“How did you hear about the fling?” is a question I was asked several times during the 2017 DC Area Garden Bloggers Fling. My name was printed in red on my name tag to indicate to all that I was a first time flinger. After giving the question a few seconds of thought, I realized that I learned about the fling in one of my social media circles, either Instagram or Facebook. Someone I follow mentioned an annual event where plant passionate people gather over a weekend to mingle and tour some of the most beautiful gardens in the local area. There would be lots of giveaways and an opportunity to hear from some of gardener’s favorite brands. This year’s fling just happened to be planned in the Capital Region (DC, Maryland and Virginia) which is within driving distance of my home. I saw this as a sign that this year was the perfect chance for me to check out the fling without too much of an investment. But I still asked LOTS of questions and researched past flings before I “pulled the trigger” and completed my registration. After having flung with so many great bloggers, I’m really glad I did.
The fling started on Thursday evening and ended on Sunday. Unfortunately I arrived late on Thursday, so I missed the welcome event at Willowsford Farm. Over the rest of the four-day weekend, more than 80 bloggers trekked on buses from Virginia to DC to Maryland to see the most amazing gardens the area has to offer. With water bottles, sun hats and cameras in tow, we visited 16 public gardens (Hillwood Estate & Gardens, US Botanic Garden, Brookside Gardens, Meadowlark Gardens, and the 12 Smithsonian Gardens along the National Mall), ten private gardens, the Franciscan Monastery and Merrifield’s Garden Center. Amazing, right?! The fling was truly a gardeners paradise! For me, it was exciting to visit so many beautiful gardens in one trip – an opportunity I don’t get on family getaways with my husband and son who have a different idea of fun.
The two things you will see most on a garden bloggers fling are gardens and cameras. Most of us took hundreds of photos, maybe more. In the photo below, we had just arrived at the home of Barbara Katz (orange shirt), an exceptionally talented landscape designer who lives in Maryland. As you can see, bloggers like Bren Haas (pink shirt) and Jen McGuinness (yellow shirt) didn’t make it past the driveway before pausing for a shot.
Here, Janet Davis zooms in on a colorful display of coneflowers and giant purple allium. But what else would you expect from the blogger of The Paintbox Garden?
I thought it was kind of cool how each homeowner gave a little “talk” about the design of their garden and the plants they chose to fill it. Jeff Minnich had a captivated audience as he detailed the rich history of his home and woodland garden.
In addition to hearing from private garden owners like Peg Bier, Debbie Friedman, and Linda Hostetler, we also got to hear about innovative gardening products from brands like John & Bob’s Smart Soil Solutions (in the garden of Virginia blogger, Tammy Schmitt) and Organic Mechanics (during our lunch at Brookside Gardens). And….these awesome brands, along with several others like Corona Tools and Garden Design Magazine, provided free products in our BIG swag bags!
I love the name of Tammy’s garden, Casa Mariposa, which means ‘house of butterflies’. Tammy uses a myriad of containers and in-ground beds to create a blossoming refuge of flowers to attract butterflies and other pollinators to her garden space. I have lots of pollinator-friendly plants in my garden, so I was really intrigued by the way Tammy packs so many beneficial flowers in an urban space.
And then there were the public gardens. Where do I begin? I guess with my favorite which was Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens. As soon as we arrived, we posed for a quick group photo. I have never seen so many people assemble so quickly for a photo. Perhaps everyone knew the sooner we finished the photo, the sooner we could explore the gardens!
Hillwood Estate has 13 acres of formal gardens. The landscape is designed into various garden rooms, each with a distinct character and style. The “room” I loved the most was the Cutting Garden. And that’s where I lost track of time.
I fell in love with the articulately designed rows and the use of common items like netting and bamboo to keep the flowers neatly arranged. I walked through every inch of the Cutting Garden – touching the flowers, smelling the fragrances and looking at the plant list (located at the front of the garden) to identify annuals and perennials that were new to me.
The garden today looks very much like it did when Marjorie Post lived there.
The Cutting Garden is currently filled with a bounty of colorful flowers like zinnia, sunflowers and gomphrena that are used to decorate the interior spaces of Hillwood. The garden is planted to offer visitors something beautiful in every season. I would love to go back and visit in early Fall.
Sunflowers stood tall in neatly planted rows along the far side of the Cutting Garden. I love sunflowers and hadn’t realized they could thrive when planted so closely together. When I return home to my own garden, I’ll be filling in some bare spaces of my pollinator garden with a few more sunflowers seeds. A neat thing about the fling is that you gather so many ideas that can be put into practice in your own garden.
As I go through more of my photos I will write new posts to provide you with a closer look at the magnificent gardens we visited during the fling. However, as other bloggers begin to post their photos, it’s clear that every person embodies a unique viewpoint as no two pictures of the same garden are identical. Everyone sees the world differently – and it’s still a beautiful world!