Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Here's what you wrote about #GBFling15

Our official Fling 2015 group shot from Ward's Island, Toronto
The Toronto Fling has flung, and everyone who came seems to have had a Flingtastic time! That's gratifying for us on the organizing committee, and we thank you all so much for coming.

Here are links to our bloggers' posts about their experiences in Toronto. Much more was written on Twitter or Instagram (look for the #GBFling15 hashtag – although hashtags don't live forever) and on the Garden Bloggers Fling Facebook group page.

Here are a few of the nice things you've said:
"Absolutely LOVED the fling this year! Thank you everyone for making me feel welcome even though I'm a plant newbie!" (Brandon, Colorado)
"Thank you Helen, Sarah, Lorraine, and Veronica for sharing your incredible city! As a first time flinger I was blown away by the magnitude of this event. Your countless hours of planning that took place behind the scenes made for a flawless fling. Every stop was a new adventure and gave a real taste of the diversity of gardeners there are in the Toronto area. It was such a treat to meet all my blogger friends, those I've known for years on-line and others for the first time. Y'all are amazing! And a special thank you to Janet for being my fling mentor and taking me under your wing." (Janet, Georgia)

Toronto's famous skyline
Your Fling overview posts:

#GBFling15 on CityGardening's Flipboard, Ontario  (Flipboard login required)

Garden Bloggers' Fling 2015, Cooking in Someone Else's Kitchen, Ontario

Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling – What is a garden?, The Arch City Gardener, Missouri

Flinging in Toronto, Homegrown - Adventures in my Garden, Ontario

Everything Looks Good Next to a Blue Hosta, Notes from NorthernGardener magazine online, Minnesota

Ten Takeaways from the Garden Bloggers' Fling, PlantPostings, Wisconsin

2015 Garden Bloggers' Fling, Toronto, Garden337, Michigan

We're Flinging in Toronto, Garden Rant (Elizabeth Licata, New York)

Garden Bloggers Fling 2015: Highlights, Southern Wild, South Carolina

Toronto Skyline, Garden Bloggers Fling 2015, GardenWalkGardenTalk, New York

Your June garden needs more alliums, Toronto Gardens, Ontario

Toronto, The Botanical Journey, Texas

The Fine Craft of Garden Art, Into the Southern Wild, South Carolina

Fling experience, Toronto style, The Queen of Seaford, South Carolina

The New Perennialist: A moment in the sun, The New Perennialist, Ontario

The Local Gardening Show I Covet: Central Texas Gardener, Garden Rant (Susan Harris, Washington, D.C.)

The Heart of the Matter, Casa Mariposa, Virginia 

Toronto Music Garden: A remarkable garden experience, Natural Gardening, North Carolina

Thursday, June 4

Our opening night at Lee Valley Tools

A Texan post from the Garden Bloggers Fling Facebook group:
"Dear Lee Valley Tools,
Our generous opening night sponsor, Lee Valley Tools on King Street West
I am in love with your website! I have had a thing about tools ever since my Grandfather (gruff scary man) let me play with all his carpentry tools and helped me build a boat when I was six. I have been looking for a good source of useful tools and other practical things forever. I found you even have great shorts with tons of pockets that my husband will love. I am going to live dangerously and sign up for your email updates! The tools you gave us at the Garden Bloggers Fling are going to be used by our crew...I can see us needing more. Now how to spend my gift certificate.....

Laurin of Ravenscourt

P.S. Flingers....pass the word about this very cool company!" 
Lee Valley Rocks!, The Danger Garden, Oregon

Opening Night in Toronto with Lee Valley Tools, Garden Bloggers Fling Blog

Six Days in Toronto, The Danger Garden, Oregon

2015 Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, Two Girls with a Purpose, Ohio

Friday, June 5 

Hillside garden in Swansea
My Luscious Backyard, Site and Insight, Quebec

Farmer Florist – My Luscious Backyard, The Garden Diaries, Maryland

Plant Profile: Ninebark, Notes from NorthernGardener magazine online, Minnesota

Floral design demo with urban farmer Sarah Nixon: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, Digging, Texas

Kicking off American Flowers Week with a visit to My Luscious Backyard, Danger Garden, Oregon  

Knock Knock, Your Weekly Flowers Have Arrived, Arch City Gardener, Missouri

In Defense of Natives, Yard Fanatic, Texas

Swanning around Swansea, My Corner of Katy, Texas

Heavenly Hillside Gardens on Garden Bloggers Fling Toronto, Sharing Nature's Garden, Texas

