around town

celebrating one year and the garden bloggers conference

Yesterday, This Natural Dream celebrated one year of slinging dirt, finding the natural route in life, and coming here to share it all with you. It’s our blogiversary! Below is our one year photo with our pets from another planet. (We were loving the alien eyes too much to remove them. We went ahead and added arrows, just in case you didn’t notice them. )

alien-pets

So, it’s our first anniversary, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than having the opportunity to attend the Garden Bloggers Conference 2015. The fact that it actually takes place in Atlanta and was held so close to our one year mark made it all the better.

garden-bloggers-conference-2015

I can’t fill you in on the event without first telling you how we found ourselves holding passes. We actually came across the conference by chance in a Google search. After looking into it, of course we wanted to attend. Without the Bonnie Plants scholarship, it wouldn’t have been possible for us. To enter, you had to have an active blog for at least 6 months and write a letter describing your blog and why you felt you deserved the scholarship. We submitted ourselves just under the deadline. Days later, we were notified that we had been selected! Even though, it was initially just for one of us, a dance party ensued.

plant-geeks

We each wanted the experience, so we emailed back with confirmation of attendance and asked if it was possible to alternate days. When I opened my email the next day to find they were extending the offer to both Ryan and I, it was all I could do to not cry. (Kindness makes me emotional, y’all.)

Using Bonnie Plant products in the garden is going to be a constant reminder of their generosity.

The first day speaker was the one and only, Nate Berkus. (This was a design bloggers and garden bloggers conference.) He didn’t so much speak about design but about being true to yourself and allowing yourself to be honest about what you want. I’m not one to follow interior designers, but I have always had respect for his place in the design world. After his speech, I was seeing hearts.

nate-berkus-speaking-at-bloggers-conference

Marcus the ‘pool guy’, spoke after that and got us really amped for the rest of the day. When Ryan and I slipped out during the catered lunch break to let Ellie out, we couldn’t stop talking about how lucky we were to attend such an event and what we were already learning.

Day one drew to a close hearing Nick McCullough and his lovely wife Allison speak about Pinterest (Nick has over 3 million followers) and Instagram. It ended on a wonderful note getting all teary-eyed hearing about Dwell with Dignity.

garden-bloggers-conference-nick-mccullough

The finale of it all was the after party at Pirch. They really pulled out the red carpet for us.

red-carpet-treatment-at-pirch

Seriously, when the bus pulled up, there was a red carpet with a sax player and paparazzi. It only grew more spectacular from there. As you walked in, there were folks dressed to the nines placing masquerade masks on everyone. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E.

after-party-at-pirch

The interior designers at the conference must have been dying because Pirch is a showroom full of top of the line Italian designers. I didn’t take nearly enough pictures. I did, however, take several of this girl.

pirch-in-style

The table was somehow attached to her dress. She was effortlessly able to walk around and serve dessert towards the end of the night. I also took pictures of sinks that I thought my sister would drool over, like this one.

sink-with-bling

We ended the night with a photo booth shot just before calling it a night. In true form, I blinked in our first take, so we went with the ‘look at each other and send subliminal messages like this is awkward, but we can’t leave without partaking.’ We grabbed a random sign from the group before us, but it was perfect for the running theme in many speeches through the conference.

blogger-conference-after-party-at-pirch

The following day, the design bloggers and garden bloggers divided. Everything for us ‘plant geeks’ got turned up a notch.

We really enjoyed hearing from amazing bloggers like Fresh Eggs Daily, Two Women and a Hoe (she is hysterical), and Shawna Coranado. There were several moments of asking ourselves, “are we really sharing a room with Garden Betty and Sara from HGTV’s I Hate My Yard, etc?” I knew I was amongst my people when one of the speakers had this in her slide.

I'm-gardening

It felt even more like home because the room was filled with color. Ryan and I couldn’t help but notice the design bloggers all wore the same color – black with a touch of tans. I felt magnified in my green puff vest in a sea of tan and black. Imagine my excitement when I spotted someone in pink that first day.

Then it happened; our special recognition was upon us. (Part of the Bonnie Plants scholarship was getting recognized at the conference.) We were the first to be announced out of the 5 winners. After each name was announced, she read how that person described themselves and their blog. When the room laughed where we had hoped someone reading it would, I thought I was going to lose it.

Through the entire conference, anytime someone said they read our blog or enjoyed what we were doing, I turned a few different shades of red and got a little misty-eyed. I assume one day this kind of praise will no longer make me look a bit ridiculous.

bonnie-plants-scholarship

Check out the other scholarship winners: Miss Smarty Plants, Emerald Thumb, A Nest for All Seasons, and Green Thumb White Apron. These folks have been at it longer than us, so there is much to scope out and enjoy.

Someone else worth your time, Sarah the Real Gardener. She has a couple books under her belt that we enjoyed flipping through, and I can think of several of you who would too. You can see those here. Sarah actually traveled from New Zealand to attend the conference and for doing so, was given two bottles of champagne. She later opened both bottles to share with all the garden bloggers. I wish I had a picture of her with the mic telling everyone to enjoy and the room toasting back to her. Kindness, y’all… simple kindness.

I could go on and on about all the amazing speakers and what we learned through the conference. as well as all the amazing folks we got to know. Nick and Zach here, not only have garden blogs but are also incredible landscape designers. It made for a natural gravitation.

new-friends

You can lean more about Nick through McCullough’s Landscape and Nursery or Thinking Outside the Boxwood and Zach through ZH Design. Those in Ohio and Pennsylvania take note, these very talented designers might just be who you’re looking for for your next design.

Bonus: bloopers… always a sucker for bloopers.

family-blooper family-photot-blooper

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