Hold your planting horses!

Okay, our seedlings are growing and the weather is improving and we nearly have to tie our hands behind our backs to keep us from digging the ground to plant them. It seems this year, after such a crazy , long winter, we are all so ready to get in the garden. We envy our friends in the South and the far West because they are pretty much in the clear to plant. Here, we impatiently wait.

What are we waiting for? A few things need to be in place before it is safe to transplant tender seedlings to the great outdoors!

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Hold your planting horses!

Our seedlings are like “green” children to us. We care deeply for each one. Plant nuts! Timing is everything when it comes to gardening. If you take some careful steps the journey for plants from indoors to the garden can be quite easy. Here’s what we do to insure successful transplanting.

  • Become a weather watcher. Familiarize yourself with the last frost date in your zone. Use this date as a starting point for choosing when to transplant your seedlings. Weather is a fickle thing.
  • Why watch the weather? It’s important to know about the ground temperature and the air temps–particularly the night temps. A sunny 70 degree day is great. But, when it’s followed by a 30 degree night it can mean disaster for tender plants. Our Twitter friend, @HandyHelen gave us a cute guide for knowing when the temps are right for planting in the ground. She says: 5 days at 55. We think that sounds good–if you have 5 days and nights with the lowest temp of 55 then it’s safe to plant. This of course comes with the caveat that no unusual cold fronts are forecasted. You may choose for the soil to be slightly warmer.
  • Watch soil temperatures. You can purchase a soil thermometer for this task or some local weather reports will give this information. Love those farm reports! There are different requirements in soil temps for direct-sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings.
  • Seedlings MUST go through an outdoor acclimation process called “hardening off” before they can be planted in the ground. For about a week we bring our seedlings outside to enjoy the warm days and get used to the elements like wind and sun. Early in the process we protect our seedlings from harsh sunlight. Yes, we have fried a few seedlings. Mother Nature is a very good teacher.
  • It is also recommended to stop fertilizing seedlings about a week before transplanting to help minimize root shock. Resume feeding once plants are in the earth!
  • Make sure your soil is ready for planting–aside from amending the soil with your favorite amendments-soil is ready for planting when it crumbles easily.
  • Newly transplanted seedlings should be watered well.

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Truth–the best way we have learned to transplant seedlings is by doing it. We have gained knowledge through “trial and error” even after reading volumes of articles on what to do. Plants can be amazingly resilient and forgiving.

Raising our planting trowels and wishing everyone a successful planting season.

See you in the garden,

Kerrie and Carol

“Our” Chicago Flower and Garden Show

Saturday, March 15th marks the opening of the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. This is quite exciting to us! Beyond the fact that we are exhibiting at the show (Booth 140), we feel a sense of pride about “our” city and “our” flower show! Between us we have lived in well over a dozen places. In gardening terms, we are transplants to this wonderful city we have chosen to call home!

Chicago is a gardening city and the perfect setting for a “flower” show! Despite the sometimes cold and long winters–and this one has been one for the record books–Chicagoans like to grow! While the need to grow has had a resurgence and more and more people are coming in to growing their own food, this is not a new idea for Chicago.

Peterson Garden Project

Our friend, LaManda Joy, founder of The Peterson Garden Project and author of The Yarden blog, schooled us in some Chicago growing history. She tells us that an “army of gardeners” fed Chicago in 1943. WWII was in full swing and our resources were being used for the war effort. During that time there were 14,000 plots gardened by children throughout the Chicago Park District. 174,000 Victory Gardens were spread throughout the city. The most mind-blowing fact is that 90% of the people doing the work had never gardened. These rookie gardeners produced more than 55,000 pounds of food.

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Here we are on our first visit to one of the Peterson Garden Project gardens.

It is happening again with the guidance and passion of people like LaManda Joy. The Peterson Garden Project (PGP) is a contemporary redux of the Victory Garden. PGP has seven gardens, 664 plots, 520 volunteers and 2,650 gardeners. What is created in these gardens surpasses the produce they yield. People not only eat better, they feel part of something bigger and community is built.

