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

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Think There's a Bottle (or Two) of Ibuprofen in My Future...

My first day of Garden Bloggers' Fling in Seattle is just about ended and all I can say is...

Holy Moly! Ever wonder what 60+ women sound like when they all talk at once?

I am exhausted. I've been so excited about this upcoming get-together of garden bloggers that I haven't been sleeping well for a week. I got up this morning from my home and drove into Seattle to the hotel where everyone is staying, checked in, had breakfast, picked up my welcome packet, and then went up to the lobby to wait for the tour buses that would take us to the first two private gardens on the agenda.

The lobby slowly started to fill. It got louder and louder. And warmer and warmer. I had to escape to the great outdoors.

Fortunately, for wasn't raining!

The rain stopped just in time for Fling! Just for us.

Anyhoo -- this first garden represents the hard work of Suzette and Jim Birrell. It was a wonderful mix of ornamentals and gigantic edibles. Her Swiss chard was the size of rhubarb. I didn't get a picture of it. But I took plenty of others.

A sea of sea holly

Such a marvelous juxtaposition of ferns

These Arisaema leaves were huge!

A peak behind the foliage

Sarracenia/Pitcher plant

Bell-shaped Clematis

One perfect flower (I'm not a rose grower, but if I were, I would plant two-tone roses like this.)

With the brutally wet and cold spring and summer we've had, do you know how impossible it is to grow Hollyhocks that look this healthy and stand so straight and tall? Must be magic.

I have no clue what plant this is,'s gorgeous! (I reserve the right to reuse this caption over and over again this weekend)

This cute little bubbler was tucked away

I'm not 100% positive, but I think this is Galega officinalis (it wasn't a Lupine)
Aren't these stone steps amazing?

There was a large stand of this ornamental oregano (possibly 'Kent Beauty') draped over the curb

 This second garden represents the hard work of Shelagh Tucker. It was a mix of raised beds and crushed stone paths, with plants popping up right in the middle of the gravel. It's not a look in keeping with my own cottage garden. But many aspects of it appealed to me.

I love the contrast of the soft grass against the hard stone

I don't have a clue what it is, but it's cool! And I want it! (Another caption I will undoubtedly reuse.) Edit: I think it is Lobelia tupa.

Chocolate Cosmos

This garden was full of these lovely little vignettes

The sweetpeas smelled amazing!

I have no clue what this is...but it's cool! And I want one.


Thalictrum of a different sort.

Red Helenium

Cool! Just totally cool!

One perfect poppy

Pineapple guava

It was so very kind and generous of both the Birrells and Shelagh Tucker to open their gardens to this huge bunch of stampeding, chatty folk. Both gardens are obviously a labor of love to their respective owners.

We also visited the Dunn Gardens in North Seattle (where my camera ran out of juice), the Center for Urban Horticulture, the Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library (a library that lends to the public and specializes in gardening books and magazines and other publications). And we got a tour of the Soest Garden outside the library, as well as a trip to Ravenna Gardens, a local boutique garden shop almost next door to the hotel. Where we got an incredible Bag o' Swag.

Incredible Bag o' Swag

Well, my head and heart are both still pounding. I'm having a great time. Can I withstand three more days of this? Time for a handful of Ibuprofen and (hopefully) a good night's sleep.


  1. I was so curious today wondering what other folks were seeing. Thanks for showing me so many things I missed! It really truly is an amazing experience that can overwhelm the senses in so many ways.

  2. Wonderfully exciting and overwhelming day you've had, Alison! Hope you wake up refreshed and headache-free! I also hope you packed your camera's charger? I can't wait to see what treats are in store for the next three days!

    I am able to identify one of the plants you have shared. It's the red, spiky-leafed plant with tiny, spiky florets popping out of the bottlebrush shaped flowerhead in the second garden you viited...and, tra la! It's called a bottlebrush or Callistemon, of which there are a number of varieties. The one you've shown is a weeping variety. Others have an upright growth pattern. They are extremely hardy Australian natives and do well in dry situations, but will also grow in wetter climates.

    Your goody bags looked marvellous and the gardens you visited were beautifully laid out with some lovely ideas to crib :)

  3. Alison, thank you! for taking the time to allow us to enjoy part of the day with you. I was so looking forward to meeting everyone and sad to have to cancel at the last minute. DH is doing well from his surgery, but still not 100 percent. I'll look forward to your update. Have a wonderful day today and do take it easy. :)

  4. Great gardens, I know you are having a grand time. I look forward to all the pictures from everyone, each picking their own favorites to share.

  5. So many beautiful flowers in these gardens!

  6. Alison, I would love to go on garden tours with you, but then you'd probably need a bucket of pain-killers to soothe your headache from all my raving over this and that and the next thing. (I do tend to get excited at these events.)

    I love all the things you showed us so far, and I reserve the right to use that caption, too! Your photography is amazing, I was just on a garden tour this week and am in the process of trying to get the people's behinders edited out of the shots. Not having much luck, I should have planned better, lol.

    I have to go back and admire all the photos, love this post!

  7. Beautiful gardens, Alison. Hopefully you didn't need the whole bottle. Such fun!


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