Friday, December 20, 2019

Epic Systems Campus: Whimsical, Anomalous, and Beautiful

One of the more unique destinations on our itinerary for the Madison Fling is a visit to the Epic Systems campus, near the suburb of Verona, on Friday, June 19.

Epic is one of the healthcare industry’s leading information technology companies, serving many of the world’s largest hospitals and healthcare systems. One in two Americans is covered by a hospital that uses Epic Systems to run its software, and Epic is the second-largest employer in the Madison metro area.

But aside from being a big company with a big campus, it's also a whimsical place—inside and out. We won't be going inside during our visit, but we're thrilled to be able to tour the incredible outdoor gardens, led by Jeff Epping, one of the property's lead landscape designers.

Jeff is a proponent of gravel gardens, and his influence is on display at the Epic grounds, along with unique sculptures and succulent and drought-tolerant plants.

That's just the start of it, though.

The buildings on the campus range from a castle to a tree house to a large barn. Signage directs you to the fanciful destinations.

While varied and playful in many areas of the property, the gardens are actually quite beautiful, too—there's something for every gardener here. It's like a playground of garden types and styles.

Last but not least are the are the amazing prairie/savanna views of the surrounding countryside. You won't want to miss it; truly a one-of-a-kind destination.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

John & Bob's Smart Soil Solutions: Supporting Sponsor of the Madison Fling

Our hearty thanks goes to John & Bob's as a 2020 Fling Bloom-Level Sponsor!

The secret to lush gardens, lawns, productive flowers, fruits, and vegetables lies in the health of the soil. Nature's most powerful organic ingredients infuse your soil with life.

John & Bob's four-product system of Optimize, Nourish-Biosol, Maximize, and Penetrate is the easy, effective, and organic way to make your soil healthy.

John & Bob's system feeds beneficial soil organisms with its unique blend of organic compounds, minerals, and microbes. John & Bob's formulations use the same strategy that benefits self-sustaining plant communities all over the world.

Find them online:

*** The Garden Bloggers Fling is a non-profit organization; we’d be nowhere without our generous sponsors! Please let them know how much they mean to us—big "thank-yous" to each and every one! ***

Friday, December 13, 2019

UW-Madison Arboretum:
Renowned for Research, Restoration, and Natural Beauty

One of the most beloved natural areas in the Madison area is the UW-Madison Arboretum. Located only about a mile south of the city center and the UW-Madison campus, the Arboretum comprises 1,200 acres of preserved natural spaces.

The Arboretum property encompasses several unique features, including:

• The world’s oldest restored prairie;
• An extensive collection of other restored ecosystems;
• The Longenecker Horticultural Gardens; and
• A native plant garden surrounding the visitor center.

We’ll be visiting the Arboretum on Friday, June 19, as part of the 2020 Garden Bloggers Fling. As part of our time there, we’ll meet and learn from three ecological thought-leaders: Karen Oberhauser, director, who’s also a monarch butterfly expert; Susan Carpenter, native plant gardener, and an expert on the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee; and David Stevens, the Longenecker Gardens curator.

Native plants likely to be blooming/peaking during mid-June at the Arboretum: Tradescantia ohiensis, Geranium maculatumAnemone canadensis, Aquilegia canadensis, Baptisia alba, and Rosa spp., among many others. We’ll miss the peak of the horticultural garden's crabapples, lilacs, and magnolias, but there may be a few late-blooming lilacs and magnolias.

In addition to its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, the Arboretum is also a place of learning and research. UW alumnus Aldo Leopold, known to many as the father of wildlife ecology, said the aim for the Arboretum was to re-establish the “original Wisconsin” landscape and plant communities that had been lost due to European settlement.

Leopold, who was research director at the time of the Arboretum dedication, along with the Arboretum Committee introduced the new concept of ecological restoration.

The Arboretum is an oasis of nature surrounded by urban and suburban areas. Its stated vision: acting as a “global source of knowledge of and a model for restoring ecologically sustainable relationships between people and the land through integrative, innovative, and collaborative approaches in science, stewardship, education, and public engagement.”

Join us as we explore the UW-Madison Arboretum at the 2020 Fling.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Proven Winners® ColorChoice®: Supporting Sponsor of the Madison Fling

Let’s hear it for Proven Winners® ColorChoice® flowering shrubs, a 2020 Fling Bloom-Level Sponsor!

