Friday, April 3, 2015

Toronto Fling Headgear Challenge

Vicki's banana slug and ferns won the first unofficial Fling Fascinator challenge in Seattle hands down.
Blame me (that's Helen) by way of Kate Middleton for the first time a fascinator appeared at a Fling. I threw out the gauntlet, which a brave few took up – and, lo, it was fun. For everyone.

Things stayed quiet for a while. Then, last year, the Portlanders surprised us (AKA showed us all up) with their Fabulous Floral Fling Fascinators. Yes, that's the technical term. Even meadow man John Greenlee got into the grass-hatted act, proving that fascinatoration is not just a girl thing. And now someone has asked if we're doing something for Toronto – so they won't be shown up again.

So, yes, Andrea: Here's your challenge for Toronto in 2015! Inspired by the early 20th-century heritage of two of our Fling spots – our hotel the Fairmont Royal York and historic Parkwood Estate (more on this later) – we're letting Downton Abbey go to our heads! Bring on the fancy headgear.

To show that a hat can amaze, cross borders and pack well, too, have a look at this link. Cool, eh?

Vanessa went Allium-allium-oop! in Portland.
Ann was a walking garden in Portland, too.
Kate was great in living crown and matching jewels.
Even Helen's lazy, last-minute dollar-store do (left) had that "just do it, anyone can" attitude. 
And sometimes, as in Asheville, a hat just becomes an unofficial Fling thing.
Participation is optional, but anything goes. So, hey, will you play?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why Fling? Our never-fickle Flingers tell all

Brit blogger Neil Jones looking very at home at his first Fling in Portland last year
Still undecided about whether to Fling? Well don't remain undecided for too long, as we have fewer than 10 spaces left. For those on the fence, read these great, go-Fling stories from past attendees.

Helen Battersby of Toronto Gardens (that would be me, one of this year's organizers) says it's all about the people. You'll see that my post Fling folk are Repeat Befrienders is a common theme.

Gail Eichelberger of Clay and Limestone in Tennessee loves the gardens as well as the people.

Garden Rant's Elizabeth Licata jokes that we have gardens in Canada, too. But one of her main draws to any Fling is experiencing each city – and Toronto has lots to offer. I agree.

Down in Louisiana, hearing about the first Fling in Austin in 2008 actually turned Jean McWeeney on to blogging about her garden. And from 2009 on, she's been to every one. Flinging can be addictive.

And one of the organizers for that Austin Fling, Texan Pam Penick calls the Fling one of the best garden tours around – while reinforcing the people points made by all of us.

First-timer Tammy Schmidt of Casa Mariposa (Virginia) describes the Fling it so well: "I could say it's a party or at least the mother of all garden tours, but it was really a homecoming."

As more people post, I'll add to the reasons why. Now you have to ask yourself, why not?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Toronto Fling – early sponsorship highlights

Cool bags for each of our bloggers is just one way the TBG is sponsoring the Toronto Fling. A roomy felt shoulder back with two inside pockets and room for your pen and smart phone (or my pen and smart phone, in this instance).
Not only cool, but made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. 
We're so grateful to the sponsors who are helping to make the Toronto Fling special. Our first sponsor, and one of our most supportive, has been the Toronto Botanical Garden, which will also be where we hold our Fling dinner.

But we're also delighted to welcome the Royal Botanical Garden, Garden Design Magazine and Corona Tools to our list of sponsors – and only await digital logos from them to add them to our sponsor column on the right.

Want to join the great list of Garden Bloggers Fling sponsors? Click here for more info.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fling Preview: Shaw Festival gardens, Niagara-on-the-Lake

This art-filled space is one of three very different gardens we'll visit in Niagara-on-the-Lake

We've been lucky on our Niagara excursion to be teaming up with the Shaw Guild Garden Tour, the 10th annual fundraiser for Niagara-on-the-Lake's wonderful Shaw Festival Theatre. Three of the gardens on the tour will be held open, exclusively for us, on our optional Niagara day, Monday, June 8th. And as the tour itself is just the Saturday before, the gardens are likely to be in top form. (For local folk lured to this post, you'll find ticket information at the link above.)

