Thursday, December 6, 2012

Celebration at Garland's Lodge

Our darling daughters and sons- in- law surprised us with an incredible gift for our 35th anniversary. The gift of beauty, peace and rest.

If you're from Arizona, you have almost certainly traveled state highway 89A, one of the most scenic highways in the state. This road meanders through a gorge where the spectacular waters of Oak Creek Canyon flow. As you wind your way along the highway, taking in the pools, rushing water and eroded sandstone walls above you, you could easily miss the turnoff to Garland's Oak Creek Lodge. Across the creek, up the hill and around the bend. We had passed it many times, hoping to someday actually be guests here. This was our children's gift to us, a much needed break to a place of serenity, beauty and rustic charm.

We arrived just a few days after the first freeze of the season. The fall vegetation surrounding the historic lodge was quickly turning from lush and green to orange and brown. Watching this little valley transition to dormancy was a welcome change for us.

Spectacular sandstone cliffs surround the secluded valley.
Rustic log cabins blend perfectly into the rugged landscape.
Inside the lodge. The first structure was built in 1908 and is still used as the kitchen where fabulous gourmet meals are prepared by head chef, Amanda Stine.

Here's my long time love in front of our cozy log cabin.  We were able to sit on our stone porch and watch the the waters of Oak Creek wash over the boulders. 

Below, a grove of Ponderosa pines line the creek and stand guard over the grassy lawn in front of the lodge.

 We wandered the grounds finding shady, tranquil beauty at every turn. We followed a road to the upper level of the property. There, it opened up to a clearing where the garden and greenhouse were located.

The garden was "done for the season", but still beautiful! Funny, how you can see the life of a garden in the dormant and frost bitten vegetation. We looked for Mario Valuruz, the gardener but never had a chance to meet him. Still, I would like to thank him for the many evident hours of hard work and skill that he put into his incredible garden and greenhouse. The gardener and the earth. There is a kind of sacred partnership going on there.

Seed heads dressed in brown.
Kale, it doesn't mind the chilly temps at all!

Here is Mario's greenhouse. We stepped into a sun-infused room filled with heirloom tomato plants reaching twelve feet high. If you ever have the chance to stand alone in the stillness of a warm, humid, earthy greenhouse, you don't want to miss it! It is an amazing experience.

Seeds, markers, string, pots... just some of the essentials that all gardeners should have on hand.
 I'm thinking the green tomatoes were harvested from the outside garden with the news of the dropping temperatures.

Next, we cross the bridge and enter the orchard.
Orchard... my heart skips a beat when I hear the word.
 It amazes me that the planting of a spindly little stick can grow and provide such breathtaking beauty and rich abundance for all. If my husband and I happened to be the only humans here, I would  run circles around these trees, lie down in the midst of them and gaze through their branches.

Below, the orchard is kept vibrant with a newer planting of peach trees. Early White Grand, Red Haven, Coral Star and Babcock are a few of the varieties.
Many of the apple trees on the property were planted eighty years ago by early homesteaders. They understood the importance of fruit trees and depended on them as a valuable food source. The Garland's organic orchard is filled with heirloom varieties that ripen at different times for an extended harvest.
The heritage fruit trees at Garlands have been treated well, and are still healthy and strong.   

Here, wrinkled and gnarled, one of the oldest trees in the orchard is still producing apples.

Tri-pod ladders are part of the Orchard Culture. 

This is Rob Lautze, master orchardist. He has been the caretaker of this orchard for twenty years. He walked with us through his trees, naming the ages and varieties like they are friends. Gravensteins, Jonareds, Grimes Golden, Northern Spy, Stayman Winesap and many others grace his orchard. Rob talked and we listened, but there was so much information that we couldn't take it all in. Years of pruning, training, thinning, feeding, harvesting... caring for fruit trees is a year round activity that calls for lots of passion and knowledge. 

Rob explains the whys and hows of his grafting technique.

 Garland's is famous for it's fresh organic apple cider. Rob took us through each step using this apple press. ( Rob, please let me come back and help you pick apples and watch this whole process!)

 Rob brought us to the apple barn and stepped into his large refrigerator. He gathered a handful of apples stored for winter keeping and shared them with us.
 He took a big bite, chewed and smiled at the same time.
We tried the apples too, they are amazing!
 Arkansas Blacks and Romes. 
   He didn't know it, but this was the best part of our stay at Garland's Lodge.
             Happy Anniversary to us!
Thank you
to Mary and Gary Garland
and to Meagan for answering all of my questions.
and especially to our daughters ~


Mary Palumbo Collings said...

Wow , what a place, and what a nice gift. It looks so beautiful, love the orchard. Happy Anniversary.
Ciao for now...

Joani said...

I love this place and have stayed there many times. The winesap apples are so delicious when one is able to get them. Thank you for reminding me of this wonderful place which is very very peaceful and one can leave the world behind....

Heather Kinkel said...

What a wonderful time! We love Oak Creek and have spent many chilly fall days/nights there! Happy anniversary.

Lylah Ledner said...

Oh Jill...thanks for sharing your time away. Michael and I must find a spot of time to slip away to this magical place...

XO lylah

HolleyGarden said...

What a wonderful and beautiful place. And how nice to have such thoughtful daughters and sons-in-law. Happy Anniversary to you. You should make this a yearly tradition! :) Thanks for the tour!

Nikki Green Caprara said...

What beautiful photos! I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. You deserve every second. Happy Anniversary! We love you.


ann said...

A great gift, indeed. What a fabulous place to get away. You surely went home rested.

Tant Otteskrufv said...

Vilket underbart ställe! Och vilken fantastiskt fin gåva. Tack för dina vackra bilder, de gav även mig en stund av avkoppling.

Stan and Jody Gabara said...

What a wonderful 35th anniversary gift. The property looks spectacular and peaceful! Thanks so much for sharing all your awesome photos. Loved them.
Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year!


Unknown said...

Such a lovely place. Those log-cabins are to die for too. I want to visit that place too!

Kimberly said...

I dream of going to Garlands'! I have their cookbook which is truly fantastic.