Category Archives: fieldtrip

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.

Tunnel of Trees

This past weekend I traveled north into Zone 5a to take a drive with Mom G. and enjoy some autumn colors. She had already taken a handful of pictures that week around their property as the leaves started to turn.

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I really love this one!

In the north eastern area of Lake Michigan there is a 16 mile stretch of scenic highway called the Tunnel of Trees. It is a popular destination in both the spring when the trillium are blooming and in the fall when the expansive stand of trees begin donning fall color. At each end of the drive there are small, northern towns. Here is a shot of the first.

101516_churchWe noticed the color hadn’t progressed as far as in Mom G’s town. When we drove along the lake, there really wasn’t much color, but boy was it a beautiful drive.

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At the other end of the drive we enjoyed a warm meal of sandwiches, European coffee, and pastries. On the drive back down to Zone 6a I stopped off at a rest area  to snap some more photos.

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I don’t know if I could ever live in an area without very visible changes in season. There is something therapeutic in the waxing and waning of the growing season here.

Autumnal Equinox and Mum

Today marks the first day of Fall in the northern hemisphere, otherwise known as the Autumn Equinox. Today is also Mom G’s birthday. Speaking of Mom G, she and I took a field trip this past Tuesday to the local botanical gardens. The seasonal exhibit of Chrysanthemums & More just opened.

Chrysanthemums Exhibit

The breezeway at the entry of the gardens is always dressed up with seasonal pots and flourishes. This time we were greeted by a variety of mums, asters, gourds, and ornamental kale.

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The autumnal containers continued through the interior of the gardens. We came across  huge mums referred to as “football mums.” We were told these mum plants continuously had all blooms except one pinched off the plant. This allows the plant to put all of its energy into a single bloom.


The bloom was so huge the plant stalk had to be staked to it could hold up the flower.


Another section of the building was given to a wonderful display of the seasonal plants. Living walls and suspended balls covered in the mums decorated several rooms.


I felt the apples were a unique touch of color.

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I was momentarily distracted by this wonderfully Seus-like pine tree. How great are these needles?

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The mums displays carried outside into the grounds of the gardens. The exhibit had just began, so many of the mums had just started to open.


The ornamental kale and cabbages were absolutely beautiful. They looked great with the asters.
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It seems whenever I visit another garden, I walk away with ideas to try on the Lot. Next year I’m going to grab a few of those cabbages to pair with our mums.