Hillside Swansea gardens: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, Digging, Texas

Pondside Gardens of Eden in Toronto, Garden in a City, Illinois

Sculptured Steel on a Sculpted Hillside, The Paintbox Garden, Ontario

Artful garden mixes blooms and mixed media fine art, Sharing Nature's Garden, Texas

Visiting the Swansea neighborhood gardens, Danger Garden, Oregon

Terraced in Toronto, GardenWalkGardenTalk, New York

The leafy lanes of Algonquin Island
Small Gardens with Big Impact: Toronto Islands and Cabbagetown, Yard Fanatic, Texas

Fling preview: The Gardens of Toronto Islands, Garden Bloggers Fling Blog

The Gardens of Ward and Algonquin Islands, #GBFling15, Ravenscourt Gardens, Texas

Ward Island Gardens, Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling 2015, GardenWalkGardenTalk, New York

Ward Island and the post-apocalypse, Gardening With Confidence, North Carolina

The gardens of Toronto Islands, Garden Rant (Susan Harris, Washington D.C.)

The Toronto Island Gardens, Danger Garden, Oregon

Island hopping, Toronto-style: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, Digging, Texas

Garden is But-A-Dream on Algonquin Island: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, Digging, Texas

That certain "je ne sais quoi", Danger Garden, Oregon

Storybook Garden on Algonquin Island: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, Digging, Texas

Just Offshore from Downtown Toronto, Verdant Islands with Personality to Spare, Garden in a City, Illinois  

Algonquin Island Gardens, Part I, Garden in a City, Illinois

A Serene and Verdant Garden on the Toronto Islands, Garden in a City, Illinois

Forest Hill private garden
Saturday, June 6

Fling preview: Two Forest Hill Gardens, Garden Bloggers Fling Blog

An Urbane Urban Garden, Art of Gardening Buffalo, NY

The garden with the cool chairs (and urns), Danger Garden, Oregon 

Simple lines, big impact in Forest Hill contemporary garden: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, Digging, Texas

Garden Blogging and Flinging in 2015, Garden Rant (Susan Harris, Washington, D.C.)

Gardening with Brush Strokes, the Marion Jarvie Garden in Toronto, Yard Fanatic, Texas 

A Collector's Garden, GardenWalkGardenTalk, New York 

Nature Rewards the Bold, Garden Rant (Elizabeth Licata, New York)

Golden Brocade Garden of Marion Jarvie: Garden Bloggers Fling Toronto, Digging, Texas

Peony Time from My Northern Garden, Minnesota

Toronto Flingers, meet You Grow Girl, Garden Bloggers Fling Blog 

Do Bloggers Want to Be Popular, GardenWalkGardenTalk, New York

Cabbagetown private garden
Sunday, June 7

Small Gardens with Big Impact: Toronto Islands and Cabbagetown, Yard Fanatic, Texas

Cabbagetown garden art and Hugh Garner Co-Op Green Roof: Garden Bloggers Fling Toronto, Digging, Texas

A City Within a Park, Open Gardens Niagara, Ontario
A Luminous Sculpture of the Don Watershed, Natural Gardening, North Carolina

Evergreen Brick Works community greenspace: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, Digging, Texas

The Aga Khan Museum and Garden, Open Gardens Niagara, Ontario

Wildlife garden with an artful touch, Digging, Texas

Sedums at Toronto Botanical Garden, Natural Gardening, North Carolina

Beginning at the End, Three Dogs in a Garden, Ontario

TBG Hosts Garden Bloggers, Toronto Botanical Garden Blog

Toronto Botanical Garden, Garden Bloggers Fling 2015, GardenWalkGardenTalk, New York

Paul Zammit, Toronto Planter Powerhouse, The Paintbox Garden, Ontario

Fling wrap-up at Toronto Botanical Garden: Garden Bloggers Fling Toronto, Digging, Texas  

Remembering Toronto Botanical Garden, Plant Postings, Wisconsin

Scintillating Salvias, Hortitopia, South Carolina 

The Toronto Botanical Garden terrace

Niagara-on-the-Lake private garden
Monday, June 8 (our optional Niagara day)

Niagara preview: Irises galore at the RBG Laking Garden, Garden Bloggers Fling Blog

Things in Unusual Places #15: Turtles, Veg Plotting, UK

Fling preview: Shaw Festival gardens Niagara-on-the-Lake, Garden Bloggers Fling Blog

Some lovely bling from Bloggers Fling 15 from Barbara's Garden Chronicles, Ontario

Tuesday, June 9 (our unofficial sidetrip to Wild Flower Farm)

Miriam Goldberger's Wildflower Farm, Tales from Awkward Hill, UK

A visit to Wildflower Farm, Toronto Gardens, Ontario

Monday, May 25, 2015

Where to eat at the Toronto Fling

A walk along Front Street makes dining spots easy to find.
Toronto has no shortage of good restaurants. If you like to eat, no matter what you like to eat, you'll find it here. Every ethnicity, meaty or meatless, raw or cooked to perfection. You name it.