Best known for their outstanding hydrangeas that are packed with bigger blooms, held up on strong, supportive stems, it’s no wonder Proven Winners ColorChoice varieties like ‘Limelight’, Incrediball® and Invincibelle® Spirit II have become household names.

Proven Winners ColorChoice offers over 35 hydrangea varieties, from smooth hydrangeas, to bigleaf and mountain hydrangeas, to panicle and oak leaf hydrangeas. Their 2020 Hydrangea of the YearInvincibelle® Ruby Hydrangea arborescens is a standout. It has rich, red blooms that appear all summer and it’s super hardy, in USDA zones 3 to 8.

The dark burgundy red flower buds of Invincibelle® Ruby open to a two-toned combination of bright ruby red and silvery pink. The foliage is extra dark and stems are strong, making this new hydrangea a gem in any garden. It’s also a strong rebloomer that will be an excellent addition to any garden. Like other smooth hydrangeas, it flowers on new growth, so it blooms every year without fail.

Year after year, nurseries big and small look to Proven Winners ColorChoice for new shrub introductions that perform better, and Proven Winners ColorChoice looks to garden communicators of all types, like the flingers, to spread the word about their experiences with these new plants. This expert advice helps consumers make informed choices about what they grow, and helps our network of growers and garden centers experience greater sales success.

“Not Just New, Better” means growers, garden centers, landscapers and home gardeners will all feel like winners when they choose Proven Winners plants, a brand synonymous with quality and consistency.

Find them online:
   Facebook: PWCC - and Garden PR -
   Twitter: PWCC - also Garden PR -
   You Tube:

*** The Garden Bloggers Fling is a non-profit organization; we’d be nowhere without our generous sponsors! Please let them know how much they mean to us—big "thank-yous" to each and every one! ***

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Friday's Private Gardens Feature Pathways, Ponds, and Prairies

Linda and Phil Grosz's pond
[Note: Dates have been changed for the 2022 Fling. Gardens may vary slightly.]

We’re thrilled to share some amazing private gardens at the 2020 Fling! Three days aren’t enough to tour every noteworthy garden in the Madison area, but we did our best to cover three general areas:

  • Friday, June 24, we’ll start on the far west and southwest sides of Madison—touring Middleton and Fitchburg gardens;

  • Saturday, June 25, we’ll move a little closer in to the city of Madison; and

  • Sunday, June 26, we’ll venture to the east side of Madison and Monona, then southeast to the small city of Stoughton.

Friday’s gardens present a pleasant mix of gardening styles and types—from edibles to ornamentals, prairies to woodlands, pathways to ponds, and everything in between.

Rita Thomas began gardening at her Fitchburg garden 35 years ago. “I knew nothing about plants or garden design,” she admits. The garden grew and changed as she learned. Rita describes herself as “a plant collector, seeking out the unusual, the best of the species, or the latest introductions. My major interests have been native woodland plants, daylilies, and irises.”

Rita has an extensive collection of daylilies. Her most recent interests are herbaceous and tree peonies: She recently added 20 new tree and 15 herbaceous peonies to the garden. About 14 of her tree peony grafts and many peony seedlings can be found in her nursery beds. “The garden has been my retreat, my laboratory, and my playground,” she describes. “Tending my garden rejuvenates my spirit and my physical body. I welcome all guests to share in my joy.”

Cherith Bruckner’s shady gardens are woven throughout wonderful hickories, oaks, and black walnuts on a corner lot. “The gardens have taken shape gradually over the past 20+ years—from our first efforts of pulling blackcap raspberry brambles and weeds to what has grown into a passion to enhance the woodland setting,” she says. “A lot of ‘terraforming’ played a role in creating a ‘natural’ setting for a water feature that includes a stream, a waterfall, and a pond.”

Over any one of three bridges lie plants and structures, crags and crevices that hold countless surprises and rewards. Vignettes of many shade-loving perennials and shrubs continue to evolve along the woodland paths and water elements. Gardens in the front provide a home for more sun-loving shrubs and perennials, including irises, lilies, and daylilies.

