Hello future Februarians, and happy Friday!

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

Yay for Fridays! Yay for vacation eves! Yay that you’re reading this!

Most Fridays, I gather my Panel of Experts and lob questions at them, which they answer based on their unique perspectives on the world. They’re charming and funny, and I love each of them to pieces.

Also on Fridays, I roll out a plant puzzler after the Panel. Today, I’ll reveal the answer to last week’s puzzler and hand out prizes before posting the new puzzler.

I hope you enjoy all of it!

Before we get started, let’s say hi to the Experts. Hi everyone!


“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You’re 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.

Today, just for curiosity’s sake, I decided to ask the Experts the following question:

Q. What’s your favorite U.S. city and why?

Expert Andy Williams, you’re up first as usual:

Do I have to pick a favorite?  Really???  I mean c’mon.  I have 2 that pop into my head for different reasons.

I love San Francisco.  It has all of the culture, and then some, of a special city.  Cable cars, Pier 39, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, Lombard St., Chinatown, PacBell Park, Sausalito, awesome restaurants, intriguing folk on the streets, close to Napa and Sonoma.  It is very easy to get around, no car is needed, and the BART gets you to the airport, Oakland and elsewhere.  What a great “American” city!

I love Indy.  Home of the fastest and most storied race course in the world.  Everything else you need is downtown including Lucas Oil Stadium, Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, St. Elmo’s Steak House, Harry and Izzy’s, the Slippery Noodle (Indiana’s oldest bar), Claddagh’s Irish Pub, Howl at the Moon Saloon, and many, many more.  I recommend staying at the Courtyard by Marriot downtown; walking distance to everything and the best bargain!

I’ve been all over this wonderful world and these two cities are as good as any, anywhere.

While I have a lot of love for New York, Boston, Chicago, LA, and San Diego, San Francisco is my favorite American city. The food is fantastic, there is always a lot to do, and the whole vibe of the place is great. I even kind of like the foggy weather. San Francisco also has a lot of great hotels and bars in the middle of the city, and you can get to all of it pretty easily. Throw in clean, efficient mass transit and you’ve got everything you need!

As a native of Houston, TX, I am obligated by law to say that Dallas is my least favorite American city.

A. There is the warm embrace of Honolulu. There is the stunning cool of Anchorage. Nashville and Austin lure with music. New York City has energy. But I am a son of Albuquerque. We have faults, certainly. We have not quite shaken that Wild, Wild West attitude. But generally we are laid back, thoughtful, creative, inquisitive and hopeful. Not a bad place to live a life.


Liza here. I haven’t heard from Dottie. She may be having computer problems. Or maybe she’s out dancing. If she sends something in later this weekend, I’ll update the post. For now, let’s admire her adorableness:

And move on to Expert Lewis Casey. Lewis, what say you?

A. Snow glorious snow, rain glorious rain, moisture glorious moisture, Albuquerque a fine wet town now and we love it here despite some idiots, morons and others of poor moral bearing, it is a good place to live. Lots of good people and beautiful landscapes.  When we get water from the sky we are happy and this year we have been blessed with some and it makes us smile.

Awesome, everyone! Great answers. I enjoyed reading all of those opinions.

What about you, readers? Want to chime in with your favorite city? There are some really great places across this beautiful country. If you’d like to share your thoughts, please do so in the comments section.

Experts, thank you again for your hard work and continued excellence. And thanks for being wonderful people!

Because I’ll be out of town for a few days (followed by busy catch-up days), the Experts will have next Friday off. They will return two Fridays from now. Thank you for your patience.

Let’s move on to the current puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this Jade real or fake:

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

Let’s see how you answered:

mr_subjunctive from the Plants Are the Strangest People site wrote, “Well that one’s pretty clearly real. Though I can’t say I’ve ever seen a jade that looked quite like that.”

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “I’ll say real as well, though like mr_s I haven’t ever seen one quite like it.”

Joseph Brenner of Texas wrote, “Real. The difference is age and training by a bonsai artist, something I saw much more of in Southern CA, where I grew up.”

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Completely real and totally cool… i want.”

Darryl Cheng, who has this cool houseplant tumblr, wrote, “I’ll say real but it’s unfortunate how few leaves are on this specimen.”

Athena wrote, “Looks real to me! A fake one wouldn’t have so many missing leaves”

Nancy Popp Mumpton of Phoenix wrote, “Real. It is a Crassula ovata (Jade Plant). I wonder if it is the variety that has miniature leaves. Such a nice old plant!”

That’s seven votes real, zero votes fake.

So what’s the correct answer?

Let’s take a closer look:

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

I’m not sure if that photo clarifies the question, but the answer is that the Jade is definitely REAL. And really awesome. It’s also very old, as some of you readers astutely noticed. I’ve seen a few Jades get this big – it takes quite a long time.

The plant (do we start calling it a tree due to its size?) is located in the library of a school in Santa Fe. I asked who cared for it, and was told one of the librarians had the green thumb. The loss of leaves could be from pesky students knocking them off, or from occasional underwatering over time. Even with their loss, it’s an impressive Jade. It couldn’t possibly be fake because I’m sure whoever manufactures fake plants lacks the imagination to design such a specimen. You’d have to be creative to come up with something like that.

Great job everyone! You all nailed it. That is very cool and unsurprising, given your sophisticated plant knowledge. Congratulations!

To show my appreciation for you playing, I’d like to award you each the following prizes: The last days of January, three snow angels, five congratulatory exclamations, one wall sconce, four birds of a feather, 2:15pm, nine lady bugs, one bronze trophy, dulce de leche, two umbrellas, an island fedora, Carla, six icicles, a new gazebo, two snow days, Rio Rancho, three wishes granted, pale blue, four bejeweled seashells, curly hair, six hugs, one chicken pot pie, a half dozen sea turtles, Wes Anderson, several superhuman feats, a crystal vase, walkie talkies, seven, three alliances, two crocus flowers, one dartboard, contemporary architecture, a platter of lips, six tokens of appreciation, four beats, one bowl of chocolate mousse, 98th Street, three light switches, one grove of Palm trees, the letter K, a new bowling ball, four compliments on your outfit, two alt-rock songs, mascara, and one leather briefcase.

Congrats again! And thanks for playing!

Up next, a new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Are these flowers real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, are these flowers real or fake?

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) next Thursday, February 5th, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winners two Fridays from now. The prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

I’ll be back every day with pre-scheduled Quirky Albuquerque posts for the next week – check back and have a look at our weird city!