Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Meet Our Community: Phillip Oliver, blogger and transplanted gardener

 


Let's get to know each other!


Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Every week we're introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We're excited to see what everyone's talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you'd like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)


Phillip Oliver



My passion for gardening started 30 years ago. I easily get bored and scattered, but gardening remains my chief solace in life. In 2007 I started my blog, Dirt Therapy -- an extension of my website A Southern Garden -- while working as a librarian at the University of North Alabama. In addition to documenting what my husband, Michael, and I are doing in the garden, I like to share other gardens, garden books, and recipes. Blogging is an excellent way to meet other gardeners and discover new plants and gardening concepts. And more than anything else, it makes an excellent gardening diary. 

Our lives took a major detour 5 years ago when we relocated across the country to Vancouver, Washington. I had always felt an affinity for the Pacific Northwest. When an opportunity came for me to retire from the academic world, we took the plunge. Looking back, it was a daring decision, but we are thrilled to be living here. The only downside is, in our quest to downsize, I now find myself running out of room for plants. 

My favorite part of gardening is creating a design and putting it all together. My plant obsession, however, often gets in the way, and I find myself deviating from my original plan in order to cram in more plants. I love a wide variety of plants, but I’d say heirloom roses are at the top of my list. We had a lot of them in Alabama. I don’t have as much room here and am always trying to figure out how to incorporate more. I absolutely love David Austin roses as well as trees, conifers, and camellias. 

I have visited many wonderful gardens, but my favorite may be Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. I’ve studied and admired how it all came together. Dumbarton Oaks: Garden Into Art by Susan Tamulevich was very influential for me. Many more gardens, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, I've yet to see. 

I work at a retail nursery during the growing season, which gets me into trouble plant-wise. I am also active with local gardening groups, and I serve on the board of the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. Gardening is huge in the Pacific Northwest, and I feel fortunate to be a part of it.



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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Phillip! You can follow Phillip on his blog Dirt Therapy and on his Facebook and Instagram pages.

Photographs courtesy of Phillip Oliver.


Friday, November 6, 2020

Meet Our Community: Michelle Chapman, veg plotter and garden writer

 


Let's get to know each other!


Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Every week we're introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We're excited to see what everyone's talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you'd like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)


Michelle Chapman



Alliums and clematis in spring
Stories often come into my head fully formed when I'm gardening, or in the early hours when I'm awake. Those moments demand an outlet. My blog is 13 years old this week, and nearly 2,500 posts later I'm still finding fresh things to say. I never dreamt when I started Veg Plotting on a rainy November day that it would morph into another career for me as a garden writer. 

Veg Plotting is a mix of gardening and garden visits along with seasonal recipes, travel, and lifestyle. I'm a latecomer to gardening, so the bulk of what I write about is something I've learned or that strikes me as interesting. I smile to myself when I'm described as an expert in the papers; there's so much to learn that I still rate myself as a beginner. I'm only an expert in my own garden.

Hesperaloe in my garden inspired by Austin Fling
My small urban garden is located in the southwest of England, just south of the Cotswolds and approximately 80 miles west of London. It's comparable to USDA hardiness zone 8a. I have both deep shade and “scorchio” (hot and sunny) Mediterranean on a slope with 5 different levels. 

Since I’m close to the countryside, I try to make my plot part of our neighbourhood's wildlife corridor. My garden isn't perfect, but I'm happy to spend hour upon hour there. It's been a lifesaver this year and will continue to do so as we head into another national lockdown. 

A field of sunflowers a local farmer grew this year.
The whole town turned out to see it!
Currently I’m writing a Lockdown Life magazine for Pewsham Belles Women’s Institute. I got everyone gardening earlier this year with a tallest-sunflower competition and lettuce seeds to grow, and had an amazing response. They're all going to get pea seeds in their December care package and learn that gardening can continue even in winter! I'm also growing 50 rosemary cuttings, one for each member to be gifted when we can finally meet in person again.

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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Michelle! You can follow Michelle on her blog Veg Plotting and on her Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel.

Photographs courtesy of Michelle Chapman.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Meet Our Community: Jeff Fisher, designer/artist and CRPS survivor

 


Let's get to know each other!


Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Every week we're introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We're excited to see what everyone's talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you'd like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)


Jeff Fisher



For years my primary focus in life was as an identity designer, on an international level, as Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. My work appeared in nearly 200 books, I earned over 700 design awards, and I wrote two graphic design books. For a good portion of that time, I worked out of my home studio in Portland, Oregon, allowing me to step outside and putter in the yard, which evolved into a garden through talks with Mike Smith of Joy Creek Nursery and an initial hardscape design by John Caine. The garden eventually appeared in print and on television. 

But then my life took a dramatic turn. About 7 years ago I had a "silent" heart attack, followed by two angiograms and stent implants in my heart. While in cardiac rehab I developed chronic pain issues. My ability to work at a computer, write, speak at industry conferences, and teach classes in graphic design began to fade away. Five years and 22 specialists later, I was diagnosed with CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome), an extremely painful nervous and immune system malfunction. Throughout those years and since, gardening was my escape and refuge, keeping me sane-ish. Medical professionals constantly encouraged me to play in the dirt as physical and mental therapy. I made gardening work for me the best I could, with an incredible amount of encouragement and support from my husband, Ed Cunningham. 