The Chicago Flower and Garden Show

The Chicago Flower and Garden Show is another old idea (started in 1847) with a very fresh face. Here’s what we love about the show– it is a hands-on show full of creative, practical ideas that can be embraced by every gardener. We have been going to the show for many years and have watched it evolve from pretty flowers to real-world gardening. Believe us, you’ll see plenty of gardener’s eye candy there in the form of gorgeous displays and arrangements. But, the take away is practical garden advice that you’ll implement in your own garden. We believe this is what distinguishes the Chicago Flower and Garden Show from others.

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We hope if you live in or around Chicago or happen to be in the city from March 15 through 23rd that you’ll come to the flower show. You’ll see the Peterson Garden Project there. We know simply smelling the plants will draw us all out of our long winter funk and prepare us for the spring! All of the gardening that is happening in Chicagoland brings a smile to our faces.

Come with us to the Chicago Flower Show. Together, we can embrace the show’s mantra — “Do Green. Do Good”. Words to live by in our sweet home, Chicago.

See you in the garden,

Kerrie and Carol

Aside

School Gardens are Important

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.       Gertrude Jekyll

For gardeners like us, it’s easy to see the benefits of teaching children to garden at school. It’s not a leap for us to imagine a garden at every school because the benefits are so apparent. Fresh air and digging are natural for children. Many organizations have examined the benefits of having a school garden. The research reveals improved classroom participation, higher test scores and more. We love the intangibles children learn like a love of nature. If we look beyond the obvious, school gardens have greater effects. Children who spend time in gardens are more engaged and understand where food comes from and like it more because they grew it. They learn patience and nurture. We know these things without hardcore research.

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Classes of children can’t wait for their time in the 2013 Seed Keeper Project winning Dunbar Garden in Little Rock This is a magical place where children are free to learn and explore!

The Seed Keeper Project

Our Seed Keeper Project awards winning school gardens with a Seed Keeper Home Farmer and a Certificate of Recognition for their efforts in the garden. It is a small token compared to the great things happening in these gardens. Ultimately, we are the winners and have a front row seat to see the wonders of school gardens.

Marvin Elementary

Missouri Seed Keeper Project 2012 winner Marvin Elementary School! Awesome school and garden!

When we began to build The Seed Keeper Company we made a promise to ourselves that we would find a way to give back to the community-at-large. Our inspiration came in the form of a blog about a Chicago high school. When we read about the impact of the garden on the students and the dedication of the sponsoring teachers we instinctively said, “Let’s sent them a Seed Keeper.” The light went on at that moment and we discovered our way to give back. That was four years ago! Since then, we are proud to say we have recognized more than 150 schools in all 50 states through The Seed Keeper Project. The U.S. Department of Education recognized The Seed Keeper Project during our first year.

We have countless stories to tell of the wonderful work that is happening in school gardens. One of our favorites is about the 2010 Seed Keeper Project winner for Idaho. The Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center may seem like an unlikely place for a school garden. In reality, it is perfect. A year after we made the award we were contacted by the director of the center. He was so thrilled to be honored by the award. In closing he said, as an aside, that the children and their garden donated more than 2,000 pounds of produce to the local homeless shelter. We gasped at the quantity. Our Seed Keeper Project award was not the story here. It was the donation of a ton of food to those in need from children in a difficult spot.

We could go on for days with the many stories we have learned about the success in school gardens from making produce available in food deserts to bridging cultural divides. The outcomes from school gardens are nothing short of fabulous.

We hope you’ll participate in The Seed Keeper Project. Together, we can make a difference.

See you in the garden,

Kerrie and Carol

Aside

The Seed Keeper Project is coming… & more!!

Gardening is a very important part of our lives and we believe it is a skill everyone should have the opportunity to learn. When we started The Seed Keeper Company we made a promise to ourselves that we would find a way to give back to the community at large. The idea that everyone should have exposure to gardening and our promise came together in the form of The Seed Keeper Project.

What is The Seed Keeper Project?

Each year we recognize school gardens from all 50 states and the District of Columbia with the award of a Seed Keeper Home Farmer and a Certificate of Recognition! School gardens are the perfect spot to expose the young to gardening and we are amazed at the creative ways schools tie gardens to curriculum! These gardens are special places and we are honored to recognize them.

