With the rising price of fuel affecting everything we do, including vacations, it’s little wonder that a new word has entered our vocabulary.  A “staycation” is defined by the online Urban Dictionary as “A vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s environs have to offer.”

Before I go any further I have a confession to make.  As you know I traveled to Italy last summer.  I still find myself back in the Piazza del Commune in Assisi during particularly chaotic days at the garden centre, sitting by the fountain eating gelato.  It was a fabulous trip.

This summer I was blessed to be able to act as a chaperone for a group of young people to World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.  It was also an incredible experience on many levels.  You’ll read about the flora observations in an upcoming column.

I haven’t had a “staycation” during the past two summers.  But, my financial advisor and accountant, who also doubles as my wife, tells me that I will likely be enjoying such events for the next few summers!  Something about a daughter starting university, new hockey equipment for our son, necessary home repairs….sorry honey, what did you say?, I was on the harbour in Sydney.

You may have already had your summer vacation, and I hope it was a great one.  But if you haven’t, you might consider a staycation at home, or start planning for next summer.

If you’re taking a week off, do everything you can in the garden to be ready for some serious relaxation starting on the first day.  Mow the lawn, pull every weed you can find, trim back the overgrown annuals, the spent perennial blooms, the daylily stalks, and make sure all is well-watered.  Get the garden to the point where it can easily survive without you for a week.

Do the same inside the house; do the laundry, pay the bills, make the calls, wash the car.  Do everything you would normally do if you were going away for a week’s vacation, except cancel the newspaper.  You want the paper to linger over while you sip coffee on your deck every morning.

Ah yes, the deck.  This will be headquarters for my future staycations and a bit to time and money spent to make this space truly beautiful and relaxing will pay big dividends.  Planters overflowing with colourful annuals, hanging baskets trailing colour from the ceiling, big tropical-like plants like canna lilies and hardy bananas or ornamental grasses, all of these will help you to turn an ordinary deck into “relaxation central.”

Don’t forget the hardware accessories like the perfect lounge chair, an adequate-sized cooler, perhaps an outdoor heater, solar lights, an outdoor umbrella and citronella candles.  Then there is the finishing touch, a water feature to provide the sound of running water while you sip your morning coffee and your afternoon and evening wine.

We live in an area where people come from thousands of kilometers away to vacation!  I must admit that I have become addicted to the sound of the custom official’s stamp hitting my passport, but I’m thinking that until the bank account is more robust, a staycation right here in our little piece of paradise called the Okanagan, and more specifically my garden and deck, will be just fine.

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