Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Spring Fling Garden Party Giveaway!

"I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends...
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name."

~ Ricky Nelson

What a feeling, walking into a room full of friends you've never met. Mom and I were there at the reception for the Spring Fling bloggers at Elephant and Castle restaurant, and it took a second to confirm that I did indeed know this person standing in front of me. Some garden bloggers are shy on their blogs and I'd never seen their faces, but the name tag rescued me by stating the first name and that of their blog.
I felt like someone who has ADD as the night went on, and one by one, familiar names and faces showed themselves. There was lots of hugging and smiles all around as we all worked our way around the room.

There were several special guests at our dinner:

  • Dr. Jane Smith - author of The Garden of Invention, the story of Luther Burbank. Jane brought a complimentary copy of her book for each blogger. Thanks, Jane! (Jane was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine and I got to sit beside her at lunch on Saturday!)

  • Barbara Hastings - representative from Troy-Bilt, who presented each blogger with a garden journal. Troy-Bilt also donated a tiller worth over $600, which was won by one lucky blogger! Barbara and Troy-Bilt picked up the tab for some extra expenses at Saturday evening's meal, too. Thank you, Troy-Bilt, and it was fun hanging out with you, Barbara!

  • Anneliese Valdes from CobraHead®, who donated several CobraHead® weeders, which were won by lucky bloggers. (Not me - Boo hoo!)

  • Lainey and Fallon from Edelman Public Relations, representing Scotts Miracle Gro - both women spoke to us a bit about Scotts Miracle Gro GroGood campaign, which is helping to raise awareness of growing food for the hungry. Scotts Miracle Gro was one of the sponsors of Spring Fling.

  • Beth Botts - Beth has written for over 20 years for the Chicago Tribune and is now freelancing. She shared freely of her knowledge of Chicago and gardening and Mom and I were fortunate to get to spend some one-on-one time with her at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Then, of course, there were the bloggers - the reason we all were gathered there in Chicago. I couldn't believe it - all of us in the same room - the faces behind the blogs we like to read and have learned so much from.

First, I recognized Shawna Coronado. Shawna has that kind of personality you're naturally drawn to, both in person and on Twitter, where I'd first "met" her. She welcomed me warmly with a hug and we immediately began talking about ... hmmm ... what was it now? Oh yes - everything. I have a feeling if Shawna and I were in a room by ourselves, they could lock the doors for 24 hours and at the end of that time, they'e come back to let us out and we'd still be chatting away.

Shawna is especially interesting to me because she has made a complete turnaround in her life regarding her health. She had extensive health problems and became healthier by getting outside and in the garden. Her book,
Gardening Nude, is a chronicle of that experience and she gave me a copy, which I'm looking forward to reading. Shawna lives in Chicago and also writes The Casual Gardener blog.

Nearby was Robin Wedewer, who was easily recognizable from her photo on her blog,
A Bumblebee Garden. Then there was Elizabeth Licata and Susan Harris, both writing at Garden Rant and their own blogs, Gardening While Intoxicated (Eliz) and Sustainable Gardening Blog (Susan).

At that moment, Layanee from Ledge and Gardens in Rhode Island came up behind me and introduced herself. I've enjoyed Layanee's blog for quite some time and was so happy to finally meet her. She ate dinner at our table and we all enjoyed her company and wit!

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Lisa from Greenbow and her sister, Tena. I'd met Lisa and her husband a couple of weeks ago when they stopped for a visit on their way home to southern Indiana from a vacation in Michigan. Lisa feels like an old friend and there were warm hugs when we greeted each other again.

Next, Gail from Clay and Limestone and Frances from FaireGarden introduced themselves and there were squeals of delight as we finally got to meet each other. Both were just as charming and warm as they are in their blogs and I was so glad they traveled up from Tennessee. I regret that we weren't able to spend much time together throughout the weekend. I'm not sure how that happened, because they are both a couple of my favorite bloggers, but it did. Next Spring Fling, we'll remedy that!

