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As a landscape designer I get a bit drained by the beginning of summer. What recharges me, i.e. primes the pump of my creative mind, is spending time with gardeners and designers and touring gardens. We just got back from the DC Capital region for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling 2017 two weeks ago. US Capitol BuildingAnd tomorrow we are leaving for Boston for the APLD International Design Conference. Bee on MondardAt this year’s fling I didn’t bring my camera. I decided to have fun with the camera on my phone and post pictures from each garden to my Instagram account. The above picture, taken at Tudor Place in Georgetown, I posted because it was #pollinatorweek.  Tudor Place is a lovely garden to tour. Here is Shawn standing next to the Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip poplar), which is over 200 years old. It is in the front garden that once had a view all the way down to the river. Shawn MichaelThis was actually the day before the Fling tours started.  Many of my IG posts were photo collages becasue I think they tell more of a story. We were staying in Reston VA, a perfect location to tour in many directions. We got there early and tagged along with a great group from Canada that are also bloggers and now friends and did a mini pre-tour. After lunch at the Tombs, we headed to Dumbarton Oaks and toured the grounds. It is about to be closed for renovations so we felt fortunate to get in. I was amused by this fountain with a fish squirting water in the little child’s face. It was hot enough I would have enjoyed it myself. Fountain at Dumbarton OaksOne Friday the Fling tours began and it was a wonderful flow of gardens starting with Hillwood Estates, the former home of Marjorie Merrieweather Post. When asked later which garden I would like to live at I picked this one! I knew they meant one of the lovely “smaller” residential gardens but hey I didn’t hear limits! Japanese Garden at Hillwood EstateThe Japanese garden was my favorite! I would not mind these Foo, Chinese guardian lions or Imperial guardian lions Dogs, in my own garden. I actually have two beautiful marble ones but who can have to many Foo?!Foo Dogs at Hillwood EstatesThe Parterre Garden was my second favorite. I love geometry and focal points! French Parterre Garden at Hillwood Estate #gbfling2017The next stop was a wonderful farm in a planned community. Common Good City Farm (CGCF) and then on to the National Mall to visit the Smithsonian Gardens and US Botanical Garden. This succulent wall, which I have seen on several other bloggers posts is stunning and worthy of a picture here! It is in the tiny Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, which is a favorite garden of mine since I first took a tour of it with Horticulturist Janet Draper at the APLD 2015 Conference in DC. Succulent wall at the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden in DC.Shawn had not been to the US Botanical garden and we enjoyed most of our time there. It is a wonderful collection of plants from different climates. I loved the orchid room. Here is my colagew : )Orchid room at the US Botanical Garden in Washington DCWe ended the day at the Franciscan Monastery: a very serene garden tucked into a quiet neighborhood. It was a bit warm but the quiet was very relaxing and a good way to wind down. Here is my favorite statue pair, Saint Frances and the Wolf. Saint Frances and the Wolf at Franciscan Monastery in DCThe next day we headed to Bethesda Maryland to see the gardens of several landscape designers. Our mini bus, one of 4, started at the garden of Debbie Friedman. She has an excellent sense of placement. I love the mixture of art and stone mixed with native plants.The home of Bethesda Maryland Garden designer Debbie FriedmanNext on to a garden I had seen before in autumn of 2015. Barbara Katz designed this garden for a client that gave her free rein. When she found they were selling the home she bought it for herself, which is a wonderful happy ending!The garden of Barbara Katz owner of London Landscapes LLCI have many great photos, over 400 for the 3 days, but I have to share this striking bird bath that I was quite drawn to. The way it is nestled into the plants is lovely. Bird Bath at Barbara Katz We stopped for lunch at Brookside Garden, a 50 acre public garden. Shawn and I had a nice stroll around. I was amazed at this large Bloodgood Japanese maple tree. Bloodgood Japanese maple tree at Brookside Gardens in MarylandAfter lunch we headed to Arlington Virginia and the home of landscape designer Scott Brinitzer. This home was unique