Why I’m going to the Minneapolis Fling 2016

For months, the Minneapolis Fling committee has been scouting out gardens far and wide for you, just like our Toronto team did. Some sites, the GBFling15 had to let go – like this formal spot in the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden. It’s heartbreaking for a committee to prune out great gardens, when we want to share the best of everything with our long-distance visitors.

I know what the organizers for the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling have been going through for the past year. Because, exactly one year ago today, it was the first day of #GBFling15 in Toronto – and I was one of the organizers. When you’ve been on an organizing committee for a Fling, you know only too well all the work that has been done on the behalf of the attendees. All volunteer time!

That’s why the Garden Bloggers Fling is the best garden travel deal in the world. In. The. World! If you love garden travel, and you’re a garden blogger, you must, must, must, must take advantage of it.

Planning a Fling is like planning a huge party, over many days. Where will you go? And when? What will you do? What will you eat (and can you meet attendees’ restrictions)? Is there enough to do? Too much to do? These were just some of the details we juggled planning our visit to gardens like the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. Check out the preview of the Minneapolis itinerary. We know without asking that lots of planning, thinking, and worrying has gone into it. Just for us!
Scheduling the buses is a job in itself. Especially on that first day in Toronto, exactly one year ago, when we had three buses and three gardens to juggle in one morning. [Update: I almost forgot! Timing drive times and planning routes for the drivers. For three Fling days, plus one more for our optional day. Sigh.] In Toronto, that job was masterfully handled by Lorraine Flanigan. Masterfully! My heart goes out to whomever is tackling that job in Minneapolis. You have my deepest respect.
Of course, there’s obsessing about the weather, especially as the day approaches. I’ll be doing a rain dance for Minneapolis (and, next year, for #GBFling17 in the Capital Region – 2017 organizer Tammy Schmitt is in the centre, above.)
And wondering how you’ll fit all those bloggers into one tiny garden. (Somehow, it works out.)
And finding that group rate on a suitable hotel, like our Fairmont Royal York or Minneapolis’ Loew’s. One with room to load buses, and breakfasts and dinners nearby. Oh, and how do you get there from the airport? Inquiring minds will want to know.
And crossing your fingers that the plants you want to show off will actually be in bloom.
And scouting out good places to eat – a top question on everyone’s list. Plus, question number two: What else is there to do in Toronto? As a Fling organizer, you have to be a salesperson for your city. But, I’ve heard from reliable sources that Minneapolis is a best-kept secret – and a great place to visit.
Who can forget the sponsors! Besides the volunteers, it’s our sponsors who not only make each Fling more affordable, they provide samples for us to take home and try. The Toronto Fling sponsors were extremely generous (Veronica Sliva was our own mistress of bounty) , and it looks like the Minneapolis Fling sponsors will be, too. Then there was the small task of stuffing the bags (which fell to me) and, not to be discounted, delivering all these bags to the hotel (spouses will do their bit in Minneapolis, too). As attendees, we tend to take these things for granted. If you’re an organizer, you never will again.
Menus are a big part of Fling planning – ordering lunches, finding a banquet venue (the Toronto Botanical Garden, for us), planning a feast to please everyone, with money or sponsorship for a glass of wine or two. I’ll bet the Minneapolis planners went through their share of stresses before landing on the Minneapolis Landscape Arboretum as their perfect location.
When you invite the world to your city, you need to coordinate with dozens of people and organizations to help show your city off to best effect. In Toronto, we owed thanks to so many others (including Paul Zammit and everyone at the TBG) who volunteered a part of their day to give our Flingers a unique taste of Toronto. You can bet the Minneapolis team is dealing with a flurry of emails, phone calls, meetings, delivery trucks, and thank you notes right now. All on top of their day jobs.
Did I mention obsessing about the weather?
Our very best thanks in advance to #GBFling16 organizer Amy Andrychowicz (left) and her team. Amy’s shown here on the Toronto Islands with one of her Savvy Gardening gals, Tara Nolan. I can’t wait to see what you’ve created for us.



  1. Was at the RBG this a.m. & not only were the iris lovely – our lady turtles were back laying eggs! Great reminder of a wonderful Fling Helen!

  2. Great photos! You all did an amazing job! I wouldn't miss a fling because the tours are amazing…but also the people…the friends I haven't seen in a year! See you in Minneapolis : )

    1. Absolutely. Great people and great gardens. Ideal combination. Looking forward to being a relaxee, I mean attendee again this year.

  3. Has there been an official announcement about GBFling17 being in the Capital region? I've heard rumors. I hope you all have a blast in Minneapolis!

    1. Nothing official official, Alison. But unless there's a dramatic upset, I think you can go on listening to those rumors.

  4. Terrific post, Helen, and I especially appreciate your sharing an insider's view on the planning that goes into each Fling. It's a big job, which makes it even more amazing how wonderfully the tour turns out each year. Can't wait to see you in Minneapolis!

    1. I was proud to have brought the Fling to Toronto, Pam. Although at times we wondered, "What were we thinking?!?!?" I know Amy and her committee will have a great program for us.

  5. Even though Toronto was my first fling, it didn't take me long to realize the amount of blood, sweat & tears that would have gone into organizing it – a phenomenal experience and the reason why I decided to add the Fling to my annual list of "must-do's" from now on.

    Thank you again, Helen – this time, you get to R-E-L-A-X!!! Well, as much as is possible with the jam-packed schedule that is 🙂

    1. Margaret, it was great to meet you in Toronto. Funny to think that although we live an easy drive from each other, the next time we meet will be in Minneapolis! Looking forward to it.

  6. "As attendees, we tend to take these things for granted. If you're an organizer, you never will again"…well said Helen, reading your commentary my chest was feeling a little tight and my stress level was rising, even without Portland planning 2 years back! I'll miss you all in Minneapolis but I hope you have a wonderful time.

  7. Helen everyone who is involved with the flings have my respect .. it must be overwhelming .. I so wish one day I could go on one of these flings .. Kingston is just not big enough ? haha .. in the mean time I appreciate the post and pictures other gardeners publish about the fling so I can see what is going on .. thanks girl !

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