Exploring the Inland Empire

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On the way to Phoenix, we stayed a few days with our friends Frank and Mabel. They were kind enough to show us the sights of the Inland Empire (basically the area between the desert and L.A.).

We walked up and down Old Town Pasadena. I love the sense of history in that part of town, and there’s some great shopping, too.

You won’t believe how happy I was to visit the Trina Turk Outlet. A must-visit if you’re in the Los Angeles area.

This succulent nursery was amazing- there’s nothing like it in Seattle.



1,839 Comments »   Posted by gretchen |  Category:Color, Gardening

From the greenhouses at the University of Washington:

All photos: Gretchen Lilly


Winter Wonderland: Molbak’s


In the Seattle area, we get a lot of rain. You probably knew that already, it’s a big part of the city’s reputation. Enter Molbak’s Garden & Home, a nursery that features a gigantic greenhouse that allows shoppers to browse the plant selection protected from the elements. They put out a beautiful Christmas display every year, so when my friends and I were looking for a place to meet for a coffee date, my friend Kari suggested Molbak’s to help us get into a Christmas mood.

The highlight of their Christmas display is the living poinsettia tree, but just walking around the place will give you some Christmas decorating inspiration. Those of you in the Seattle area should check out Molbak’s the next time you want to get out of the house but stay out of the rain. They also have a little cafe and coffee stand, which makes it a great place for hanging out with friends.

Photos: Gretchen Lilly

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Terrarium Update!

No Comments   Posted by gretchen |  Category:Gardening, Photos


Saturday was a perfect example of spring weather; bright, warm, and sunny.  I decided to get out and pick up some plants for inside and outside my place.  I repotted the coleus and chenille plant, picked up some pansies and petunias for outside, and found some tropical plants for the window box- including a terrarium!


I didn’t think a terrarium would make me this happy; there is just something about looking through the glass into the little ecosystem.  I’m really tempted to pick up a little gnome to add to this living diorama.

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The vegetation is starting to stir around here, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather of the past few weeks.  I want to add some more plants to my collection, but I don’t quite trust the weather around here (light snow has fallen in the past few days!) so I’m sticking with indoor plants.

I saw Tovah Martin talking about terrariums on Moment of Luxury a few weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to get her creations off my mind.  Her book, The New Terrarium, is filled with gorgeous, inventive takes on the classic garden.

Besides being so pretty, terrariums fascinate me because they are their own little ecosystem.  You add some water, place the top on, and the water evaporates and runs back down to the ground- just like the water cycle you learned about in school.

I think I’ll put some in my kitchen window; we have one of those greenhouse-style windows that stick out from the house.  It gets indirect sunlight all day, so it should be the perfect place for some mini-ecosystems.

Images: Natalie Caudill for Dallas Morning News,, Viva Terra


With the Candlestick in the Conservatory


So, one of our local TV stations has started airing these little commercials that feature photos from different cities in the area.  One night, we’re watching TV and Brian shouts out “Wait!” and pauses the DVR.  He has my attention at this point, so we watch this commercial that features photos of Tacoma, where he grew up.  One of the photos is of this beautiful, gigantic greenhouse.

“Do you know where that is?” I ask.

“Yeah, that’s in Wright Park.  It’s across the street from Stadium” * (Stadium is the beautiful and historic high school featured in the film 10 Things I Hate About You.  Brian went to school there.  He was also an extra in the film.  He can name all of the time codes where he pops up… but I digress.)

“Why haven’t you taken me there on a date?  What’s it like?  Let’s go!”

“Hmm, I don’t think I’ve actually been there before…”  We then get into a discussion of how the place was always closed, and the park was kind of sketchy, and what teenage boy wants to hang out in an indoor garden after school.  Meanwhile, I’ve slipped off into an alternate world where I’M the one who got to go to a high school shaped like a castle with an English garden across the street (MY high school was originally built with no interior walls, so the learning wasn’t, like, confined to the classrooms, man.  From what I hear it was like trying to go to school in a Costco.)

Anyhoo, I looked up the info and found out that it is called the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory.  We visited today and while it was much, much smaller than I imagined, it was a great date.  Before we went, I thought I’d enjoy the architecture more, but I actually found the plants themselves to be the main attraction (go figure).  We picked up a few plants from the gift shop: Chenille Plant and Coleus.  Holy crap, the Chenille Plant may actually take some skill to keep alive.  Wish me luck.





*In the name of accurate blog-keeping, the park is not literally across the street from the high school (A fact that I pointed out to Brian.  His reply: “Well, yes, but if you said that it was, anyone who’d gone to Stadium would agree.”)

Bonus Material: Brian re-creating a Senior Picture pose:


The Beautiful Castle School: