Meeting Up With Your Own Kind

I am a very shy, make that extremely shy person. I don’t enter a room of strangers and think, “Oh boy, new friends”, I think instead, “Yikes, get me outta here”. Life has forced the learning to make the best of this over the years, but it does not come naturally. Meeting strangers is painful for me, still.

August 31, 2009 hummer 006 (2)
The internet is a blessing for someone like me. It allows words to flow freely with anonymity guaranteed, sort of. Blogging is the perfect vehicle to share a lifetime of gardening anecdotes and photos with others who might be interested. Garden blogs were read with relish for a few years before the big jump was made into the blogdom on December 7, 2007. It was exhilarating, scary and wonderful all at the same time, that jump.

Shortly after my leap, there was a meetup planned for garden bloggers to get together in Austin, Texas that next spring. Organzied by Pam of Digging, a blogger whose stories and photos were of great inspiration to me, and one who had encouraged me to begin my own blog, it seemed a good idea to sign up for the shindig. My family was very happy about the blogging, they were very encouraging in fact. But they were all quite surprised at the announcement that I wanted to go to Austin to meet with a bunch of total strangers. Except, as I told them, these were not total strangers, they were other garden bloggers that had shared their own stories and photos and some had even commented on my posts. There was something different about this group of folks and I genuinely wanted to meet them in person, a first for me.
(Shown above: A shot from the David garden, a private residence in Austin that the garden bloggers toured.)

June 1, 2009 SF2 073 (2)
Austin exceeded all expectations. Great gardens were seen, fabulous food was eaten and new friendships were made, especially with my dear fellow Tennessean Gail of Clay and Limestone. When it came time for the next garden blogger meetup, this time in Chicago, there was no hesitation in signing up. It too, exceeded all expectations. More friendships were made and wonderful gardens were visited, not to forget great food was inhaled.
Shown above: From left, me, Carol of May Dreams Gardens, Elizabeth of Gardening While Intoxicated and Garden Rant, and Mary Ann of Gardens of The Wild, Wild West at the Chicago Botanical Garden.)

The next year, Gail and I went to two meetups, one of them across the Atlantic in Merrye Olde Englande, (it could even be called Faire). The same thing happened, online blogging friends became real life bosom buddies. Gardens which were the stuff of dreams were visited and the hospitality was unrivaled. (Shown above at the Malvern Garden Show in England, Gail, far right, me in the middle with a maniacal grin and the most honored Cleve West, winner of Best In Show at Chelsea this year, 2011, being a good sport. Thanks to Arabella Sock for shooting the photo!)

A few months later we attended the gathering in Buffalo, New York, the most garden-y place in America! Friendships were renewed as there are many who attend each of these yearly meetings, along with new faces to place with the blogs.
(Shown above at the Shadrack garden in Buffalo: Pam of Digging, Kathy Guest Shadrack and Jim Charlier of Art Of Gardening.)

My family is still astounded at the enthusiasm with which we anticipate each trip. I forgot to mention that I also hate to travel, most especially hate to fly. But, fly we do, and meet strangers we do, with gusto. This year, 2011, sees the meeting place in Seattle, Washington. The organizers have worked long hours getting the schedules and details worked out, to make this the best garden blogger meetup ever. Excitement builds as the months turn to weeks turn to days until it is time to board the plane, once again. As always, photos will be taken to share upon our return. There will be postings about the trip when I get back and am up and running again.

October 18, 2009 Ashv 011 (2) We wish you all could be there, as well. Maybe next year?


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39 Responses to Meeting Up With Your Own Kind

  1. Susan says:

    I’m like you (were)–horribly , terribly shy. I would DIE a thousand deaths going to these meetups. I think. Anyways, looks like fun. Just not. Ya know?

    Oh Sue, that is how I felt, but once you get there, you find that everyone is just like you! Writers, and all bloggers are writers, seem to be shy by definition, that is why they write. I am still shy, but LOVE going to meet with the garden bloggers. Give yourself permission to go, next year!