To date, with your help, we have recognized more than 150 school gardens in every state of  the entire United States! The United States Department of Education recognized our efforts during the first year of the Project! Let’s make the Seed Keeper Project  2014 the best year ever!

US Dept of Education logo

 The Seed Keeper Project begins February 3rd!!

Join us as 4th Annual Seed Keeper Project begins on Monday, February 3rd. We need your help to make this a true garden community success.  You will have the opportunity to nominate the school gardens to be recognized. Look to our Facebook page on February 3 where we will post the first ten states. Then,  we will ask Facebook followers to nominate K-12 school gardens. Who’s eligible? All K-12 schools–public, private, charter–all are welcome to nominate. On Friday of that week we will post the winners on our FB page. Should we get multiple nominations for a state we will use Random.org to select the winner. This is your chance to sing the praises of the school gardens you know– maybe it’s the garden from your childhood school or the school your children attend or maybe it’s the garden in your back yard and it’s a home school project.  Don’t be shy! We want everyone to nominate!

Washing carrots at the Dunbar Garden Project. Little Rock, Arkansas

Washing carrots at the Dunbar Garden Project. Little Rock, Arkansas

More Events!!

Our spring calendar is packed with fun garden events! So very excited to be exhibiting at The Chicago Flower and Garden Show. You do know Chicago is our town and we are so proud of our garden show!! Here’s a quick calendar of our upcoming events. Come see us if you’re near any of our events. We love meeting our garden friends!

Sunday, February 2– We’ll be joining in on #SuperSowSunday! It’s a very fun Tweetchat on Twitter! Check out details on #gardenchat

Monday, February 3– The Seed Keeper Project begins!!

Monday, February 3– The Seed Keeper Company hosts #gardenchat at 8 pm CT on Twitter. We’ll be talking about The Seed Keeper Project!

Friday, February 7– Sunday, February 9– Wisconsin Garden Expo. We’ll be exhibiting in Booth 216 at the show. Come see us if your in the Madison area!!

Sunday, February 16– Seed Swap with The Peterson Garden Project!! 2:00 pm

Saturday, March 15 – Tuesday, March 18 — It’s the Chicago Flower and Garden Show!! See us in Booth 140. So psyched to show our city our wares!!

In the midst of this crazy schedule, we’ll be starting hundreds of seeds! Follow our gardening adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!!

See you in the garden,

Kerrie and Carol

Yippee! It’s Seed Catalog Season

These days trips to the mailbox produce a special sweet spot in our day (especially welcome when it’s -3° F). Yes, it is seed catalog season!   Since it’s such a busy time, we tend to steal a quick look them, then,  stack them on a pile for our post-holiday seed ordering frenzy.

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We love the arrival of seed catalogs! That’s our buddy, David, on the cover of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog!

Think ahead!!

Ordering seeds can be easy when you think ahead a bit. Believe us, we’ve learned to do this through trial and error.  The most important information you must know is that you are ordering from a trusted seed seller.  It’s easy to find out about seed companies in this age of technology. If you’re not the tech-type stick with names you know or consult with other gardeners. We always check the zone a plant should be grown in next. This way we aren’t disappointed when we finally notice that it grows well in Zone 12 and were in Zone 5B! Here are some other things to think about when you are preparing your seed order:

  • Ease of starting–How easy is the seed to start? Does it have special germination requirements (dark, etc.)? When do I need to start the seed? Can I sow it directly?
  • Soil–Can the seeds I’m choosing be grown in my type of soil? Will I need to amend the soil?
  • Space– Do I have the space to grow this type of seed?
  • Light–Do I have enough light to grow this type of plant?
  • Yield–How many plants must I start to yield the produce I need? Sidebar– if you have the room, we hope you’ll think about growing extra produce to donate to elderly neighbors, your local food pantry or anyone else who needs fresh food.
  • Design–What do I want my garden to look like? We draw a crude plan of where to plant what–it’s quite helpful. If you’re a square-foot gardener, this is something to consider.
  • Consumers–that’s the family or friends. What would they like in the garden?
  • Water requirements– Will I be able to deliver the amount of water this plant needs? Some plants require little water–some need a lot.
  • Height– What height do I want or need the plants to be?
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Love the variety of plants you can start from seeds. Really, the possibilities are endless!

