Category Archives: fellow gardeners

Garden Bloggers Fling 2017

Garden Bloggers Fling 2017 BadgeSince 2014, excluding last year, I’ve been extremely fortunate enough to attend an annual get-together of garden bloggers from across the U.S. and from as far away as the UK and Spain. What started out as a modest gathering of gardeners in Austin during 2008, has grown into an amazing multiple day event known as the Garden Bloggers Fling. This year the Fling took place in the capital region, including all types of gardens from Maryland, Virginia, and of course Washington D.C.

It’s hard for me to describe the excitement and enthusiasm I feel leading up to and during the Fling. Speaking of it afterward to family and friends results in an odd combination of me wildly gesturing while giving myself goosebumps. Their polite nods and eventual glazed eyes only confirms something I’ve suspected since my first Fling. If you are a gardener on a Garden Blogger Fling, you are with your Tribe.

Garden Blog Flingers Group Photo
Photo by Wendy Niemi Kremer

I’m naturally more of an introvert. I enjoy being around people, but it often leaves me completely drained of energy. Also, I can be a bit anxious around those I don’t know. In no other situation have I felt so comfortable and happy in the company of people I may have just met for the first time. Our shared love of gardening links us all together over those days of the Fling.

Having attended a few Flings now, I’m beginning to see familiar faces of garden bloggers I met during previous years. There is often a lot of laughter and silliness, both of which I heartily approve. This year our knowledge of irises and craft beer was tested with a game called Beer, Iris, or Both. Though a craft beer fan, I was terrible at this game!

Flingers playing game at table

We explored many gardens of all shapes and sizes together. Excited chatter and “ooo’s and ahh’s” were quite common. At times all I’d have to do is point at a stunning display and a Flinger next to me would nod, mouthing the words “I know!” I had no fear of judgement when I asked fellow Flingers to identify any plants unknown to me. I was happy to return the favor.

Gardeners in the Woods

We were able to take breaks from the heat and share some delicious meals together. One day even brought a lunch and tasting at a winery.

Gardeners at Buffet

Armed with cameras of all sizes, we’d do our best to capture the garden we were visiting. Viewing the different unique styles and creative approaches to the gardens was inspiring. Everyone knew what it meant to get that one, last photo before getting back to the bus!

Gardener Photographing Plants

By the close of the Fling, everyone is exhausted. We’d spent three spectacular days galavanting about in hort heaven together. I usually am able to sail through on an adrenaline high and then crash on returning home.

Gardener in Hammock

Just as rewarding as the exploration of the gardens was getting to know and learn from all the garden bloggers. Heralding from different USDA growing zones, we have different plant palettes from which to work. Everyone has great stories of her or his adventures in gardening to share. We may have different areas of horticulture that interest us, but goodness we all like to grow plants. And who else but a fellow gardener will completely understand why you’d haul two banana trees onto the bus with you after visiting a nursery?

I hope the stars align and I am able to attend next year’s Fling in Austin! It’s in the planner. I already am excited to reunite with those garden bloggers I just left several days ago. Also, I can’t wait to chat with those I have yet to meet.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – September 2015

It’s already Bloom Day again, the garden meme hosted by May Dreams Gardens, where monthly gardeners share what is blooming in their gardens. When looking back at last year’s September posts I realized we had been preparing for our trip to Ireland. Two years back at this time revealed the plants are further along than they were in 2013. We’ve had a strange September so far as the first week of the month resembled the “dog days of summer” usually prevalent in August. And then the weather cooled off, and then warmed back up again.

Beginning on the West side of the Lot, the huge cup plant featured in August’s bloom day post is beginning to fade and go to seed as is the cardinal flowers beneath the climbing rose. It is also beginning to lean over toward the property line which makes me nervous. I should cut it back but the curiosity of who will come to eat the seed is preventing me from doing so.

In the south bed, both little sedum are blooming at the bottom of our steps.


The plumbago is in full bloom and has filled in nicely around the growing smoke bush. The black eyed susan has only a handful of blooms left. Various coreopsis, blanket flower, and cone flower are beginning to slow, having bloomed the majority of the summer season. Our little potentilla shrub is still sharing its sunny, yellow blooms and the yew is sprinkled with its bright red seeds.