Betsy True and Danny Aerts describe their one-acre property as “the functional yard. We’ve been gradually improving it with garden, orchard, and woodland settings. A large, fenced vegetable garden occupies the main center.” They are “serious about vegetables—using  market garden techniques, raised beds, rotation, elevated bins, and containers.”

Pears, quince, espaliered apples, and various small fruits are distributed around the garden. There are chickens at one end of the yard and bees at the other. A prairie covers the side yard, and a pond lies just off the sun porch on the other side. “There are many diverse micro-environments,” explains Betsy. “We landscape with an eye for insect nutrition and habitat, extended bloom for the bees, habitat for small animals, and edibles for the house. It’s a work in progress and a joy to keep improving and trying new things.”

Linda and Phil Grosz built their home 22 years ago. Our goal was to transform our large, vacant lot into a beautiful, tranquil, and wildlife-friendly environment,” describes LindaOur first project was planting an acre of native prairie.

Grown entirely from seed, the prairie soon surrounded the yard with an abundant and colorful mix of wildflowers and grasses. A stream cascading into a large pond was the next landscape feature they installed, and it has become the focal point of the back yard and a magnet for visiting birds. Over the years, we’ve added thousands of spring bulbs and perennials, large shade and hosta gardens, as well as a rock garden, herb and vegetable gardens, and a new miniature garden, she says. We’ve also assembled a diverse collection of conifers, Japanese maples, and garden art. Join us on the back deck, and enjoy the view of our pond, prairie, and the adjacent golf course.

Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for overviews of the other private and public gardens to be featured as part of the 2022 Fling. (Note: This schedule may change; we will keep you updated here and on the Fling Facebook page.)

Friday, November 8, 2019

Allen Centennial Garden: A Small Gem in the Heart of Madison

We've talked about the 2020 Fling hotel, transportation, food, and fun things to do. Now let's take a look at the gardens, shall we? Let's start with the last one on the schedule: We'll be visiting the Allen Centennial Garden on Sunday afternoon, June 21, and you won't want to miss it! Described as the "artful living laboratory" of UW-Madison's Horticulture Department, Allen Centennial is a public botanical garden, open year-round, dawn to dusk.

Located on a cozy 2.5 acres surrounding the historic Dean's Residence, the gardens were designed to complement the home and its existing plantings. A substantial gift from a former UW faculty member, Ethel Allen, meant she was instrumental in providing support for the early phases of garden construction. Her husband, Dr. Oscar Allen, was a professor at the university for nearly three decades. The couple co-authored what is considered the "encyclopedia" of the role of legumes in nitrogen fixation.

Naming the gardens after the Allens in 1989 coincided with the commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of the university's Department of Horticulture, hence the garden's full name of Allen Centennial Garden. The garden is built around a stately Victorian gothic house, which was one of the first buildings on the agricultural campus and served as home for the first four deans.

Allen Centennial is a "comfortable" garden: It has plenty of magical nooks and crannies to explore, but it's compact and not sprawling. It's divided into 14 distinct areas—from English cottage gardens, to an iris meadow, to a Japanese garden, and a Wisconsin woodland garden. The property serves as an outdoor classroom for UW-Madison students and surrounding communities, providing learning opportunities for visitors of all ages.

Imagine this picturesque spot as a comfy, peaceful venue for the close of the 2020 Fling. Hopefully, it will be a mild, calm summer afternoon/early evening. Our ending surprise send-off will add an extra touch of whimsy to a beautiful place to share with gardening friends.

Photos courtesy Allen Centennial Garden

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Easy Transportation for the Madison Fling

Photo courtesy the Madison Concourse Hotel

Good news! Madison is a small city close to Chicago, so there are many options for getting to, in, and around the area. Here’s an early preview of transportation options for your trip to the Madison Fling in June!


Madison has one airport, the Dane County Regional Airport, located in Northeast Madison. Those familiar with big-city airports will probably find it quaint. The nice thing about a small airport is that it’s easy to find your way around. Another positive about flying direct in and out of Madison is that inexpensive direct flights are increasingly available. With several large and growing employers (including Epic Systems, American Family Insurance, and Sub-Zero, among others), the number of flights in and out of the airport is increasing.

