Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Tell Me More About Madison...


The endangered rusty patched bumblebee

When traveling to a Garden Bloggers Fling, it’s always fun to learn a little more about the destination before visiting. Here are a few questions and our best attempts at answers to help you plan for your trip next summer.

What will the weather be like in late June?

If you’ve visited Chicago in the summer, you’ll have an idea. While weather is unpredictable always in the upper Midwest, summertime tends to be our most stable season. We may have thunderstorms, but they usually hit in the evening, as the day’s heat and energy draw down.

Our days may be quite comfortable, although late June can be hot and humid in Madison. Some general ranges: highs in the 70s to mid-80s F (23-30 C); nights in the 60s to 70s F (16-23 C). Days are long, with sunrises at 5:20 a.m., and sunsets at 8:40 p.m. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during our busy days.

Richard Hurd, via Wikimedia Commons
Can you describe the Madison vibe?


Madison has been described as “progressive,” “educated,” “cosmopolitan,” and “a vibrant cultural hub of art, music, food, and beer.” Often referred to as “Mad City,” its population of about 270,000 (metro area surpasses 600,000) has an average age under 30. It's the fastest-growing city in the state. Approximately 60% of residents have a degree, and University of Wisconsin-Madison students and faculty make up nearly one-third of the population.


Though the summer student population is lower, you’ll find lots of pedestrians and bikers in the city and the surrounding communities. This is also because of a focus on health and wellness, and the more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails in and around the city.

Which plants will be blooming and/or peaking while we’re there?

Name a common annual plant, and it likely will be on display at the time of the Madison Fling. Our growing season is in full swing starting in early May after the last frost, and gardeners are enthusiastic after a long, cold winter.


The list of perennials you’ll see is long, too. Basically any plant—including water-lovers and succulents, alike—that can survive a USDA gardening zone 5a winter is fair game. And many gardeners “push” the zones in protected areas and with plants that spend winters indoors. Native perennials likely to be blooming include wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), compass plant (Silphium laciniatum), and various milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), among many others.

What types of gardens will we see?

Madison sits at the edge of several unique ecological regions, so the plants we can grow here are somewhat diverse. Some of the gardens we’ll see will tend toward prairie plantings, while others will be woodlands with extensive water features. The soil here is generally very good, particularly further out from the city. Dane County has some of the highest-quality, silt-loam soil in the country.

Who were the indigenous people in the area?

The history of the Ho-Chunk people is part of the fabric of the Madison area. They continue to form an important framework within the area’s culture, land formations, and economy. You may be familiar with effigy mounds, or Native American burial mounds in the shapes of various animals. They are found only in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota. Many can still be found in the county, including at the UW-Madison Arboretum.

The Ho-Chunk people also support the area’s economy in many ways, including through tourism encouraged by their stories, businesses, and Ho-Chunk Gaming.

What rare plants are native in the Madison area?


Because of the loss of prairies and oak savannas to agriculture throughout the Midwest, plants that are native to those areas have become more rare over time. Some of these are included in Wisconsin’s list of rare plants. A few still common here in the Madison area include blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.), rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium), and 
several species of wild indigo (Baptisia spp.).

Which local foods should we try?

If you’re lactose-intolerant, we’re sorry. Wisconsin is the dairy state, and we produce some of the best cheeses in the world, as witnessed by regular awards at the biennial World Championship Cheese Contest. Other foods we’re known for include bratwurst, kringles, Cornish pasties, and cream puffs. If you like beer, you’ll also find some excellent brews here.

sandhill crane
Are there rare or unusual animals we might see?


While Wisconsin is the badger state, and that mammal is here, we’re unlikely to see badgers because they’re elusive and active at night. A few unique animals we’re likely to see include sandhill cranes (very common here in the summer), dragonflies and damselflies, and beavers (we might see their lodges). If we’re lucky, we might catch a glance of the rare, endangered rusty patched bumblebee, which is active in June at the UW-Madison Arboretum.

