Friday, August 28, 2015

A love letter to our Toronto Fling 2015 sponsors

Just some of the samples our wonderful sponsors provided for Toronto Fling attendees!
Photo from The Botanical Journey blog.
Dear sponsors of the Toronto Fling,

Whether you provided cash sponsorship to help us defray costs, sent samples for our garden bloggers to try, or underwrote an event or a meal, as a sponsor of the Garden Bloggers Fling you made it all so much more possible. We literally could not have done it without you.

In 2015, the organizers and attendee bloggers of the Toronto Fling were hugely grateful for your generous support – as new and repeat Friends of the Fling from both Canada and the United States. 

Sponsorship $1,000+

Our bloggers were over the moon that Lee Valley Tools was our Opening Night Event sponsor. Not only did Lee Valley provide the creative food and beverages for our evening – they held the party in the Lee Valley King Street store! Even non-blogging spouses were thrilled to be able to browse through the garden and woodworking tools and just general neat stuff.

What's more, Lee Valley provided each blogger attending with a $50 gift certificate to shop with (and our visit coincided with a free shipping offer, great for long-distance and U.S. guests). And if that weren't enough, we each went home with a big shopping bag full of wonderful Lee Valley-branded merchandise, including three beautiful hand tools (like this one), a stainless steel mug, the best folding cap ever, and the hoodie you can see in the pic at the top. A very big thank-you from us all.

About Lee Valley Tools: Lee Valley is a family-owned business that has been serving users of woodworking and gardening tools since 1978.
The Toronto Botanical Garden was our very first sponsor and our very last stop on the official Toronto Fling – as the site of our final dinner. Their support went far beyond the waiving of fees for the space, tables and chairs, and tableware, which significantly unburdened our budget. Throughout Fling the planning process, the TBG went out of their way to guide us and make our Fling special.

They helped us find our caterer (thanks, L'Eat, you were wonderful – people still talk about the gourmet poutine). They organized musicians to play over cocktails. They brought in Betsey Price & Omar Hamouda of P & H Farms, regular vendors at the TBG Thursday organic farmers' market, who treated us to a tasty tasting. And who could forget the great presentation on container planting from the always informative, ever entertaining Paul Zammit. Moreover, they gave each of us this handy shoulder bag. We love you, TBG.

About the TBG: The Toronto Botanical Garden offers an array of 17 award-winning themed gardens spanning nearly four acres, designed to educate and inspire.
Corona Tools has been a five-times sponsor of the Garden Bloggers Fling, for which we send thundering applause. This year, we were delighted to receive from Corona a cash donation towards costs, as well as a Corona ComfortGel Trowel and a ComfortGel Hoe & Cultivator for each of our bloggers. That box filled my entire front porch when it arrived! In addition, Corona donated a $150 gift certificate that one very happy blogger received in our draw. Corona Tools, you are a true Friend of the Fling. Thank you!

About Corona Tools: Founded in the early 1920s, Corona, Inc. is a leader in the marketing and manufacturing of professional and consumer tools for the lawn and garden, landscape, irrigation, construction and agriculture markets.
Gardener's Supply is another Fling sponsorship alumnus, and although Canadians aren't really their market, we were extremely happy that they agreed to come back to support the first Garden Bloggers Fling outside the U.S. The company provided both generous cash sponsorship and $250 in gift cards for our draw. The lucky winner felt herself to be very lucky indeed. From the Canadian Fling, merci!

About Gardener's Supply: Gardener’s Supply has long been a socially responsible business, which we've expressed by supporting employee volunteerism, sourcing sustainable products and donating 8 percent of our profits back to the community.

Sponsorship $750-$999

We approached the Royal Botanical Gardens early in our planning, and they were very receptive to welcoming our bloggers to the Laking Garden, as our first destination on our optional extra day in Niagara. Because of our early start, the RBG sponsored our breakfast on the bus, complete with some direly needed caffeine coffee, allowing us to spend as much time as possible looking at plants. We also want to thank the RBG for planting so many informative staff in the garden, just for our Flingers. (While we're at it, let's credit them with stopping the rain in time for us to enjoy the irises.) Thanks!

About the RBG: Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada, a National Historic Site, and registered charitable organization with a mandate to bring together people, plants and nature.

Three-times returning sponsor Blooms of Bressingham has traditionally provided plants as part of their sponsorship. This year, however, as the Fling was in Canada and most of our attendees were from the U.S., it was logistically impossible to move plants across borders. We were very grateful that they remained a loyal supporter with a cash donation. We also love one of their most famous introductions, the 'Rozanne' geranium – which is already in many of our gardens.

About Blooms of Bressingham: Blooms of Bressingham was founded by father and son Alan and Adrian Bloom, prolific English plantsmen who have been responsible for introducing over 200 perennial cultivars over the company’s 100 year history.

The Toronto Fling also welcomed back Dramm as three-times returning sponsor. Like all cash sponsors, their donation helped defray costs such as buses and meals – allowing us to keep registration fees low and make the Fling accessible to more garden bloggers. We were also happy to receive Dramm watering products for draw prizes, including this Revolution Spray Nozzle (which I lusted for the moment it arrived – I have a similar Dramm hand sprayer with fewer spray options, and just love their one-touch thumb control). Lust and love. You can't get much better than that.

