Stop & Smell the Roses (Rosewood Gardens, West Charlton NY)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Have you ever heard a saying over and over and never really considered where it came from?  Certainly you've all heard this saying, "Stop and Smell the Roses", and if you're like me what comes to mind is the message that the saying seems to be implying.  This sentiment urges us to take a moment out of our busy lives and stop....not necessarily to actually smell roses, although a pleasant thing to do, but to pause ....for any number of things.  We could pause and be grateful; we could pause and take notice of our lives, we could pause and relax.   Any of these would be beneficial for sure, yet today in this blog I am suggesting you do precisely as the quote says - Stop and Smell the Roses!!
But wait....before you stop I want you to go to a certain place.  I want you to go to West Charlton, NY where Joanne and Paul Strevy own and operate Rosewood Gardens.  Joanne is a Master Gardener with over 25 years of gardening experience and Paul is an international pilot.  A friend, David Mostrom, introduced Joanne to David Austin English Roses and for Joanne, it was love at first sight.  After my introduction to them, I can understand why!




Is this combination not gorgeous??
English roses are a cross between the old-fashioned rose and the modern rose.  With the form and fragrance of older variety roses and the repeat blooming quality of newer roses, David Austin roses are simply outstanding.  In addition to their intoxicating fragrance, their dense layers of petals almost reminds you of a peony.  So smitten by these roses, Joanne began growing them in 2002.  Sixyears later, a garden dedicated to English roses was designed and planted.  Today Joanne and Paul's property features several of their personal gardens, many of which feature David Austin roses.

I loved this grouping of yellow and purple!  Stunning!

 As beautiful as these photos may look, they are nothing in comparison to what you see standing in the Strevy gardens! 

As if all the Strevy's beautiful gardens aren't enough....there's this tranquil view!
Just a 'few' of the many varieties of David Austin roses available for sale!



If you could only smell these beauties, you'd want one of every color in your garden.  I'm telling you, there are no words to effectively convey just how magnificent these roses are.  In all fairness, I have to tell you that these roses are not low maintenance.  Joanne explains that growing these roses is like having a pet.  They require some TLC - from proper planting to proper winterizing.  You cannot just plop them in your yard and yield the results you see here.  That being said.....if you are a dedicated gardener, David Austin roses are a must have!
A visit to Rosewood Gardens is not like a visit to your local nursery.  As you can see from the photos, the Strevy's have created a property that is more like a botanical garden than a nursery.  You'll want to linger and enjoy the view.  When you browse Joanne's personal gardens, you'll have fun in the Fairy Garden finding all the fairies that Joanne has tucked in secret places.......
You'll have to look hard......fairies like to hide!  
Joanne is available for speaking engagements, garden consults and welcomes group garden tours.  She's also written for Capital Region Living Magazine.  We had a wonderful morning visiting Rosewood Gardens.  Arriving before other customers, we were treated to a personal tour complete with all sorts of great gardening tips.  Like so many of the people I blog about, Joanne is enthusiastic but humble about her accomplishments.  When I first approached her and said I'd like to write a blog about her, she looked surprised and hesitant - as if unworthy.  Throughout our tour, perhaps in response to our awe, Joanne became more comfortable showing her pride, but it wasn't until late in our tour that she even admitted she was a Master Gardener.  Like Jody & Luisa Somers of Dancing Ewe, Teri Conroy of Wunsapana Farm and Katrina Capasso of Dakota Ridge, Wynne Trowbridge of Shades of Green, and so many other folks whose lives and businesses I've blogged about, Joanne Strevy is simply a woman who is genuinely passionate about what she does and lives to share that passion with others.  And it only takes a short time walking through her garden for that passion to be evident and contagious.
I don't know how I never knew about Rosewood Gardens until now....once again thankful for the opportunity this blog provides.  If you're like me and haven't heard of it till now - don't waste a minute.  Go soon!    Rosewood Gardens is open Thursday-Saturday (but closed this Saturday, July 4th) from 9:00-6:00.   I promise you'll "Stop and Smell the Roses" over and over and over!
Rosewood Garden also specializes in delphiniums and sells a variety of potted perennials. For more information on Rosewood Gardens or to obtain Joanne for a speaking engagement or garden consultation, use the links to their website and Facebook page provided below:

While you're in the area, be sure to check out Shades Of Green Nursery at 2036 Cook Road in Charlton, just a short way from Rosewood Gardens. 

Thanks for reading!  To read more posts like this one, click on the "Garden" category at the top of this page.  There you'll find lots of posts featuring gardens of all sizes.  When you get to the end of the feed, just keep hitting 'previous entries' to continue reading.  If you know someone who loves roses, use the links below to share with a friend - on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Email!

