Proven Winners Outdoor Living Extravaganza, Part 1

What an amazing trip it's been! This event was so packed with great information, fun and yes, food, that I'll have to break this one up into two posts: First I'll tell you all about the event and the great speakers, and next week I'll focus more on the lineup of Proven Winners plants introduced by Rick Schoellhorn for this year. Much to my relief, Rick did an excellent job of tailoring his picks to the Southeast's climate. This week however, I'm focusing on the rest of those enjoyable seminars.

I showed up early and was greeted by a nice woman who assigned me a name badge, and I quickly made a dash to those tempting gardens outside. Before I made it into the gardens, the nice woman burst through the doors shouting "Steve! Steve! It's Lynn from Facebook!" It just so happened that the helpful lady in Proven Winners Garb was none other than my Facebook friend Lynn Felici-Gallant! She's wearing blue in the above photo. As luck would have it, Lynn was part of the staff!

Lynn had to get back to work, and I was just chomping at the bit to explore all of those beautiful temperate flowering trees in the Atlanta History Center's gardens. I'll save the details for another post, but the above photo was shot looking deep into a creek lined ravine, a blooming star magnolia punctuating the scene like snowfall. It was refreshing to witness Atlanta's semi-mountainous topography and temperate plants for myself.

I'm pretty sure I caught my cold while wandering around the gardens, because it was pretty frigid to this Floridian, even with a jacket. After I caught my cold, it was time to head back inside to meet up with the other attendees.

But first, just look at those goodie bags! A post-trip investigation of the bag's contents yielded free organic fertilizer, seedbombs, artisan soaps, and even a nifty trowel from Corona Tools!

Now where was I? Right, the attendees. I met up with Christa Hanson, another friend from Facebook and Twitter, and we found some seats in the front where we could get some good shots of the speakers. I had left my cell phone at home like a total idiot, and Christa was kind enough to let me tweet from her laptop in lieu of my phone! It's nice to meet friends from online, but even nicer when they're actually really... nice.

The seminars were informative and enjoyable, and there was also a nice and relaxed vibe to the event. The audience was encouraged to participate freely, the speakers cracked jokes, prizes were given out throughout the day, and to be honest, the day was over before I knew it!

The first seminar was presented by Rick Schoellhorn, and was all about Proven Winners' new selections for the year. I'll post about this next week, but until then let me just say that their new "Alligator Tears" coleus is a stunner. I meant to buy one at the event but they were all gone before I could snatch one up!

 I was really looking forward to Rebecca Bull Reed's appearance, as I've really enjoyed reading her articles in Southern Living. It turns out that she was a hoot and a holler to watch too, referring to her props as "dippy-do's" and "boogers" with the kind of charming southern accent you could listen to all day. Rebecca gave us a quote from Dan Franklin, "You should have no garden that you can't take care of in two cocktails." before showing us how to make our own basil juleps! 

Lunch was a feast for the eyes, and my belly too, obviously. We had a "Bloggers Table" where I was able to sit with Carolyn Binder of Cowlick Cottage, Christa Hanson of Growing a Greener World, Geri Laufer (@gardengeri on Twitter), Walter Reeves aka The Georgia Gardener, Lynn Felici-Gallant, and Emily Robinson of


Here's Christa chatting it up with Walter! I don't know how they were able to focus with that yummy raspberry mousse within sight... 

After we picked up our complimentary "superbells" plant, it was time for the next speaker, Carmen Johnston of Nectar and Company. Carmen had the coolest ideas for getting kids involved in gardening, ideas like getting kids to dress up as "Aqua Boy" or "Flower Fairy" when they help out in the garden, or letting them "Adopt a Plant" from the clearance cart at the nursery and giving them a "Plant Journal" to record their progress. It was enough to make me want a gardening buddy of my own!

The last speaker was none other than Walter Reeves, the swell guy I met at lunch. As it turns out, he was a really engaging speaker! The name of the seminar was "How to be Sherlock Holmes in Your Garden" and he treated us to photos of some pretty bizarre plant maladies, helping us to 'detect' the culprit.

This was an incredible event, and I would recommend it to anyone who can make it to Seattle or Toronto this spring! The Milwaukee event is already sold out, by the way. I'm so grateful for the friends, food and fun that I've found in Atlanta... especially the food! The roasted chicken and fingerling potatoes were beyond words.


  1. wow that sounds like a wonderful day. I look forward to seeing your next post and get some ideas for plants that might like my area as well.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Steve! I was curious what it would look like when you first posted about it, looks like a fab day! And all those goodie bags...

  3. I can see why you enjoyed it so much - looks great....and I love the goodies bag.

  4. That sounds a very good experience. Can not wait for reading your part 2. I can use some PW plants that fit in my area.

  5. It really was fun, guys! I can't wait to show some photos of spring in Atlanta too.

  6. What a fun day you had! And yummy food too! You must have learned a lot and got to bring home some loot to boot! LOL I love those fingerling potatoes too, especially the purple ones!

  7. Seriously, I wish they would do this once a month or more frequently, I had such a great time and that's not just the bourbon talking =)

  8. Thanks for sharing the information on outdoor living.. I am glad I visited here and come to know about it.. I really appreciate your post..


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