Monday, September 28, 2020

Jen McGuinness: Author, blogger, zinnia lover

 

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.)


Jen McGuinness



When we moved into our Central Connecticut home, I immediately began tearing up the lawn in favor of flowers and vegetables. My front garden can look a bit wild, but I feel it’s very important to provide food for insects and other critters. I like to blend pollinator and wildlife-friendly plants, especially for butterflies and songbirds. 

My favorite flower, unsurprisingly, is the zinnia. Not only did it inspire my blog name, Frau Zinnie (aka Mrs. Zinnia), but it’s easy to grow, provides food for pollinators, and comes in a variety of bright colors. Indoors, houseplants occupy every available window in my house, and grow lights brighten darker spaces and help me start seeds indoors. I have several orchids and have recently started collecting philodendrons. 

After a bleak winter I need exclamation points of color all across my property, so I grow many muscari and daffodil bulbs. My favorite garden is Winterthur when the bulbs are blooming in spring. I was blown away by the garden’s March Bank when I saw it in peak bloom with millions of scilla and glory-of-the-snow, as well as naturalized daffodils and thousands of minor bulbs. Winterthur practices “succession of bloom,” so something is always flowering – the ultimate garden! 

Due to limited areas of full sun, I’ve had to get creative to grow edibles. Compact and dwarf varieties, especially dwarf tomatoes, offer a way to grow food in a small space. 
I’m excited to share that my upcoming book Micro Food Gardening: Project Plans and Plants for Growing Fruits and Veggies in Tiny Spaces will be published in March 2021!

At Frau Zinnie, in addition to sharing my gardening experiences, I interview other garden experts. One of the things I like best about gardening is that there is always something new to learn, and I like to be part of the conversation. Gardeners are so friendly and always willing to share tips about what worked for them and what didn’t. I feel that gardeners share a common goal: getting other people as excited about growing plants as they are. I hope that readers of Frau Zinnie will find useful information and try to grow something too.



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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Jen! You can follow Jen at Frau Zinnie and on her Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.


Photographs courtesy of Jen McGuinness.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Benjamin Vogt: prairie advocate, designer, 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.)


Benjamin Vogt



Plants matter. They matter for wildlife, air quality, runoff, soil microbes, and people. One aster can make all the difference in an ocean of blacktop and lawn. In a time of mass extinction and climate change, it behooves us with whatever land we have to not only set a higher example but understand our home places with more urgency and intimacy. 

I’m into stylized urban prairies. What that means is a 60/40 (or even 50/50) forb-to-grass/sedge ratio. A nice, thick grass matrix can provide an underlying sense of order for anyone viewing a wilder space, as do masses and drifts of perennials blooming in succession through the seasons. And let's not forget autumn and winter, perhaps the most ornamental seasons of them all. Brown is a color! 

My favorite plant is the one getting eaten right now by insects and other bugs.

I'm currently writing Prairie Up: An Introduction to Natural Garden Design (2022), a basic guide for weekend warriors and new gardeners to the theories of new naturalism, naturalistic design, and new perennial design, but with a strong focus on ecology alongside aesthetics (something that's lacking in the garden design world). Our plant selections affect not only what we find beautiful but what wildlife finds beautiful, so we should learn as much as possible about each plant and its communities before we put trowel to soil. Prairie Up will be a much more practical guide than my philosophical book A New Garden Ethic.

Monarch Gardens is the nexus for everything I do, including my blog, design portfolio, online classes, and links to my 200+ Houzz articles. My blog, The Deep Middle, concentrates on native plant communities of the tallgrass ecoregions, as well as my desire to re-prairie suburbia. I share images and stories from local wildlife refuges and my own quarter-acre urban lot in Lincoln, Nebraska, which stands in polarizing contrast to the lawns around it. You have to be the change since hope is nothing without action.

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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Benjamin! You can follow Benjamin at The Deep Middle and his Instagram.


Photographs courtesy of Benjamin Vogt.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Christopher Carrie: Blogger, gardener, mountain man

 


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.)