in the pebbledash treatment on the wall, urns and banister done by the original owner. I am not sure the actual technique used here but it reminded me of the textured walls of homes I had seen in England. The home of Scott Brinitzer in Arlington VirginiaIn the back garden the space was broken up into several rooms that opened onto each other leading you around the house. I can imagine this fountain in my back garden. Lion head fountainConintuing on, the next home was of another talented garden designer Jeff Minnich. This was a peaceful garden looking over a steep slope. I envied the work space window that looked over this tranquil space.The waterfall at garden designer Jeff Minnich garden.A shady oasis and a place I could have spent the day was our next stop.  Peg Bier raised her 4 children here. We met her daughter and grandson. She has 12 grandchildren who enjoy the garden that she has tended for 40 years. Peg is as beautiful and charming as the garden…a true reflection of her love and talent for gardening! I can’t resist showing you her humor and the little box turtle I meet on the path!A few fun elements from Peg Bier's garden.Our final garden for Saturday was the garden of Ellen Ash. It had a wonderful selection of flowering plant and paths that wound thru the 2 acres carved out of the woodlands.  The pool and pool house were perfect for entertaining. What struck me the most was the amazing collection of art. These are my 3 favorite!Art in the Garden of Ellen Ash Great Falls VAWe still have Sunday to go! I was walking on air by now! So recharged and really enjoying the company of our garden blogger friends. Each year we meet old friends and make new ones. It is like going to CAMP! This morning we headed to Bristow VA and the garden of our wonderful and talented 2017 host Tammy Schimitt of the blog Casa Mariposa. She has a very pollinator friendly garden. I loved the rain garden she has in her back garden. It is to help slow down and filter the water that flows through her back garden before it heads to its final destination the Potomac River. It is a bit of a game/challenge to get photos without people. This is why : ) I love this garden tribe!!!Garden Bloggers at the home of our Mother of Snap Dragons Tammy SchmittHere is Tammy explaining the rain-garden to Jim Peterson owner of Garden Design Magazine and my first fling roommate Stephanie. Tammy Schmiit explaining her rain gardenMid morning finds us at a beautiful family owned garden center in Gainesville VA. Merrifields’s is a dream garden center. I had to work very hard to resist the urge to buy plants! Merrifield's Garden Center Gainesville Virginia Our next stop was a garden that took my breath away! It is hard to explain all the reasons why. A big part is the energy and use of color in Linda Hostetler’s garden with its fabulous deep cobalt blues accents and lovely shades of fuchsia flowers. Linda is a graphic designer who now works as a landscape designer. This is just the beginning or the back garden…see the stones creating a path in the shape of a fiddlehead fern. The Plains Virginia garden of Linda Hostetler Here is my IG collage that might help you see how the blue theme turns objects like arbors and chairs into art! Cobalt blue and Fuschia in the garden of Linda HostetlerOur Sunday lunch was at the Stone Tower Winery. We were treated to a wine tasting and lunch courtesy of Jim Peterson of Garden Design magazine. It was a spectacular location with very delicious wines! As we were leaving I caught sight of Shawn on the hill and of course the song “The hills are alive….” popped into my head and Shawn being the free-spirited and charming person that he is jumped right into character. Shawn Michael at Stone Tower WineryWe then headed out to rural Middleburg to tour a classic estate circa 1790. The owner wanted to remain anonymous so we feel very fortunate to have been invited to see her charming garden. We got a brief history and were serenaded by frogs, what more can you ask for. Middleburg VA and charming rural estate circa 1790We ended our day and our fling with other bloggers at Meadowlark Gardens. in Vienna Virginia. Meadowlark Gardens Vienna VAOur dinner in the Atrium was a pleasant way to end! We enjoying a lively talk by Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farms. He gifted us with one of his creations, Phenomenal Lavender. Ours is doing fine but I am not putting it out int he garden until we return from Boston. Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farms.Tomorrow you will find us in Boston. Remember we will be posting photos on Instagram @ravenscourtgardens and @shawnmichaeltx : )Boston Park Plaza