  2. Have fun FFF, I wish I could have made it. Buffalo was a blast!

    Thanks Helen. Wish you were going to be there.

  3. Carol says:

    Oh the fun to be had in Seattle!

    Old, friends, new friends and new memories, right Carol?

  4. Racquel says:

    I really would love to come next year. The past few years since I’ve joined the blogging world have been wonderful. And like you I’m not one that makes friends easily with strangers but all of you didn’t seem like strangers but like friends with shared interests from the beginning. Unfortunately my plate was full with family commitments in the past with made going out of town not an option. So hopefully next year will be my year to finally meet all of you in person. Glad you’ve had such a great time Frances, good for you! 🙂

    Thanks Racquel, I hope you can make it next year, wherever it is held. There are always gardens to see, great meals planned, so much fun, but really, it is about the people.

  5. I can’t wait to see you again, Frances! In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not one of the shy ones, but I understand, because my dear husband is very shy. See you soon!

    Thanks Kylee. You are lucky to not be burdened with the shyness gene. Can’t wait to see you and everyone!!!

  6. VP says:

    So true that blogger friends aren’t strangers when you get to meet them 🙂

    See you soon my friend 😀

    Dear, dear VP, I am overjoyed that you are making the big trip across the pond! Until we meet again…

  7. Paul Daniels says:

    Usually I’m happy cause when I visit your site or most garden blogging sites its the flowers, the fountains, the butterflies and birds that make me so happy and bring a smile to my face. But this time, this is even better. A gardener herself, blooming, opening up everyday on her blog just a little bit more, growing as a blogger you might say and as a gardener each day and like a flower that finally opens its bloom for all to see, you jump on a plane or get in a car and show up blooming at all these gardening blogging get togethers. I don’t really have the words to say and have already stumbled around here trying to say just how wonderful and very happy reading your post today has made me….I’d like to go to one of them meet up one of these days and I might, but even if I don’t I know you will and I can come here and read about it and see some pictures too. From reading your posts the few times I’ve been here so far when you write about something I feel in some weird way the words are coming out of my mouth too or my mind, not that I can write like you or even that we always think alike but more like the way you feel stuff, see stuff, the wonder of it all, the freshness of each new bloom or new plant you write about…….I don’t know maybe I’m just rambling but you sure nuff made me happy this morning reading this post of yours. I’m on my way out into my garden to piddle in it now but the piddling will be all the nicer this morning cause I stopped by here first.Thank you

    Well, Paul, you have outdone yourself with this comment, my friend! I can call you my friend because that is how bloggers meet, throught comments and posts. I do hope someday there is a meetup close enough or timed so that you can attend. Happy gardening, and be sure that I will report back to the best of my abilities.

  8. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, Have we ever had a great time since Austin! We’ve met the best people, seen fantastic gardens and had great adventures. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow….as you said to Carol, old friends, new friends and new memories. xxoogail

    Dear Gail, you have said it very well, as you always do! I can’t wait…

  9. Barbara H. says:

    Have a wonderful time in a wonderful place. The Northwest has so much to offer I didn’t think I would ever leave it (former Portlander). I never would have guessed that you are shy, Frances! But then, I can relate to the way sharing words on blogs seems so much easier than in real life. Though only a commenter, taking the leap and leaving a comment the first time on a blog was a little scary. You respond so wonderfully to comments – it has been a gift having the “conversation” with you. Happy traveling!

    Hi Barbara, thanks so much. I would never have imagined that you were shy! Your comments always bring a smile to my face. I have heard great things about the Pacific Northwest, and will have the camera, and my notepad, yes, pen and paper, at the ready. In fact, thanks for nudging me to remember to pack the notebook!

