July 25, 2016

A Twin Cities Fling: Part I

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Have you heard of the Garden Bloggers' Fling? In 2008, a visionary group of garden bloggers organized a conference and welcomed bloggers from all corners of North America and beyond to join them in Austin, Texas. Since then, garden bloggers have convened in a different city each year to tour gardens, share information, and form friendships.

I first attended the Fling last year in Toronto. This year, the Fling was in the Twin Cities, an easy drive for me. It was great to reconnect with friends I'd made last year, spend time with bloggers I'd previously known only online for many years, and explore amazing gardens in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Our first day started in the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, the oldest native-plant garden in the U.S. In addition to featuring woodland, wetland, and prairie habitats, it's home to more than 130 species of birds. It reminded me of the UW-Madison Arboretum, one of my favorite places here at home. The sign welcoming us to the garden invited us to "Let Nature Be Your Teacher."

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Along the paths were plentiful native North American perennials, including Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).

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Acres and acres of wildflowers.

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I also saw one of my new favorites, recently added to my own garden: Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea). At a recent conference, a presenter mentioned beekeepers like this plant because their bees' honey is more flavorful when Purple Prairie Clover is a food source. It also has special value for native bees.

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Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)--a tall, architecturally pleasing plant--also was in full bloom.

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As were the always lovely Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

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Our next stop was the garden of Donna Hamilton. Donna converted a former grocery store and grounds into a studio and gardens. Bright summer blooms--annuals and perennials--were on display here.

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My favorite part was her creative flair with her hellstrip--a simple sign flanked by graceful, low-growing plants, planned for blooms and texture throughout the growing season.

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Earthy stones marked the border, and an ornamental gate door added class and whimsy.

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Next stop: Lyndale Park Gardens. The most rewarding part about the Garden Bloggers' Fling is that we get to see so many gardens in a short time. That's also the most frustrating part. I could have spent hours in this garden. We barely had time to scratch the surface.

As you can see from the photo above, the bloggers enjoyed the wide open spaces and the dramatic display gardens.

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Many pollinators, including this Red Admiral butterfly, found Lyndale a welcoming habitat.

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Roses were a highlight of this public garden: I must get back to explore it in more detail!

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I was pleased to find this lovely photo on my camera memory card of fellow blogger Gryphon at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange walking the path to the beautiful home of Rhonda Fleming Hayes. Rhonda, an award-winning writer and photographer, is author of Pollinator Friendly Gardening. Elegance and grace marked her entire property.

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I loved her use of colorful planters spilling into a waterfall ... spilling into an ornamental pond.

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Rhonda also combined ornamentals with edibles in stunning displays.

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For lunch, we stopped at Bachman's Floral Gift & Garden for a tour, a chance to shop, and tasty refreshments.

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Bachman's has been a Twin Cities fixture for more than 125 years. As one local conveyed to the group, area residents realize that an arrangement or product from Bachman's is always something special.

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The tour continued with a stop at "Latham Park," as neighbors describe the home of Dianne and Dan Latham. Their pond, surrounded by beautiful flagstones and plants of all textures and sizes was one of many highlights.

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The Lathams' garden was exquisite--both in its grand design and its tiny details, like these lovely pots of succulents.

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The plant combinations--here, Rudbeckias, Daylilies, and Ligularias--were familiar ones for me, but combined exquisitely.

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Next, I truly wish I'd had more time to sit on this bench and take in the magic of Noerenberg Memorial Gardens. This place was comfortable and magical.

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Native and pollinator-friendly plants welcomed visitors--for example, a Monarch butterfly on Spotted Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum, formerly Eupatorium).

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The light magically captured the candelabra effect of Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata), which was covered in honeybees and native bees.

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This public garden also had dramatic hardscapes, including this tall (10 feet?) grape arbor, surrounded by plants originally planted by the Noerenberg family.

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Care and creativity were evident at every turn. I enjoyed the artful combinations of plants, such as Panicle Hydrangea (H. paniculata), framed by Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).

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Our final stop of the day was the private garden of Steve Kelley and Arla Carmichiel. Arla is the horticulturist at Noerenberg Gardens and Steve owns Kelley and Kelley Nursery. I loved the graceful elegance of their garden.

