Thursday, December 9, 2021

Still Flinging in 2022!

Dear Fling Friends:

We want you to know that we’re committed to holding a Madison Fling in June 2022, and we plan to open registration after the holidays. Because of COVID uncertainties, we can't know yet if the format will be exactly the same as in previous years, but we do know we're excited to share Madison gardens with you.

Throughout most of this pandemic, Madison’s county of Dane has had some of the strictest mandates in the state and the lowest levels of COVID transmission and illness. Visit this link to see data for the state, including Madison and Dane County.

Currently, Madison is experiencing a high rate of COVID activity. We, of course, hope this won’t be the case in June. Our cases, like those of other Northern communities, tend to peak during the colder winter months when people are more likely to be gathering indoors. With that said, Dane County is one of the most vaccinated counties in the entire country.

Like most Garden Bloggers Flings, most of our venues will be outdoors, which greatly reduces the risk of transmission. We will lean toward decreasing indoor activities from our schedule.

For this Fling, it’s likely COVID vaccination will be required, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. More details on vaccine requirements will be posted soon. Masks likely will be required on the buses and for indoor gatherings (which we will try to limit).

To recap, if you want to know more about the schedule, click on the “2022 Madison” tab at the top of this website, or visit this link: Madison Fling.

Registration for the Madison Fling will reopen soon. If you’re already registered, you’re all set, and you’ll have a discounted price for attendance.

If you haven’t registered yet, we hope you’ll join us! If you have any questions about registration or anything else about the Madison Fling, contact us at We may not have all the answers yet, but we’ll be happy to discuss our plans.

Thanks for your patience and support! Happy Holidays!

~The Madison Fling Planning Committee

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Tell Me More About Madison...

The endangered rusty patched bumblebee

When traveling to a Garden Bloggers Fling, it’s always fun to learn a little more about the destination before visiting. Here are a few questions and our best attempts at answers to help you plan for your trip next summer.

What will the weather be like in late June?

If you’ve visited Chicago in the summer, you’ll have an idea. While weather is unpredictable always in the upper Midwest, summertime tends to be our most stable season. We may have thunderstorms, but they usually hit in the evening, as the day’s heat and energy draw down.

Our days may be quite comfortable, although late June can be hot and humid in Madison. Some general ranges: highs in the 70s to mid-80s F (23-30 C); nights in the 60s to 70s F (16-23 C). Days are long, with sunrises at 5:20 a.m., and sunsets at 8:40 p.m. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during our busy days.

Richard Hurd, via Wikimedia Commons
Can you describe the Madison vibe?

Madison has been described as “progressive,” “educated,” “cosmopolitan,” and “a vibrant cultural hub of art, music, food, and beer.” Often referred to as “Mad City,” its population of about 270,000 (metro area surpasses 600,000) has an average age under 30. It's the fastest-growing city in the state. Approximately 60% of residents have a degree, and University of Wisconsin-Madison students and faculty make up nearly one-third of the population.

Though the summer student population is lower, you’ll find lots of pedestrians and bikers in the city and the surrounding communities. This is also because of a focus on health and wellness, and the more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails in and around the city.

Which plants will be blooming and/or peaking while we’re there?

Name a common annual plant, and it likely will be on display at the time of the Madison Fling. Our growing season is in full swing starting in early May after the last frost, and gardeners are enthusiastic after a long, cold winter.

The list of perennials you’ll see is long, too. Basically any plant—including water-lovers and succulents, alike—that can survive a USDA gardening zone 5a winter is fair game. And many gardeners “push” the zones in protected areas and with plants that spend winters indoors. Native perennials likely to be blooming include wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), compass plant (Silphium laciniatum), and various milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), among many others.

What types of gardens will we see?

Madison sits at the edge of several unique ecological regions, so the plants we can grow here are somewhat diverse. Some of the gardens we’ll see will tend toward prairie plantings, while others will be woodlands with extensive water features. The soil here is generally very good, particularly further out from the city. Dane County has some of the highest-quality, silt-loam soil in the country.

Who were the indigenous people in the area?