A few places are still available for our Niagara day. Contact Helen at GBFling15 [at] gmail [dot] com. Yes, we will swing by for a photo op at the Falls – from the photogenic Canadian side, natch.

Right on Lake Ontario, with views of Fort Niagara. You'll want to live here. Yes, you will.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Toronto Flingers, meet You Grow Girl

You Grow Girl's Gayla Trail
We couldn't have a garden blogging event in Toronto without our city's own You Grow Girl Gayla Trail. With the launch of her blog in 2000, Gayla became one of the very first garden bloggers and she remains one of the most prolific, with a large and loyal readership.

Gayla's words and images are also behind three best-selling books on organic growing for city living (plus a book on garden-good summer libations).

While Gayla can't attend the Fling itself, we're delighted to have arranged an evening with her.

Past Flings have included an informal get-together to talk about blogging. This year, Gayla kicks ours off ever-so-slightly more formally by sharing her thoughts on staying authentic as things around us (and we ourselves) change. Don't think of it as a how-to but as organic food for thought.

We'll have time for Q&As and discussion. Full details are TBD but Saturday evening is pencilled in.

Meanwhile, you might want to stretch your creative muscles by joining in Gayla's Grow Write Guild, her creative writing club for people who love to garden. Fresh inspiration for your best blogging year ever. Happy 2015!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Toronto Fling: Who's going?

Four of the smiling faces you'll meet in Toronto: Carolina gals Janet, Daricia, Lisa and Julie at the San Francisco Fling
I'm pastin' a link, I'm checkin' it twice. You're gonna find out who's naughty or nice (and often both). Toronto Flingers are comin' to town – and some, marked with an (N) are also goin' to Niagara. Discover who's who and who'll be here, or at least those confirmed to-date. We'll update as things change. Get to know the nice, the naughty, and the bit of both by visiting their blogs. And comment!

See anything wrong or anyone missing – or anyone who really should be coming but hasn't committed yet? Nudge me or them, as the case may be.

And, if you're coming to Toronto, you can download the Fling badge to the right and add it to your blog, with a link back to this site. Spread the good word!

From Canada:

Toronto Fling Committee:
Helen Battersby (N)                Toronto Gardens
Sarah Battersby (N)                Toronto Gardens and Fiesta Gardens
Lorraine Flanigan (N)              City Gardening Online
Veronica Sliva (N)                   A Gardener's World

Tony Spencer                         The New Perennialist
Jennifer Connell                     Three Dogs in a Garden
Janet Davis (N)                      The Paintbox Garden
Tara Nolan (N only)                Savvy Gardening
Susan Poizner (N)                  The Orchard People
Cristina da Silva (N)               The Real Gardener
Barbara Phillips-Conroy (N)   Barbara's Garden Chronicles
Joanne Shaw                            Down2Earth
Amanda Hill                            Cooking in Someone Else's Kitchen
Margaret Mishra (N)               Homegrown – Adventures in my Garden
Marilyn Cornwell                    Open Gardens Niagara
Margaret Bennet-Alder           Toronto Gardener's Journal

Patterson Webster (N)            Site and Insight

From the United Kingdom:

Mark Domingo (N)                 Alternative Eden
Neil (Gaz) Jones (N)              Alternative Eden

Victoria Summerley (N)         Tales from Awkward Hill

Charlotte Weychan                The Galloping Gardener

Michelle Chapman (N)           Veg Plotting

From the United States:

Su Reid-St. John                     Bonnie's Plants

Kelly Kilpatrick                      Floradora Gardens
Maya Bartolf                          Today's Bouquet
Jim Peterson                            Garden Design

Judy Seaborn                          In the Garden, Botanical Interests
Brandon Coppin                     In the Garden, Botanical Interests

Karin Hicks (N)                     Southern Meadows

Evelyn Hadden (N)               Garden Rant

Jason Kay                             Garden in a City
Judy Hertz                             Garden in a City

Jean McWeeney (N)              Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog

Claire Jones (N)                     The Gardening Diaries

Stefanie Gilmour                   See Jane Dig
Nancy Patterson                   Garden 337

