holly.jpgAs a gardener in Colorado who does lots of volunteering with the public, I frequently encounter gardeners who have moved here from either the east or west coast. And gardening here can be quite frustrating for them at first! Luckily for me, I’ve never gardened anywhere else, so I’m used to the constraints of gardening here and don’t have to get over not being able to grow such east/west coast favorites as Rhododendron and crape myrtle, plants that people who live in those areas take for granted. This also means that when I travel, getting to see those plants is a real treat – like encounters with truly exotic plants!

This past December, we spent Christmas in northern New Jersey. The gardener in me wasn’t terribly excited about the trip. Even though it is “The Garden State,” it was December. In New Jersey. Grey. Snow. With rain on top of it. (Honestly! What kind of place gets rain on top of their snow!?) But I quickly became enamored with holly bushes (REAL holly bushes, not the Oregon grape holly we can grow here – not a true holly at all) with beautiful scarlet berries, sycamore tree trunks with beautiful bark, and (for the birder in me) the bright red cardinals. None of these are found in my area, so once again I was enjoying the “exotic” world of plants and animals that don’t live in Colorado. Heck, even the grass was still green. (Sometimes it takes very little to impress me.)

I spent some time out in the garden at my father-in-law’s house with my camera, shivering but getting great photos. Here are a few of my favorites from that trip – real holly (at top of post), a cardinal, and cool little rabbit hanging out below the arborvitae.

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