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Day Trippin' in Mystic, CT - Summer Vacation 101, Part II

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer vacation fun doesn't have to break the bank.  It doesn't have to involve airplanes and it doesn't have to require overnights.  Sometimes a day of fun can be found just a few short hours from home and still have you back home at night to sleep in your own bed!  Not that it isn't fun getting away for a few days....but sometimes that isn't possible so that's when day trips are the perfect solution.  Day trips also offer opportunities to be spontaneous, and take adventures when the weather is cooperative. When our kids were young, our budget didn't allow for more than one short overnight trip each summer.  So to add to our fun without decreasing our bank account, we found day trips that provided excitement but didn't require a hotel stay.  One of our favorite destinations was Mystic, CT.  Just 3 hours from the Capital District, Mystic is a fun place for kids and adults.

Of course there's the ever popular Mystic Aquarium....

From penguins to sea lions, beluga whales to eels, you and your little ones will love Mystic Aquarium.  Kids will love the 'touch tank', and the neon jelly fish.  Big enough to be fun and small enough to be manageable.   Easily done in a couple of hours, there'll be time enough to fit in another stop.  Admission will make a small dent in your wallet, at $34.99 for adults, $28.00 for kids 13-17 and $24.99 for kids 3-12.  However, if you buy a family membership online for $195.00 (on sale now for $189.), the family gets free admission all year of your membership.  So depending on the size of your family and how much you love aquariums, that might be a good option.  And remember...you're saving a big hotel bill!  Although there is a cafeteria, I'd recommend lunch outside of the aquarium.  There are a variety of restaurants and fast food options just around the corner that are cheaper and tastier. ;)  For information on Mystic Aquarium and to plan your visit....check out their website:http://www.mysticaquarium.org/

One of my other favorite stops just down the road from Mystic, is Stonington, CT.  Stonington is a quaint little historic village that is the home of the Inn at Stonington and the Old Lighthouse Museum.  This beautiful lighthouse is located on a little dead end street that features a beautiful parking/sight seeing area and small beach.  It's a wonderful place to spend an hour or so exploring the lighthouse and taking in the ocean views.

Stonington is a really special little town that is easily overlooked unless you know it exists.  To read more about it and see more photos, you can check out my earlier blog post which features Stonington and it's history: http://gwfirecracker.blogspot.com/2014/04/charm-and-history-in-stonington-ct.html
If you happened to see the movie "Hope Springs" with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones - that was filmed in Stonington!  So even the movie producers recognized what a little gem this town is!

Next time in my blog I'll feature another Connecticut day trip you will definitely want to see.  And if you do head towards Mystic and can stay for more than a day, there are plenty of other things to see like Mystic Seaport and just down the road in Groton, CT is a submarine museum where you can take a tour on a real submarine!  The kids will love it and the adults will have a new found appreciation for what the members of our Navy lives are like deep in the sea!
Summer vacation doesn't have to break the bank, and doesn't always have to be scheduled months in advance.   So be spontaneous and take a day trip soon!
As always - thanks for reading and come back soon to Life As I See It!

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Farmgirls and Fairy Tales - Wunsapana Farm

Thursday, June 25, 2015


What is a fairy tale?  According to Wikipedia....


"Fairy tale is a term used to describe something blessed
with unusual happiness. Fairy tales take place
'once upon a time' rather than in 'actual times'.

Interesting!  And it's no wonder that Teri Conroy chose to name her farm, Wunsapana Farm because it doesn't take long for visitors to begin to feel like Wunsapana Farm really is something of a  'fairy tale'.  Like most fairy tales, Teri's story began a long, long time ago and didn't really begin with the kingdom you see when you visit today.  Teri's life began pretty normally - with a handsome prince, a regular job, a daughter and some dogs.  What?  You never heard of a princess with a dog?  Well this princess has over 15 years of experience raising and training therapy dogs.  Eventually her family grew to include some goats and, some miniature donkeys, a horse and a pony....and some chickens.  Before long (in 2005), Teri's family welcomed some rescue llamas.  And if you've been reading my blog this past year, you already know how this story goes....llamas are like potato chips, you can't have just one. (Katrina Capasso)  Today Teri's farm is home to 17 llamas and 1 alpaca - who thinks he's a llama.

Wunsapana's beautiful barn was built by Teri's younger brother, Jack, incorporating some of the wood on the property's old barn.

