Three Weeks To Go . . . . 9/8/15

I know this blog was supposed to be Part II of the Grand Garden Show, but I decided to break up all those flower gardens with some photos of daily life around the island this week.  We’ll get back to the garden show in the next post!

Labor Day is over, and the island has already made the subtle swing into the relaxing season of Fall.  The huge crowds left on Monday, and although there are still plenty of folks downtown, you can just feel the island beginning to breathe a little more slowly.

I even started back volunteering at the Stuart House this week. I worked all day Saturday and will be back on duty on Thursday! It felt great to be back!

I even started back volunteering at the Stuart House this week. I worked all day Saturday and will be back on duty Thursday! It felt great to be back inside this historic Mackinac building!

There are several new businesses in town, and one of my favorites is a new shop opened by Nicole Doud, who also owns Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island.

There are several new businesses in town, and one of my favorites is a new shop opened by Nicole Doud, who also owns Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island.  She’s calls it the Little Luxuries Artists Market.

The Artists Market carries items handmade in the USA (there are a lot of Michigan and Midwest artists). Nicole loves craft fairs and markets, so she is concentrating on unique handmade gift items. The market has a modern vintage feel with wood floors and vintage display pieces. Nicole loves supporting independent artists/makers, and it is a consignment shop as well. I love it!

The Artists Market carries items handmade in the USA (there are a lot of Michigan and Midwest artists). Nicole loves craft fairs and markets and loves supporting independent artists/makers.  Concentrating on unique handmade gift items, the Artists Market has a modern vintage feel with wood floors and vintage display pieces.  I love it!

Bear's new favorite spot - with his head between the porch rails and overseeing the carriage, bike, and pedestrian traffic down below.

Bear’s new favorite spot – with his head between the porch rails overseeing the carriage, bike, and pedestrian traffic down below.

Sunday was a beautiful day on Mackinac! The second annual Labor Day Weekend sailboat race was in full swing when I spotted the boats from our window and went over to take a photo.

Sunday was a beautiful day on Mackinac! The second annual Labor Day Weekend Sailboat Race was in full swing when I spotted the boats from our window and went over to take a photo.

Mission Point was beautiful in the sun . . .

Mission Point was beautiful in the sun . . .

. . . and the wind was spreading the seeds of this purple plant far and wide.

. . . and the wind was spreading the seeds of this purple-flowered plant far and wide.

The Mackinac Island version of AAA.

The Mackinac Island version of AAA.

Stormy Labor Day weather didn't stop Ted from joining approximately 40,000 other walkers for the Annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. This photo is just before he joins the crowd at the beginning point in St. Ignace.

Stormy Labor Day weather didn’t stop Ted from joining approximately 40,000 other walkers for the Annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. This photo is just before he joins the crowd at the starting point in St. Ignace.

LOL - no, he's not walking in the wrong direction - just turned around for a photo op before reaching one of the bridge towers.

LOL – no, he’s not walking in the wrong direction – just turned around for a photo op before reaching one of the bridge towers.  The bridge walk covers 5 miles and ends in Mackinaw City.  This was Ted’s sixth bridge walk.  Yes, I’ve done it . . . . once.

This morning was foggy, and I had to go off-island for an appointment and a little grocery shopping.

This morning was foggy, and I had to go off-island for an appointment and a little grocery shopping.

Coming back across the Straits this afternoon was a very rainy ride. Would you believe there were folks who opted to ride on the top deck with no cover!

Coming back across the Straits this afternoon was a very rainy ride. Would you believe there were folks who opted to ride on the uncovered top deck!?

You know it's a crowded ferry when the baggage section is packed on full of luggage and bikes that a few bikes had to be transported on the front deck!

You know it’s a crowded ferry when the baggage section is packed so full of luggage and bikes that a few bikes had to be transported on the front deck!

Coming up before we leave . . . . 1) Part II of the Garden Show and garden photos from two downtown summer cottages and the Iroquois Hotel.  2)  An update on Silver Birches.  3) A report on the marine rescue boats and equipment used by island rescue units and the U.S. Coast Guard.  4)  An update on Fort Holmes

Less than three weeks left on the island.  How can that be?

