Friday, November 9, 2012

Sponsor Opportunities

We invite you to sponsor the Sixth Annual Garden Bloggers Fling, June 28th-30th, 2013 in San Francisco, California. 70 inter/nationally known garden bloggers will descend on the Bay Area for three days of inspirational garden touring and networking. As influential garden communicators, Fling participants will blog, Tweet, Instagram, Pin, Facebook and otherwise spread the word about the gardens on tour and related Fling sponsors to their readership around the world. Many are leading the discussion of gardening not only on the web but also in their communities.

Sponsorships help defray the costs associated with Fling activities, including (but not limited to) garden admissions, catered meals, facility rentals and transportation. Your sponsorship will allow more garden bloggers to attend who might not otherwise afford to go.

In appreciation, all sponsor names, logos and websites are linked to the official Garden Bloggers Fling blog and Facebook page, and acknowledged throughout the Fling event as appropriate.


A sponsor representative is invited to present company information and/or products to Fling bloggers at a designated place and time. Includes an invitation for two (2) to the Fling dinner at the Conservatory of Flowers on Friday evening. Company name and logo listed on our blog’s sponsor roll and mentioned on our Facebook page. Contributions to Swag Bag and/or door prizes encouraged.


Includes an invitation for two (2) to the Fling dinner at the Conservatory of Flowers on Friday evening. Company name and logo listed on our blog’s sponsor roll and mentioned on our Facebook page. Contributions to Swag Bag and/or door prizes encouraged.


Includes an invitation for one (1) to the Fling dinner at the Conservatory of Flowers on Friday evening. Company name and logo listed on our blog’s sponsor roll and mentioned on our Facebook page. Contributions to Swag Bag and/or door prizes encouraged.

SEED LEVEL $200   

Company name and logo listed on our blog’s sponsor roll and mentioned on our Facebook page. Contributions to Swag Bag and/or door prizes encouraged.


Swag gift bags are given to, and happily received by, each registered blogger in attendance. 70 individual items will be required (they don’t all have to be the same, or could be one large item for the dinner raffle). Due to storage and sorting costs, a $50 donation is required to include any promotional material or product in the swag bag. This fee is waived for Bloom-Seed Level sponsors. Company name and logo listed on our blog’s sponsor roll.

Garden Blogger Fling History:
Here's a little background on how the Fling got started. In just five years, the event has grown from 37 bloggers to around 100, including bloggers from almost every U.S. state, as well as Canada and England. 

2008 - Austin, TX - April 4-5
2009 - Chicago, IL - May 29-30
2010 - Buffalo, NY - July 8-11
2011 - Seattle, WA - July 23-24
2012 - Asheville, NC - May 18-21
2013 - San Francisco - June 28-30

Anecdotes from past Fling hosts:
2011 Seattle - According to Mary Ann Newcomer, "I kept hearing everyone saying they would love to go to Seattle next. I said I'd see if I could get the Seattleites to host if I gave them my first-born male child. Then, I forgot to have a child, pleaded with them, and they relented."

2010 Buffalo - According to Jim Charlier, "For the Buffalo visit, I helped host because Elizabeth told me I had to. It was easier than saying no. As to what on earth made her think that we'd like to host 70 garden bloggers from 23 different states and Canada, you'd have to ask her what she was drinking at the time." According to Elizabeth Licata, "I had been eager to get my fellow garden bloggers to experience Garden Walk Buffalo ever since I started blogging in 2005. I attended the Austin and Chicago get-togethers and loved them, planning all along to get the group to Buffalo, which I did with Jim's help in 2010. You can find out all about the Buffalo event by revisiting here: ."

2009 Chicago - According to Barbara Pintozzi, "During the Austin Fling, Pam got me liquored up and asked me to host the next Fling. How could I say no? So I invited everybody to come to Chicago at the end of May 2009. It was a perfect time to visit gardens, if a bit chilly."

