Rare & Special gardening adventures

Hi there! Welcome to my blog. I had the great fortune of spending an entire weekend with a very dear friend, who happens to be as passionate about plants and gardening as I am. What an adventure we had! The end goal was to attend the Rare and Special Plant Fair, in County Cork, but I have to say that the adventures along the way were even more special than the actual fair itself (and the fair was very good!).

First of all, everyone needs to have a ‘Susan’ in their lives. She is simply one of those very good friends – someone who ‘gets me’. We have gone on a few gardening adventures at this stage, and each one brings laughter, smiles, discussions, and me taking notes, because Susan knows so much about so many different plants! When thinking about our trip, a line from The Sound of Music movie comes to mind: ‘these are a few of my favorite things’: spending time with a good friend, garden tours, buying plants, and good food!

Our first stop was to Rare Plants Ireland, in County Dublin, as I wanted another ‘Strong Annabelle’ (mine was called Incrediball, but they are the same), and the very nice proprietor, Finlay Colley, had one set aside for me. This nursery is well worth a visit, in it’s beautiful setting.

We stopped for lunch at one of my favorite places: Avoca (in Rathcoole), as we made our way down the country. Just in case you don’t know, you can be guaranteed of delicious food at any one of the Avoca locations. Their shop is fun to browse, and some locations also have plants for sale. It is always a treat for me, as there are none near where I live. From here, we set out for Altamont Gardens, in County Carlow. I have been wanting to go here for many years, and somehow it just never happened. We decided that this was an opportune time to make it happen.

Before we actually explored Altamont gardens, though, we spent some time in their nursery. A very long time, actually! Every plant that was in flower in the gardens, was available to buy in the shop. It is fantastic marketing – seeing plants in all their glory is definitely the best time to buy them. I had a list of plants that I’ve been thinking of buying, and came away with those and a few others! But I’ll save that for another blog post. Eventually, we did make it to the gardens. The mature gardens at Altamont are simply beautiful. We strolled along the paths taking it all in. The scents all around us were so fabulous! I’m sure I looked quite funny, but I kept ‘sniffing’ the air as it was simply wonderful! We were so lucky with the weather as it was a mild, dry and sunny day – perfect for meandering through the lovely scenery. While pictures are nice, it is always so much better in person.

We did eventually make our way to County Cork. Thankfully, while at Rare Plants Ireland, the owner, Finlay, gave us a heads-up that we should arrive to the Rare and Special Plant Fair 30 minutes before it begins, to get the best selection. We’re so glad he mentioned that! Arriving 30 minutes early got us parked up close and within the first 30+ people on line. We noted the long line of cars waiting to get in, as we were leaving, and were happy to have gone early. The fair itself is in a big open space, with many vendors. You really needed to know what you wanted here, as there were a lot of people and not a lot of space when you were in each vendor’s stall. There was quite a buzz about the place, and so many plants! Two vendors that I usually buy from are Camolin Potting Shed, and Leamore Nursery and they did not disappoint. I managed to find plants here that were on my list! 馃檪

The last garden that we visited was Annes Grove Gardens, near Castletownroche, County Cork. These gardens were in the Annesley family since the 1600s. In 2015 they were gifted to the Irish state and entered the care of the Office of Public Works. They have only been opened recently to the public, and while extensive work has already been done, there is still much more planned. Due to ongoing works, you can only view the gardens on a guided tour, which we took part in. We learned interesting information about the gardens and the Annesley family (the name Annes Grove is for Annesley, explaining why there isn’t an apostrophe). It is rhododendron season, and there were many beautiful colors to see. There were also some white crabapple trees that were outstanding. I would definitely say it is well worth a visit. We hope that the OPW, who also run Altamont gardens, will bring the two houses on both estates to a state where they can be toured and appreciated.

I’ve only touched upon these beautiful places to visit. I hope you will venture to see them yourselves. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with Susan, doing what we love to do!

I hope you enjoy the pictures from my adventures!

In Peace,

collage of pictures of Susan and Dana

It is so much fun to be with someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Life is for enjoying. Do note, though, how we managed to match our outfits perfectly with our surroundings! 馃檪

Altamont gardens

Here are some of the beautiful views at Altamont. I loved the sculpted yew trees!

the lake at Altamont

My favorite aspect of this walk was actually the smells and sounds of spring. The rich scents were glorious to enjoy as we made our way along the paths, with the delight of birdsong! The sights weren’t too shabby, either! (Altamont gardens)

Yews and lake at Altamont

There were so many beautiful sights. I tried to balance enjoying the moment with capturing the moment with my camera. (Altamont Gardens)

A bridge between two White crab apple trees

This is one of the first images that grabbed our attention at Annes Grove Gardens. The two white crabapple trees are truly outstanding among the woodlands. The waterway was actually created so that the family could enjoy the sound of the river (!).

The chorus girls, rhododendron

Look at those colors! This fantastic group of rhododendron and bluebells in Annes Grove are referred to as the ‘Chorus Girls’. A very fun name for some vibrant (and boisterous, perhaps?) colors! It certainly brightens up the evergreen background.

Some of the rhododendron at Annes Grove Gardens

Rhododendron are spectacular plants that can grow quite tall. Traditionally, they prefer acidic soil, although some new varieties (Easy-dendron) can grow in any type of soil. I purchased one of these types at Altamont garden – stay tuned for that update! This collage of rhododendron are from Annes Grove. The white ones were definitely my favorite. We were told by our guide that the soil in this area is actually not acidic, but that because of all of the pine trees, the rhododendron do well here. Interesting fact!

