Tuesday, September 3, 2019

10 Fun Things You'll Find in Madison

Late afternoon view of downtown Madison
Photo via Good Free Photos

What’s unique about Madison, Wisconsin? Those who’ve been here know what a fun little Midwestern city it is, but newbies will soon discover its unconventional charm. With a city population of about 258,000, and a metropolitan area population of about 660,000, Madison is the second-largest city in Wisconsin, following Milwaukee.

You’ll have to visit Madison to experience it firsthand, but here are 10 distinguishing things to get you started:
  • “77 square miles surrounded by reality”: While the phrase reflects residents’ liberal leanings, this nickname is embraced by people of all political persuasions. It’s also come to signify the lovable quirkiness of the city, itself.
  • College town charm: Students dominate the population near campus—total enrollment at UW-Madison in Fall 2018 was 44,411. While there are fewer students living in Madison during the summer, they're a vital presence year-round. Because Madison is a college town, downtown restaurants, shops, and community events cater to students, faculty, and staff (and tourists).

    A quiet afternoon on State Street (usually it's much busier)
    Photo via Good Free Photos

  • State Street: To truly experience the personality of Madison, take a walk down State Street. Only pedestrians, buses, emergency vehicles, delivery vehicles, and bikes are allowed here. State Street connects the Capitol Square with the UW-Madison campus, and it’s lined with unique shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
    • The isthmus: Downtown Madison is literally flanked on two sides by two large lakes—Mendota and Monona. At its narrowest, the land width is just over half a mile. The central business district, the Capitol, and almost all the downtown area are located within the isthmus.
    • Five lakes: In addition to Lakes Mendota and Monona, which border the isthmus, two other lakes—Waubesa and Kegonsa—combine in a chain to surround the city and suburbs with fresh water. The Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people called this place “land of the four lakes.” A fifth lake, Wingra, connects with the others through a creek.

    A public park in Madison

    • More parks per capita: Madison has 6,431 acres of park space—13.5% of the total city area. The city has more parks per capita than any other city, at 12.7 parks per 10,000 residents. In 2017, the city’s parks were ranked ninth out of the 100 largest cities, by the Trust for Public Land.
    • Bike paths everywhere: Truly, they are everywhere, and expanding. You can rent bikes at B-cycle stations. There are bike paths that connect downtown Madison to the surrounding communities, and bike paths that connect with city and state parks. To find out more, visit madisonbikes.org.

      Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace
      Corey Coyle [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

      • Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence:  The famous architect was born near Madison, spent much of his childhood here, and attended the university as part of his schooling. Wright designed 32 buildings for the Madison area, and 12 were constructed. Nine still stand today, including the iconic Monona Terrace, which links the shore of Lake Monona to the State Capitol.
      • The food scene: You can find just about any cuisine in Madison—from amazing food carts to James Beard Award winners, and from diverse ethnic fare to Wisconsin supper clubs. Because Wisconsin is “America’s Dairyland,” expect to find excellent cheeses and cheese-based dishes in many restaurants.

        A botanical-themed sculpture at Epic Systems

      • A growing tech center: As of late 2018, the two largest employers in the Madison Metropolitan area were UW-Madison and Epic Systems Corp. The latter is one of the healthcare industry’s leading information technology companies, serving many of the world’s largest hospitals and healthcare systems. Madison, itself, was ranked the top city in the U.S. for tech growth in 2017 and is the only Midwestern city listed in the top 20 for venture capital per capita.

      This is just a snapshot of what makes Madison special. Attend the 2020 Fling and you’ll discover it for yourself!

      Sunday, August 25, 2019

      We Want YOU!

      Every year for the past 12 years, something amazing has happened. One or two people with no particular event-planning experience have raised their hands and volunteered to host the Garden Bloggers Fling. And every year for the past 12 years, garden bloggers from all over North America and beyond have been able to attend an amazingly fun and exciting garden tour in a new city.
      Next year the Fling will be hosted in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin. But after that, we don’t know if there will be a Fling. Why? Because we don’t have a volunteer(s) to host in 2021.
      We’ve been working behind the scenes to find a host city for 2021. But unless someone steps forward to say, “I’ll do it!” the Fling won’t happen. It’s that simple.
      Maybe YOU can be the one to keep the Fling going! If you’ve ever attended the Garden Bloggers Fling and you have an active (or even semi-active) garden blog, then you can host. You don’t need prior experience in hosting a tour. You just need to be an organized person, a team player, budget minded, and someone with staying power who doesn’t quit until a job is done.
      Having contacts in your local garden community is a plus for finding gardens for the tour, but if you’re willing to reach out to people (plant societies, garden clubs, designers, master gardeners, garden writers/communicators), you’ll find great gardens. We can advise you on the rest. In fact we have a handy-dandy Hosting Handbook with all the details so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
      It’s a big job, so it’s best to have a partner – ideally another garden blogger who lives in your city. But this is flexible because not every city has multiple garden bloggers able to help. As long as the lead planner is a blogger who’s attended at least one Fling, the co-planner may be a non-blogger. And it’s possible for people to collaborate across the miles, although for logistical reasons you need at least two members of the planning team to be located in the same city.