2008 Austin - According to Pam Penick, "If memory serves, I'd started organizing local garden blogger meet-ups in 2007. In December of that year I was planning a spring event, but I had an epiphany while reading the Blotanical profile of Carol at May Dreams Gardens. In answer to the prompt "Gardens to see before I die" she'd written, "All those gardens of the Austin garden bloggers." So naturally I thought she should come visit -- and so should everyone else! In those days the number of garden bloggers was growing exponentially, but the community still seemed small enough that maybe one could follow everyone. Can you imagine such a thing now? At any rate, after I got all fired up to invited the whole garden blogging world to Austin, I emailed the locals to ask for their help in pulling it off. Diana Kirby, Bonnie Martin, and M. Sinclair Stevens immediately volunteered to help me plan it, and many others offered their help with hosting and chauffeuring visitors around on tour day. After a frenzy of planning during the holidays, the official invitation went out in early January via Blotanical, which was in its infancy then. We were thrilled by the response. 37 garden bloggers attended from 11 different states -- a great turnout for a first offline event hosted by a bunch of crazy Texans."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Get ready to Fling San Francisco Style

Hi Friends... the dates for the San Francisco Fling are June 28-30, 2013!
Registration and hotel details are still being ironed out but we'll get those to you as soon as we can.

Grab the badge and post it on your blogs if you feel so inclined. A big thanks goes out to Maggie at Slotharium for designing it!

More details soon!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why we Fling, and other survey results

The Garden Bloggers Fling advisory committee polled the garden-blogging community last month to find out what you most enjoy about the Fling, how long you think it should run, where you'd like to see it hosted in the future, why you may choose not to attend, and what you'd like to see more of at the Fling. We also wanted to know who you are--age, sex, location, what other garden-related travel you do--and I bet you are curious about the results too.

It's no surprise that we love to socialize and see gardens, but what really draws us to the Fling is the recommendation of others. We think a 3-day event is just the right length, and the majority of us hope to attend the San Francisco Fling next year. Many of us travel to other garden-related conferences or go on local or out-of-state garden tours, and we are probably willing to travel to Canada for a Fling if that opportunity arises.

Within the U.S., we really want to attend a Fling in the Mountain West region of the U.S. (54.3%). We also favor locations in the Northeast (49.5%), the Southwest (44.8%), the Southeast (43.8%), and the Pacific Northwest (42.9%). The Midwest was the least favored location (34.3%).

Many of us are from Texas (20), with only Washington (9), California (7), New York (7) and Oregon (6) also providing more than 5 responses. (Although Texas is always well-represented at the Flings, I suspect the fact that two of us who promoted this survey were from Texas contributed to these results.) However, 32 states plus Canada and the U.K. are represented here too.

If you'd like to look over the results in more detail, here they are, minus any identifying information. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section.

Other responses included "never heard of it" (5), "wasn't blogging then" (3), "young children at home" (1), and "had more important things to do" (1).


Multiple responses included: Flower & garden shows (31), Garden Writers Assoc. (28), local tours & seminars (23), no other garden-related travel (12), trade shows (9), Independent Garden Center Show (4), Master Gardeners Assoc. classes/symposia (5), AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium (3), group travel (3), and Assoc. of Professional Landscape Designers (2).

Responses included: Texas (20), Washington (9), California (7), New York (7), Oregon (6), Georgia (5), North Carolina (5), South Carolina (5), Tennessee (5), Illinois (3), Maryland (3), Alabama (2), Arizona (2), Florida (2), Idaho (2), Indiana (2), Michigan (2), Virginia (2), Colorado (1), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), Rhode Island (1), and Wisconsin (1), plus Canada (2) and United Kingdom (3).