On these very cold days, it can seem like the days of the garden are far away. We find the sunshine in our seed catalogs and know seed starting season is upon us!

See you in the garden,

Kerrie and Carol

 

SeedKeeperPalooza 2012


     Day 1:  St. Louis

Yey,  Marvin Elementary!!

SeedKeeperPalooza 2012 began at Marvin Elementary School in St. Louis where we met with the vice-principal and the teacher who oversees the school’s garden.

Marvin Elementary was the Missouri winner for The Seed Keeper Project in 2011.

What did we love about their courtyard filled with raised beds?
Each grade level decided what they wanted to grow in their bed. Involving students in the planning process for a school garden is smart education!!
We applaud school’s like Marvin Elementary for incorporating a school garden into their
curriculum.


The Seed Keeper Project recognizes school gardens in all 50 states.

Every school needs a garden!!

    

Got inspired at Greenscape Gardens!!

 Greenscape Gardenswas a welcome oasis as we traveled through Missouri. We have a ritual when we visit a garden center. First, we do a quick wander around to get the oohs and aahs out!! We did plenty of that at Greenscape Gardens. If your around Manchester, Missouri make this center a stop on your list. We’re not surprised it’s a Revolutionary 100 Garden Center winner.

A Quick Lunch Stop at Missouri Hick Barbeque!!

 Enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Missouri Hick Barbeque. What delicious food! We dined up top on the covered porch. Be sure to check this place out if you’re traveling in Missouri.

  Camdenton Farm & Garden-Nestled in the Beautiful Countryside

 Upon arriving at Camdenton Farm & Garden we we’re greeted by the most magnificent display of geraniums and a gorgeous kitty!!

On the road we renew an appreciation for the diverse landscape in our country!!

Day 2 : Baker Creek Seed Company

On Missouri Road EE, the pavement ends and the road to Baker Creek begins.
We were so stunned by the quiet beauty that we stopped the car and got out to prepare ourselves for a lovely day in the country.

Baker Creek Seed Company is a mecca for seed-lovers like us. As we pulled up we we’re greeted by the very friendly David Kaiser. We think he’s the resident ambassador for Baker Creek.

Baker Creek is a very comfortable, serene place. It’s like taking a small step back in time.

Check out the many charming spots at Baker Creek. You can visit the apothecary, mercantile and a very special restaurant. What’s unique about the restaurant is that patrons are encouraged to pay what they can. A delightful, thoughtful idea. Pay what you can--maybe we could help pay for someone who couldn’t. Leave it to gardeners to think of others.
 Baker Creek is a working farm with lots of growing going on. We saw it as a place that preserves. Seeds are saved and the arts are alive. Throughout the year, Baker Creek hosts festivals that promote artisans and music.
The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Store is, of course, awesome. So many heirloom seeds to choose from–we didn’t know where to start and filled our baskets quickly.
The fowl at Baker Creek are a fabulous site. So many unusual types, especially for us city dwellers.
 Day 3: Juniper Gardens Training Farm & Planter’s Seed-Feed & Spices
Many of you will recall the famous lyrics from the musical, Oklahoma, “Got to Kansas City in the morning…” In our case, it was a beautiful, sunny spring morning when we arrived at Juniper Gardens Training Farm in Kansas City, Kansas!
 CultivateKC says this about the farm:
“On eight acres of previously vacant ground near downtown Kansas City, KS, a new green and productive space is growing. Juniper Gardens Training Farm is the home of Cultivate Kansas City’s Farm Business Development Program. Local vegetable gardeners, whether they are resettled refugees or Kansas City, KS residents, can turn their green thumb into a small business.”

We enjoyed our time at the Training Farm. What we experienced underscored what we already knew; community gardens are wonderful places that empower the members of the community. Hats off to you, Juniper Gardens Training Farm!!

 A quick trip back across the river and we’re in Missouri, again!!

