The frustration level rose again…cold temperatures, super soggy soil, ugly forecast and few signs of life in the gardens. The only cure was a trip south, where warm temperatures abound and there are actually leaves on trees, blooming flowers, and SUNSHINE! I’m fortunate that D loves golf as much as I love basketball. He also recognizes after all these married decades that a dose of sunshine about this time of year radically reverses my downward spiral and makes living with me much more pleasant. So, with a dear gardening friend willing to tend my baby plants in exchange for the use of my pick-up truck while we traveled, we were off to Palm Harbor, Florida (THE Sunshine State!) for the Valspar Golf Tournament. This is just a sample of the many plantings throughout the course. I can’t tell you how much the sight of blooming red roses and bright yellow marigolds, green grass, shaggy Spanish moss, and leafy trees lifted my spirits. This tournament raises millions of dollars for local charities, and is sponsored by the Valspar Paint people. You’ve probably seen their commercials where the talking chameleon changes color as he walks on various paint samples. One of the centerpieces of the tournament is this huge sand sculpture of their “spokesperson.” This has to be the most colorful golf tournament on the circuit, from the comfortable seating overlooking the 3rd green and elsewhere throughout the course, to the stacked birdhouses shown below.. There was also a display of “TINY” houses, painted inside and out with luscious colors. Here’s the tiny Beach House….decorated inside in a breezy, seaside decor with lots of ambient light. And the tiny farmhouse, which was my favorite, painted in this year’s “Color of the Year,” a pretty shade of light green. I especially enjoyed the landscaping around this cozy dwelling. There was so much to see that I didn’t mind at all being there for four days of our trip because I walked and walked and walked! Admittedly, the first day was a medium walk through only a small portion of the course, but some of it was uphill and that night, my whole body ached. That did not bode well for the upcoming gardening season, so I was determined to get some muscles back in shape. Fortunately, the colorful contrast to our landscape back home continually lured me ahead. It was a joy to be in 70 plus degree weather and not bundled in bulky clothes for a change. The skies were so blue, the birds so full of song and there were birds we just don’t see in Indiana. Whatever birds these were, they were fun to watch as they poked through the leaves and pine needles. This brilliant tree was breathtaking. I was told it is a Trumpet Tree. I wish it would grow in Indiana, but it won’t without more protection (like a giant greenhouse heated all winter!) than I’m willing to provide. The 16th green is called the “Patriots’ Outpost” and is sponsored by Chick Fil-A, who not only provides funding for the shaded pavilions, but free food and drink for veterans and military personnel. A wonderful shuttle service makes it feasible for veterans to get there easily. Each day’s walk was longer, providing new vistas and more flowers. By the last day, I was able to walk the entire course without stopping, and came home feeling refreshed, relaxed, renewed and eager to see what changes were wrought in my gardens while I was away. It’s amazing what a few days of sunshine can do!