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Introducing the Fling advisory committee

Asheville Fling 2012
If you've attended a Garden Bloggers Fling during the past 5 years, you might be surprised to know that these well-organized, 3-to-4 day events -- packed with private and public garden tours, group lunches and dinners, happy hours, bus transportation, and swag bags -- are put together by volunteers, not paid organizers, garden bloggers like yourselves who dedicate many, many hours of their personal time for several months to putting together the best event they can, in order to share the unique  beauty and vibe of their home city with their fellow garden bloggers. They have done all this with no central organizing committee to assist them, with no built-in formula for making it all work aside from their own experience in attending a previous Fling. And yet the event has not only continued, it's grown each year in attendance, publicity, and sponsorships. Think about it: the Fling hasn't missed a year since its inception, someone new has always stepped up to host, and the events have been consistently well-run. And all without any central organization to build on from one year to the next.

Seattle Fling 2011
The downside is that each year's hosts have had to reinvent the wheel with regards to planning, creating a website, getting sponsors, and so on. Also, there's beginning to be a queue of potential hosts wanting to bring the Fling to their city (a good thing!), and until now there haven't been any guidelines for deciding where it should go next.
Buffalo Fling 2010

In short, the Fling has grown to the point that an advisory committee is necessary to help oversee certain elements of the annual event. Last year, the planners of the first four Flings discussed the need for an advisory committee to organize and share Fling planning information, maintain a website that can be used by each year's hosts, help select future Fling locations, and generally facilitate a consistent event. Three former hosts volunteered to serve on that committee: Diana Kirby, Elizabeth Licata, and me (Pam Penick). 
Chicago Fling 2009
Our first goal was to assess what attendees and potential attendees want the Fling to consist of, and we recently surveyed the garden blogging community to that end. (We'll post the results for you soon.) Next we plan to put together guidelines for organizing the event, as well as work with potential hosts to determine future Fling locations. 
Austin Fling 2008
We also plan to use this website to give the Fling a permanent home on the web, compiling the info from all the previous Flings into this site, regularly publicizing the event, and providing contact information.

Fling Advisory Committee

We recently expanded the advisory committee to gain broader representation in the garden blogging community and benefit from fresh perspectives and energy. The new members are veteran attendees of multiple Flings and hail from across the country:
Gail Eichelberger
Nashville, Tennessee
Jean McWeeney
Ruston, Louisiana 

Dee Nash
Red Dirt Ramblings 
Guthrie, Oklahoma

Andrea Fox
Grow Where You're Planted 
College Station, Texas

Kelly Kilpatrick
Oakland, California

Helen Yoest
Gardening with Confidence
Raleigh, North Carolina 
(Joined 10/17/12)

Original members include:

Elizabeth Licata
Garden Rant and Gardening While Intoxicated 
Buffalo, New York

Pam Penick
Austin, Texas

And Diana Kirby of Sharing Nature's Garden, who is retiring from the committee. We thank her for all her work on behalf of the Fling. 
We hope you will join us in welcoming the new advisory committee members.

And here's that contact info I promised:

If you are a garden blogger who is interested in hosting the Fling in the future, please contact me (Pam).

If you are interested in being a sponsor for the next Fling, which will be held in 2013 in San Francisco (dates TBA), please contact Kelly.

And if you are simply interested in reading about past Flings or want to know where the Fling will be held in the future, look for links on the navigation bar at the top of this page.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We want your opinion!

Are you a garden blogger?

If you’ve ever attended a Garden Bloggers Fling or have an interest in attending, we’d love to get your opinion! We want to know what you enjoy most about the Fling, where you’d like to see a Fling hosted, and what you’d like to see more of at the event. And if you haven’t attended a Fling, we’d like to know why.

Please take a moment to fill out our survey. We promise – it’s short! We need all responses by September 21st, but why not take a few moments to fill it out right now?

Please feel free to share the link with other garden bloggers, including those who have not attended a Fling. You can simply post this link on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter to invite others to participate:

As you know, each Fling is put together and hosted by generous volunteers – bloggers like yourselves – and we have no formal committee to oversee planning. However,  in the interest of passing along planning information from year to year and publicizing the event, a small advisory group made up of former Fling hosts is managing some basic administrative tasks and updating this website from time to time. Currently you'll find a brief update about next year’s Fling, which will be held in San Francisco.  The local planning committee for the San Francisco Fling is still being put together – more information will follow from them soon, including the dates for the 2013 Fling.