Christopher Carrie


I’m a long-time peasant gardener for the well-to-do. What that means is I have been a working gardener doing design, installation, and primarily maintenance in private gardens for the last 33 years. The first 20 years were spent gardening on the island of Maui. My focus has always been on the plants that make a garden, not the lawn.

Today I live in the middle of nowhere at 4000-ft. elevation in the mountains of western North Carolina. I started a garden blog in 2006 while on Maui and have been blogging ever since. I was part of the planning team for the Asheville Fling in 2012. That is about as far as I’ve gotten with social media. Most people would be appalled by how slow my satellite internet speed is, and there is no cell signal at my house. Besides, I am a gardener, not a garden communicator.

My blog Outside Clyde is mostly a personal photo diary and ponderings on the 3+ acres of wild cultivated gardens deep in the forest that I share with my mother, known as Bulbarella, who lives next door. At home, the longtime maintenance-gardener turns wild.

Stone sculpture creation in late February, "the barren time"
The land here is planted in, added to, and maintained as flowering meadows lapping right up to the trees and shrubs using many of the native plants and wildflowers found in these mountains. That works for the growing season. Coming from Maui I needed more. The barren time is a good five months here. In my own part of the gardens I’ve planted an evergreen under-garden that comes out from hiding in November and takes me into March, when thousands and thousands of spring bulbs rise from the earth to bloom. That is Bulbarella’s doing.

Currently in September, my favorite plants are Angelica gigas and ironweed. I have everlasting fond memories of Cochlospermum vitifolium ‘Florepleno’. It’s a tropical flowering tree with a trunk like a baobab and the flower of a peony.

I’ve had many favorite gardens over the years, but my current favorite is the Inn at Tranquility Farm in Waynesville, NC, one of the newer proper gardens I planted and tend. It is a nice thing to garden with a healthy budget.




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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Christopher! You can follow Christopher at Outside Clyde.


Photographs courtesy of Christopher Carrie.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Meet Our Community: Jennifer Jewell, explorer of gardening "why"

 


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.)


Jennifer Jewell 



I write and host Cultivating Place, a weekly public radio program and podcast. I believe in gardens and gardeners as powerful agents for change, from individual and communal health and well-being to community activism, social justice, and environmental healing. As a lifelong gardener, I’ve found there is plenty of how-to out there but less information about WHY, and how the “why” of our gardens can have greater positive impact in our lives as well as in the world. We have the bad habit of seeing gardening as a sweet, pretty hobby, not necessarily as an economic, cultural, and environmental change-maker. With every person I interview and every word I write, I am striving to illustrate how powerful gardens and gardeners are, and to encourage every gardener out there to embrace, celebrate, and work towards this power ever more intentionally. 

A landscape I love in the Trinity Mountain Range, Northern CA
My small suburban garden in northern California displays my enthusiastic willingness to try anything – and my lack of any clear focus. What it lacks in elegance it makes up for in cottage garden exuberance. I have native trees (oak, cottonwood, redbud) and flowers (salvia, buckwheat, monkey flower, manzanita, ceanothus), wildlife habitats, cutting flowers (roses, gardenias, narcissus, and peonies), vegetable beds, and a LOT of Mediterranean herbs: rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano. I love the entire genus of buckwheat (Eriogonum) because they are diverse, hardy, grow all over the West (like me), and are gorgeous, from tiny ones the size of my little finger to those with stems arching up past my chest. They age beautifully, feeding an array of insects while they do it.

My favorite garden will always be the garden(s) of my mother, a woman and her place that grew me into who I am. When I was little, it was a 1-acre garden at 8,000 feet in Colorado under aged ponderosa pines. Her final garden, on the edge of a tidal marsh in South Carolina, was filled with ferns, camellias, lilies, night-scented moonflowers, and night-blooming cereus under architectural live oaks, with loads of frogs, toads, and marsh birds. 

