July 06, 2022

First Days of the 2022 Fling:
Prairies, Ponds, Edibles, and Ornamentals

prairie natives
Prairie gardens at Epic Systems campus

As I shared in my last post, the 2022 Garden Bloggers Fling was fun! It was great to be together with fellow plant lovers, and the diversity of garden types in the Madison area provided fodder for attendees—yours truly included. Prairies, woodlands, wetlands, and more are prevalent here, naturally, and are reflected in the private and public gardens, alike.

On Thursday evening, we started at the rooftop garden of the Madison Children's Museum. I admit I neglected to take any photos there, but the museum's website provides a fantastic view of what is found at the garden, and the activities that take place during the summer growing season.

1a True-Aerts

The next day, Friday, we started out in one of the most impressive edible gardens I've encountered. Betsy True and Danny Aerts grow most of their own food on their one-acre property. A large fenced-in garden showcases a multitude of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, grown using diverse organic techniques.

1b True-Aerts

They also keep bees and grow mushrooms, among other pursuits, so it's a productive working property.

1c True-Aerts

These raised bins of greens caught my attention; definitely a technique to consider for the future. One useful aspect is that they can be moved over time and over the seasons to capture the sun and avoid rabbit damage.

2a Grosz

Next, we headed to Linda and Phil Grosz's amazing 1 3/4-acre property, featuring a stunning pond, surrounded by prairie, woodlands, and expansive mature trees. Linda planted the prairie from seed in 1998, added the pond a few years later, and has continually added and changed plantings over the years.

2b Grosz

The woodland gardens are artfully arranged along the edges.

2c Grosz

The prairie lies between the house/pond area, and the woodlands. I shared a post about Linda's prairie and gardens three years ago, when we thought the Madison Fling would occur in 2020.

Arb Roses

For lunch, we headed to the UW-Madison Arboretum. After lunch, Dr. Karen Oberhauser, Arb director, Susan Carpenter, native plant garden curator, and David Stevens, the Longenecker horticultural gardens curator presented a program and led the Fling attendees on informative tours. I'm cheating here, including a photo of a pollinator on an Arb native rose (Rosa arkansana) from a previous year. They're so fascinating to observe this time of year.

3a Thomas

Our first destination in the afternoon was the Fitchburg garden of Rita Thomas. It had been a while since I'd visited Rita's garden, and I must admit it was full of sweet surprises. Little touches of art and welcoming mixes of sun and shade were so pleasant.

3b Thomas

Rita's Martagon Lilies (Lilium martagon) captured the play of light so magically.

3c Thomas

Her hostas, ferns, evergreens, grasses, and other shade-lovers were so lush and healthy.

4a Nedveck

We headed south to the former Flower Factory next. This train track with a model train is surrounded by plants and bridges and other structures. Nancy and David Nedveck operated the nursery business for more than 30 years. It was once home to more than 4,000 perennial varieties, and while they no longer sell at their property, they do sell plants at the Dane County Farmers' Market.

4b Nedveck

I loved this little miniature, posted on the handrail of a porch.

5a Epic

Our final stop of the day was Epic Systems in Verona. Epic employs more than 10,000 people, and the campus covers 1,100 acres, so we only saw a small portion of it. Maybe someday I'll do a post just about Epic; such a unique place.

5b Epic

I was happy to see so many native plants in the Epic gardens, including Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa).

5c Epic

One of the most impressive aspects of the Epic property is their gravel gardens, which feature unique plants, props, and designs. Many of the gardens at Epic function as green roofs over underground campus areas, including parking garages.

Next up: our Saturday itinerary.

This is just a small portion of our visits. For more coverage of the Fling, check out the Fling website.


  1. I can't believe you found time to take any pictures at all as you hosted the Fling, Beth. You're a superwoman! I enjoyed your perspective on the gardens we saw -- and yes, a whole post about Epic Systems, for sure.

    1. Back at ya, Pam. I seem to remember lovely photos and posts from you after the Austin Fling. You're a good role model. :)

  2. What a great first day! Great post Beth and again, thanks for organizing a wonderful Fling.

    1. Thank you, Janet. :) It was fun. I only wish we could get together more often.

  3. Great post, Beth! Such an interesting array of gardens.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I know you have experience in varied garden and climate settings. It would be fun to discuss this more at the next Fling!

  4. The ponds, hosta and woodland plants had me sighing, Beth. I love the metal artwork in the 9th photo too. You chose your Fling venues well!

    1. The gardeners and gardens were all amazing. We were fortunate that the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society helped us find great private gardens for the Madison Fling. :)

  5. Hi Beth, thanks for stopping by ! .. I felt like I had a virtual tour from your post here .. wonderful photos ! .. I am totally in love with that pond .. all the plants are gorgeous but having a pond is such a wonderful aspect because of all the wildlife it brings in .. if I heard peepers singing, well I wouldn't be able to leave ? LOL

    1. Thank you. I totally agree about the ponds! We have a very small one, but it adds so much in so many ways. Happy July!

  6. Thank you for sharing the Fling with us.

  7. Fabulous garden photos. I would have loved visiting the prairie gardens...

  8. I used to think I wanted a train in my garden. Now that I am older I am happy I didn't follow through with the plans I made. I still enjoy seeing them tho.

  9. So nice to remember the fling through your blog. The gardens were so beautiful and so different from ours in Colorado.


ANONYMOUS VISITORS: Please include your first name. Security updates mean your comments likely will NOT be published unless we know it's a real person. Sorry. Also, comments with hyperlinks might not make it through the heightened security system.

Your comment might not appear right away (even though we love you). PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great gardening day!