Madison private garden

We’re not exactly known as “fly-over” states, but some of us in the Great Lakes area have to try harder to convince out-of-towners we’re cool. It shouldn’t be necessary. Thanks to, in part, glacial activity, we’re blessed with spectacular scenery. Thanks to the inland seas we surround, we have abundant access to fresh water. Thanks also to those inland seas, as well as other factors, we have rich farmland and warm summers—in addition to lake effect snow in winter. 

Grounds of Epic Systems

If you live in Buffalo, as I do, you’re all too familiar with this narrative. Buffalonians have managed to overcome it, to some degree, by defiantly redefining ourselves as a garden destination. Partly because of that struggle, we’re sympathetic to the other underdogs throughout the Great Lakes region. Cleveland is a great city, for example. Not only does it have one of the best art museums in the US and the more recent Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, it’s enveloped in 23,000 acres of parkland. 

Private garden

And then there is Madison. The nation’s eyes will be turned to what’s shaping up to be bloodbath in Milwaukee, come July, but, before that, June 18–21, there is a kinder, gentler reason to visit Wisconsin. The Annual Garden Blogger’s Fling takes place in Madison, WI, this year, and I, for one, can’t wait. I have been hearing great things about Madison for years. Everyone I know who has visited Madison has loved it. Though located west of Lake Michigan, the city is embedded in four small lakes (or are the lakes embedded in the city?), so there must be water views everywhere. It has eight Frank Lloyd Wright structures (he grew up and studied here) and plenty of other spectacular architecture. Oh yes, and gardens. 

Janesville Rotary Gardens

The Madison Fling will focus, as most flings do, on some public spaces and many private spaces, unavailable except for this tour. There is one space that, on the surface, sounds unremarkable, even banal, but once you actually hear it described, it’s jaw-drop time. Epic Systems is a healthcare software company. Its Madison corporate headquarters has an over-the-top landscape that must be seen to be believed. There’s a castle, a treehouse, a barn, gravel gardens, sculpture, and more. Can’t wait for this one. 

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Also pictured here are the Olbrich Botanical Gardensthe Janesville Rotary Gardens, and one of the private gardens on the tour. 

If you blog, the Garden Bloggers Fling offers garden touring, socializing, and the ability to enjoy new destinations in the company of other gardeners, many of whom will become lifelong friends. That’s how it’s worked for me.  Picture yourself in Madison this June.