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And the plants were amazing, like this gigantic lily. I neglected to get the name, but this might be 'Table Dance,' an Oriental-Trumpet (OT) hybrid.

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At Noerenberg and at the Kelley/Carmichiel home, Panicle Hydrangeas were pollinator favorites.

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It was a delight to see Beebalm (Monarda didyma), another pollinator favorite, in full bloom.

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And, of course, the gentle softness of Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum).

Most of our first day was spent in Minneapolis and near suburbs; the other days we ventured to St. Paul and even into Western Wisconsin. After a full first day of garden touring, we enjoyed an evening of networking, discussion, and hors d'oeuvres, sponsored by Garden Design magazine.

Thanks to all the organizers, sponsors, gardeners, and homeowners for a fabulous first day at the Garden Bloggers' Fling! More to come here on this blog, and others to be posted in the future at the Fling website.

51 comments:

  1. Many beautiful gardens you got to visit, but I do especially like the creativity of Donna Hamilton's garden. It was nice you could drive to the Fling. I could drive last year in an hour, but did not due to all the construction. The train was fast and fun.

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    1. I couldn't really say I had a favorite garden this year--I enjoyed them all in different ways because they were all so unique. The last one (in Wisconsin) was magical--partly because of the setting and the artwork of the gardener. But they were all awesome.

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  2. Wonderful wrap-up of day one. I love seeing the gardens through others' eyes.

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    1. Thanks, Janet. I agree: It's fun to revisit these lovely places through everyone's posts! :)

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    1. Thanks, Jenny. It was great to visit with you. I hope we'll meet again at a future Fling!

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  4. Beautiful photos - and not too many bloggers in them either!

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    1. Thanks, Jim. I like to have a combination--some with bloggers and some with no people. And, of course, one can always crop if necessary. ;-)

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  5. It was so fun! What a great summary. Ya gotta love any gardener who can turn a hellstrip into a thing of beauty. :o) I have pics of the vervain covered in bees, too. Now to find a spot in my garden...

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    1. Yes, it was a very fun three-plus-day gathering. :) I agree: That hellstrip was incredible. We don't have many creative hellstrips around here. I love Blue Vervain! But I just don't have enough sun for it. It's a wonderful plant to see in the wild, too. I wonder if it would work at a high point at the top of your rain garden?

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  6. Beth, wonderful posts! What an opportunity to meet other garden bloggers. Can't wait for the next post.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. You would have loved it. Maybe you can attend next year?!

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  7. Very interesting! I want to be a part of this event.

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    1. The Fling is open to anyone who can attend. It will be in the Washington D.C. area next year. You can follow http://gardenbloggersfling.blogspot.com/ for updates on when to sign up, etc. It's so much fun!

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  8. What an amazing recap. Beautiful photos that made me get excited about perhaps attending future Garden Flings. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Teri. I hope you'll be able to attend! It's so much fun. Every Fling is different, and it's great to share information and form friendships with other bloggers. :)

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  9. Wow - you did such a fantastic job of providing a concise overview of our first day...hats off to you!! I have such a hard time condensing all of the gardens seen each day into one post - for the Toronto fling (I still have to finish the posts on that one!!), I had to do each day in 3 parts! And all the photos...so hard to choose which ones to include as there are just SO many!

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    1. Thanks, Margaret. I agree it's so hard to pick and choose among the gardens, the photos, and the subjects. I'm still catching up with reporting on some other trips and topics, too, so the daily wrap-up seems like the best format for me this year. There are so many ways to approach our coverage! :)

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  10. Thanks for this great overview Beth! I especially enjoyed trying to figure out who the bloggers that occasionally appeared were.

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    1. You're welcome, Loree. We really missed you this year. I found that I had many more photos of people this year than last year, which is fun. ;-)

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  11. All of these little hints of the pleasures of garden touring are great.

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    1. It really is fun! I seem to remember that you've been at Flings in the past, too? It's hard to describe, but it very well may be the most fun conference I've ever attended--both years!

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  12. It must have been a great event!! Thanks for sharing

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    1. Yes, it's wonderful! You're very welcome. :)

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  13. A nice tour of the gardens. Especially lovely captures of the very busy pollinators.