See you back here in a few days!

God bless.

The Grand Garden Show – Part I 9/6/15

Imagine this.

You’ve been coming to Mackinac as a visitor for years . . . or it’s your first time ever on the island.  As your ferry navigates the Straits and the island comes into view, you see Grand Hotel and the Victorian summer cottages strung along the bluffs like beads on a beautiful necklace. You step off the ferry, and your eyes are once again drawn up to those homes. And – for just a moment – you imagine what it would be like to spend the summer season on Mackinac in one of those beautiful cottages.

Your imagination is sparked even more as you tour the island – either walking, biking, or in a carriage behind a team of horses.  As you stop at a gate in front of one of the bluff homes to snap a photo, you wonder what it must be like to stroll across those yards and inhale the sweet scent of the hundreds of varieties of flowers displayed before you.

Now imagine that gate swinging open, and the owner inviting you in for a closer look . . .

The Grand Garden Show swings open that gate, and for several hours – over two afternoons – you get to tour the splendid gardens the cottagers enjoy every day. It’s a heady experience.

But don’t take my word for it.  Come on along now . . . I’ll show you!

First of all, it’s not all about touring the gardens.  The Grand Garden Show (presented by Proven Winners) is a two-day event that just completed its third year.  It includes presentations by celebrity gardeners, break-out sessions on all kinds of gardening (shrubs, annuals, perennials, etc.), and the most “give-aways” I’ve ever seen at any conference I’ve ever attended (and I’ve attended quite a few).

The first morning the keynote speaker was P. Allen Smith, an award-winning designer, gardening and lifestyle expert.

The first morning the keynote speaker was P. Allen Smith, an award-winning designer, gardening and lifestyle expert.

Besides authoring several best-selling books on gardening, he is the host of the PBS series Garden Home. He designed and created the set for the series by turning a bleak 650-acres piece of land in Arkansas into The Garden Home Retreat - a place that blurs the lines between indoors and out.

Besides authoring several best-selling books on gardening, he is the host of the PBS series Garden Home. He designed and created the set for the series by turning a bleak 650-acre piece of land in Arkansas into The Garden Home Retreat – a place that blurs the lines between indoors and out.

Allen was an outstanding speaker – witty and knowledgeable.  I’d love to hear him again.  After a short break, we went into a break-out session. . .

. . . where Stacey Hirvela, a Proven Winners Shrub Expert, gave an informative talk on the Big Impact of Shrubs on Small Spaces.

. . . where Stacey Hirvela, a Proven Winners Shrub Expert, gave an informative talk on the Big Impact of Shrubs on Small Spaces.

The morning flew by, and when we weren’t listening to speakers, we were admiring the dozens of Proven Winners NEW plant and flower varieties that were visible everywhere – inside and out . . .

. . . or watching magic tricks performed by Jamie Andress (Chief "Duck" Andress' son).

. . . or watching magic tricks performed by Jamie Andress (island resident and Chief “Duck” Andress’ son).

Lunch was on our own, and then it was time for the first garden tour.  We had a choice of biking, walking, or taking a Carriage Tour two-horse hitch buggy ride.  We chose to take the carriage the first day because we’d be covering both the East and West Bluffs, deciding to save the downtown gardens for the next day and to do those by bike.

Out of respect for the privacy of the cottage owners, I won’t be using cottage names, but if you’re familiar at all with Mackinac, I’m sure you’ll recognize most of them!

Here’s the Day One tour.  Come on!  The gate is open!

House One.

We started on the East Bluff. At each cottage a tour guide was available to point out garden designs, name flowers, and answer questions. All of you KNOW I'm not going anywhere near "flower names", and we took in so much information there's no way I could remember it all. So . . I'll provide a few words when I remember something, but on some of the photos, I'll just let the picture itself tell the story.

We started on the East Bluff. At each cottage a tour guide was available to point out garden designs, identify flowers, and answer questions. All of you KNOW I’m not going anywhere near “flower names”, and we took in so much information there’s no way I can remember it all. Proven Winners flowers were used in all of the gardens pictured, and Jack Barnwell of Barnwell Landscape and Garden, Inc. was the garden designer.