The man made pond at Annes Grove

These are some views from the pond / river garden, which as I mentioned, was man-made.

Formal gardens at Annes Grove

I love walled gardens, and this was no exception. There were little nooks and crannies that will hopefully be more open to explore as renovations are completed.

A Fuchsia Gooseberry plant, a black peony and a wedding cake tree

These images are of a black peony (top right), a ‘wedding cake’ tree (Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’), and a very interesting Fuchsia gooseberry shrub (Fuchsiaflower聽Gooseberry) – all from Annes Grove Garden.

This wild garlic and bluebells among some beautiful trees is from Annes Grove Gardens – an end to a wonderful weekend. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour, and that you will be able to visit the gardens yourself at some stage. As always, thank you for stopping by! 馃檪

A visit to Powerscourt House & Gardens for ‘Six on Saturday’

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I had the pleasure of visiting one of Ireland’s beautiful country estate gardens a few weeks ago. It was my first visit and I can assure you that I will be back again as it was simply a wonderful experience. It is no surprise that National Geographic Magazine has rated it one of the top 10 gardens in the world. I traveled with my friend Susan down to Enniskerry, County Wicklow. We made a day of it, topping it off with afternoon tea at the Powerscourt Hotel (located adjacent to the gardens). I’ve decided to share my reflections on the day as part of the ‘Six on Saturday’ meme as led by The Propagator. So let’s begin!

Powerscourt House & Gardens Italian Garden
Dana and Susan with Italian Garden and urns with geraniums

1 – The Italian Garden. I like the orderliness of the Italian garden. Everything is neatly in its place, with formal lines and symmetry. I find that peaceful (and funny enough, the opposite of my own garden). October 12th happened to be mostly sunny and mild, which was perfect weather for walking the gardens. I was a tiny bit obsessed with the geranium planters. Firstly I really liked the foliage of the geranium. Some of the urns had sweet cherubs, facing in to the plant. But with the plant overgrown, it quite looked like they were hiding their faces. Some of the urns had devil-like faces and always with horns (a symbol of strength). Very interesting to see these on innocent flower planters. We also enjoyed the views of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, as can be seen clearly from here. As a note of interest, the terraces were designed in the 1840s by architect Daniel Robertson, taking more than 12 years to build.

Japanese Garden at Powerscourt House and Garden
Japanese Garden at Powerscourt House and Gardens, Dana and Susan

2 – Japanese Garden. As far as our timing, we were probably a couple of weeks out from peak foliage coloring. But we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the trees as they were in their transition state. The Japanese garden, created in 1908, has lovely, sometimes hidden, pathways. We meandered around the paths, taking it all in. It was so interesting to capture the views with different perspectives, as there are many different levels in the garden. This is a much more intimate feeling space than the Italian garden.

Images from the walled garden at Powerscourt Gardens
flowers from the walled garden at Powerscourt Gardens

3 & 4 – Walled Garden. This one definitely deserves two counts! I totally lost myself in the Walled garden, among ‘Ireland’s longest herbaceous border’. There was simply an abundance of color, shape and texture! Dahlia’s stole the show for me, but there were many supporting flowers. I have to add that one of the workers, who was busy weeding the beds here, was so kind and patiently answered our questions, even going out of her way to point out to us her favorite flowers. I spent a lot of time gawking. I loved the palate of colors, and with the mostly clear day, the mountains were a pretty backdrop.

fresh flowers in the entrance of Powerscourt Hotel
Afternoon tea at Powerscourt Hotel

5 – Afternoon tea at Powerscourt Hotel. Sure why not? What’s not to love about having delicious food in a beautiful setting with a dear friend? I have to confess that my love of flowers has me scrutinizing hotel lobbies, seeking out if they have fresh flowers. Powerscourt Hotel did not disappoint! The flowers, in shades of purple and pink, were quite showy and absolutely gorgeous! Our own dining table had a beautiful orchid, looking so delicate in a glass bowl. And sweetly, there were tiny flower petals on our sandwiches. I usually drink my (decaf) coffee in a heavy pottery mug. Drinking out of a tea cup made it feel that bit special. It was a treat that we both thoroughly enjoyed!

Triton lake at Powerscourt House and Gardens

6 – Triton lake. I’m always drawn to water. I usually find it soothing, especially fountains. This fountain is based on the one in Piazza Barberini, in Rome. It is a quite a focal point when looking out across the lake.

There were so many beautiful plants, trees and ‘things’ to see at Powerscourt House and Gardens! I’d highly recommend a visit, no matter what month it is. I’m sure the gardens are equally as lovely throughout the different seasons.

I hope you are keeping well. Take care!

In Peace,

Enjoying Ashford Castle in all its decadent splendor

Hello there, and Happy New Year! The garden is not showing a lot of color at the moment, so I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about our stay at Ashford Castle. Ashford Castel is more than 800 years old. While having been updated and restored through the years, the most recent refurbishment took place when the Red Carnation Hotels took over in 2013. We were very lucky with the timing of our trip in the fall, as there were no national travel restrictions and we were allowed to travel the two and a half hour drive across the country to Cong, County Mayo. My husband had organized everything as a special birthday treat to me, which had me feeling like a well loved princess!