Another option is to fly in and out of O’Hare International Airport, and then bus or drive to Madison. O’Hare is approximately 134 miles, or about 2.5 hours from downtown Madison. Roundtrip fare between Madison and O’Hare, via Van Galder, is $60. Many UW-Madison students use this bus service, and the bus drop-off location at 800 Langdon Street is less than a mile from the hotel. Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport is 84 miles, or about 1.5 hours from downtown Madison. Roundtrip fares between Madison and Mitchell, via Badger Bus, vary based on booking methods, and are also quite reasonable.

Getting to the Hotel

Driving: If you'll be driving to Madison, hotel parking is available for a special rate for our group of $10 USD daily; valet parking $20 USD daily. Max height 6'. Our official Fling hotel is the Madison Concourse Hotel.

Flying: If you'll be flying to Madison, The Concourse provides complimentary airport shuttle service between the airport and the hotel; simply call the hotel when you’re ready for pick-up. We do not recommend renting a car during the Fling tour days because we'll be busing you everywhere. A rental car will be useful, however, if you'll be staying in the Madison area longer and exploring beyond the downtown area.

Other options for getting from the airport to the hotel:
    >Rideshare options include Carmel, Uber, and Lyft.
    >Taxis can be hailed outside baggage claim, on the lower level. Estimated fare is $25 USD one way.

    >More options can be found on the airport’s ground transportation page.

Getting Around Downtown

Pedicab: Madison is an easy walking town, but if you want a quick ride to a restaurant or other location, hail a pedicab—a “bike taxi” or “cycle rickshaw.” You can hail a pedicab on the street like a taxi. Rates vary, so ask your driver about the price per rider or per trip before hopping in. Most drivers work for tips only.

Bike Rental: Biking is big in Madison, and there are bike paths throughout Dane County, actually. Several bike rental companies operate downtown, like Madison B-cycle, where you can rent a bike at a kiosk, ride it, and return it when you're done. Three stations are near our hotel—at James Madison Park, Peace Park, and Law Park. The Capital City Trail links with several other trails in the county, and is accessible for bicycles, skaters, strollers, walkers, joggers, and wheelchairs.

Trolley Pub: Looking for a fun tour around town? Trolley Pub is a BYOB, pedal-powered, eco-friendly, pub-crawling trolley for up to 14 people at a time, powered by you and your fellow pedalers.

Rideshare: Options include Carmel, Uber, and Lyft.

When Does Registration Open?

We’re aiming to open Madison Fling registration in early January, and space is limited, so be watching for the announcement here and on our Facebook page!

When Should I Arrive?

We recommend arriving on Wednesday, or, at the latest, by mid-afternoon on Thursday, so you can attend the Fling welcome event, pick up your name tag and swag bag, and settle in. The Fling ends on Sunday, June 26, with a special surprise that you won't want to miss! We'll have you back to the hotel by early evening. We recommend departing on Monday. (To be safe, hold off on making any noncancellable reservations until after you're registered.)

Of course we hope many of you will come early or stay later to see more of Madison's attractions. Stay tuned: We’ll highlight many of them in the weeks ahead!

(Any other transportation questions? Check this link:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Blog Badge for the Madison Fling

If you're planning to attend the Madison Fling, or if you simply want to show your support for the Fling, please add the 2020 Madison badge to your website. Here it is:

You can add this badge to your site by right-clicking on the badge image above and selecting "Save Image As..." to save it to your computer. For higher quality, click on the badge to open it in a new window, and then "Save Image As..." Then you can upload the image to your blog. Or you can choose "Copy Image" and paste it into a post or sidebar widget of your blog rather than uploading the image to your site.

Remember to make that image a link, as well, and link to so people can easily find information about the Madison Fling when they click on the badge.

We think of the badge's heart, filled with produce, as a nod to the Dane County Farmers' Market, where we'll open our Saturday morning schedule, June 20. It's America's largest producers-only farmers' market!

Good news: We have some sponsors! Watch the sidebar for sponsorship updates, and be sure to thank our sponsors whenever you have a chance. They make this amazing event possible!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Our Hotel for the Madison Garden Bloggers Fling

When you arrive in Madison—a vibrant cultural hub of art, music, food, and more—you’ll be staying at the Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club, located at 1 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI, 53703. This is where we'll board our buses every morning and drop off at the end of the day.

