Highlights from the 2015 Garden Bloggers Conference

GBC- kfp-selfie-stickWe are so grateful to our attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors for making our second Garden Bloggers Conference a success!

So many to thank – from Nate Berkus, Bunny Williams, Marcus Sheridan, Shawna Coronado, Lisa Steele, Jan Bills, Linda Ly, Rochelle Greayer, Sara Bendrick, Nick McCullough, Allison McCullough, and Kelly Fitzsimmons just to name a few.

We also want to acknowledge the generous support of:

  • Bonnie Plants for providing 5 new garden bloggers the opportunity to attend the event as part the Conference Scholarship Program and Sponsorship.
  • Proven Winners for sponsoring the 2015 Garden Bloggers Conference Hall of Fame Awards. This year our Hall of Fame winners included Best Overall Blog: Red Dirt Ramblings, Dee Nash; Best Blog Graphics, Photography, and Presentation: Green Thumb White Apron, Brett Youmans; Best Writing: Mother of a Hubbard, Cathy Rehmeyer; and Best New Blog: Redeem Your Ground, Doug and Brittany Scott.
  • The Garden Writers Association and The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) for embracing our event from the very beginning and sharing our vision for the focus of the program.
  • The more than 70 exhibitors and sponsors on our expo floor shared with our sister event Design Bloggers Conference – from ADAC to Vita – who strive to make our lives better and more beautiful.

Garden Blogger Conference After Party EventIf you missed the event we figured that we couldn’t summarize the conference any better than YOU, our attendees, so here you’ll find a collection of the highlights, recaps, new friends, and key takeaways from the conference, along with lots of photos.

Hoping we all meet again next year!




Bunny Williams in the House!

bunnywilliams_041514Bunny Williams will be illuminating the stage at the  Garden Bloggers Conference!

By day, Bunny is one of New York’s most successful interior designers, a woman whose hours are filled with high-powered meetings, magazine photo shoots, and detailed consultations with clients. But when the week shades into Friday evening, Bunny can be found in the idyllic retreat of her Connecticut garden, the emotional center of her life and the source of perhaps her greatest creative efforts. After five days at the top of the design world, nothing means more to this warm and brilliant woman than to spend the next two with her hands in the dirt, musing about the effect of trees and flowers, paths and benches.

The passion Bunny feels for her garden is a deep one shared by countless others — in the country, in the suburbs, and even in the city. Gardening has become America’s favorite pastime, but its vocabulary remains intimidating, even to those fluent in the language of style and design. Applying the lessons we’ve learned about interior space to the outdoors is a good idea, but it doesn’t work without help: before we can decorate the outdoor room we need to understand its character, and few people can guide us to that understanding better than Bunny Williams.

See the entire agenda and speaker line-up.   The conference program will include  learning about:

  • What Do Successful Bloggers Do
  • The Power of Personal Branding for Professional Success
  • How to Build a Strategic Social Media Presence & Memorable Brand Recognition
  • How to Monetize Your Online Brand
  • How to Expand Your Brand into Video & Gain a Global Presence
  • The Ultimate Blog Platform
  • How to Prevent Your Website from Getting Hacked
  • How to Get More Qualified Traffic & Drive Readers to Action
  • Connecting with Users: What You Should Know About Search and Analytics
  • How Photography Can Help Build Your Brand, Differentiate Your Blog, & Build Traffic on Your Web




Bunny Williams’ Garden and Secrets Tours

Part garden touring and part road rally – four garden tours comprise the agenda on Trade Secrets‘ second day.  I never tire of driving the beautiful countryside surrounding Sharon, Connecticut which this year includes Falls Village and Cornwall and where our next adventure takes us.

Bunny Williams and John Roselli’s Affair with the Home and Gardens

It all starts at Bunny and John’s home in Falls Village and your first glimpse is of the Greek temple-style pool house (also featured in House and Garden) which is surrounded by heirloom apple trees and soft long grass. The pool is encased in rustic stone and flows with the overall design and ambience.

