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Last weekend I made a quick trip to Washington DC to give a lecture at the U.S. Botanic Garden. My talk was about how people and plants have been in relationships throughout humanity’s past, in today’s world, and going forward into the future. This is the subject of my newest book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, and it is a passion of my work with plants.

Below is a picture of the outside of the Botanic Garden conservatory. The building is very old and the glass house conservatory wraps you in a time from the past even as it serves as a home today for thousands of plants. It’s really a beautiful building and the entire Botanic Garden is gorgeous!

One section of the conservatory is dedicated to medicinal plants. There were so many different medicine plants in that small space. I saw Kava Kava, Thyme, Saw Palmetto, Valerian, Pennyroyal and so many other plant friends. Below is a bed of Gotu Kola – a fantastic skin herb and a herb that is used to improve memory and concentration.

In the entrance part of the conservatory there were a lot of different tropical food plants, including this banana. Even though we call this plant a banana tree, it isn’t actually a tree at all. It is quite tall though.

One of my favorite plants is the cacao (chocolate) tree and there were chocolate trees in this conservatory. These are the pods of chocolate beans that grow out of the tree’s trunk.

In the entrance area of the conservatory there were the most beautiful murals painted. The one below is of a farmer processing cacao pods that will later be made into delicious chocolate sweet treats. There were other murals too including one of a cotton harvest, an orange grove, a tractor in a farmer’s field and several others. These paintings were so beautiful!

After I finished giving my lecture and doing a bit of exploration in the Botanic Garden, I walked to a local bookshop called East City Bookshop. They were kind enough to stock copies of my book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine in their shop so that people will have a local store to buy a copy. I went there to sign those copies and to give them my thanks for having my book available.

On the walk back towards my hotel, I saw the Thomas Jefferson Building and of course there was a food garden planted at the entrance steps! If you know anything about Thomas Jefferson, then you know that he was passionate about growing gardens in general, but especially food gardens, so it is absolutely appropriate that there would be a vegetable garden displayed in front of this important building. The garden represented the War Gardens that people were encouraged to plant during World War II when food supplies were rationed. We would all be wise to have a food garden of any size at our homes these days too. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables taste so delicious and a food garden of your own gives you a bit of food security and control over your own pantry. If you cannot grow your own food garden, then please try to support and shop at your local farmers market. It’s the next best thing.

One of the monuments that was most moving to me and so beautiful and made such a powerful statement was the Peace Monument that sits at the sidewalk curb leading up to the steps of the United States Capitol. It’s reassuring to me in these crazy days of government that there is a Peace Monument so close to those who govern us as a country. It also makes me wonder if those who govern us – Republicans, Democrates, Independents – do you suppose they even notice or know that this very significant monument is right there as our champion to inspire them to make good decisions and hold them accountable for the decisions that they make that affect all of us so deeply. I rather suspect that they are mostly oblivious and too caught up in their own agendas to worry very much about what is important to each and every one of us. It’s frightening to me what is going on in our government these days. I try to keep politics mostly out of this blog, but I must tell you that seeing this Peace Monument really touched me at my core. I wish that our government officials could look at it and feel like that too.

On another note, we have our friend Steve from New Zealand visiting and it was an opportunity for us to gather with other friends to share a meal and enjoy each other’s company. Here is Chris, Marc and Steve just after we returned from an evening stroll in the pinon-juniper forest where Marc and Joan live.

And below I’ll leave you with this gorgeous meadow filled with Indian Paintbrush, Penstemons, Artemisia and so many other wildflowers. It is breathtaking!

So, I’ll also leave you with this thought…maybe if each of us focus’ on doing things that help us create a peaceful personal and community environment, perhaps we can influence the greater whole, and that includes our foolish current government.  If we enjoy the company of good friends, family and neighbors, and honor them, along with all of nature around us. Oh… and if we could each plant some kind of food garden (even a single pot of lettuce  or a basil plant counts) however small or large. If we try to make sure all our actions and thoughts are first and foremost kind and truthful, and if we hold respect for all living things – then my belief is that things will turn out positive and good. I will be holding onto that feeling I had when I was standing in front of the Peace Monument.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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We’ve had another busy week, but that seems to be normal around this farm. I had intended to write last week, but time got away from me, so I hope you will find this post interesting. The first thing I want to let you know about is my upcoming presentation in Washington D.C.