You can use an app like Urban Spoon or Yelp or the search features on the Toronto Life magazine or Now Magazine websites. Part of the search will be choosing a "neighbourhood" – FYI, you're in the Financial District at the Royal York. Other easy-to-get-to nabes downtown will include:

The Distillery Historic District – an interesting walk or short cab ride east of the hotel
King West – we'll walk or ride the streetcar past this, a little north and west of the hotel
Harbourfront – along the lake at the foot of Bay and York Streets; includes waterfront patios

Just a tad further north, never far from a subway stop, are:

Greektown – almost in my neighbourhood, along Danforth Ave. between Broadview and Pape
Yorkville – the "see and be seen" village just north of Bloor between Avenue Road and Bay Streets

But if you want to make dinnertime easy, simply walk east along Front Street, turning left at the Royal York's front door. You'll find three large, well reviewed restaurants five minutes away in the block at Yonge and Front, all with large patios – or head further east for more options.

Breakfast is another thing that Toronto does well. 

Here are some of your choices (besides room service, which for me is always a temptation – nothing beats breakfast in bed!). The Hotel's own breakfast place is York's Café, which opens at 6:30 am:

On the west side of the hotel:

The Royal York's awnings in the background.
Timmie's is close!
Tim Hortons, an American-owned Canadian tradition, Timmie's is cheap and cheerful and about a minute's walk north of the hotel's west exit. Get breakfast sandwiches, yogurt, bagels and donuts for just a few dollars "to go." A Canadian coffee with two creams and two sugars is a "double-double." This is coffee for people who don't like Starbucks. I find their tea "bag in" vs "steeped" (that's hot tea, to our American friends) to be quite drinkable. Tim's opens at 7 am.

York Street Café, just across York Street at the Strathcona Hotel, has both a breakfast buffet and à la carte menu. Opens 6:30 am weekdays; 7 am on weekends.

East of the hotel:

Marché in Brookfield Place
Marché, in the Brookfield Place atrium – which is a cool piece of urban architecture – accessible via the entrance just this side of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Self serve; lots of options. Opens at 7:30 am.

Over Easy at the Hotel Victoria on Yonge Street, a few doors up from Front Street. Opens at 7 am
Big brekkies are a block away at Fran's

Fran's, a modern outlet of a classic, big breakfast Toronto diner (check out one of the originals on College St. west of Yonge sometime), is just a block east of Yonge on Front Street. Opens at 6:30 am.

Remember our early-morning walk to St. Lawrence Market for breakfast on Saturday. Meet me in the lobby, ready to leave at 6:45 am – it's a 15-minute walk. Bring cash to make your life easy. Let me know if you're coming! Here are just some of the options there – pictures = 1,000 words.

All raw, all vegan!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Toronto Fling: What to do besides Flinging?

The Royal Ontario Museum (picture via Virtual Tourist)
It's easy to find things to do in Toronto to supplement Fling activities – or occupy yourself while significant others look at gardens. And I've made it even easier with this link-laden post. What we lack in images, we make up for in online connectivity. Explore away!

Museums and Attractions:

The Bata Shoe Museum is pretty cool
If you're staying at the Royal York Hotel, you can walk almost everywhere. Two of the closest attractions are the Hockey Hall of Fame or the new-just-last-year Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. It's best to pre-purchase aquarium tickets online. Another one-of-a-kind destination nearby is the Museum of Inuit Art near the lake on Queen's Quay (pronounced "key").

The terrifyingly brave might try EdgeWalk at the iconic CN Tower (note, it's CN or Canadian National, not CNN), also walkable from the Hotel. EdgeWalk makes my hands sweat just thinking about it. Toronto Tourism calls it one of the city's must-see attractions. But you don't have to go outside to find the tower view impressive. On a clear day, you can see the plume from Niagara Falls. The revolving restaurant isn't cheap, but the food isn't bad. If you go to dine, do it near sunset.