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Cutting garden and inside look at their renovated barn with luxurious and comfortable furnishings.

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Inviting dining area in the barn with views of the parterre garden in white and green hues provide a calming backdrop.

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Nearby arbors connect to a sunken formal garden on the other side of the house.

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We say good-bye to Bunny and John’s comfortable home and head out to Cornwall Bridge for our next tours.

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Stay tuned for the next installment of the Trade Secrets Garden Tours in Cornwall Bridge and Cornwall.

Bunny Williams’ Trade Secrets, Meet-Up Old and New


Bunny Williams, Honorary Chair for Trade Secrets, 2-day event which started in Bunny’s backyard more than 10 years ago.

Making the trek out to Bunny Williams’ Trade Secrets is a much anticipated weekend for many of us. This is only my second year but already I feel a kinship with this event which provides an opportunity to meet up with some of our Garden Blogger Conference alumni as well as chat with new gardening aficionados.

For garden lovers, Trade Secrets is a weekend to explore some of the finest gardens and to browse for a few of your favorite things. The event typically attracts about 1,000 attendees.

This popular two-day event, now in its 14th year and held on May 17-18,  includes a rare plant and garden antiques sale followed by a day of garden tours that benefits Women’s Support Services (WSS), a non-profit organization founded in 1981 that provides services to persons in the northwest corner of Connecticut who have experienced domestic violence or abuse.

“I look forward to this weekend every year,” said Bunny Williams of Bunny Williams Inc., one of the world’s largest and most prestigious design firms. Williams founded Trade Secrets 14 years ago when she offered to hold a small plant sale to support WSS.

trade-secrets-matt-mattusI was elated to see Matt Mattus,  Plantsman, Author, Visual Designer, Trend Consultant,
Garden Bloggers Conference Advisory Board Member and Founder and Blogger of Growing with Plants.

Matt is admiring his new purchase from Guy Wolff Pottery, one of the many vendors at Trade Secrets. You can see the complete list of vendors here.

We also had the pleasure of hearing Matt speak at last year’s Garden Bloggers Conference where he gave a very informative and engaging presentation entitled “Photography and Online Branding: Learn how photography can help you build your brand, differentiate your blog, and build traffic on your website.”

trade-secrets-snug-harbor-1Tony Elliot, proprietor of Snug Harbor Farm, is another Garden Bloggers Conference alumnus who was exhibiting at Trade Secrets. Topiaries and succulents were in abundant display and I walked away with a healthy Lemon Cypress topiary.

Tony makes gardening a fun adventure at Snug Harbor Farm-from Mad Hatter Tea Parties, Holiday Workshops and an animal menagerie.  Take a virtual tour of his eclectic nursery in Kennebunk in this video.


trade-secrets-groupI was thrilled to see Rochelle Greayer again, founder and blogger of studio g – this was her first Trade Secrets. Rochelle was one of our featured “Blogging Rock Stars” at the last Garden Bloggers Conference. She and Matt provided some expert guidance on the key topics to include in our conference program.

Andrew Keys is on the far right in this photo. Andrew is the founder and blogger of Andrew Keys Writes Things.



New Friends

Matt also introduced me to Taylor Johnston who is launching a new line of garden workwear which she is modeling in the photo.

While waiting for the shuttle to take us back to our cars, I met two sisters who traveled all the way from New Jersey to buy rare plants featured at Trade Secrets.

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Trade Secrets is a splendid mix of antiques and plants. This geranium-looking plant is actually a begonia convolvulacea “Shield of Leaf” offered by The Flower Company. Love the lines on this elegant bench from Privet House.

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Italian Terrace manufactures their pots in Italy and they have a distributor in Atlanta at ADAC, one of our sponsors at last year’s Garden Bloggers Conference.

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I found one Longhorn in Connecticut but no garden is complete without a birdhouse or two.

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Part 2 will feature all the garden tours including Bunny Williams home.