Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No Explanations Needed

What do you say when you are embraced by a stranger on the street or when you meet someone for the first time only to feel as if you've known them forever? You don't have to say anything. If you're a blogger, your smile will do it for you.


The Welcoming Committee 

I spent the past weekend in Portland, Oregon at my first Blogger Fling. I could say it was a party or at least the mother of all garden tours but it was really a homecoming. Finally meeting the people whose blogs I follow was incredible. But to be able to share my passion with brilliant, funny gardeners of all ages was truly amazing. It was fabulous. It was every adjective you can think of that describes what makes you happy.


Private garden in Portland, Oregon


I love this screen!

I started blogging four years ago as a way to share my garden pictures with family but soon realized I had joined a rich community of knowledge and support. I no longer felt defeated when plants died, were peed on by the dogs, accidentally weed whacked by my husband, or stepped on by kids. When the only words I could use to describe some of my garden designs were 'completely craptastic', other bloggers were there to remind me to start over, keep going, and be thankful I didn't have deer, raccoons, or psychotic neighbors.



Private garden in Portland, Oregon


One of my favorite gardens 

Garden blogging isn't a contest. It's a community of people who understand the need to research 'plants for dry shade' at 3 am because you can't sleep and the irresistability of your favorite perennial. The Portland Fling combined 80 garden bloggers with entry into some of the coolest gardens I've ever seen. But I didn't bother comparing my garden to the ones we saw. Gardening is the magical combination of art and science and my suburban garden is my studio and lab.



I arrived in Portland curious but left inspired. Designed around the needs of a family, my garden doesn't feature expensive art or a secret waterfall. But thanks to three days of touring and non-stop garden talk, it now has a few less tree branches, a new variegated shrub and ornamental grass, three purple heuchera, and six brightly colored coleus. Buoyed by the vibrantly colored foliage combos that filled my camera, I pulled out the plants I didn't like and didn't wait til  fall to make much needed changes.


Portland is a cool, quirky city with a thriving garden culture. The DC area is not. Chemically addicted lawns and polite, boring shrubs rule. If our garden culture were live theater, it would consist of a short, one act play where nothing happens. But since I can't change my address, I've decided to change my perspective and dig deeper into the small gardening community I'm already a part of. Would I have made these changes prior to the Fling? Maybe. But then again, maybe not.


93 comments:

  1. Welcome to the league of Fling attendees! So glad you were able to come to Portland and that we got a chance to finally meet. I applaud your inclusion of more bold colors in your garden. I love it!! That was certainly a weekend of inspiration. Nice meeting you and looking forward to Toronto.

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    1. I've been battling the BGB, aka the Big Green Blob in my garden for a while. I needed more pizzazz to some of my plantings and Fling was just the kick in the butt I needed. :o) Meeting you was so wonderful!

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  2. So perfectly described. I came home with all sorts of ideas that I haven't had time to implement yet.

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    1. I can't afford some of my new ideas! But that's ok. I have a fresh perspective and new friends and that's more important, anyway. :o)

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  3. "Garden blogging isn't a contest. It's a community of people who understand the need to research 'plants for dry shade' at 3 am because you can't sleep and the irresistability of your favorite perennial"...so perfectly written. It was a pleasure to meet you. You obviously embraced the spirit of the Fling completely!

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    1. Seeing all the gardens wouldn't have been as much fun without having all the fab bloggers to chat with the whole time. As soon as I went out into my garden on Monday, I scratched my leg on I don't-know-what and poked myself in the forehead, drawing blood. I think it was karmic payback for all my mean thoughts about stabby plants. ;o)

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  4. You nailed it, so well. Beautifully stated. It was such a joy to meet you, you are always welcome here in Portland, you always have friends here! Looking forward to seeing your posts about the Fling - and how your garden continues to grow and grow.

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    1. Thanks! I could live in Portland in a hot minute. It was definitely my kind of town. :o)

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  5. Please move here. I want to have cocktails with you on a regular basis.

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    1. That would be amazing! I would love that! I need to become super rich so I can just jet back and forth between Portland and northern VA. Plotting, scheming....

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  6. Now this is what I call gardening. I love that you met fellow bloggers. And ironic because I did the same this week. One of my blogger friends lives only an hour away, so we met Monday. I won't spoil our meeting for you. I wrote about on my blog this week. I love that you got to tour gardens of real bloggers. How much fun.

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    1. It was just an amazing weekend! It's so wonderful to meet other bloggers in person. Looking forward to reading your post. :o)

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  7. What Heather said! I so enjoyed meeting you in person and spending time with you at the fling. The blogging community is very special but to meet them in person is incredible. You expressed the feeling very well!