I must say that from the moment we entered the grounds, there was a feeling of wonderment and awe. The grounds are beautiful. The castle is beautiful. The experience was beautiful. It was, simply stated, absolutely fabulous.

O.K., so what made it fabulous in my eyes? The grounds. We were able to roam the spacious grounds, admiring the gardens as well as walking the trails along the lake for hours. Luck was definitely on our side, as the weather was dry for most of our visit, so we were able to truly enjoy the outdoors.

What else did I love? I loved the grandeur of the castle. Every room felt special, and yet inviting. The staff played their part in making us feel welcome and at home, too. We decided to have a look around the area, too, and left the grounds to go hiking. It wasn’t too far from the castle: ‘Sean B贸thar’ (the old road) between Clonbur and Corr na M贸na, Co. Galway. It was lovely to get out and stretch our legs. And what better way to follow up a hike than with a spa treatment back at the castle! Due to Covid-19 restrictions, my husband and I were the only ones allowed to use the recovery room and the pool after our spa treatments, which was quite peaceful. The atmosphere was so relaxing. It was simply perfect to just enjoy being present in the moment. I also found the decorative wall at the pool to have stunning ceramic work. 馃檪

Every moment was enjoyable, honestly. We loved the food, the wine, the desserts. It was all delicious! Our two night stay went much too quickly. But before we left, my husband insisted that I watch The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. It was filmed in the area in 1952 and essentially ‘put Ireland on the map’, as they say. The hotel has it on demand on tv, so sure enough, we watched it! Still not my favorite movie, but at least now I can say I’ve seen it!

Celebrating our birthdays has become such a treat. Having lost my sister years ago when she was just 35, I make sure to always celebrate our birthdays, because it is such a privilege to do so. Especially given the year we’ve had with the pandemic and not being able to travel as usual, it was wonderful to get away to such a beautiful part of the country and enjoy such a time at such a regal castle.

I very much look forward to when we will return again!

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

In Peace,

Ashford Castle full view
Ashford Castle – (view of Tollman garden) what I noted here was the beautiful repeat of plantings throughout the gardens
view of Ashford Castle grounds from bedroom
View of the Tollman Garden, from our bedroom. This, and the other gardens, were laid out by the Guinness family in the nineteenth century, are said to be among the finest of the many beautiful country house gardens to be found in Ireland.聽The circular pond, which measures eleven meters, was added in 1996.
my husband and me in front of Ashford Castle
It was a perfect sunny day when we arrived!
view of the lake
The forecast was for rain, so we were delighted to enjoy an afternoon of sun!
garden art (bird)
Eagle with fish. Good time to mention their falconry school which is the oldest in the country!
Ashford Castle gardens
Since 2013, when the castle was bought by Red Carnation Hotels, it has undergone major refurbishment
formal gardens
I enjoy the peacefulness of gardens
a fountain
The fountain was a surprise and a delight to see
Ashford Castle green pathway
A lovely enclosed living pathway
kitchen garden at Ashford castle
more gardens at Ashford castle
Garden art - a rabbit at Ashford Castle
More garden art – this time a rabbit in the kitchen garden!
garden view at Ashford castle
Even at the end of September, the garden was still lovely
path in the garden at Ashford Castle
I enjoyed seeing the plantings
I never pass on the opportunity to capture Rudbeckias
garden bench
There were plenty of seats in the garden!
garden bench
Here’s another place to rest and enjoy the moment.
view of Lough Corrib
Beautiful view of Lough Corrib
mom in the garden's husband
My husband was a good sport about having his picture taken!
view of Lough Corrib behind mom in the garden and husband
Lovely view of the lake behind us!
row of rounded box plants
But did I get enough pictures of the garden?
collage of the gardens
The tremendous, old trees were stunning.
Vase of roses at Ashford castle
O.K., confession time: I walked up and touched these roses. Yes I did. They were too perfect to be real, right? Wrong. They were 100% real.
roses in main entrance
I might have taken several pictures of said roses…
view of suit of armor
I suppose when the castle is 800 years old, you’re bound to see a suit of armour?
artwork at Ashford castle
Unfortunately, there was very little ‘hanging about’ due to Covid-19.
We were happy enough meandering around the castle, though!
artwork at Ashford castle
I love old artwork. And archways. And walls. Did I mention that all of the walls were covered in fabric? Each wall was more lovely than the next.
chandelier at Ashford castle
This chandelier was my favorite. It is made of Murano glass.
bedroom at Ashford castle
A very comfortable room with a beautiful view of the garden and lake.
bathroom at Ashford Castle
Yes, this is how I spent a lot of the time!
This was on our hike: ‘Sean B贸thar’ (the old road) between Clonbur and Corr na M贸na, Co. Galway
hike near Ashford Castle long wall
There were a lot of winding hills and rock walls on our hike.
I could really say this about any part of Ireland, but this part of the country is beautiful! The difference it makes when the sun peeks through even for a few minutes!
two donkeys
I seem to have a connection with animals 馃檪 Nah, they were hopeful for apples!
two donkeys
It is very common to see gorse while hiking. But don’t get too close as it is quite thorny!
the pool
The ornate ceramic wall at the pool was beautiful.
Perfect timing for pampering after our hike!
Cullen's at the Cottage, a traditional thatched cottage
Cullen’s at the Cottage, is a restaurant in a traditional thatched cottage on the ground of Ashford castle. The food here is delicious, too!
This is the beautiful garden at the front of Cullen’s at the Cottage (the traditional thatched cottage) which is just a stone’s throw from the castle
front entrance of Ashford castle
Just a photo at the front entrance of the castle 馃檪
There was even a bit of a surprise when the staff sang ‘Happy Birthday’! (I think we had the restaurant to ourselves at this stage!)
I did indeed screen shot the movie! Proof that I watched The Quiet Man 馃檪
Statue in honor of The Quiet Man

We certainly had a lovely time. The sun didn’t hang around as much as we would have preferred, but at least it was dry for most of our visit.