These are just a few unique things you’ll likely experience at the Madison Fling. Any other questions? We’ll try to answer them, or find folks who can. Hope to see you in Madison in June 2022!


Monday, August 2, 2021

Links to Learn More About the Madison Fling

 

The Dane County Farmers Market: a highlight of summer in Madison,
and sure to be a highlight of the 2022 Fling on Saturday morning, June 25, 2022.


The Madison team is excited to host you next summer, June 23-26!

If, at any point, you have questions about the Madison Fling, you can click on the “2022 Madison” tab at the top of this website, or visit this link: Madison Fling.

While some of our private gardens are shifting a bit, you can learn about most of them by visiting these links: Friday Private Gardens, Saturday Private Gardens, Sunday Private Gardens.

During the next months leading up to the Fling, stay up-to-date and watch for more posts about Madison and surroundings by following our Fling Facebook page and our posts here. Check our posts in the “Blog Archive” (to the right; below) from September 2019 through February 2020, before COVID hit. We’ll be adding so much more in the months ahead!

And if, at any time, you have any questions, contact us at madisongbfling@gmail.com. Can’t wait to see you all in Madison next summer!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Meet Our Community: Angie Baer, rose lover and happy gardener

 


Let's get to know each other!


Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. 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.)


Angie Baer


My name is Maria, but everyone calls me Angie. I’m originally from Puerto Rico but now call Minnesota my home. I love sharing the ups and downs of gardening, especially lessons learned from a rookie perspective, on my blog, The Happy Gardener. When I started gardening and reading garden blogs, some of the information seemed complicated and overwhelming. So I decided to learn from trial and error. A lot of what I share on my blog is from that perspective. But now that I have more knowledge I’ve updated some of my posts to reflect that.

I am obsessed with English roses. I love watching the buds open into the most gorgeous blooms. But here in zone 4 I have to be imaginative in order to overwinter them. In my garden, roses are my spoiled babies. I have a love/hate relationship with dahlias. When I lived in North Carolina, they were easy to grow. But in Minnesota it’s a completely different game. For the past 3 years I’ve had the worst luck with them! First they got hit with the dahlia mosaic virus. The next year constant rain rotted the tubers. Last year burrowers took hold of them. It can be heartbreaking, but I love a challenge.

I use herbs as companion plants to deter pests. But on a more personal level, growing herbs reminds me of summers in Alsace-Lorraine in France. When I was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany, I visited often because it was so close. I remember pots of herbs everywhere and at the farmers’ market. The scent of herbs brings back those memories.

Lavender is one of my favorite plants. I associate its scent with my mom, who wears lavender perfume. I’ve been told the 'Munstead' variety, while officially hardy only to zone 5, does well here in zone 4, and I’m growing it this year. Fingers crossed.

The pandemic turned me into the quintessential crazy plant lady. I love the variety of houseplants available today, and the challenge of keeping them healthy. And any garden with a palm house immediately gets a piece of my heart. I love the Victorian quality of conservatories. The care that goes into growing tropical species in those environments always impresses me.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The American Rose Society, in partnership with the Tomb of the Unknown Society, is encouraging members to grow a Never Forget Garden to commemorate the occasion. I’m partnering with my hometown community center to create a rose garden there, selecting cold-hardy white roses (the official flower of the Centennial of the Unknown Soldier) like ‘Long John Silver’ and ‘Polar Express’ and others with theme-appropriate names, like 'Hope for Humanity' and 'Bordeaux'.

I am also starting to create gardening content in Spanish. That is my first language, and I have not found many Spanish-language gardening blogs for my area, so that is potentially a project for later this year.


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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Angie! Visit Angie at The Happy Gardener and follow her on Instagram and Vimeo.

Photographs courtesy of Angie Baer.

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Madison Fling: Third Time's the Charm


The Isthmus: Downtown Madison, surrounded by lakes.
Photo courtesy the Madison Concourse Hotel

Hey All! We're moving forward with plans for the Fling in Madison, Wisconsin, Thursday, June 23 – Sunday, June 26, 2022. The good news is, all the venues have agreed to recommit with us! We hope you’re all healthy and ready for a fun gathering with garden writers and bloggers.