      It’s easy to take an annual event like the Fling for granted, assuming it’ll always be there. But the Fling happens each year only because someone steps up to host. Will YOU be that person in 2021? 
      If you’re interested or have any questions about hosting, please contact Pam Penick. We hope to hear from you!
      Fling Advisory Committee

      Monday, August 5, 2019

      Mark Your Calendars: June 18-21, 2020
      Garden Bloggers Fling in Madison, Wisconsin

      Wisconsin State Capitol
      Justjeffaz (Jeff Brunton) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

      Get ready to Fling in Madison, Wisconsin! The Madison area is a meeting place: It’s roughly where the Eastern hardwood forests meet the prairies; where the edge of the glaciers morphed the land and melted, leaving a series of five lakes; and where garden bloggers will meet in 2020 for the Garden Bloggers Fling!

      While the soil in the area varies somewhat, Dane County soil is among the most productive in North America. Many gardeners here are blessed with excellent silt loam soil as a base for their plantings. While Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland, the state also ranks first in the nation for snap peas for processing, cranberries, ginseng, mink pelts, dry whey for humans, milk goats, and corn for silage, among other crops.

      So, it’s an excellent place to grow things! And an excellent place to gather and visit gardens together!

      The horticultural gardens at the UW-Madison Arboretum
      Plan to join us for three full days of garden touring, plus an opening event Thursday, June 18, afternoon/evening. Please check here for eligibility guidelines. More details on the hotel, registration, gardens, special events, sponsors, and more, will be posted here in the weeks ahead. All announcements will be posted on this blog and on the official Fling Facebook page.

      Just to tease you with a preliminary itinerary (times and places may change):

      Sculptures and gravel garden at Epic Systems
      Friday, June 19, we’ll start out visiting private gardens and then we’ll enjoy lunch, a short presentation, and tours at the UW-Madison Arboretum, home to distinct garden collections, including horticultural gardens, prairie and woodland restorations, a native plant garden, and more. In the afternoon, we’ll visit more private gardens, and then head to Epic Systems for a tour of the company’s very unique outdoor gardens, led by Jeff Epping, one of the Epic lead landscape designers.

      The Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens
      Saturday, June 20, enjoy a leisurely walk around the Wisconsin State Capitol building at the Dane County Farmers Market, America’s largest producers-only farmers’ market. Then we’ll load the buses for a delicious brunch before visiting the award-winning Olbrich Botanical Gardens, voted one of the top ten most inspiring gardens in North America by Horticulture Magazine. We’ll round out the day with more private garden tours. (Our event banquet and auction likely will occur on Saturday or Sunday. Stay tuned for updates.)

      European-style garden at Rotary Botanical Garden
      Sunday, June 21, begins with private garden tours and a trip to The Flower Factory, Wisconsin’s premiere hardy plant nursery, featuring a large selection of perennials, hostas, and ornamental grasses. Next, we’ll take a quick drive to Janesville, Wisconsin, to visit Rotary Botanical Gardens, a 20-acre botanical showcase. Private gardens and our final destination—Allen Centennial Garden, in the heart of Madison—will conclude the 2020 Fling. You’ll want to stick around until the very end, because we have a special surprise planned at Allen Centennial.

      Allen Centennial Garden
      James Steakley [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

      Madison Fling Co-Coordinators
      Anneliese Valdes – The CobraHead Blog
      Beth Stetenfeld – PlantPostings.com

      Any questions? Feel free to contact us: madisongbfling@gmail.com. Hope to see you in Madison next June!

      Wednesday, June 19, 2019

      Thanks for attending Denver Fling!

      Bloggers attending Denver Fling. Photo: April Shelhon
      A mountain-sized thank you to the Denver Team for untold volunteer hours spent on putting together a fantastic 3-1/2 day tour of Denver-area gardens for us! Kudos to team members Judy Seaborn, Laura O'Connor, April Shelhon, Jennifer Spainhower, and Leigh Pond!

      Denver Team: Leigh Pond, April Shelhon, Judy Seaborn, Jennifer Spainhower, Laura O'Connor of Botanical Interests. Photo: Linda Lehmusvirta
      We encourage attendees to share your experience at Denver Fling on social media (#gbfling2019) and on your blog. We'll be collecting blog posts here (see below) so your fellow bloggers as well as the garden owners, sponsors, and anyone interested in Colorado gardening can read them. Check back periodically to find the newest links. And do share your Fling-related blog posts on the Fling Facebook page too. Seeing different perspectives about the gardens after the Fling ends keeps the fun going!