About Dramm: Dramm Corporation has been a leader in watering tools and accessories for over 70 years. It all started with a man named John G. Dramm and his invention that revolutionized the way greenhouses; nurseries and gardeners water their plants.

Sponsorship $500-$749

Garden Design magazine is a second-time Fling sponsor and contributed in a number of ways. They gave us a cash donation, they provided free issues of their amazing magazine for all our bloggers, as well as for garden owners and other helpers. And they included a special offer for first-time subscribers in each copy of their magazine. Both beautiful and practical, Garden Design is a great read for garden inspiration. Last but not least, the magazine publisher Jim Peterson came on the Fling as a paid attendee. We love you many times over, Jim and Garden Design!

About Garden Design: "The new Garden Design magazine is so highly, gloriously visual that it’s almost fragrant. Its 132 pages join horticulture with the human-made, crisscrossing the U.S. for backyard glamour and expert advice, species spotlights and design tips."

When it comes to garden plants, there are few recognized brand names – but one of them is Proven Winners. As another five-times sponsor, Proven Winners is also a celebrated Friend of the Fling. Not only did they provide cash support, they make a little video of 2016 plant introductions, just for us, including 'Holy Moly' calibrachoa, which is proving to be a tough customer under the toughest conditions when tested it in my garden this year. (Not in the video, but another tough guy in Helen-proof testing has been their 'Endless Illumination' browallia – can you tell I'm a shade gardener?) Thank you, Proven Winners, for your support – and for these proven winners.

About Proven Winners: Proven Winners searches the world to find and select plants which are clearly superior to others of their type in our trials in Michigan, New Hampshire, California, Germany, Japan, and Florida.

Sponsorship $200-$499

It isn't only the big guys who reach out to support the Fling. An early sponsor has been the small Canadian company of garden pros Barbara and Maritta, White Clover Gardening. For their own use, they created a hardy garden bag for long tools (I reviewed it here), and offered four draw samples for our garden bloggers to try. That's big support from a little company, for which we send huge thanks!

About the White Clover Gardening Tool Bag: Custom designed to fit long-handled tools. This is truly a Canadian product! Heavy duty, outdoor grade canvas milled in Quebec, entirely manufactured in eastern Ontario and screened in Toronto. You can't get any more Canadian than that.

A big box of high-quality rain gauges arrived from Bonnie Plants, with one for every blogger – and extras to share with our Fling garden homeowners. We're already finding them useful. Thank you!

About Bonnie Plants: A national plant wholesaler based in Alabama, Bonnie Plants supplies retail stores all over the United States. You may recognize us by our green hat logo and our biodegradable pots. If you’re a Bonnie gardener, you know us for our quality plants—the best vegetable, herb, and flower plants available.


Further thanks go out to all the companies who provided gifts for our gardeners or financial support for the Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling. Check out the links to see what they're all about!

Acti-Sol – For Sprinkle-On Organic Fertilizer for annual flowers*
All-America Selections – For a selection of AAS Winners seeds*
Botanical Interests – For Botanical Interests seed kits*
Botanical Paperworks – For herb garden seed bombs*
Toronto CityPass – For Toronto CityPass passes for our teaser draw
Clif Bar – For those addictive gluten-free organic trail mix bars*
CobraHead – For a classic and a long-handled CobraHead for our draw
Colorblends – For 100 complimentary bulbs for each of our U.S. bloggers to order
Cool Springs Press – For a selection of Cool Springs book titles**
David Austin Roses – For a prize of five David Austin roses for our draw
DK Publishing – For a selection of DK book titles**
Fairmont Royal York Hotel – For beverages and hors d'oeuvres for the Wild for Bees Buzztini event*
Fernlea Flowers – For 'Rio' Dipladenias for our Canadian bloggers, and 'Rio' swag for everyone
Fiskars – For a selection of Fiskars PowerGear pruning tools for our draw
Garden Making Magazine – For a selection of Garden Making back titles*
Garden Media Group – For BrazelBerry cleaning cloths*
Gardener's Dream – For sample packs of Gardener's Dream creams* – For large TommyCo kneelers*
Loblaws – For the oversized Loblaws shopping bags for our swag bags*
Parkwood Estate and Jubilee Group – For our lunch and beverages at Parkwood Estate*
Raincoast Books – For a selection of Raincoast book titles**
Reif Estate Winery – For complimentary Reif wines at the tasting on our optional Niagara day*
Sheridan Nurseries – For Sheridan Garden Guides and bags for our thankyou gifts*
St. Lynn's Press – For a selection of St. Lynn's Press book titles**
Stokes Seeds – For Stokes nasturtium seeds*
Thermacell – For a Thermacell mosquito repellant appliance and lantern for our draw
Thomas Allen – For a selection of Thomas Allen book titles**
Tradewinds International – For dahlia tubers for our Canadian bloggers*

* Sponsors supplied samples for each of our bloggers, and any extras were donated with thanks to Fling open garden owners or other Fling partners
** Books from different publishers were combined so that each blogger received comparable value