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    1. Awww, thanks! I knew you the minute I saw you. I'd been waiting to give you a big squeezy hug and kept wondering where you were. It will be awesome to see you in Toronto. I promise not to behave. ;o)

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  8. Now that we've got you, we're not letting go! Such a pleasure to meet you and I third what Heather said. See you in Toronto

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    1. Feeling the love! Thank you so much! I've already put next years Fling on my calendar and will be submitting my personal day leave request once school resumes. :o) Yay!

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  9. Sounds like a wonderful time. Good plan to take ideas from fabulous gardens and recreate on a scale suited to your needs. It's all about what works for you, not someone else.

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    1. Exactly! The next fling is in Toronto so hopefully you can make it!

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  10. I am really bummed I didn't have the opportunity to meet you in person. Not sure if you heard, but I was in a car accident on my way to the airport going to the fling. Recovering physically and mentally but incredibly disappointed to have missed everyone. I will definitely be in Toronto so hopefully we will meet next year. I love how you were inspired by the gardens you saw. I too am surrounded my sterile gardens and the garden blogger's around the world keep me inspired! Until Toronto, I'll see you in the blog o'sphere.

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    1. I did hear and had checked with Janet to make sure you were ok. What rottenness. :( I am so glad you're ok and hope you and your family heal.

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  11. That had to be a fun day to experience. That garden you show is really lovely and lush.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. It was a three day event that was just so much fun! The huge garden shown above is absolutely jaw-dropping. It was like wandering through the pages of a garden design book.

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  12. From various comments I read, it seems to have been very interesting. I will have to make sure I attend the next one.

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    1. The next fling is in Toronto June 5-7, 2015. Keep an eye on this blog for upcoming info: http://gardenbloggersfling.blogspot.com/

      I hope to see you there!

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    2. Thanks Tammy! I will check that blog.

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  13. I used to come home from garden tours and look at my own garden and want to rip it all out and start over. I have a lot of "craptastic" designs, too:) But the Fling in Asheville changed all that, and I realize that every garden is unique and can be whatever you want it to be. But, like you, I certainly came home with lots of new ideas from Portland--all these gardens were so beautiful and so different from each other. So enjoyed meeting you and getting to spend some time with you, Tammy! You are as delightful as your blog.

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    1. Thanks! You are so kind. :o) I refuse to become an apologist for my garden but it does have some areas that need work. I came home with so many ideas that I can use in the space I have. I think I was just in a rut and needed new vistas to inspire change. I really liked how each garden had its own voice and personality. Not a boring garden in sight!

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  14. Researching plants for dry shade at 3 a.m.? That's crazy-talk!

    (Now researching drought-tolerant full sun plants that can thrive in clay soil at 3 a.m. -- THAT makes sense!) ;-)

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    1. I've researched both and often when I should be asleep! Do you plant orange milkweed? Asclepias tuberosa will take drought and clay as long as it can drain. Prairie Nursery offers a seed grown strain that does well in clay. :o)

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  15. Your reflections so mirror my own! It was great to meet you and share this experience. I can't wait till next year!

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    1. It was wonderful to meet you, too! I am already excited about next year! I've never been to Toronto. :o)

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  16. I'm so glad to read that you embraced the Fling and the Fling embraced you right back! I would have loved to meet you, your sense of humor is so like my own, but maybe at a future Fling. I hope you continue to come to them.

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    1. I wish you had been there! I have major plans to attend the next one so hopefully we can meet then. :o)

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  17. I love your attitude and message. Sounds like a great time was had by all.

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    1. Thanks! It was a blast! Ya gotta come next year! :o)

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  18. Oh, yes! Tammy, it was fun Flinging with you. And you know where to find me in 2015. If your son does move to Buffalo, then we're just a short drive around the corner. Come see us again. Cheers!

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  19. I really enjoyed your post and I'm inspired by the way that you acted so quickly to evaluate and make changes to your home garden!

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    1. Once I settles on a solution to something, I like to just get it fixed. I didn't want to look at my boring green spaces any longer and was excited to add some color and interest. The garden already looks better and my shady ares are brighter. :o)

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  20. It was so great to meet you! Wish we could have another Fling next weekend - it was so much fun!!! :)

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    1. It was wonderful to meet you, too! After spending all day on a plane, I was so full of ideas Monday night I couldn't sleep. It will be interesting to watch how my garden changes as I continue to attend more Flings. :o)

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  21. Brilliant post. I too was inspired to act - I pulled out three non-performing Salvias and replaced them with three little bluestem. In any case, you really captured the spirit of this gathering.

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    1. Thanks, Jason! I was transplanting in the rain on Tuesday I was so determined to act on my ideas. A salvia that was always losing branches every time it stormed was moved to a safer spot and replaced with a variegated miscanthus 'Little Zebra'. I love it!