  10. Valerie says:

    Oh Frances I did not think for one moment that you are shy. Your posts are always so friendly and open. As a kid I suffered from shyness and am always trying to push myself out of it. I hope one day I will be able to join up at one of the garden bloggers meet ups. I look forward to your take on Seattle and the new friends you will make there. V

    Thanks so much, Valerie, I hope you can attend one, too, so we can meet and you can see for yourself the wonderful garden blogging community. They are talkers! Shyness is painful, but there is something wonderful about the conversations and sharing online with blogs, as opposed to the quickies of facebook or twitter, which are also good for some. I am NOT shy on my blog, that is why it is such a haven for me.

  11. All true. Although not particularly shy (I once was), I am an introvert. However, I love these meetups, and I’m so grateful to my garden friends in Seattle who organized it. Thanks to them all. Can’t wait to see you again.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, I can’t wait to see you and everyone. A HUGE thank you to the organizers, too! Age has helped with the shyness, or being able to deal with it and function like an adult, but the pain and wanting to run and hide still exists.

  12. When I saw the title of this post, I had to look. People are pretty funny and quite different. I never really made you for being shy – because I think we all are to one degree or another – and this coming from someone decidedly not “shy” in any form or fashion. But I get that way around people I admire – and I think that’s the actual “purpose” of shyness. It quiets the mind and keeps us humble – which is still and always a virtue. I could shut up around excellent garden bloggers – somewhat, lol. 😉

    Listen, I’ll be in Portland from Aug 1 -16 – I have local stuff to the 11th or so. Just wondering when the meet up is. I could crash it, lol. That’s how shy I am!

    Steve, you are just missing it by a hair, the meetup in Seattle begins tomorrow, July 21, through July 26, with wonderful events planned. Sorry you can’t make it. When the garden bloggers get together, no one shuts up! What a cacophony it is, pleasantly so. Shyness is a burden, you are lucky not to have it.

  13. Robin says:

    I love the first picture! I also have the shy gene and have difficulty making small talk but I have always thought it would be fun to go to one of these meet ups. Unfortunately for me, unnecessary travel expenses have not been in the budget for several years now. Hope you all have a wonderful time together!

    Thanks Robin. I would love to meet you someday. Maybe you will be able to get to a meetup that is closer to where you live, that helps with the travel cost.

  14. Rose says:

    Those first two photos are stunners, Frances! Do enjoy your trip; I will be thinking of all of you this weekend. Believe it or not, I was always rather shy, too. But there’s just something about gardeners, I think; I’ve never met a gardener I couldn’t talk to. Next year–definitely! The piggy bank is filling up, and no other commitments are being made for Summer 2012 until I find out the date!

    Thanks Rose. I am sorry you won’t be joining us this time, yes to the next!

  15. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I’ll see you in Houston tomorrow!


  16. I feel excited for you all particularly because some of my UK blogging friends are meeting up with you! I will be sure to demand an in depth report from them next time we meet up in the UK – make sure they are taking notes. Have a great time!


    Thanks Arabella! It was lovely meeting you at Malvern, was that your photo, by any chance? Answer, yes! A link has been added to give credit where credit is due! Victoria and VP will plenty of tales to tell, we’ll make sure of that!

  17. The first photo took my breath away- audacious yet restrained at the same time… very appropriate, Frances 😉

    It’s fun to see how far you’ve traveled to visit with other garden bloggers… and it still makes me a little jealous that you have seen Christopher’s cozy cabin sprout & grow.

    Have a wonderful time in Seattle! Sure hope that one of these days I’ll meet up with you again.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Thanks, Annie. We have traveled quite far with that England trip, what an adventure, the trip of a lifetime. Christopher’s cabin and mountainside is the stuff of dreams. I hope to meet up again with you, too!

  18. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Ha, I am much like you Frances. Big crowds of people set my nerves on edge. I wouldlove to attend another Fling though. I hope to next year. Have a great time. I can’t wait to read all about it. Take lots of photos and notes. Reading the blogs about the fun is almost as good as being there. I love to see everyone’s take on the trip.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I hope you can attend next year, I would love to see you again. I love reading everyone’s posts about these trips, seeing different takes on the same events, as you say.