(Please note that any links here to previous posts about our venues will be correct, except for the dates, which are moved to 6/23 - 6/26, 2022.)

 

Here's the schedule overview, which is still subject to change:

 

Thursday, June 23:


On Thursday, expect to arrive early if you want to scout out the town before the events begin. Our headquarters hotel is The Madison Concourse Hotel. Registration is scheduled for 4:30-5:30 p.m., with a special gathering opener event at the Madison Children’s Museum, starting at 6 p.m.



The gravel gardens at Epic Systems.
Friday, June 24:

Friday events begin early, as we plan to load buses promptly at 8-8:15 a.m. We’ll first head to private gardens in the Middleton and Fitchburg communities. Our midday events and lunch will occur at the UW-Madison Arboretum, which was recently designated a National Historic Landmark, and includes the world’s oldest restored prairie.

 

The afternoon includes more visits to private gardens in Middleton and Fitchburg, followed by a visit to Epic Systems’ gardens late in the day. Epic employs more than 10,000 people, and its campus covers 1,100 acres. Horticulturist Jeff Epping, who is also director of horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, will lead our tour at Epic.




Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.


Saturday, June 25:


We’re planning a slightly more casual beginning on Saturday. Attendees are encouraged to check out the Dane County Farmers’ Market on the Capitol Square, just a short walk from our official hotel, the Madison Concourse. The market opens at 6 a.m., and we’ll load buses for the day from 9:30-9:45 a.m.

 

Next, we’ll head to the Goodman Community Center for brunch and a view of the center’s community gardens, followed by a self-guided visit to the renowned Olbrich Botanical Gardens, just a short walk or bus ride away. Olbrich includes 16 acres of display gardens, an indoor tropical conservatory, a Thai pavilion and garden, and a new learning center.

 

We’ll tour private Madison gardens after our Olbrich visit, followed by our Fling banquet and auction.









Boxwood and tuteur display
at Rotary Botanical Gardens.
Sunday, June 26:

Our final day of the Fling will be as action-packed as the others, starting with bus-loading at 8 a.m. We’ll visit private gardens in and near Madison, followed by a visit to a local greenhouse. Then, we’ll be back on the buses for a 45-minute drive to Rotary Botanical Gardens, in Janesville, south of Madison.

Rotary Botanical Gardens covers 20 acres and boasts 26 different garden styles and 4,000 varieties of plants. We’ll eat lunch there, and then head back north for more private garden visits in the small city of Stoughton.

 

We’ll end our day, and the Fling at Allen Centennial Garden on the UW-Madison campus. Allen is a quaint, 90,000-square-foot site, featuring mainly ornamental perennials, along with annuals and woody plants. You don’t want to miss this visit because there will be a special surprise at the end!

 

That’s the summary! Watch for more details in the weeks and months ahead!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Meet Our Community: Amy Fedele, online garden designer and allium fan

 


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 or so 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.)


Amy Fedele



My garden
I’m an animal lover, lifelong painter, and professional graphic designer, and I love to garden and design landscapes. When I first started designing my own garden, I struggled a lot. I found it difficult to work in a 3D space. Plants were constantly growing and changing, flowers were going in and out of bloom, and everything had to look good from a million different angles. And I couldn't find many online resources applicable to smaller home landscapes.

Over time I realized that all the tricks I use in my graphic design work could also be used in my garden! So I created a garden design framework that combines gardening with color theory and design techniques in a way that's easy for homeowners to understand and apply. I teach my framework in an online course on my website, Pretty Purple Door, that's tailored towards homeowners looking to design a unique and manageable landscape with 4-season interest. The course makes gardening so much more fun than just plopping random plants in the ground and hoping for the best.

