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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Another One Rides The Bus

I survived the 2019 Denver Garden Bloggers Fling. If you aren't familiar with the Fling, it's a yearly event that has been going on for more than ten years now -- a weekend gathering of garden bloggers, always in a different city, organized by bloggers in that city. We get together in a swanky hotel, tour various public and private gardens for three days (and a bit) on a couple of chartered tour buses. We come from all over the U.S. and Canada, and a few come from as far away as the U.K.

You can find out more on the Garden Bloggers Fling website here.

Two of the three days of touring lasted 12 hours. We got on the buses at 8 a.m. and got back to the hotel at around 8 p.m. We saw a lot of gardens, which was illuminating, but it was a grueling pace and a lot of bus riding. After I returned I basically spent three days in a near catatonic state, curled up on the couch, eating popsicles and watching TV. Occasionally I looked out the window at my own garden and cursed.

"Weird Al" Yancovic
Another One Rides The Bus

If you know me, or have read my blog for a while, you probably know what a neurotic introvert I am. What on earth possessed me to decide to spend 3 days (and a bit) on a crowded, loud tour bus in a strange city that I had to get to by flying on a crowded airplane for three hours?

Back in May I had a medical procedure that required that I be sedated with Propofol. When I woke up I had the most incredible sense of well being, almost euphoria, a feeling that lasted for two weeks or more. I follow the Garden Bloggers Fling website, and during those two weeks I read some of the posts about "what's coming up on the tour" and thought "I can do this!"

So I signed up.

I've since read that medical researchers are studying the use of Propofol as a treatment for depression. Read about it here.

Oh, and just in case you'd rather listen to the original song, rather than Weird Al's parody, here's Queen singing "Another One Bites the Dust." Freddie Mercury might be a cure for depression too.

Another One Bites The Dust

Our first stop that first day was at The High Plains Environmental Center, a planned community in Loveland, 50 miles north of Denver. I didn't take many photos there, being still somewhat jet-lagged and feeling a bit headachey. Having just been warned that we should drink lots of water since we were a mile higher in elevation, which can bring on headaches unexpectedly, I spent an inordinate amount of time there trying to figure out where the tour coordinators had hidden the cooler full of water bottles. I finally found it just as we were boarding the buses to go on to our next destination.

Colorful Penstemons and Columbines figured prominently here and in many other gardens over the next two days.

I went to one of my local nurseries a few days ago and bought their last packet of Botanical Interests' Penstemon strictus. Seed company Botanical Interests was our host for the Fling.

Our second stop of the day was a public garden which has recently expanded, located in Fort Collins, another 20 miles north of Denver (so our first day we ended up a total of about 70 miles north of Denver.)

Every year at the Fling there is an official portrait of all the attendees. This year it took place on the lawn at the Gardens on Spring Creek.
Denver Fling attendees (Click to embiggen)

If you're looking for me, I'm hard to spot. I deliberately tried to hide. I'm center left, peeking out from behind the woman in the white shirt and scarf. You can just see my white hair and turquoise shirt. Next to me are two Portland bloggers -- in the dark shirt with polka dots is Loree of Danger Garden and next to her in the large flower print is Heather of Just a Girl With A Hammer. I hung out on the bus with the Portland bloggers (and one brand new Seattle area blogger -- Michelle who writes Sound Gardener) and they are the most fun bunch!

Upon arrival at the Gardens on Spring Creek I got out my map and immediately set off in search of the new Prairie Garden. One of my reasons for attending the Fling was because of the Denver area's reputation for using lots of drought tolerant prairie style plants. I wanted to see this new area. I didn't realize quite how newly planted it was!

Having a newly planted prairie garden myself, I was glad to see some familiar plants.

Sanguisorba menziesii

Amorpha canescens

Geum triflorum

You may have noticed how cracked and dry the soil is. The Denver area gets about 15 inches of rain per year and 55 inches of average snowfall. You can see some Denver climate info here.

Before lunch (and a stop at a veritable sauna of a porta-potty), I wandered up to the rock garden and got a few shots.

I'm not a big rock garden fan, but dry stream beds are cool.

And I like poofy seedheads

And Agaves. Everyone knows Agaves are cool. Especially when they're wearing a bib made out of Delosperma

The remainder of the gardens for the day, visited in the afternoon after eating lunch at the Gardens on Spring Creek, were located in Fort Collins. They were both private gardens.

The first thing I noticed when the bus pulled up was irises in the front garden.

One clump was nearly black

But this one, in a small clump by itself, was really black

Also a Meconopsis cambrica

And a lush Rosa glauca pruned into a standard

The blue foliage of the rose plays well with the blue grass nearby

On my way to the back garden I found a patch of Alchemilla mollis that had been sprinkled recently with water, causing it to bead up

In the back garden the back end of a waterfall had been planted up with a mosaic of shade plants featuring some nice miniature Hostas, mixed with ferns, hardy ornamental ginger and Corydalis.

Nearby was a paperbark maple (Acer griseum)

Further wandering found some other flowers, for a flower floozie to admire.

More Irises...

And this funky thing

As well as a gaggle of garden bloggers in hats, almost as colorful as the flowers.

Our last stop, another private garden, had more show-stopping Irises in front.

This shot shows, once the bus disgorges its passengers, how quickly it becomes impossible to get an overall shot that gives the reader some sense of the garden.

This smoke tree near the front of the house featured a perennial new to many of us, Stanleya pinnata, aka desert princes' plume, a North American native

Finally, with everyone in the back, I managed to get a shot of the front from the other direction with fewer people. But it's still hard to really give an impression of how striking this front garden with its flowers and criss-crossing paths was.

Another black iris

On the way into the back garden, near the entrance was this deep red Clematis

There were more flowers in the back -- irises and a rose.

But the big deal of the day was the crevice garden. It was designed by Kenton Seth, who also designed the crevice garden that Far Reaches Farm put in recently.

Look at all those cutie-pie little Semps!

I wish I could figure out how they manage to get their Sempervivums to make such thick carpets. Mine always bloom heavily, leaving big gaping holes. We saw lots and lots of rock and crevice gardens, with many more Semps, all weekend.

So, that was Friday. We had a long ride back to the hotel, and two more days of garden touring to come, one in Boulder, and the last day, Sunday, in Denver.

If you're wondering why I said the Fling lasts for three days (and a bit), it's because it officially starts on Thursday evening with a welcome party. Not everyone makes it to the welcome party. I did, but I didn't take many pictures. You can read about it on other blogs. If you want to see what other bloggers who attended are writing about, you can get a list with links here.