If you thought the displays at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show were the most fun Mom and I had while in Chicago, that would be a good thought, but a wrong one. She and I can manage to have fun wherever we go, even if it's on the second floor of McDonald's (NYC) or the Walmart behind the hotel (Grand Rapids, MI). Sometimes we even tell about the fun we had.
Saturday night, after we managed to shut down the flower show at 9:00, we were fortunate to share a cab back to our hotel, the DoubleTree, with Alice Strong, founder and owner of the SeedBallz Company, along with a couple of her employees. Earlier in the day, I'd been given a sample of their seed balls to plant and review. While in the cab, Alice and I chatted about her company and I learned some really great stuff about it, which I'll share later in a separate post.
Once back in our room, Mom and I got settled in by putting our snacks in their fully-stocked refrigerator. We took their things out and put some of our pop cans in, along with some dill dip we'd brought along for snacking with chips. On top of the dresser where the refrigerator was housed, there were other drinks, including some really awesome glass bottled water. I picked one up to show to Mom, then put it back.
Mom went into the bathroom and as I was straightening things up, I happened to look at the card that was laying on the dresser and noticed it said, "Lifting product will charge to room." It was a kind of delayed reaction, but when the reality of that statement took full effect in my brain, I experienced that "fight or flight" kind of feeling in my gut.
"I think we're in trouble."
I quickly got out of my pajamas and into regular clothes and told Mom I'd be back. I got into the elevator and spent the next seven floors figuring out just how I was going to talk the hotel into removing $52 worth of drinks we didn't consume from our bill.
Now it is a well-known fact that I can talk my way into and out of just about anything, using what my previous employer called my "excellent verbal skills." My boss would have been proud of me. The desk clerk stifled a smile when I explained what we'd done and instructed us to simply put things back, call back down to let they know we'd done that, and they'd remove the charges. That was the best drunk we never got.
The next day, we got up early to have breakfast and make our way back to Navy Pier for another day of the flower show. We met MrBrownThumb and Gina (My Skinny Garden) for coffee. Mom and I had met them last year at Spring Fling and we'd looked forward to getting together this weekend. About an hour later, we made our way back to the press room, where a seed swap among Tweeters was scheduled to take place at 10:00.
There, we saw many familiar faces as well as a few new ones. Those attending the swap, in addition to Gina and MrBrownThumb, were Linda (Garden Girl), Cara (Blue_Hydrangea), Xan (Mahlzeit), Alex (Finding My Green Thumb), Julia (Snarky Vegan), Melissa, Abbie (K-Town Homestead) , and Diane (The Garden of Live Flowers). I left my first swap with seeds for my beloved Himalayan Blue Poppy, Variegated Purple Cleome, and 'Moon and Stars' Watermelon.
There were some other fun people in that press room, too. I recognized a certain man in a distinctive pink shirt and walked over to introduce myself, as he had instructed me to do when we'd chatted on Twitter. It was none other than the one and only Joe Lamp'l, a.k.a. Joe Gardener.
As I reached out to shake his hand, he was having none of that, being the warm-hearted southern gentleman that he is, and gave me a hug. We chatted a bit, he signed his book for me (read my review here), and as we had our picture taken together, he told me liked my jacket. Yes, he really did, and it was because it was green, which makes total sense because Joe is all about living "green." He's all about nice, too.
We attended his presentation on Sunday morning - The $25 Victory Garden - and were thoroughly entertained by the synopsis of his adventure in gardening last year, where he was challenged to grow enough food to feed his family of four on $25. How he did it held us rapt for the entire hour, as did his down-to-earthiness. Joe is one of us!
Unfortunately, Mom and I weren't able to attend Shawna's presentation at the show - Vegetable Gardening Nude: How Getting Metaphorically Naked Changed My Life and Helped Me Feed My Family, Neighborhood, and City In A Down Economy - because she spoke on the second weekend and we attended the first. A missed opportunity to hear Shawna speak means you've lost a chance to appreciate life on a whole other level.
And then there were These Two:
I capitalize "These Two" because if you've ever run into them, you know that lower case just won't do. For those of you that may have thought gardening was boring (perish the thought!), Jean Ann Van Krevelen and Amanda Thomsen would like to have a word with you. For more about them, a good place to start would be their blog, Good Enough Gardening.
The day before, we had run into some other garden bloggers we'd met at Spring Fling and whose blogs we try to follow. The first familiar face we saw was that of Anneliese Valdes from Cobrahead at their vendor's booth. While we were there, a familiar voice called my name and I looked over to see Barbara from Mr. McGregor's Daughter and Rose from Ramble On Rose.
NOTE: Imagine my surprise when I tuned into Jeopardy! this evening and found that Rachel was a contestant! She won, too! Congratulations, Rachel! We'll be watching again tomorrow night and cheering you on!
Mom and I ran into Beth Botts (Growing in Chicago), too, and after a brief Tweet-up, we went to a pub there at Navy Pier and had dinner with Beth, Shawna, Bill Aldrich, and C.L. Fornari. Such great garden world conversation!
What would a flower and garden show be without some shopping? I always hope to find something a little unusual at shows such as this. I don't know that I did that, but I came home with some pretty cool purchases just the same.
I was so tempted to buy all kinds of their bulbs, but limited myself to three pink Pineapple Lily (Eucomis sp.) bulbs, a package of beautifully colored Gladiolus, three large hardy Cyclamen hederifolium (and I do mean LARGE), and three Gloriosa Lily (Gloriosa superba) tubers.
Was there anything I saw that I wanted, but didn't buy? Of course.
The Burgon and Ball widger shown on the far lower right of this display at Landreth Seeds.