Saddle Up Saloon; World Wide Garden Tour

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

May 31, 2021

“Hey Pal. I’m glad yer here, ‘cause we’re about ta head off.”

“Head off? We gotta man the Saloon.”

“Nope. This is where we’ll start but this week we’re spons’rin’ a garden tour.”

“Ah, shift. Thinkin’ gard’nin’ ‘roun Carrot Ranch is gittin’ outta hand.”

“It’s a Garden Tour Pal. We’re goin’ ‘roun’ the world! We’ll start here at the Saloon then head east till we end up at the Carrot Ranch World Wide Headquarters, or CRWWHQ for short.”

“Might be shorter ta say Hancock, MI.”

“S’pose. Or Shorty’s place. Anyway, we’ll start here ‘cause here we are. Then I’m hopin’ folks’ll look’t the pictures here an’ click on the links ta see more a these gard’ners’ gardens an’ related writin’s.”

 “Kid, the Saddle Up Saloon ain’t got a garden.”

“Sure it does. We got the Poet Tree offshoot a’growin’ in the back.”

“Seems a stretch. Got any pictures ta share?”

“Naw. Reckon folks has their own pictures in mind fer the saloon, I don’t wanna ruin their images. But here’s a buckaroo-ku regardin’ the poet tree:

deep rooted dreams grow

sky stroked visions branching out

far reaching embrace

Now let’s head east ta southwestern Pennsylvania an’ see what our own Poet Lariat’s up ta in her outdoors.”

Jules Paige?”

“The one an’ only.”

Looking at my raised garden, folks might actually think I knew what I was doing. I’m winging it. I’ve got some Bok Choy, rainbow and yellow peppers, some herbs, and of course the lettuce. Watching these plants grow makes my heart sing.


entertain you; leaf 

ya laughin’


your dreamin’



gonna be a

brighter day

mind your

peas and q’s



I’ve always had flowers. Not always veggies. But one year I did try to grow strawberries and corn… and even asparagus! I’ve had veggies for a few years now. Not quite a potager garden. But just enough to keep me happy.

“Looks like Jules keeps the butterflies happy too.”

“That was nice Kid. I reckon lotsa folks keep a bit a garden ta keep ’em in fresh veggies and a bit a earthin’.”

“Yep. Hey, let’s drop in on our writer in Vermont as we head farther east on this here garden tour.”

“There’s somethin’ in bloom.”

“Thet ain’t a garden plant! Thet’s a wild Lady’s Slipper she found at the edge a where her lawn meets the woods.

“And thet’s jist driftwood!”

“She says she planted it there.”

“Hmmf. And what’s this? Closeups a her “lawn”? Some gardener.”

“Yep, bit of a let down. Let’s venture across the pond.”

“The stock pond? We goin’ ta Ernie’s?”

“Nope. We’re headed ta the UK. We’ll start at Sherri Matthews‘ place. Her garden grows in the West Country of England and in another life, in California.”

“Ya mean the reknown ranch hand and columnist, Sherri Matthews?”

“Yep. The memoirist. And gardener!”

I’ve always grown lavender, it’s good for the bees. And, so I learnt, good near roses to keep greenfly (aphids) away. I have a “Bee Hotel” in my garden. During our first national lockdown for three months in 2020 in the UK, we had glorious sunny weather. Confined to our homes unless for one hour of exercise and essential shopping/medical needs, our garden was a godsend, one I never take for granted. Watching the bees of an evening emerge from their winter hibernation was a true gift. Nature, unstoppable. See more on this HERE.

This rambling rose was my pride and joy in my previous garden. I created an archway with roses and jasmine, something I’d wanted for years. I planted the rose in a half-barrel I brought back from California when I left after twenty years there. I loved my archway, but when we moved to our present house three years ago, I thought of ways I might keep my barrel. To take it would mean cutting down the rose. I couldn’t do that. So I left it for the new owners. Let them have the joy of it. I found out from our previous neighbours that within weeks of moving in, the new people promptly tore it down, rose, archway, jasmine. The lot. I could have taken my barrel after all. Click HERE for more on this hope filled summer garden.

Said neighbours/friends brought us this rose as a housewarming gift when we moved to our present home, having left all my roses behind…for the new people. I planted it the following spring after our move. It’s called Tickled Pink. And I am tickled pink at its progress and beauty. It blooms three or four times a year, is disease resistant and brings stunning colour to the garden. Bloom where you’re planted, as I always say. As someone who learnt to grow roses in California and has left many behind, I know this to be true. I also discovered you can buy a pot of ladybirds (ladybugs) to sprinkle on your roses, a natural and safe way to keep aphids at bay.Click HERE for more on Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home. 

“Oh that was well worth the trip. Ain’t we got some other green-thumbed Ranchers over here in the UK?”

“Yep. Here we are at Anne Goodwin‘s place.”

“Whoa. Ms. Goodwin’s also gardens on the wild side.”

“Yep. Read all about it and see more stunning photos HERE.