You could also walk to our Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario on Dundas Street. The Emily Carr exhibit is among the shows running when you're here. Around the corner on McCaul is one of Toronto's controversial love-or-hate bits of architecture, The Sharp Centre for Design, main building for the art school OCAD University. I'm a lover. Let's see how you feel.

A view of the CN Tower from underneath
OCAD U's Sharp Centre for Design 
On your way, you might catch Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol at the Textile Museum of Canada – on Dundas Street, just north of our photogenic Toronto City Hall.

A little further north, along "Fashionable Bloor Street," and nudging elbows with the likes of Gucci and Chanel, is The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). You'll be in time to catch a number of exhibitions – and, if you're here after June 13th, there's the Pompeii show. You can decide whether you're a "lover" or "hater" of the crystal addition to the architecture. Guess which camp I'm in.

Across University Avenue from the ROM is The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. A few blocks west on Bloor, find the small but fascinating Bata Shoe Museum. Their first 20th Anniversary show is on men in heels. Other shows are ongoing, and their permanent collection is unique.

Other museums downtown include photography at the Ryerson Image Centre, the new visitor centre at Fort York National Historic Site, and Toronto's "castle" Casa Loma with Spadina House just next door. To reach the last two, get off at my favourite subway stop, Dupont.

If you don't mind going a bit further afield to see things "blowed up good" the Mythbusters show is on at the Ontario Science Centre. Get there via transit (aka the TTC, Toronto Transit Commission). In that general nabe is the Aga Khan Museum which we'll also visit on our Fling.

Performing Arts:

Titanic, the Musical – the Tony-award-winning musical – will be playing at the Princess of Wales Theatre on King Street, not far from our hotel. It stars Canadian tenor superstar, Ben Heppner.

Roy Thomson Hall and Toronto's ubiquitous
CN Tower
A short jaunt south from the hotel, the Air Canada Centre hosts Ed Sheeran on June 6th. The rest of the June calendar includes Rush (June 17 & 19) and Bette Midler (June 20).

Roy Thomson Hall, the concert hall of the Toronto Symphony, has a variety of performances that might appeal to you. If you'll be here as early as June 3rd, extreme climber Will Gadd, National Geographic Explorer of the Year, talks about his climb of a frozen Niagara Falls.

During your visit, The National Ballet of Canada will be performing Sleeping Beauty, one of their gems, at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. If you're here by lunchtime, Wednesday, June 3rd, you might be able to enjoy a free lunchtime music concert at the Four Seasons Centre, also the home of the Canadian Opera Company (though opera season is over for the summer).


Toronto is situated on the vast freshwater sea known as Lake Ontario, and the waterfront makes an interesting stroll from one end of the city to the other. You can rent a bike and explore along the Martin Goodman Trail which runs close to the waterfront through city and countrified paved trails.

One stop might be the cool park known as Sugar Beach, right up against the docklands.

Sugar Beach, with a freighter ship backdrop
About a 10-minute walk from the hotel is Harbourfront Centre with maker spaces (such as glass blowing), the Power Plant art gallery, and just general cool walking around.

You can take a harbour tour or even rent a boat and sail yourself.


Really, there are way too many to cover here. But here are a few close to the centre of town.

A must-see is the Distillery Historic District – a converted Gooderham and Worts distillery often used as a movie set. Wednesday nights are music nights from 6 pm. Two micro-breweries (one for beer, one for saki) and an excellent performing arts theatre are among the many attractions.

King Street West – and we'll walk along this on our way to opening night at Lee Valley – is heart of the entertainment district, with a restaurant row of places to eat. Roy Thomson Hall (see above) is here, as is the Princess of Wales Theatre. The Bell Light Box is home base for the Toronto Film Festival (come back in September for that!).

Queen Street East and West. Ride the streetcar from one side of the city to the other (get a TTC transit day pass; or if you'll regularly use transit for more than 4 days, the weekly pass might be the best deal for hop-on-hop-off travel). The east end is the city's Beach neighbourhood – my neck of the woods. Once waaaaaaaay out in the country, now absorbed into the fabric of the city. The west side takes you into more Bohemian Toronto. East of Spadina has been taken over by big-brand names, but still has a bit of its old roots. The street gets edgier as you head west.


Wanna see a Blue Jays game (that's baseball, for the uninitiated), they'll be at the Rogers Centre, formerly known as the SkyDome, during Fling.

