Sunday, July 23, 2017

Garden Bloggers Fling--Washington D.C., June 2017

The Garden Bloggers Fling is an annual conference of people who regularly write about gardens and gardening online. Hosted by an enthusiastic team of garden bloggers link it moves around between cities. Flings have been held for a decade, but this year was the first time I went.

What do garden bloggers do at a conference? Visit gardens!

beautiful plantings

The Garden Bloggers Fling was centered at the Hyatt Regency Reston in Reston, Virginia and we toured gardens from there. In three and a half days we visited the National Botanic Garden link and the gardens of the National Mall link, public gardens such as Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, Maryland link, private gardens that are open to the public, for example the garden at Hillwood Estate in Washington, D.C., link and private gardens that the organizers talked the owners into sharing with us. It was consequently intense, with lots to experience.

My previous conferences were mostly academic, with people sharing research, so this felt more like a garden tour than a conference. Some attendees immediately posted about the event, others wrote about it well after returning home (see links at end). Some attendees had very nice cameras and were clearly collecting beautiful photos, others casually snapped cel phone pictures. Sometimes the group scattered across the garden all wildly taking photos, elsewhere we walked sedately down the paths.

garden bloggers taking photos

strolling the garden

It is hard writing my view of the Fling. My memories are jumbled because I knew no one when I arrived, it moved fast, and Washington is not my region, so even the plants I could name were different species or varieties. Furthermore, others have written about the event, which is somewhat intimidating. (See list below).

I very much enjoyed being with people excited about all the elements of gardens, from design to texture to plants. Each day featured many beautiful gardens and exquisite plants.

Here are some images that stick with me:

common milkweed in blueberry bed
Milkweed among the blueberry bushes
Willowsford Garden link was selling pick-them-yourself blueberries. But between the blueberry plants (light green leaves in the photo above), they had left a big common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, (dark green leaves in the photo) to feed monarch butterflies (link). Very nice. Weed-free monoculture gardens are a cultural thing, not a requirement.

Wonderful arrays of colored leaves:

glorious combinations of foliage
Glorious combinations of foliage
After admiring the Rose Garden and the plants of the region in the United States Botanic Garden (link) I sat on a bench and enjoyed watching birds and butterflies fly across and around the lawn below.

United States Botanic Garden
United States Botanic Garden lawn
The Conservatory at the National Botanic Garden was full of wonders. I had last seen it in December 2012, and it felt very different--summer outside, not winter--and of course it featured different displays. I liked a collection of poisonous plants, a "you can grow it!" display and the tropical rooms, to name a few highlights.
tropical room, Conservatory United States Botanic Garden
Tropical room in the National Conservatory
It was hot, as befits June in northern Virginia, so gardens with paths under the forest were especially welcome. I live at the edge of the Great Plains. We grow trees but naturally occurring forests are at higher elevations, so I don't think of forests as gardens, but these were.

forest walk

Many places we visited, bees and butterflies were visiting the flowers. I'd linger, fascinated. Here is a bumblebee on a purple coneflower (Echinacea). The bumblebee ignored me and my camera. We grow purple coneflowers and have bumblebees in Colorado, but that didn't make it any less fun to watch. (And, likely both bumblebee and coneflower are different species from those in my yard in Colorado.)

bumblebee on purple coneflower, Echinacea
Bumblebee on purple coneflower, Echinacea
And I'm a sucker for whimsy:

plant art
Plant lady, Brookside Gardens
This lady in a veil at Brookside Garden (link) was one of several amusing plant-covered sculptures there.

Visiting gardens always provides useful gardening ideas, so the Garden Blogger Fling was terrific for that. I now have a Plan for the messy flowerbed under my maple tree. More important, I met lots of people whose blogs I will follow and whom I hope to see in the future.

Last but not least, there was the joy of seeing all the plants.

Here are posts about the event from others:

A Leafy Indulgence - Day 1 Continued link  and previous post
Bonnie Lassie - Hot and Wet during the Fling  link
Cobrahead Blog: Willowsford Farm link
Danger Garden A few Fling memories...and other posts link
Digging - Long views and classic garden rooms in Brinitzer Garden: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling and more link
Down 2 Earth Designs - My third Garden Bloggers Fling and how I fell in love with succulents Link
Frau Zinnie - The Gardens of Hillwood link
Gardenbook  Fling Prequel link
Garden in a City All Flung Out link
Garden Rant Garden Bloggers take DC (area) link
Garden with Diana Garden Bloggers Fling--A Glimpse and subsequent posts link
More than Oregano - A dazzling tour of 20 garden containers link
Late to the Garden Party - Zoning out at the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden link
Natural Gardening You can grow it!  link
The Paintbox Garden Rhapsody in blue: Linda Hostetler's Virginia garden link
pbmGarden Smithsonian Gardens link
Plant + Shoot Flinging for the first time link
Queen of the Dirt: Pollination Can't be Outsourced. and subsequent posts  link
Ravenscourt Gardens-- Priming the pump: summer garden tours. link
Red Dirt Ramblings: A Visit to Hillwood link
See Jane Dig  Garden Bloggers Fling link
Sharing Nature's Garden/ Diana's Designs, Austin - Garden Bloggers Fling cottage-style garden of Casa Mariposa link
Studiology - The Art of the Fling link
Toronto Gardens - A Cunning Plan for Your Cutting Garden link
Veg Plotting - Photography on tour - a cautionary tale  link
Wills Family Acres  Concrete-Garden Bloggers Fling, DC  link

The Garden Bloggers Fling blog, July 10, has a more complete list: link 

Comments and corrections welcome.

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist
Join me on Facebook:

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great! And congratulations on your award. Well deserved! Also thanks for the link a while back. As you can see, I'm catching up! All the best.