Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Flinging in Toronto


I’m back.  I’m exhausted but at the same time exhilarated.  I have just spent over 4 days, for at least 12 hours a day, in the company of an amazing group of people.  They were all gardeners – can you imagine?  I couldn’t either until I actually did it.  I was at the 2015 Garden Bloggers Fling, which was held in Toronto this year.


Being a relatively new blogger, I didn’t even know the Fling existed until earlier this year.  The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to go.  And since it was being held in Toronto, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity.

Royal Botanical Gardens
 
Each day I was out of the house before 7am and didn’t get back home until after 10pm, so I was essentially “away” over the entire time.  I had never left my husband to take care of the kids/house for more than a day, especially during school when there were lunches to prepare, homework to do and buses to catch, so I was a bit nervous.  I even asked my kids (who are 8 & 9) to make sure that Daddy didn't feed them too much junk/fast food while I was away, which was really my biggest concern…my husband isn’t exactly enthusiastic about preparing homemade meals (although he is VERY enthusiastic about eating them!).  I’m glad to report that everyone did a great job.

The Fling is like the ultimate garden tour.  It has been running since 2008 and takes place in a different city each year.  This is the first time it has been held outside of the United States.  I grew up in Toronto and then moved to the suburbs before settling down in a small rural town.  Even as a local resident, I had only visited a few of the places that we went to and, in most cases, it had been years since I had been to them.  I'm sure I don't have to mention that touring with a group of gardeners is a completely different experience than going with family or on your own which, to me, is one of the biggest benefits of the Fling.

Toronto Skyline from Ward's Island
 
And then there were the private gardens – I love sneaking a peak into other peoples gardens, so that was a definite highlight.

Private garden in Swansea neighborhood
 
Although the majority of gardens contained solely ornamentals, there were a few with interesting vegetable areas.  My focus right now is on edibles and getting those sections of the garden sorted out.  At some point, however, I will tackle the ornamental areas (beyond the weeding and mulching I’m doing now), so I found all of the gardens inspirational in one way or another.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll be doing a few posts on where we went each day.  I already know that being concise is going to be difficult, especially when it comes to pictures – I took hundreds of them...hurray for digital!

One of the greenhouses in the Niagara Floral Showhouse
 
The Fling was fabulous.  In fact, it was beyond fabulous.  The gardens were wonderful, of course, but what really made the fling memorable was the people.  I really can’t say enough about how amazing everyone was – enthusiastic, funny (oh so funny – at times I was crying, I was laughing so hard!) and so incredibly friendly.

Official Fling Photo
I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it,
so I'll just let you guess which one is me
 
The organizers did an INCREDIBLE job – I can’t imagine the amount of planning that went into organizing 4 days of jam packed touring (plus an evening at Lee Valley) down to the hour – everything went off without a hitch.  They even made a deal with Mother Nature to hold off on the rain until we had conveniently finished some of the tours.  I’m not kidding…we had several downpours throughout the weekend and they were all perfectly timed.

Storm clouds roll in as we are waiting for the ferry
to head back to Toronto
 
I have a ton of catching up to do…lots of posts to read & write (my RSS reader is overflowing!) and, of course, LOTS of gardening to do.  I’m hoping that I can get to a “What’s Happening in the Garden” post over the next few days as things have really taken off with all of the recent rain.  I’m so sad that I had to miss Harvest Monday (although reading about everyone else’s harvests is on my to do list for tomorrow), but I’m hoping that I will have a good showing next week.

Next year, the Fling is going to be in Minneapolis.  I’m already picturing myself doing the old hat toss beside the Mary Tyler Moore statue, although I know my rendition will more closely resemble Rhoda ;)

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

37 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, I wish I'd known - I was just in Toronto myself last week for work, would have loved to tag along. Sounds like a great event - I lived in Toronto for about 2 years so looking forward to more of your stories.

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    1. I wish you had come along as well! There was quite a good showing from Ontario & I even met Amanda (Cooking in Someone Elses Kitchen) who was just lovely.

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  2. That sounds like fun. Maybe it will come to Boston one day.

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    1. Boston would be a fantastic location - I've always wanted to go there actually. We traveled a lot, mostly camping, up and down the east coast when I was a kid but I don't remember ever going there (or maybe I was too young).

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    2. It would be cool if the Fling came to Boston, but the only way that will happen is if bloggers in the Boston area volunteer to organize one. The Fling is completely volunteer-driven.

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    3. Daphne - your ears should have been burning - Margaret and I were talking about you and your garden on the Sunday night! It was great to meet you, too Margaret!

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    4. Yes! We were talking about your squash and corn - my corn kernels are soaking now & I'm thinking of doing the pre-sprouting trick that I saw where? On Daphne's blog of course!

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  3. It's Tammy! It was awesome to meet you! Love this blog! :o)

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    1. Hi Tammy! It was just wonderful meeting you as well! You were such a fountain of knowledge on the tours - I think it was the rare plant you couldn't identify (which, quite frankly, never fails to amaze me!). I'll be catching up on my blog reading today and can't wait to pop into yours :)

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  4. What a great event and so well attended. I was just the same when my kids were younger, I never left them but looking back, I think it does everyone good if mum gets a little break once in a while and if it happens infrequently then eating a bit of junk food whilst you're away isn't the end of the world. My friends aren't gardeners so that's what I love about blogging, being able to connect with people who have the same interests, it must be so much fun going garden visiting with like minded people too. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

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    1. Everyone was so enthusiastic, easy going & fun (and knowledgable!). The mix of people from all over was also fantasic - so many different gardens/climates, each with their own set of challenges. There were even a few people from the UK! It definitely exceeded my expectations and I'm really looking forward to the next one. And maybe we can get a few more UK garden bloggers to come along...hint, hint ;)

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  5. I'm thrilled that you came -- it was great to meet you, Margaret. Thanks for your kind words. The Toronto Fling Committee is really glad to hear from our satisfied guests. Looking forward to reading more of your posts. And if you're ever back in Toronto, feel free to drop by.

