Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 Garden Bloggers Fling: Hello, Portland!

Mt. Hood from the airplane
Mt. Hood from the airplane window

I spent last weekend at an annual event called the Garden Bloggers Fling, touring public and private gardens in Portland, Oregon with two busloads of garden bloggers from the US, UK, Canada and Spain. The first Fling was 'flung' in 2008 by a group of Austin garden bloggers who thought it'd be fun to host a national garden bloggers' get-together and show them some of Austin's best gardens. Chicago, Buffalo, Seattle, San Francisco and Asheville have hosted Flings, and next year's event will be in Toronto.

It's a ton of work for the bloggers in each host city to coordinate schedules and draw up maps, reserve tour buses and block hotel rooms, arrange meals and secure sponsorships, in addition to work, family and home responsibilities. Thank goodness for their labors of love, because the Fling is always so much fun. By bloggers and for bloggers, Fling allows gardening fanatics to get to know each other in person while exploring and experiencing the heart of any host city - its gardens.

The weekend got an early start on Thursday evening with a pre-Fling cocktail party at beautiful Pomarius Nursery.
Pomarius Nursery

As I entered the grounds, I couldn't help but notice a vigorous red-stemmed vine near the entrance that was loaded down with what looked like kiwifruit or Chinese gooseberries. I've never seen those growing in Central Texas, sigh.
Gooseberries at Pomarius Nursery

Wandering the grounds with a glass of wine in hand, I spied several Portland bloggers and a renowned "guru of grasses" sporting head adornments featuring the flora of the region.
Kate Bryant and John Greenlee
Garden writer Kate Bryant with grass meadow expert and landscape designer John Greenlee

Ann at Pomarius Nursery
Ann Amato-Zorich of Amateur Bot-ann-ist

Let's get a closer look at Ann's homage to Frida Kahlo, Portland-style. Love, love, love the tiny berries, ferns, smoketree flowers and cattails!
Close-up of Ann's hair adornments

Did you notice the small white-flowering tree behind Ann? That's a hydrangea topiary. Can't grow those in Central Texas, sigh.
Hydrangea tree at Pomarius Nursery

I suddenly noticed several bloggers eating these amazing-looking tamales wrapped in banana leaves. They pointed me toward the Tamale Boy food truck parked near the entrance, where a queue was starting to form. Yummy dinner, hooray!
Tamale Boy dinner

After eating and chatting a bit, I shot a few more photos as the light began to fade. Ha - check out the Monarda didyma photobombing my wide shot.
wide shot of Pomarius Nursery

Several bloggers couldn't resist snatching up pots of Eucomis (pineapple lilies), and although I'm a bit sad I didn't spring for one, it's probably for the best. I'm certain it wouldn't like our cold winters, and I'd tire of lugging it in and out during our oddball winters.
pineapple lily flower

Another offering that caught my eye was this bonsai-sized conifer rock garden in a rugged hypertufa planter. Precious.
Bonsai conifer in hypertufa

I fell in love with these mini-ponds in heavy low pots,
mini-ponds at Pomarius Nursery

and the tables of potted succulents and tropicals in the greenhouse.
Inside the greenhouse at Pomarius Nursery

As we left, we were encouraged to take the table arrangements, donated by the California Cut Flower Commission,  so I quickly grabbed this pretty bouquet. Here it is, brightening up my hotel room the next morning.
pretty bouquet of flowers

What a perfectly lovely welcome to Portland! Thanks to Loree Bohl of Danger Garden, Scott Weber of Rhone Street Gardens, Jane Howell-Finch at MulchMaid, Ann Amato-Zorich at Amateur Bot-ann-ist and Heather Tucker of Just a Girl with a Hammer for organizing it all.

Stay tuned for a Fling Day #1 recap where I visit a leading garden book publishing house, a Chinese garden, two outstanding nurseries and two knock-your-socks-off private gardens in a single day! It might be a few days before I get to it - we just got three inches of rain and a 15 degree drop in temperatures, and I've got to get out and garden!

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

18 comments:

  1. Awesome photo of Mount Hood, Caroline! Being an aisle person, I didn't see it that well from the plane, but I did get a nice view from a lavender field pre-Fling. What a beautiful destination Portland was.

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    1. It really was beautiful. Andrea Fox had the window seat but she kindly let me grab a few shots!

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  2. You garden girl! I am so glad you made it here to Portland Caroline! And yes, you really should try Eucomis (you can order it online (http://plantlust.com/search/?raw=Eucomis) it got down to 12F here in my garden last winter with a week (day and night) below freezing, and they're fine. You don't get colder than that do you?

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    1. 17F is the coldest I can recall. Mail order! Thanks for the link.

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    1. Isn't it neat? I wish I had time for more crafty stuff.

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  4. Eucomis are great. I grow them in NC, so I bet they'd grow in Austin.

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    1. I might just have to give them a shot.

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  5. I love the hypertufa garden - must have missed that. It's always fun to see the places we go through each other's photo lenses!

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    1. The place was huge! I know I missed tons of stuff.

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  6. Thanks for this post--I'm sorry I missed the Thursday night event--your post fills me in--but there was plenty (planty?) to enjoy the following three days... :)

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    1. Oh so very planty! I'm sorry you missed it, too.

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  7. Oh Caroline, it was so fun to start the fling event with the ATX contingent - right at the airport! And thanks for the window seat ;) If only we could unwind from all our travels in such a nice locale... even if they can grow plants that we aren't able to. Speaking of plants, and plans... shall we start designing our Agave-themed hair pieces for Toronto? The fascinator you wore in Seattle was fabulous. You know the Battersby Sisters (Helen and Sarah) would love it if we brought a bit of TX with us to Canada... don't you think?

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    1. It was loads of fun and so very nice to have such wonderful travel companions! I think agave-themed fascinators would be marvelous. Just thing of all the options - I'm imagining everything from wee pups adorned with native grasses and wildflowers to swirly squid agave a la Princess Beatrice's Royal Wedding Fascinator.

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  8. Lovely way to capture the spirit of that gorgeous first evening. And really nice to meet you, however briefly!

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    1. Splendid to meet you as well, Kate!

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  9. What a stellar shot of Mt Hood! I think that one in the background is probably Mt. Jefferson... Or possibly Mt. Adams, depending on which side of Hood you flew in on. Anyway, lovely recap of the first evening. How on earth did you manage to get so many photos without people? It seems every photo I took has people's backs in them. I too fell in love with the mini ponds, but I totally missed the hypertufa! Even so, it was great to meet you!

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    1. Wonderful to meet you as well and to share a seat on the bus for a day. Thanks for trying to ID the mountains - no clue what direction our final approach was from! I took lots of shots after crowds moved on - I went back to the entrance about 40 minutes into the event, for example. (Is that cheating?)

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