   On August 19th I will be speaking at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C.  This is a Ariel photo of the gardens and below is the listing from their website about my presentation. Here is the link to their website  Lecture: Cattail Moonshine and Milkweed Medicine | United States Botanic Garden  If you can join us for this event, that would be wonderful, but remember that you must pre-register to attend this presentation. Here are the details…

Lecture: Cattail Moonshine and Milkweed Medicine

Event Date:
Sat, Aug 19, 2017

Tammi Hartung, Herbalist, Organic Farmer, Author and International Speaker
Tammi will share insights and stories about many North American plants, and how people have used them since early times into the future. Cholla cactus as tattoo needles, cattails for biofuel and cleaning waterways, hickory bark as delicious syrup, and Echinacea for medicine or to comb your hair! Join Tammi as she tells you how milkweed can clean up an oil spill disaster or keep you warm on a snowy day and more about all the plants we use in our daily lives.

DATE: Saturday, August 19
TIME: 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
LOCATION: Conservatory Classroom
FREE: Pre-registration required

In addition, East City Bookshop in Washington D.C. will be selling copies of my book Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine. If you are interested in buying a copy either before or after the presentation (they have them in stock now), this is the place to go to do that. Here is their website link  East City Bookshop . East City Bookshop has been very kind to offer to sell my books, since the Botanic Garden doesn’t allow anything to be sold from the property, including my books (or anything else for that matter) at the U.S. Botanic Garden itself, so I won’t have books available to buy at the presentation itself.
Desert Reef Hot Springs Garden Room Project
We also had an interesting morning recently putting a new greenhouse skin (that’s what we call the double layer of plastic covering) on the Garden Room greenhouse at the Desert Reef Hot Springs. This was a big project, but we had fun, and here are a sequel of photos to show you how the project went. Oh, and this hot springs is amazing, so if you are interested in checking it out, here is the link Home | Desert Reef Hot Spring . Chris and I enjoy soaking there. It is one of our great relaxation joys.
Here we are putting on the top layer of plastic and Chris is on top of the greenhouse hooking the plastic into the wiggle wire track that will hold the plastic in place securely.
Sean is holding onto Chris’ ankles as Chris makes an adjustment to the plastic before we put the shade cloth covering on next. Good thing Chris isn’t bothered by heights, aye!
The shade cloth is over the greenhouse now and it is all hands on deck to hold it in place so that it can be screwed on to secure it. This allows the greenhouse to stay cooler during the hot months of the year.
All finished! The new plastic is in place and the shade cloth secured on top. Many thanks to Lizz, Gina, and Sean for helping Chris and I work on this. Ro is thrilled with the end results and we know that LJ is smiling about it too.
Gina, Sean and Shrek are harvesting the Calamentha ‘White Cloud Strain’ seed. Now is the time of year when every day there is seed to be harvested.
Chris harvests the Pennisetum grass using a flower harvesting rack to comb off the seed heads when they are ripe. He makes it look easy here, but make no mistake, this task takes strong shoulders and back, and strength in your hands and wrists. Our planting beds are 4′ x 100′ and there are three beds of Pennisetum to comb, so it is a pretty big task to do. He will comb these beds several days in a row for each of two harvesting cycles.
One thing we have been noticing a lot of this summer are the praying mantis, which is a beneficial predator insect that hunts pest insects. In the flower seed field, they have been thick in the ornamental grass crops and they are hunting and eating grasshoppers!! Yippee!! We are so happy to have them here helping to manage the grasshoppers. Grasshoppers not only eat the foliage of plants, but they love to eat the seed too, so they are simply not welcome. Last year we had a much worse grasshopper problem, but this year there are still a lot more grasshoppers then we would like. Since the praying mantis are eating the grasshoppers, we haven’t needed to address this pest problem in other ways…the praying mantis are simply handling the problem for us.
And this is happening in the greenhouses too, where grasshoppers can get in through the open shutters and doors when the greenhouses are being cooled. In the Hygge House Greenhouse this very large and brown praying mantis has been roaming about and eating grasshoppers for weeks now. He has made his color brown so that he blends in to the color of the pots when he hides while he is waiting for his prey (in this case grasshoppers) to come by and then he catches them and has them for either breakfast, lunch or dinner! He is about 6″ long and he comes up on top of the hens & chicks succulent plants and watches me as I’m watering each day.
 In the Basil Greenhouse there is a green praying mantis living in the iceplants. He has made himself green so that he blends into the foliage of the iceplants as camouflage while he is hunting. Praying mantis have the ability to change their colors according to the habitat they are in so that they are not too easy to spot. They are pretty social insects and they seem interested in watching us as we move about in the greenhouses, the field and gardens. They are totally harmless to people, and indeed, if you find one in your garden you can very gently stroke it’s back and they seem to enjoy this. They don’t bite or sting, so don’t worry. Instead, make them welcome, because they are great hunters of pest insects and an ally to organic gardeners and farmers. Your kids will love them, but teach your kids to show respect. These creatures belong to Mother Nature and humans should show them honor.
I’ve been helping my parents with their gardens too. With all the wonderful rain we’ve gotten in July the gardens are beautiful and the weeds are growing of course too. I’ve been helping mom and dad keep their gardens up this summer. Recently, I was there weeding and they were keeping me company on the porch, visiting as I worked. It was a pleasant way to spend my morning.
It’s August now and in truth, my summer feels like it has pasted me by. A lot has been happening and a lot of things to keep us busy here. I hope you are enjoying your gardens and your summer. Consider spending some time helping your parents or grandparents, older neighbors or friends that are enjoying their elder years. They will appreciate your helping hands and you will surely gain the benefit of some wisdom they have to share with you while you are there.