I recognized Carol of May Dreams Gardens right away and introduced myself. She generously offered a cutting from her famous Night Blooming Cereus and I was happy to take it off her hands. It is now sitting in a corner of the front porch, where it will be dutifully ignored, as recommended by both you and Chris from Outside Clyde. Thank you, Carol!

L-R: Gail of Clay & Limestone, Lisa of Greenbow, Chris & Katie of GardenPunks, and Elizabeth Licata of Garden Rant and Gardening While Intoxicated (giving me "the eyebrow").

Then there was Katie and her husband Chris, from gardenpunks, all the way from California! I have a special spot in my heart for Katie. She has been a reader of my blog from way back, and has always been a fresh voice of encouragement. She swears she's not a stalker, but I have my doubts. (Just kidding!!) Katie, at 28, could be my daughter, but it feels more like we're contemporaries and that we've been friends forever. You know how you just "click" with some people right from the start? That's Katie and me - SNAP!

We were let into the reception dining room and we took seats at round tables. While we were waiting to get in line for our food, a dark and mysterious man was seen hanging out by our table. I looked at his name tag and OMG, it was MrBrownThumb!

Once I got over the shock of seeing that he was not in his 50s as I'd somehow pictured him, I immediately got up and gave this wonderful man a big hug.
I have always enjoyed MBT's blog and have been impressed with his horticultural knowledge, but I now have a deep respect for his generous nature and his quiet manner. I can't tell you how many times he went above and beyond the call of duty to try to make our weekend in Chicago an experience none of us would forget. He was more than successful in doing this and I will never forget how selfless he is. Thank you, Ramon! (And yes, I have a photo of him, but I took an oath not to share it online. Sorry!)

Following a fabulous buffet meal, which took me the longest of all those present to finish (because I couldn't talk and eat at the same time), special guests were introduced and giveaways were conducted. We all know that Shawna Coronado stuffed the entry box, because she won everything that was given away, but she generously gave up most of them. She kept the CobraHead long-handled weeder though, and I couldn't blame her. I was hoping to win that one, too!

Troy-Bilt gave away a tiller worth over $600 and Elizabeth Licata was the first winner of that fabulous prize. I say "first," because she declined when her name was drawn, due to her not having a garden where she can use a tiller of this size. The second winner was Jessica from Chicago, who had plans for its use in a community garden.

Other prizes given away were a ceramic compost jar from
Gardener's Supply (won by Carol of May Dreams Garden), several $50 gift cards from (I won one of these!), a collection of personal beauty products from Chicago Honey Co-op (won by Anneliese Valdes), a $25 gift card from Gardens Alive! , a shirt, book, and buttons from You Grow Girl, a set of books from Timber Press, and a few other things that I can't recall.

In addition to the prizes, each person in attendance was presented with a swag bag chock full of wonderful gardening goodies. Included in the reusable bags (from Miracle-Gro) were a copy of Dr. Jane Smith's book
The Garden of Invention, several books from Sunset Books, seeds and a beautiful poppy mouse pad from Botanical Interests, seeds and a cookbook from Renee's Garden, a garden journal from Troy-Bilt, a certificate for free organic fertilizer from Garden Guys (procured by Layanee), a pair of garden gloves from Ethel Gloves, a copy of the book Waking Up in Eden by Lucinda Fleeson, lip balm from Chicago Honey Co-op, and a tote bag from The Houston Chronicle (courtesy of Cindy of My Corner of Katy in Texas, who also brought poppy seeds from her own garden for everyone).

Before we knew it, the evening had grown late and a bunch of tired gardeners started making their way back to the hotel rooms. MrBrownThumb and the other members of the Spring Fling team began gathering up the leftovers and found there were quite a few extra swag items. Those of us that were still there were offered some of the extras and I took a few for the express purpose of putting together a giveaway package for one lucky reader who wasn't able to attend Spring Fling with the rest of us.

