Monday, August 31, 2020

Meet Our Community: Michelle Olivier, blogger at Sound 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.)

Michelle Olivier


Foliage in my garden
I garden in Seattle, near Puget Sound, hence the bad pun of my blog
Sound Gardener. This is my first in-ground garden, but I still have a huge container-plant collection from many years of living in apartments.

I blog primarily to record changes (hopefully positive!) to my garden in Seattle. My husband and I purchased our home in 2017, and the garden was massively overgrown, a fact clearly visible even in satellite images. Much of our initial efforts went towards renovating the house, so the garden is still in its early stages of taking shape.

My gardening style is all about the plants that capture my interest, to the detriment of developing any steady design concept. The plants I love have bold foliage, interesting architecture, or are otherwise oddities, with little emphasis on flowers. I enjoy the hardy tropical look, including the usual suspects of Tetrapanax (or practically any plant ending with panax), bamboo, Schefflera, and bananas. But I’m also fond of true tropicals, so my dream is to have a greenhouse.

Many dimensions of plants interest me  sentimental, scientific, aesthetic – which makes it impossible to pick a favorite. But I currently have a huge soft spot for ferns in the Pyrrosia genus and epiphytes generally.

Native clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum) in the Cascades
It’s very clich├ęd, but my favorite garden is probably Kew in London, for sentimental reasons. I first visited when I was 7 or 8 years old, and it made a huge impression on me. On the flip side, one of my other favorite activities is hiking, and some of the most beautiful “gardens” are plants growing in their natural habitats, such as a meadow of bear grass (Xerophyllum tenax) blooming near Mount Rainier or a stand of yellow lady's slipper orchids (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) in Arkansas.


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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Michelle! You can follow Michelle on her blog, Sound Gardener, and her Instagram.

Photographs courtesy of Michelle Olivier.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Meet Our Community: Laura Lopez, native plant enthusiast and wildlife gardener

 

Photograph by Two Rivers Photography

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.)

Laura A. Lopez


Bee on a coneflower
At Tiny Urban Wilderness I share about creating a wildlife habitat using native plants in my Quad Cities, Illinois, garden. You can follow my progress on my Instagram as well as my blog and Facebook page

I love the native plant jewelweed. It grows naturally on my property, but deer eat most of it. This plant is in the impatiens family and has a delicate, trumpet-shaped, orange-and-yellow flower. It's fun to touch the ripe seedpods to see them burst – hence the plant’s other name, touch-me-not. Folklore says it often grows near poison ivy and is a remedy. 

I got married and began house-hunting in 2012. We found an outdated ranch house with windows overlooking a deep ravine lined with oaks, cherries, catalpa, eastern redbud, pines, maples, hickory, walnut, and hackberry. And when I saw the large screened porch, I gasped. It was like being in a treehouse. We sit on that porch on summer evenings, and even though traffic from four city arteries surrounds our neighborhood, we enjoy the sounds of birds, frogs, crickets, and cicadas in the woods. 

Jack-in-the-pulpit
I’ve had a green thumb for growing houseplants all my life, but this was the first time I’d tried gardening outdoors. I started planting common plants purchased at local garden stores. But then I attended a local pollinator conference with entomologist Doug Tallamy as the keynote speaker. Heather Holm, a biologist and native bee and plant advocate, also spoke. The conference changed my life. ​I came home and removed most of the exotic plants I had planted, which don’t benefit our native insects and wildlife that coevolved with native plants. Globally, we're experiencing a severe loss of native bees, birds, butterflies, and other animals due to habitat loss. We humans are not immune to this decline. Pollination is how we get much of our food, and if too many species disappear, our whole ecosystem will collapse. 

I began remedying my plant blindness by learning to identify plants, and a surprising thing happened. I realized my yard was full of invasive plant species. It’s a never-ending battle, but I've cleared enough so that native plants are returning on their own. Tall bellflower, Solomon's seal, Joe Pye weed, jewelweed, prairie trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, wild black currant, American germander, and small-flowered buttercup​ have all appeared! 

