Cultivating a Culture of Gardening™

Friday, May 25, 2012

School's Out!! But the Fun Had Already Begun

So what would you do if you came home from a long day's work and your house is filled with teenagers exuberant that their last exam was over, all them ravenous because they had been playing hard for last six hours in the hot Tennessee sun,  and the last thing you've thought about all day is what you would have for dinner?

Well, the first thing you do is sigh with relief that this group of great kids doesn't even notice that the floors haven't been mopped in a while and that there were dishes that hadn't been washed and at least 3 days of unwashed laundry piled up. Then you say, "Yes, I'd be ever so happy for you to use my brand new Le Creuset braiser to cook enough food to feed the hungry horde - as long as you cook." (this braiser is teenager-proof). Then I just sit back with my laptop, pretend to be distracted typing, and soak in the sounds of youthful exuberance.

And while these 17-19 year olds innocently perceive me as the quiet, nerdy mom who plugs away on the computer writing my latest international espionage bodice-ripping plant mystery historical novel, they have no idea of the crazy fun time I had last week-end on my Fling.
So let me introduce you to a few of MY garden blogger friends from last week and give you chance to check out the their blogs. Cause I really only have a few minutes before I need to go start pulling out dessert.

Helen Battersby and Cindy (My Corner of Katy)

Cindy (My Corner of Katy), Jean (Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog), Gloria (The Garden Bench)

My fun roommate for the Fling - Tink (as in -erbell) tee-hee

Robin and I really can't tell who that is under that big hat but I'm sure we ended up best of friends.

Jean and Cindy on the ROOF of Wamboldtopia

We weren't friends but this black snake seemed to not mind all of us wondering around him at the North Carolina Arboretum

Gloria with her great finds at BB Barnes Nursery

MaryAnn (Gardens of the Wild Wild West) - a lady who stands out in the garden world.

Peter and Jasmine Gentling

Jim (Art of Gardening) and Melissa (Houston Garden Girl)

Christopher (Outside Clyde)

Our bus driver. He may look like an Appalachian moonshiner but he knew more fun facts about this neck of the woods than  anyone we heard.

Gloria, Jean, Helen, Barbara (Mr. McGregor's Daughter)

Jean, Helen (Garden With Confidence), the other Cindy (I can't find your blog - somebody help me here)

Annaliese (Cobrahead) and Andrea (Growwhereyouareplanted)

Carolyn (Sweet Home and Garden Carolina)  and Pam (Diggin')

Carol (May Dreams Gardens) and friends

Pam, Sarah (the other half of Toronto Gardens), Sarah's son, Diana (Sharing Nature's Garden)

Ol' Grumpy himself (The Grumpy Gardener)

Helen, Barbara, and the other Cyndy

And this is not Nan Chase (Eat Your Yard), but it is in her garden - which was, by the way, an inspiration.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Garden Blogger's Fling

To those that know me well, you know that I am rule follower, I love my family and am devoted to them, and I try to adhere to what some would say are "high moral standards."  So you can imagine my family's dismay when I announced that I was leaving for a FLING.
That was three years ago when I had my first fling.
It was in Buffalo.
This past week-end my husband casually asked me where I was going to this time and when I said, "Asheville," he said, "oh, yeah. Your fling." And he went back to typing on his laptop.
It seems my flings are no threat to him. Might be the fact that these flings are yearly gatherings of garden bloggers who just want to see great gardens and gab about the intricacies of social media and garden writing and photography and sometimes even venture on to topics like food, travel, or (SHHHH) monsanto.
 But what are the paths that would lead me to a fling?

The pathway to Bulberella

The gardens of Christopher C...
 Bonnie Brae and Ku’ulei ‘Aina

Haywood Community College

The Peter and Jasmin Gentling Garden
12 Bones/Curve Studio

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Show pots a little love

Show pots a little love
Chicago Tribune book review

Monday, May 14, 2012

Taking Garden Art to the Next Level

This past summer I had the privilege of meeting the delightful author of 'Handmade Garden Projects' - Lorene Edwards Forkner - and was able to see her gardens first-hand, including many of the projects in her book.  What impressed me about Lorene was her genuine passion for creativity and an almost a child-like enjoyment of what I grew-up calling "crafts".  Lorene makes re-purposing an attainable and practical goal for your garden. 