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It’s been a very busy week around here. We had plant people visiting us to check out the farm  from Germany and New Zealand on two different days. It has rained, rained, rained every afternoon and evening and so far for the month of July we’ve received nearly 10.5 inches! Since our annual average is usually around 15 inches, you can only imagine how surprised we are to have so much moisture this month. Everything is very green and the weeds are growing like crazy!

The food garden is starting to give us fresh produce now, both inside and outdoors. The raspberries are starting to kick in, which makes me smile A LOT, since I absolutely adore raspberries.

Below is a picture of my fig plant, which is getting little figs now. The pomegranate, lime tree, tumeric and ginger are also getting fruit and rhizomes.

Above is a baby fig and below is my tumeric plant.

I’ve been picking a lot of variety of peppers lately too. These are Jimmy Nardello Sweet Fry peppers – one of our favorites.

The Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries are also starting to come on in mass. I’m picking squash, little fingers eggplants, butterhead salad lettuce, strawberries and more. I love the harvest season and having fresh produce is the best thing ever.

As I’m writing this blog, I’m looking out my office window at 2 little fawns eating fallen pears under the pear tree. They are about a foot away from me, but of course the window glass is between us. They are precious, still with spots, and feeling frisky.

The picture below is of three fawns last night getting soaked in the rain. We have so far counted 9 fawns in the deer herd that visits the farm twice a day. They treat the farm like a giant playground and they are a great deal of fun to watch. They are welcome on this farm. We have tricks up our sleeves for protecting plants they may like to eat, but for the most part the herd of 44 plus (counting this year’s crop of fawns) doesn’t cause us too much trouble. It’s all about co-existing in a peaceful way that allows them to be here and us to earn our living on this small farm. It can be done, for those of you that are skeptical, and it can be done in a positive way. If you are interesting in learning more about wildlife-friendly gardening, check out my book The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener by Storey Publishing.

Last night we went for a walk up at The Banks, which is BLM land near our farm. Below are a few of the native plants we enjoyed as we went on our stroll.



Native Clematis

And this is the stretching routine that Chris and Shrek do every morning. Each morning Chris begins to stretch before going to work and Shrek thinks he has to do the same.

