Monday, May 14, 2018

The 2018 Austin GB Fling; Pam Penick's garden

I was one of the 90+ bloggers who recently descended upon Austin, Texas, for the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling. This Fling was special, it was the 10th anniversary of the event, and we were back in the city where it all began, in 2008. That first Fling was a small event, a kind of “if we ask them, will they come?” thing. Thirty-some bloggers showed up for the affair, I wonder if they could have imagined what it would become?

Back in 2008, when I first started reading garden blogs, Digging, Pam Penick's blog, was one I never missed. I have no idea how I found her blog, but she gardened with the plants I loved and had a friendly writing style — plus she blogged frequently so it was easy to get hooked. Pam's influence on my starting a blog can not be overstated. She wrote with such a welcoming tone, similar I'm sure to the one she had with those first Fling attendees, "come on, join us...we're having fun!"

The first Fling I attended was the Seattle bash in 2011, I was a little hesitant to jump in, not being a "joiner" by nature. Pam made it easy though, she flew into Portland rather than Seattle and spent time here, with Andrew and I, seeing our garden and a few select sights around Portland before she and I drove up to Seattle and joined the wonderful, organized, chaos of the Fling. Any hesitation I had was easily calmed by the fact I already knew the "godmother" of the Fling, and she'd arrived with me!

Pam has visited my garden three times now; that initial 2011 visit, again for the 2014 Portland GB Fling, and then last summer on a family vacation. It was about time I saw her garden in person!

We were split into two groups for garden touring, so only 45ish people arrived at Pam's garden, rather than 90+. "Only"...it was crazy. I saw Pam out greeting and answering questions, but instead of saying hi I went the opposite way of the crowd. I wanted to soak it all in without bumping into my fellow bloggers.

Pam and her husband David added the statement entry to their house. I can't remember what it looked like before, and it doesn't really matter (although if you're curious you can see photos here). Because this seems so right.

Without the heavy beams where would the Hover Dish planter hang?

The pipe planter with it's exploding Dasylirion goodness was even better than I imagined would be (read about Pam's "learn from my mistakes" style post about installation here).

In fact this whole area was pure magic.

Dyckia choristaminea 'Frazzle Dazzle' I believe.

Pam has this planter custom made and I was happy to see it still enjoys pride of place on the front of her garage.

To the right of the front entry...

And looking over my shoulder as I make my way around the side of the house to the back garden...

Wait, this bit of purple Dyckia goodness was in there somewhere, before I headed around back. I remember being stunned at how big it was, I'd pictured the planter and plants much smaller. Unfortunately my photo makes no attempt to share scale.

Bam! And now we're in the back garden. Those of you who've visited gardens you know from online posts can understand the confusion when you're finally there in person. I thought this seating area was somewhere else. I didn't really understand how it related to the pool (seen to the right, backed by the iconic Austin sign).

This was just the first of a few reality-checks. Pam's garden was both bigger (more wide) than I thought it was, and smaller (less deep) than I imagined.

It was nothing but fabulous though. My only regret is that I wasn't able to spend a couple of hours with her enjoying a drink in the garden, as we've done in mine. Maybe next time...

Longtime readers of Digging will recognize her CMU wall planter.

It's holding up quite well.

Overall I think I took less plant close-up photos at this Fling than I have in the past. I wonder why?

That's Moby's replacement, the new Agave ovatifolia in the garden.

Pam's original whale's tongue Agave (aka Moby) bloomed and died and was removed in 2016 (detailed here).

I'm all sorts of in-love with that tall ribbed planter.

Had we been touring Pam's garden in the afternoon, rather than first thing in the morning, there would have been bloggers sitting all along the edge of the pool, cooling their feet. Trust me, it's a thing.
Instead we all just moved around the pool,soaking up the many details of the garden.

Like the potting bench...

And the stock-tank pond. Much bigger than mine!

Pam laid the limestone edging around the pond after the pond was in place (info here), it's the perfect surround.

The view along the back of the house, as I take the steps up to the deck. Note the orange Hover Dish...

