Thursday, March 31, 2022

Elizabeth Licata/GardenRant: Supporting Sponsor of the Madison Fling

Our thanks goes out to Elizabeth Licata and GardenRant, another bloom-level sponsor! Since 2006, The Rant’s writing team of horticulturists, authors, nursery owners, columnists, ecologists, speakers, and activists have provided an interactive, thought-provoking platform that tackles all aspects of the gardening industry. It engages professional and amateur gardener-readers from all over the world.

Many voices, many opinions, many subjects. The group’s manifesto: “We are convinced that gardening matters. Bored with perfect magazine gardens; in love with real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden gardens. Turned off by any activities that involve ‘landscaping’ with ‘plant materials.’ Appalled by the chemical warfare in the garden. Flabbergasted at the idea of a ‘no-maintenance garden.’ Delighted by people with a passion for plants. Gardening our asses off. Having a hell of a lot of fun.”

Besides Elizabeth, Garden Rant is written by Scott Beuerlein, Allen Bush, Susan Harris, Anne Wareham, Marianne Willburn, and many guest posters.

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! ***

Monday, March 28, 2022

Rotary Botanical Gardens: Good Enough to Show the World!

One of the public gardens we'll visit during the Flingon Sunday, June 26—is Rotary Botanical Gardens, in Janesville, Wis., slightly southeast of Madison. Fling team member Mark Dwyer was the director of horticulture of this impressive garden for 21 years, and shares some of its history and uniqueness:

I was fortunate to work at this wonderful Janesville botanical garden for 21 years (1998-2019) as director of horticulture, and I found my true passion for public horticulture during my tenure at this garden. I enjoyed watching the increasing attention, visitation, and accolades that Rotary Botanical Gardens received—due, not only to the garden developing and expanding, but also through the monumental community support and significant volunteer efforts. These efforts continue to be essential to the success of this 20-acre, nonprofit garden. It has more than 100,000 annual visitors, not including attendance at special events.

The Wellness Garden
The gardens began as an idea by Dr. Robert Yahr (1928-2021), a retired dentist and orthodontist in Janesville. He had walked the site of what would later become the gardens, and formulated a vision for an internationally themed community garden that would be “good enough to show the world” (in his own words!).

What makes his vision all the more amazing is that he was walking on a derelict, 15-acre piece of land owned by the City of Janesville that was the site of an old sand and gravel pit. Situated on some small ponds that were created when mining operations hit natural springs, the land was strewn with garbage, discarded picnic tables, trash barrels, and more significant debris that had simply been dumped on site. Also on the property were the remnants of an old BMX bike track situated near an abandoned building that was the original offices for the Wilcox Sand and Gravel operation in the early 1900s. That building was slated for demolition.

Dr. Yahr approached the City of Janesville in 1988 with, not only his vision for a garden (and renovating the Wilcox building), but also some of his own money, additional donor support, and the commitment of both Rotary Clubs in Janesville to help clean up the land and begin what would be called Rotary Botanical Gardens Inc. The organization was given a 100-year lease on the land for $1 from the City of Janesville. And the gardens were officially opened in 1989, with massive community clean-up efforts (including the ponds), tree planting, and the renovation of the old building, which would become the Rath Environmental Center (it was the visitor center for the first 10 years).

Dr. Yahr was a juggernaut of fundraising. He secured help from area construction firms to help clear the site, bring in topsoil, remove overgrown trees, and clear debris from the pond. The early efforts of both Rotary Clubs were instrumental in many of these efforts, as well, and additional support at this time was provided by nearby General Motors Company (jobs bank program) and the Wisconsin Conservation Corps.

As an old sand and gravel pit, the land is very well-drained, but the lean soils called for more than 4,000 cubic yards of good soil to be brought on site and distributed in what would shortly become the start of the international gardens. The initial 15-acre garden grew to 20 acres in 2011, with the creation of the new, $2 million Parker Education Center with funds from the Parker Foundation (Parker Pen was an original Janesville-based company). The new maintenance building, holding yards, and support area also were added at this time.

The Japanese Garden
The gardens developed quickly in those early years, and were reliant not only on “in-kind” donations but also heavy involvement of volunteers, which continues to this day. It’s important to note that the overall mission of the garden revolves around horticultural education and appreciation. The gardens provide significant educational opportunities—through both adult and youth education, symposia, various lecture series, and strong labeling initiatives.

