Cantigny Park Summer

Wow, you’ll be delighted by the flower gardens at Cantigny Park in St. Charles, Illinois. I took one look at these flower beds and exclaimed, “I want that at my house!” While that’s mostly a pipe dream as I live in Phoenix, I was able to take home some ideas about color combinations. Look at all the reds, oranges, pinks, and yellows!

I am going to do some research to see if I can add these small yellow sunflowers to my garden. I just love how they look against the green hedge in the back.

I’d also like to add a birdhouse to my garden–whether it’s an all white number or a bright pop of color as in the pedestals above. The ones pictured are by Lazy Hill Farm Designs.

I love orange flowers, and echinacea say summer to me like no other flower does. I love them in the tall grass. The Cantigny Park flower beds also featured them with snapdragons, a new love of mine.

Pink and orange in one flower, oh my! This snapdragon really does it for me. Plus, I’m learning that a pop of yellow in a garden really highlights the other flowers.

The rose garden did not disappoint. Here are a couple yellow roses for you.

What’s not to love about a pink dahlia with black foliage? I love how one petal in the flower below is waving hello.

I love all the reds and oranges in the flower beds. Perhaps a bit more blue salvia for interest would be nice. I just love all the color.

If you are visiting Chicago and would like to make a day trip out to visit the garden at Cantigny Park, they have a nice little cafe, Bertie’s Bistro, where you could eat lunch. Although, if I am in that area, then my most favorite restaurant is Riganato Old World Grille in Geneva. They have the best calamari I’ve ever tasted, but that’s a topic for another blog.

I have a few “keepers” from this day in my portfolio, Midwest Summer Blooms. Check it out and let me know if you have a favorite.

My Obsession With Agave Gardens in Tucson

If you’re visiting Tucson, I highly recommend you check out the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It’s a hybrid botanical garden and zoo designed to educate visitors about the Sonora Desert.

While you can’t go ten feet without seeing a saguaro cactus in Tucson and the Saguaro National Park is well worth visiting, at the Desert Museum, I re-discovered my passion for agave. Here’s a photo post with my best shots from their Agave Garden.

I am usually good about taking a photo of the placard next to each plant so I can remember the name of it, but there were a couple I couldn’t find. Can you help me name them?

I’m thinking of printing one or more of these. Which agave photo do you like best? I’d love it if you’d drop me a note in the comments. Thanks!

Now on to the agave…

Twin Flowered Agave


Bald Agave


Hohokam Agave


I’ve named this agave Pink Tucson Agave, but maybe you know its real name?


What’s the name of this Agave? I’ve named it Tucson Agave for now.


If you are visiting Arizona, I recommend you take time to visit Tucson. It’s a fun city with lots of great art, food, drink and outdoor activities. I have certainly enjoyed my time here.

Desert Botanical Garden Delights Photographers

The entrance at Desert Botanical Garden, complete with Chilhuy glass sculptures.

I have loved gardens my whole life. Vegetable, flower, tree or grass–they all work their magic on me. When I decided to play tourist in my new hometown of Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden was #1 on my list to explore and share with you.

The garden provides stunning mountain views decorated with saguaro cacti for the landscape photographer. These majestic cacti only grow in the Sonoran Desert.

Thousands of plants and flowers invite the macro photographer to bend over and take just one more detail shot.

Plus, special art exhibits, great dining and musical events make Desert Botanical Garden a year-round destination for the travel photographer and writer in me to explore and document.

The current art exhibit by Jun Kaneko compels visitors to Instagram and take selfies. Don’t forget to tag #desertbotanicalgarden.

Here are my top 3 tips to get the most out of your visit to the Desert Botanical Garden.

1. Choose Sunrise, Sunset or Both
For the best light and more than mediocre photos, plan your visit to take advantage of sunrise or sunset. Or, enjoy the best of both and visit first thing in the morning on day one, capping your visit with lunch at the Patio Cafe or Gertrude’s restaurant. And follow that up with an afternoon visit on the following day, culminating in a gorgeous desert sunset.

2. Go Wide
To give your audience a sense of place, be sure to capture several wide angle shots that give them a sense of what it means to visit the gardens. Choose features that make the landscape unique over your normal everyday view. The landscape designers at DBG have made your job of getting an interesting foreground element along with the mountain view pretty easy.

3. Get Quiet
Search out the water features and contemplative garden to enhance your visit to this desert oasis. Plus, if you’re patient, there are several spots where you might get a chance for a quick shot of a rabbit, parrot, or lizard.

I can’t tell you how much I love this place. Coming from a long line of farmers and gardeners, I guess that’s really not surprising.

Stay tuned for my next adventure.

Christchurch Botanical Gardens

Majestic New Zealand Trees

The majestic trees of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens remain in my mind. Not only are they huge, but there are so many varieties to enjoy.

Located in the center of town, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are remarkably easy to visit by both tourists and local residents. There is also a nice cafe for a friand and coffee.

While I was there, I enjoyed walking the paths like the one below. It was a great way to start my sabbatical.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Also at the garden, I got my first taste of New Zealand ferns. So lovely!

Fern Diagonals
Fern Architecture