|That's me, Bonney Lassie. In case you've never clicked on the About Me link on my blog, my full name is Alison Conliffe. I hope I meet you at the Fling.|
You may have noticed that I have a badge on my blog now for the 2013 Garden Bloggers Fling, which will take place on June 28-30 in San Francisco, CA. If you click on the badge, over there on the left hand side of the page, it should take you to the official Fling Blog, which is where Flingers (Flingees?) go to get updates on all the news about the Fling.
If you're on Facebook, there is a group page there as well, where attendees post thoughts on the Fling, news about the Fling, links to their blog posts about the Fling, or pretty much anything else that strikes their fancy. It's here.
There is also a Pinterest board for the 2012 Fling. It's here.
So far the organizers have only announced the dates for the 2013 Fling, and a call has gone out for sponsors to help defray the costs of necessities like meals and transportation. There is no hotel or tour information, yet. The Fling organizers are still working on that.
I attended the Seattle Fling in 2011, but I didn't go to the 2012 Fling in Asheville, NC. I AM planning to go to the 2013 Fling in San Francisco, CA. I'm hoping since it's in San Francisco, that it will include a tour of the Ruth Bancroft Garden and the Gardens of Alcatraz, and maybe a little trip to Annie's Annuals. If it doesn't, I may just have to stay an extra day to visit those spots on my own.
Are you thinking of going, but not sure whether you'll like it? Well, I thought I'd do a little brain dump here about my experience in Seattle, in hopes that it will help you decide.
I went to the Fling for one major reason. Yes, I was looking forward to seeing some spectacular local gardens, but I was really looking forward to meeting people. Since you don't know me, I thought I would point out: I am an introvert. But that doesn't mean I don't like people. I do. But I like them in moderation -- one on one. My first day of the Fling was explosive. After breakfast, everyone -- 70-80 people -- congregated in the small lobby of the hotel to wait for our buses to arrive. The crowd, and the noise, built and built, to the point where I started to feel suffocated. I went outside to get some fresh air and avoid the press of bodies. It wasn't long before others spilled out through the door as well.
I moved here to the PNW from Massachusetts, and had few local gardening friends. I was hoping to make some new ones, and I did. I met Debbie Teashon, who writes a fabulous gardening resource for PNW gardeners called Rainyside.com. She's also a lot of fun, a friendly, amusing, creative raconteur. I also met Barbara Sanderson, who owns the garden decor company Glass Gardens Northwest, which makes beautiful glass ornaments for the garden. I've since bought quite a few of her creations. And I made friends with Melanthia Peterman, who was one of the forces behind the creation of the local Seattle group called Seattle Area Garden Bloggers United To Talk (SAGBUTT). I managed to worm my way into that group and meet other members. I briefly met other bloggers from the Seattle area, but I have no doubt they have little to no memory of meeting me, which is not surprising given my shy nature and the meeting-people-overload that is the nature of the Fling.
I met plenty of other bloggers from around the country too: Kylee Baumle, who writes Our Little Acre, Helen Battersby, of Toronto Gardens, Barbara Wise of bwisegardening, and Loree Bohl, of danger garden. I sat next to and conversed with many others (I remember them all, but I truly doubt they remember me.)
So besides meeting lots of talkative, garden-obsessed people, what other surprises can you expect from the Fling?
Well, one thing about the Fling that surprised me was the first question I was asked: Do I have a business card? I don't. I modestly explained that I was just a gardener who writes a blog. I don't use my blog to drum up business for a garden design company, or as a launching point for a new career in writing, or as a platform for self-promotion. I don't have a problem with bloggers who do, but that isn't me. But you can expect to meet many bloggers at the Fling who fit that description.
The second thing that surprised me at the Fling was how many people attending were not actually bloggers, but were in fact public relations representatives from gardening-related companies, who are looking to get in touch with you. They consider bloggers to be a great resource for getting the word out to other gardeners about their products. For the most part, that's not me, either. One of the PR reps at the Fling was from Proven Winners, and they have contacted me about writing about their products, and have put me on their list for receiving new plant introductions to try in my garden. I have also written a few reviews for Timber Press for books that I've liked. If I'm not mistaken, there was no Timber Press representative at the Fling. But they got in touch with me via email after the Fling ended, possibly because they saw my blog in the blogroll of attendees (that's just a guess). But basically, I don't shill. I don't even have 100 subscribed blog followers, I don't honestly know how many readers I reach on a regular basis. I don't care. Sometimes I look at my stats out of idle curiosity. But I don't have a clue how to use my stat information. I do keep track of who comments on my blog, and I try to respond in kind. I consider the ones who respond often to be friends, even though I've never met you in person.
How much did the Fling cost? I didn't have to travel far, so I can't say how much plane travel cost. But remember to factor that cost in if you're coming to San Francisco from far away. I did stay in the Fling hotel for three nights, which cost $139 per night and included breakfast each morning. The Fling itself cost $200.00 to attend, which covered all transportation and garden fees, as well as three boxed lunches, and included 2 cocktail receptions hosted by those public relations representatives previously mentioned. We had one day when we had to pay for our own lunch.
If you're thinking of coming to the Fling next year -- please do. I'd like to meet you for real, one-on-one, especially if you're just a gardener who writes a blog. Introduce yourself to me. I'm a good listener (many introverts are). Who knows, I might even say something clever or funny (I sometimes do, and it's not always intentional).
If I didn't answer specific questions you have about the Fling here in this post, ask in the comments. If I know the answer, I'll respond.
If you're interested in reading the posts I wrote on this blog about my days at the Fling you can find them here and here. And here and here. If you look around on the Fling blog, you'll find links to blog posts by plenty of other attendees.
And sorry this post has so few pictures. Just the one of me above. How else will you recognize me? (Oh wait, that might have been a little bit of self-promotion there.)