and will get you to our designated meeting point on time.