Mary Shier                            My Northern Garden
Amy Andrychowicz (N)        Get Busy Gardening and Savvy Gardening

North Carolina:
Helen Yoest                          Gardening With Confidence
Daricia McKnight (N)           A Charlotte Garden
Marian St. Clair                     Hortitopia

New Jersey:
Susan Cohan (N)                  Miss Rumphius' Rules

New York:
Elizabeth Licata                   Garden Rant and Gardening While Intoxicated 
Jim Charlier                          Art of Gardening
Donna Brok                          Garden Walk Garden Talk
Kathy Purdy (N)                   Cold Climate Gardening

Kylee Baumle (N)                 Our Little Acre
Louise Hartwig (N)              Two Girls with a Purpose
Susan Heppard (N)              Two Girls with a Purpose

Loree Bohl                           Danger Garden
Jane Finch-Howell               Mulch Maid

Clint Albin                            Garden Media Group

South Carolina:
Lisa Wagner                         Natural Gardening
Julie Thompson-Adolf (N)  Garden Delights
Janet Ledebuhr (N)              The Queen of Seaford
Julie Hill (N)                        Into the Southern Wild

Gail Eichelberger (N)          Clay and Limestone
Barbara Wise (N)                 BWise Gardening
Sharon (Marmee) Green      Things I Love

Pam Penick                          Digging
Chris Giaraffa                      Running Gardener
Diana Kirby                         Sharing Nature's Garden
Andrea Fox (N)                   Grow Where You're Planted
Vicki Blachman (N)            Playin' Outside
Cindy Tournier (N)              My Corner of Katy
Sheryl Williams (N)            Yard Fanatic
Rebecca Schroeder (N)        Rebecca's Retreat
Laurin Lindsey (N)              Ravenscourt Gardens
Shawn Michael (N)             Ravenscourt Gardens
Susan Tomlinson (N)          The Bike Garden
Linda Lehmusvirta              Central Texas Gardener
Jennifer Trandell                 The Botanical Journey

Tammy Schmitt                   Casa Mariposa

Washington D.C.:
Susan Harris                       Garden Rant and  Greenbelt Live and DC Gardens

Beth Stetenfeld                   Plant Postings 

(BTW, Blogger's inability to create a flush-left double column sets my typographic whiskers all aquiver. We'll have to live with content over style. Now go visit those blogs and say Hi!)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Niagara Preview: Irises galore at the RBG Laking Garden

More than 600 types of bearded iris form the backbone of the RBG's substantial iris collection
Our first stop on our optional day in Niagara will be the Laking Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG). The star of this space is the RBG's collection of over 1000 types of iris. This garden was redesigned in 2013, and these pictures were taken very close to Fling time the following year (after what I call the Polar Voldemortex winter of 2013/2014). That means we should be viewing it in the "leap" phase of the sleep-creep-leap adage, even if winter 2014/15 gives us a repeat performance.

If you love irises, this is a chance to get up-close and personal. Here's Iris 'Banish Misfortune.' Great name.
Excellent plant labels and interpretive signs make the Laking Garden educational as well as inspiring.
The Laking Garden is also home to other collections, including peonies, clematis and hostas.
Framed by formal elements, it will be a picturesque way to begin our Niagara excursion.
We're delighted to include this update from Nick Kondrat, Manager of Communications for the RBG:
June is the month for perennials at RBG and this is when the Laking Garden is at its best. Take a tour of the spectacular Iris and peony collections which showcase rare and unusual cultivars from the 20th and 21st centuries. In particular the iris collection is one of the most unique collections of its type in North America. Travel through time and look at breeding trends through the decades, marvel at a complete collection of Dykes Medal winning iris and take a look at the latest trends in Canadian Iris breeding. This experience is an unrivalled and intimate opportunity to experience  these collections for plant connoisseurs up close. We hope to have the pleasure of your company in the Laking Garden on June 8th.
Thanks, Nick! We're looking forward to our visit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fling Preview: Two Forest Hill gardens

A small, contemporary garden that still manages to retain a sense of romance
We're delighted that two delightful Forest Hill gardens have agreed to open their gates to us for the Toronto Fling. Call it double delight! These are sneak peek pix only. Stay tuned for more.