Alliums
I live and garden in northeastern Pennsylvania. My blog began as documentation of my journey into homeownership. The first year was filled with lots of DIY projects and fixing up the house. But soon my interest shifted towards landscaping, and I started writing about what I was learning while designing my garden beds.

My favorite flowers are alliums for the structure and presence they create in a garden. Their whimsical shape reminds me of Dr. Seuss books I loved as a child. My favorite garden to visit is Chanticleer for its design, plant diversity, and ever-changing presence. I want to visit all of the gardens in the Philadelphia area. Currently there are 36 gardens on my list!

The best part of sharing my own gardening experience online is the feedback from my students and readers. I get really excited when I hear that I've played even a small part in helping someone carry out their creative vision and make their dream garden. I want others to become just as addicted to gardening as I am. I don't think this world can ever have enough gardeners!

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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Amy! Visit Amy at Pretty Purple Door, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Photographs courtesy of Amy Fedele.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Meet Our Community: Jean McWeeney, container and pollinator 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 or so 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.)


Jean McWeeney



My former garden in Ruston, LA
My gardening chops were honed in the South, where I’ve been gardening my whole adult life, first in Austin, then north Louisiana, and now Houston.

When I first heard about garden blogs, I thought it would be a great way to keep a journal about my own garden and learn from others. So I started Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog, naming it after the gardening cycle. For 10 years I blogged about my garden in north Louisiana and my travels, which usually included a plant-y thing or two. In 2019 my husband and I moved to Houston and a rented house, and I’m now gardening exclusively in containers. What a switch! I’ve also moved over to Instagram because of the ease of posting photos there. I do miss musing on lengthier topics though.

My patio garden in Houston
Even though I’m now gardening in containers on my patio, I still try to create a sense of peace and tranquility. I also love wildlife, so there are lots of pollinator-friendly plants. A good day is watering the pots and topping up the fountain, maybe potting up a plant, and sitting on the patio watching the bees, butterflies, wasps, and birds. Besides pollinator plants I grow succulents, herbs, peppers, orchids, water plants, and the odd tree and rose.

I love just about all types of gardens, and through attending the Garden Bloggers Fling over the years I’ve seen some fabulous ones, both public and private. In fact, I have to put in a plug for attending the Fling. The annual tours have opened my eyes to the rich variety of gardens in North America and the passion of gardeners everywhere, and they’ve introduced me to some wonderful people I now call friends.


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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Jean! Visit Jean at Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog, and follow her on Instagram.

Photographs courtesy of Jean McWeeney.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Meet Our Community: Chris Link, co-founder of Plant Addicts

 

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.)


Chris Link




I started Plant Addicts 3 years ago with my business partner, Richard, whom I’ve known since elementary school. We sell plants online in the Lower 48 states and provide plant care information. Our goal is to help new gardeners be as successful as possible. That allows them to enjoy gardening more and makes happier customers for us. It also gives us brand recognition with people who may not be in the market for a plant at the moment, but who will hopefully think of us the next time they are looking for a plant.

I live in Valley, Nebraska, near Omaha. The more I learn and write about gardening, the more I love it. I started gardening 6 years ago. Hydrangea is my favorite plant, and I also like sedum, a super-underrated plant in my opinion. Sedums are evergreen, great for butterflies, and soooooo easy to care for! Lately I'm getting into growing food and herbs. However, growing rosemary indoors has been my nemesis.

Garden Walk Buffalo in New York is my favorite tour because you get to visit so many gardens. It’s truly a community event. Even the yards that aren’t on the official tour are beautiful, and the entire city makes an effort to grow beautiful yards and gardens. I haven't seen any other place that takes so much collective pride in their yards.

When we launched Plant Addicts -- essentially from our couches -- Richard and I were still working at full-time jobs. Last fall we took a leap of faith and now focus on our business full-time. Somehow we’re even busier than before! A major project we’re working on with our website is providing info for people who have never gardened before, explaining the differences between each plant type and how to pick out plants that are perfect for their spot. We hope to encourage more people to start gardening.

