Hello plantandbees, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

Let’s get our Friday Fun started by saying hello to our Experts panel. Hi Experts!


“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You’re all so cute! From left to right, that’s Andy Williams, Tim Thackaberry, EZ Ed Johnson, Dottie Correll and Lewis Casey. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

I’m lucky enough to live in what I think is one of the prettiest states in America. Northern New Mexico in particular is spectacular with its ancient beauty and vibrant colors. The rest of the state, too, with its more subtle desert beauty.

I was curious, what do the Experts consider the prettiest place in the country, so I asked ’em.

Q. Tell us where you think is the prettiest place in America, please and why. 

Expert Andy, please start the panel off for us:

A. There are many such places in this great land, but my heart and mind often take me Hanalei Bay on the majestic isle of Kauai.  If you have yet to experience Kauai, put it on your bucket list.  It is a fantastic island and its best asset is Hanalei, a little locals town on the north shore.  On your way to Hanalei Bay, stop and get yourself a Hanalei taco to go.  Stomp right next door and grab yourself 3 Kona Longboard Ales at Hanalei Liquors, in a little green shack.  Drive another 300 yards and turn right and it’ll take you to the beach and Hanalei Bay.  (Prominently featured in the movie “The Descendants” starring George Clooney, also a must see.)  While on this spectacular beach and bay, look behind you at the lush, rugged mountains of the Napali Coast and feast your eyes on as many as a dozen eye-popping waterfalls dropping hundreds of feet from the clouds.  This view is so stunning that I often find myself looking more at the waterfalls and mountains than I do at the beach and sea.  It is truly a visual dilemma.

A. Wow, this is a really difficult question, there are so many beautiful places in America. There are the obvious ones, like the Grand Canyon or the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. Or the coast of Maine with all of the rocky coastline, dotted with lighthouses. Or almost anywhere in northern New Mexico, some of the views there will take your breath away.

For me, though, it’s all about back home: I love the view driving down the Gulf Coast from Houston to Corpus Christi in the middle of the night. It’s hard to believe how beautiful the lights of the oil rigs off the coast are, set off against the vast blackness of the ocean. Nothing says “home” to me like that view…
I may be the first person ever to extol the aesthetic virtues of oil rigs, but that’s okay.

A. I have seen rainbows over the Hawaiian Pacific and the red harvest moon over Kansas wheat. I watched the midnight sun hover high above great Alaska peaks and I stood humbled at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. But I believe the most beautiful site I ever saw presented itself as I sat with my grandmother on her back porch overlooking a canyon village with a great thunderstorm announcing its presence as hummingbirds danced before us.

A. America the Beautiful – so many memories.  I don’t believe I can narrow it down to 1 —Maybe 3 or 4 or hundreds.

When I was a wee lass my fondest memory of beauty was walking home Christmas eve from midnight church service, hand in hand with my English Grandfather Dutton .  The snow was softly falling – the hush and silence was magic.   At that moment it was Peace on Earth – the beauty of the moments we shared and the excitement of what was to come!

As a teenager, I found paradise with dear friends, “The Mad Millers” (That’s a story for another day).  Their parents owned a log cabin deep in the woods of a little place called “Furnace Run” – so named because of the glorious wild ferns that populated everywhere.  A true fairyland ! We lay on our backs, dreaming our dreams, with the quiet little stream burbling around us, naked innocents, watching the sun as it danced thru the giant trees surrounding us.  Glorious forms bent and waved.  Again Magic!

Last but not least – Living among the enchanted Red Rocks of Sedona.  Whoever thought I would end my life living in a daily paradise of unstoppable natural beauty — a beauty that shifts and changes every hour –every day. At night the skies put on their show.  No outside lights  allowed– no street lights/no lights on homes or businesses.  It is stark black out—you see only the lights in the sky. How blessed am I, to live in one small part of “America the Beautiful.”

