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Pat Hardwig, who is responsible for cultivating one of our most favorite gardens, was kind enough Friday to show us her flowers and offer gardening tips. Here, she is pictured with her (aptly named) dog, Tiger Lily. Pioneer Photo/Bethany Wesley

Trail Mix: A nice day's walk becomes a nice talk

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While walking down sidewalks, it's inevitable that Laurie and I will point out colorful gardens with pretty flowers.

One favorite has long been a front-yard wildflower garden and other plantings along America Avenue right at 15th Street.

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On Friday, we walked by this garden again. Laurie, who proclaimed this as her absolute favorite last summer, saw a new addition - a sign that said "Stop and smell the flowers" - and she paused to take a picture.

And I noticed, just a few feet away, a lady sitting on a bench surrounded by colorful flowers. She had her back to us and was quietly reading a book.

"That must be the gardener," I whispered, trying to not be seen.

Laurie, however, had other ideas. She marched right up to the woman and told her that we walk a lot and have always loved her garden.

The lady - Pat Hardwig - smiled warmly and looked at us for a split-second, "Aren't you...?"

And we nodded, "Yep, we're Trail Mix."

We spent about 20 minutes with her, as she indulged us with a tour and conversation. And we quickly learned that the wildflower garden was just one piece of her gorgeous floral yard.

Pat told us, sadly, that she used to have much more than what we saw today, but she has had to cut down on her workload. We never would have guessed this at all - her home was entirely surrounded by plantings. It really was quite remarkable.

And, as Laurie remarked on her blog entry from Friday, "Pat showed us tiny shoots that will be her prized wildflower garden. I always had the idea that the advantage of wildflowers was that you could throw the seeds out and the flowers would take care of themselves, but Pat said it wasn't that easy!"

Trust me; we learned a lot about flowers today! And we genuinely enjoyed our tour and conversation with Pat.

So, yeah, maybe we didn't walk as much as we did talk on Friday. But sometimes the fun of getting out and about is meeting new people!

Very talented people, I might add.

The "Trail Mix" blog, written by reporters Bethany Wesley and Laurie Swenson, is at areavoices.com/trailmix.

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