The main entrance
Leaving the castle behind us…

I hope you have enjoyed the tour. Please do stop by again! As always, keep well and stay safe. 馃檪

Memorial Day – A Time to Remember

Arlington National Cemetery

Hello there! Although I’ve lived in Ireland for nearly 12 years, if you heard me speak just a few words you would know that I am American. 馃檪聽 But my being American goes much deeper than my accent, of course. I will always be American, and proud of where I come from. So as an American, Memorial Day is a special day to remember those who have fought for freedom. On this day, I am reminded of a trip our family took last year to visit Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia. It was quite a somber experience. It was spring time, and I have to say it was the most beautiful cemetery I’ve been to, with spring flowering deciduous trees throughout the vast grounds which are punctuated with gravestones – many, many gravestones (of approximately 400,000 veterans and their eligible dependents). There was a strong feeling of gratitude for those who have fought for our freedom. The sense of awe and admiration was truly palpable. We didn’t say much as we walked through the grounds. It was a contemplative time, a peaceful time, a time to remember.

Arlington National CemeteryWe toured a number of national memorial monuments around Washington D.C. while on that trip, and I share with you today just a few of those pictures.

American flag at half mast at Arlington National Cemetery

American flag at half mast at Arlington National Cemetery

May we always remember those who have fought for freedom.

I hope you continue to be safe and well.

In Peace,

Arlington National Cemetery view of headstones

Arlington National Cemetery

From the Arlington National Cemetery website: Arlington officially became a national cemetery on June 15, 1864. The original cemetery was 200 acres, and has since grown to 639 acres (as of early 2020). Initially, being buried at a national cemetery was not considered an honor, but it聽ensured that service members whose families could not afford to bring them home for a funeral were given a proper burial. The first official 鈥淒ecoration Day,鈥 later renamed Memorial Day, was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868.

Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of unknown soldier

Arlington National Cemetery – Tomb of the Unknown soldier

The聽Tomb of the Unknown Soldier聽was dedicated on November 11, 1921, with interment of the Unknown from World War I.

Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater

Arlington National Cemetery – Memorial Amphitheater

Memorial Day became so popular that in 1873, the amphitheater was constructed to hold the official ceremonies. Renamed the James Tanner Amphitheater, it has recently been reopened after reconstruction.

Arlington National Cemetery spring trees

Arlington National Cemetery – spring flowering deciduous trees

Arlington National Cemetery pink dogwood

Arlington National Cemetery – Pink Dogwood tree


Freedom is not free memorial

Freedom is not Free – part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial

A reminder that freedom comes at a cost.

The Price of Freedom - description of memorial

The Price of Freedom – World War II Memorial

The Price of Freedom - World War II Memorial

The Price of Freedom – World War II Memorial. Each star represents 100 people who died or remain missing in the war.

Discovering a ‘gem’ while on vacation! (the Chihuly collection presented by Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, Florida)

Carnival Chandelier, 2008, Chihuly Collection

Carnival Chandelier, 2008, Chihuly Collection

(close up) Carnival Chandelier, 2008, Dale Chihuly Collection

(close up) Carnival Chandelier, 2008, Dale Chihuly Collection

Azul de Medianoche Chandelier, 2004

Azul de Medianoche Chandelier, 2004

(close up) Azul de Medianoche Chandelier, 2004

(close up) Azul de Medianoche Chandelier, 2004

Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier, 2010

Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier, 2010

a description of Dale Chihuly's chandeliersIt is wonderful going on vacation, isn’t it? There are two aspects to vacation for me: 1. Relaxing with family and 2. Discovering/exploring/learning something or someplace new. I had the pleasure of visiting my family in Florida over Christmas. It was wonderful to get to spend time with family, especially over Christmas! We also ventured out to see the Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center, in St. Petersburg, Florida. What a collection!

I only learned about Dale Chihuly this past April when my daughter and I came across his work while visiting the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (I wrote about that here). During that visit, I learned that his work is renowned around the world! Interestingly, this building at the Morean Arts Center was purpose built to hold this collection of Chihuly’s work. They showed a documentary film which covered all of Chihuly’s work, which was fascinating to watch. It was so interesting to learn how his collections come about. First of all, he works in teams made up of anywhere from 5 to 18 people, although the concepts and ideas are his. He also doesn’t usually handle the glass, as he only has vision in one eye following an accident from years ago. He is a prolific drawer and painter, and from those drawings and paintings come forth the ideas for new collections. It is an incredible, fast paced, constantly evolving process.

The Morean Arts Center also has a studio and ‘hot shop’ just across the street from the museum where they give blown glass demonstrations. This gives a wonderful perspective on the process of how the items are created and how unique each one is. It is well worth the visit!

Our teenage girls also enjoyed seeing the collection and the demonstration, making it a successful family outing! 馃檪

I hope you enjoy the pictures, although I’d highly recommend seeing the collection in person!