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    1. Thank you, Helen - I really enjoyed meeting you as well! I can't say enough about how wonderful everything was, in no small part from all of your incredibly hard work. It really boggles my mind how you were able to arrange everything so perfectly. After your tireless efforts this year, I have a feeling you'll enjoy Minneapolis that much more!

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  6. Great post...so happy you enjoyed your first fling! Hope to see you next year.

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    1. Thank you Laurin! It really was incredible - and I've already warned my husband to expect a repeat performance next year!

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  7. Sounds like you had a great time! It's always fun to tour other people's gardens. We have 'garden walks' around here, and I always learn something that way. Many of our ornamental plantings were inspired by the walks, as well as some of the edibles.

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    1. When it comes to ornamentals, I really do need all the help I can get! Not only do I come back inspired, but also raring to go...and then, of course, it rains & you're stuck inside (like this morning!).

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  8. I've only been to two Flings so far (Seattle and San Francisco), they are the most fun ever! I'm glad to hear that so many newbies had a good time. Looking forward to reading all the posts about the gardens. I followed along on Facebook, but I really prefer blog posts.

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    1. It was just wonderful, Alison - as obviously Seattle & San Francisco were. We did and saw so much, I'm hoping I can keep it all straight in my head! Hopefully you'll be able to make it out to Minneapolis next year.

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  9. Glad to hear that your house is still in order upon your return. I've made a note to myself that I must teach the boys to use the vacuum...it looked like a shedding convention happened while I was away. Margaret, I am looking forward to following your blog and veggie adventures. I hope to see you at next year's fling as well!

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    1. Yikes - I can just imagine! Not exactly the first thing I would want to be doing, especially if you were anywhere near as exhausted as I was (probably more so considering your early flight!).

      It was great chatting & laughing - I still crack up when I think about the two dog comment you made :) You will definitely be seeing me next year!

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  10. Looks like you made lots of gardening friends.

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    1. Nothing makes for as much fun as spending time with other people that have the same interests as you...and I think that's especially true when it comes to gardening!

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  11. Hi Margaret - isn't it the best to be able to run away from home every now and again - leave behind responsibilities and have fun with other garden enthusiasts! Fingers crossed we'll be able to clear our schedules next year too!
    http://barbarasgardenchronicles.blogspot.ca

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    1. You are so right, Barbara, it was quite the "vacation". My fingers AND toes are crossed for next year!

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  12. Wow, that sounds so amazing! What a few days, I really like the pic of everyone who joined in, a lovely group. And I'm also glad to hear your family got through it all with no mishaps, you've taught them well ( or maybe they're just not letting on, hehe)

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    1. Well, according to my husband, it was like a little vacation for them as well since all of the usual routines went out the window!

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  13. I see you in the photo! Close to me. ;-) Boy, it was a fun event, wasn't it? I will be stopping by your blog here regularly for ideas on growing edibles for my tiny potager. I was so thrilled to get home and find the tomatoes flowering and the lettuces expanding quickly. So glad we met, and I'm glad to hear you're planning to attend the Minneapolis fling! Then we can catch up where we left off. Cheers!

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    1. It was incredible - much more fun than I had anticipated. After being away from the garden for almost 5 days, I definitely noticed a huge boost in growth - I think my peas shot up over 18"!

      Can't wait for the next one - maybe I'll have recuperated from this one by then ;) I hope you have a great (relaxing!) weekend.

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  14. Sounds like a good time. The garden tours look wonderful and you lucked out on the weather. In 2011 I attended the SFG Symposium in Elkridge, MD. We were scheduled for a BBQ and garden tour on Saturday afternoon, but Hurricane Irene was also scheduled to arrive. The organizers were from Utah and had no idea what a hurricane was, much less a Cat 3. We explained there would be 100+ mph winds and torrential downpours and no one is going to be driving to a BBQ. They finally understood and re-arranged events for Friday and we all got out of there early Saturday morning.

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    1. I'll bet that, except for the one Saturday, the weather was just fine for the rest of the month! Good thing they were able to re-organize everything for the Friday - in many cases, that's not possible & everyone has to miss out.

      I didn't realize there was a SFG symposium...that must have been fun. There are so many wonderful gardening related events throughout the year & they are often not as far as they seem (thank you Google maps!) I'll definitely be on the lookout to attend more of them from now on.

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  15. Hi! How wonderful that you got to go to the garden fling!! I imagine you made new friends and came back more excited than ever about gardening!!! Nancy

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    1. You are so right, Nancy! Unfortunately, we have had a lot of rain recently, so my time in the garden has been more limited than I would like. But all my veg sure have loved it!

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  16. It was so great to meet more Canadian garden bloggers like yourself this year. The Fling is really a lot of fun, and I'm glad you enjoyed your first one. Hope to see you again next year!

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    1. It was great meeting you, Pam! The Fling was much more fun than I ever thought it would be and it truly was because of all the wonderful bloggers there. I definitely can't wait for next year!

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  17. Great wrap up Margaret. I never went to the Fling when my kids were 'home'. Mine were in college during the first few....but graduations got in the way timing wise. Glad your household was intact when the Fling was over. So very glad to have met you and looking forward to next year!

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    1. This turned out to be a great little test to see how things would go if I actually went away - I was here but wasn't at the same time. And they had a terrific time - it was a break from the same old routine, so in a way, they had a mini-holiday too (although I was the only one needing a few extra days to recover!)

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