Garden blogging tends to be a solitary life. You start seeds, pull weeds, write about what's working and what's not. And, if you're like me, you fret, wondering if anyone reads what you're writing.
Helloooo? Is anyone out there?
A comment left on a post incites a happy dance. So, armed with this positive reinforcement, you go back and do it again.
But there are a few times each year when we garden bloggers abandon our gardens and lonely desks.
This year, more than 80 bloggers gathered for the Garden Bloggers' Fling--an annual garden tour extravaganza. I've been remiss in writing about this garden love-fest, last held in San Francisco, simply because it's taken me three months to sort and edit the 2,000 photos I took over the course of three days.
Yes. The Fling is that good.
This week, however, I spent two days at the Garden Bloggers' Conference in Atlanta, hosted by Digital Sherpa. It was the antithesis of the Fling but in a positive way. For two solid days, we lovers of the outdoors sat sequestered in a windowless conference room, learning. Social media, SEO, technology, photography...plus, a healthy dose of star power inspiration from garden bloggers who've made it big.
It was exactly what this non-techie girl needed.
Not only did my brain nearly explode from so much information, my social network expanded. I adored meeting and chatting with garden bloggers whom I've followed online for years.
Of course, one of my most memorable moments involved one of my favorite garden writers.
Garden-writer guru, I've always adored Amy's books and her collaborative blog, Garden Rant. So, like a 12-year-old with a crush on One Direction, I approached Ms. Stewart after her presentation to gush over one of my favorite books she's written, From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden.
I promptly spilled red wine all over my peach silk blouse and slunk away.
OK, so maybe it was too much socializing for those of us who spend days alone and afternoons chauffeuring 8- and 12-year-olds.
While the conference was fabulous (I now have so much work to do!), what would a garden conference be without a trip to a garden?
Before driving home to resume mom-duty, I headed to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Of course, mom-guilt kicked in after being away from the family, but it was worth the two-hour delayed return to reality.
You see, there was a special display I needed to visit.
Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger than Life lived up to its name.
A creative partnership between the Atlanta Botanical Garden and International Mosaiculture of Montreal, the living sculptures inspired awe, both in the enormity of the endeavor and the detailed care for each complex form.
Incorporated throughout the garden, each sculpture showcases the art of "Mosaiculture"--a combination of art and gardening. First popular in 16th century Europe, where wealthy landowners commissioned three-dimensional "embroidery beds," mosaiculture became the term known in 19th century France for geometric, mosaic-like forms of planted sculptures.
International Mosaiculture of Montreal, a nonprofit organization created in 1998, launched the first international mosaiculture competition in 2000 to showcase gardening and horticulture as representative of "new millennium values." Many of the garden bloggers who attended the Garden Writers' Association's conference this fall visited Montreal's mosaiculture exhibition. However, Atlanta's exhibition is the first time Imaginary Worlds is on display in the U.S.
Personally, I think the Ogre would make an excellent statement in our front yard.
I'm rather enamored with these bunnies. I wonder if I can stretch my gardening expertise to make up for my lack of artistic ability and create these for our garden? A funny thing happened when Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs posted a photo of the mosaiculture bunnies on its Facebook page: they were inundated with queries from potential customers! I think, perhaps, they should add mosaiculture bunnies to their product line. (I know I would be first in line to purchase.)
Part of the fun involved discovering the mosaiculture sculptures throughout the gardens. Yes, you could cheat and look at the map, but it was more interesting to wander the paths, admiring anemones and art...
...then--BOOM! A bigger-than-life, rotating, dancing fish sculpture greets you.
Or, perhaps you're admiring camellia sinensis, reading a sign about its usefulness in making tea...
...and when you look up, you find a giant strawberry hovering over you.
In fact, while I was delighted with the mosaiculture, I also found myself impressed with the breadth and diversity of the edible garden. Most botanical gardens tuck a few tired tomatoes and perhaps some peppers into a tiny plot, just to join the edible trend.
(I will plant a living herb wall some day. I will.)
The Atlanta Botanical Garden appears to take edible gardening seriously. Bravo!
After wandering the woodland paths, I finally reached my goal: the Cascades Garden...
...and the Earth Goddess. Isn't she fabulous?
I headed home, filled with gardening inspiration.
Now, to put all of that knowledge and inspiration to use...