Tiger swallowtail butterfly
When I walk out my back door, I feel a sense of calm come over me. I completely forget personal and world problems when I’m barefoot among the plants and towering trees. I swear I could watch bees forage on flowers all day long! I enjoy watching the tiny dramas in the lives of insects. There are nesting birds, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, opossums, and groundhogs. Rarer sightings include red foxes, coyotes, wild turkeys, two bald eagles, and one wood duck. 

I blog because I hope to inspire people to plant at least a few native plants in their yards. I’m just one person with limited space, but collectively we can make a huge difference!



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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Laura! 

Photographs courtesy of Laura Lopez except as noted.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Meet Our Community: Karl Gercens, garden traveler and conservatory manager

 

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.)

Karl Gercens


Anthurium trees at Longwood Conservatory
I'm the Conservatory Manager at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and I get to create flower-show-type displays 365 days per year. I'm always on the prowl for a new plant, a bigger blossom, or a captivating color combination that will awe and inspire each person that visits.

In my home garden I have a passion for colored foliage on trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. I started out with a red-leaf honey locust, golden spirea, variegated iris, and silver senecio. Who needs flowers when foliage is so stunning?! 

I'm passionate about the plants, garden design, and architecture in gardens. When I meet a plant-passionate person, it's simply impossible to resist sharing the excitement! I have been so lucky to visit over 3,000 gardens (I stopped counting a few years ago) in over 30 countries. I photograph and share my observations on the day I visit, so all my posts are real-time. If you see it blooming on my feed, then you know what time of year to go visit yourself. 

I created a Google Map to keep track of all the places I've been and all the ones I want to visit in the future! I need to update lots of my green “want to go” places into gold “favorites” after some of my recent trips. 

I share my photos and observations on my Facebook page and Instagram, and the Big Kahuna of my images is on Flickr. You can find more info about me on my website.

I adore gesneriads and Anthurium. We get months of blooms from Kohleria, Achimenes, Streptocarpus, Seemannia, and x Gloximannia! But if I had to pick just ONE plant that I can't live without, it would have to be my variegated Asparagus densiflorus 'Myersii'.

Medinilla at Longwood Conservatory
I've spent as much time in a postage-stamp-sized garden talking plants with a passionate gardener as I have in the grandest estates in Europe with avenues of trees and mirror-like lakes. As for favorite gardens, I'm torn between the greatest created landscapes like Serres Royales in Belgium and the natural landscapes of Greece that are virtually untouched by human hands. 

I'm in love with the Southern Hemisphere. The flora of Australia (5 trips), South Africa (3 trips), and South America (5 trips) are so vastly different from what I'm used to, it makes me feel like a kid at Christmas again. The anticipation, the wonder, the unknown, and then the great reveal!!










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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Karl! 

All photographs courtesy of Karl Gercens.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Meet Our Community: Dustin Gimbel, ceramic artist and garden designer

 

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.)


Dustin Gimbel


Dustin's ceramic sculptures
I’m a landscape designer and a ceramic artist, and in both areas I think of myself as a sculptor. I love the mild and subtle climate of coastal Southern California, where I garden. My Instagram is filled with pictures and videos of my home garden, clients’ landscapes, and my ceramic sculptures.

I tend to get wrapped up or obsessed with something and like to explore it from every angle. At any one time I am fixated on some topic. It can be about a family of plants, ceramic techniques, or cooking. I mean, how many versions of kimchi can one person make?! I used to resist these tendencies, but now I realize it’s just my way of learning.

I love gardening, and I’m usually planting a mix of drought- and heat-hardy shrubs, ornamental grasses, flowering perennials, and lots of juicy succulents. My fave plant at the moment is Casuarina glauca ‘Cousin It’, a plant as odd as the Addams Family. It has grassy, whip-like leaves that mound and spread and mound and spread, forming a bumpy, sculptural, deep-green, textural groundcover. It looks great in a pot or in a raised bed where it will cascade over the side in a pleasing way. ‘Cousin It’ is heat tolerant and well behaved, making it a California-friendly addition to the landscape.