Included in this giveaway are:

  • Waking Up in Eden by Lucinda Fleeson
  • The Garden of Invention by Dr. Jane Smith
  • Four packets of seeds from Botanical Interests
  • Certificate for free organic fertilizer from The Garden Guys
  • A tote bag from Scotts Miracle-Gro

To qualify for this giveaway, you must leave a comment here, telling me where your garden is located and what your favorite flower is that's growing in your garden. (Just a hi won't do!) On Sunday evening, I'll choose a random winner from those that comment that were not able to attend Spring Fling in Chicago.

Good luck!

Garden Bloggers who attended Spring Fling 2009:

  1. Flatbush Gardener - NY
  2. My Corner of Katy - TX
  3. Garden Girl - IL
  4. Nancy's Garden Spot - TX
  5. Growing A Garden In Davis - CA
  6. Each Little World - WI
  7. Digging - TX
  8. Denise Corkery, Chicago Botanic Garden - IL
  9. Mr Brown Thumb - IL
  10. Garden Faerie's Musings - MI
  11. Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog - LA
  12. The Casual Gardener - IL
  13. May Dreams Gardens - IN
  14. Dragonfly Corner - IL
  15. Ledge and Garden - RI
  16. Gardening While Intoxicated - NY
  17. Clay and Limestone - TN
  18. Prairie Rose's Garden - IL
  19. Garden Punks - CA
  20. Mr. McGregor's Daughter - IL
  21. Idaho Gardener - ID
  22. Red Dirt Ramblings - OK
  23. Sharing Nature's Garden - TX
  24. Fairegarden - TN
  25. Our Little Acre - OH
  26. On the Shores of Lake Chicago - IL
  27. Bumblebee Blog - MD
  28. Greenbow - IN
  29. My Skinny Garden - IL
  30. Sweet Home and Garden Chicago - IL
  31. Beth Botts - IL
  32. Snappy Garden Blog now known as The Dig-It-Yourself Garden - IL
  33. Cobrahead Blog - WI
  34. Sustainable Gardening Blog - MD
  35. Professor Jane S. Smith - IL
  36. Ramble On Rose - IL
  37. The Garden Of Live Flowers - IL
  38. Art of Gardening - NY
  39. Outside Clyde - NC
  40. Oh Grow Up! - MO

A big, BIG thank you to all the sponsors and generous giving by so many of not only garden products, but for the time and effort that goes into putting on this kind of event. It couldn't have been nicer and we appreciate it all.


garden girl said...

What a wonderful, generous post Kiley. We were so happy to have Beth and Jane with us. I'm so glad they enriched your experience.

Thank you for recognizing the sponsors of Spring Fling. Their moral support and encouragement meant as much or more to the organizing committee than all that cool swag. They were really wonderful to us.

Since I was lucky enough to be at Spring Fling, this isn't an entry in your awesome contest - just wanted to say thanks for acknowledging our sponsors, and for sharing Spring Fling's bounty with your readers.

I'm glad you got to meet so many cool bloggers, and of course glad you and I got to meet too, and your mom - give her a hug for me!

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

Oh, it sounds like you had such a great time! I would have loved to have been able to finally meet you.

I guess winning stuff from Spring Fling is the closest I'm going to get, so I'll tell you that my favorite thing blooming in my garden right now is my 'Sarah Bernhardt' peony, which is just now coming into full bloom.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I wish I had been there to meet you all in person, Kylee! Sounds like so much fun!

I'd love to have an opportunity to win the giveaway!

I don't have a vegetable garden right now, but I do a lot of flower gardening in both the the front and back yards. In the backyard I garden to attract the butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. I have such a hard time picking favorites, but I guess my favorite right now is lantana. It seems to appeal to both the butterflies and hummingbirds. It is my staple butterfly magnet.

I enjoyed hearing your detailed version of the Chicago adventure.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yes Kylee, we were mightly blessed at the Spring Fling. You did a great job in recognizing all that was given to us.

Stephanie said...

Looks like it was a blast! I have a plot at an urban commmunity garden in Washington, DC called "Kalorama Community Garden" and my favorite is the native Tall Larkspur wild flower :) I love the little purple bells!

Anonymous said...

I wish there was something like this in my neck of the woods! Sounds like so much fun.

