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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Flinging a Few Thoughts Around...

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 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.)


  1. I think that's fascinating that you are approached by reps to test products, etc.
    I loved SOME of the proven winners I've grown in the past and think that would be fun to grow something NO ONE ELSE has---yet.

  2. I totally want to's really a matter of cost and just never know with work. I'm crossing my fingers I can go to this one...or the next long as it isn't anywhere hot ;-)

  3. Great post Alison, no doubt many bloggers who have no idea what the fling is about will enjoy learning more. I plan to be in SF in June, pending costs. I am afraid a city as expensive as SF is going to make Seattle's adventures look like pocket change.

    Also I like your list of hoped for activities and you're smart to plan to see them no matter what. I hadn't thought of the Gardens of Alcatraz but since I haven't been that would be amazing!

    Hope to be toasting another fling with you in "only" 7 months!

  4. Thanks so much for this post (and the comments on my blog). This gives me a good picture of what to expect. I'm still undecided if I will attend. It is way outside my comfort zone to hang out for an entire weekend with people I don't know. But, the event sounds so intriguing. Last month we spent a day in San Francisco while on our road trip. I enjoyed the city so much that afterwards I thought how I'd love to go on a girls weekend there. Lo & behold, a month later the ultimate girls weekend shows up at my fingertips. I look forward to meeting you if I do end up going.

  5. Great post Alison! I sort of wondered what y'all did at those flings and am hopig to go to SF but am looking forward to meeting you this month! I'll look for the nice blonde lady drinkining a latte (I'm guessing?)

  6. Introversion seems to cut a wide swath in the gardening world, but when plants are involved, we loosen up considerably and never seem to run out of conversation. I tend to like my socializing in smaller doses, so I think I will blow my limited wad on new plants. It would be fun to meet you...maybe a Fling in Portland(?)

  7. Great post Alison. I am still thinking about coming out to SF for the Fling. Living in SC airfare will factor into the total cost. When I went this past year I shared a room with Daricia, A Charlotte Garden. Really nice fellow blogger, who I had not met before going. (the kids were all 'ax murderer' about rooming with someone I didn't know). I had a blast, she and I chatted well into the night.
    I printed some cards (Vista print had an offer for a bazillion for $10). The social event the first night was a bit overwhelming, we first timers hung out together.
    All in all, Flings are the best time ever!! Hoping to come, would love to meet you face to face...and get to know those I met last time a bit better. It is a whirlwind of activity. Great people and lovely gardens!!

  8. Alison, this post is great: I would really love to attend a Fling. Cost is definitely a factor, but it certainly helps to have all the other info more spelled out. As I'm somewhat shy it is really encouraging to hear a confessed introvert say she is planning to attend another Fling. Although I feel I almost know you already, if I can pull the funding together in 2013, we will meet in person!

  9. I've never heard of this, thanks for posting. I will have to look into it, not sure if I'll be able to swing it.


  10. Hello Alison, I had no idea you were an introvert. I think many gardeners are, though. And I bet more than a few of the people you met remember you. We never know how many lives we touch with just a smile.

    I've never been to California (never flown, either, unless you count the basement steps) so I'm looking forward to your account of the Fling. I'm often asked for a 'card' when people come here, too, and I'm always flabbergasted. I never thought to have cards printed up...not even for the stained glass as we don't sell them. But maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea.

    If I don't talk to you before, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  11. Well, I doubt I'll go but I'll be there in spirit and I will ooh and ahh over all the photos! Great post.

  12. Sounds like you are going to have one wonderful gardening time..and I didn't know that you lived so close to where I used to live.

    We were practically neighbours.



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.