The history of the Ho-Chunk people is part of the fabric of the Madison area. They continue to form an important framework within the area’s culture, land formations, and economy. You may be familiar with effigy mounds, or Native American burial mounds in the shapes of various animals. They are found only in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota. Many can still be found in the county, including at the UW-Madison Arboretum.

The Ho-Chunk people also support the area’s economy in many ways, including through tourism encouraged by their stories, businesses, and Ho-Chunk Gaming.

What rare plants are native in the Madison area?

Because of the loss of prairies and oak savannas to agriculture throughout the Midwest, plants that are native to those areas have become more rare over time. Some of these are included in Wisconsin’s list of rare plants. A few still common here in the Madison area include blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.), rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium), and 
several species of wild indigo (Baptisia spp.).

Which local foods should we try?

If you’re lactose-intolerant, we’re sorry. Wisconsin is the dairy state, and we produce some of the best cheeses in the world, as witnessed by regular awards at the biennial World Championship Cheese Contest. Other foods we’re known for include bratwurst, kringles, Cornish pasties, and cream puffs. If you like beer, you’ll also find some excellent brews here.

sandhill crane
Are there rare or unusual animals we might see?

While Wisconsin is the badger state, and that mammal is here, we’re unlikely to see badgers because they’re elusive and active at night. A few unique animals we’re likely to see include sandhill cranes (very common here in the summer), dragonflies and damselflies, and beavers (we might see their lodges). If we’re lucky, we might catch a glance of the rare, endangered rusty patched bumblebee, which is active in June at the UW-Madison Arboretum.

These are just a few unique things you’ll likely experience at the Madison Fling. Any other questions? We’ll try to answer them, or find folks who can. Hope to see you in Madison in June 2022!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Links to Learn More About the Madison Fling


The Dane County Farmers Market: a highlight of summer in Madison,
and sure to be a highlight of the 2022 Fling on Saturday morning, June 25, 2022.

The Madison team is excited to host you next summer, June 23-26!

If, at any point, you have questions about the Madison Fling, you can click on the “2022 Madison” tab at the top of this website, or visit this link: Madison Fling.

While some of our private gardens are shifting a bit, you can learn about most of them by visiting these links: Friday Private Gardens, Saturday Private Gardens, Sunday Private Gardens.

During the next months leading up to the Fling, stay up-to-date and watch for more posts about Madison and surroundings by following our Fling Facebook page and our posts here. Check our posts in the “Blog Archive” (to the right; below) from September 2019 through February 2020, before COVID hit. We’ll be adding so much more in the months ahead!

And if, at any time, you have any questions, contact us at Can’t wait to see you all in Madison next summer!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Meet Our Community: Angie Baer, rose lover and happy gardener


Let's get to know each other!

Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Today we're introducing a member of our Fling community* here and on Instagram, in their own words. We're excited to see what everyone's talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you'd like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)

Angie Baer

My name is Maria, but everyone calls me Angie. I’m originally from Puerto Rico but now call Minnesota my home. I love sharing the ups and downs of gardening, especially lessons learned from a rookie perspective, on my blog, The Happy Gardener. When I started gardening and reading garden blogs, some of the information seemed complicated and overwhelming. So I decided to learn from trial and error. A lot of what I share on my blog is from that perspective. But now that I have more knowledge I’ve updated some of my posts to reflect that.

I am obsessed with English roses. I love watching the buds open into the most gorgeous blooms. But here in zone 4 I have to be imaginative in order to overwinter them. In my garden, roses are my spoiled babies. I have a love/hate relationship with dahlias. When I lived in North Carolina, they were easy to grow. But in Minnesota it’s a completely different game. For the past 3 years I’ve had the worst luck with them! First they got hit with the dahlia mosaic virus. The next year constant rain rotted the tubers. Last year burrowers took hold of them. It can be heartbreaking, but I love a challenge.

I use herbs as companion plants to deter pests. But on a more personal level, growing herbs reminds me of summers in Alsace-Lorraine in France. When I was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany, I visited often because it was so close. I remember pots of herbs everywhere and at the farmers’ market. The scent of herbs brings back those memories.

Lavender is one of my favorite plants. I associate its scent with my mom, who wears lavender perfume. I’ve been told the 'Munstead' variety, while officially hardy only to zone 5, does well here in zone 4, and I’m growing it this year. Fingers crossed.