My garden is in Southern Madyland (zone 7). Picking a favorite plant is so hard! So I'll just pick ONE of my favorites.

I love my Arizona Sun gaillardia. I've vacationed on Hatteras Island, NC since I was a toddler, and these flowers grow wild all over the island. I was so excited when I figured out what it was! I love growing them in my garden because it feels like a little piece of the OBX.

Dale Anne said...

Looks like a FABULOUS time!
And, what a generous giveaway!!!

O.I.M said...

looks like spring fling was great. the favourite flower growing in my toronto garden is purple coneflower. echinacea is the reason i fell in love with gardening. such a fabulous bloom on such a sturdy plant. it has never disappointed me. purple coneflower is #1 in my book.

Muum said...

oh. I do wish I had been able to come. Visited their a few years ago, and met Carolyn of Sweet home and garden Chicago. but, hey! pick me!

Michelle said...

What a great account of the Spring Fling. It sounded like a lot of fun and now I have a list of new blogs to check out from your post. I have an acre of land in Loomis, CA ( My favorite flower in the garden right now is the California Poppy that unexpected grew next to my onion patch. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures in gardening.

joey said...

A delightful post filling all of us (unable to attend) in on all the missed fun. (Love your white toothy & beautiful smile in each lovely photo, Kylee :) June gardening hugs.

Stephanie Stebbins said...

That looks like it was lots of fun! Love the pics :)

Katie said...

Kylee, of the bloggers in attendance, I was happiest to meet you (and your mom)! I would say we just clicked, yes, snap!

I had never heard of Shawna, but she too is one of the most genuine and beautiful people I've met. Gosh, the trip was amazing!

Any time I'm out your way, I'll be sure to stop by and say hello. I've always wanted to see Max's garden.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish I could've gone. But my blog didn't qualify as a gardening blog under the guidelines. Maybe next year.

My favorite flower that's blooming right now is the last white bloom from my peonies. It's which with magenta plats here and there, like paint splatters but not too many. Only 1 or 2 splats per flower. Really cool.

Not sure which peony it is since they were all planted by the previous owner but they smell wonderful.


garden girl said...

Kylee, p.s. - sorry I spelled your name wrong!!! Hooray for the weekend - I can get some much-needed rest!

Gail said...

My dear, I was so very delighted to meet you, too...and your sweet mother....thank you for your very kind words! I think you are grand!

The gardens were wonderful, but spending time with our community was the icing on a delicious cake! Don't we have a great group of friends!

Thank you for posting the photos of the swag and thanking the sponsors...My suitcase was bulging with all the wonderful magazines and books...and I have enough seeds for three gardens!

Perhaps, there is a road trip in my future! Maybe I can pick up Frances on the way and anyone else who wants to join us!

Take care, dear...see you! gail

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I loved reading about all the fun you all had in Chicago, Kylee, what a special treat to meet all these wonderful folks. I went over to Shawna's website in 'mid-read' of your blog and was tickled to see she had listed all who attended...then I finish reading yours and see that you too have included a listing. I look forward to checking out some of the blogs that I am not familiar with yet. I had no idea that there were some 'sponsors' of the event --what a nice added benefit!

Gayle said...

Hi Kylee, What a wonderful time you must have had at Spring Fling. I would have loved to be there to meet all of you. I subscribe to a lot of these blogs and they are my heroes and my inspiration. My garden is on a small farm just north of Charleston, West Virginia. I've lived and gardened here for the last 1 1/2 yrs. My yard had no gardens when I started and the ground is fill dirt from when they built a local highway. Therefore it is very rocky and not very nurturing to plants. But with amendments it has turned into a pretty good producer. My favorite flower has always been the sunflower, all varieties. Fortunatly it grows easily in all kinds of soil and without much care. I grow as many flowers as I can make room for and cram in as many vegatables as I can. I look forward to reading your future blogs. Thanks, Gayle

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I'm really grateful so many bloggers are doing multiple posts with detailed descriptions of the fling--honestly, I'm done at my one photo post. Whew! Some lucky bag recipients (raises hand) also won a $50 gift certificate from got some cool hiking socks and some fun, floral print rain boots. They should arrive soon. I'll probably post their photo! :)

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha said...