Shop Till You Drop:

Just so you don't think we're all about angular, pointy
 buildings, here's the Heliconian Club in Yorkville
Being a writer, I have to put in a plug first for the new gift shop at the Toronto Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor. It isn't the only reason to visit the Library – another is the Library's Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.

The Toronto Eaton Centre. Eaton's is no more (Simpson's and Eaton's, both gone now, were Canada's Macy's and Gimble's), but the huge shopping galleria that still bears its name is a few blocks north of the hotel. Speaking of Saks (or I will be in a few sentences), the Hudson's Bay Company, just south of the galleria, will be Toronto's new Saks location, but check it out now for a Hudson's Bay blanket or souvenirs.

Bloor-Yorkville, with the haute-est names in fashion, galleries, restaurants, and stuff. Holt-Renfrew is our version of Saks or Bloomingdale's. Yorkville is a cool neighbourhood to stroll around.

And that's just a taste. Stay tuned, gardeners, for another post on gardens we just weren't able to squeeze into the Fling. I'll also fill you in on how to fill up on good things to eat!

Rent a bike and take the Martin Goodman Trail eastbound
to get this view of the skyline from Tommy Thompson Park

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Toronto Fling Itinerary – A first look

A view of Grenadier Pond is just one of the delights in our Swansea gardens.
While there's still a detail to iron out here and there, we're excited that we can now share the broad strokes of what you'll see and do at the Garden Bloggers Fling 2015 in Toronto. If you haven't signed up, and this whets your appetite, we still have a few places left. Email me!

Don't sweat the actual times yet – you'll get a detailed itinerary with your registration package.

OUR WELCOME EVENT (Thursday evening):

In case you've come late to the party and missed our post – Lee Valley Tools is hosting our welcome fest in a big way. You'll want to be there. Really, you will. Tip: Leave room in your suitcase and be ready to check your bag on your return flight.

DAY ONE (Friday):

Buses rotate between three west-end sites:

Luscious arrangement from My Luscious Backyard
The Parkdale garden of (and floral demo by) Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard – a real "slow flowers" story. See a news feature about Sarah's business here.

A look at site restoration at Toronto's High Park, with info on invasive species, especially in Toronto's native oak savannah habitat. High Park is Toronto's Central Park or Hyde Park.

We'll explore two (possibly three) neighbouring gardens in the Swansea district. Some overlook High Park's Grenadier Pond.

Buses take us to the ferry docks

Box lunch to eat on the Toronto Island Ferry to Ward's Island

Toronto Island cottages

Note: On the Island side, we'll stop at the docks for our Toronto Fling photo op with a skyline background! Wear your best smiles.

Then, a preview of the Toronto Island Garden Tour, with as many as ten cottage gardens to tour at your own pace. We'll give you a map and set you free.

Friday dinner on your own. If you're on the Island, you might try the Rectory Café or the Island Café for dinner. Both are a short walk from the Ward's Island ferry docks. No return ticket required.

Friday evening – hold this space for bzzzzzznzzz we are arranging with Burt's Bees. Details TBD.

DAY TWO (Saturday):

Earlybirds can begin the day by walking with Helen to St. Lawrence Market, our historic downtown farmer's market, for breakfast. The Canadian back bacon on a bun is a fave, but there are more gourmet options. The Market opens at 5 am on Saturdays – we don't have to be quite as early as that!

Marion Jarvie's garden
Walk back to the hotel, so the buses can take us to Forest Hill, where we'll tour two very different gardens, a few blocks apart. Check that link for teaser pics.

Then we head north to visit the garden of Marion Jarvie for our own private tour. Marion is plantswoman and true collector, and her half-acre space is filled with unusual species and specimens. With one of Marion's four Open Gardens having happened the weekend prior, the garden should be in top form.

Yes, we'll feed you lunch; details in the works.

Parkwood Estate and (we hope) peonies!
Next, get out your Downton Abbey millinery! We head out of town to visit Oshawa's Parkwood Estate, the historic stately home of R.S. McLaughlin, one of the parents of General Motors. Parkwood is planning some special things for us, but details will be a surprise.

From here, we're crossing our fingers for fine weather, because our next stop, a few minutes away, is the peony garden at the Oshawa Botanical Garden, with (with luck) 300+ species of peony gloriously in bloom.

Ellen Carr's garden in June 2013

Our last stop of the day is the Bluffs-area garden of Ellen Carr, president of the city's largest, poshest garden club, the Garden Club of Toronto. Our picture gives you a wee peek, including a corner of the thyme lawn.

