Monday, March 9, 2015

Garden Travel - Why You Should Attend the Toronto Fling

Poppies at the Chicago Botanical Garden, Chicago Fling May 2009

You've heard of the annual Garden Bloggers Fling, yes? No? Well you will now! The Garden Bloggers Flings began a millennia ago. Oh wait, make that the spring of 2008 when 30 garden bloggers got together in Austin, Texas, to check out gardens and discuss blogging. Back then I didn't even know that blogs about gardens existed! By that summer I knew and I totally fell for blogging about my garden and others'. And lucky for me I also heard about that first Fling and the fact that there would be a second one in 2009 in Chicago. Yes, I'll go! And I went, not knowing a soul or what to expect really.

Learning about Rick Bayless's veggie garden

We saw lots of beautiful gardens but what hooked me was being with kindred spirits. Everyone was into gardening of all kinds, and of course, gardeners are the nicest people. So then Elizabeth Licata and Jim Charlier from Garden Rant and Garden Walk Buffalo fame said they'd hold one the next year in Buffalo. And my addiction to Garden Blogger Flings was in full swing.

Lilies at the Buffalo Garden Bloggers Fling, 2010

I fell hard for lilies at the Buffalo Fling. (I always fall for some plant or style at each Fling.) Yes, I now own a couple of lilies and can proudly say they've even bloomed for me. ;-) I was astounded by the small yards that were overflowing with blooms.

Susan, sisters Helen and Sara (two of the hosts of the Toronto Fling), and Ani

But the best part about the Buffalo Fling was that I was starting to get to know the individual bloggers. They are some awesome people, believe me. At Flings you get to know each other while sitting on the bus on the way to and from gardens, at dinners, at the bar, at breakfast, while shopping at some really cool nurseries... So where to the next year?

Entrance to veggie garden, Seattle Garden Bloggers Fling 2011

Over to the west coast now to Seattle in 2011. My goodness, we saw and did so many cool things. The private gardens, both large and small, were inspiring. No matter that I can't grow many of the plants in my hot and humid garden in the South. I got ideas aplenty to apply.

Bloedel Reserve and the imaginary cover shot

One day we were treated to a talk by the great garden photographer, David Perry, while at Bloedel Reserve. He challenged us to an assignment - a cover shot for an imaginary magazine. My fellow Flingers had some great cover shots!

Lisa, Gail, and Cindy

Speaking of fellow Flingers, above are some friends I've come to know and love over the Fling years - Lisa from South Carolina, Gail from Tennessee, and Cindy from Texas. Would I see them at the next Fling? Yes!

Andrea, Helen, Julian, Sara, Elizabeth, Cindy, Gail, and Susan

Here are some of them and more in Asheville in 2012. The Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling was a great mix of garden types. Think Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey. We saw the gardens at the Biltmore Estate and funky personal gardens with handmade items and toy dump trucks.

Our Asheville host, Christopher, at Wamboltopia

View from Biltmore Estate

The next year we hopped over to the San Francisco area for the 2013 Fling.

Rebecca Sweet's back yard and bird cage on the right, San Francisco Fling, 2013

You can probably imagine the diversity of gardens we visited in the Bay Area. From the gardens of the Filoli estate to a vibrant little Berkeley garden to a visit to Annie's Annuals (wow!). Rebecca Sweet's garden was adorable. I coveted every thing about it!

A lunch break overlooking the town of Walnut Creek

Kylee, me, Susan, Barbara, and Andrea

And naturally, a good time was had with all my Fling friends. So last year we experienced Fling in...

Floramagoria, Portland Fling, 2014

... Portland, Oregon! Boy, do they know how to have fun with color. We saw lots of little gardens that were big on color punch, a playful garden full of dinosaurs (yes), large strolling gardens (one being redesigned by John Greenlee), awesome plant nurseries, and more.

A restful back yard nook

Robin from Ohio and Laura from Oregon in Danger Garden. Danger Garden is Loree's, one of the Portland hosts. I was in succulent heaven.

Pam, one of the original Austin Fling hosts, with Laura, also from Austin

And there you have it - a mini trip through the Garden Blogger Flings that I've attended. (Believe me, you don't want to see the thousands of pictures I've taken over the years.) What keeps me coming back is the camaraderie, the chance to talk in person with my friends, the generous hosts and sponsors and garden owners, and all the wonderful gardens.

If you're a garden blogger and want the same kind of experience, what are you waiting for? Get on over to the Garden Bloggers Fling website and sign up for the Toronto Fling to be held in early June! Oh, and did I mention the great swag from our sponsors? See you in Toronto!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2015. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. Looking forward to seeing you in Toronto my friend! So very glad we both fell for blogging and Fling! xo

  2. With only two Flings under my (garden) belt, I'm fairly late to this party but a total convert. I agree wholeheartedly with your enthusiasm for both the gardens and the friends made. Among the whirlwind of experiences from my first Fling in San Francisco, I remember with enjoyment a quiet few minutes when you and I found ourselves together in an arbor in the Conservatory and got acquainted. Looking forward to seeing you again in Toronto, Jean!

    1. I definitely remember that, Jane! I'm looking forward to seeing you again as well!

  3. Wonderful memories - thanks! And I'll see ya in T'town!

  4. Great photo tour...if i wasn't already sign up I would be now! I can't wait to see you and the others. Last year was a life changing event for me. I found my tribe!!!

  5. Great highlight reel, Jean! What a fun group of people every year and of course amazing gardens. Can't wait to do it again this year!

  6. Oh, how I wish I could join you all in Toronto! But unfortunately, the timing is wrong for me this year. Thanks for showing so many beautiful photos from past Flings--I haven't attended all, but the ones from the Flings I did attend bring back so many happy memories. I don't think I'll ever forget that field of poppies in Chicago! I'll miss seeing so many wonderful blogging friends this year--I know you'll have another great time!

    1. So sorry we won't see you at Toronto, Rose, but I know we'll see you again!

  7. I've wanted to attend a Fling for several years now, but this is the first year my schedule would allow it. I'm so excited. I'll be one of the newbies, but I'm looking forward to meeting you and all the others. :)

    1. We love having newbies! You will love it and I look forward to meeting you, too!

  8. Yes, Fling! I will miss you all.~~Dee

  9. Jean, I enjoyed talking to you last night and wish we had connected earlier. I will subscribe to your blog to follow the progress of gardening in Louisiana. Hope to meet up again in Minneapolis. Oh, and great photos of people on this post -- a nice reminder for me of who is who!


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