Chris (left) with his family, Holly, Lydia & Delilah, and Richard (right) with his family, Stephanie & Krew


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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Chris! Visit Plant Addicts and its gardening blog, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram

Photographs courtesy of Chris Link.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Meet Our Community: Lisa Wagner, garden educator and blogger

 


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.)


Lisa Wagner



Raised-bed vegetables in mid-May
My gardening passions are solidly divided between naturalistic gardening with native plants (providing habitat for wildlife) and vegetable gardening. Growing up, I took a keen interest in my grandma’s garden in Northern California, which was full of vegetables and fruits, much of which she canned. My own first gardening enthusiasms were for edibles too, including fruit trees and berries. At the time, I was founding director of a small botanical garden on an old homestead willed to the Georgia college where I taught. There I focused on adding native plants, creating pollinator-friendly borders, and overseeing a children’s vegetable garden program. Later, my husband and I moved to a wonderful old house in upstate South Carolina surrounded by a LOT of lawn. Over 20 years we transformed most of that lawn into a native woodland garden, native perennial beds, a meadow, naturalistic shrub borders, and a vegetable garden.

I have a special fondness for early-flowering native wildflowers like bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), hepatica, and trout lily (Erythronium americanum). When bloodroot flowers in late March, it’s a wonderful sight.

I’m a plant ecologist by background but spent most of my career connecting people to plants and nature as a garden educator. I continue to teach and do presentations as a volunteer in Asheville, North Carolina, where we live part time. We also have a house in Le Bic, Quebec.

Two of my favorite gardens are Great Dixter in southern England and Jardins de M├ętis/Reford Gardens in eastern Quebec. Both are remarkably individualistic creations by passionate horticulturists and continue to be beautifully managed as public gardens while still exuding the creativity and passion of the original gardeners.

Pocket meadow in late August
I started my blog Natural Gardening in 2007 to reflect on what I had been doing, observing, and enjoying in the garden. I loved writing posts and sharing photos, and it became an almost daily practice. Three of my gardens are now documented: our former S.C. garden, our garden in Asheville, and our native plant-oriented garden in Quebec. Blogging connects me with the natural world by allowing me to revisit past seasons and track things like the arrival of the first hummingbird in spring or flowering times of native wildflowers or when I planted sugar snap peas. I appreciate having a visual record of how the gardens have changed over time. But equally important, regular writing has honed my observation skills, clarified my writing, and encouraged me to expand creatively in other ways, especially by returning to art. Several years ago I started a second blog, Places of the Spirit, as part of a year-long daily writing challenge. I continue to write there about a wider range of topics, including foodways, culture, nature, and sense of place.

I’m currently working on a book about the improbable story of how two Americans, who spoke little French at the time, bought a historic cottage in Quebec surrounded by ornamental gardens and rustic outbuildings. It includes our experiences over the two summers and winters we’ve spent there. I’m hopeful we can return to Quebec this summer after a year away.

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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Lisa! You can follow Lisa on her blogs, Natural Gardening and Places of the Spirit.

Photographs courtesy of Lisa Wagner.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Meet Our Community: Angie Rose, food grower and “crazy chicken lady”

 


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.)



Angie Rose



In my early twenties I discovered the wonder of small-town farmers’ markets here in the northern suburbs of Boston. I was fascinated to taste fruits and vegetables I had never seen at my grocery store, like cucamelons and ground cherries. Inspired, I decided to try growing in my own yard. While assessing my soil, however, I ran into a giant problem - rocks. So with my newfound internet knowledge of healthier, amended soil, I made my first raised bed. That’s how it all began!

One of my early experiments was trying cold-weather growing in a raised bed. I created an inexpensive hoop house and planted a bunch of cold-hardy crops to see what worked and what didn’t. More grew than I had anticipated, and I enjoyed fresh greens even in the coldest months. My favorite parts of gardening are experimenting and sharing with others. It brings me great pleasure to be able to grow fresh, organic food that I can share with friends, family, and the farm animals I care for. As a side note, I’m definitely classified as a crazy chicken lady!

