I live for road trips. When my boyfriend was booked to photograph a wedding in Scottsdale and he asked me to be his second shooter, my first reaction was “When?”
Desert drives are something special to us. We do a lot of it. We’ve spent Halloween in the Grand Canyon. We’ve off-roaded in Death Valley. We’ve gone for a joyride on Pismo Beach. We’ve driven up and down Highway 395 countless times. (In fact, our very first date was a week-long road trip, snowboarding and exploring 395 from NorCal all the way down to SoCal… and we didn’t pull each other’s hair out. Or put each other to sleep. That’s when you know it was meant to be!)
The post-wedding plan was flexible. There was no plan, actually. Once our memory cards were full and the last piece of cake eaten, we lounged in our hotel room, searching for fun things to see and do. A friend on Facebook recommended a stop in Prescott. The boyfriend found a few climbing spots on Mountain Project. We had packed our camping and climbing gear in the car, just in case. We discovered something called Arcosanti in between all that. Okay, that all seemed like a good plan.
The drive from Scottsdale to Prescott was incredibly charming. I felt like I was on an episode of American Pickers… I’d see abandoned service stations with vintage signs that I considered stealing and strapping to the roof of our car. Once we pulled into Prescott, I was beside myself… rows and rows of antique shops, a street full of swinging-door saloons. Since moving into our new house, we’ve become flea market fanatics, and thus any resource for rustic one-of-a-kind finds makes me giddy.
Two of my favorite herbs in Asian cooking are ginger and galangal. The rhizomes are cheap and easy to find in a market, but as with lemongrass, I loved how easy it seemed to propagate them for the garden. The process was simple. Buy fresh rhizomes. Stick in potting soil. Place in south-facing window. Keep soil moist. Within a few weeks, new buds will sprout like magic, and into the ground the rhizomes go.
After a good rain, I’m always finding a random mushroom here and there in the garden. These tiny shrooms emerged from a bed of woodchip mulch, and after some Googling, I discovered they were Cyanthus striatus, also known as Bird’s Nest Fungus.
In their immature state, they look like white nubs, no more than a half-centimeter in diameter. When fully open, they contain little silver eggs (called peridioles) which are clusters of spores. The mushrooms are shaped in such a way that when raindrops fall, they splash inside the “bowls” and cause the spores to eject into their surroundings. With all our rain lately, I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a lot more of these in the garden!
I inherited a few banana trees from the previous homeowner after I moved into the new house, and had read that some banana trees are ornamental and do not bear any fruit. Luckily for us (and for the bees), a couple of them have been showing off their exotic purple blossoms all summer with beautiful bunches of bananas hanging down. It’s like having a little slice of the tropics in my own backyard!
I think I was an entomologist in a former life. I am really fascinated by the creepy crawlies…
I do a lot of Vietnamese cooking at home, and the unique flavor of lemongrass is one of my absolute favorites. When I discovered you can propagate lemongrass from stalks bought at the grocery store, I drove right down to my local Asian market and picked up six fresh stalks to root in water.
My starter plants from Richters have arrived!
I came across Richters while searching for hard-to-find plants that weren’t available at my local nursery. I was so stoked to find that they carried Vietnamese plants like ngò gai and rau răm! One of my projects in the garden is a Vietnamese herb bed, so far populated by a couple of tia tô plants given by my dad, and a delicious Vietnamese basil.