A plant-lover's garden around a lovely Arts-and-Craftsy home, with the greenhouse you all want. No, you do.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Reserve your place now for the Toronto Fling

Hope you'll get to see Dupont Station when you come. Wish our subway stations were all this beautiful!
It's the time you've all been waiting for. See information on fees for the Toronto Fling 2015 at this link. And, if you haven't yet done so, please check to see if you qualify at this link.

Then email us at GBFling2015 at Gmail dot com with "I WANNA FLING IN T.O." in the headline. Include a link to your garden blog along with your contact info in the body of your message. Please let us know:
  • if you're coming to the Toronto FLING ONLY or the FLING PLUS optional Niagara day
  • whether you require VEGETARIAN or GLUTEN-FREE meals (or both, if that's the case)
After receiving your application, we'll email you a PayPal invoice – one for the Fling and one for the optional day in Niagara, if requested. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please pay on receipt to avoid disappointment. There will be no confirmation until your payment is received. According to PayPal, processing payments can take a couple of days.

Our email will also include the Fling discount code and booking link/phone number for our hotel.

PLEASE NOTE: Into every Fling a little rain must fall. We have just learned that all Standard Rooms at the Fling rate of CAD$179 have SOLD OUT for June 1-4. What can I say? Everyone wants to come to Toronto. For June 1-4, we have negotiated a reduced rate of CAD$239 (Deluxe Room, reg. CAD$419). Plenty of Standard Rooms are available from June 5 to 8, our main Fling days.

However, do be prepared to switch rooms if you have different requirements for different parts of your stay. If you prefer not to change rooms, you might opt for the higher rate for the full term of your visit. It's still a great rate for an iconic hotel.

We're working hard to ensure it will all be worth it. Get ready, get set, Fling! Toronto awaits you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

About registration fees for the Toronto Fling

This way to the Fling (Not exactly as shown!)
In just a few days, we'll open registration for the Garden Bloggers Fling 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We want to give you as much advance detail as we can, so you'll be ready to hit "Purchase" on PayPal to reserve your space.

Don't yet have a PayPal account? Why not open one today? They're free. We're using PayPal – and only PayPal – to reduce fees and make life simpler for international visitors (as well as for ourselves).

While we wish we could invite everyone, there's only so much room on the buses – literally – and only so many people our volunteer organizers can juggle. In 2015, we have 80 spots, including organizers. Thanks to the Fling Advisory Committee for outlining how to qualify for this limited-registration event. We strongly encourage newbie bloggers to come, but if you don't qualify this year, keep at it and Fling with us next year. Please visit the link to read all about it before you apply.

The registration fee is equivalent to that of the previous two years (US$250) – that translates into $275 in Canadian currency. While we are still hammering out other details, Fling registration will cover bus transportation to and from the gardens, lunches and our final Fling dinner. As always, a Fling is a not-for-profit event covering expenses only and organized by volunteers.

The Toronto Fling is also offering a Fling first – an optional (and exciting) fourth day in the beautiful Niagara region for CDN$125. This will cover bus transportation, breakfast, lunch, a stop at a winery for special tasting, plus tours through some amazing gardens. Our bus holds 55, but we will need at least 40 attendees to make this feasible. Depending on the response, this fee might change.

As these are simply shared costs with taxes included, there is no tax on either Fling registration fee.

A reminder that the dates are Friday through Sunday, June 5, 6 and 7, 2015. We'll also have a welcome event Thursday evening, June 4th to take into account for your travel, and the optional Niagara day will be on Monday, June 8. For Hotel rate information, check here. We look forward to showing you some wonderful things!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fling Preview: The gardens of Toronto Islands

View of Toronto's skyline from a front garden on Algonquin Island – one of the Toronto Islands
On the first afternoon of the 2015 Fling, Friday, June 5, we'll share an experience that's quintessentially Toronto – we'll ferry across the harbour to explore the delightful cottage gardens on the Islands, Ward's and Algonquin. Small, informal, sometimes quirky and always personal, they are a must-see.

