Last weekend, I had the good fortune to attend the 2013 Garden Blogger’s Fling in San Francisco. It was my first Fling as a blogger, although many who attended had been to all or almost all of the five Flings held since 2008. I can’t say enough good things about the event, the attendees and the women who organized it. Over the course of three days we were bussed to various gardens, private and public, throughout the Bay Area. We had delicious box lunches and catered dinners, did lots of shopping, talking and even a little drinking.
I was nervous that I might come across as too much of a novice, or “not a real garden blogger.” But, although I was the youngest Flinger, the mix of gardeners from around the world meant that we each had things to share and things to learn. And the concept behind Plant Propaganda seemed universally well-received, which meant a lot. I consider these individuals my peers, and some I follow with fervor. It was great to get a chance to sit down and chat with them in person.
All that being said, I can’t wait for the Portland Fling next year! Until then, I’ve prepared a few posts outlining the highlights of the trip.
On the first day, the buses dropped us outside the facade of an enormous high-rise just a few blocks from Union Square, right on the edge of the Tenderloin. Never would anyone aboard have guessed that, after winding down stairwells and wandering through dark, mildewy tunnels we would emerge in an enormous courtyard, shaded by a spreading canopy of trees overhead. The Organic Mechanic garden is the creative brainchild of Sean Stout and James Pettigrew, and features a lush palette of just about everything you could want. There are aeoniums, cacti, dracaena, euphorbia and other drought tolerant varieties growing in beds alongside shade and water-loving perennials like ferns, impatiens
The garden was full of various reclaimed and mechanic art, like the face sculpture, driftwood mobile, mounted staghorn fern and gorgeous Hindu statue pictured above. And in addition to mechanic finds, there were lots of organic treasures, too. Above left is a Ceiba speciosa, or silk floss tree, planted in a large pot and mulched with corks! Right, I spotted a group of carnivorous plants growing at the edge of a pond, including a butterwort, sundew, flytrap and this pitcher plant.
Next, we headed to an equally unassuming industrial portion of the city, where rows of auto shops sat on a hill beneath a roaring freeway. After the first garden, however, we knew not to judge a book by its cover. And, sure enough, behind one of these flat gray facades was the work-live home of sculptor Matt Gil and his wife. The garden was designed and is still maintained by Dan Carlson, who envisioned the space as a low-maintenance garden that would act as a place to showcase Matt’s monolithic pieces of art. The owners had out a photo book of the garden’s construction, and I liked their photos far better than anything I was bound to take, so I sort of cheated.
To be honest, having spent the last six years in places where “water wise” might as well be the state motto, I wasn’t as thrilled with the landscape of succulents, grasses and California natives as some of the other Flingers. I much preferred the first garden, which made me pine for rainier times back in Oregon. That’s why my favorite part of Matt’s garden was this little shaded area tucked behind the stairs. In the photo there are two of my favorite shade plants, heuchera and hellebore. Neither are there now, but my growing fern obsession did cause me to spy this little crested fellow: my gut instinct was a crested asplenium, but perhaps another good guess is Pteris cretica?
After finishing, we headed to Annie’s Annuals, which is an experience that deserves an entire post of its own. So stay tuned for the next installation in the 2013 Garden Blogger’s Fling series! Cheers.