  19. Funny how shy we all are until we meet up. 🙂 See you soon!

    Hi Jean, so true. Looking forward to seeing you and everyone, face to face!

  20. Catherine says:

    Frances, I think you will love it here! I just wish I would’ve been able to meet up with everyone, but having young kids and camps, etc to take them to made it not possible. I wouldn’t have guessed you were shy, but I think that’s part of the beauty of the internet, that it allows us to open up a bit more than we might if we were face to face. I know it has for me. I’m not necessarily shy, but I’m pretty quiet (until I get to know someone, then I’m anything but) and more of a one on one type of person. Blogging has opened up a whole new world for me too, and I love meeting people that enjoy and “get” gardening like I do. Have a great time and if any opportunities come up then I can swing down and meet up with any bloggers I’ll be sure to do so. I’d love to meet you and the others in person.

    Oh no, Catherine, I was hoping you would be there! Here’s hoping that you can join us for a bit at one of the events, or at the hotel. Being in a large group intimidates the heck out of me, I am a one on one kinda gal as well. But finding a friendly face, and name tag of a blog you are familiar with, is what makes these events so much fun. Even for a recluse like me.

  21. Christina says:

    Frances, I think it is an absolutely awesome idea that garden bloggers meet garden bloggers in person and and on top of that visit great gardens together. I myself am fairly new to the whole blogging thing, I started my own garden blog only in the beginning of this year but would love to meet other gardeners from the blogland, too. Maybe in the future. And oh by the way, I am a very shy person, too :-)! Have a lot of fun in Seattle!

    Thanks Christina. I had only been blogging such a short while when deciding to meet in person with these lovely people. It was life changing! Do try to come to the next meet, wherever it is held and whenever it is announced. Many of the garden bloggers will have the badge for an upcoming fling displayed on their sidebar in a prominent position, as soon as it becomes available. Watch this space!

    Thanks for your response Frances! Excellent idea as it will be good to know as early as possible about the next blogger meet up! So I will watch your sidebar for the announcement!

    My pleasure.

  22. Leanne says:

    Sounds divine meeting up – good on you!

    I wonder if you would mind popping into my blog – I thought you could identify a bulb for me – I thought I planted a snowflake – but goggling it doesn’t look like one. would love to know what I have planted. I am rather new to bulbs
    Love Leanne

    Thanks Leanne. My best guess is that your bulb is an Ornithogalum of some sort, just a guess, though.

  23. Layanee says:

    Well, Frances, I did NOT know you are shy. I will pay more attention although you have always been extremely charming so how would I know? Can’t wait to see you tomorrow. Safe travels. I have a goal to meet several new (to me) bloggers on this trip. I am going to try. The value of traveling and meeting others of ‘one’s own kind’.

    Thank you, Layanee. You are quite the charmer, yourself. You too have safe travels, and we will squeal like schoolgirls when we next meet. I want to meet some new folks, too.

  24. Frances, Oh, the vicarious pleasure of reading your History of the Fling. I’m in a mini-frenzy over missing the Seattle binge. Have FUN and take pity on the rest of us by posting a long, photo-filled report — please!

    Hi DP, boo! I thought you were coming! There will be lots of reports from the 70+ bloggers attending, I am sure. I will do my faire share.

  25. Lola says:

    I would never have believed you were shy. Me too. sometimes we can express ourselves with words if we are behind the scenes. The words seem easier that way.
    Have a wonderful trip. Waiting for the pics. I understand that part of our country is beautiful.

    Hi Lola, thanks. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest is legendary, I can’t wait to see it. There will be pictures.

  26. Hi Frances, I KNOW you are all going to have a wonderful time. I do wish I could get myself to go, too. Perhaps next year??? I did make a mistake by not going last year to Chicago. It couldn’t get any closer!! I’ll look forward to all the reports. 🙂

    Hi Shady, I wish you were going to be there. One of these years… Chicago was fabulous, as was Buffalo. We will post photos.