Again, thanks for filling out the survey and sharing your opinions with us, and please help us publicize it. Thanks so much!

Pam Penick / Digging

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Coming up next: San Francisco!

Calling all garden bloggers!

Garden Bloggers Fling 2013 will be hosted in San Francisco, California. The dates will be announced soon by the local planning team, which is being headed up by Kelly Kilpatrick of Floradora, so stay tuned and don't miss the 6th annual Fling!

Photo credit: Collage of Flora Grubb Gardens courtesy of Loree Bohl at Danger Garden

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Curating Asheville Fling 2012

Following a good example from Jim Charlier and the Buffalo Fling in 2010, I would like to gather all your posts about Asheville Fling 2012 in a collection organized by gardens, or as close to that as you make them.

Please posts links to your blog posts in the comments section here so I may have easy access to them to curate into new posts directing folks directly to your visions of Asheville, it gardens and gardeners. Don't worry if the comment section gets long. This will only be a landing place for organizing them into groups for further posts. I like to have things organized. I bet you will too.

Thank you all for coming to Asheville from your very happy Planner Man and the entire team who put this on, FrancEs G., Helen Yoest, Lisa Wagner, Nan Chase, Rebecca Reed and my super minion Ana Calderin.

Asheville Fling 2012 Overviews

These are links to posts on more general looks at Asheville Fling 2012

Friends at the Fling - Garden Bloggers in Asheville 2012
Postcards From Asheville, The Fifth Fling
Fling Teaser
Facebook Photo Set by Elizabeth Licata
First Fling
Poppy Envy 
Gardening reflections: post -Asheville Fling 
I had a revelation about my garden 
Random Asheville Fling 
Snapshots of the Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling 
A Garden Bloggers Fling 
Photos from the Fling 
Schools Out!! But the Fun Had Already Begun 
The Rest of the First Day 
Is Garden Blogging Dead?
The Garden Bloggers Spring Fling in Asheville 
Lessons From Asheville 
Five Fantastic Gardens In Asheville
Garden Lessons Learned In Asheville

Sunny Point Cafe Kitchen Gardens

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on the Sunny Point Cafe kitchen gardens.

Bee-utiful community and food gardens at Asheville Fling
Food For Eating 
Sunny Point Cafe 
Edible Dreams

Bonnie Brae and Ku'ulei 'Aina

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on the wild cultivated gardens high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.

Outside Clyde for Wildflower Wednesday
Garden Blogger Fling: where do I begin? 
Still thinking Fling 
The Forest takes. I Push Back 
Ku'ulei 'Aina 
A garden path less traveled... 
Garden On High, Day Three 
Bloggers Fling: Ku'ulei 'Aina and Bonnie Brae

12 Bones Lunch At Curve Studios

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on the gardens of Curve Studios

Curve Studio Garden recycles junk into garden structure
BBQ And Ice Cream
Bloggers Fling: Curve Studios

Burton Street Community Peace Garden

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on the Burton Street Community Peace Garden.

Redefining A Garden's Purpose
Bloggers Fling: Community Peace 
Gardens, art and social justice 
A Place for Peace

Sow True Seed and BB Barnes Garden Center

The Harvest Goddess

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on Sow True Seed.

The Truth about Sow True Seed

These are links on BB Barnes

Bloggers Fling: BB Barnes

The Biltmore Estate

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on the Biltmore Estate.

Glimpse of Biltmore
landscape lessons from biltmore
Majestic Splendor in Asheville: The Biltmore Estate 
Is That a Bear at the Biltmore
Beautiful-but also kind of yawn
Revisiting Biltmore Gardens at Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling 
America's Castle: The Biltmore 
Day Two or A Continuation of Pure Bliss 
Landscape Like The Biltmore Professionals 
People, A House, Statues And Some Shrubberies 
Bloggers Fling: Biltmore

The White Gate Inn And Haywood Community College

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on the White Gate Inn.