Dr. Yahr’s vision of internationally themed gardens began with the simultaneous construction of the Japanese Garden (ranked one of the top 25 in North America), formal gardens, and the gazebo garden. Over many years, different thematic gardens were added to create a series of garden rooms and experiences. While not all the garden spaces have an international theme, they do each reflect a style and/or specific plant palette. Other gardens include the English cottage garden, sunken garden, woodland walk garden, and the relatively new, all-accessible wellness garden. To date, there are 26 distinct garden themes and garden displays with more than 4,000 types of plants.

Rotary Botanical Gardens has won many awards for plant collections and displays. It continues to be a National Display Garden for the American Hosta Society, American Hemerocallis Society, and the Hardy Fern Foundation. The fern and moss garden (constructed in 2006) has one of the largest fern collections in the country. At one point, the gardens featured more than 150,000 annuals each year in rotating, creative displays. More recent years have seen the important shift to promoting more water-wise and eco-friendly gardening with native perennials.

Rotary Botanical Gardens hosts more than 80 weddings on an annual basis, in addition to many other events. The very popular Holiday Lights Show (1 million lights) brings in more than 50,000 visitors each winter, and continues to be the largest fundraiser for this garden.

Rotary Botanical Gardens receives no local, state, or federal support, and is reliant on income from its Friends membership program, a growing endowment fund, admissions, rentals, special events, grants, and other donations. The staff has grown over many years, although the importance of volunteers assisting with gardening, special events, and much more continues to be the primary cornerstone that links the past, present, and future of this amazing small garden.

The vision of one person, combined with a supportive community, has finally achieved Dr. Yahr’s original vision of having a “community garden good enough to show the world!”

Visit this link to register for the Madison Fling!

Friday, March 25, 2022

DRAMM: Supporting Sponsor of the Madison Fling

Let’s hear it for another wonderful Fling sponsor! DRAMM Corporation, a bud-level sponsor, has been a leader in watering tools and accessories for 80 years. It began with John Dramm inventing a product to water plants in the greenhouse quickly and efficiently. He designed the 400 Water Breaker® Nozzle, which applied large quantities of water in a soft stream while conserving water.

The spirit of innovation and commitment to new ideas and solutions continues today in Dramm’s four business segments: Commercial Greenhouse Equipment, Retail Gardening Products, Drammatic® Organic Fertilizer, and Drammwater for greenhouse water treatment systems.

Dramm provides a full line of professional Rain Wands™, sprinklers, watering tools, accessories, and natural fertilizers to nurseries, greenhouses, and avid gardeners nationwide.

Find them online:
Facebook: -128949141151
Instagram: @drammgardening

*** 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! ***

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Saturday's Private Gardens: Impressive Urban Retreats

[Note: Dates have been changed for the 2022 Fling. Gardens may vary slightly.]

Tours of private gardens are huge highlights of any Fling. Earlier, we previewed the Friday gardens; now let’s take a quick look at the private gardens we’ll visit on Saturday, June 25. These are on the West and near-West side of Madison.

Sue Niesen “started playing in the dirt in 1975" and continues to "love finding worms.” Her gardens include perennials and annuals that she grows in her sunroom from harvested seed from the previous year. “Of course seed catalogs contribute with new species, as I’m curious how they’ll look and grow in my setting,” she describes. “Some not so successful…but I’m always looking for new varieties to add to the gardens.”

Because of the early indoor start, even large plants like Brugmansias bloom in early summer in her garden. Each year, she features a particular annual throughout the garden—something to watch for when we visit. Sue and her husband, Dick, created all the large concrete stepping stones in their garden, themselves, over the course of a year. Whimsical garden gnomes and decorations are found throughout, and you'll find surprises around every corner.

Tom and Cheryl Kuster moved to their home in 1990. The yard had been professionally landscaped in 1968 when the house was built, including a small pond and waterfall. Tom says he didn’t get serious about gardening until 2004 when he asked a local landscape designer to create a plan. “As I started working on the plan and studying various plants, I was amazed at the vast array of plants available for landscaping.

“During the past 16 years of gardening, my focus has been on diversity,” he adds. “You might call me a collector of plants, with more than 600 different varieties. I’ve divided our yard into 20 sections—each with its own genera of species.” Areas include miniature and dwarf conifers; a Tufa rock garden with various alpines, hens and chicks, and woodies; and a Japanese garden.