Back to Toronto for dinner on your own

Saturday evening – our bloggers' chat with You Grow Girl Gayla Trail. Check the link for info, with exact time and place to come.

Have we exhausted you yet? Get ready for Sunday!

DAY THREE (Sunday):

View of the skyline from the Hugh Garner Rooftop Garden
We begin in Cabbagetown, which I wrote about just yesterday. In addition to the gardens we've told you about, we're hoping we'll have time to visit the Hugh Garner Rooftop Garden while we're there. It's a special place.

Then we head to the Evergreen Brick Works, a heritage industrial space that has been transformed into a nature preserve and education centre – as well as an organic farmer's market. Sarah wrote about it a few years ago.

Box lunch at the Brick Works

Aga Khan Museum grounds
Our first stop of the afternoon will be the brand new Aga Khan Museum – which was quite a coup for Toronto when it opened just last fall. It's shown in our photo shortly after opening. We'll break into three groups, and circulate between 20-minute tours, including the dramatic grounds and a look at the striking contemporary architecture.

Then we all head to the lovely certified wildlife habitat garden of Siri Luckow, not far away.

Toronto Botanical Garden
We close our day – and the official Toronto Fling – at the Toronto Botanical Garden for garden tours, cocktails, dinner and more!

Buses bring you back to the Fairmont Royal York, well fed and well fêted. If you need to go to the airport directly from the TBG, please let Helen know asapASAP.

And stay tuned, soonish, for our optional Niagara day itinerary.

P.S. Sarah is organizing a small,  unofficial excursion to Wild Flower Farm on Tuesday, June 9th. Let her know on the Fling Facebook page if you're interested.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Toronto Fling Preview: The Gardens of Cabbagetown

Welcome to Cabbagetown
Toronto is sometimes called a city of neighbourhoods. On the Sunday morning of the Fling, we're delighted to be able to show off one of the prettiest, the Heritage Conservation District once known disparagingly, but now affectionately, as Cabbagetown.

Cabbagetown got its name because the hungry Irish workers who once lived here used their precious garden space to grow cabbages. (The link above takes you to more on its history.) Residents were too poor to tear down and modernize the lovely Victorian townhouses and cottages – and our age is the lucky beneficiary.

We're partnering with the Cabbagetown Preservation Association, who are giving us a pre-opening preview of their annual Hidden Gardens and Private Spaces of Cabbagetown garden tour on the day of the tour, June 7th. Tickets to this tour usually sell out quickly.

Walking one of the area's central blocks, we'll get a peep into five tiny gardens off Magic Lane (one of Toronto's many laneways), look at some charming front gardens along leafy streets, and enjoy private access to two Cabbagetown gardens – created by avid gardeners.

Cabbagetown gardens show what big impact can be created in a small space.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Opening Night in Toronto with Lee Valley Tools

Setting for our opening night at the Toronto Fling – the King Street store of Canada's own Lee Valley Tools
As Canadians, we are excited and proud to have Canada's own Lee Valley Tools as a major sponsor for the Garden Bloggers Fling 2015 in Toronto. I know you will be, too.

As a gardener, I find poring through the Lee Valley catalog an exercise in acquisitiveness – I want that and that and that and that! They have a knack for finding intriguing things, and the tools branded Lee Valley are invariably well made. A browse through the store, with it all on display, not only neat stuff for gardeners but mysterious paraphernalia for woodworkers, is like visiting the Olde Curiosity Shoppe. Fascinating.

Lee Valley Tools is our generous host – and Lee Valley's 590 King Street West store is the setting – for our welcome event, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, June 4th. It's an interesting, 25-minute walk or a short street-car ride from our hotel. Getting-there details will follow in our itinerary soon.

Here's the official Lee Valley Welcomes the Toronto Fling invitation from Lee Valley itself:
Mingle with fellow garden bloggers and meet Lee Valley’s gardening experts while enjoying delicious refreshments and hors d’eouvres. Enter for chances to win throughout the evening. Plus, get to know the Canadian-owned and operated retailer that has earned a reputation for manufacturing and selling high-quality, hard-to-find gardening, woodworking and hardware products for over 35 years. Lee Valley’s products are available globally online and in stores across Canada. @LeeValleyTools #LeeValley #GBFling2015
And here's what they're not saying, but is important for you to know: Leave room in your suitcase! You will NOT go home empty handed.

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!