Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Stop The Bus, I Need A Wee Wee...

Stop The Bus, I Need A Wee Wee

Sunday, the last day of the Garden Bloggers Fling, began once again at 8 a.m., with everyone boarding buses for a long day of garden touring. We again had eight stops, but how do I count how many gardens we saw? Our lunchtime stop was at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and how many gardens are there? (Lots) None of the private gardens that day offered the use of their bathrooms. I don't know about Bus #2, but Bus #1 had a toilet at the back, although it was dark, cramped and hot and there was no hand sanitizer. Once you shut the door it was so dark it was hard to figure out how to lock it (I did, though). The Fling organizers provided a packet of handi-wipes to use when you emerged. I'm not complaining so much as offering an honest and hopefully complete view of what being at a Fling entails. Sorry if it's TMI.

Onward to the gardens.

The Hamlings offered breakfast in the form of mini-quiches and Mimosas. I had already eaten breakfast but I tried a quiche, and passed on the Mimosa since I don't drink alcohol except under extraordinary circumstances (i.e., I'll probably drink some wine to toast my son's wedding coming up this fall). This garden probably was not really big enough to handle all 85 of us at once, but the Fling organizers decided to let us all out here at the same time anyway.

It was really crowded.

The back garden had a patio with a seating area on the left. A fireplace separated the seating area from a dining area, which was next to a sort of par-terre-like garden and a more shady area to the far right under an umbrella.

All 85 people crammed into this space with their cameras, Mimosas and quiche, all talking at once.

Someone (I'm not saying who) broke a glass. It wasn't me. If I were her I'd blame it on the fact that there were 85 people crammed into this garden.

Our second garden of the day was the Rob Proctor and David Macke garden, which I wrote about in my previous post Way Too Much Is Just About Right.

Our third garden was the Borland garden, a garden full of drought tolerant plants that he claims hasn't been watered in 25 years.

Jim Borland displayed these "Before" photos

We saw plenty of robust clumps of blue flax in many gardens -- not sure if this is Linum lewisii or Linum perenne

Cheerful yellow flowers -- possibly 'Mesa Yellow' Gaillardia against a stone wall

An herb circle in the back garden

Some kind of horned poppy, probably Glaucium corniculatum

Curious about this flower, I asked -- he said it was a perennial four o'clock

Fallugia paradoxa aka Apache Plume, a shrub with rose-like flowers that turn to seedheads that very much resemble Geum triflorum

Honeysuckle climbing a trellis by the back door

Another honeysuckle on the back fence, this one called 'Kinzley's Ghost'

Our fourth stop of the day was the Denver Botanic Gardens, which I posted about here. Finally, at lunchtime, a chance to use a real toilet. I went twice for good measure.

We went straight from the DBG to the private garden of Panayoti Kelaidis, the DBG's curator and outreach director, our fifth stop of the day.

Waiting in line at Disneyland -- no wait, we're waiting to walk single-file down a narrow path in Panayoti's garden

At the side of the path was a series of troughs each with a tall, snowy Verbascum next to it

This tower of stacked rock with plants growing in it sits over a small pond (I wonder if there was once a waterfall through it?)

Fluffy Pulsatilla seedheads

Panayoti on the right talking to bloggers

The sixth stop of the day was the Dan Johnson and Tony Miles garden, which I wrote about in Way Too Much Is Just About Right.

The seventh garden was the garden of Keith and Retha Funk.

Water feature with a split waterfall

Long drought tolerant bed along the side of the house by the street

Rock garden (because Denver) beside the water feature

The red flower in the center is Monardella 'Marion Sampson' -- I'm pretty sure it's 'Marion Sampson' because that's the only cultivar I've ever seen for sale

Coral pink Peony with lady's mantle

Eremurus and Heather -- the person in the blue hat (I don't think I actually saw any heather the plant in the Denver area)

Blue Flax and Eremurus and Flingsters relaxing on the patio at the top of the waterfall

I am now going to admit to something that might make me sound like a terrible person. Hoover Boo commented in a previous Fling post that on Flings she liked gardens where we have enough time to sit down and "take it in." I've seldom felt tempted to sit down in any garden I've visited. I would have to be absolutely exhausted, practically to the point of fainting, to sit down in a garden, because it means someone might sit down beside me and want to talk. Talking means the opposite of being able to "take it in." It's a distraction from enjoying the garden. If I could sit down in the garden alone and "take it in" that would make me very happy. I'm socially awkward and not a people person (although sometimes I make a good semblance of it). There is already a lot of talking and interacting on the bus, I don't want to tempt people to think I'd like to talk more. It's also exhausting and overwhelming to be faced every hour with a brand new garden and to try to figure out "what do I think of this?" I worry that I will seem just as judgmental as I worry others are of me (and would be of my garden). It seems it's my nature to mistrust people in general.

