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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Spring Garden Tour - Tropical Garden in Arkansas



I thought I would do a quick spring tour of the garden. Most of the plants are well ahead of their normal, thanks to the warm temperatures and increased rain fall we have had here is southwest Arkansas the last couple of weeks. 




The banana trees are already around the 8 foot mark. I wrapped them for the first time this past winter and am happy with the results. I even have little bananas on two of the trees. Unfortunately, they are Musa basjoo and the bananas are tiny and not very tasty. Actually, from what I hear, it is rare for  Musa basjoo to fruit.



The first canna to bloom this year is this tropical beauty. I can not remember the name, but it is not supposed to be hardy below zone 10. This is their third year in the garden and they are multiplying like crazy.





The hibiscus are still full of blooms and the plants are putting on new growth. They started blooming in January in the greenhouse.









Bromelaids are one of my favorite plants for providing a tropical look to the garden. They all turn green in the winter, but show off their colors when the sun starts to hit them in the spring.





New to the garden this spring are these two beauties. They are supposed to be the Inferno cannas, but look nothing like the company's photos I ordered them from. Oh well, they are still pretty!







Most of the orchids are in bloom or at least budding. My sweet aunt gave me 13 orchids that she had at her home and was tired of caring for. I can not wait to see the colors of their booms.












Finally found a nursery in Michigan that grows sun coleuses. They are starting to grow
after just sitting there for a month! So many beautiful colors!




The Salvia Black and Blue is loaded with blooms. It is a hummingbird and butterfly magnet.




The Broad Leaf Dusty Miller is finally settling in and growing after being moved to a different spot a couple of weeks ago. I found this one on a weekend trip to Biloxi, Mississippi two years ago. 




I have been experimenting with bougainvillea. Some have been in the ground for a couple of years and some I winter indoors. The ones wintered in the greenhouse are looking beautiful. The ones left in the ground are just starting to put on leaves.




There is still lots of growing and filling in that will happen over the next month, but I am already enjoying my little tropical paradise!

Happy Gardening! 



Friday, January 24, 2020

Florida’s Hot Spot for Viewing and Snorkeling with Manatees



Located in Crystal River, Florida, Three Sisters Springs is the hot spot for manatees in the winter months.




The 57-acre Three Sisters Springs refuge surrounds the springs and is the only way to access the land around Three Sisters Springs.




A nice boardwalk with viewing platforms takes you around most of the springs.







If you arrive as soon as they open and walk in, you will have a few minutes to walk around before the crowds arrive by trolley.




You can swim and snorkel in the manatees, but must enter through the waterway at the south end of the springs. There is no access on the refuge.






Boat/ Kayak launches can be found throughout Kings Bay. If you do one of the “snorkel with manatees” tours, chances are this is where you will wind up. Two tour groups and tons of snorkelers on their own, were there the morning we visited. 

Swim and snorkel tours:
 here & here.







Address:

Front Gate for Walk-in   

601 Three Sisters Springs Trail, Crystal River, Florida




.

We parked in a large parking lot on Kings Bay Drive between Little Caesars Pizza and Sonic and walked in. It's about a two block walk. 




Trolley Parking area


123 N.W U.S. Highway 19, Crystal River, FL. (behind City Hall)

This is where you can catch the trolley that departs every 30 minutes. 




Hours:

Daily, 8:30am - 4:30pm




Admission:

(November 15th- March 31st)
$20.00 Adult
$17.50 Senior (55+)
$15.00 Military
$7.50 Child (6-15)
FREE for Children 5 &under



Happy Travels!











Monday, January 20, 2020

5 Fun Day Trips from Gulf Shores, Alabama



Looking for something a little different to do while vacationing in the Gulf Shores or Orange Beach area?  Or even somewhere to stop on the way there or when heading home? Give one of these places a visit!



1. Big Lagoon State Park  in  Perdido Key, Florida

30 minute drive from Gulf Shores



This Park is a 705-acre located on the northern shore of Big Lagoon, which separates the mainland from Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico.

Address:

12301 Gulf Beach Hwy, Pensacola, FL 32507

Hours:

8am to 6pm daily

Admission:

$5.00 - $10.00 per vehicle, depends on number of occupants






2. USS Alabama War Ship Tour in Mobile, Alabama

1 hour drive from Gulf Shores





The Uss Alabama is a 1940 World War II ship that housed a crew of 2,500 men located in Mobile.


Address:

2703 Battleship Parkway | Mobile, AL 36602


Admission:

$15.00 or less per person, $4.00 parking fee


Summer Hours:

April-September
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Winter Hours:

October – March

8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.



3. Fairhope, Alabama

45 minute drive from Gulf Shores




Located on the shoreline of Mobile Bay, Fairhope’s charm and inviting atmosphere make it the perfect place to visit. You can even visit a fairy tale castle. See my complete post on Fairhope here



4. Fort Morgan, Mobile Ferry, Fort Gains, Sea Lab, Ship Island beaches - Alabama


35 minute drive + 40 minute ferry ride from Gulf Shores


Leave early morning to see all of these in one day.

Fort Morgan State Historic Site



Fort Morgan is a masonry fort built between 1819 and 1833. Its main roll was in the Battle of Mobile Bay.

Address:

110 AL-180, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Hours:

Seven Days A Week

9AM-4:30PM

Admission:

Adult $8
Seniors/child $5



Mobile Bay Ferry





The Mobile Bay Ferry goes between Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan at Mobile Point. It takes about 40 minutes. You can stay in your automobile or get out and walk around.

Address:

Fort Morgan Side

110 AL-180, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Dauphin Island Side:

111 Bienville Blvd., Dauphin Island, AL 36528

Schedule:

Varies, check here   

Fees:

Regular automobile and driver is $16 + $5 for each passenger.


Fort Gaines


Established in 1821, Fort Gaines known is for its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War.

Address:


51 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528

Hours:

9AM – 5 PM daily

Admission:

Children (Ages 5 -12) are $5.00
Adults (Ages 13+) are $9.00



Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium 



Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium is an educational public aquarium exhibiting the four key habitats of coastal Alabama.

Address: 

102 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528


Hours vary from winter and summer. 

Check here   https://www.disl.org/estuarium


Admission:

$6 - $12




Dauphin Island


At only 14 miles long and 2 miles wide, Dauphin Island lays at the entrance of Mobile Bay.




This is a great place to enjoy beaches without many people on them.

Bienville Beach (1501 Bienville Blvd)

West End Public Beach (Drive west on Bienville Blvd to the very end)



5. Pensacola, Florida Snorkeling & Fort Tour

45 minute drive from Gulf Shores


Escambia County Bay Snorkel Reef 





Located approximately 50 ft. off shore in Park West, just before the entrance of Fort Pickens. Great for beginner snorkeler.

Address:

Park West, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561




Fort Pickens State Park




This 1834 pentagonal historic United States military fort is located at the west end of Santa Rosa Island. It is named after American Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens.

After visiting the fort, enjoy some of the 10 miles of gulf and bay beaches leading to the fort. It's also one of the few places in the Pensacola area to find seashells.

Address:

1400 Fort Pickens Rd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561

Hours:

March 1 - October 31: 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (last entry at 8:00 p.m.)

November 1 - February 28: 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Hours:

Historic Fort: 8:00 a.m. to sunset

Admission:

Per person (pedestrian, cyclist, etc.) ............................$15
Motorcycle....................................................................$20
Private vehicle (capacity <15) .......................................$25



Happy Travels!