Holiday 7 - USA

We've arrived in North America! Finally Air France flies us out of Frankfurt to Washington DC, where the Moosey fingerprints are ceremonially taken. My neighbour on the plane tells me I have 'farmer's hands'... Hmm - where's my gardeners' hand cream?

 Near Washington DC.
Brookside Gardens

Friday 22nd June

I am in Rockville, Maryland, minus luggage. Minus my two dollar swimming costume, and my bag of Body Shop goodies bought while waiting at Euston Station in London for web-master son (who slept in). And a few other items which I will not list here - far too personal! The luggage will arrive, though - as a survivor of a seven hour airport queue I have faith!

Saturday 23rd June

Yippee! My luggage has arrived - I knew it would! And the good news is that I've been to Brookside Gardens - beautiful American style perennial plantings, large sweeping lawns, and hugely healthy Hydrangea Quercifolia shrubs. And a butterfly house, where I saw the most beautiful moths, with huge eyes on their wings. Thinking like a predator - anything with eyes that big is far too scary!

 Big eyes and a snake's head in their wing decoration.
Moths at the Butterfly House

For the first time since I've been travelling I've assembled a list of gardenish things I want to do when I get home.

    My First Homecoming List
  1. Buy some rugosa roses for a hedge.
  2. Buy shredded wood for the paths.
  3. Buy a roly-poly compost bin.
  4. Buy chicken wire and fence off the Hen House Garden from the poultry.
  5. Buy a load of compost.

Apart from the ominous repetition of the word 'buy', this list seems harmless enough!

Backyard Wildlife

I must also investigate buying a bird feeder. But what types of birds would I get? Here in the backyard in Rockville I've been watching doves, red cardinals, starlings, sparrows, a tiny woodpecker - and others that I can't identify. Critters like ground hogs, squirrels, and rabbits appear below. Then at dusk the fireflies rise up from the lawn - there is so much wildlife in this leafy suburb.

 With the ninety degree ears.
Willie the Dog

Sunday 24th June

Alabama! It's beautifully hot, but the weather news isn't good - there is a serious drought, the worst for many, many years. Ponds have run dry, and there are severe water restrictions for gardeners - my friend can water for two hours with a hand-held hose, for two mornings only.

Pets and Pests

I've met fire ants (taking care not to tread on any of their mounds) and Japanese beetles, whose carapaces are a shiny greeny black, and who just love to munch newly opening rose flowers. Aargh! And a quartet of tame ducks, who are the funniest things!

I have met and marvelled at my first ruby throat humming birds - so tiny, their sharp little bodies hovering around the nectar feeder. And finally I get to meet Emmy the cat (another short-legged furry girlie) and Willie the dog with his ninety degree ears - one pointing straight up, one to the side.

Dogs and Ducks

Don't worry, Willie - my dog Rusty chases ducks back home too! Though neither of you really should do it...

 With Willie the dog.
Two Gardeners

My friend has a beautiful home - and garden, despite the drought. She has inspired me to divide and restock my daylilies, and to make my very first travelling 'home improvements' list - item one is to do away with my lounge curtains. She is the perfect hostess - she gave me some USA seed catalogues to read in bed.

 My friend got this beauty from her local Garden Club.
Alabama Daylily

Monday 25th June

We've just visited the Birmingham Botanic Gardens, which had the widest paths and the biggest planter boxes, all filled with beautiful foliage plants - I loved the Golden Sweet Potato vine. And the herb garden, which has given me all sorts of ideas for creating artificial slopes and terraces. Oops.

 The lime yellow plant is the Sweet Potato Vine.
Birmingham Planter Box

My travelling self is now very experienced - my red crocs are perfect for going through security checks, and my bag is just big enough. So far I haven't lost either set of spectacles. I continue to marvel at (and take photographs of) the freeways and the interchanges - so many lanes, so much truck traffic.

Right. We are off to Hamilton, near Toronto.