Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Conifer Collection, National Arboretum

On our way back toward the parking area at the National Arboretum, we swung by a portion of the Conifer Collection. We spent most of the time in the Gotelli Collection of Dwarf and Slow Growing Conifers. This is about where the rain started drizzling and it drizzled off and on for the rest of the day.

Conifer Collection

Dwarf conifer collection

 


Asian Collection, National Arboretum

We briefly walked through the Asian Collections at the National Arboretum. I wanted to see the Chinese Pagoda and the camellias. The camellias weren’t in bloom, but we got to see the pretty shrubs anyway.

Pagoda

The collection is divided into regions, such as China Valley and Korean Hillside. Each of the sections featured plants from those countries.

Asian Collection

In all, there wasn’t much in bloom, but it was a nice area to walk through.


Washington Youth Garden

If you have kids, you definitely want to check out this garden in the National Arboretum. Besides various plants, there is a cute area where kids can dig, climb and play in a sandbox. The area also has a stage and a sitting area for programs.

Entrance to Washington Youth Garden

(Just a note of warning — take along the bug spray! As we were leaving the garden five mosquitos shared a meal on my leg. I itched for a few days after that!)

The Washington Youth Garden is full of color and a variety of plants. There were tons of bees and butterflies flying around. Sunflowers, coneflowers, rose mallow, apple trees, strawberries, figs, crepe myrtle, canna lilies, sedum, carnations, hydrangeas, spirea and more filled the beds.

Washington Youth Garden

The coolest thing we saw was a passionfruit vine. According to this source, the plant is naturalized and is not native to the U.S. A woman working at the garden said the fruit is ripe when it feels hollow when you squeeze it. She described it as feeling like “cardboard.” Doesn’t sound too appetizing, but I understood what she meant after testing a couple of fruit that were nearly ripe.

Passionfruit vine

Passionfruit vine

 


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The White Squirrel

There are several posts I haven’t gotten to share with you over the past several months. I probably won’t post all of them, but will most photos and updates from some of my favorite trips over the past year. School has kept me away and very busy.  And, understandingly, my blogs have become a low priority.

Several months ago, we went to visit Chris’ family and one of the places we went to visit was Olney, Ill., a place where Chris lived and worked for a couple of years.
One of the sole purposes of going there was to see the famed white squirrels.
We found the squirrels as soon as we drove into a local park.
Chris said the local community college does a squirrel count every year. There were less than 100 the last time Chris heard.
We met a couple from Colorado who also came to see the white squirrels. They said there were a colony of black squirrels in Kansas. We’ll have to find our way there sometime to snap some photos of them.


Crafty vacation week

My husband, Chris, and I couldn’t quite agree on what to do for our vacation the week of June 29.

Chris wanted to go camping and give our new tent and supplies, which we received as Christmas gifts last year, a second time out of their bags. And, boy, was it beautiful weather! Perfect for camping. Chris imagined sleeping under the stars somewhere in the North Carolina mountains.

Although I like to camp, I really wanted to spend a week at home relaxing and crafting. With all the commuting I do on a weekly basis, I really longed to stay at home and enjoy the homestead.
Understanding of my feelings, Chris agreed to take a staycation. He worked in the yard, planting new shrubs and flowers while I happily got busy completing projects I’ve had laying around for weeks.

One of those projects was a pair of shorts I had cut out of a thin blue, yellow and pink plaid material my grandmother had given to me. Double lined with the same print, the project taught me the new skills of pocket making and belt carriers, or loops.

I quickly whipped them up, wanting to wear them for the upcoming July 4th weekend. Unfortunately, the waistband was too short. But, impatient me, I tucked and pulled at the shorts to make them fit, causing a pucker in the front right of the shorts. Pretty unsightly.

I also had trouble with the hems. I couldn’t figure out what made the material pucker. With both problems, I couldn’t bring myself to wear the shorts as is.

Consulting with Janice Saunders Maresh’s “Sewing for Dummies,” my trusty sewing Bible, I learned how to expand the waistband to make it fit better and learned to taper the leg seams so that the hems to prevent puckering. I haven’t tackled either technique yet but am happy that the shorts aren’t a total loss.

Another techinque I’ve been wanting to learn is knitting socks. The idea of knitting with five double-pointed needles scared me. How in the world would I be able to keep stitches from slipping off of the needles. That seemed like it would be a pretty common problem with a sock project. Using a size 4 set of double-pointed needles and Cindy Guggemos’ “I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting Socks,” a Christmas gift from my mom, I decided to give it a go.

I was certain I’d be all thumbs, but so far it’s been fairly easy. I’ve got a couple of holes here and there, but that’s most likely from dropped or stretched stitches. I hope to soon graduate from the basic sock pattern to the basic chevron pattern, which I think is by far the prettiest pattern in the whole book.

I can’t wait to get good enough to knit some socks for my mom and sister for Christmas. I’m thinking the little arrowhead socks in pink for Mom and the crest o’ the waves, my second favorite pattern in the book, in a purple, red or black for my sister. Or maybe knitting them up with some verigated yarn would be nice.

So, lots of progress this week. There’s nothing like getting some creative time in and catching up on some projects.