I love the front of this cottage, with its sweeping front porch sitting lazily under the branches of old trees.

I love the front of this cottage, with its sweeping front porch sitting lazily under the branches of a big old tree.

Here's something you may or may not know about "the bluffs". On the West Bluff, a service road runs between the cottages and the barns or stables behind the homes. On the East Bluff, the service road runs behind the stables/barns. This, of course, means the East Bluff backyards are much larger.

Here’s something you may or may not know about “the bluffs”. On the West Bluff, a service road runs between the cottages and the barns or stables behind the homes. On the East Bluff, the service road runs behind the stables/barns. This means – in most cases – the East Bluff backyards are larger – like this one, which stretches up and over several tiers.

The herb gardens have been raised to keep out bunnies who like to harvest the crop before the owner can.

The herb gardens and some flower beds have been raised to keep out bunnies, who like to harvest the crop before the owner can.

Behind the cottage is a beautifully landscaped pool. And behind that . . .

Behind the cottage is a beautifully landscaped pool. And behind that . . .

. . . is the owner's putting green!

. . . is the owner’s putting green!

Just before the service road is their stable. We weren't lucky enough to see their horses that day.

Just before the service road is the stable. We weren’t lucky enough to see their horses that day.

House Two.

A huge curving expanse of flowers has replaced what was once just a hedge of shrubbery.

A huge curving expanse of flowers has replaced what was once just a hedge of shrubbery.

I wish I'd had something to give you a perspective on how large these flower heads are. This one was as large as a person's head.

I wish I’d had something to give you a perspective on how large these flower blossoms are. This one was as large as a person’s head.

Gorgeous purple blossoms against blue sky and water!

Gorgeous purple blossoms against blue sky and water!

These are Supertunias - I remember because there are about a dozen new varieties, and they are growing all over the island. I loved these with the green edges and purple middles.

These are Supertunias – I remember that name because there are about a dozen new varieties, and they are growing all over the island. I loved these with the green edges and purple middles.

A fairy garden path within that swath of flowers. The owners' grandchildren love this.

A fairy garden path within that swath of flowers. The owners’ grandchildren love this.

House Three:

We hopped the carriage and landed next in Hubbard's Annex. Like the majority of the summer cottages on the tour, it's over 100 years old, and I've photographed it many times in the Fall when those front windows are ablaze with the reflection of gold leaves on trees across the street.

We hopped on the carriage and landed next in Hubbard’s Annex. Like the majority of the summer cottages on the tour, this one is over 100 years old.  I’ve photographed it many times in the Fall when those front windows are ablaze with the reflection of gold leaves on trees across the street.

This garden is all about the shade and the splendor of old trees. You enter the side yard through a beautiful pergola . . .

This garden is all about the shade and the splendor of old trees. You enter the side yard through a beautiful pergola . . .

. . . and then pass through an archway carved through the

. . . and then pass through an archway carved through the manicured hedge.  Soon, that circular garden will encompass a fountain.

The side porch looks out on . . .

The side porch looks out on . . .

. . . a shade garden of ferns, ground cover, and foliage so green you can literally smell the richness of the earth it covers.

. . . a shade garden of ferns, ground cover, and other foliage so green you can literally smell the richness of the earth it covers.

House Four:

This beautiful blue cottage in the Annex is very grown-up in the front, but in the backyard . . .

This beautiful blue cottage in the Annex is very grown-up in the front, but in the backyard . . .

This cottage garden is all about the kids!

. . . it’s all about the kids – and straight out of Harry Potter!

What fun this family must have out here! There's a teepee for overnight camping . . .

What fun this family must have out here! There’s a teepee for overnight camping . . .

. . . tree trunk seating arranged around a firepit

. . . tree trunk seating arranged around a firepit (with a giant turtle looking on) . . .

fff

. . . painted trees that wander alongside a brook, and there’s a bridge for crossing.

The entire back and side yard is a whimsical delight, filled with arches entwined with greenery . . .

The entire back and side yard is a whimsical delight, filled with arches entwined with greenery . . .

