Want to attend the Garden Bloggers Fling? Here's what you need to knowGarden 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