Linda Brazill (also a garden blogger at Each Little World) and Mark Golbach moved to their half-acre lot 25 years ago. Linda describes it as “a perfect canvas on which to create a garden: a sloping site with trees and shrubs mostly at its edges.

“Our goal was to walk out our back door and be in a tranquil retreat that married the rocks, water, moss, and contemplative qualities of Eastern gardens, with the pines and perennials of Wisconsin,” she adds. To do that, the couple planted some 200 trees and shrubs, and used more than 200 tons of stone in walls, paths, and boulder groupings. Their garden has multiple water features, unusual trees and conifers, a birch glade, woodland peonies, a traffic island bed, and a Japanese teahouse. “As we’ve worked to create our retreat,” says Linda, “we’ve also created a gardening partnership that has been a mutual source of heated debates and delight.”

Cindy Fillingame acknowledges that all gardens are shaped by the terrain, exposure to sun, and drainage concerns, and hers is no exception. A desire to improve drainage led to her first raised bed in 2004. “I chose concrete retaining wall blocks as an inexpensive ‘do-it-myself’ solution,” she says. “They proved to be very versatile, allowing me to create fluid lines, and to adjust the height and enrich the soil. This initial success has led to other raised beds designed to solve other issues—namely gardening on a severe slope and defining the property line more clearly.”

As Cindy’s gardening knowledge has grown, she’s tried to create diverse garden beds with something to offer in each season of the year. The garden features many newly planted trees and shrubs, including ginkgo, oak leaf hydrangea, pagoda dogwood, beech, and stewartia. Older established trees and shrubs include river birch, Montgomery spruce, and a sprawling juniper pruned to follow the terrain. Lilies, including Martagon, Asiatic, and Orienpets, join garden sculptures to provide vertical accents among a wide variety of perennials.

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

Visit this link to register for the Madison Fling!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Who's Attending the Madison Fling?

Will you be part of the fun at the Madison Garden Bloggers Fling, June 23-26, 2022? If your name is on this list, you will! If it's not, we'd love to have you join us!

Here are the people who’ve signed up so far for our event, which includes three full days of garden touring and an opening reception in the “Mad City.”

We’re happy to announce that many new Flingers will be joining us this year, and they are noted with asterisks (*). If you’re new, you’re part of a great group. If you’re a veteran Flinger, please welcome our new friends.

We’ll continue to update this list until the Fling. Names and handles will appear here when registrations are completed. (Please email us at if you see an error in your name or your blog/vlog/podcast/Instagram handle or link...OR if you think you should be listed here and you are not.)

BONUS: To learn more about our attendees, please visit our Who's Who at the Fling page.

David Stocker – Rock Rose
Jennifer Stocker
 – Rock Rose

Maya Bartolf – Flowers & Grapes
John Valentino – John & Bob's Corporation

Idelle Fisher – Good Environmental News Blog and Sandia Seed
Donna Waters – Sun&Snow

Shari Wilson – Nuts for Natives

Connie Cottingham
*  Garden Travel Experiences

Rachel Balk
*  Small Boots Gardening
Natasha Nicholes* – We Sow We Grow

Kathy Jentz – Washington Gardener and Cats in Gardens
Teri Speight – Cottage in the Court

Natalie Carmolli – Through the Greenhouse Glass
Stefanie Gilmour – See Jane Dig
Susan Martin* – Gardener Sue's News and Garden Crossings

Kathleen Hennessy – 29MinuteGardener

Elizabeth Licata – Garden Rant
Kathy Purdy – Cold Climate Gardening

Lisa Wagner – Natural Gardening and Places of the Spirit (part-time in Quebec)

Kylee Baumle – Our Little Acre

Jane Finch-Howell – MulchMaid
Kevin Gepford – The Fuchsietum
Theo Margelony – The Fuchsietum

Karl Gercens* – Longwood Gardens Blog

Janet Ledebuhr – The Queen of Seaford

Kim Halyak – Cooper-Young Garden Club
Sharron Johnson* – Cooper-Young Garden Club
Barbara Wise – B Wise Gardening and Crescent Garden

Vicki Blachman – Playin’ Outside
Lori Daul – The Gardener of Good and Evil
Caroline Homer – The Shovel-Ready Garden
Cat Jones – The Whimsical Gardener
Diana Kirby – Sharing Nature’s Garden
Jean McWeeney – Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog
Pam Penick – Digging
Laura Wills – Wills Family Acres