In Peace,

blown glass in the ceiling between show rooms (Chihuly Collection) Morean Arts Center

blown glass creations in the ceiling between show rooms (Chihuly Collection) Morean Arts Center

Float Boat, 2007 Gift of Bill and Hazel Hough

Float Boat, 2007 Gift of Bill and Hazel Hough

Float Boat, 2007 Gift of Bill and Hazel Hough

Float Boat, 2007 Gift of Bill and Hazel Hough

Dale Chihuly's drawings

Dale Chihuly’s drawings



Venetians description









work by Dale Chihuly

pieces from the Chihuly collection at the Morean Arts Center

Silvered White Spotted Ikebana with Gilded Purple Stems, 2006

Silvered White Spotted Ikebana with Gilded Purple Stems, 2006

Silvered White Spotted Ikebana with Gilded Purple Stems, 2006

Silvered White Spotted Ikebana with Gilded Purple Stems, 2006


Sunset Persian Wall - 2010

Sunset Persian Wall – 2010

Sunset Persian Wall - 2010

Sunset Persian Wall – 2010

The Mille Fiori (Italian for a thousand flowers) display is simply breathtaking!

Mille Fiori 2010 - Dale Chihuly

Mille Fiori – 2010

Mille Fiori- 2010 - Dale Chihuly collection

Mille Fiori – 2010

Mille Fiori - 2010 - Dale Chihuly collection

Mille Fiori – 2010

Mille Fiori 2010

Mille Fiori 2010

Mille Fiore 2010

The demonstration in the ‘hot shop’ brought the experience to life! It is very much worth going to see!

hot shop demonstration of blown glass

demonstration of blown glass at the ‘hot shop’

demonstration of blown glass at the 'hot shop'

demonstration of blown glass at the ‘hot shop’

family picture at the demonstration of blown glass

Family selfie before the demonstration!

A beautiful hike of the Barranco del Infierno in Adeje, Tenerife

Pa虂raic and Dana in Costa Adeje, Tenerife

We enjoyed our time at the Hovima Hotel in Costa Adeje, where all of the staff were incredibly friendly 馃檪

Something funny happened when my husband and I started talking about how to celebrate our upcoming 23rd wedding anniversary. Instead of deciding which restaurant to go to, or which show to pair it with, fairly typical in the past, we decided to take a little trip away, and completely “unplug”. What a fabulous, spontaneous decision! It was just a long 4 day weekend, which doesn’t seem all that long, but it was perfect from start to finish.

Playa del Duque beach on Costa Adeje in southern Tenerife

Playa del Duque is considered a premium beach on Costa Adeje in southern Tenerife, and we’d have to agree! It wasn’t crowded, it was clean, and it was beautiful. The water was so refreshing from the searing heat of the sun!

Hovima Hotel Costa Adeje, Tenerife

We enjoyed relaxing by the pool (but always with my hat!)

Neither one of us has wanted to take a “do nothing” break … ever! But with all of the kids away on their own vacations, we decided to try something different with just the two of us. What a wonderful time we had! We relaxed by the pool, swam in the waves of the ocean, and we sweat our way through a beautiful hike of the Barranco del Infierno.

Dana and P谩raic at the start of Barranco del Infierno in Adeje, Tenerife

P谩raic and Dana at the start of our hike in Barranco del Infierno

The Barranco del Infierno is a nature reserve, and the hike starts at 300 m above sea level, in Adeje, Tenerife. I was rather thankful that we took a taxi to the visitor center, as the car wound it’s way up, and up, and up the steep streets! The hike itself wasn’t steep – just getting to the start of it was!

Barranco del Infierno CAT at the entrance

This cat was helping to enforce the “no cars allowed any further” rule

It was hot and humid (31 degrees Celsius 88 degrees Fahrenheit by 9 AM)! Reservations are required for this hike, as they wish to preserve the environment and not alter the development of the species, flora and fauna, by limiting the number of people in the reserve to 300 per day. Thankfully, our early reservation meant we were on our way by 9:15 AM, and we more or less had the trail to ourselves for most of the hike.

Barranco del Infierno sea view with cactus

The view of the sea is such a contrast to the dry, desert conditions at the start of the hike.

Barranco del Infierno with view of the sea

Easy to navigate paths and great views!

It is not a difficult hike, being just 6.5 km, and the hardest part was dealing with the heat. The views were beautiful, and unusual, and the trails were easy to navigate. We were required to wear helmets, due to the possibility of falling stones. Some areas we were warned not to stop and rest at, to keep safe of falling terrain. Happy to report we had no issues!

Barranco del Infierno Bailadero de las Brujas

Bailadero de las Brujas – The Witches’ dance floor

Barranco del Infierno cactus with babies

I find babies of all varieties to be adorable, including cactus babies!

Barranco del Infierno desert view of canyon walls

Gorgeous views of the canyon walls as the sun’s rays break through.

The half-way point of the hike leads to a waterfall, and along the way you can see the difference in surroundings change from desert-like, to plush greenery and the benefits of flowing water.

Barranco del Infierno desert flower

These lovely “flowers” were along the desert path.

Barranco del Infierno tree from palm plant

I loved this tree-like structure growing from some of the plants! They were so tall.

Barranco del Infierno points of interest

There were signs describing points of interest throughout the hike.