A. Sadly to say there are no more pretty places in America, Wal-Mart has built a store everywhere.

Have your ever stood at the shore of the sea and had your tears mingle with the mighty waters

Can you hold a piece of sky in your hands

Is the night darker under their rock we ask of the lawyers, politicians, gun nuts

What is the taste of the wind when it is bitter cold

Are dreams real or is life a dream

How far is forever

If I stand on your shoulder can I see tomorrow

If you are late how do you get to now

When the sunsets does the fire go out

If I look myself in the eye who’s looking out

I threw a kiss into the wind, how far will it go

If my heart is full can I keep extra love in my pockets

If I was blind how would I see pretty

If I were deaf could I hear pretty

If I could not speak could I sing pretty

I stood in a long slow line, a babe on a her Mother’s shoulder gave me a pretty smile

It made my eyes see, my ears hear, my tongue sing

And overflowed my heart,

Pretty neat

Ohmigosh, you guys are all awesome.

Andy, Hanalei Bay sounds gorgeous. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but it’s on the list.

Thack, you’re weird but we still love you! Haha, just kidding. Home is always attractive. I think Indiana is really pretty, but I’ll bet a lot of Hoosiers living there don’t.

EZ, you have a beautiful perspective on life, thank you!

Dottie, you’re such a sweetie – those are such nice memories! I’m jealous that you’re in AZ and not NM anymore, but I’m glad you’re enchanted with your new surroundings.

Lewis, you have a charming and funny perspective on life, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

You’re all great, it’s wonderful to have you here.

The Experts will return in exactly one week, they hope to see you back here.

Readers, if you feel like chiming in with your favorite American spots, please do so in the comments section.

Up next, the answer to last week’s puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this cactus was real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Let’s see how you answered:

Stephanie from Indianapolis wrote, “Haha Fake. (Yes, I’m back!)”

Yaaaaaaaay! I missed you, Steph!

Alissa wrote, “This blog put a smile (maybe even a tear) on my face! Dottie’s story of reconnecting with her old friend really brightened my day. Thanks for sharing :) I love the wider view of the plant puzzler, such pretty tendrils! I sometimes just hate pruning mine. Those long vines make me so incredibly happy.


She added, “So fake it left a bad taste in my mouth!”

Charlie Hebert wrote, “Extremely Fake! x 2!”

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “Yes, your blog is magical :)

This plant is so horribly fake! Bleh”

Dave wrote, “Living in Phoenix one gets to see all kinds of cacti. This one is an obvious fake. Not even Photoshop can make it look real.”

Nancy Popp Mumpton wrote, “Looks like rubber! Very fake!”

Joseph Brenner wrote, “I am happy that Christmas and New Years arrived, as always, and that the pushers of Mayan Apocalypse are no longer dominating our media.I am also glad that real cacti aren’t this ugly.(B>{D>”

Mary wrote, “Really, really FAKE!”

Thanks, Alissa and Martha, for your kind words about the blog! You ladies are awesome. Thanks to all of you for playing the puzzler, I appreciate it!

We have eight votes fake and zero votes real.

What’s the correct answer? Maybe a wider view will help:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Fake! And definitely ugly. I don’t know why anyone would spend money on something so ugly when a real cactus can be so beautiful. Waste of money!

Stephanie! You nailed your re-entry back into the puzzlersphere, well played! You were the first with the correct answer, so that makes you the best answerer. For being so speedy this week, you’ve earned the title of “I’m Beautiful, My Brain Is Huge, My Heart Most Generous, I Wear Nice Shoes, I’m Sassy, I’m Kind to Animals and Children, I’m Extremely Talented and Skilled, and I Am the Queen-Princess-Duchess-AndSoForth of the Houseplant Blog Universe and Beyond. Oh That’s Right, and I’m Fast!” Congratulations! You may multiply all the prizes by Root Beer.

You’re all winners this week! To show my gratitude for you playing, I’d like to award you each the following prizes: One Tip O’ the Hat, Three January Honors, 14 1/2 bragging rights, Two Ideal Images, a Snowglobe, Five Turtletails, Warmth, 12 bonus points, a Mug of Hot Chocolate, One Grip of Stardust, Four Dreams, One Dreamboat, an Early Spring and Lemon Poundcake. Congratulations, and thanks again for playing!

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Is this plant real or fake?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. You have until midnight next Thursday, January 24th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.