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  22. I'm glad that you had a great time and that you came back inspired. You're right that we all need to work within our own peculiar constraints but that that doesn't mean we can't learn from and adapt ideas borrowed from our on-line community. I was disappointed to miss this year's Fling but look forward to the prospect of making it to the next one in Toronto and possibly meeting you in person.

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    1. It will be June 5-7, 2015 so save the days. I'd been reading posts about Flings for a couple of years and wish I'd gone sooner but it never fit into my schedule. It was such an enriching experience. :o)

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  23. Tammy girl I love your attitude and wish I could meet so many of the garden bloggers I read on the net ... I can't imagine how much fun it must be to just talk GARDEN and PLANTS ! aahhhh ! I am just too jealous ... glad you all had fun even without me being there ? hehehe ... there is one happening in Toronto ? .... why can't they have it in Kingston !!
    Joy : )

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    1. Buy a plane ticket!! You'll be glad you did. :o) Ya gotta go to a Fling!

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  24. The Portland Garden Bloggers Fling looks like it was a lot of fun.....I'm finding it interesting to read the various perspectives on everyone's blogs....I'm glad you had a great time and came away with tons of ideas.

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    1. You should come to the next one! There were gardeners there from Spain and England! As I read other blogs, it's interesting to see how we all came away with something different.

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  25. Nothing better than spending time with kindred souls! Portland is a beautiful city and how wonderful to meet your on line garden buddies and see so many beautiful gardens, plants and landscapes. I bet you didn't sleep much while you were there! And I bet your feett are just touching the ground now! Chris

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    1. I was so excited when I came back, I could barely sleep and was gardening in the rain the next day. :o)

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  26. great post! yes, i decided after my true confession at Henry's Tavern that maybe I should start reading everyone's posts ;)

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    1. Those confessions have a way of coming back to taunt you! :o) It was amazing to meet you. You would make an excellent partner in crime. :o)

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  27. I'm glad you had a nice time, Tammy. It looked like a great event. By the time the Italy trip was cancelled, it was too late for me to sign up. I hope to make it to the Toronto fling, and maybe I'll drive ... or maybe not. Anyway, I'm glad you had a great trip. :)

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    1. When I couldn't make it on the Italy trip, I was determined to attend a fling and was able to fly out with Frequent Flyer miles. It was tons of fun. I really hope you make it to the next one. It would be amazing to meet you!

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  28. I'd so glad to hear you had a great time in Portland Tammy! I kind of thought I might see a pic of the porch swing where we yakked and hung out, but then again I didn't see the camera. It was a real treat to meet you, and I look forward to hearing more of your adventures in our keep-Portland-crazy culture over time. Cheers!

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    1. I totally forgot to take pictures! I tend to do that a lot. :( I have to leave my camera in a conspicuous spot in my kitchen to remind me to take pix of my garden. I wouldn't last a minute as a professional photographer.

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  29. Hi Tammy! Great post! Like so many others, I love how you mention the need to look up plants stats in the middle of the night!! I have done that so many times! I really enjoyed visiting with you at the Fling and can't wait to see more of your garden now via the blogosphere. It's so funny I have that same postcard on the chalkboard in my kitchen! Did you buy it in Portland? I got mine years ago when I lived there!

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    1. Sometimes the reason I can't sleep is because I'm obsessing over something garden-related and know if I can just research the problem, I'll feel better. At least that's what I tell myself. The pics on my sidebar are from Google images. :o)

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  30. Tammy, a P.S. Could you please recommend several websites from bloggers you met at the fling? I am still meeting gardeners in my area and all over and would love to read the takeaways from some others who were there. (As well as see more photos.) Thanks! Susie

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    1. I sent you a list. :o) We saw some amazing gardens!

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  31. Oh wow! What a wonderful few days that sounds! It must have been awesome to be around so many gardeners and gardens.
    That first pic is BRILLIANT....I loved it, and your take on your garden is spot on too. A lovely post with excellent pix.xxx

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    1. The mannequin is part of a garden called Floramagoria that was pretty incredible. I don't think garden tours should make anyone feel inferior. Comparison is pointless.

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  32. A lovely post. I always chuckle over your pictures. It sounds such fun, I wish I could have been there. Lovely gardens and the chance to meet garden bloggers in real life. And how wonderful to come back feeling so inspired.
    Foliage is so important in the garden to give it texture and structure. I love the combination in your third picture.
    Thinking about the garden keeps me awake at night too.

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  33. I've added a lot more plants with interesting foliage this year. It took me a while to get out of my flowers, flowers, and more flowers rut. There were five bloggers there from the UK and one from Spain!