We saw so many lizards on the second half of the hike, as the sun rose higher and the trail was bathed in sun.

Barranco del Infierno lizard

he blends in quite well!

Barranco del Infierno plush green with backdrop of high stones

definitely in the plush section of the preserve now

Barranco del Infierno FIGS

We even saw figs!

Barranco del Infierno full view of waterfall

the waterfall area was serene and beautiful

Barranco del Infierno Dana and P谩raic at the waterfall

The waterfall is more than 200m high

We both really enjoyed getting out, moving and seeing such lovely scenery. After we finished the hike, we walked down the steep streets and caught a bus back to our hotel quite easily. Well, I did feel it in my quads a tiny bit, if I’m truthful…

oh that’s just me photobombing my husband’s picture… 馃檪

We’re so glad we did something different this year for our anniversary! Have you done anything spontaneous and fun lately?

In peace,


A walk along the majestic Cliffs of Moher

Country Road to Cliff Walk

First we start with a bit of a pre-walk (800 m to be exact) to get to the official “Cliff Walk”

Hi there! I hope the weather where you are is as exceptional as it has been for us in Ireland. My husband and I were in Ennis for him to bike the Skoda Ring of Clare (he’s a bit biking mad). This gave me some free time to explore, and although there were quite a few options of where to go, I really wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher, again, because really, why not?

first tower country road flowers and stone wall

a view up to the tower on the left, where the Cliff Walk begins (but my focus was on the stone wall and flowers!)

Sone wall with view of the sea

Stone wall – need I say more? Simplicity and beauty all in one.

stone wall with view of sea

as many varieties as there are stones…

I’ve probably said it before, but I am not great with exploring on my own. I’ve been getting better at it, slowly, but it still really challenges me. Thankfully, this trip was really wonderful, which should help me the next time I face a new challenge!

landscapes on way to cliff walk

I was in love with the scenery even before beginning the “official” walk.

We’ve been to the Cliffs of Moher a few times. It has been referred to as the 8th wonder of the world! It truly is majestic. But this time I was on my own, and I relished in the fact that I could stop and take as many pictures of birds or the sea or wild flowers, and no one was going to tell me to “keep up”! I could just stare out to the sea and enjoy its awesomeness. And of course I stared at the cliffs. It was a wonderful case of just ‘being’.

Meadow Pipit on rock

I believe this is a Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit on wooden post

Birds are tricky to photograph as they never sit long enough for me to focus my camera!

It is a little crazy, too, the cliff walk. I mean, you can literally walk right on the cliff’s edge. Recently they’ve created a much safer path which is a number of feet in from the cliff’s edge. But on the day I was there, it was a beautiful day with little wind, and people were using both paths, despite the signs warning of the dangers of walking on the edge. It really is too tempting.

Cliffs of Moher Stone Wall path

One of the official stone paths with stone wall edging

Stone wall official path

Official stone pathway with a stone wall as a barrier to the “unofficial” path. The fencing had an electric fence, too, which I was lucky wasn’t on because the path was quite crowded closer to the visitor center, with not quite enough room for 2 people to pass each other!

Let me back up a tiny bit and tell you how my adventure started. It was just under an hour drive from Ennis to Liscannor. The directions I was given? “Turn down the road on the left, just before the Rock House Giftshop in Liscannor”(!). The Rock House is a well known tourist stop. O.K. then! And that actually worked. Once I turned left it was easy to see the parking signs I needed. Long story, but we’ve started at the visitor center before, and it can be maddening with so many tourists. I wanted to see if this way would be “less traveled”.

full view of cliffs with archway

A full view of the cliffs (can you see the beautiful archway?)

I paid 3 euro to park, then had an 800 meter walk to the “official” area of the Cliff Walk. It was well worth it. I was parked by 9 AM and I had the trail to myself for nearly the first 2 hours.聽 BLISS!

full cliff view with heather

Just a bit of heather showing in this view of the cliffs walking in the direction of the “Cliffs of Moher visitor center”

Cliff view looking toward starting tower

This view is looking back towards where I started my walk

It was a beautiful walk. I was very lucky with the weather! It was warm and sunny (warm being high 60s Fahrenheit / 20 degrees Celsius) with very little wind. It was about 5.5 kilometers to the visitor center from where I started.

Cliffs with heather

View of the cliffs outlined with heather

Cliffs of Moher

Majestic Beauty

pink wildflowers

wildflowers 鈥 because I think they are lovely.

I walked at my own pace and thoroughly enjoyed my time surrounded by such beauty. It was truly uplifting!

Dana at the Cliffs of Moher

All smiles on such a beautiful day!

The day before, I really wasn’t sure about driving the distance (and those directions!)聽 and then I wasn’t sure what I’d find with regards to crowds. There was a Plan B, but that walk wasn’t nearly as nice as the cliffs would be. I’m so glad I went with my first choice and that I was there early to beat the crowds!

I hope you’ve had the chance to get out and just “be” – wherever that may be! 馃檪

In peace,

P.S. My husband did great on his 165 km Skoda Ring of Clare bike ride, and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at The Town Hall restaurant in Ennis that evening!

Killary Harbour Coastal Walk

Killary Harbour

view of Killary Harbour and the farmed mussels behind us as we hiked towards Rosroe pier

I have lived in Ireland for 11 years and the beauty here never ceases to amaze me. There is so much to do and see, especially along the Wild Atlantic Way. To celebrate my Father-in-law’s 80th birthday, all 20 members of the extended family went away for the weekend to the Killary Lodge, which is a stone’s throw from Killary Harbour. Despite the bad weather we’d been having the past few weeks, we lucked out with two nice days of no rain! 馃檪

view of Killary Fjord from hiking path

The coastal path had a great view of Killary Fjord.

