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.

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 the Garden Bloggers Fling

Want to attend the 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.

In the Fling's early years, there were far fewer garden bloggers, and registration didn't fill up as quickly as it does today. These days, however, spots on the tour can fill very quickly; the Portland Fling in 2014 sold out in less than a week. Attendance each year is limited to around 80 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. We hope this will help both those who are interested in attending and the local hosts who handle registration each year. If you meet the following qualifications, we also 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 in your feed reader or follow the Fling Facebook group. Registration will be announced here and on the Facebook page as soon as it opens.

1. What is a garden blog? Garden Bloggers Fling is an event for garden bloggers. We understand that some bloggers who may wish to attend write about many subjects, not just gardening, and that's fine. In fairness to all potential attendees, however, we do expect that your blog focuses on gardening a great deal. The hosts will look at your blog when you register, and they should be able to tell without having to dig too deep that your blog is about gardening. If that's not the case, you may not be allowed to register.

Also, for the purposes of attending the Fling, only those with active blogs (weblogs) and Tumblr blogs are eligible, not those who post about gardening solely on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. We understand that blogs are always evolving, and with new outlets appearing constantly it can be hard to quantify what a blog is. But for now this is how we're defining a blog. 

2. New bloggers. Your blog 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 (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 1, 2014 (theoretical date; the actual date has not been announced), your blog must have been started by June 1, 2014. 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 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 blogs. For the purposes of attending the Fling, 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 garden bloggers. 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. 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 (not every garden has seating), 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.

6. 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. Often, 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 the Garden Bloggers Fling is a limited-attendance event for active garden bloggers. We welcome garden 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


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Save the date: Garden Bloggers Fling goes to Toronto

Among other Toronto Fling highlights, garden bloggers will celebrate at the Toronto Botanical Garden in June 2015
Will you be here when, for the first time, the Garden Bloggers Fling ventures beyond the U.S. borders? Yes, on June 5, 6 and 7, 2015 (with an optional day of Niagara gardens being planned for June 8), the Fling will convene in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. That's Canadian Zone 6 and USDA Zone 5, for those playing along at home. And we're creating an exciting itinerary… just for you.

We begin our teasers as we will end our official 3-day get-together, with the location for our Fling dinner, the Toronto Botanical Garden. The TBG is truly rolling out the green carpet for us, and we're thrilled to have their sponsorship as well as their breathtaking setting for our culminating event.

Polish up all your social media accounts (such as Twitter or Instagram), because they'll come in handy, especially at the TBG. The official hashtag for this year's Fling will be #GBFling15.

More details will unfold soon. We're hoping to open our registration early, perhaps before the winter holidays. Warning, especially to Canadian newbies who haven't yet "flung": last year's Fling in Portland sold out in one week. So, be ready, be steady… we'll give you a heads-up before we say go!

The knot garden and a glimpse of the spiral mound
Euphorbia afire beside the perennial lawn
Baptisia and Amsonia in the Oudolf-designed entry garden
The terrace where we'll enjoy our alfresco event. Other surprises, too. Stay tuned…

Thursday, July 17, 2014

...and the kitchen sink

This is a space for any post that doesn't quite fit in to any one garden, whether it be travel-related, about multiple gardens, or just general Fling musings.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Portland Fling Round-Up!!!

The Fling is over now and all of us on the planning committee had a great time...we hope you did too!

As in the past, please put links for your own posts about each garden in the corresponding post on this site. To make things a little easier, we've implemented the same linking system used by several Memes...if you've participated in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, it will be very familiar. At the bottom of each post, you'll see the graphic below followed by a simple form for submitting your own links...hopefully this will be easier than posting in the comments section.

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Also, to make it easier to navigate, here's a list of all the gardens, just click on the name to go directly to that page, we can't wait to see all your posts!!!

Pre-Fling Event
Pomarius Nursery

Day 1 - Friday, July 11
Timber Press
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Cistus Nursery
Joy Creek Nursery
Old Germantown Gardens
Westwind Farm Studio

Day 2 - Saturday, July 12
Portland Japanese Garden
McMenamins Kennedy School
Danger Garden
JJ De Sousa Garden
Chickadee Gardens

Day 3 - Sunday, July 13
Ernst/Fuller Gardens
Rhone Street Gardens
John Kuzma Garden
Bella Madrona

And a spot for any other miscellaneous post that doesn't quite fit into these categories
Miscellaneous Posts

Also, just an FYI...the linking widget used is sometimes almost instant, other times, it might be a few minutes before your link shows up.

Fling Preview: Bella Madrona

Bella Madrona began forming in 1980, at an 1892 farmstead. It was named for the madrones growing naturally here, in gravelly soil formed by the ice age floods. Over the years, garden rooms were added, surrounded by hedges. We began having large parties and benefits, which required that crowds could move easily from room to room, and that large open spaces be included.

bottle path 1
The plant material, though special from the beginning, was chosen to complement the overall space. Now that the garden is 34, and the gardener is 64, the prime focus is keeping towering hedges sheared, pruning trees and shrubs to allow some semblance of light in, and repairing crumbling infrastructure. The garden has directed its own maturation, with some editing help from the aging gardener.

queen anne sitting area
As a result it has taken on a personality and possesses a sense of place that is to many visitors alluring, eccentric and magical. The lower area, essentially a bog, with its metasequoia grove and large bald cypresses, is a world apart, belying its proximity to the urban growth boundary. It is, along with the garden as a whole, home to a great variety of wildlife, and, indeed, the place is as much for them as it is for the humans who live here and who visit.