      Click here for the Denver Fling Sponsor Directory.

      Let's recognize all our 
      First-Time Flingers 
      We're so glad you joined us and hope you will keep in touch and make our Bloggers Fling community greater. 

      Jack Hemingway (CA) -- The Garden Products Review
      Amy Bouck-Knight (CA) -- The Lower Left Corner
      Cheryl Spencer (CO)-- Simply Smart Gardening
      Jim Tolstrup (CO) – High Plains Environmental Center
      Laura Flanders (CO)-- Colorado Backyard Gardener
      Luan Akin (CO)-- Tagawa Gardens Blog
      Jane Shellenberger (CO)-- The Colorado Gardener
      Idelle Fisher (CO)-- Good Environmental News
      Donna Waters (CO)-- Pine Brook Hills Gardeners
      Maureen Farmer (CT)-- The Farmer's Garden
      Shari Wilson (D.C.)-- Nuts for Natives
      Sarah Cain (KS)-- Garden Tails
      Meg Cowden (MN)-- Seed to Fork
      Patricia Cunningham (OR)– plant lust
      Joellen Meyeres (TX)-- Gardening Among Friends
      Holly Salmon (TX)-- Gardening Among Friends
      Tamara Risken (TX)-- J. Berry Nursery
      Michelle Olivier (WA)-- Sound Gardener
      Barb Gorges (WY)-- Cheyenne Garden Gossip

      Denver Fling Blog Posts

      A Wandering Botanist: Denver Area--Spectacular Native Plants

      A Growing Obsession: Suburbitat

      Danger Garden: Visiting the garden of Panayoti Kelaidis

      A Wandering Botanist: Garden Bloggers Fling 2019--Loveland and Fort Collins
      The Lower Left Corner: Labor Day garden thoughts

      Central Texas Gardener: Growing Dreams: Judy Seaborn’s Garden

      Danger Garden: The Scripter Garden, a 2019 GB Fling stop

      The Paintbox Garden: A Denver Floral Extravaganza – The Garden of Rob Proctor and David Macke

      A Growing Obsession: Scott Deemer’s dreamscape of rocks, fire, water

      Queen of the Dirt: What’s your number?

      Central Texas Gardener: Unity Through Plants

      Central Texas Gardener: Hot Ideas for Entrances, Privacy & Garden Art

      Danger Garden: Linda Boley's garden, a stop on the 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze near Denver…The Gardens on Spring Creek

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze near Denver…sculpture on a grand scale

      GardenBook: Mountains and Sky -the Borrowed View in a Niwot Prairie Meadow

      Central Texas Gardener: Elevating Perspectives

      Central Texas Gardener: Relaxation Tricks: Garden Perches + Water

      Digging: Line dancing and Stickwork sculpture at Chatfield Farms

      A Growing Obsession: hungry eyes, busy hands; Colorado garden of Dan Johnson & Tony Miles

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze in Denver…I’ll take a seat at this table

      Digging: Keith Funk’s front-yard oasis

      Digging: An exuberant, upcycled, scrap-art garden

      GardenBook: I'll have a Denver on the Rocks Bartender -and Make it a Double!

      Digging: Steppe garden evangelist Panayoti Kelaidis’s garden

      Central Texas Gardener: Getting Around the Garden: Pathway to Ideas

      The Farmer's Garden: Gardens on Spring Creek

      Digging: Children’s Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens

      Plant Lust: Denver Garden Bloggers’ Fling 2019: reflections

      Digging: Crevice garden, Japanese garden, and more sculpture at Denver Botanic Gardens

      Digging: Steppe garden, foxtail lilies, and sculpture at Denver Botanic Gardens

      Digging: A dryland garden inspired by Mother Nature

      Gardening in a Drought: Looking Up in the Garden

      Sharing Nature's Garden: Touring the Denver area before the Garden Bloggers Fling 2019

      Digging: Containers and color galore in Rob Proctor’s garden

      The Paintbox Garden: Visiting Panayoti’s Garden

      Digging: Party under the willow tree in Judy Seaborn’s garden

      Central Texas Gardener: Hot & Dry Doesn’t Mean Blah Gardens

      PlantPostings: Pick a Colorado Plant, Any Plant

      Digging: A fusion of nature and art in Scott Deemer’s garden

      Gardening Among Friends: Some Favorite Things from the Denver Garden Fling – Part 1

      Digging: Unscripted beauty in Scripter meadow garden

      Cottage in the Court: Denver…Thoughts on Flinging

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze near Denver…a visit to Botanical Interests

      Digging: TatTopia garden embraces stonework and sustainability

      GardenBook: Flingtastic Colorado- The Gardens on Spring Creek

      Digging: Lunch in the garden at Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

      Cottage in the Court: Denver – Garden Bloggers Fling 2019

      Digging: Bowled over by Linda Boley’s garden

      Bonney Lassie: Stop The Bus, I Need A Wee Wee...