Killary Harbour (An Caol谩ire Rua) in Connemara is one of just three glacial fjords in Ireland, the others being Lough Swilly and Carlingford Lough. It forms a natural border between counties Galway and Mayo and is 16 kilometres long.

I turned to DiscoverIreland.ie to learn some more information about the area:

On the northern shore of the fjord lies the mountain of Mweelrea, Connacht’s highest mountain, rising to 814 metres. To the south rise the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens.

There are two minor settlements nearby. On the southern side near the mouth of the fjord lies the hamlet of Rossroe while Leenaun lies inland to the east.

Nearby lies the so-called Green Road, a rough road running along the side of the fjord back east towards Leenane at the head of the fjord. It stretches for approximately nine kilometres and was part of the famine relief program during the 19th century.

Aquaculture is important locally with a salmon farm based at Rossroe while mussel rafts are a common sight more to the east.

Killary Harbour

beautiful views of the harbour

Organizing activities for 20 people to do together is challenging. On this day, given the different abilities, we split into “hiking” vs. “non-hiking” groups. Our hiking group included 5 cousins, 2 brothers and two sisters-in-law. This hike was really nice. The only challenging part was the fact that it was 14 kilometers. It took us four hours to complete, and by the end we were all pretty tired! 馃檪

stone wall along Killary harbour walk

Stone walls are a (beautiful) common feature.

Here in the West of Ireland, the stone walls, typically for dividing fields, don’t have mortar and are thus called dry stone walls.

full view of a long stone wall

View of the other side of the stone wall along the Killary harbour walk.

climbing a gate along the path

Climbing a gate along the path.


Waterfalls are great for photos 馃檪


It is harder to see, but this is the view of the same waterfall taken from the Killary Harbour boat tour we took the day after our hike! You can just make out the stone wall pathway.

hiking along Killary habour

We hiked at a family pace, and whenever I needed a rest I just took pictures!

climbing high on the Killary coastal path

The walk was manageable with some rocky terrain, some dirt paths, and some country roads.

view of Killary harbour

A requisite selfie with my husband 馃檪

Killary harbour view

a blue sky backdrop looking to Rossroe

We stopped and had our picnic lunch when we reached Rossroe pier. Not only did blue skies appear, but the weather turned warmer at this stage, too.

Rosroe pier

Rosroe pier is where the coastal path ended and the country road path began.

stone cottage

stone cottage along the road

stone wall and sheep

Two common features: stone walls and sheep.

Mayo Blackface Sheep

Mayo Blackface Sheep, originally from Scotland, are mainly raised for their meat and not their wool.

looking down hill of path

The two littlest in our group, 9 year old cousins, added walking sticks at about 8 kilometers, helping them to keep going for the entire 14 kilometers!

view of hills

Although different from the coastal views from the first half of the hike, the views were beautiful along the entire walk.

lake view

We passed some lakes, too (see the sheep?).

rhododendrons and lake view

The Rhododendrons were at the very end of their season, with just a few blooms left.

lake and mountain view

It was at about this point (about 9 km) when we started singing Scouting songs! (Did you catch them on my Instagram stories?)

We saw some interesting things along the way!


a quiet donkey

turf drying out in pyramids

In the bog you could see the turf being dried out after being cut into briquettes, and arranged in pyramids.

turf pyramid

briquettes of turf

bog land

Harvested turf

bog cotton

Common Cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium), also known as bog cotton (thanks goes to my sister-in-law for knowing this!).

sheep in road

Typical scene in Connemara

road sign

End of the hike for us

A picture of ‘just the girls’ at the start of our 14 km hike

I have to add that the next day, we went on a boat tour of the harbour and were delighted to see three dolphins! I managed to capture one of them with my camera, and enjoyed seeing the others “live”.聽 What a treat it was!

dolphin fin in Killary harbor

Dolphin in Killary Harbour as seen on our boat tour

Any plans to visit Ireland? 馃檪

In peace,

鈥1-4-3 Day鈥 to celebrate Mister Rogers鈥 message of love

Mister Rogers sculpture

‘Tribute to Children’ sculpture of Mister Rogers

I had the pleasure of seeing the ‘Tribute to Children’ statue of Mister Rogers, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in April. It was a beautiful spring day, and we were enjoying a pleasant walk along the river when we came across the statue. Seeing “Mister Rogers” brought back many happy childhood memories of watching his show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood!

Mister Rogers statue view over the river

Mister Rogers’ statue view over the river

Today, May 23rd, the 143rd day in the year, has been declared Mister Rogers day by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, to celebrate Fred Rogers’ message of love, which he often said as ‘1-4-3’ for ‘I Love You’.

鈥淗e would always refer to 143 as a way of spreading kindness, and remembering how he felt toward other people,鈥 said Roberta Schomburg, executive director of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children鈥檚 Media at Saint Vincent College.

I was feeling nostalgic, and bought the book “Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers – Things to Remember Along the Way” by Fred Rogers. It is a lovely little book so full of wisdom. One of my favorite quotes is this one:

“just who you are at this moment, with the way that you’re feeling, is fine. You don’t have to be anything more than who you are right now.”