Sometimes Pal the cat participates too, but not this morning. That gets really interesting when Chris has Shrek stretching on one side of him and Pal stretching on the other side. All in the name of avoiding stiff and aching muscles, aye!


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Another hot and busy week here at Desert Canyon Farm and our homeplace! Starting tomorrow it is supposed to get a bit cooler and we are really looking forward to that. We have been getting some lovely monsoon rains each late afternoon or evening and that truly makes all the difference this time of the year for the seed crops, orchard and other trees, and the gardens.

We had some young visitors this week and Shrek was absolutely delighted…Chris and I were too. Lyli and Gabe picked currants, played with Shrek, saw frogs and grass carp in the pond, and had a tasty milk shake while they were here. It was a fun day for all of us.

As for farm work, it is always on-going.

We are currently planting up fresh stock plants, as with the mint mother plants above, transplanting plants into bigger pots for next spring’s Farm Stand sales, harvesting seeds from the gardens to plant later this year and in the early months of 2018, taking cuttings and root divisions, and all manner of other greenhouse work. Believe me, Lizz and I have been very busy. Lizz is taking a well-earned vacation this week, but when she gets back it will be more of the same.

Chris, Gina and Sean have been keeping up with the flower field and starting to harvest a lot of seed crops now. With all this glorious rain we’ve been getting the weeds will soon be growing on a mission to overtake our farm world, and it will be interesting to see if we can hold our own against the weed community. Sean and Gina have already been digging up thistle and queen ann’s lace from the yerba mansa crop to make sure these invasive weeds don’t start getting a foot-hold here on the farm. That would never do!

I’ve finally been getting some tiny amounts of time in my gardens – a little bit in some of the evenings to weed and to start planting all the plants I’ve set aside for my personal gardens. Above there is still a large portion of a greenhouse bench-full of plants waiting for me to find them a new home in my gardens. So, I still have plenty to do in that regard.

On Sunday, I’ll be speaking at the Perennial Plant Association’s 35th Annual Symposium. Here’s the link if you want to check it out  http://ppadenver.com/sessions/perennial-inspiration-star-showcase-perennial-experts/ . My talks is Perennial Herbs to Attract or Deter Wildlife and it will be at 1:00pm this Sunday.

Chris and I have been spending some time this summer with our parents. This time always makes us realize just how special these four people are in our lives!

I hope you will have time to spend with people who are special in your lives too, whether they are family, friends or neighbors.  Our families and extended community is so important to a rich life I think, so make the most of it if you can.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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I’ve spent the entire day enjoying the company of a pair of twin fawns. They have been hanging out on the farm today while their mom is off foraging for food.  I’ve watched them play tag in the flower seed field, nibble around in the front yard, rest under the honey locust tree in the back yard, and watch them watching Shrek and I as I went about my farm chores. They are nothing short of delightful!


Well, it’s still July, but we are well into thinking and planting for spring 2018. We are harvesting seed from plants in the garden, working on the stock plants, doing some cuttings and transplanting perennials and shrubs that need to be moved up into slightly larger pots. Below are some strawberry patio containers that will be for sale next spring in the Farm Stand Store.


It used to be that this was the slow time of the year. Though there were things to do, we had to look around to see what they were and then leisurely work on them. Those days of a slow time have been long gone for years now! Instead, we just move from the list of one season’s tasks to the next. The work of building up plant inventory for the following spring’s busy season begins right as we are ending the current year’s busy spring season.

It’s good to have work to do, but I wouldn’t mind having a week or two of looking for things to do, instead of working my way down the long list of tasks always waiting for my attention.

A week from tomorrow, Sunday July 23rd, will be the opening day of the Perennial Plant Symposium in Denver. This will be a week-long event filled to the gills with all things plant related. We have so many friends that will be attending and we can’t wait to see them. The presentations and field trips are going to be fantastic!

On Sunday, July 23rd, I will be one of the speakers on the opening day. This day of the conference is open to the public as well as people registered to attend the whole conference event. Below is the line-up for the day. Perhaps you’ll want to register and join the fun.

As usual, there seems to always be a glitch in my pasting in something to my blog post. This time the information below came through fine, but the photos are missing…yikes! Here is the link to the page if you want the full color effect with photos and all. One of these days I’ll get this computer mastered I hope. In the meantime, it’s a source of humor, aye.



