First Stop-Snowy Sedona!

We “just got back” from our family trip to Arizona and as I tried to figure out what to share here on The Salem Garden I decided to talk about it one stop at a time. We were a family of seven out on the open road, just like the old days! It was fun to travel with young adult children and our baby is almost eleven so she was able to keep up with everything everyone else wanted to do.  There were views and gardens, wildlife, great food and lots and lots (and lots) of quality family time.

We landed in Phoenix at dusk, picked up our SUV and drove two hours north to Sedona in the dark, hitting some pretty slick snow and ice on the way.

We weren’t really thinking too much about encountering snow and ice in Arizona before we left Boston. Fortunately we were prepared with winter clothes but I don’t think we were truly in the winter mindset. We learned quickly that Arizona has winter too, especially northern Arizona.

After a quick night of rest we woke up in the morning to this…


…absolutely incredible, classic Arizona! The snow clouds were still lingering but it was amazing!

My New England kids thought we had landed on the moon!

IMG_0105Yes, there was snow, but it seemed different on a cactus…

IMG_0103or frosting a red mountain.

IMG_0169We couldn’t get over the beauty of this place. This is the view of the town of Sedona looking down from the Airport Mesa.

DSC04861Even the most commercial area of downtown Sedona was surrounded by mountains.

One of the things that makes Sedona special are vortexes of energy. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s believed to be a place where energy that’s released from the earth provides healing and strength. There are very specific spots called vortexes where the energy is concentrated.

DSC04868We hiked to the Cathedral Rock Vortex.

My middle daughter and I felt the energy… she and I are very open to energy of all kinds.

Even though they didn’t admit it, I think the rest of the family did too.

IMG_0163The energy radiated from the earth and we looked up at this…

IMG_0140The scenery was so stunning that it was very easy and yet difficult to capture in photographs.

IMG_0210Here’s the view from our hotel.

A note about the hotel (actually motel) … we stayed at the Wildflower Inn and found it to be simple, clean and very affordable. A continental breakfast was included and you could sit and enjoy this beautiful view. While Sedona is known for it’s spas and luxurious places to stay, we feel that we had the full Sedona experience without paying lots of money for our hotel.

At this point in the trip we were busy with things like teaching the children to look at each of us as Michael and I both took their picture simultaneously, everywhere we went…

IMG_0130Look at Dad… please…IMG_0131Now look at Mom… smile and say “Arizona”!

They’ll get it eventually, you’ll see…

To wrap up this post… the big things about Sedona are:

  1. The view is beautiful at all times. I’ve never seen anyplace quite like it.
  2. The energy is different… it’s positive and healing and strong.
  3. The vibe is incredibly positive. It’s hard to explain but we felt it everywhere we went.
  4. It’s a wonderful first stop on a tour of Arizona.

I’m ready to retire to Sedona… I think the kids are too.

We’re still working on our canoe/lake/East Coast Dad…

Next Stop, the Grand Canyon, via Oak Creek Canyon… it was a wild ride~



The Healing Power of Horticulture


Hi there!

We’re back from our wonderful trip to Arizona and I’m sorting through more than 1,000 photos and trying to decide what to share and when. It’s a little bit overwhelming but you should see some gardens and beautiful views very soon! This trip was absolutely epic! I’m ready to retire to Arizona tomorrow… not that I don’t love Salem, but the warm, dry winter climate was very easy to get used to!

In the meantime I came across this great article in a publication from Dubai that describes ten ways that horticulture helps people overcome difficulty and live in a more mentally and physically balanced way. This is what I believe, preach and live for. It’s heartening to see people all over the world recognizing gardening as the healing agent that it is. Just click on the title below to link right to the article.

Enjoy!  Michele

The healing power of horticulture: 10 ways gardening can positively influence mental health




Our 2015 Garden Year

The year is almost over and I thought that it would be fun to do a bit of  reflection on our garden year. I considered limiting this post to simple photos without words, but I started to fuss about whether to include just the immediate garden or the garden, yard and basement or garden related activities that didn’t necessarily happen here. In the end I thought that there’s too much to say and so I’m just going to talk!

January started out pretty typically with dustings of snow and the ground freezing… pretty much what we expect here in New England.

And then it started to snow…IMG_7935

And it didn’t stop snowing for many weeks…IMG_8054

It went a little crazy going into February…IMG_8159

Fortunately around this time the seed order arrived!
seed order

And the orchid bloomed beautifully…IMG_8136

And we did puzzles, lots of puzzles…IMG_8152

By March we had snow farms in Salem.  The snow had to go somewhere!

Michael and I had some much needed respite at the Boston Garden Show.It really felt like spring had sprung.

And then, just when we thought we’d never see them, the first crocus leaves appeared…IMG_8431

In April,  seeds started to germinate under the grow lights in the basement…

And lettuce could be planted! This was kind of a late start for lettuce. I’d have planted it in March if the ground had started to defrost.IMG_8530

The snowdrops finally appeared!IMG_8533

By May the seedlings were ready to be transplanted, but we had to hold off because it was still unseasonably cold.