Hi Kylee! As you know, my flower gardens are in various places around my yard. My favorite flower, right now, is the mock orange blossom. I love it's fragrance. I can close my eyes and imagine I'm in Florida! Love and miss ya! *blow kiss*

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Kylee - sounds like you had a wonderful time meeting everyone. Excellent fun!

I'd love to win your goodie bag! My garden is in Chesterfield, Derbyshire - roughly in the middle of the UK. My favourite flower is....erm, so many to choose from! Two weeks ago it would have been my beloved Wisteria, but right now - my huge, blousey, deep red peonies (because they make me smile!) :)

jeannine said...

Great giveaway! You have such beautiful gardens, and I really enjoy reading your blog. My garden is in southeastern Indiana not too far from Cincinnati. There are so many different flowers that I love, but I would have to say that violas are my favorite. I let them pop up everywhere in my garden. Thanks for the chance to win!

Rebecca said...

What is the criteria for getting in on the next trip?! Certainly you can enter me in the give away, but more importantly, I'd like to know how to "join". My garden blog is

The favorite flower in bloom in my garden currently is a white rose that we transplanted a few years ago when a friend was moving out of town and offered the bushes to us. I wish I knew the name of these hardy and beautiful blooms!

Pam/Digging said...

Kylee, great post. I'm glad you posted about the generous swag bags. I haven't been organized enough to do that yet, and now I don't need to. :-) We'll be in reading material for months to come--yippee!

Rose said...

This is such a great post, Kylie! I'm glad you went into detail about all the gifts we received from the generous sponsors; they certainly deserve a big thank you. I was expecting a small gift bag, and was astonished when we received a large canvas bag instead! I didn't win any of the extra prizes, but I was thrilled to have the seeds, the books, and my very own pair of new Ethel gloves. I talked to Jane Smith before the dinner began and learned of her book; little did I know we would all be receiving our own copy!

I agree the weekend was too short to talk to everyone as much as we would have liked; maybe we'll have more time in Buffalo:)

Hosta Nerd said...

That sounds like so much fun! Would have loved to have been there.

I have so my flowers that are my favorite in my yard, but I will have to go with any of my oriental or orienpet lilies.

Kerry said...

Next time I'm going to go even if I have to walk. Thanks for sharing the experience!

As for my garden, I've gone lettuce crazy this year. I have baskets, window boxes and even a colander all filled with lettuce. My favorite is Johnny's Elegance Greens Mix. It is truly wild lookimg.

MrBrownThumb said...

Glad to see you're sharing the wealth with your readers. I was hoping more people would have stuck around so we could have unloaded all of it. We ended up sharing items with the staff of the restaurant and hotel too.

Anonymous said...

My garden is located in NW Indiana and my favorite flower by far is the Siberian Iris. My favorite ground cover is Lamb's Ear. I'm looking to add Japanese Iris and Lily of the Valley next year....the garden is always going to be better next year, isn't it? Spring Fling sounds fantastic! See ya in the twitterverse,

mr_subjunctive said...

I would have been there, if not for the fact that I had to move during that weekend. Frustrating. Perhaps next year.

Um. So my garden is mostly indoors, but the doors in question are in rural east central Iowa. If that answers the question adequately. And for a favorite flower, I suppose I'd have to go with Anthuriums.

swalls said...

Just discovering the wonderful world of garden blogging (which is a bit weird as I was a compuserve garden forum sysop / active member way, way back in the early 90's).

Anyway, current garden in Brookfield, WI which is outside of Milwaukee. Just moved here, ready to create a new garden, Somewhat limited selection of flowers at the moment, but I'd say is fuscia garternmeister bonstedt.

EAL said...

Kerry and Rebecca, the next fling is in Buffalo, summer date TBA, and there is no criteria except to be a garden blogger. Watch for more info on my blog, linked here!

Great post Kylee! I liked how it focused on the experience of meeting everyone.

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