When we moved to this house over twenty years ago, I was most excited about the garden. Although I’d previously worked an allotment, I’d never had custody of shrubberies and trees. That first winter, we cleared a patch of ground for ten raised vegetable beds and another for fruit bushes, fenced-in to keep out the birds. Along with that and creating a pond and patio, we didn’t pay much attention to the grass. See more HERE.

“Kid, thet was purty dang purty. Glad we clicked the links. This is a great tour! Who do we see next?”

“Yet another ranch hand, the prolific Geoff Le Pard. He’s got some before and after shots to share with us.”


Thirty years ago we moved into this house (above) with a new born in tow. The house sits on a wide road on the outskirts of one of London’s remaining villages, Dulwich. Did we love the garden? In 1970, it had been laid out with a single terrace and central steps down to an oval lawn. Several of the mature trees we inherited (magnolias, silver birches and ornamental firs) were new then as were the many roses and peonies. We itched to work on it – our immediate predecessors had done nothing beyond the occasional lawn mow for the best part of two years – but we knew enough (courtesy of my mother) to sit back and see what came up in that first year.



The forget-me-nots are the many great grand-offspring of those that we saw that first year. We’ve moved many things, lost a fair few – the rhododendrons and azaleas have pretty much all gone now – and introduced many more. We’ve made a few structural changes but not many. I’m in the process of introducing a rainwater capture system to stop using potable water given a cautious assessment of the rain that leeches off our roof every year is in excess of 50,000 litres.

See more of Geoff’s gardens HERE.

“Hang onta yer hat, Pal. Now we’re headed down under fer a peek at Norah Colvin‘s garden.”

“Kid, we come a long way ta be viewin’ ‘Merican plants.”

“Norah got us good! Says this “garden” come from spilled bird seed! But worth it. Look’t her garden visitors Pal!”

“Them’s sure some exotic birds!”

“Thinkin’ we’re the odd ducks down ‘roun here Kid. Uh-oh. Hope Shorty don’t see these next visitors ta Norah’s garden. Them critters tend ta spook ‘er.”

“Speakin’ a Shorty thet’s where we’re headed next. We’ll end the Saloon’s first world wide garden tour at World Headquarters. An’ here we are!”

Look, there’s the front potager garden with them rabbits someone surprised her with!”

“Yep. An’ jist look’t ‘er bloomin’ bulbs.”

“Whoa! Look’t the color!”

“Thet ain’t flowers! Thet’s Shory’s cake!”

“Well it’s a celebration a all she’s been sowin’ an’ growin’ so we’ll allow it.”

“This was a fascinatin’ tour, Kid. I injoyed gittin’ out an’ seein’ how other ranch hands garden an’ all. But ya know what?”

“Yep. We’re homesick. Let’s git back ta the ranch.”

Wither we roam, there’s no place like home.

Thank you Jules Paige, Sherri Mathews, Anne Goodwin, Geoff Le Pard, Norah Colvin and Charli Mills for takin’ part in this debut garden tour.

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via

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  1. Rebecca Glaessner Author

    What a delightful tour! Great work hosting all the gardeners and their gardens Kid and Pal! Some beautiful work going on all around, though it was nice to see some familiar sights in Norah’s backyard. We truly are blessed by nature here in Australia. Thanks for sharing all! Such a refreshing experience with all the lockdowns going on. Just fabulous.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank ya kindly. We’re already lookin’ forward ta the next garden tour, hopin’ ta git more folks involved in thet one. What’s in yer yard?

      • Rebecca Glaessner Author

        Our outdoor gardens aren’t at all a sight to behold I’m afraid… however we do have some indoor plants I can share! A Jalapeño plant and a tomato plant (neither are quite fruiting yet), various types of cacti and some terrariums with a variety of colourful, textured greenery. Would these suffice?

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Anythin’ goes at the Saddle Up. We’ll keep ya posted as ta the next tour. (Also thinkin’ on a pub crawl, mebbe a short blurb an’ picture of folks’ fav’rite waterin’ hole or tea house)

      • Charli Mills

        Rebecca, that’s awesome that you are growing a jalapeno plant! They are a year-round shrub, which is something gardeners don’t realize. In frigid northern zones, we have to bring a jalapeno indoors and put it under grow lights. We need to sit under grow lights in winter, too!

  2. denmaniacs4

    An impressive tour all around…

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Glad ya injoyed it. We sure did. Thinkin’ Canada should be repersented in the next garden tour.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank ya fer takin’ part even with all ya got goin’ on. Say hey and howdy ta Matty fer us.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s what I say every time I see that bloom on your cherry tree, Anne!

  3. Shweta Suresh

    That was a really refreshing tour, especially considering the fact that with the lockdown, there’s no way I can actually go on a tour. Loved the world wide garden tour.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank ya, sure glad ya liked the garden tour. The purpose a the saloon’s always been ta give foks a place ta go even in a lockdown, but it surely was refreshin’ ta git out an’ about this week. We’ll do it agin.

      • Shweta Suresh

        Lookin’ forward ta it ????