Planters Seed and Spice Company was founded in 1924 by German immigrant, Henry Wertheim, and is located in the charming City Market District. We loved the old seed cabinets and the ladies at the front counter!! Again, we filled our baskets–this time with spices!!

 Day 4: Omaha and Mulhall’s Nursery
Omaha was a strategic stop on the trip. Spent the night at Kerrie’s dad’s house and enjoyed a delicious meal at a favorite Mexican restaurant.
 Mulhall’s Garden Center is truly  a destination garden center. The garden center is only part of this amazingly large place. Enter to home furnishings,  then on to the floral center–then, the garden center. We were floored by the fantastic offerings. If you’re in Omaha add Mulhall’s to your “must stop” list.
Day 5: Des Moines– Loki’s Garden Center & The Better Homes and Garden Test Garden

Loki’s Garden Center full of wonderful ideas!

Loki’s Garden Center is located just west of Des Moines in what we call “the country”. It’s a beautiful place full of vision. we loved the way the plants are organized by sun exposure. Makes it easier to choose. Justin and the staff really know their plants. We find that comforting and know it’s a bonus for beginning gardeners!
 Better Homes and Garden Test Garden
The Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden  (BH&G) in Des Moines was our final stop on the tour. We were so excited to visit this special place. BH&G has been a resource for gardeners for many years and we certainly count ourselves in that group. A perfect finale for our trip!!

SeedKeeperPalooza 2011!!

We love what we do!! One of our favorite things is getting out of the office to visit garden centers and garden friends. Each year we take a break and hit the road. We call it #SeedKeeperPalooza. It’s a great adventure!!
We’ve just returned. Enjoy our adventure!!

#SeedKeeperPalooza began early Monday, May 9th and took us to Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Along the way we visited some fabulous independent garden centers and spent time with some special garden writer friends.

Our garden friends followed our adventure on Twitter at #SeedKeeperPalooza.


SeedKeeperPalooza Mobile

On The Road…

Our first stop was at Linton’s Enchanted Garden in Elkhart, Indiana. This place is definitely a destination garden center–plants,  gifts,  petting zoo and just a pretty place.
On the way to the petting zoo, we passed darling little buildings representing places abroad. We loved the little Japanese house. Plant offerings are nestled among the buildings–makes for a really pretty place.

The  petting zoo is adorable and families have an opportunity to have up close encounters with donkeys, pigs, goats and an array of interesting fowl. Lots of fun at Linton’s Enchanted Gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 






 
Our trip to Our Little Acre took us down a lovely windy road past an old beautiful cemetery complete with a Victorian wrought iron fence.

We were barely in the driveway of Our Little Acre when our dear friend Kylee ran out the door to greet us. Waiting in the kitchen were frosty peach bellinis. Kylee had sampled these delicious drinks on her recent visit to P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm. Perfect after a long day on the road!!

A little history–we originally met Kylee through her garden blog, Our Little Acre. Our first in-person meeting was at 2010 Independent Garden Center Show in Chicago at Navy Pier!! Kylee chose our Seed Keeper as one of her four favorite products of the show.  We also met Kylee’s very special Mom, Louise, there. Through, Facebook and Twitter we keep in touch and, occasionally, we have the fortune of seeing each other in person. It was huge thrill for us to see Kylee and Our Little Acre in person!The gardens at Our Little Acre are are truly beautiful. We learned many things from her as we toured her acre and conservatory.

Kylee had planned a special dinner from P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes From The Garden cookbook. It was a simple dish of marinated pork with a sauteed veggie mix. Along side she served a tasty salad from the book of fresh greens and strawberries. It was great fun to spend time in the kitchen together.

After dinner, we switched to comfy jammies and Kylee shared her photos of her recent Garden2Blog trip. She is a fabulous photographer. It’s fun to see how she captures images!!

We were up ’til the wee hours of the night chatting about gardening and life!!

Kylee and her kitty.


Our Little Acre is a serene quiet place. We marveled at the sky and brilliance of the stars. No light pollution there. Just simple country living.