Yes, I think it is a wonderful idea to bring back more of Mister Rogers’ ways of spreading love and kindness to our neighbors. What a gifted person he was! Creator, composer, writer, puppeteer, and host of his show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In everything he did, he was spreading the message of kindness and love. Always. It might be impressive for this Presbyterian minister to have been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, as well as having been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But I think the positive impact he had, and continues to have, on countless lives is the true gift which he gave to all of us.

Mister Rogers statue view from the back

Mister Rogers statue view from the back

Today’s recognition of Fred Rogers’ message of love and kindness is to encourage a statewide celebration of kindness (not just today, but especially today) – and people are being encouraged to use Twitter with the #143DayinPa hashtag.

Mister Rogers sculpture

Mister Rogers bronze sculpture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The 7,000 pound (3.5 tons) bronze sculpture was created by famed artist Robert Berks. The 10’10” height was Berks’ way to convey the “overwhelming awe” children felt while watching Mister Rogers. The location with the beautiful view along the river was chosen to honor Mister Rogers’ love of swimming. The site also has a sound system, where visitors can listen to 29 musical compositions by Fred Rogers.

Tribute to the Children plaque

Fred Rogers always spoke in such a calm and soothing manner, and his message was always clear and simple. I think we could all benefit from going back to basics to truly focus on what is important: Love your Neighbor.

“Would you be mine, could you be mine, won’t you be my neighbor?”

In peace,

Phipps Conservatory – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

side view of Phipps Conservatory

Our family had the pleasure of visiting Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently to visit with family. It is fun to visit a location as a tourist, as you can really delve into what is on offer. We visited a few places that I would highly recommend to you!

display of flowers

one of the first flower displays at the start of the tour

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one such place which we highly recommend. The history of the conservatory goes back to the glasshouse, which was built by philanthropist Henry W. Phipps as a gift for the people of Pittsburgh in 1893. Their brochure says that they “strive to demonstrate the important and innate connection between people, plants, health, beauty, and the planet.” Following our visit, I think my daughter and I would agree that they are right on the money.

my daughter was all smiles among the flowers

My daughter is 15, and I have to say that she is usually agreeable to joining me to see gardens (well, most of the time!). I wasn’t really sure how much she would enjoy this visit. But we went through the entire conservatory, each of us pointing out something interesting to the other with lots of “oohs” and “ahs”! There were beautiful artworks by American glass sculptors Dale Chihuly and Jason Gamrath featured throughout the displays, which we particularly liked. Truly, we both thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

These “Cattails” were created by Dale Chihuly for his first exhibit at Phipps in 2007.

blown glass display

“Seven Paint Brushes” glass art display by Dale Chihuly

I still surprise myself with how much I enjoy learning about plants and seeing them in their best state.聽 I find myself shouting out the names of plants when I see them. You do that, too, right? No? Just me?

blown glass display

These beautiful pieces are Jason Gamrath’s signature blue pitcher plants and reside in the Fern Room.

Jason Gamrath’s signature blue pitcher plants up close

blown glass flowers

These are oversized orchid blooms by Jason Gamrath and provide a colorful complement to the Butterflies in the Butterfly Forest.

There are a lot of pictures. It was difficult deciding which ones to leave out! I hope you’ll enjoy our little tour of Phipps Conservatory. It is well worth a visit, any time of year!

In peace,

glass light hanging with cactus plants

This glass work by Dale Chihuly was created specifically for this spot in the Desert Room.聽 What a gorgeous sun it is!

we had a lovely sunny day that wasn’t too hot in the glass houses

room after room with beautiful blooms!

the ordinary looking extraordinary!

Dwarf Fothergilla – Fothergilla gardenii (southeastern US)

Doublefile Viburnum – Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Shasta’

Doublefile Viburnum – Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Shasta’聽 聽 (one of my favorites!)

I loved the glass art! This Celadon and Royal Purple Gilded Fiori piece is at the center of the Tropical Fruit and Spice Room.

floral artwork

child statue in garden

“Joyous Boy” also known as the “Teddy Bear Statue” was sculpted in 1923 by Geneva Mercer.

“Joyous Boy” also known as the “Teddy Bear Statue” by Geneva Mercer. Too cute!

Lot of things for kids (big and small) in the Discovery Garden!

having fun in the Discovery Garden

This is an Albutilon pictum, also knowns as a flowering maple. It was quite tall and the flowers were above our heads. (Thank you to Cheryl M. for giving me the plant’s name on my Mom in the Garden facebook page!)

These are referred to as “The longfellows” which are whimsical glass figures created by Hans Godo Fr盲bel, residing in the Orchid Room.Aren’t they neat?

“The Longfellows” by Hans Godo Fr盲bel

just a few of the many beautiful orchids

There were rainbows of colors throughout!

A full view of the oversized orchid blooms by Jason Gamrath. I’ll take a set of those, please.

lovely pink dogwood tree and Japanese maple

growing willow is on my “going to try this one of these days” list…

a very pretty Rain Chain

Japanese Stewartia – Stewartia pseudocamellia – Japan (isn’t that bark pretty?)

if only I could get my veggies to look this good!

joyous color!


this piece is amazing! (see photo below for more details)

This is the Goldenrod, Teal and Citron Chandelier created by Dale Chihuly which hangs from the glass-domed entrance of the Welcome Center.

The End! 馃檪