White Gate Inn's charming garden and goodbye Asheville Fling
Wrap-up and Nightlife 

These are links to post on Haywood Community College gardens

Bloggers Fling: Haywood Community College

The NC Arboretum

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on the North Carolina Arboretum.

North Carolina Arboretum
At The Arboretum 
Wicked Plants and good fun at the North Carolina Arboretum 
Bloggers Fling: North Carolina Arboretum

The Gentling Garden

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 of Peter and Jasmin Gentling's garden.

Hilltop Oasis In Asheville - The Gentling's Garden
The antithesis of boring 
Mountainside garden delights gardeners... 
Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling: Gentling garden, a mountainside eden 
The Garden of Peter and Jasmin Gentling 
Blue Briar: The Gentling Garden 
Design Lessons From Mother Nature At The Gentling Garden 
The most beautiful garden... 
Day Two or A Continuation of Pure Bliss 
Give me 36 More Years 
Finding Paradise In Asheville, North Carolina 
Gracious Gardening: The Gentlings' Historical Blue Briar


These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on Wamboldtopia

Wamboldtopia: whimsy in an Asheville garden
The Wamboldtopia Garden Dragon
The Rock Pirate and the Artist: Appreciating Garden Art 
Wamboldtopia - where garden and art become one 
My First Fling 
Repurposing Chain Link fences at Wamboldtopia 
Wamboldtopia, an artists' garden 
Welcome To Wamboldtopia 
Wamboldtopia: Doorway to imagination 
Bloggers Fling: Wamboldtopia 
Skulls, Fairies and Fantasy

The Garden of Christopher Mello

These are links to posts from Asheville Fling 2012 on Christopher Mello's garden.

Shovel Ready
Christopher Mello's Garden
Pearl Poppies
The not so mellow Mello garden in West Asheville 
A West Asheville Landmark 
Asheville: Day one and the Fling begins 
The Artfully Mello Garden 
A Study In Burgundy, Rust and Blue Bottles 
A Mello Fellow's Garden in West Asheville 
Christopher Mello's garden has the blues 
Christopher Mello's garden was a treat 
An Artist's Playground: The Garden of Christopher Mello 
Gardens of the Fling: Christopher Mello

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thanks, hosts & sponsors!

We still have another day of official Fling and a post-day visit -- what fun!

But I've been so appreciative of the great garden hosts we've had so far  - Damaris and Ricki Pierce at Wamboldtopia, Christopher Mello at Gnomon, Safi and DeWayne at Burton Street Community Peace Garden, Melissa and the owner (whose name I don't know) of Sunny Point Cafe.

Peter and Jasmin Gentling were extraordinary gardeners and wonderful hosts today and Parker, Susanna, and LeeAnn were equally gracious at Biltmore Estate.

Pattiy from Curve Studios (our lunch location yesterday) sent a nice note along with a link to these photos of our group in her garden (posted to her studio Facebook page).  She said "thanks again to all your folks for making such a fun afternoon in my garden. it was a joy! please stay in touch!"

And the swag this evening -- WOW!  Thanks to all of the sponsors who contributed everything from seeds to worm castings.  I had no idea (thanks to Helen Yoest for being the sponsor point-person!)  Two bags of goodies! 

Special thanks to our blogger community for contributing through their businesses or directly -- and to Nan Chase, too, for contributing her home as the mailing address.  If you're here on Monday, don't miss visiting her garden and bark house on the post-Fling breakfast visit.  

And if you have a bit more time -- the nearby gardens marked on the map that was in your packet are well worth exploring -- and the Botanical Gardens of Asheville - a 50+ year old native plant garden adjacent to UNC-Asheville (founded by a previous owner of the Gentling's property) are a local treasure.

