Showing posts with label garden bloggers fling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garden bloggers fling. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Diary of a wimpy gardener

I've just returned from another successful Garden Bloggers' Fling, this time in Denver, CO. I had so much fun (or possibly lost so much blood to mosquitoes) that I'm still trying to recover. One of my favorite things about the Fling is that I get to explore another gardening environment and it always makes me realize that I garden exactly where I should.

Because guys, I am a wimp.

I'd never been to Colorado and I was unprepared for how much tougher it is, being at a higher elevation and in such a dry environment. I felt perpetually thirsty, tired, and unmoisturized. They only average 17 inches of precipitation per year! It often snows in MAY. The bees are absolutely enormous and their mosquitoes are blood-thirsty. YOU CAN'T BUY WINE IN A GROCERY STORE, WHAT THE FUCK COLORADO, YOUR PEOPLE ALREADY ENDURE SO MUCH.

But in that pioneer spirit, they make do. They manage to create stunning gardens even though they have a much shorter growing season than most of the country. They create fascinating topography using rock, which I suspect looks great even covered in snow.

They create beautiful vignettes in pots.

They create visual interest using unusual materials.

They seemingly spend entire paychecks on annuals.

Their porches go up to 11.

They hunt down liquor stores for a measly bottle of chardonnay, apparently. People drink wine IN CHURCH, Colorado. This feels punitive.

They plant poppies galore.

And penstemon, so many penstemon!

And the most beautiful flax I've ever seen.

Bonus Jean color echo!

They embrace color amongst the evergreens and really squeeze every opportunity out of their growing season.

The gardeners in Colorado are exceedingly warm and generous, allowing us not only into their gardens but also their homes. Many of them provided snacks and let us use their bathrooms.

I really enjoyed myself, in spite of my Pacific Northwesterner wimpery (and I'm an especially tender example). Huge thanks are owed to the organizers, who did such a fantastic job. I left inspired to up my container game and to appreciate that I can buy wine at Safeway, the way god intended.

Coloradans are creative, friendly, and far tougher than me. They make spectacular gardens.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bugs, booze, and brisket

I recently returned from the Austin Garden Bloggers' Fling, which was so fun I feel like I could sleep for a week. I ate my weight in brisket, I got bitten by both chiggers and fire ants, and I drank gallons of margaritas. I even saw the Alamo, so I'm feeling pretty complete.

Just another perfect, humongous Agave ovatafolia

In the garden of Pam Penick

A lot of times touring other gardens can make me feel pretty down on my own but this trip felt like a good, inspiring shot in the arm. Austin gardens have something for everyone, from super modern corten steel to quirky nichos.

Veg plots at the Mirador garden

Nicho in the garden of Lucinda Hutson

Austin has so many more trees than I expected, even in areas of new construction. I suspect the need for shade is so great that they work around existing trees instead of leveling everything like they do in Portland. As we're both trying to keep our cities weird, it was hard not to compare the two.

Construction in my Portland neighborhood. They removed six old redwoods to build these.

When they say "everything is bigger in Texas" they are referring to their agaves, their margaritas, and their highway on-ramps, which are terrifyingly tall. Every time we drove over one, seemingly 1000 feet in the air, I felt like a country bumpkin. They must have gotten a huge amount of infrastructure money because all of the freeways and highways are seemingly under construction, all at once.

I found myself in love all over again with salvias of the greggii and microphylla variety. Gardeners tuck them in everywhere all over Austin and they seem to look great, no matter the color.

I also fell in love with Aspidistra elatior, which falls under the "useful but unexciting plant that comes with your yard when you buy a house in Austin" category. I have plenty of friends that grow this plant but it took me flying to Texas to notice it. I've said it before: everything is more magical when you go through life not really paying attention. Surprises are everywhere!

I was also impressed by the lack of litter in Texas. That "Don't Mess with Texas" slogan is working. Washington employs "Litter and It Will Hurt" which is somehow more menacing and yet less effective. Oregon doesn't have a slogan (that I know of), it just sits and passively sighs and glares while you litter, wishing you wouldn't. It would say something but we're polite and we don't do that sort of thing.

Now that I have a dog I am even more aware of how filthy Portland's close-in neighborhoods are. Going on walks is such an adventure now. What will I pull out of Bee's mouth this time? A Q-tip? A cigarette butt? A rotting pineapple? ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED.

I eat anything

I got to see gardens that I've loved online for years, including Jenny Stocker's (of Rockrose fame), which was so genuinely thrilling I considered taking a xanax that morning so I wouldn't embarrass myself. Her garden was a revelation for me when I started gardening and it was even better in person.

I also got to see Pam Penick's garden, which was so fucking delightful and beautiful I want to live in her pump house.

Pam can create vignettes like no one else.

Mostly I realized how much I like gardens that really go for it. I spend a lot of mental bandwidth worrying that people are judging my garden choices behind my back. I police my style because I don't want to make mistakes. I'm not a designer and I don't make a living in the horticulture industry. I'm a librarian, for Pete's sake, I'm expected to be boring and unstylish. If someone doesn't like my mismatched pots they can drink a Mexican martini in the garden of someone more talented.

Because I experienced my first Mexican martini and I am HERE FOR IT.

(It's just a double margarita with an olive, served in a martini glass and a shaker on the side "because it's classy.")

Life is short, why not make your margarita twice the size and embrace your inner mermaid? More is more.