Since 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.