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  34. Hi Tammy, it sounds as though you had a spanking good time. I tend to get stuck focussing on sorting out my own garden that I don't often see others, though it is a real treat when I do and I always tell myself that I ought to do it more often, then don't. I ought to nosey about our neighbours gardens more as I might benefit from free seeds and cuttings to get my own garden started so maybe one day it can part of a "fling" or something similar.

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    1. There were seven gardeners from Europe who came to the Fling! It was so fabulous to be immersed into someone else's vision of gardening. It really gave me a fresh perspective on my own garden. :o)

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  35. Brilliant. I am envious of the experience you have had, but how wonderful to return to your life inspired and encouraged. Gardeners are a wonderfully eclectic bunch. Sounds as if you had a blast!

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    1. It was amazing! The other gardeners were as cool as the gardens. :o)

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  36. Dear Tammy, how nice that you could participate in the garden Blogger Fling! I can imagine that noting can beat meeting the other bloggers in person, visit gardens together and, of course, have lots and lots of garden and blog chats. Even though I have never been to a Blogger Fling (yet!), I feel that just being part of the virtual community of garden bloggers is so inspiring and enriching. I am really grateful that the internet made is all possible and for all the really nice garden bloggers out there, like you, that I am in contact with. Looking forward to the shared gardening and blogging journey!
    Christina

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    1. It was just an incredible experience! I know so few gardeners that to be surrounded by them for three days was just blissful. It's hard to stay passionate about something when it's done in isolation. I hope you can make it to the next one!

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  37. What a wonderful way to see all the gardens in real life and meet up with all your blogging friends. I can only imagine how inspired it must have made you. I agree about not comparing your garden to others, all our spaces are very different and that's what makes them interesting.

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    1. TRUTH! I don't compare. I just work with what I have. :o)

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  38. I guess the secret is out about awesome Portland--so glad you got to be there Tammy. I could feel the energy vibrations emanating from up north all weekend! Toronto sounds wonderful...

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    1. My family was worried I wouldn't come back! Hope to see you in Toronto!

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  39. Sounds like a blast. Wish I could have been there! But your garden does kick ass, Portland or no Portland!

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    1. Thanks! Now get your butt to Toronto! I'd love to meet you. :o)

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  40. What an amazing idea to all meet up. Keep up what you do so brilliantly!! x

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    1. Pam Pennick from Digging is the genius behind the Blogger Flings. Such a fabulous idea!! Smart smart smart!

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  41. Sounds like you had a really positive experience with the fling. Glad to hear you enjoyed your tour so much and that meeting people in person was just as enjoyable as interacting online. I agree wholeheartedly that blogging is a community of knowledge and support. It has taken gardening to a whole other level for me. and I love that screen too!

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    1. There was so much amazing garden art that I wanted to take home with me! Blogging has definitely helped me grow as a gardener because it gave me the community I needed. Hopefully, you can come to the Toronto Fling in June 2015. :o)

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  42. Oh man pal...I have chills...no joke....and I am almost in tears because I really relate to this post and I am so happy that you all were able to meet and embrace this beautiful thing called gardening together. Your shots are outstanding! After getting back from out west I have made some decisions myself....to follow my heart when it comes to my space even though it is not the "norm" here in Chicago...I don't give a flip anymore. There is such an aliveness out west when it comes to the garden and it is so common to see no lawns and gardens that roll right down to the street. I am with you on this mission of bringing this thing to my garden as well cause like you I can't change my address. Rock on pal rock on! Happy week you! Nicole xo

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    1. Screw the norm! Do what works for you! GO FOR IT!! The gardens in Portland had such a strong voice and personality. They felt so vibrant, energetic, and just alive. Maybe by doing things differently we can change the norm to make it less boring and safe. I'm sick of green meatball shrubs and miles of lawn. Yawn!

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  43. Ha...love it...and loved getting to finally meet you! It's true...the Fling is not just touring gardens and shopping...it's about camaraderie...there's something eye-opening about being with a huge group of people who "get" you and totally relate to you. Hope to see you next year ;-)

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    1. It was loads of fun. :o) I was slightly worried about spending three days with strangers but in a hot second I realized we weren't strangers at all. I was so comfortable you all got to see my goofy side! You will definitely see me next year!

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  44. So lovely meeting you. It was a wonderful Fling.

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  45. Yes, please move here. We'd have so much fun! Your post elegantly captured my experience too.

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  46. Amen, sister. And you've got the Kick Ass Garden to back you up. Yay.

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  47. Sounds like you had a great time and met lots of great people. I guess I will meet you next year as the Fling is in my own backyard so to speak.

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  48. Oh how I wish I could have gone...looks like a great time.

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