Sunday, November 30, 2014

Niagara Preview: Irises galore at the RBG Laking Garden

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fling Preview: Two Forest Hill gardens

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

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Reserve your place now for the Toronto Fling

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

About registration fees for the Toronto Fling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fling Preview: The gardens of Toronto Islands

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Toronto Fling: Our Fling hotel, the Fairmont Royal York

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Attending Garden Bloggers Fling

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

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

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

Attendance each year is limited to less than 100 bloggers because many of the private gardens on tour are small and unable to accommodate larger groups, and because it makes organizing easier for our local volunteer planning committees. Since limited spots can lead to questions about how to get in on the tour, the Fling advisory committee has clarified its rules regarding attendance. If you meet the following qualifications, we strongly urge you to send in your registration form and payment as soon as registration opens in order to secure a spot, as entry is first-come, first-served. To stay abreast of Fling announcements, subscribe to this blog or follow the Fling Facebook group. Registration will be announced here and on the Facebook page as soon as it opens.

UPDATED August 2020:

1. What is a garden blog? Garden Bloggers Fling is an event for garden bloggers and online self-publishers (vloggers, podcasters, Instagrammers). We understand that some bloggers cover other topics, not just gardening, and that's fine. However, we do expect that attendees publish mainly about gardening. The hosts will look at your site when you register, and they should be able to tell without having to dig too deep that it's about gardening. The URL you provide must be public, including Instagram.

2. New bloggers. Your blog or other platform must be at least 6 months old for you to be qualified to register. While new bloggers are enthusiastically encouraged to attend, starting a blog for the sole purpose of attending defeats the mission of the Fling, which is "bringing garden bloggers together." Therefore, if you're a new blogger, your blog must have been started at least 6 months before registration opens in order to attend. For example, if registration opens on December 1st, your blog must have been started by June 1st. If your blog is too new for you to register this year, please know that we'd love for you to attend next year.

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

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

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

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

--Garden Bloggers Fling Advisory Committee

*Mobility issues. We endeavor to make the Fling accessible to everyone, but since private gardens make up a lot of the touring we do, accessibility may be an issue for those who have difficulty with stairs, standing for long periods, or walking several blocks. If you have special circumstances related to mobility or other issues, please contact the local host committee when registration opens to determine if the tour will be feasible for you.