I haven't had time to even download my own photos yet, but look forward to seeing yours!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Buses depart at 9 am

A question this evening about bus departures and the itinerary in your packets prompted this bit of clarification.

The itinerary describes garden visiting times, not bus departure or arrival times. Please pass on to your fellow bloggers that the Fling blog has all the details, not the packets.

Please be ready to board the buses (they'll arrive at 8:40 am) for departure at 9 am.

It'll be a fun Fling!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Asheville details

Christopher has done a great job of posting detailed descriptions of our itinerary on the blog over the past weeks (and months).

Please review them online, as you like, as we didn't print them out again for you, keeping the information in your packets to a minimum of printed material --we're big on reducing waste in Asheville!

 (Please tell fellow attendees who haven't been keeping up that they need to look at the Asheville Fling site if they want to have more information).  OK, you're already here, so you're up to date!

We'll be on a tight schedule on Friday morning (we're starting out with a bang with eclectic gardens in West Asheville), but the pace is more relaxed on Saturday and Sunday.

We hope to see many of you at Tressa's tomorrow evening (and those of you that can visit Sow True Seeds earlier will have fun-- they're a great small seed company).

Otherwise, we'll see you for the bus departure on Friday from Four Points promptly at 9 am.  Be there early!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gardens In Asheville Bloggers Contest

Explore Asheville (the official Asheville tourism site at the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau) is sponsoring a garden bloggers contest (inspired by our visit, but open to any bloggers out there).

Complete contest information is described at this link.

Here are the basic details, too.

Explore Asheville Garden Blogger Contest:
Spread the word about Asheville gardens and win a trip!

We're offering a chance for garden bloggers to win a free trip (and maybe return!) to the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.  Whether you write about flower gardens, vegetable gardens or rock gardens, all bloggers are welcome to participate in this contest.

What you win:
- 2 nights accommodations at a local Bed and Breakfast. - 2 Tickets to Biltmore.
- A gift basket of assorted goodies.

How to enter:
- Feature at least one Asheville garden in a blog post. It must contain a link to the Explore Asheville garden section (See the garden blogger tool-kit below)

- Send a link of your blog post to

Include your name and telephone number plus any social sites you're a part of so we can connect online.

Social sharing equals more chances to win!
- If you're on Twitter, tweet your blog entry and tag @VisitAsheville. We'll put your name in the hat an additional time.

- If you're on Facebook, follow us at and tag @Asheville in your post. This also will get you an additional entry. 

All entries must be received by June 22nd at 5PM EST. 

Garden Blogger Tool-kit:
- Asheville Gardens  
- Secret Gardens
- Public Gardens
- Flower Video  
- Packages & Deals 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday May 20th The Finale

Day three of Asheville Fling 2012 will begin in the parking lot of the Four Points Sheraton with the loading of the buses beginning at 8:45 am. The buses will leave promptly at 9am. Do not miss the bus. Our generous sponsors Corona Tools, the Whitegate Inn and Gardener's Hollow Leg are all helping cover the expense of the buses for the three days of Fling.

For our final day of Fling we will be headed to the country and deep into the woods.

Our first stop after about a 40 minute drive on coach buses with restrooms will be the gardens of Haywood Community College. This is an acre and a half to two acre teaching garden for the horticulture program at the college. It has an extensive collection of trees, shrubs and perennials for plant ID classes. It is also laid out as a garden, not field rows, which makes it a pleasure to visit as a garden destination.

Now a strange thing happened when I contacted the head gardener and asked if I could bring 80 plus garden bloggers to visit the garden. He said they were closed on Sundays period. We could come, but the gates would be closed and we would have to park outside and walk in. I contacted their marketing and media department thinking all this free PR for the horticulture program might entice some interest and the answer was still, we are closed on Sundays. The gates will be closed and you will have to park outside and walk in. No representative from Haywood Community College, other than security, will be there to greet us.