As Flingers, we'll enjoy an exclusive preview of the annual Toronto Island Garden Tour, having all afternoon to see the gardens – and the Island – in advance of their official tour days on the Saturday and Sunday, June 6 & 7.  We'll post news as it becomes available.

The Toronto Island Community is unique. The 262 homes here are part of a lush setting that has been a public park since 1887. It's a car-free zone (only Parks vehicles are allowed) and Island gardeners must ferry in anything they need from the mainland, whether manure, garden fencing or statuary, and then hike it to their lots via bike or cart. These are dedicated (and resourceful) gardeners.

When we arrive at the docks, be sure to stick together for our Fling group shot, with the skyline as our backdrop. More information to come as the day draws nigh. Watch this space for updates.

Two of our Toronto Fling organizers, Lorraine Flanigan and Sarah Battersby, stroll down one of the Islands' leafy lanes.
Island gardens are full of cottagey touches, and have a different microclimate than mainland gardens.
After your afternoon, you'll be free to hop the return ferry at your own pace. It's a short walk back to the Fling hotel.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Toronto Fling: Our Fling hotel, the Fairmont Royal York

For the Toronto Fling, we have negotiated a great group rate of CDN $179 (plus fees & taxes*) at the city's "grande dame" hotel, the Fairmont Royal York. [NOTE: Our Standard room rate above sold out quickly, though ask about any cancellations. But, we also have a great rate on Deluxe rooms.]

This rate includes wifi and applies, on a first-come, first-served basis, from June 1 to June 10, 2015 – plenty of shoulder room to work around your best flights or enjoy a longer visit to Toronto. And we have plenty to see and do beyond the gardenesque. (Some of these might even be on our itinerary.)

When you register for the Fling, we'll include our Fling discount code for the hotel and reservations number or weblink to our online reservations page.

The Fairmont Royal York is right downtown, just across Front Street from Union Station, for travellers by train and for subway transit for those extending their visit to explore the city.

Directions to the hotel are here. We're also crossing our fingers that the brand spanking new Union Pearson Express rail service from/to Pearson International Airport (YYZ) will be finished on schedule and in time for our Fling. We'll keep you posted. Other options for land transport from the airport can be found here. And downtown's Billy Bishop city airport (YTZ) is just a few blocks away by cab.

The Royal York is also directly connected to the city's PATH system, our huge underground shopping network.

Construction is a way of life in any major city, and downtown Toronto is no exception. But with the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games happening just a few weeks after the Fling, we hope to show you a city that looks and works at its best.

*All room rates are subject to Ontario’s 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) as well as a DMP – Destination Marketing Program Fee of 2.66% plus HST = 3%.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Attending the Garden Bloggers Fling

Want to attend the Garden Bloggers Fling? Here's what you need to know

Garden blogging is, by nature, a social activity. It's about sharing your own garden or gardens you visit; your photos and writing, whether you're a beginner or experienced pro; your love of wildlife, nature, and the environment; your humor or quirky style or thoughtful musings or pugnacious debate about all things gardening. Whatever your interest in gardening, once you start blogging about it you join a lively community of fellow bloggers who enjoy commenting on each others' blogs and seeing what other gardeners are doing across town, across the country, and around the world. 

These online relationships are vital and keep many of us blogging. But from its inception in 2008, the mission of the annual Garden Bloggers Fling has been to bring garden bloggers together in real life too -- to meet each other in person, to socialize, to network, and to see gardens together. It's for people who not only love gardens but love writing about them and being part of the garden-blogging community.

In the Fling's early years, there were far fewer garden bloggers, and registration didn't fill up as quickly as it does today. These days, however, spots on the tour can fill very quickly; the Portland Fling in 2014 sold out in less than a week. Attendance each year is limited to around 80 bloggers because many of the private gardens on tour are small and unable to accommodate larger groups, and because it makes organizing easier for our local volunteer planning committees. 

