We’ve all been stumped by the folks that seem to have everything they want or need. Or on the opposite spectrum, minimalists can be just as challenging to buy for. What if, instead of a physical gift, you gave them something that was much more rewarding? Research has shown that experiences bring us more happiness than material possessions. I can’t think of a better gift than that of the outdoors, be it a garden or the woods. This year, consider giving an outdoor experience to your loved ones instead of something they’ll soon forget. A membership to a garden or park is a great way to help them enjoy nature year-round.
Most garden and nature lovers don’t plan their vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains in late November. The native azaleas and rhododendron aren’t blanketing the mountainsides with their blossoms. The fall foliage peak has long passed. And by now, the first frost of the season has finished off most of the plants.
But as I chased warmer weather south, I found myself in Asheville for a couple weeks. And from what I’m told, no visit to Asheville would be complete without a stop at the Biltmore House and Gardens. It’s true that most of the trees are bare at this time of year. But the Picturesque garden style and the wide variety of plants ensures that there is still a lot of beauty to be seen at the Biltmore Gardens.
By now, autumn’s transformative powers have worked their magic on New York City. Golden leaves blanket city sidewalks, ethereal seedheads have replaced flowers, and there’s a crisp chill in the air. If nature is calling to you and you yearn for a little more time outdoors before winter hits, head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than strolling through the park and soaking in the last days of autumn.
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.