Camille Paulsen* – Tahomaflora

Mark Dwyer* – Landscape Prescriptions by MD (Planning Committee)
Amy Free* – Create Ecology
Sheri Kaz* – My Garden Zone
Ann Munson*  Moorgardens
Megan Speckmann* Far Out Flora
Beth Stetenfeld – PlantPostings  (Planning Committee)
Chan M. Stroman* – Bookish Gardener
Anneliese Valdes – Cobrahead Blog (Planning Committee)
Judy Valdes* – Cobrahead Blog
Noel Valdes* – Cobrahead Blog
Andy Young* – Cobrahead Blog
Danniel Ward-Packard* – Botanica

Margaret Mishra – The Gardening Me (Ontario)
Lisa Wagner – Natural Gardening and Places of the Spirit (Quebec and part-time in North Carolina)

* denotes new attendee

Visit this link to register for the Madison Fling!

Friday, March 18, 2022

J. Berry: Supporting Sponsor of the Madison Fling

J. Berry - Discovering & Delivering Great Plants

During the past 16 years, J. Berry has expanded by leaps and bounds. In addition to the finished wholesale nursery business, the company now includes online sales directly on their website, and a J. Berry Genetics division. All areas of the nursery are focused on bringing innovation to the market and providing infinite possibilities to consumers via superior packaging and the marketing of plants that exceed performance expectations. The company's unique multi-pronged position as a breeder, nursery, and small plant producer, ensures that only top-quality plants join the J. Berry product offerings.

J. Berry is the owner and introducer of exciting consumer plant brands including Black Diamond®, the tropical Hollywood™ Hibiscus collection, and Season to Season. J. Berry Nursery was founded in 2006 by father and son, Jim and Jonathan Berry.

J. Berry Nursery-

Black Diamond Crapemyrtles-

Hollywood Hibiscus-

*** 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, March 16, 2022

A Renowned Destination for Midwestern Gardeners

On Sunday, June 26, we’re honored to be visiting the Flower Factory, near Stoughton, Wis., southeast of Madison. Long a favorite regional destination for gardeners, the Flower Factory, at one time, boasted the Midwest’s largest selection of perennials, hostas, and ornamental grasses. Here are Fling team member Mark Dwyer’s recollections of his first impressions of the Flower Factory and the joy of visiting this special place:

I moved to Janesville, Wis., in the summer of 1998 to start my job as director of horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens (RBG). Kim Emerson, the executive director at the time, wanted to introduce me to area growers and nursery folks, which certainly made a lot of sense. It was an enjoyable “whirlwind” of travelling for three days around Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois to connect with many amazing people, many of whom are still close friends. This tour culminated with a stop at The Flower Factory near Stoughton, Wis. Kim had mentioned that I wouldn’t believe this nursery when I saw it. That was the understatement of the century.

We pulled up to a rustic set up of hoop houses, greenhouses, barns, outbuildings, and an ornate old house with a rustic gravel drive and parking lot. The nursery was nestled nicely amongst the landscape, with display gardens, vegetable gardens, garden railways, and so much more. I met welcoming owners David and Nancy Nedveck that day, and continue to be amazed by their horticultural knowledge, generosity, and affability.

That was the first nursery I ever visited with more than 3,000 perennial varieties (at that time) available for purchase. As I explored all the retail houses, featuring an amazing array of selections, I realized that not only was this a special place, but the proximity to RBG (35 miles) would be beneficial for the botanical garden (and my home garden of course!). That certainly became the case as I relied on this nursery for my more than two decades at RBG. The Flower Factory became an amazing resource (and frequent supporter) for the gardens and me, professionally and personally. More than 90% of my perennials still flourishing in my home garden were from this nursery!

I recently asked Nancy about some of the nursery’s history, which I found fascinating. Of course, the story begins with the combined passion that Nancy and David have for plants, along with a desire to be self-employed.

The Flower Factory was officially started by Nancy and David in 1984, primarily as a source of plant material (annuals, perennials, vegetables, and cut flowers) to be supplied at the well-known and amazing Dane County Farmer’s Market (which we’ll also visit during the Fling!). David still sells select plants at this market throughout the growing season!