Since limited spots can lead to questions about how to get in on the tour, the Fling advisory committee has clarified its rules regarding attendance. We hope this will help both those who are interested in attending and the local hosts who handle registration each year. If you meet the following qualifications, we also strongly urge you to send in your registration form and payment as soon as registration opens in order to secure a spot, as entry is first-come, first-served. To stay abreast of Fling announcements, subscribe to this blog in your feed reader or follow the Fling Facebook group. Registration will be announced here and on the Facebook page as soon as it opens.

1. What is a garden blog? Garden Bloggers Fling is an event for garden bloggers. We understand that some bloggers who may wish to attend write about many subjects, not just gardening, and that's fine. In fairness to all potential attendees, however, we do expect that your blog focuses on gardening a great deal. The hosts will look at your blog when you register, and they should be able to tell without having to dig too deep that your blog is about gardening. If that's not the case, you may not be allowed to register.

Also, for the purposes of attending the Fling, only those with active blogs (weblogs) and Tumblr blogs are eligible, not those who post about gardening solely on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. We understand that blogs are always evolving, and with new outlets appearing constantly it can be hard to quantify what a blog is. But for now this is how we're defining a blog. 

2. New bloggers. Your blog must be at least 6 months old for you to be qualified to register. While new bloggers are enthusiastically encouraged to attend, starting a blog for the sole purpose of attending defeats the mission of the Fling (bringing garden bloggers together). Therefore, if you're a new blogger, your blog must have been started at least 6 months before registration opens in order to attend. For example, if registration opens on December 1, 2014 (theoretical date; the actual date has not been announced), your blog must have been started by June 1, 2014. If your blog is too new for you to register this year, please know that we'd love for you to attend next year.

3. All bloggers. Whether your blog is brand-new or long-standing, you must have posted at least once in the 6 months before registration opens in order to register. We understand that many bloggers have periods of inactivity. But since this is an event for garden bloggers, attendees must have active blogs. For the purposes of attending the Fling, this means that you must have posted on your blog at least once in the 6 months before registration opens. If you're a new blogger, as noted in #2, your blog must also have been started at least 6 months before registration opens.

4. Home/amateur versus professional/corporate garden bloggers. Any garden blogger who meets the conditions laid out here is welcome to register, whether you blog primarily for yourself or for a garden-related business, public garden, nonprofit, etc. Many amateur -- i.e., non-paid -- garden bloggers do some self-promotion of classes they teach, design work they offer, articles/books they've written, etc., and many professional bloggers share personal gardening information with their readers. In other words, it's a slippery slope in distinguishing between the two, and we'd rather not try. Part of the appeal of the Fling is that you can meet many different kinds of garden bloggers, with various levels of gardening and blogging experience, focusing on a wide variety of subjects, and hailing from far-flung regions. We encourage this diversity. 

5. Mobility issues. We endeavor to make the Fling accessible to everyone, but since private gardens make up a lot of the touring we do, accessibility may be an issue for those who have difficulty with stairs, standing for long periods (not every garden has seating), or walking several blocks. If you have special circumstances related to mobility or other issues, please contact the local host committee when registration opens to determine if the tour will be feasible for you.

6. Non-blogging spouses/family/friends are not eligible to attend the Fling. Since attendance is very limited, spots must go to garden bloggers. Some attendees do bring their spouse/partner/family along to share the hotel room, and they meet up after Fling events have ended for the day, or they plan a few days of sightseeing before or after the Fling. Often, the official Fling hotel will offer extended days at the special Fling rate for those who wish to come early or stay later. Just be aware that all official Fling events, including meals, happy hours, and garden tours, are open only to registered garden-blogging attendees.

Thanks for understanding that the Garden Bloggers Fling is a limited-attendance event for active garden bloggers. We welcome garden bloggers of all stripes to "Fling" each year and get to know other bloggers in person. Please remember that the Fling is hosted entirely by volunteers, garden bloggers like yourselves, who for at least a year put in countless hours to organize this incredibly detail-oriented event while juggling the demands of their jobs and family responsibilities, not to mention still trying to maintain their own gardens and blogs! The advisory committee too is made up of volunteer garden bloggers who have attended one or more Flings (many have also hosted) and who work hard to help the event run smoothly from year to year. We appreciate your interest in the Fling and hope to see you there!

--Garden Bloggers Fling Advisory Committee