Photo by Saxon Holt, PhotoBotanic

Photo by Saxon Holt, PhotoBotanic

Finally caught up on my sleep after a red-eye into Baltimore, I’m ready to savor my photos and memories from the 6th annual Garden Blogger Fling, which was fabulous.

The gang posed above for the traditional group photo – this time by Saxon Holt, who also gave a workshop for the photographically challenged.  Speaking of which, I’ve learned from experience the humbling lesson that the place to see the best photos of Fling gardens is the Fling website, where links to dozens of blog posts will be compiled.  My own photos?  Meh.

So rather than a photo array of the truly awesome gardens we were lucky enough to tour, here are some random thoughts on the experience.

Annie's Annuals

The generosity of the Fling organizers led by Kelly Kilpatrick (above left) cannot be overstated.  It was a humongous amount of (volunteer) work.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Shown with Kelly is Annie of Annie’s Annuals, the fun garden center that lived up to the raves we’d all been reading about it for years.   Same goes Flora Grubb.

Richmond, California garden

The gardens we saw were outstanding, like the one here in Richmond.  Not only did we get to see this and other world-class private gardens; we got to talk to the gardeners themselves, like the one above.

Richmond, California garden

This garden taught me that I need more purple and chartreuse together, with a turquoise sculpture added to the mix if I can afford it.  What I definitely can’t afford is to do what the homeowners here did – buy an ocean-view home and then also buy the lot between it and said ocean to make sure the view is never blocked.  Next, hire a designer to create a garden in that lot with the simple instruction to make it beautiful.  Mission accomplished.

Rebecca Sweet in her garden

Blog-readers will recognize the fabulous Rebecca Sweet of Gossip in the Garden.  We loved her garden, her garden shed, the refreshments and her.

Gardenbloggers around pool

We got really lucky in the weather department – no rain or fog at all.  Though outside of downtown SF it was hot enough to want to do more than dip our feet into this pool.

Garden of Keeyla Meadows

Above, the wild and crazy garden of artist/garden designer Keeyla Meadows is unlike anything I’d ever seen before.   See, regular tourists would totally miss this Oakland treasure.

Oakland garden

Above, another garden in Oakland, as seen from the dining room.

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Contrast those images with what regular, nonFling tourists see, which I discovered during a seven-hour mostly-walking tour that I took the day before the Fling started.  Above is the iconic Lombard Street with its hydrangea-filled switchbacks.  It’s all maintained by a burned-out banker-turned-gardener who’s paid $1k/month plus free housing on the street by the other residents.

Parklet in San Francisco

Here’s one of many “parklets” I saw around town.  They’re parking spots converted into mini-parks where passers-by can have a seat.  Apparently other cities are liking what they see here in SF and copying the concept.

San Francisco mural

And some fabulous murals.

SF Pride Parade 2013

Okay, these last shots have nothing to do with gardening.  They’re of the Pride Parade, which proceeded just yards away from our hotel, the very week that Prop 8 and DOMA were overturned, and it’s San Francisco, after all, so how could I miss it?  So I blew off two gardens in favor of the parade…and I wasn’t the only Flinger who did.

San Fran6

My fellow Parade-goers were Ryan Schmitt, Lorene Edwards Forkner and Clint Albin.  On the right is your everyday clothing store mannequin.

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Five of the Supremes made an appearance.  Their recent majority opinion was the dominant theme in the parade, which included the actual plaintiffs in the case against Prop 8, and dozens of “just married” couples, many in full wedding regalia.  Pretty darn moving.

Final thought

If you’re a gardenblogger, DO treat yourself to a Fling.  You’ll see fabulous gardens and even better, make friends from across North America and England who share your passion.  Next year the Fling moves to Portland, OR and in 2015 it’ll go east to Toronto.