EXPLORE THE GARDENS: Gain complimentary and exclusive early admission to the Denver Botanic Gardens at 8:00 am to explore the garden in the cooler temperatures and morning light. (If you are staying at the PPA headquarters hotel (Doubletree in Denver), buses will begin shuttling at 7:45 am to the Denver Botanic Gardens, a short 10 minute ride.) Local attendees or those wishing to drive, may park at the gardens at no charge.


9:30 AM10:30 AM

Mike Bone


Michael Bone, Curator of the Denver Botanic Garden Steppe Garden

In 2016, Denver Botanic Gardens opened the Steppe Garden, based on the plants and ecology of the four great steppe regions of the world: South Africa, Patagonia, Central Asia, and North America. Learn how plants from similar climates have adapted to look the same, and/or fill the same ecological niche. These selections are wise choices for your home garden.


10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Lauren Springer Ogden


Lauren Springer Ogden, award-winning landscape designer and author of Plant Driven Design

Things are different in Colorado. We’re blessed with inspiration: big skies, bold landforms, thousands of native plants and a wondrous diversity of ecosystems and plant communities. There is limited water, cold winters, hot summers, hail, wind, mineral soils, invasive plants, and exploding development and population growth. Award-winning author and landscape designer, Lauren Springer Ogden, shares how to weave all these factors into public and private designs.



1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Tammy Hartung


Tammi Hartung, Certified organic grower and owner of Dessert Canyon Farm 

Tammi will share a great many ways that perennial herbs add beauty, yet a useful function in our gardens. Herbs are a perfect choice for attracting a diverse array of pollinators and beneficial insects. They are fantastic as part of a wildlife habitat landscape, and can serve to improve harvest yields, sometimes flavors, of vegetables in the food garden. Likewise, herbs serve a tremendous role in managing wildlife challenges such as deer, elk, wild rabbits, even rodents. Tammi will even share how to grow specific herbs as a “living planted” insect repellent near patios and courtyards to protect against mosquitoes and no-seeum gnats.



2:00 PM -3:00 PM 

Brie Arthur


Brie Arthur, professional garden communicator and author  

Foodscaping, Brie’s signature sustainable landscape practice, embraces both beauty and utility and encourages thinking “outside of the box.” The technique pairs edibles with traditional ornamental landscaping. It increases bio-diversity and purpose for everyday spaces. She features the best edible and ornamental plants and insights to organic growing and sustainable practices.


3:00 PM – 3:30 PM BREAK

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Pat Hayward


Pat Hayward, renowned perennial expert and owner of Phytologic Horticultural Services

Nature offers an abundance of diverse, beautiful plants in the wild. But which are the best choices for our regional gardens and landscapes? Pat Hayward, former director of Plant Select®, will share some of the program’s best selections from the “wild west.” Discovered and developed by local horticultural professionals, these truly unique, resilient and beautiful plants have proven to succeed in our challenging environment because of their native “roots.”


4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Debi Borden-Miller


Debi Borden-Miller, Welby Gardens

Debi will share how to create beautiful container planters using perennial flowers. Learn which perennials to choose for long blooming times, colorful foliage or interesting textures. We will also discuss how to put them together for best results and how to care for them during and after their life in the container.



Enjoy your week and happy gardening!

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The seed crops are beautiful right now. I’ll put in some photos of the various crops below for you to enjoy. We are going to have a visit soon from Georg, from Jelitto Perennial Seed Company, which is the seed company we grow all these seeds for. We love having Georg visit us, as it is a time to catch up with a good friend, a chance to talk about plants a LOT, and often it is inspiring too.

Recently, I did a podcast interview with Urban Farm U. It was so much fun talking with Greg, the host, who is also a grower/farmer. The podcast went live this week and I hope you will check it out. They have a lot of interesting podcasts you can listen to on their website, but I hope you listen to the one I did with them first ;=}   Here are the links, depending on what is your social media venue of choice. Enjoy!!