. . . and a life-size chess board!

. . . and there’s even a life-size chess board!  If I was a kid, I’d sure want to live here!

House Five:

Now we've traveled to the West Bluff. I wish I could tell you the complete story behind the transformation of this cottage, but it would require a blog of its own. Both the cottage and the yard has recently been enlarged and transformed.

Now we’ve traveled to the West Bluff. I wish I could tell you the complete story behind the transformation of this cottage (it was already beautiful), but it would require a blog of its own. Both the cottage and the yard have recently been enlarged and transformed.

It really doesn't matter where you're standing - at the side . . .

It really doesn’t matter where you’re standing – all you see is a kaleidoscope of color.

Looking across the white picket fence to Lake Huron.

Looking across the white picket fence to Lake Huron.

A side tier with half-hidden Adirondack chairs for enjoying the view.

A side tier with half-hidden Adirondack chairs for enjoying the view.

The backyard is a series of tiered gardens framed in huge boulders. I feel the need here to remind everyone that all of this is done with materials brought over on ferries and transported by horse-pulled drays. This was not done with heavy equipment. This was done with good old-fashioned hand labor.

The backyard is a series of tiered gardens framed in huge boulders. I feel the need here to remind everyone that all of this is done with materials brought over on ferries and transported by horse-pulled drays.

Looking up the tiered garden path.

Looking up the tiered garden path . . .

Looking down the side of the house toward the water.

. . . and down the side of the house toward the water.

House Six:

A beautiful fountain is a focal point in this back yard.

A beautiful fountain is the focal point in this back yard.

This has nothing to do with the gardens, but I just love that they have painted the ceiling of the porch blue . . . and added fluffy white clouds!

This has nothing to do with the gardens, but I just love that they have painted the ceiling of the porch blue . . . and added fluffy white clouds!

Flowers curve around the side of the house . .

Flowers curve around the side of the house . .

. . . and spread around to the front.

. . . and spread across the front.

The Monarch Butterflies were everywhere that day and seemed to really like the flowers at this cottage.

The Monarch Butterflies were everywhere that day and seemed to really like the flowers at this cottage.

So did I!

So did I!

House Seven:

Another West Bluff cottage . . .

Another West Bluff cottage with magically beautiful gardens and flower beds!

ggg

How many different varieties of flowers and plants can you get in one bed??  Wow!

From the lush gardens in the back of the cottage toward the lake.

From the lush gardens in the back of the cottage toward the lake.

The carriage house at the back of the property.

The carriage house at the back of the property.

House Eight – Last One for Today:

This is actually a park shared by the owners of two West Bluff homes. It is filled with beautiful gardens and whimsical creatures that have been added by both owners - like these frogs.

This is actually a park shared by the owners of two West Bluff homes. It is filled with beautiful gardens and whimsical creatures that have been added by both owners – like these frogs.

A beaver with a fresh stick to chew.

A beaver with a fresh stick to chew.

A chubby kitty.

A chubby kitty.

And my personal favorite - a little hedgehog hiding in a flower pot.

And my personal favorite – a little hedgehog hiding in a flower pot.

The gardens are spectacular as they move from the park to the cottage . . .

The gardens are spectacular as they move from the park to the cottage.

A view across the park.

A view across the park.

The park's front entrance . . .

The park’s front entrance . . .

. . . and the stream that runs through it.

. . . and the stream that runs through it.

Peeking around the cottage at the Grand.

Peeking around the cottage toward the Grand.

You have to know the photographs do not do justice to how all this looks in person – how it looks, how sweet it smells, how enchanted you feel as you walk through each of these fabulous landscapes.  I wish you could all come next year to experience it for yourself.  Promise me you’ll think about it!

Day Two will be coming up in a couple of days!  Come on back – there are a few more gates to open and walk through!