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    1. Hi Tina: Thanks! Yes, the pollinators are always a highlight in any garden, aren't they? Cheers!

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  14. Must have been a great time Beth. Thanks for sharing your photos and impressions. Hope to join you at one of the flings someday.

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    1. Oh yes, it was fun! Busy, but fun! You are welcome. And, yes, I do hope we'll be able to meet at a future Fling!

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  15. Thanks for taking us along on your trip with you -- saw many familiar plants here. Really must try to get up to the Arb again soon. Between work and the heat it's been a while. :-\

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    1. Hi Heather: You're welcome. Yes, the plant families are virtually the same as here in Madison. I guess we have a few more that can survive our winters, but for the most part the plants were very familiar. I haven't been to the Arb for a couple of weeks--looking forward to my weekly visit. :)

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  16. Hi,
    Thank you for taking us along. Fun! I would love to go someday!
    Great photos!
    Carla

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    1. Hi Carla: Oh yes, I highly recommend it! It will be in Virginia/DC area next year. Thanks!

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  17. Glorious photos, Garden Tour . . .

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    1. Thanks, Lynne. It was so much fun and so rewarding!

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  18. What a wonderful treat to be able to see all these fabulous gardens and enjoy them with fellow bloggers. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Yes, it is great. It's a wonderful group, and everyone looks forward to reconnecting each year. You're welcome. :)

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  19. Sure enjoyed the beautiful photos of beautiful plants, especially the agastache. It's one of those plants that brings back memories--in this case chewing refreshing young leaves on hot days beating through hazelnut in Black Hills gulches.

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    1. Oh, the Agastache is one of my favorites, too. Unfortunately, mine didn't make it through the winter. But I won't give up. I'll try growing it again next year. Your description is so colorful: I can imagine how refreshing the Anise Hyssop would be on a hot day. :)

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  20. I'm sorry to have missed this year's fling but am so enjoying virtually visiting the gardens. Of course it's not the same as being there and having fun with other bloggers. BTW, you won one of the ceramic flowers in my drawing a few weeks back but I don't have your address. If you'd email that to me, I'll get your package in the mail.

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    1. I'm sad that you missed it, too, Peter. I hope we'll be able to meet at a future Fling! Thanks for sponsoring the give-away. I'm so excited! I hope you received my email? :)

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  21. Excellent review of the first day. I also loved that Rhonda Hayes garden, the way she mixed all kinds of plants in those containers. Between her garden and the Noerenberg, I've decided I must plant some blue vervain this fall.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. Yes, I'm sure Blue Vervain would be happy in your garden! Love that plant. We get so many great ideas from these Flings, don't we?

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  22. I don't make it to the flings, but enjoy the posts I come across about them. Thanks for allowing me to travel with you without leaving town!

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    1. Hi Sue: Certainly! Thanks for traveling with us virtually. It would be fun to meet you at a future Fling someday, though. :)

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  23. Beautiful post, I'm enjoying all these reports back from the fling. It sounds like you had a great trip and the gardens along the way are exceptional!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, it was a great time and we learned so much--like my first Fling last year. It was well worth the time and the cost for the rewards of being with kindred gardening spirits and learning more about gardens. :)

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  24. What a fantastic variety of beautiful gardens! It amazes me each time I've gone to a Fling how the organizers can find so many gorgeous gardens to explore. Thanks so much for sharing this, Beth. I'm short on time this morning, but I'll come back to see Part II a little later. Oh yes, that combo of hydrangea and Russian sage caught my eye and has started me thinking about next year in my own garden:)

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    1. Yes, it was another good Fling, Rose! Maybe one of these days we'll make it to the same Fling. ;-) You're welcome. :)

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  25. that torn between - wish I could spend all day here, and enjoying what you can see. Longing to go back to the Chelsea Physic Garden!

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    1. I know, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to tour gardens, write about gardens, and blog, and visit garden blogs all day long? OK, maybe there are other fun things to do, but what a joy it is to attend a Fling with garden-blogging friends! :)

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  26. Wow I can see this was a great Fling....I do wish I could have attended.

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