The pandemic turned me into the quintessential crazy plant lady. I love the variety of houseplants available today, and the challenge of keeping them healthy. And any garden with a palm house immediately gets a piece of my heart. I love the Victorian quality of conservatories. The care that goes into growing tropical species in those environments always impresses me.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The American Rose Society, in partnership with the Tomb of the Unknown Society, is encouraging members to grow a Never Forget Garden to commemorate the occasion. I’m partnering with my hometown community center to create a rose garden there, selecting cold-hardy white roses (the official flower of the Centennial of the Unknown Soldier) like ‘Long John Silver’ and ‘Polar Express’ and others with theme-appropriate names, like 'Hope for Humanity' and 'Bordeaux'.

I am also starting to create gardening content in Spanish. That is my first language, and I have not found many Spanish-language gardening blogs for my area, so that is potentially a project for later this year.


Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Angie! Visit Angie at The Happy Gardener and follow her on Instagram and Vimeo.

Photographs courtesy of Angie Baer.

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Madison Fling: Third Time's the Charm

The Isthmus: Downtown Madison, surrounded by lakes.
Photo courtesy the Madison Concourse Hotel

Hey All! We're moving forward with plans for the Fling in Madison, Wisconsin, Thursday, June 23 – Sunday, June 26, 2022. The good news is, all the venues have agreed to recommit with us! We hope you’re all healthy and ready for a fun gathering with garden writers and bloggers.

(Please note that any links here to previous posts about our venues will be correct, except for the dates, which are moved to 6/23 - 6/26, 2022.)


Here's the schedule overview, which is still subject to change:


Thursday, June 23:

On Thursday, expect to arrive early if you want to scout out the town before the events begin. Our headquarters hotel is The Madison Concourse Hotel. Registration is scheduled for 4:30-5:30 p.m., with a special gathering opener event at the Madison Children’s Museum, starting at 6 p.m.

The gravel gardens at Epic Systems.
Friday, June 24:

Friday events begin early, as we plan to load buses promptly at 8-8:15 a.m. We’ll first head to private gardens in the Middleton and Fitchburg communities. Our midday events and lunch will occur at the UW-Madison Arboretum, which was recently designated a National Historic Landmark, and includes the world’s oldest restored prairie.


The afternoon includes more visits to private gardens in Middleton and Fitchburg, followed by a visit to Epic Systems’ gardens late in the day. Epic employs more than 10,000 people, and its campus covers 1,100 acres. Horticulturist Jeff Epping, who is also director of horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, will lead our tour at Epic.

Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

Saturday, June 25:

We’re planning a slightly more casual beginning on Saturday. Attendees are encouraged to check out the Dane County Farmers’ Market on the Capitol Square, just a short walk from our official hotel, the Madison Concourse. The market opens at 6 a.m., and we’ll load buses for the day from 9:30-9:45 a.m.


Next, we’ll head to the Goodman Community Center for brunch and a view of the center’s community gardens, followed by a self-guided visit to the renowned Olbrich Botanical Gardens, just a short walk or bus ride away. Olbrich includes 16 acres of display gardens, an indoor tropical conservatory, a Thai pavilion and garden, and a new learning center.


We’ll tour private Madison gardens after our Olbrich visit, followed by our Fling banquet and auction.

Boxwood and tuteur display
at Rotary Botanical Gardens.
Sunday, June 26:

Our final day of the Fling will be as action-packed as the others, starting with bus-loading at 8 a.m. We’ll visit private gardens in and near Madison, followed by a visit to a local greenhouse. Then, we’ll be back on the buses for a 45-minute drive to Rotary Botanical Gardens, in Janesville, south of Madison.

Rotary Botanical Gardens covers 20 acres and boasts 26 different garden styles and 4,000 varieties of plants. We’ll eat lunch there, and then head back north for more private garden visits in the small city of Stoughton.


We’ll end our day, and the Fling at Allen Centennial Garden on the UW-Madison campus. Allen is a quaint, 90,000-square-foot site, featuring mainly ornamental perennials, along with annuals and woody plants. You don’t want to miss this visit because there will be a special surprise at the end!


That’s the summary! Watch for more details in the weeks and months ahead!