Covering Mackinac Island 9/3/15

Living downtown in the Mission District has quite a few advantages over living “up the hill” past the Grand Hotel.  Here are a few:

  1. A bike ride to town and back does not include a prayer request for your brakes to not fail and many, MANY stops on the way back home to catch your breathe.
  2. If we forget to buy bread, the trip to Doud’s only takes 10 minutes (round-trip)!
  3. Being much closer to the water, we get the full sound affects from the harbor – freighters blowing salutes, ferries blowing at other ferries, and the buoy bell.
  4. And my personal favorite – being able to hear Taps played at 10:00 each night from the fort ramparts.  Priceless..

The disadvantages are:

  1. Cutting out that hill also cuts down on the daily exercise.  My big plan to ride around the island every day has so far – sadly- not happened.
  2. Being closer to town makes it a lot easier to opt out of cooking dinner.  With so many restaurants within a 10-minute walk or a five-minute bike ride, we find ourselves eating out more.  Add that to less exercise, and our waistlines are sure to suffer the consequences.
  3. We miss the Village and our friends up there!  We see many of them downtown every day, but it’s not the same as being “amongst” them!

But I AM NOT complaining!  We are so fortunate to have found a place for six weeks that allowed us to bring our pooches, and the only thing bothering us is that our stay is almost half-way over already.  Where the heck is the time going?!

Tonight I’m going to share a bunch of pics I’ve been collecting for the last few days as we’ve been here and there around the island.  And later this week (probably Sunday) I’ll be sharing photographs from the Grand Garden Show.  I can promise you those photos are going to make you want to get online or on the phone and book your reservations for next year’s show.  I know I’m going to be there again!

A LITTLE BIKE RIDE

Even though I haven't biked all the way around the island yet, I HAVE done half that ride. Ted and I biked out to Silver Birches one afternoon, hoping owner/friend Liz would be there. We were out of luck on that, but we did get a couple of photographs from outside the gates.

Even though I haven’t biked all the way around the island yet, I HAVE done half that ride. Ted and I biked out to Silver Birches one afternoon, hoping owner/friend Liz would be there. We were out of luck on that, but we did get a couple of photographs from outside the gates.

We've heard it will be the summer of 2017 when this property is open for guests, and when we saw the massive restoration going on, we could sure understand why it might take that long. All I can say is that once this property is completed, it will be one of the premier destination spots on Mackinac. Hoping to get a tour inside before we leave at the end of September!

We’ve heard it will be the summer of 2017 when this property is open for guests, and when we saw the massive restoration going on, we could sure understand why it might take that long. All I can say is that once this property is completed, it will be one of the premier destination spots on Mackinac. Hoping to get a tour inside before we leave at the end of September!

Instead of finishing the ride around the island, we chose to turn up British LandingRoad and stop at Croghan Water.

Instead of finishing the ride around the island, we chose to turn up British Landing Road and stop at Croghan Water, named after Colonel George Croghan, Commander of the American forces during the Battle of Mackinac Island on August 4, 1814.

Croghan Water is a natural drainage area for rain and meltwater from the surrounding fields and woods. It's not fed by a running stream or springs, so it goes through cycles of wet and dry periods.

Croghan Water is a natural drainage area for rain and meltwater from the surrounding fields and woods. It’s not fed by a running stream or springs, so it goes through cycles of wet and dry periods. Every spring the marsh is filled with life as it’s an excellent environment for animals, birds, and vegetation that thrive in cool, damp wetlands.  By autumn, the marsh is frequently dried up, leaving the bare stalks of cattails and rushes.

It always amazes me how nature finds a way to replenish herself. Even though this tree trunk was barely showing above the earth, new leaves were pushing out and skyward.

It always amazes me how nature finds a way to replenish itself. Even though this tree trunk was barely showing above the earth, new leaves were pushing out and skyward.

Looking down British Landing Road - where we'd just ridden . . .

Looking down British Landing Road – which we’d just ridden up . . . .

. . . and further up - where Ted

. . . and further up – where Ted is stopped next to the sign marking where American soldiers futilely attempted to drive the British from their hill in 1814.

That battlefield is now Wawashkamo Golf Club.

That battlefield is now Wawashkamo Golf Club, one of very few American courses laid out in a links style that remains substantially unaltered, and the only nine-hole course in America to be designated an American Historic Golf Landmark by Golf Digest.