Urban Farm U Podcast: Tammi Hartung on the Versatility of Plants | UrbanFarmU

Looking to the west side of the flower seed crop field.

Salvia dagastanica (purple) and Echinacea paradoxa (yellow)


Mongolian Bells Clematis with a bumble bee pollinator.


Chocolate Flower – which really does smell like hot chocolate chip cookies in the morning!


Echium ‘Red Feathers’

Desert Zinnia – Zinnia grandiflora


All for now.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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June 21, 2017 Willowtail Springs


Solstice Greetings,

Much has been happening since I last wrote a post. Chris and I had our first half day off in months, and we felt like celebrating! We took a hike to Megan Lakes with Shrek. This was our afternoon snack break in a high mountain meadow. Shrek and I were sharing an apple.

Then Chris was getting a sticker out of his sock, when the grand “sock thief” snatched the sock and ran, which caused a short game of keep-away before Chris was able to coax his sock away from Shrek.


Lizz gave Gina and Sean a lesson in bee caretaking. She opened the honey bee hives, and showed them how to identify the bee eggs, young brood and bee larvae (baby bees), and what newly capped honey cells look like.


Our official farm greeting staff have relocated away from the Farm Stand store (which is closed now for the season until next spring).  Our farm greeters have found other places on the farm to linger and visit with folks.


Really…if you were greeted by this fellow, wouldn’t it just make you want to smile!

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This week I’m working away from the Farm and homeplace and I’m being hosted by Willowtail Springs in Mancos, Colorado. This is the most lovely Nature Preserve and Retreat Center, along with Bed & Breakfast you could ever imagine!

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The owners and caretakers of this amazing piece of land are Peggy (above) and Lee (below) Cloy.

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Yesterday, we had a full day of plant adventures here. In the mid-day I gave a Nature & Plant Walk-About. There was a wonderful group of people that came out for the day to enjoy talking “plants” as we took a walk on the property.

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We shared insights about milkweeds and other native wild plants, naturalized plants like alfalfa, a few weeds, loads of beautiful garden dwellers such as lavenders and mint, and trees both native (Pinon Pine) and domestic (sour cherry).

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It was such a delightful and gracious group. I enjoyed myself greatly.

Then last night I gave a lecture on some of my favorite native North American plants and all the ways that people have been in relationship with them during past, present and future. The Mancos Public Library hosted us for this event and it was such a lovely way to close the day.

I’d like to thank everyone who spent the day with us and an extra thanks to those who bought my books while they were here. You are each amazing!

Late in the afternoon today I will be doing another garden plant walk-about and book signing event in Durango at the Ohana Kuleana Community Gardens at 5:30-6:30pm. This plant walk is being hosted by The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado and Maria’s Bookshop. If you want to join us, we’ll be at 564 E. 30th Street.

Normally, when I visit Willowtail Springs, I visit for peace and quiet and relaxation…a time to read, stitch and take walks. This year my visit is a bit different as it is a working visit, but there is still plenty of peace and quiet here. This place is a sanctuary of nature and one cannot help but be nurtured by it to your very core. If you ever want a place to stay that will provide you with a beautiful nurturing and peaceful place and experience, consider making a reservation at Willowtail Springs.  https://www.willowtailsprings.com/

This year I’m here to share my knowledge about plants with others, but there is still quiet time during my stay, and I’m finding some time to work on my needlework too. I’m very nurtured by the Cloys and this really beautiful piece of land.

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This mornings while I was out for a walk in the gardens, I came upon Peggy and Micael. Micael works here as one of the grounds keepers tending gardens and helping with any other projects that need doing. She is an amazing young woman and I’ve enjoyed meeting her.

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Steve, I met last year when I was here for my stitching retreat. He also helps care for this amazing place and adds his touch to all sorts of projects. When I came upon he and Lee this morning they were creating a plan to customize this old canoe with beautiful wooden seats.

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Anyway, that’s all for today. My stitching is calling me and soon it will be time for me to go to the Community Gardens in Durango for the garden plant walk.

Enjoy your day and do something really good with your time today…like this bumblebee working the Woolly Lamb’s Ears flowers outside my garden cottage door!

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