Now That I've Gotten That Out of The Way

Our final stop of the day was at Chatfield Farms, where we had an hour before dinner to explore. The Fling often ends with a flourish -- a catered dinner and a presentation by the team who will be hosting next year's Fling. Next year it will be in Madison, Wisconsin.

I took very few pictures. I was tired. There were mosquitoes. Heather of Just a Girl With A Hammer and I made an executive decision that even though we had an hour till dinner we were going to walk to the barn where dinner was going to take place and just wait there till they fed us. Imagine our surprise when we got there and found others of the PNW contingent had already arrived before us and had chosen a table as far away from the band as possible. There was going to be music and dancing (!!!) after dinner. Unfortunately it was also furthest away from the food, but hey, it was a trade-off that was worth it. It was even worth having to eat messy chicken on the bone with my fingers because by the time we got to the food the caterers had run out of knives.

The PNW table was The. Most. Fun. Table. In. The. Room. We killed a lot of mosquitoes. Some of us were almost as good as Mr. Miyagi with his chopsticks. Or Pres. Obama and the fly.

If you've never been on a Fling, you should consider it. It IS a lot of fun. I've now been on four, and despite what sounds like complaining in some of my posts, this one in Denver was the most fun of any I've been to. If you're a people person who enjoys meeting other bloggers from around the country you will love it. If you're an introvert like me, think about how much peopling you can endure for the sake of seeing some great gardens, because you WILL see some great gardens and come home exhausted but with your head spinning full of wonderful ideas to implement in your own.

Thanks so much to the Denver Fling team for putting on a great show, and to the Fling advisory team who does great work helping to oversee the process.

If you missed my other posts about the Denver Fling, you'll find them here and here.


  1. I am sure I left more than a few people with the idea that I am a bitch. I too need to not be involved in a conversation in order to appreciate a garden. I want to explore it and discover what makes it unique. Not stop mid pathway to have a talk about some flower that then goes on for the rest of the walk through the garden. Ugh (see, bitch). The bus is for talking. Gardens are for exploring and photographing. Well, unless of course it was one of the gardens I was able to explore in about 5 minutes. In which case standing around and talking is the best way to spend the time until we were back on the bus. I am really curious what made Denver the most fun Fling for you...

  2. I'm an introvert too, although being in Human Resources for decades I was forced to adapt my public demeanor (a LOT) but I still don't consider myself good at idle chit-chat. You've done a great job of covering this Fling in my view and I don't at all mind the honest assessment of "issues." Moreover, I consider that useful input for future organizers as well as attendees and nothing you've said would put me off the idea of attending a future Fling. My only open wish is to understand how the Borland garden thrives on 15 inches of average rainfall a year without irrigation of some sort.

  3. Another introvert here who also does not want to chitchat in a garden that I am trying to "take in". Visiting is for later, and in limited amounts.
    I have spent some time in Colorado. The climate is harsh and not easy to garden in. I appreciate those you who have shown where the gardener worked within the limitations of the environment.

  4. I love this post so much Alison. I also really loved this Fling (but have enjoyed them all) and I think it seemed special because of the unique plant palette and gardening style that we saw here-and the dry weather (I grew up in LA) is right up my alley.Not to mention the fabulous scenery that we saw every day . Had I only known about the Portland table ! Mosquitoes are not interested in me and I might might have served as a repellent.
    I plan to return to Denver in Sept of 2020 for a deeper dive into the public gardens in the area.

  5. Well, I loved the clip of Obama and the fly - I'd not seen that before. Your issues would be my issues, too, but I'm not a blogger so I won't have to worry about that. Daily life can be enough of a challenge. Thanks for all the garden tours. I've been reading you for quite a while and always appreciate both your garden and the ones you visit.

  6. So glad that you enjoyed this fling so much! Loved the "Stop the Bus I need a Wee Wee" bit. Live music (amplified, no doubt) would send me over the overstimulated edge after a day of noisy bus riding and garden touring. Perhaps introverts are able to communicate or at least do small talk well so that then people will let us go away and be alone.

  7. It is entirely possible that the person charged with breaking the glass didn't actually do it. After all it was behind her, and anyone could have thrown that glass on the bricks after she walked past. And then devilishly blamed me. I mean her. Cheers, Alison. I had fun being your fellow introvert.

  8. Let's see if this works with a not unknown "comment as" character.

  9. Jim Borland's garden was my favorite, hands down. That flax! But why did you have to remind me of the bathroom on the bus? Oh, the horror! Oh, but I guess you were on the other bus.


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.