  4. Norah

    Thanks for stopping by my place on the tour. There were some pretty impressive award-winning gardens there.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Gard’nin’ an’ jist gittin’ outside is its own reward, Mz. Colvin. Thanks fer gittin’ us down under an’ lettin’ us inta yer lovely yard.

      • Norah

        It was a pleasure to have you visit. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Charli Mills

      You have the best birdseed spreader in the world, Norah!

      • Norah

        It was great. Until the rats moved in too – so the birdseed had to go.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, no!!! Rats!

  5. Michael B. Fishman

    “This was a fascinatin’ tour, Kid”

    I agree with Pal!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thanks Michel. Cain’t tell ya how much fun this was. Glad ya injoyed it.

  6. Jules

    Thanks for hosting the garden tour! I enjoyed seeing everyone else’s plants and bird friends. ‘Cause of all of my trees in the back that’s where I’ve got my bird feeders. I had an interesting visitor in the middle of the afternoon a week or so ago – a little brown bat! One of these days I’ll try and get that image of it napping in my willow tree!

    Thanks to everyone who shared images. I’m going to have to come back to check out the links 😀 ~JulesPaige or just Jules 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Your raised beds look great, Jules! I’d love to see your napping bat. Bats and frogs and bees all signal a healthy garden space.

      • Jules

        Bat’s still on my camera card. I’ll see what I can do… I was just sitting down by the creek and I thought it was a small bird. But then it settled in for a nap. Who sees bats in the middle of the afternoon? Me, I guess 😀

      • Charli Mills

        To those who have eyes, nature always surprises and delights. <3

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thet’s purty cool Jules!
      Thanks agin fer joinin’ in the first ever Carrot Ranch garden tour.

      • Jules

        Give Peas a Chance!!

  7. Sarah Brentyn

    Beautiful! ????????????

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Reckon some a these ranchers kin do more’n write. Those were some mighty flashy gardens.

  8. Charli Mills

    Spring gardens on the Keweenaw Peninsula are so colorful after all the snow. Now we are in that transition time when the bulbs drop their petals and we can actually plant (many grow indoors until June 1). I finally have my herb garden planted in the potager and I received two surprise johnny jump ups and two reseeded carrots. I throw in annuals for quick summer-long color over the Memorial Day weekend, which is what has been going on at Headquarters. But I also seeded a (hopeful) patch of columbine in the fairy gardens. I moved some perennials and hope they survive the rude uprooting. Now to finish my hummingbird and mosquito repellant garden on the deck, and get the veg my friends planted (it’s great to have friends who seed too many, especially in a year when you don’t get your own seeded). Guess I could’ve told Kid and Pal, but sent wordless photos instead. I appreciate their patience! And their Saloon.

    That carrot photo looks like the rainbow ribbons decorating the Poet Tree. Thanks for a lovely tour!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      We’re jist glad yer gittin’ out ta yer gardens after yer long haul. Earthin’ an’ sech. Yep, it was a lovely tour an’ nice ta end up back at the Ranch where carrots are nurtured. Kin we tell ya thet our writer’s got some sweet potatoes growin’? Likely cuz a yer prompt earlier. Yep, an’ her raised beds is beginnin’ ta take off, seeds fin’ly comin’ up. Hummin’ birds findin’ some bloom ta injoy in the big pots front a her place.

  9. Sherri Matthews

    Yay, got to see the cake, it’s stunning! Love this post, D, what a wonderful tour, just what we need in these times. Thank you for including me, really enjoyed it 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      That cake was amazing! Your rose arch was a stunner, but I love how your new garden is unfolding.

      • Sherri Matthews

        And I bet it tasted even more amazing! Thank you, Charli!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you Sherri, your gardens are amazing. I’m so glad you were a part of this tour. And yeah, how about that cake!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thank you, D! As with life, a mixed bag of successes and failures! I can almost taste that cake from here 🙂

  10. suespitulnik

    Here in western New York state we are out of lockdown and can go about maskless..breathing fresh air. Walking in any garden: vegetable, flower, shrub, tree or weed is glorious (except I met some poison ivy among my violets) and appreciated. The sunshine in each picture added to my enjoyment. I’ll look forward to the next tour, especially the critters of Australia. Thank you everyone for sharing, and to Kid and Pal for organizing.

    • Charli Mills

      Poison ivy and violets — sounds like a prompt! Enjoy the fresh air, Sue.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Oh jeez. Kin we keep our clothes on fer this one? Thet poison ivy ain’t nuthin’ ta be messin’ with. An’ I thought the ranch was a non-violet place.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thanks Sue. Mebbe we’ll git you inta the next tour.
      Yep, it’s sure a good thing ta be out breathin’ fresh air.

  11. T. Marie Bertineau

    This post was fun and unique! Loved getting to see the many different gardens and hearing their caretakers speak of them so lovingly. What a great idea this was for community!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thanks, yer comments are much ‘preciated.
      Wund’rin’ if you or someone you know might be in the next one…

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