I spoke with Lorene about her book and absolutely loved her comments:
 "If I could offer anyone advice about taking on their own garden projects – whether one of the ones found in the book or something of their own creation – It’s to get back in touch with their childhood sense of play and interacting with the outdoor environment. Experiment, test limits, and even fail a bit.  The magical part is always in the process and sometimes we end up with something way better than anything we set out to create.
I would say the outdoor terrarium project was an example of that for me.  So much has been written about indoor terrariums but we all know what happens to plants under glass in the sun!  I was totally experimenting with an object I had around the house (the large light fixture) and pushing the limits.  The resulting completely enclosed, self-sustaining composition of plants has been a delight.  What a treat it’s been to have this SHADY nook and garden feature in the garden that looks lush and detailed yet asks absolutely nothing of me on a regular basis. Now in its third summer, I’ve had to change out the annuals but the perennials have held up fine through a couple of challenging winters.
The other advice I might pass along is when something doesn’t work – MOVE ON!  Trust me – there were plenty of projects I thought would be brilliant that were… well, let’s just say they were NOT brilliant!  My basement – always a repository for stray bits and collectibles is also where all my not-yet-finessed ideas languish!  The projects that did NOT make the book live there.
Live and learn; garden, play and relax.  When I was a kid – my parents were always telling me to “go outside and play; it’s a nice day!”  I’ve been there ever since."

From the Timber press website:

Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More

By Lorene Edwards Forkner
You can transform your garden into a handmade, personality-infused oasis. Author Lorene Edwards Forkner — part eco-friendly non-traditionalist, part crafty creative — will show you how.
Projects run the gamut from eye-catching structures, like a pergola made from plumbing pipes, to imaginative details, like a tree-hung chandelier for nighttime ambiance. You'll also find helpful plant guides to accompany projects: delectable herbs to fill a stacking container tower, stellar succulents for a vertical gutter garden, glorious flowering vines to climb a bamboo obelisk, and so much more.
Ready to get started? All you need are refreshingly simple, inexpensive materials — hardware store basics, salvaged goods, repurposed castoffs from cluttered basements — along with a little do-it-yourself spirit. With clear instructions and inspiring variations on every theme, this book is easy to follow and easy to love. Your journey to a made-from-scratch outdoor space starts here.

This outdoor terrarium made from an old giant light has been growing for almost 3 years.

I  have thoroghly enjoyed reading through this book, and value the careful instructions that are given to accomplish the tasks. Learn more about Lorene's book at Timber Press and check out what others are saying about this creative book from these well-respected garden writers:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sometimes Being a Plant Nerd Has Its Benefits

Garden Home Retreat at Moss Mountain
These last twelve months have held monumental moments- #2 son marries his high school sweetheart, #3 son graduates from high school, #1 son and his wife bring a new granddaughter into the world, #4 son takes the acting world by storm with his scene-stealing lines as Jigger in Carousel, I had my first book published, I got to speak at the Garden Writers Symposium and at the highly acclaimed Northwest Flower and Garden Show, AND I got invited to P.Allen Smith's Garden2Blog Event this past May 1 and 2!
It has taken me at least 2 weeks to process all the events of this last week at Garden2Blog so walk with me for a few minutes in my garden of memories and glimpse a few of the highlights of this unique event.

I spied a quiet garden spot as I rounded the corner of Marlsgate, home of David Garner and family.

Marlsgate looking out over Bearskin Lake

Water features and statues at Marlsgate transported me from Little Rock, Arkansas to a European formal garden.

Pathway to a secret garden - is this calling your name?

Seven Sisters Rose at Marlsgate

Fun new and old friends - Helen Yoest, Bren Haas, Monica Milla, SHIRLEY! Bovshow (my new cohort in container design - even if we have to steal a few cuttings from P. Allen Smith's garden), and my other new friend who's name now escapes me (somebody help me out here).

The pathways around the original garden home held delightful garden rooms, each with a charm and welcome all their own.
One of the highlights of the trip was meeting my longtime superstar garden author Lois Chaplin, Author of

The Southern Gardener's Book of Lists: The Best Plants for All Your Needs, Wants, and Whims

At Allen's Garden Home Retreat we got to meet the chickens up close and personal - in their formal room.

Introducing the rose garden

So excited to finally learn about and experience planting The Earth Box. I'm excited about trying these out for the deckboxes I use in the neighborhoods where I work.

Late afternoon around Allen's new Laguna water feature, the light tickled the tassels of the grasses to make them dance in the sunshine.

Bronze fennel and stipa grass in Allen's garden

Even the bones of Allium are beautiful.

Here's where the plant nerd part really comes in: the last activity of the event was a scavanger hunt put on by Proven Winners Plants to find plants in Allen's garden and answer questions about them. Anyone who knows me well knows that one of the things that I love the most in my job/life is a good plant mystery. All those hours of research over the years paid off - I WON AN ALL EXPENSES PAID TRIP THROUGH PROVEN WINNERS TO THE CALIFORNIA SPRING PACK TRIALS!!!!!

And each night, before I went to bed in my luxurious hotel room at The Capital Hotel - dreamy toffee was left on my pillow!

 "DISCLOSURE: Attendees at Garden2Blog 2012 including myself received transportation, accommodations and meals during the event. Event sponsors provided samples and product giveaways at no cost or obligation. All opinions are my own."