It was ours for a night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Trip to Louise’s Garden

 

 

After a lovely overnight stay at Our Little Acre, we ventured on to a special breakfast and garden tour at Louise Hartwig’s home. You may know, Louise is Kylee Baumle’s vivacious mother. Louise treated us to a lovely table filled with delightful goodies.

Louise has been a gardener for many years. Her gardens tell a story of dedication and love.

We loved her little purple bistro vignette. The falling blossoms added magic to the scene. The neat thing about touring the gardens at both Kylee and Louise’s home is their plant knowledge. Point to a plant–they know the name.

After a quick photo in Louise’s gazebo, we were off to our next stop, The Children’s Garden of Van Wert, Ohio.

The Childrens’ Garden and Butterfly House
Van Wert, Ohio
The drive from Louise’s home to The Children’s Garden and Butterfly House at Smiley Park took us through downtown Van Wert. What a beautiful community! Gardens everywhere!!

The bright structures of The Children’s Garden were apparent from a distance. Once in the parking lot, we could hardly wait to get inside.


C’mon look at that at that entrance, who wouldn’t want to play and learn here?
The Childrens’ Garden is developed and maintained by the Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener volunteers and is a passion of Louise Hartwig’s.Louise has spent many hours here and raised a significant amount of money to make it a reality.

 

 

 

The garden design is based on a wheel with spokes radiating to different gardens.

Louise at the entrance to The Butterfly House.

Important aspects of gardening are covered in this garden. Two we felt important, were theMemory Garden and the Adaptive Garden.

The garden is full of places to collect your thoughts.

Kylee is thoughtful at Pooh’s Thotful Spot.

Love to have a little fun!

 

 

 

At Pooh’s Thotful Spot, we learned that Kylee is a lover of the original Winnie the Pooh. Call us crazy, but, we think she might have had a hand in this thinking spot.

Perfect place for a photo op!!

 

Kylee and Louise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Childrens’ Garden and Butterfly House is a unique place and a great model for all communities. Look at what gardeners’ can do together. The benefits resonate for generations to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kylee and Louise are a perfect example of generations gardening together. They share a tremendous amount of energy.

Our less than 24 hours in western Ohio was a whirlwind of fun and friendship. Makes us want to go back for some more.

If you happen to be traveling through Ohio make a point to see The Childrens’ Garden and Butterfly House. You’ll want one for your community!!

BG Garden

At the entrance of BG Garden!

Our directions said to cross the river and look for the log cabin and there it was, the entrance to BG Garden.

Our special garden friend, Brenda Haas is the owner and chief gardener at BG Garden. We got to know Brenda through her special talents–photography, writing and networking people together. We enjoy her blog, BG Garden. We also met Brenda for the first time at the Independent Garden Center Show last year.

Perfect for a warm day!

 

 

 

On the road in we were greeted by a veranda-covered deck overlooking the pond set with a beautiful luncheon table.

Bunny!

Before lunch, Brenda, treated us to a tour of her Bunny Barn and Green House.

These are incredible bunnies. Trained, too. For us city girls, the activities in rural areas are of great interest. The 4-H programs available are amazing. This little bunny knows how to hold himself in a show pose for as long as the judges look at him.

Our Seed Keeper chock full of seeds at BG Garden!

 

The greenhouse was filled with beautiful plants and there we found our Seed Keeper ready to work.

Brenda uses her Seed Keeper a lot–as you can see. Like us, she says it makes seed starting easier. We were tickled to see our Seed Keeper doing such a good job!!


Bren and Carol

Tree House!

BG Garden brought out the inner-kid in us. It was a thrill to spend the afternoon with Brenda and her husband, Andy. They’re adventurous like us!! Brenda knew we were dying to drive the garden cart and despite, very wet conditions, they bravely let us take turns driving around the property. Along the way we found some more fun.
A very cool cable-suspended tree house is nestled in the woods. Of course, we had to take a peek inside.

We couldn’t resist!

Our last hurrah at BG Garden was taking a turn on the trampoline. We had been eyeing it since our arrival. What a hoot. Everyone knows we’re really 12 year-olds–just big for our age.

Brenda doesn’t know it but, we’ve already planned our return visit to BG Garden.

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