Midcentury-style patio garden designed by Dustin
in Long Beach, CA
I love many gardens in the U.S. and internationally, but The Huntington in San Marino, CA, is my favorite. You could spend a whole day walking the gardens. It has something for everyone. For me the highlight of any visit is the cactus gardens. It must have one of the best desert collections in the world and certainly the best in California.

My Los Angeles-based design firm is Second Nature Garden Design. I also have an online shop for my ceramic sculptures and pottery. If you’re in the area, you can see my ceramic art at SCULPTURA BOTANICA, a botanically inspired exhibition of more than 150 sculptures at Sherman Library and Gardens in Newport Beach, California, which runs through September 15, 2020.


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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Dustin!

All photographs courtesy of Dustin Gimbel.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Meet Our Community: Misti Little of The Garden Path Podcast

Let's get to know each other!

Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Each week starting today, 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.


Misti Little



I host The Garden Path Podcast: Life Lessons and Conversations from the Natural World, which I created in late 2015 to fill a gap in the gardening podcast world. It began with conversations with friends and family and morphed into connecting with other gardeners and naturalists that I had long admired on social media. 

I put the interview aspect of the podcast on pause at the end of 2019 and am currently adapting it into a solo show to encourage gardeners to become better naturalists! It's a work in progress!

I enjoy learning about and planting native plants to encourage biodiversity on our 1.2 acres in the rapidly expanding Houston suburbs. But I also can't help myself when I find a unique plant that isn't from North America, and I drool over tropical gingers, bromeliads, and orchids! We have an enclosed edible garden to keep the deer from munching on the fruits of our labors, and I enjoy reaping the rewards from a successful tomato season just as much as I enjoy seeing the butterflies nectaring on our native plants in the flower garden.

Crinum
My favorite botanic garden is Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida. I'm a sucker for tropical plants, and their diversity of specimens, from unique vines to fabulous palms, is enough to make you want to move to zone 12 or beyond! 

Choosing a favorite plant is a tougher call, but let's say it's a tie between ghost orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) and redring milkweed (Asclepias variegata).

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You can follow Misti on her YouTube channel, on Instagram, and on her blog, Oceanic Wilderness

Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Misti! 

Long-tailed skipper

All photographs courtesy of Misti Little.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Fling expands beyond bloggers, welcomes other platforms


In the 13-year history of Garden Bloggers Fling, we’ve never had to cancel -- until this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Madison Fling planning team had already put a lot of work into the event, and we appreciate their willingness to delay and try again next year. Fingers crossed, we'll be Flinging in Madison next June!

During this forced downtime, the Fling advisory committee has been reflecting on the future of our annual event and our community. We want to ensure that our group better reflects all gardening voices in all their diversity.

From the start we’ve defined ourselves by our shared identity as garden bloggers, people who not only love gardens but love writing about them and being part of an online community. Thirteen years later, while many blogs continue to thrive, for some of us other social media outlets are now our preferred medium for self-publishing about gardening. Our identity as bloggers has become limiting, even a bit antiquated. And we wonder if we’ve unintentionally edged out the participation of those who might not see themselves represented and therefore don’t feel welcome: people of color, younger people, people from all sorts of backgrounds.

We want to change that perception, especially if it’s keeping anyone from thinking the Fling is not for them. And we believe the way to be more inclusive is to be more inclusive.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to open the Fling to gardening Instagrammers, podcasters, and vloggers/YouTubers. Our goal is to make Garden Bloggers Fling more inclusive of diverse voices and more forward-looking in terms of other social media. We have no plans at this time to change our name.

The Fling is still a group for online self-publishers of gardening information, and our guidelines for attending the annual meet-up still apply: your outlet must be public, strongly gardening-focused, and regularly updated. We hope long-time Flingers will join us in welcoming these new voices. And we hope that anyone who is eagerly sharing about gardening via Instagram, vlogging, or podcasting will join our online community. And when in-person meet-ups resume, as they surely will, we look forward to meeting you IRL as well!