My first book, The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants, centers on the impact of diverse women working with plants. Its reception, especially by young women around the world, makes me so proud every damn day. My second book, Under Western Skies: Visionary Gardens from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, a collaboration with photographer Caitlin Atkinson that is coming out in April 2021, explores the importance of us as gardeners knowing our place in the world, literally and metaphorically.



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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Jennifer! You can follow Jennifer at Cultivating Place and on Instagram; learn more on her author page at Timber Press.


Photographs courtesy of Jennifer Jewell.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Meet Our Community: Tamara Paulat, blogger and native plant 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.)


Tamara Paulat


My blog Chickadee Gardens is all about our adventure of gardening on two acres outside of Portland, Oregon, with an emphasis on native plants and sustainability. My husband, David Pinson, and I started from scratch 5 years ago on this land and have since created a large dry garden, a shade garden, shrub gardens, and a rather decent-sized veggie patch and orchard. We also raise chickens and honeybees. We want to share our experiences with interested people who can help us along the way and people we can help. It’s a community after all, and growing things is a healing practice. Also, I work for Joy Creek Nursery and have access to a bazillion interesting plants. OK, hundreds.

I’m into native plants and drought-tolerant gardens that can also handle our wet winters. I love sweeps of plants harmonizing with their surroundings and enticing wildlife to visit – like the annual gorging of echinacea seeds by goldfinches, and the sunflowers by chickadees and blue jays. I love seeing plants grow and change in different lighting throughout the seasons, and I find beauty in every season.

Arctostaphylos ‘St. Helena’, my favorite plant, is a beautiful evergreen manzanita with rounded silvery green leaves, pretty flowers, and a beefy trunk with exfoliating bark. It needs no summer water and is native to the West Coast. I live in Saint Helens, so the name fits too. It has a gorgeous presence in the garden year-round. My three are 8 to 10 ft. tall and add the best structure to my dry gardens.

I love the garden of my boss, Maurice, and his partner – 10 acres of incredible vistas on an island in the Columbia River. Formal clipped hedges form the core, and it gradually dissolves into wild bliss and the Multnomah Channel beyond. It’s an example of gardening with nature, reflecting the plant palette of my region. The wildlife they encourage is exceptional, and the blend of plant material (he's a nursery owner after all) is superb. It's a foliage-first garden with many "wow" factors including fabulous stonework using indigenous stone, a fern berm from felled poplar trees, and mown paths through several acres of field grass that encourage a journey and quiet contemplation.


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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Tamara! You can follow Tamara on her blog Chickadee Gardens, on Facebook, and on Instagram.


Photographs courtesy of Tamara Paulat.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Meet Our Community: Mark Domingo & Neil “Gaz” Jones, creators of an alternative eden

 

Mark and Neil

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.)


Mark Domingo & Neil "Gaz" Jones


Exotic plants fill our garden at our 1930s townhouse in Luton, Bedfordshire U.K. We love big leaves, tropical-looking plants, succulents, yuccas, bamboos, and palms, and are always hunting for unusual plants that create a jungle feel. 

Schefflera rhododendrifolia is our favorite plant at the moment. It looks like it shouldn’t grow in our location, but it has been tough, surviving -10 C (14 F) in the infamous U.K. winter of 2010. We grow two forms and love both. 

We love to travel and enjoy visiting public and private gardens on our trips. Two gardens jump to mind as favorites. Tregrehan, a Cornish garden owned by Tom Hudson, is a classic Cornish valley garden that’s full of amazing and unusual plants. The other is Sean Hogan’s old garden in Portland, Oregon. It wasn't a huge garden, but it was packed full of character and felt very enclosed. 

We blog about our garden and our travels at Alternative Eden. You can also find us on Facebook



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


Photographs courtesy of Mark Domingo and Neil Jones.



Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Meet Our Community: Teresa Speight, writer, podcaster, visionary

 


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.)


