October 11, 2023
In their home garden, Create A Scene, floral designer Michael Bowell and the artist Simple express their humor and place-making through plants and garden art. Their irreverent, enveloping garden in Malvern, Pennsylvania, was one of the stops on the Philadelphia Area Fling last month.
Their plant-stuffed and colorful garden swallowed up all 100 of us on the tour as we set off to explore foliage-hidden rooms, patios, and an enormous greenhouse.
Red leaves and flowers packed into containers are eye-catching, especially contrasted with chartreuse foliage.
More pretties in terracotta
A large arbor engulfed with plants encloses a sheltered sitting area.
I spy a water feature through a scrim of pink flowers.
Ta-da — there it is!
A glimpse of Michael and Simple’s weathered red farmhouse through their colorful jungle
A balancing act
Watch out! Medusa’s on the porch.
Art and plants combine in vignettes to discover throughout the garden.
A stock-tank pond set inside a larger stock-tank planter — that’s different!
Hammock under a gnarled tree
Behind the house, atop an arbor, prances a metal…cat? Or devil?
In back, an enormous greenhouse holds a tropical plant lover’s collection. There is also a hot tub wedged in among the plants, hidden from view.
Orchids in Easter egg colors
While exploring the garden, I ran into Susan Harris of Garden Rant, one of the OG Flingers, and she showed me her cool Garden Rant t-shirt.
I always regret when I don’t take many pictures of people at the Fling, and I decided I wouldn’t make that mistake this time. After all, people are why the Fling got started — we garden bloggers wanted to meet each other in real life! Today we’re not just bloggers but anyone self-publishing online about gardening.
It’s great to reconnect with longtime Flingers, including these 3 former organizers: Elizabeth Licata of Garden Rant and Jim Charlier of Art of Gardening, who together hosted the 2010 Buffalo Fling; and Judy Seaborn, who organized the 2019 Denver Fling.
And here’s the current host, Karl Gercens, organizer of the Philadelphia Area Fling, talking with Mary Ann Newcomer, one of the planners of the 2011 Seattle Fling, and Layanee DeMerchant, whose charming country garden in Rhode Island I had the privilege of visiting in 2016.
Caroline Homer, a fellow Austin blogger at The Shovel-Ready Garden, is also a long-time Flinger.
Lynette Lampson is a new Flinger and one of the planners of the upcoming Puget Sound Fling — hooray! She’s sitting with original Flinger Dee Nash of Red Dirt Ramblings, whose lovely garden in Oklahoma I visited back in 2008.
Paula Rothkopf is also on the planning team for the upcoming Puget Sound Fling — yay, Paula! In the center is Kim Rabbidge of Our Australia Gardens, and our first Flinger from Down Under. At right is Teri Speight of Cottage in the Court, who was one of the 2017 Capitol Region Fling helpers and a recent speaker at my Garden Spark series in Austin. Fling connections are strong!
Here’s Lori Daul from Austin, who was happy about having a very good hair day in the Pennsylvania humidity while also enjoying sweater weather.
And more long-time Flingers: Julie Thompson-Adolf from South Carolina; Beth Stetenfeld of PlantPostings and one of the organizers of the 2022 Madison Fling; and Kylee Baumle of Our Little Acre.
Seeing gardens with garden-loving friends who share online about gardens — that’s what the Fling is still about, all these years later.
Up next: The home garden of designer Carol Verhake. For a look back at the behind-the-scenes tour and fountain show at Longwood Gardens, click here.
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Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.
Tour several Austin gardens on Saturday, November 4, on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day tour for Travis County. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and will be available beginning September 1st.
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