Downtown Madison is known for easy walk-ability, bike paths for miles, delightful festivals, an awe-inspiring farmers’ market, dozens of live music venues, world-class restaurants, and art museums—all nestled on an isthmus between two sapphire lakes and steps from the Concourse Hotel.

The hotel is also located just a short walking distance from the pedestrian-only State Street, the State Capitol, and the waterfront summer hangout Memorial Union Terrace.

The entire isthmus is a busy, vibrant area full of opportunities to explore and enjoy!

Each room at the Concourse has complimentary wifi access, making it easy to check in on social media and connect with friends and family. An indoor pool and fitness center are also available if you’re so inclined.

You’ll find contemporary American dining at the CIRC restaurant, which crafts seasonal dishes featuring ingredients from local farmers and producers.

The Bar, located on the first floor near the lobby, offers an extensive wine list, an impressive craft beer selection, and artisan cocktails. In addition, a full-service Starbucks is adjacent to the lobby.

The Concourse offers gathering spaces throughout the lobby—perfect for relaxing and catching up with other Flingers.

State Street is just around the corner from the hotel, and you’ll want to explore this seven-block, bustling pedestrian thoroughfare for shopping, dining, or simply people-watching. We're also planning some time on Saturday morning to explore the Dane County Farmers' Marketconveniently located on the tree-lined grounds surrounding the Wisconsin State Capitol building, near the hotel.

We'll be blogging ab
out all of this in much more detail as we get closer to the Fling. If you're planning on an extended stay, we'll also provide information about additional plant shopping, garden visiting, sightseeing, and entertainment opportunities in Madison and the surrounding area. Consider adding a day or two on the front or the end of the Fling dates.

Our reserved (limited number of rooms) room rate is $189/night for single and double; $199 for triple; and $209 for quad. At registration time (very soon!), you'll have access to the special rates.

Registration will open soon, so keep reading the blog regularly for more info and details. We expect to fill up fast, and we want to make sure you can join us!

Photos courtesy The Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Madison Food: Surprisingly Diverse

When you visit Madison, be prepared to be surprised by the quality of the food in this mid-size Midwestern city. The variety and types of foods range widely, too. From high-end to typical supper club food, you can find just about any cuisine you desire.

In addition to boasting numerous James Beard award-winners, Madison (more broadly Wisconsin) is home to some unique culinary traditions, including:

Cheeses: Yes, you can get some of the best cheeses in the world here. At the 2018 World Cheese Awards, for example, Wisconsin captured 30 awards, more than any other state or country in the world. If you have a chance to try them, fried cheese curds are pretty special, too.

Sausages: You may have heard about Wisconsin bratwurst and, while it is tasty, other Wisconsin sausages are top-quality, too. European settlers—German, Italian, Polish, and others—brought their old-world recipes and link-making methods with them to Wisconsin.

Cranberries: Wisconsin is the #1 producer in the world of this tart fruit, best known as a side or condiment for the traditional holiday meal. Wisconsinites find creative ways to use cranberries, though—as craisins, in salsa, in orange-cranberry bread, and many other recipes.

Cornish Pasties: Wisconsin is one of the few states where you can commonly find these meat-filled, folded pocket pastries. They became a traditional Wisconsin offering back in the 1800s, when Cornish miners and their families settled in Mineral Point, about 50 miles southwest of Madison. 

Ice cream and frozen custard: Of course the dairy state offers the best ice cream and frozen custard in the world. Madison has its share of delicious frozen dessert shops. Save some room after your meal for your favorite flavor.

These are just a few examples of fun food experiences in Madison. While some of these items will be available during our group meals, you can find others as you explore the city during free times. You’ll be on your own for breakfast each day. Lunch will be included with your registration. We’ll also provide daily snacks to fuel your energy for garden tours. We’ll have a banquet on one of the evenings, but you’ll also have a chance to dine out on other nights.

Look for options at registration if you have special dietary restrictions, such as vegetarian or gluten-free. Make sure to bring your appetite with you to Madison!

Photos courtesy

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

      Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace
      Corey Coyle [CC 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 (]

      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 (]

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

      Any questions? Feel free to contact us: Hope to see you in Madison next June!