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Fling Preview: John Kuzma Garden

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This half-acre garden designed by Sean Hogan of Cistus Design Nursery is entering its fourth year and emphasizes Mediterranean acclimated plants. The front entry garden, with nolina, agave, arbutus, arctostaphylos, Dickonsonia antarctica, and several large Quercus suber, surrounds a decomposed granite courtyard.

The back garden has a reflecting pool facing a broad, graveled courtyard flanked by trachycarpus and several Jubaea chilensis. Wide gravel paths lead to broad leaved evergreen trees and shrubs, several tropical areas; and several large succulent beds with a rock crevice section. The green roofed garden shed is adjacent to various eucalyptus varieties and several beds of bamboo.

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This winter, with an arctic event in early December (I estimate 10-12 degrees low in my garden, at 600 ft elevation) was challenging. I lost some zone 7 plants that had not hardened off due to a mild fall. Many thanks to the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling Committee for including me in your tour and I look forward to meeting you all.

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Fling Preview: Floramagoria

Floramagoria path and structure
Three years ago, we removed our beloved 10-year-old garden to make way for new hardscape and outdoor living opportunities. Concrete walkways lead to the covered bamboo dining pavilion, fire pit, gunner fountain and bogs.

Floramagoria cattails
Painted concrete walls frame the garden beds filled with unusual plantings with a tropical flair. The part of the garden nestled under the giant sequoia is filled with a unique collection of shade plants celebrating the diversity of foliage. A blue concrete wall and raised pond separate the shade bed from the other textural elements at play in the Mediterranean and cactus/succulent beds.

Floramagoria shady corner
This year, we also added a partially enclosed structure over our deck allowing for another area to rest and enjoy the garden. Throughout the garden, you will find interesting artwork, a custom metal fire pit, a one-of-a-kind floral chandelier in the dining area and an amazing colorful insect tile mosaic.

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Fling Preview: Rhone Street Gardens

RSG Sign
We moved into this house 5 years ago because we loved the close-in neighborhood with its tree-lined streets. While I dream of a cottage in the country with acres to plant, learning to garden on this 50’ x 50’ lot (half the size of a typical Portland lot) has been a fun and rewarding challenge.

Echinacea & Deschampsia
While I’m not attempting to mimic nature, I’m inspired by natural plant communities, and I’m always working to emulate the same feeling of lushness, abundance and spontaneity. This garden is short on style, heavy on heart.

North Garden from West
I sort of imagine my garden as a stylized meadow of sorts, which fits our location, being a clearing amongst tall trees. I’m a lover of plants that are fairly close to their natural state, closer to the look of the species, rather than extreme and over-bred hybrids.

Silver Scheherazade
Of course, my greatest love is of grasses. Late summer and fall are the highlights of the year in my garden with winter interest provided by the bleached, structural sheaths of grasses and black, graphic stems and seed heads of various perennials.

North Garden With Cats
This past winter we endured repeated flooding, so the garden isn’t quite as lush as it was in the past...but it’s slowly recovering...and, of course, always changing!

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Fling Preview: Joanne Fuller & Linda Ernst Gardens

Wall with seating
Linda Ernst: My lot-and-a-half city garden hosts several garden ‘rooms’ and a variety of garden art, with a bit emphasis on fused garden glass, which I craft in my garage-turned-studio.

Purple Poppie
The front garden features plants for winter fragrance and hydrangeas for summer interest, anchored by a huge swath of Hakenenchloa macra. The side yard features a patio and fire pit; mixed borders; a small dry garden; clipped euonymous, berberis, taxus and juniper; and a small raised-bed kitchen garden with interesting solutions to the problems of hiding the less attractive bits of garden reality.

The backyard is a gravel dining courtyard with stainless steel fountain and stacked stone seating wall, and a stucco wall sparkling with a colorful window of fused glass tiles. Bends are a mixture of crisp hedging and billowing prairie plants. A bluestone and steel mantel is adjacent to a new steel and glass gate leading to Joanne Fuller’s garden next door.

Garden Path H
Joanne Fuller: This small urban garden continues to evolve. I love big bold leaves, strong colors and quirky plants. These passions create a retreat filled with texture and form in a small garden where thereis something interesting at every turn.

Parking Strip Garden
Sit under the Japanese Maple and take in the newest arrangement of shade plants, or lounge in the tropical corner under the banana. Art continues to be a theme with glass, metal and stone artwork throughout the garden. Down the street, a whole different low-water, high-impact scene is emerging.

Jack in Pulpit
This garden is a great place to come learn about how you can have high impact with a regular city lot. Come, relax a while and enjoy.

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