      Bonney Lassie: Denver Botanic Garden

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze in Denver…lessons from a cocktail napkin

      AZ Plant Lady: Behind the Scenes at Botanical Interests Seed Company

      Frau Zinnie: Hanging with my tribe: Why I love to attend the Garden Bloggers Fling

      See Jane Dig: The GrowHaus

      Central Texas Gardener: Design Philosophy Connects Colorado & Texas

      Veg Plotting: The 105th Meridian West

      Bonney Lassie: Way Too Much is Just About Right

      Digging: Strouse Garden gazes toward the Rockies

      Cheyenne Garden Gossip: Rocky gardening

      Plant Postings: A Garden Full of Joy and Whimsy

      Veg Plotting: Great ideas from the Denver Fling

      Digging: Jean Morgan’s garden will make you smile

      Bonney Lassie: The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round...

      A Growing Obsession: Denver Botanic Gardens #gbfling2019

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze near Denver…tough plants, easy smiles

      Digging: Getting seedy at Botanical Interests

      A Growing Obsession: that moment with the eremurus and smoke tree in the Shinn garden

      Digging: Crevice gardens to crave at the garden of Carol Shinn

      Natural Gardening: Recycled paper pots (Botanical Interests)

      Garden Rant: Right rock, right place

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze near Denver…art and experimentation
      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze near Denver…600 tons and what do you get?

      Digging: Jan Devore Garden under the pines

      Bonney Lassie: Another One Rides The Bus

      Danger Garden: Janice and Richard DeVore’s garden, from the 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling

      The Paintbox Garden: A Garden Embroidered with Myriad Threads

      Just a Girl with a Hammer: Diary of a wimpy gardener

      Digging: Rocking it at Gardens on Spring Creek

      A Growing Obsession: Denver Botanic Gardens #gbfling2019

      Queen of the Dirt: More postcards from Denver…

      Queen of the Dirt: Postcards from Denver…

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze near Denver…High Plains Environmental Center

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze in Denver…GrowHaus

      Queen of the Dirt: In a daze in Denver…morning walkabout

      Good Environmental News: Bindweed vs. CobraHead

      Danger Garden: Opening night for the 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling, at The GrowHaus

      Digging: Welcome to Colorado and High Plains Environmental Center

      The Queen of Seaford: Why Fling? Reflections from Denver

      Southern Meadows: A Look At Colorado's Wide Open Spaces

      The Paintbox Garden: Penstemon Envy

      Danger Garden: My 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling plant haul...

      Natural Gardening: A great Garden Bloggers Fling

      Natural Gardening: Botanical Interests

      Veg Plotting: Postcard from Colorado

      Garden in a City: 2019 Denver Fling: An Overview

      Monday, June 3, 2019


      Opening Night: Thursday, June 13

      3:30pm to 4:30pm: Stop by our table in the Hyatt hotel lobby, located to the left of the reservation desk, to pick up your ID badge and your swag bag. Wear your badge every day; it is your ticket to board the bus. Buses load this night at 5:30 and return to the hotel at 8:20-8:30.
      If you miss the pick-up window, contact Laura or Leigh at the reception and we'll find a time after the reception to get you your things.

      The swag bag will contain the tour routes and garden portraits; be sure to find them in the bag to take with you on the bus.

      Daily departures and arrivals

      Buses board at 8AM EACH morning. 
      Friday we expect to be back at the Hyatt between 4:35 and 5:15. (The variance is due to not knowing the traffic conditions on the return from Fort Collins.)
      Saturday we plan to be back at the Hyatt about 7:15.
      Sunday we'll be back at the Hyatt at 8:20.

      Weather forecast as of Tuesday 6/11

      Attendance: 85

      Thank you Hyatt Regency Denver for being a supportive partner to our group. They took into consideration a good number of reservations that were made outside of our block to count as credit to our account, so that we can meet our budget! 


      Pat Hayward Garden Open Tour

      Keep in mind that this is an after-Fling option, and those signed up are on their own for transportation arrangements. If you signed up, but have changed your mind, please go back to the event and cancel. 

      Posts you may want to review:

      May 10 - Full Itinerary

      April 18 - Transportation to/from airport AND restaurants near hotel

      May 24 - Denver area weather, tips on what to bring

      Jan 10 - Hotel Info

      Jan 9 - Denver highlights

      Jan 23 - Beyond Denver Part I

      March 15 - Beyond Denver Part II