Our new chicks were adolescents by now, ready to take on the world!IMG_8613

And toward the end of the month the iris bloomed.IMG_8913

By June the onion sets had been planted and were really taking off. The tomatoes tried to, but it was cold and not too sunny…

The lettuce was ecstatic. Lettuce loves cold and not too sunny…IMG_9031

The perennials seemed to follow their normal routines despite the temperatures.IMG_9153

In July the onions were  thriving…

Along with purple opal basil that had seemed to disappear right after I originally planted it in early June. You never know…IMG_9244

As August began the tomatoes still struggled…
And we went on a week long vacation to a place that was packed with Rose of Sharon, hydrangea and arbors. IMG_9275

Finally, in September the tomatoes came in..IMG_9511


And were ready to be stored away for the winter…IMG_9705

The zinnias took over the area in front of the fence.IMG_9495

And the peppers were popping!IMG_9510

I remember saying that this was the year of the onion for us. I planted them from seed in March and they exceeded my expectations. We ate all of these white onions and have moved on to the red variety. I may plant a third type this spring.
In October this tomato came in weighing about three pounds and resembling a pumpkin. It was so hard to cut this one up!
The zinnias still danced…IMG_9603

while the leaves in our woods turned color.IMG_9729

In November I saved bean seeds for next year..

And harvested the last crop of carrots for Thanksgiving dinner.IMG_9841

The frost came and overtook the swiss chard.IMG_9826

But not for long, it came back a few days later!IMG_9829

December was so warm that the herbs continued to thrive..

The dill and Christmas lights coexisted happily together. dill

And the broccoli that had bolted earlier in the year produced florets for  soup! IMG_9964

Finally,  a hellebore landed on my table. IMG_0016

Which left me wondering about it’s future. Can I plant this outside? It seems like I should wait until spring. What do you say hellebore growers? This is a new one, full of promise if it survives the winter in my house!

2015 was a very hard year for me personally. We lost my mom to cancer in late August (hence the absence of photos and posts this summer). She loved to garden and enjoyed ours whenever she visited. I like to think that she’s nearby and will be out there with us as the years go on.

New seeds catalogs have started to arrive already. It will be fun to see what the new year brings to The Salem Garden.

There’s interesting possibilities on the horizon.

I’d like to thank all of you for visiting here often, enjoying the garden love with me, and for sharing your gardens and gardening experiences with me and my readers.

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016 in the garden!

Lots of love, Michele


No Trash At All?

The videos seem to be taking over, but here’s another one that’s too good to miss. I just  shared it on my facebook page, then decided that it had to reach a wider audience. This one is about a town in Japan with the goal of producing no trash at all. The residents sort their trash into 36 different categories and claim to have become used to doing it! Imagine the improvements that would be made to our environment if this became the norm? Just some more food for thought on this late fall/early fall/springish kind of day!

Enjoy!   Michele

Homesteading in LA: A Food Tank Video

This video about Jules Derves and his family homestead is truly inspiring… imagine growing most of your own food on 1/5 of an acre in Los Angeles!  They’re blessed with a year round growing season and appear to be great food preservers, along with sharing and selling their produce locally. We’re working on extending our season, which I believe has more possibility than we might think, especially when the weather is unseasonably warm. I should have planted another crop of lettuce  six or eight weeks ago! Anyway,  I hope that you enjoy this video and are as inspired as I was.  Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden– November 24, 2015

I looked back quickly earlier this morning and realized that I missed posting a What’s Happening update in October.  The Halloween hoopla kind of overtakes everything around here, even as the kids get older.

Anyway, it’s November and we have had absolutely beautiful weather.  I hate dismantling the deck so I resisted and resisted. Michael is the primary dismantler and he prefers to do it without snow on the deck. I don’t mind a little snow if it means that we’ve enjoyed coffee or lunch (it’s too dark for dinner) one more time. But, the time has come and it’s been reduced to this:
IMG_9828A lovely pile of pots that need to be washed out as soon as possible.

It has to happen but it’s never pretty.

IMG_9829Down in the garden the chard is still beautiful. I took pictures of it covered with frost last week…

It’s amazing how some plants bounce back!

IMG_9832Same thing with the cilantro…


IMG_9837The sage can still be used for Thanksgiving.
IMG_9839And I don’t think the lemon balm ever really dies.

Herbs are just so darned hardy!

IMG_9833I took this little bunch of geranium plants in to soak for awhile. I think I’ll plant them in pots and winter them over in my office.

IMG_9835The asparagus fern will probably be on the table on Thanksgiving day.
IMG_9841As will the last clump of carrots that I harvested this morning.
IMG_9852This very grateful girl is wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

And so am I!

We are both blessed!

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele


Beans Beans the More You….

…let them dry on the vine, the more new plants you’ll enjoy in the spring!


These are Bountiful Beans, an heirloom variety that I ordered from Pinetree.

IMG_9230Here they were in July. These beans were delicious and prolific, just as promised, so we’re looking forward to next year’s crop. I already have the seeds on hand because I harvested the dried seeds and they’re ready to go!


Pop open a dried bean and your likely to find bean seeds that are ready to plant next year.


I’ll leave them in this pot for a few weeks, then move them to a marked envelope.

I’m not sure about reason for the color variation, but they may be at slightly different levels of dryness or they may just dry to different colors. I can’t remember what they looked like going in last summer. I tossed all of the discolored pods because the beans inside were shriveled and kind of moldy.

Moldy beans will only give us more moldy beans and we’re all about freshness around here.

If you have a few dried bean pods (heirloom, not hybrid, because hybrid won’t produce) hanging out in your garden, bring them in!

You’ll be one step closer to spring!

Enjoy everything!