I had THE. MOST. FANTASTIC. TIME. EVER. last week at P. Allen Smith’s Garden2Blog! Allen and his sponsors invite a couple dozen garden bloggers to his Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock Arkansas every spring to talk about gardening, plants, soil, cooking from the garden, urban farming and garden trends. I was fortunate to be invited to the inaugural G2B back in ’11, and then overjoyed when I was asked to attend again this year. Aside from the fact that everyone there is interested in all things gardening — even though we each have our niches that we tend to hang out in — what makes this such a special event? People.
It’s always true, isn’t it? Events are fun, but it’s the people and the relationships you forge with them that really make the memories. This year, I was lucky to meet with some people for the first time in person after connecting with them for some time (years, even) in social media.
One person I was excited to meet was Carolyn Binder of Cowlick Cottage Farm — Carolyn and I are both a part of the Proven Winners Garden Gurus, and we have known each other online for well over a year now. We have dear friends in common in real life, but we’ve never seen each other before last week! I told Carolyn she better live up to all the hype about her, and she did — what a talented, smart and hysterically funny person she is! I just love her.
Laura Mathews, coincidentally, is also a Proven Winners Garden Guru with Carolyn and me, but Laura and I go way back. About 3 years ago a large group of garden bloggers met up at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, and Laura and I have been friends ever since. Her blog is Punk Rock Gardens, and if you met Laura, you’d love her almost as much as I do. She is kind, sensitive and is wickedly funny. Here we are in our floppy garden hats that all the chicas were given at G2B.
Two more awesome garden friends are Teresa O’Connor of Seasonal Wisdom, and Steve Asbell of The Rainforest Garden. Like Laura, I’ve known Teresa for several years through industry events, and she is so personable and warm, always looking to make a real connection with people. Steve is another friend that I’ve known online for probably two years but had never met in person — he is only 30 and is already so accomplished with his writing and garden illustrating that it makes my head spin. Dude is funny, too! Are you sensing a theme here? Most everybody I seriously connect with has a sense of humor. Here we are at the airport trying to look sexy. It didn’t work, but it was fun anyway. People thought we were nuts. We prolly are.
I have to first apologize for the photo quality here. This was our last night at Moss Mountain Farm and we were deep into our party. But really, wherever these two women are, it’s a party. Kerrie Rosenthal (right) and Carol Niec (left) are some of the craziest, high energy people I’ve ever met. Ever. Right before I took this pic, Carol and Kerrie were pulling people out of their seats to get up and dance. As one song ended and another started, I asked Carol, “What song is this?” and she shouted, “Does it matter??” These two talented women own The Seed Keeper Company and were one of the awesome and generous sponsors of Garden2Blog. I’ve met them before at industry events, but this was the first time I was able to get to know them better.
On our last night of G2B, we were treated to an incredible dinner and music by The Salty Dogs. This photo, above, is the result of Mimi San Pedro running around from one table to the next grabbing people for instant photos. Mimi is Allen’s Chief Operating & Marketing Officer, and is generally responsible (along with Allen’s incredible staff) for G2B. Mimi kept us all on the straight and narrow (well, she really tried, anyway) — she is a ball of energy with razor focus and cheerful humor. Mimi is in the middle, and the rest of the gang, from the left, is Barbara Wise of bwisegardening, Carol Niec of The Seed Keeper Company, Teresa O’Connor of Seasonal Wisdom, Laura Mathews of Punk Rock Gardens (front left), Diane LaSauce of Home Garden Life, Mimi, Rhonda Fleming Hayes of The Garden Buzz, Kerrie Rosenthal of The Seed Keeper Company, Lynn Coulter of The Home Depot Garden Club’s The Good Seed column, and Carri Stokes of Read Between the Limes on the far right.
Speaking of Carri Stokes, here she is with Amos the Buff Orpington rooster. I met Carri on Twitter several years ago, and what fun to finally meet her in real life! Carri is loads of fun — she seriously looks like the innocent girl next door, but don’t let that fool you. This one is subversively and delightfully in the middle of any shenanigans. Then, when you catch her, she has a “Who, me?” look on her cute face.
Here’s Laura Mathews again, but this time with Chris Tidrick of From the Soil. I met Chris a couple of years ago at in industry event in Chicago, and we’ve been good friends since. I love Chris’ deeply thoughtful yet burst-out-loud-laughing personality. He is such a genuinely good person and I’m so happy to have him as my friend. Plus, he’s a camera geek and IT guru, so I always know where I can turn when I have a problem.
And Laura Hayden! I didn’t know Laura at all — our connection was online because she is very good friends with Chris Tidrick. What a cool chick — very down-to-earth and quietly confident and, of course, very very funny. Did I say quiet? Laura is not the one with the lampshade on her head, but it’s the quiet ones you gotta look out for. Serious. Laura’s blog is Durable Gardening.
More wonderful people that I somehow did not get a pic of are Chris VanCleave of Redneck Rosarian, Janet Carson with U of A, Kelly Trimble of HGTV Gardens, Kenny Point of Veggie Gardening Tips, Kerry Michaels with About.com, Mallory Colliflower with HGTV Gardens, Mary Ann Newcomer with Gardens of the Wild Wild West, Robin Ripley Wedewer with Bumblebee, Amy James of Our Everyday Dinners and Teresa Byington of The Garden Diary.
Here’s the whole gang — and yes, that is me almost whacking poor Allen in the face.
And speaking of Allen — thank you so much, my friend, for inviting us to your wonderful home yet again! You bring people together, provide avenues of education about food and gardening, and create memories for countless people through your generosity and talents. As my mother would have said, “You’re a good one.”
Disclosure: My trip and expenses were provided by Allen and a group of fantastic sponsors — The Berry Family of Nurseries, Bonnie Plants, Star Roses, Jobe’s Organics, Laguna Ponds, Le Creuset, The Seed Keeper Company and Troy-Bilt. Any posts I write are my own thoughts and opinions.