Help Send Ann to the Garden Bloggers Fling in 2022!

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(Back in 2014 I helped to organize a Fling here in Portland, and of the 11 others, I’ve ever been able to afford attending three. Each time I’ve had a complete blast, and I wish I could say that I’ve attended them all, but I have not. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure that I’d be able to attend this next one, but I think with some planning, and some promotion, it’s going to be possible. (Read about the 2022 Madison, WI Fling here.)

These events take a lot of work and while I said I helped to organize one, that’s not totally accurate. As you can see from the scar in the photo below, I had some spinal issues and a surgery just before the event so mentally I was a bit checked out during everything. But planning these events is a lot of work for volunteer committees, and the folks who’ve been doing them over the years have made them so much fun!

What is the Fling? Just imagine a few days of intensive garden touring, some plant shopping, and exploring places with other garden communicators. Yes, it reads “bloggers” but anyone on social media who loves to add content to the internet is invited. You like Twitter? Then Tweet about it along your way! Is Instagram more your jam? Great! I love it too! Post away! FB? Your own site? Then come with us and share with gardeners in your neck of the woods what others are doing in other parts of the US or Canada. Just make sure you add content to a blog too!!! They’re easy to start and most content you’re already making can easily be adjusted to a blog format. You just need to start and keep adding content regularly to gain more readers! (To read more about eligibility click here.)

International guests are welcome to attend too. This is basically just a crazy fun way to meet other people who’re really interested in gardening and gardens. Over the years I’ve made some very great friends and I’ve networked and made connections too. So help me make it to the next one!!!

To help me make it to the Fling event in 12 months I’m pre-selling cuccidati cookies for the holiday season. These are very special Sicilian cookies that my great-grandmother Rosaria used to make and they’re so good… that is if you like fig and date cookies.

If you’d like to pre-order some cuccidati cookies for the holiday season please click here. Once I’ve sold enough for the trip, the links will disappear. Grazie mille and I hope to see you in Madison, or else back in the PNW at the 2023 Fling.

From Houseplants Back to Seeds…

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As pandemic life changes, and we begin to move around the cabin a bit more, it’s clear to me that many of us are reassessing our lives and how we live them. As a childless middle-aged woman it has meant helping my elderly parents a bit more. I have older siblings, and they’re dealing with their own lives, and for once in my life, I’m well enough to help out a bit with basic things they need. That was an easy and clear choice. I’ve enjoyed shifting my priorities to help them since they helped to support me for years when I was very ill. I can never pay them back for that but I am beyond grateful to have been helped.

When it comes to my work/life balance things are more murky. I think this is something all of my friends are thinking about too. From the start of the pandemic I was considered a necessary worker in my state. I work in agriculture basically and Oregon has a large ornamental horticulture industry. Unlike many people, I was not laid off, and I did not work remotely. Going through all of this was a learning experience, especially when coupled with the fact that my industry has been booming. I cannot make plants fast enough, and when it comes to buying in starts to pot up, well, many wholesale growers are out of everything, and when I say sold out, I mean for at least another year or two. Gardening has become very popular during the pandemic and that has made me quite pleased.

Being hired to give Zoom presentations was a wonderful surprise and it’s a great change as an additional revenue stream. Horticulturists need that extra boost and we do have a lot to say about what we do. I have teaching and speaking experience and I very much enjoy communicating about what I’m passionate about. I look forward to doing more of it and having more contact with consumers. I just never would have imaged that this is how it would start for me. With houseplants being so popular, and my having grown so many for years, I have a lot to say about them. I’m happy that being chronically ill my indoor gardening has become such a positive thing. Long ago I started growing the plants indoors to make me feel better, to help with depression, and to feel like I was part of the horticulture world even when I couldn’t function as well as others my age. Sometimes the number of them seemed embarrassing but it turned out to be a good thing for me in a way I had never expected.

Well, not long ago I had to transition back more to my normal life of propagating with seeds. Between the two nurseries where I work, as well as my home, it’s a lot of information running around in my head. I grew free veggie starts for folks in my neighborhood this year, and I also committed to growing seeds again at home in a more organized fashion, but it seems as though everything I do is more complicated and messy than simplified and organized. I have a lot of delayed maintenance to do and that’s part of the mess I’m experience but I’m getting things done. I think the pandemic has helped many of us with that.

I changed the name of my Etsy shop to the same at this blog not long ago. As my friend Paul at Xera Plants has said over and over, branding must be simplified. It’s been disheartening though at times doing customer service in addition to everything else during the last year. I sell seeds because I love them so much, but I don’t make much money if any when it really comes down to it. Receiving rude customer messages during the pandemic, especially from beginners who bit off more than they could chew, was sometimes really painful. No, I cannot refund your money if you didn’t follow the directions and do your research. This all happening at the same time folks online were sometimes making thousands of dollars selling houseplants in the underground market. It made me want to pull my hair out. Honestly, I’ve felt a lot like the naive idealist. How thinly can I sow myself? How poor do I want to be? Why am I even bothering?

I’m committed now to do better. It’s important for me to be responsible and professional in the industry that I love. This summer I scheduled an Open Garden with the HPSO in the hopes that it would help me get my garden in order. I’m also getting my seeds back in order too. Sowing new crops, I’ll be collecting from friends again, and I’ll try for another year to make the Etsy shop (or just online seed sales) work for me. In addition to two other jobs, this may not work out, but I am going to try.

My shop will be closed from June 1-September 1 so that I can reassess it further. I look forward to less harried and slightly more social summer. Stay safe out there and please get a COVID-19 vaccine!