One of the first plants I grew from seed was a morning glory. It amazed me how tall that little seed grew in just a tiny cup of dirt sitting on my windowsill. Ever since, I’ve been drawn to vining plants: honeysuckle, climbing roses, sweet peas, clematis, and hops. I love watching the stems grow tall, reaching for the sun, and seeing the butterflies and hummingbirds they attract to my yard.

Joining social media opened my eyes to different gardening concepts. The online community was so encouraging, and learning from others helped build my confidence as a novice gardener. I created my blog, Angie The Freckled Rose, to share my triumphs and failures with others who are passionate about gardening.

I’ve visited many beautiful gardens on my travels, but my absolute favorite is at Hillwood Estate in Washington, D.C. I’m especially drawn to its variety of naturalistic water features. Those gardens are so elegant!

Recently I’ve joined the houseplant craze. I love propagating cuttings from pothos, philodendron, and tradescantia. I’m also having fun designing small terrariums and reading up on aquascaping art like wabi-kusa. I have a freshwater aquarium filled with fish, snails, and plants, and I find it relaxing to work on my underwater garden.

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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Angie! You can follow Angie on her blog, Angie The Freckled Roseand on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Photographs courtesy of Angie Rose.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Meet Our Community: Maya Bartolf, secret-garden seeker and blogger at Flowers and Grapes

 


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.)


Maya Bartolf



"Honey Bee," one of my favorite arrangements for its rustic farm vibe

I live in San Rafael, California, gateway to the wine country of Northern California. Like so many during the Covid-19 lockdown, I’ve experienced the loss of loved ones, loss of a job (as an education tech consultant), and the absence of some of the simple joys of daily life I took for granted. My blog, Flowers and Grapes, is a creative endeavor that’s reconnected me to my garden and flower communities while living in isolation with my husband as new empty-nesters.

Each day I look for poetry to feed my soul. I’ve begun to see it everywhere in the garden, trees, and surrounding hills. I’ve also found it in family, friendships, art, books, movies, and culture. Beauty is everywhere. Seeing the world through nature and culture nourishes my creativity and hope.

I love abundant, romantic, and whimsical secret gardens. The unexpected and a sense of time, theater, and intimacy are hallmarks of gardens that I seek out in my travels – like the small, poetic garden I visited at the back of the Fortuny factory showroom in Venice, with ivy-covered walls, grapes, roses, and even a pool.

My garden in the fall
In my first career I was an art historian and curator, and that background still inspires me as a self-taught gardener. In a second career as a designer, I launched Today’s Bouquet, a boutique floral design business using heirloom flowers from my garden. Unfortunately I had to pivot away from this dreamy career because of the challenges of ongoing drought as well as family demands.

My garden is a small suburban cottage garden at the edge of the Lucas Valley Watershed. I garden densely because of limited space and love an abundance of colorful flowers. However I’m transitioning to the realities of my summer-dry climate, where rain comes mainly in winter and temperatures can exceed 100 F in summer. Inspired by Saxon Holt and his important new book, Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates, I’m integrating more climate-appropriate plants into my garden.

With this transition, I’m discovering the beauty of native and drought-tolerant plants and plan to write more about sustainable gardening. I also enjoy connecting with the garden blogging community and learning from other gardeners and flower fanatics. I dream of a Garden Bloggers Fling in the California wine country. Wine, gardens, and the extraordinary fellowship of our blogging community - perfect pairings!

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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Maya! You can follow Maya on her blog, Flowers and Grapesand on Instagram and Facebook.

Photographs courtesy of Maya Bartolf.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Meet Our Community: Dee Nash, writer, podcaster, and red dirt rambler

 


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.)