  You must know by now that I am in love with llamas, and so, for the past several months I've been looking forward to visiting Wunsapana Farm.  From following the farm's Facebook page, I thought I knew what to expect but I didn't expect to step into a fairy tale!  Over the past year, John and I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting a good number of llama and alpaca farmers.  From our very first meeting, we knew that this type of farmer is a special breed of farmer.  Unlike dairy farmers, or farmers who raise livestock for slaughter, farmers who raise animals for fiber are on a first name basis with their animals.  They treat them with tenderness and affection, they talk to them, they understand their personalities - like the family cat or dog, they're a member of the family. That may sound unusual to you, but if you've ever been lucky enough to visit one of the local llama or alpaca farms, you know it's true.  Teri knows each of her animals intimately, understands their moods, reads their body language and I'm pretty sure there's some magical communication that takes place too!

 Wunsapana Farm sits on 30 beautiful acres in Altamont, NY.  Although Teri is the queen of the kingdom, her husband, John, maintains the farm's land and trails Their daughter, Hannah, plays an important role too.  Hannah has been Teri's sidekick on the farm since they moved there when she was 3.   Now a junior in college, Hannah is poised and charming and could have easily filled in as tour guide extraordinaire yesterday.  She too has a special way with the animals.  Her llama is Martini (not after the drink, she was sure to clarify).
Hannah and Martini
It might be thought by some that farmers are the folks who weren't smart enough or polished enough to wear the fancy suits and work in the business world, but that is so far from the truth.  Farmers are some of the most intelligent (and hard working) people I know.  Farming consists of so much more than boarding a bunch of animals, putting them out to graze, and herding them in at night.  Farming is a business and a science!  You need to be knowledgeable in every aspect of your livestock's anatomy, you need to understand that breed's personality, how to properly feed for your breed for optimal results....the list goes on and on.  I bet you thought you just let the animals out to graze, anywhere, anytime, right?  Nope!  There's even a science to that.  

Most, if not all, llama and alpaca farmers raise their animals for fleece (fiber).  In order for a llama to produce the best quality fleece, he/she must be fed just the right diet.  Once the fleece is harvested after shearing in the spring,  Teri also spins her own fleece into several types of yarn.  Her yarn is award winning and is so coveted by master knitters that she has a long wait list for it.  
Farming is hard work. So you see, even in a fairy tale, this princess is up with the sun and sporting overalls instead of ball gowns and glass slippers.

 This shot was taken right after we spotted this fella showing that height and agility come in handy when something yummy is just a little out of reach....

And the faces......so sweet, so cuddly and so personable!

'Pastische'

 How can you not smile at this face???
One of the latest additions to Wunsapana Farm is cria, Katastic, or Tassi as she's lovingly nicknamed.  Tassi is full of energy, spunk and like any youngster in the family, is all about being the family prankster! She was on her best behavior for her visitors today.  If you're thinking she looks soft.....you are correct.  Her fleece is soft as silk.
 And sometimes....we just have to lay down for a spell!
Llamas are quite the comedians.  Aside from their sometimes goofy expressions, llamas give you plenty of reasons to smile....like this fella.
Seems this fella prefers the cool air of the fan to freshen his breath.  Too funny!  He did this for a longggggg time and Teri says he does it regularly. 
And sometimes, we just need to take a good roll in the dirt!
And when someone wants a photo.....just smile and lean right in!
 When you're the only alpaca in a family of llamas.......well, it's good to be 'incognito'. (below)
'Griffin'
 And every farm, every story, every fairy tale has their one special someone.  You know....that one creature who thinks he's the King of the Castle, Ruler of the Roost, the Head Honcho...
Well at Wunsapana Farm, that would be Aslan!  Aslan is the most handsome and studly of llamas.  He's the macho man of the farm, the Brad Pitt of the pack, the Man of the Hour!  It seems Aslan is sexy and he knows it and lives in the notion that the world revolves around the girls.  And when you're this handsome, it's no wonder you'd be a little girl crazy!

 He's one tall, dark and handsome stud muffin!


Teri doesn't just keep her llamas all to herself.  She works with local 4-H groups, church groups, scout troops and groups of adults with developmental disabilities.  She also mentors new llama owners, like Katrina at Dakota Ridge Farm mentored her. Teri says what she does now is just an extension of her volunteer days with her therapy dogs.  Although Teri loves her farm, her life on the farm and all her animals, what she loves most is giving back and sharing her passion for llamas.  It's impossible to spend time with her without understanding why Wunsapana Farm is her fairy tale.  We were so fortunate to spend the afternoon with Teri, Hannah and the many happy creatures who live in her kingdom.  It sure is a magical place!


To learn more about Wusapana Farm, check out their website and Facebook page - links provided below! 

Thanks for reading and come back soon to Life As I See It for the continuation of my 
Summer Vacation 101 series!

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