They opened the larger nursery in 1988, and Nancy mentioned that early transactions were made in cash, checks, and IOUs—all gathered in a cigar box. Unsurprisingly, this immediately popular nursery grew by leaps and bounds, and doubled in size a couple of times, to ultimately feature 35 structures over eight acres, including 11 greenhouses, four shade structures, and 25 employees. A point-of-sale system was installed in 2004, and receiving and perusing the annual catalog was a winter expectation for thousands of gardeners.

Peak offerings, in terms of varieties, were more than 4,000; although scaled down to around 2,500 selections during the last years of the business. Grabbing a wagon(s) and filling it to the brim was always a joyful experience at The Flower Factory.

The nursery closed at the end of August 2020, much to the distress and dismay of literally tens of thousands of customers. The customer base for The Flower Factory extended well beyond the immediate area, and the nursery was a common stop for bus tours interested in a buying spree! Nancy and David were also very active in providing educational programs and supporting area botanical gardens and the green industry in many ways.

Nancy and David still live on the property, and they garden as time allows in their pseudo-retirement. They’re in the process of downsizing their gardens, which they describe as being “in flux.” They’re focusing more on woody plants and less on an ordered appearance; allowing chaos and a bit of messiness to add personality! I asked Nancy what she observed in terms of garden trends over the years, and she described noting gardeners and gardens focusing more on diversity, incorporating native species (finally!), and interest in the collective ecosystem. From a consumer’s perspective, she also observed increasing interest in larger pot sizes and more established plants for instant impact.

Nancy’s life advice: Always be curious, embrace change, cultivate friends, relax in your garden, and listen to the birds!

Visit this link to register for the Madison Fling!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

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 2022 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.)

Visit this link to register for the Madison Fling!

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A Quintessential Madison Summer Day at The Farmers' Market

When you visit Madison in the summertime, you MUST experience the Dane County Farmers' Market. While we've posted about the market previously, we wanted to make a special note about how we've set aside, in effect, three hours of our Saturday, June 25, schedule for you to roam and explore the market at your own pace. The market opens at 6:15 a.m., and we'll load buses about three hours later.

The Dane County Farmers' Market is a producers-only market, featuring only Wisconsin-grown and produced items. It's hard to put into words what you'll find there, but you're sure to find plenty of snacks, for the moment, and for later in the day...

In addition to luscious, hearty veggies, you'll also find some of these items and more: pastries, meats, cheeses, breads, popcorn, beverages...and the list goes on. Visit this link and scroll to the bottom for a more thorough list: Saturday on the Square. Visit our previous post to learn even more about the market.

Visit this link to register for the Madison Fling!

Friday, March 4, 2022

Register for the Madison Fling!


Registration is now open!

To register, fill out this APPLICATION, and we'll send you the link to the registration portal.

The 2022 Madison Garden Bloggers Fling aims to showcase diverse gardens and gardening styles found in the Madison area, and leave you with great memories and new inspirations. We’ve included tours of exceptional private gardens and some of the best public gardens in our area. Our preliminary itinerary, also shared on the 2022 Madison tab above, includes many, but not all, of the gardens that we will visit.

Madison Garden Bloggers Fling

June 23 - 26, 2022

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

Any questions? Feel free to contact us:

et 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 2022 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, 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!

Plan to join us for three full days of garden touring, plus an opening event Thursday, June 23, 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):

The horticultural gardens at the UW-Madison Arboretum

Friday, June 24, 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 gardens lead landscape designers.

The Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Saturday, June 25, 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 10 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. Stay tuned for updates.)

Sunday, June 26, begins with private garden tours and a trip to Kopke's Greenhouse, a hardy plant nursery, featuring a large selection of perennials, annuals, and garden supplies and ideas. 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 2022 Fling. You’ll want to stick around until the very end, because we have a special surprise planned at Allen Centennial.

When Does Registration Open?

When Should I Arrive?

We recommend arriving on Wednesday, June 22, or, at the latest, by mid-afternoon on Thursday, June 23, 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 no earlier than Monday, June 27. (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!


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. (A special word of thanks to the Concourse for their willingness to adjust and rearrange plans with us during the past two years of uncertainty!)

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 $179/night for single and double; $189 for triple; and $199 for quad. At registration time, you'll have access to the special rates.

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 (June 24-26) 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.

(Note: To ensure safety and comfort for all of our attendees, we will require proof of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination as per CDC recommendations for all attendees of this event.)