In the backyard, the autumn clematis has burst into bloom. I had cut it to the ground in spring, but that didn’t seem to deter it from growing quite huge this season.


Here’s a closer shot of the little blooms. They have a lovely scent.


In the fence bed, several new plants were added this season. (I did a lot of rearranging.) Here is a relocated hyssop, blooming its heart out after being moved from a shadier bed where it was struggling. The butterflies and hummingbirds seem to enjoy this plant.


In the backyard bed, there is more plumbago in bloom. Also, I finally found a bird bath I like! Here it is.


And here is a larger shot of the corner in that bed. I’m liking the combination of textures and colors right now.


On the other end of the backyard bed is the lone mum on the Lot. I forgot to pinch it back, so it grew long and leggy. However, the little blooms are pretty anyway.


I expanded Loki’s bed this season since it was way overcrowded. In doing so, it now curves around and extends further down the fence line. Here is a pretty little tea rose I received this past March at the Smart Gardening conference. I had it in a pot most of the season, but now it finally has a home in the soil of the Lot.


And new bed space means new plants, right?! Here is an autumn fern I picked up while out plant shopping with Mrs. J.


I realize it is technically not a bloom, but the new fronds on this fern emerge as that beautiful, coppery orange color. Here is a closer look at the coloring.


And here is the dainty, little blooms of the coral bell in Loki’s bed.


Some of the plants usually blooming in early spring now have volunteers popping up around the Lot. Such as with this little viola.


And they are also perking up in the hanging baskets while the rest of the plants appear a bit tired and overgrown. The pansies and snapdragons seem to have been renewed.


Also blooming in the backyard is the guara, a handful of black eyed susans, a foamy bell, phlox, and winter savory. The east bed has the toad lily beginning to bloom.  In the alley bed, the sedum Autumn Joy is abuzz with pollinators because of it’s dusty rose blooms.

Local Open Garden 1.3

For our third local tour of the season, we were able to peruse a charming garden in a newer suburb of the city. Unlike the previous two tours, this gardener was working with a plot of land closely bordered by neighbors. Creating the illusion of a quiet, tucked-away garden is even more challenging for an urban gardener because of these closely situated lots. After years of cultivating her garden, I feel this gardener did a great job of achieving a beautiful backyard sanctuary.

Growing Walls

Whether lounging on the back patio or strolling through the garden, I barely noticed any neighboring homes, walls, or structures. One could say this is because I am a nutty-about-plants gardener and was distracted by all the green pretties. However, a layered collection of mature trees, flowering shrubs, and ornamental grasses created a living wall encircling the backyard.


DSC_0055-091415DSC_0079-091415 Nooks and Crannies

I enjoy exploring gardens with little “rooms,” or tucked away places not very noticeable upon first glance. This garden utilized a mature pine to create a hidden path and cubby linking the front and back garden. Loved the addition of the whimsical mushroom statues.
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The backyard garden had multiple paths winding through a diverse collection. I enjoy specimen gardens like this, allowing you to view and marvel at many types of plants.

DSC_0052-091415 DSC_0068-091415 DSC_0069-091415How great is this guy? There were many treasures to discover throughout the garden.
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Low Maintenance, Fab Foliage

I briefly chatted with the gardener about this collection of succulents on the back patio. All plants in these containers are tender to our zone 6a, meaning they would not survive the winter. However, they do not require much water unlike many other blooming, annual alternatives. And look at all those colors! Lovely.

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Some Favorite Picks

There were many great plants living in this garden, but here are a couple of my favorites. This cranesbill is blooming in September! Cranesbill on the Lot is only a spring-blooming plant. There were so many happy bees dancing around this one.


As a gardener I am constantly learning. I had no idea what the fruit of a flowering dogwood looked like. Here they are.


I’m a sucker for colorful foliage, like Japanese blood grass. It is noted as an aggressive weed in warmer climates, but the temperature in our growing climate keeps those lovely fronds well in check. Now, combine the color with fuzzy seed heads found on bunny grass all within a dwarf-grass. Squee!


Overall I feel the Open Gardens this season were a success. Not only can gardeners be inspired by different arrangements and applications of plants, we also are able to visit with another and swap ideas. Even better are the shared stories of how you all made mistakes, feel ridiculous afterward, learn (most times), and forge ahead.