Writing, including traditional blogging, became a tremendous challenge. Still, I wanted others to know that someone with physical challenges, and without much horticulture knowledge or gardening experience, could find great satisfaction in creating and maintaining a garden. I realized I could express my experiences on Instagram by posting photos of the evolution of our garden, the variety of plants, visits to nurseries and gardens, travel, and more. That led to a Facebook page about the garden, and I’m currently creating a garden-specific Pinterest page. Self-published photo books and other related projects are in the works. 

Gardening has become my passion and best therapy. For me, gardening must be fun. I enjoy finding and using unique plants. As a designer/artist I have great appreciation for color, texture, and shape – all elements conveyed throughout the garden. Dubbed the Fishingham Garden – a combination of Ed’s and my last names – the garden is an extension of our home for cooking, dining, entertaining, and relaxing. By sharing the garden online, I hope to inspire others to create their own unique garden space.



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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Jeff! You can follow Jeff on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Photographs courtesy of Jeff Fisher.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Meet Our Community: Karin Hicks, "snake lady," native plant lover, and educator

 


Let's get to know each other!


Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Every week we're introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We're excited to see what everyone's talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you'd like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)


Karin Hicks



My most rewarding days are spent watching wildlife live their best life. I’m known as the snake lady to my neighbors, who sometimes call on me to rescue an unwanted snake from their garage or basement. On my blog Southern Meadows, I share my love of insects, snakes, amphibians, birds, and other critters and their relationship with native plants.

I garden on 10 acres in the Georgia Piedmont. We have a little bit of everything: woods and meadows, dry shade and full sun, rain gardens and water gardens. We also grow food in our organic kitchen garden and 1-acre orchard. My family has put a lot of sweat into creating our habitat haven, and there is still much to do. It is a place for us to study and appreciate our ecosystem.

I hope that our native plant garden will inspire others to move beyond the highly manicured lawns and sheared shrubs that dominate Atlanta suburbia. It’s possible to have a stylized, natural, native plant garden and still meet the restrictions of an HOA. One of my favorite plants is Aralia spinosa, a native found at woodland edges. Its compound flowers are a pollinator favorite, the berries support birds and other wildlife, and the sharp spines on the trunk are cool!

I work at our county extension as a horticulturist and master gardener coordinator. Through gardening I’ve discovered my calling in education. I teach classes for the state botanical garden and native plant society, train master gardeners, give talks to gardening and homesteading groups, and lead a youth gardening program at a local elementary school.

My other passion is photography, something I learned from my father. I always carry a camera and always discover a moment to capture. I post daily on Instagram and have photos on Flickr.

I will never pass up an opportunity to view a garden. It’s such a pleasure when a gardener is willing to share their passion and work. I always find at least one takeaway from every garden. My favorite gardens are those that creatively transform challenging conditions into functional spaces or use plants in unique ways.



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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Karin! You can follow Karin on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and at her blog Southern Meadows.

Photographs courtesy of Karin Hicks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Meet Our Community: Noelle Johnson, desert gardener, designer, and teacher

 


Let's get to know each other!


Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Every week we're introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We're excited to see what everyone's talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you'd like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)


Noelle Johnson



Gardening in the desert is challenging, and traditional garden media tends to ignore our area. There’s a widespread myth that cactus and rocks are the only things you can grow in the desert. As a horticulturist, I love dispelling that notion and showing people what’s possible.

My website AZ Plant Lady is a one-stop resource for those who want to learn how to create, grow, and maintain a beautiful garden that thrives in a hot, dry climate. Within the site, people can learn about desert gardening on my blog, set up a landscape consultation, learn where I am speaking next, or sign up for one of my online classes.

I garden in the low desert of Phoenix, Arizona, and I love flowering plants and BLUE pots! I've also recently become enamored with a variety of succulents and a few different cacti. I don't like high-maintenance plants, with the exception of my roses. My goal is to use plants that need pruning once or twice a year at most. In landscapes I design, I mix the textures of spiky succulents with the softer, mounded shapes of shrubs, ornamental grasses, and groundcovers. Many lush, green flowering shrubs and groundcovers are well adapted to hot, arid climates. 

My favorite plant is probably desert willow, a small tree native to the Southwest that produces pink flowers spring through summer. There are several new varieties, and 'Bubba' is my current favorite. I’m growing five different desert willows in my garden.

When I was growing up in Southern California, my parents would take me to The Huntington Library and its gardens in Pasadena. It's still one of my favorite places to visit. I like their focus on drought-tolerant gardening and spectacular landscape design.

I have an active Facebook group called The 'Dirt' on Desert Gardening. I've also been featured by the filmmakers at PlantPop. And if you're interested in my online courses you can find them here.


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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Noelle! You can follow Noelle on Facebook, on Instagram, and at her blog AZ Plant Lady.

Photographs courtesy of Noelle Johnson.