So we will park outside the main gate and walk in to the garden. It might be a hundred yards from the gate to the gardens along a tree lined paved road. You will be practiced at walking distances after your visit to the Biltmore Estate on Saturday.

We will load back on the buses and head into the wilderness at 11:15 am.

Our next stop is the two side by side wild cultivated gardens of Bonnie Brae and Ku'ulei 'Aina high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top. This is the home of the blog Outside Clyde and the roadside vegetable garden with wood chip mulch. There's vegetables in there behind that fence all summer long, I swear.

Lunch will be served first thing when we arrive and is being prepared by The Sweet Onion of Waynesville, NC. After lunch you may wander into the exuberant chaos that are the gardens I call home.

Bulbarella will join us for lunch and the afternoon visit in the gardens. You may ask her anything about her methods of gardening. You may ask her what a particular plant is as long as all you want is a species or common name. If you are looking for a specific cultivar name you will be out of luck. It's pretty. That is all that matters.

A large portion of the three acres of land under semi-cultivation on this mountain top is a shade garden planted directly into the undisturbed forest. Sunnier sections are put to full use for the sun loving perennials. Narrow, undulating, slightly rocky, one person wide foot paths wander through it all.

Walking through this forest wonderland is very much like taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail. STURDY WALKING SHOES ARE ESSENTIAL. This is no place for a fashion statement in footwear.

At 2pm several of our sponsors will be hosting a wine service and plant forum. This will be your chance to get liquored up and tell the growers and marketers what you really want from them in plants and how they are sold to you the gardener.

Hosting this forum are:

Plant Development Services, Inc. works closely with the nation’s top growers and breeders to bring plants to market that solve landscape challenges and have a high impact on the marketplace. With a comprehensive grower network, Plant Development Services is able to manage distribution to all regions and market channels.. Plant Development Services boasts top ranking brands including: Encore® Azalea, Southern Living™ Plant Collection, and the Sunset Western Garden Collection™. For more information on Plant Development Services, visit: 


Kip McConnell, Plant Development Services, Director. Since graduating from Auburn University's Ornamental Horticulture program in 1984, Kip McConnell has built a career in the horticulture industry, gathering experience in a range of areas including botanical garden management, retail merchandising, landscape design and installation, and nursery supply sales.

Steve Bender, the Senior Garden Writer at Southern Living, where he has worked for the last 28 years in what he describes in jest as "to everyone's dismay". He co-authored Passalong Plants with Felder Rushing before there was internet and later edited the. Southern Living Garden Book.
Shelly Gustafson  - Axiom Marketing Communications Account Manager that works on various Home and Garden accounts including Bailey Nurseries on Endless Summer Hydrangeas, First Editions Plants and Easy Elegance Roses Brand PR.  Shelly has been a garden lover from an early age and her first “job” (at ten) was working in the gardens at Como Conservatory in Saint Paul, MN.  She has worked at Axiom for over five years and contributes to the agency’s garden blog

The cozy cabin, Hale Mana will also be open for inspection during our visit to the low spot high on a North Carolina mountain top. Some of you have watched the four year long process of it's construction. Now you will see it in person and what remains to be completed over the next four years.

The buses will leave for downtown Asheville and the hotel promptly at 3:30 pm. Don't miss the bus. It's a long hike back to town.  Enjoy another evening on the town in the perfect weather that is in store for us the entire weekend of the Fling.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Visiting Asheville before and after the Fling

Asheville is a tourist destination from spring to fall, because of our setting and the surrounding mountains.

And it's been that way for a long time.

From George Vanderbilt (at the turn of the last century) and E.W. Grove (builder of the Grove Park Inn, the Grove Park neighborhood, and the Grove Arcade downtown), Asheville flourished through the end of the logging era, right up to the Great Depression.

The art deco buildings and historic neighborhoods (Montford, Kenilworth, Albermarle, Chestnut Hill, and Grove Park) all derive from that period.