Back in town. It was a great day to hang out in Marquette Park!

Back in town. It was a great day to hang out in Marquette Park . . .

. . . or sit on the corner and watch the world go by!

. . . or sit on the corner and watch the world go by!

 HANGING OUT AT GRAND HOTEL

I can always count on getting some pretty good photos just by going and hanging out at Grand Hotel . . and this day was no different. Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor

I can always count on getting some pretty good photos just by going and hanging out at Grand Hotel, and this day was no different. Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor is surrounded by flowers on the outside and filled with frozen yumminess on the inside!

The Michigan Governor's Summer Residence - as seen from the porch at the Grand.

The Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence – as seen from the porch at the Grand.

The western portico and its fabulous view over the Straits of Mackinac.

The western portico and its fabulous view over the Straits of Mackinac.

The Grand omnibus approaching the entrance to pick up guests going downtown.

A Grand omnibus approaching the entrance to pick up guests going downtown.

The Grand Rose Garden - through the trees.

The Grand Rose Garden – through the trees.

FRIENDS

It’s been great fun to connect with readers and friends over the last few days!

Patty and Buz, our condo neighbors at Surrey Ride, as well as Cindy and Steve, who bought our condo. We had lunch together at Gatehouse after church Sunday.

Patty and Buz, our condo neighbors at Surrey Ridge (from Oklahoma), as well as Cindy and Steve, who bought our condo (from Atlanta). We all had lunch together at Gatehouse after church Sunday.

Katie, her husband Kevin, and little Claire - blog readers from Clarkston, MI who stopped us on a recent dog walk. Loved meeting y'all, and give your mom a big hug for me!

Katie, her husband Kevin, and precious little Claire – blog readers from Clarkston, MI who stopped us on a recent dog walk. Loved meeting y’all, and give your mom a big hug for me!

Girl friends Patty and Sue. Sue spent two nights with us on the island, and the three of us had a blast

Girl friends Patty and Sue. Sue spent two nights with us on the island, and the three of us had a blast “doing” the show!

Others have been Hilde and Bud (why didn’t I get a photo?), Paul and Elaine (same question), Stu Stuart (same question), Joleen and her husband (who I never saw, but they saw Jill), and two ladies at the Garden Show who introduced themselves as readers (I didn’t get their photos and I can’t remember their names, but I think they both started with a “J” – how far off am I, ladies?).  One thing, sweet readers – don’t EVER hesitate to introduce yourselves – no matter what I might be doing.  I LOVE meeting all of you!

RANDOMNESS

Wedding photos in the Mission Point intersection below our condo.

Wedding photos in the Mission Point intersection below our condo.

One of my favorite curves on M-85.

One of my favorite curves on M-85.

Yes, there is a young person who rides this bike filled with soft drinks up and down Grand Hotel porch. Don't you just love that?!

Yes, there is a young person who rides this bike filled with soft drinks up and down Grand Hotel porch. Don’t you just love that?!

Mission Point Resort from Robinson's Folly.

Mission Point Resort from Robinson’s Folly.

Island friend Mary Jane Barnwell at her recent book signing at Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island.

Island friend and owner of the Island Bookstore, Mary Jane Barnwell, at her recent book signing at Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island.

The book, Goodnight, Mackinac Island was written by Mary Jane and illustrated by wonderful Mackinac artist Lily Porter. A wonderful souvenir of the island that you'll read over and over again to the children and grandchildren!

The book, Goodnight, Mackinac Island – A Vacation Journal, was written by Mary Jane and illustrated by wonderful Mackinac artist Lily Porter. This is the first Mackinac Island board book for toddlers!!

A FEW FLOWERS TO GET YOU READY FOR THE NEXT BLOG ABOUT THE GARDEN SHOW!

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Grand Hotel garden flower.

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And – as a real tease – one of the gardens you’ll be seeing from the perspective of the cottage owner – not as a visitor to the island . . .

IMG_8023.2

Whew!  I told you I’ve been busy!!

Hope everyone is doing great and getting ready for an awesome weekend!  And I hope you’ll join me back here on Sunday for the garden tour to end all garden tours!!

God bless.