Wednesday, June 30, 2021

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


Let's get to know each other!

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

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

Angie Baer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Photographs courtesy of Angie Baer.

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Madison Fling: Third Time's the Charm

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

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

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


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


Thursday, June 23:

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

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

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


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

Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

Saturday, June 25:

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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