The renaissance of downtown Asheville has happened over the last 20+ years, or so, as the formerly deserted downtown was gradually repopulated with restaurants, galleries, and shops.  The distinctive architecture of downtown was saved through Asheville paying off (or not taking on) depression-era debt (as I understand it), then mouldering along until revitalization.  There was even an early urban renewal suggestion (yikes) to convert part of downtown to a mall, I think, that was turned back by voters, probably because of cost, but I don't remember the details of the story.

My gardening companion and I started visited Asheville near the beginning of that time, in the early 80's, and it's been a remarkable transformation to see.

There's lots more to learn about Asheville at the Asheville Visitor Center, just off highway 240 at the Montford Avenue exit (it's an easy walk from the Four Points, too).  They have helpful folks and excellent information for visiting Asheville and beyond.

If you're coming early or staying beyond the Fling, here are some places not to miss.

~ Botanical Gardens of Asheville (a wonderful 50+ year old garden adjacent to UNC-Asheville devoted to native plants)

~ Grove Park Inn and surrounding neighborhoods

~ Blue Ridge Parkway (there's easy access up Town Mountain Rd., with a nice hike either way along the Mountains to Sea Trail)

~ River Arts District ( a former warehouse and industrial area being transformed to art studios and galleries)

~ Biltmore Village (a historic area full of interesting shops and restaurants-- my favorite is the Compleat Naturalist -- they're great supporters of exploring the natural world of the Southern Appalachians).

And if you have time, or want to come back, explore the rich botanical diversity and natural gardens that the Southern Appalachians provide -- you'll have a taste in Christopher's garden and beyond, but there are wonders beyond.

Have fun exploring.

(P.S.  My gardening companion, Tim Spira, will be doing a couple of native plant walks at the NC Arboretum on Friday afternoon as part of the Fling, if you're interested in learning more about native plants and their ecology in the Southern Appalachians.)  But there's lots to explore there on your own, too.

Enjoy Asheville!  We're looking forward to your visit. Ask me for more visiting suggestions, if you like...

Natural Gardening

Important Information About Your Information Packet

An information packet has been assembled for every registered attendee and their guest if applicable. We did our best with names, but some in the guest category/groups may remain nameless until they fill in their name tags and a few did not register with last names. So be it.

For those booked at the Four Points Sheraton your information packet will be available for you when you check in. Please ask for your packet when you check in. If you are sharing a room or a party of 2 and the room is not booked under you name and we were not sure who was also in your party, your information packet may not be there. DO NOT PANIC!

Quite a few attendees have found other accommodations and are not staying at the hotel. Information packets will also be given out to that group during the happy hours at Tressa's on Thursday evening. Check Thursday's schedule for more detail info on that event. If you don't have a packet at the hotel it will be at Tressa's. Ohm.....

Between 5pm and 7:30 on Thursday all the information packets will be at Tressa's, not at the front desk of the hotel. If you are coming in late on Thursday and will not be at Tressa's, I know there are a few,  the remaining unclaimed information packets will be taken back to the front desk of the hotel after the event at Tressa's.

The information packets contain:
The Fling Itinerary
Walking guide and map for extra curricular garden touring in the downtown area
A dining guide
Local recommendations for dining.
Map of Asheville downtown and the larger city
Map to the NC Arboretum

Your name tag and Saturday dinner entree choice with a number on it.

DO NOT LOSE  your name tag and dinner choice card with the number on it. The entree choice card has been placed inside your name tag holder. This entree card should be placed on the table when you settle in for dinner to aid the cater waiters in serving dinner.

You will need your name tag to be identified as part of our group to be served at the Biltmore's champagne toast. You will need your entree choice card for Saturday's dinner. No changing your mind on dinner, no substitutions. The number on your entree card will be used for the drawing to give away all the door prize swag we have. And our sponsors have given us some very cool swag.

No entree card with a number on it, chances are good you will eat what you ordered for dinner on the registration form by process of elimination and being the last person served.  No number. No door prize. No chance.