Dee Nash



My front border (ignore the potting soil)
I started out in roses and later daylilies. After rose rosette disease had its way with most of my roses, I replaced the dead ones with native shrubs because they help pollinators. Native shrubs and perennials also shrug off some of our weird Oklahoma weather. As I’ve gotten older, these plants make it easier for me to garden. They require less care than roses, but I still love roses too. In fact I ordered several David Austin roses this spring to use as structural plants. I buy only the easy-care, disease-resistant roses like ‘Desdemona’, which is one of the most beautiful shrubs I’ve seen.

Gardening is a solitary project, and I’m home by myself most of the time. I started reading blogs, including May Dreams Gardens and Digging, and enjoyed interacting with other gardeners who loved gardening as much as I did. Soon I was sharing my garden online too, in part because none of my family or friends was as passionate about growing things as I was.

Tartarian aster
I started Red Dirt Ramblings to help people garden in Oklahoma, which has a changeable and difficult prairie climate. I was already writing for magazines, but the blog let me share my own trials and tribulations in growing a rural garden that’s both wooded and sunny. I garden on 7.5 acres, with about 1.5 acres in cultivation, just south of Guthrie.

Asters and flowers formerly known as asters are favorites of mine. I like their late-late show, blooming in fall, and how they help pollinators get ready for winter. They’re easy to grow and look charming as they wind around other plants in the fall garden. I still enjoy daylilies too and have over 200. I buy only a couple new ones each year now. There’s only so much room. I also grow warm-weather veggies like tomatoes, chile peppers, and eggplant. There’s nothing like homegrown food. And how could I not grow flowers for cutting? I guess I’m a generalist gardener.

Goldenrod and liatris
Sissinghurst is my favorite garden because it’s so accessible and reflects Vita Sackville-West’s personality and choices, especially now that the head gardener is going back to Vita’s notes. I also love that it has a meadow. I recently planted a meadow of my own in my upper pasture. This will be its 2nd year. I’m thrilled to see how it does.

Three years ago I became a beekeeper, and it’s been a huge learning curve. I love my little ladies though. I also co-host a podcast with Carol J. Michel called The Gardenangelists.


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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Dee! You can follow Dee on her blog, Red Dirt Ramblings; on her website, Dee Nash; and on Instagram and Facebook. Listen to her podcast at The Gardenangelists.

Photographs courtesy of Dee Nash.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Meet Our Community: Laurin Lindsey and Shawn Michael, Houston designers and yaupon fans

 


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.)


Laurin Lindsey & Shawn Michael


Our home garden
We’re a husband-and-wife team who own a small landscape design/installation company in Houston called Ravenscourt, which is named after a London park and Tube station near where Laurin lived during a year abroad.

We met 13 years ago and are going into our 12th spring as business partners. We work on city residential gardens and challenge ourselves with creating gardens that invite you in, offer seasonal interest, and support wildlife. This winter provided a new adventure, as we are learning what can survive a sustained freeze and a low temperature of 11 F – in Houston! Our own garden is a pollinator/collector’s/trial garden - a hot mess that’s actually pretty if you like plants.

Our favorite plant is yaupon holly, in all its forms, because it’s bulletproof and beautiful and wildlife use it for nesting and food. Laurin’s favorite garden is RHS Garden Wisley, in Surrey outside of London, which she visited 3 times a year over a 10-year period, even after she moved back to the U.S. Shawn’s favorite “garden” is Muir Woods National Monument for its trees and feeling of tranquility. It is a place of deep communion for him. 

One of our design installations
We mostly post on Facebook and Instagram because it’s quick. But on our blog, Ravenscourt Gardens, we share personal tours and plants that do well in Houston, including plants you don’t see everywhere and those that support wildlife. On our business website we share our work and gardening info. We also share project photos on Houzz.

We believe gardening has something to offer everyone. And no matter our differences, gardening is a bridge that connects us all.

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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Laurin and Shawn! You can follow them on their blog, Ravenscourt Gardens; their website Ravenscourt Landscaping & Design; Houzz; Laurin's Instagram and Ravenscourt's InstagramPinterest; and their Facebook business page and home page

Photographs courtesy of Laurin Lindsey and Shawn Michael.