Patagonia Adventure

Happy 2020! May it be a decade filled with joy and adventure!

As the last few months of the twenty-teens sped by, we began thinking of how we would like to usher out the old decade and welcome in the new.  “What better than a bucket-list adventure?” we thought.  And so it was that last November we headed off with a group of close friends to Patagonia, Argentina. We spent the bulk of our time at the Parque Diana Private Game Reserve, where their principal focus is rebuilding populations of threatened and endangered species of deer and goats. It was the trip of a lifetime!

Majestic red stags. The European red deer, a large part of Parque Diana’s breeding program, is threatened in its native habitat by hybridization with the Asian sika deer.

Our accommodations were idyllic… a gorgeous cabins for each of us…

…surrounded by breath-taking scenery.

We left Santa Barbara in November, and were greeted by the budding southern hemisphere Spring on our arrival. The fruit trees around the cabins were in full bloom.

Red deer males don’t normally congregate. But during our visit to the reserve, after a long hard winter, they were being fed for a short period. There’s a lot of tussling amongst the stags when the come together at the feeding troughs. With this year’s antlers still growing and covered in velvet, the males refrain from locking their still-sensitive antlers and resort to other methods of showing who’s top stag.

Young male European red deer shedding winter coat.

The preserve is a birder’s paradise. These ground-nesting Southern Lapwings were everywhere. This one is buzzing Fritz, trying to draw him away from its nest.

Feeding time for the male red deer.

Parque Diana is surrounded by lakes and national park land. Ashy-headed geese were a common sight – they’re beautiful!

California Quail. Introduced to Chile in 1870, they are now prolific throughout the region – at what cost to native species, I was unable to learn.  I can tell you, however, it’s a mind-bending experience to be deep in the mountains of Patagonia, turn around and see a familiar native California bird!

Oh those antlers!

Mouflon or European Big Horn Sheep. Native to Central Asia and listed as “vulnerable” (one notch below “endangered”), breeding programs such as that at Parque Diana are critical to planned future re-population efforts.


Alpine Ibex. This species is currently listed as “of least concern” in it’s native European Alps, but having gone through a population bottleneck of less than 100 individuals, there is very little genetic diversity across populations. That tends to increase the odds that whole populations could be wiped out by a particularly fierce disease or natural disaster. Spreading “reserve” populations around the globe helps combat the possibility of losing the entire species to such an event.

The Parque Diana program is focused on increasing the success rate of breeding wild goat species in captivity (for later release), this youngster is trying to get a better look at us as we pass by the Alpine ibex enclosure.

Here’s the Southern Lapwing again – trying to distract our attention before we happen onto its nest.

We made a side trip to a local Arabian horse farm to visit old friends – imagine our delight to be given a private show! Our friend and traveling companion, Johnny Joe, sold this stallion “Magnum Psyche” to the farm 24 years ago! He still looks magnificent!!!

Heading to San Martin de los Andes to take the ferry to Quila Quina in the national park land.

What a landscape – inspirational! I’ll be looking to weave this into a project soon!

Many thanks to our hosts at Parque Diana for the fantastic trip, the over-the-top hospitality, the delightful company and memories that will last through the next several decades. Bravo Parque Diana! and Viva Argentina!




Next time on The Art of Outdoor Living

So just what is the art of outdoor living?

It’s comfortable elegance. It’s casual living as an art form. It’s the concept of home as a collection of beautiful, comfortable outdoor rooms surrounded by breath-taking landscaping – with just enough house for in case of rain.

This scrumptious gem secreted in the hills above Santa Barbara is a perfect illustration of the art of outdoor living…



Private Gardens of Santa Barbara takes you through 18 of our favorite gardens as they’ve never been seen before. With hundreds of striking photographs by our award-winning photographer, Holly Lepere, we’re sure you’ll want to add it to your collection. Pre-order your copy today! And don’t forget your friends and family – the book makes a great gift too!

Pre-order here


Upcoming Events

Check out my upcoming talks and book signings! I’ll be sharing ways you can maximize the return on your investment of blood, sweat and resources in your own garden. Catch my Demand More from Your Garden: Multi-tasking Landscape Elements and Hard-Working Plants at the following times and locations:

Saturday, Febuary 8, 2020 at the Great Big Home and Garden Show in Cleveland Ohio.

Friday, March 6, 2020  at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Thursday, March 26, 2020  at the Festival of Flowers in Mobile, Alabama.

Get Tickets Here

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