  27. Alison says:

    Frances, I’m looking forward to meeting you at my first Fling. I, too, have actually been painfully shy for most of my life. Worried about the impression I’ll make, did I say the wrong thing, was I too blunt, will people like me, breaking out in a cold sweat in a room full of new people. But I’ve been gradually getting over it the older I get. For a while I was concerned that so many of you had already become fast friends at previous Flings, so how could I go to this one without feeling like I was butting in? Anyway, now that I’m older (50+) I’ve just started blurting things out and worrying about it later, LOL Life’s too short to miss out. Gotta take chances.

    Hi Alison, your first fling is the most exciting one! Everyone is so friendly, and those of us who do know each other want to meet new people, too. BTW, Life is too short is the motto I live by, my mother’s favorite saying.

  28. Eisch…. how I would love to join you all. But I guess this will remain a long-term dream….

    You, Frances, poster of that first in-your-face pic, SHY?! Well I never!! Me too. Our motor registration plates start with 3 letters allocated alphabetically. I was understandably nervous that my road language might be reflected in my numberplate when I bought a new car as we neared the end of the ‘SH’es. I was save. What I got instead was SHY. One of the few actual words, as Y is the only vowel used. And was I ragged about that ….. “YOU! SHY!?” If only they knew…

    Hi Jack, maybe someday you can make the trek to the US for a fling. I can think of no better reason to do so! How funny about your license plate.

  29. Rebecca says:

    JEAlous! (Actually, husband and I just spent a few days in Buffalo – not the “official” walk and only one back yard—by invitation. It was WONderful!)

    Maybe ONE day I’ll join y’all.

  30. Francis, what a warm and inviting post! I wish I could of made this meet. Maybe next year!!! Have a great time, I know you will

  31. Hi Francis, I am so so Sad to miss this meet and right here in my own city to…snif snif! Hope you have a blast, making new friends, catching up with old and enjoying new adventures! It sounds like a wonderful itinerary that has been put together. Who knows maybe if there is room I’ll join in for one of the days. Looking forward to reading your posts about it…Cheers Julia

  32. Know you all will have a great time! Take lots of pictures. ENJOY!!!!

  33. I’d be the same – if I went to a meet-up (a fling, indeed!) it would never strike me I’d be among strangers. There are so many gardening blogs I clearly don’t ‘know’ the authors of them all – but I doubt I would be shy even with them. When it came to it though . . . I expect I’d creep away sometimes. Even family en-masse can be overwhelming. None the less, I look forward to being able to take part in some such event one day . . . one day . . .! Looking forward to further posts.

    (That David Garden looks special.)


  34. Alistair says:

    Frances, I am sure you must have got inside my head too many similarities. My sister who is the complete opposite moved to America in the 80s and for at least two years, where did she live—Austin! She is back in Aberdeen now. Enjoy Seattle, isn’t it like Aberdeen grey and damp so much of the time.

  35. Frances Baumbach says:

    My name is Frances too! Got my “green thumb” from my dad. He was avid about plants and his award-winning landscape. Once he cross-polinated an amaryllis to the point that a black-deep-red was born and he named it after my first daughter — and his first granddaughter.
    This long period of Texas triple-digit temps and dry, dry weather is very hard on us gardeners!
    Live across street from Lake Palestine in NE Texas. Wish my plumbing was connected to the lake water like those waterfront homes!!!

  36. Barbarapc says:

    Francis, do hope you have a magical time. Am so looking forward to seeing and reading about your adventures – may your braveness inspire someone else to do something they wouldn’t normally want to do.

  37. Town Mouse says:

    Oh, I still can’t believe I’m not going. I had promised myself that I’d go to the first west coast meet-up, but, alas, work did get in the way. I’m kind of glad I canceled my reservation, but I’m truly sorry I won’t meet all my friends… Have fun!

  38. Lisa says:

    What a lovely post, and as a formerly shy person, nudged into interaction because of work, I totally understand your perspective. Gardening is a wonderful way to connect and share.


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