Vacation Garden Hopping

Long after the colorful petals have fallen, a gardener at heart can see the beauty that was and envision the beauty yet to be.

Barefoot Lily Lady

My hubby knows that one of my favorite things to do while on vacation is to stop and stroll through various public gardens. On this late October trip, we knew the gardens would likely be past their prime. That’s okay though, for long after the colorful petals on flowers have fallen, a gardener at heart can see the beauty that was and envision the promise of beauty yet to be.

Thankfully, as we pointed our car toward our destination of visiting good friends in Louisiana, with each mile we seemed to leave the cold Wisconsin weather in our wake. I’m so grateful my hubby didn’t feel the need to conquer the road; instead, veered off the interstate on several occasions so we could take the scenic route. How delightful to see lovely autumn flowers still graced the roadside, spilled from pots in public places, and dotted the flowerbeds of fellow gardeners along these back roads.

We did a little road trip antique-ing too. We certainly don’t need more “stuff”, but enjoy little stretch breaks. With both of us being on the plus side of 60, it was easy to find memories of our own childhoods tucked in amongst vintage stuff in the nooks and crannies of the antique malls. Wayne even found a bit of nostalgia from his years as a signalman in the Navy back in the early 70’s.


Our first overnight stop was at Benton Park Inn, a quaint B&B in a historic section of St. Louis. Benton Park was right across the street from from the B&B — a lovely park with paved pathways meandering throughout its acreage. It was the perfect place for us to stretch our legs after our day of driving. We were also within easy walking distance of Frazer’s, an excellent restaurant our gracious host had suggested. The meal was super delicious and the shared piece of key lime pie made me wish I had ordered my own slice. We enjoyed both the inn and the restaurant so much that we returned a second time to both establishments on our trip homeward two weeks later.

Stop #2 on our journey south would be Memphis, Tennessee. We stayed at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel (excellent!), enjoyed Corky’s Memphis style BBQ (oh, my, YUM!), and then walked the nearby Memphis Botanic Garden. With 96 beautiful acres, there was much to explore. My favorite discovery was a very aptly named plant known as Cat’s Whiskers.

Intriguing ‘Cat’s Whiskers’ (Orthosiphon aristatus) at Memphis Botanic Garden

Cat’s Whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus) is a herbaceous perennial and member of the mint family that blooms all summer long in the south. It reminds me a little bit of Spider Flower (Cleome), which I am able to grow in Wisconsin. Cleome is more orb shaped and has spidery looking stamen, while Cat’s Whisker’s snowy white stamens look very much like the namesake feline whiskers. You can see it growing here and there everywhere in Tennessee and Louisiana — it flourishes in full sun, but seems to appreciate a bit of afternoon shade. I should have brought home some seed, as I think it would grow as an annual in pots in my growing zone.

With every place that I roam, flowers lure me to explore the intricate beauty of God’s creation just a little bit more closely. His handiwork is clearly seen in the minute details of earth’s splendor.