Teresa (Teri) Speight



Chiswick Garden in London
I write about embracing nature and finding joy in the garden. I live in District Heights, Maryland, and I’m a proud native Washingtonian. I share my unique experiences on my blog, Cottage In the Court, to show others in all walks of life that there is beauty out there, and it is reachable. There’s nothing like seeing a bumblebee party on a vitex, or a mountain mint humming with life from the pollinators dancing amidst the blooms. As an estate gardener - like Beatrix Farrand, except I do not have a rich aunt who can pay for my travels and education - I love to identify the perfect places where a homeowner can see the life in his or her gardens. I believe in xeric gardens and using environmentally friendly practices to maintain beautifully natural garden spaces.

I’m passionate about elevating the voices of the African American community because #wegrowmorethancollards. I am compiling the stories of African American garden clubs in the U.S., although I’m having a difficult time identifying them. But it would be nice to hear the stories before they are gone forever. I also have a podcast, where I introduce people we should know in horticulture. There are so many people I want to meet!

Dahlias at the Tuileries in Paris
I love to share seeds, seedlings, and plants in my community. As a former Founding Farmer of a CSA, I believe in empowering people to garden, even if you don’t have tools, seeds, or plants. By creating an online conversation with new and seasoned gardeners in my community, we have shared hints, tips, and plants. It makes me smile when those who feel they can't do something realize they actually can!

I grew up loving hydrangeas, and even when visiting my extended family down South, hydrangeas were part of my familiar. Peony is my favorite though because it’s only in the garden for a brief time. Embracing the bloom is part of why I love them. The scent, the ruffles - it all says "Oh So Girly" to me. I am a girl who loves to play in the dirt in my pearls, because why not?

I travel anywhere I can go on a shoestring to see diverse landscapes around the world. My favorite garden is the Tuileries in Paris. The diversity of plant material is amazing. To see people read and play chess there, or simply watch children feeding the pigeons, it centers me and makes me feel at home. It’s a garden that is alive in every sense of the word.


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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Teri! You can follow Teri at Cottage In the Court, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

Photographs courtesy of Teresa Speight.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Meet Our Community: Johanna Silver, author

 

Photo credit: Rachel Weill

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.)

Johanna Silver


I write about gardening. I was in the garden department for 10 years at Sunset Magazine, beginning in the soil of the editorial test garden and culminating as the head of the department (though a friend told me it doesn’t count as the head when it’s a department of one, but anyway…), and I’ve written two books. I love telling people’s stories of how and why they garden. At this point, those stories move me far more than any plant obsession, design-heavy story, or how-to. Plant people are the quirkiest, and I love them. As I’ve fallen into cannabis gardening, the stories are unparalleled. I’m also really into farming. Anything related to small-scale farming 
 peonies, tea, cannabis  whatever. 

My first book was The Bold Dry Garden, about The Ruth Bancroft Garden. My second book, Growing Weed in the Garden, came out March 24, right when the world shut down. It’s a real gardener’s look at growing cannabis. I’m not a stoner. Please don’t be shy to check it out! I’m making videos for Leafly about how to grow cannabis in the garden. 

Let’s just say my own yard in Berkeley, CA, is not magazine-ready. I rent, so there’s a constant tension around how much I want to pour into this space. I kill things. I stand and stare a lot of the time. I like some things I’ve done and am still trying to figure out half the yard. I love growing cut flowers the most. Since Covid, I’ve started filming my toddler son and me in the garden and posting videos on Instagram. It’s been my biggest creative outlet during this time, and though I have mixed feelings about showing off so much of my kid on social media, he might actually be the smartest, funniest child ever, so the world deserves to see him. I was raised with zero gardening influence, and it’s utterly fulfilling to think I’m giving him some exposure to cultivation. 

I’m a sucker for an angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia). The smell in the evening gets me every time. And I know I’m far from alone in this opinion, but I’m still not over the High Line in New York City. I enjoy watching its evolution from season to season and how it has matured through the years. The interplay between hardscape and softscape is among the most inspired I’ve ever seen. 


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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Johanna! You can follow Johanna on her website and on Instagram.

Photographs courtesy of Johanna Silver, except as noted.

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.