How can I even begin to tell you about Breanna and Morvan’s incredible wedding? I can’t imagine a location as perfect as the Chateau de Lacoste in the Périgord region of France. Perched on a hillside that overlooks the Dordogne River valley, the 18th-century chateau is straight out of a storybook. Breanna and Morvan’s families spent three days celebrating their union in this magical place. The beautiful estate offered endless surprises: a secret grotto, a formal topiary garden, a parade of hot air balloons, and epic views of the French countryside. Surrounded by family and friends, they said their vows in an intimate chapel located on the chateau’s grounds. Celebrations continued into the wee hours of the night. It was unlike any wedding I’ve been to; take a look.
An emerald gem perched atop white limestone cliffs, Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac (Overhanging Gardens of Marqueyssac) is renowned for its unique boxwood topiaries. More than 150,000 boxwoods grow on the 54-acre estate. It’s deemed one of the most beautiful gardens in Périgord, with thousands of visitors each year. But I almost didn’t go; topiary gardens typically don’t interest me. I’m glad that I did, however. The gardens of Marqueyssac are more than fancy topiaries.
Chicago’s Best Deep Dish Pizza. World Famous Cinnamon Rolls. Home of Maine’s Best Blueberry Pie. Outrageous claims like these are hard to believe and are usually the furthest thing from the truth. But when the French say this, you should listen. La Roque de Gageac is considered to be one of France’s most beautiful villages or “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.” After visiting, I’d have to agree.
Perched on the banks of the Dordogne river, La Roque de Gageac is a picturesque medieval village with a surprise. Mediterranean and subtropical plants grow abundantly among the golden stone houses.
Life will pass you by in the blink of an eye. This simple truth motivated my boyfriend and me to move into an RV and to travel full-time. We wanted to see more of the United States and two-week vacations weren’t cutting it. Six months in an RV has shown us more of the US than all our vacations combined.
But even in an RV, life moves quickly. Each week tumbles into the next, and before we know it, we’re on the road again. Our journey has taken us across the U.S. and back. There have been struggles and moments of doubt. But, it’s been an exhilarating experience that has helped me grow and work on personal goals.
Deserts contain more than just sand dunes and cacti. Remarkable plant adaptations have resulted in a diverse array of habitats in the high desert of northern New Mexico. Silvery green grasses and shrubs carpet the red hills and dark evergreens punctuate the landscape surrounding Ghost Ranch. Mesas and buttes rise up from the desert floor; their crevices and nooks offering tenacious plants a home. Dark mountain vistas loom in the distance; their wetter slopes home to towering ponderosa pine. A visit to Ghost Ranch is an opportunity to explore and learn about the plants of the high desert.
The vast open prairie and pine flatwoods provide little shade at the Hal Scott Preserve and Park. On a cloudless day, the sun is relentless. Sunscreen is a must. I wouldn’t recommend visiting in the heat of summer. But on a cool winter morning, the sun’s warmth is welcome.
For hours, I walk alone through a never-ending sea of saw palmettos. The sharp leaf segments of the palm fans surround me, their tips catching the sunlight. They glow an intense—almost unnatural—chartreuse.
If you’ve outgrown Disney and roller coasters bring more fear than fun, you may be tempted to write off Orlando as a travel destination. But that’d be a mistake. A mistake that I almost made when my boyfriend asked me to join him on a business trip to Orlando. Instead, I found that Orlando offers much more than theme parks. A little-known garden oasis near downtown Orlando is a welcome retreat from the crowds at Disney and Universal Studios.
The Harry P. Leu Gardens reside on almost 50 acres and contain nearly 30 different plant collections, including camellia, rose, bamboo, azalea, bromeliad, palm, and cycad. If you’re a horticulture or garden enthusiast, Leu Gardens is worth a visit if you find yourself in Orlando.