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.