Sunday, August 26, 2012

Butchart Gardens

 While on a trip to Alaska, our family stopped in Victoria, B.C., Canada. Our main purpose for the few hours we were there were to go see the Butchart Gardens. They are privately owned, yet millions of people flock to see them every year. The Gardens were started back in the early 1900's by Mrs. Butchart to beautify the land that her husband had cleared from his limestone quarry.

 I have seen many gardens, but this was on a huge scale. What was so incredible is that everywhere you turned there were large groups of people. The driver that took us there said that on an average afternoon there are about 15,000 people in the gardens! Not bad for a private garden, however, it was less than peaceful.

 If crowds don't scare you, it is well worth the time to see the layout of the plants and flowers. I liked the many variety of geraniums that made a theme throughout the gardens. Cardinal Caps were everywhere as well in bush and tree form. One interesting story the driver told was about how the Butcharts went to Europe to buy some mallard ducks in Germany. On the way to catch their ship, they were late and missed it. It was in fact the Titanic that they had missed.

I particularly loved the shade garden featuring hostas and ferns. Shade gardens remind me of my mother. She loves hostas, and has her own shade garden in Utah! The broad leafed plants were blooming white and periwinkle flowers. So beautiful! So, if you ever have a chance to make it to Victoria, take a few hours to stroll the gardens made by Mrs. Butchart.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Grandville Island Public Market

As many know, I love farmer's markets. This Summer I was able to visit the great city of Vancouver, B.C in Canada. What a beautiful place! One of my highlights was getting to go to the famous Grandville Island Public Market. We had a taxi drop us off early on a Saturday morning. There was everything from artisan cheeses, fresh fish, luscious berries, meats, breads, veggies. Anything you wanted was there!

I had not seen a deli like this since I had been in Europe! I had wished I was not staying in hotel, so I could take some goodies home. But if going around lunch time they will make you a sandwich!

The cherries were just being harvested. Look at those baskets!

I am a sucker for fresh carrots with stems still on. I like to roast them in olive oil for 30 minutes at 450 until sweet and brown. Mmmm

Look at those clear eyes on the fish. A sign of fresh fish. No cloudy eyes here. They should smell like the ocean too....not "fishy". You can pick up some flavored salt at a little store down from the market that sells all different flavors of salt. Just ask what will be grand with your fish! Perhaps some salt with Herbs de Provence?

Oh! did I mention they had the most beautiful flowers? I did not get any, however, because we had a long day of site seeing ahead of us. Sometimes, though I do pack a little vase while going on a trip so I might buy some local flowers.

The White House Garden and Bee Keepers Too!

 After being out of commission for several months I am back ready to blog! One of my favorite places in early Summer is Washington D.C. My husband grew up in the area, and we make frequent trips to visit family and see the sites. This trip brought an unexpected treat as we walked past the White House. I had heard there were White House Garden tours, but alas we could not get tickets. No matter though, while trying to catch a cab I spied the white house kitchen garden through the gate! I was so excited, and could not believe I could really see it with my close. And not only the garden, but the bee keepers were out!

What made this so exciting is that my husband had given me "A White House Garden Cookbook" for Christmas. Since then Michelle Obama has written her own book called "American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America". Whew! Such a long name, but a great resource for the history of the garden. Mrs. Obama does not claim to be a gardener, but she had a vision of getting the country on board with helping children learn about fresh nutritious fruits and veggies. She has done such a great job at getting everyone aware of this need from being featured on The Food Network's Iron Chef to giving Jay Leno some White House Apples and honey after he said he hated fresh fruit! She even has the local school children come out and help in the garden. What a great thing for our kids! 

Our adventure was complete even though we were on the opposite side of the gate. We even got to see the security walking the First Dog, Bo. He liked the kitchen garden too!