Up on the deck there was an impressive display of small potted plants, shade sails provide protection from the death star (summer sun)...

I can't imagine wanting to spend time at the table without their shade.

The view to below, from the deck...

I want that water plant!

And looking to the right, at the pool.

Back down on ground-level I waked behind the low blue wall (with the Austin sign) to inspect a couple of Yucca rostrata up close, as well as admire the wooden pole-fence, we saw a lot of similar styles in Austin.

And turning back toward the pond I discovered a striking yellow Hesperaloe bloom.

And an Agave bracteosa in a culvert planter.

It was time to retrace my steps along the back and up the side of the house I'd previous walked down, so I could enter on the other side.

This variegated plant stopped me in my tracks. It's Artemisia vulgaris ‘Oriental Limelight’...

I couldn't help but love the rusty roadrunner behind the plump Aloe.

And admire the towering, healthy Bamboo.

Oh ya, and of course Pam's orange circle pot (from Potted) caught my eye.
Back out front I made note of the tall bloomspike on her Dasylirion texanum.

Love the subtle (unless they grab you) spikes along the edge of the leaves.

I make a habit of noticing the neighbor's gardens when on a tour, to see if the gardening vibe is rubbing off. It appears these next door neighbors have drank the kool-aid. I wish more of mine had.

Back in Pam's front garden I finally got a couple shots of her huge raised island bed.

Perfectly planted, of course.

Walking along the side of the garage, that raised bed to my left...

Wow, those are some substantial stone steps.

The mirror-backed trellises along the rear wall of the garage were a project I didn't really appreciate until I was in the garden. They do perfectly break-up a long wall and provide very subtle interest. Not competing with the plants (details on the project here).

I had no recollection of a shiny metal Agave in the garden. It was a happy surprise.

I ventured down this path just far enough to see the blue door of the pool equipment shed before turning back and retracing my steps to the front garden. It was getting close to time to board the bus and there were breakfast tacos to enjoy first!

One last photo, the Agave ovatifolia Pam planted in the neighbor's front garden. Pam's house in the background. I've 20+ more Austin posts to come. They may take awhile I but I will work through them all. What a fun Fling!

Weather Diary, May 13: Hi 90, Low 52/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2018 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

38 comments:

  1. Great recap of the visit to Pam's garden. I strolled and absorbed and contrasted with my memory of Pam's blog posts -- and took very few photos! I had this episodic image of her garden from the blog, so it was really impressive to see how it all fit together as a whole. The oaks on her street just blew my mind -- omg!

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    1. OMG yes! Those Oaks, such an amazing heritage.

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  2. This is a great post, Loree. It's nice to see Pam's garden from another point of view. Yours is an all around take with the especially interesting things highlighted. A very special garden, well illustrated by you. Many thanks.

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    1. Thank you Jane, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. Great post about Pam's garden! It's always refreshing to see another blogger's look at a garden, from a different perspective. I also love Pam's entry garden.

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    1. Wish you could have seen it in person Alison!

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  4. Loree, it was about time you got here! I laughed reading your interpretation of how I came to visit your garden for the first time, before the Seattle Fling. As I recall, I brazenly invited myself to stay with you for a day and ride up to Seattle with you, and later I realized I had gone all Labrador on you -- a friendly but insistent, "Let's play!" Of course it was thrilling for me to see YOUR garden, and I'm honored by your generous words about mine. At the very least, I knew we'd have no shortage of agaves for you! Come back anytime for that glass of wine in the garden.

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    1. Well no matter how it happened I am so very glad that you did "brazenly invite" yourself. And I hope to take you up on that glass of wine, someday.

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  5. Wonderful tour of this stellar garden! Impressive that you captured so many views without the other 44 of us! xo

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    1. If you wait long enough, and retrace your steps, that blogger-free moment will happen! Or not, which is fine too because as a wise man once said "gardens are for people"...

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  6. What a lovely review of Pam's garden! I'm so glad you decided to join us Danger. The Flings are a lot of fun.~~Dee

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    1. They are! And you're not a scary bunch. At least not much... ;)

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  7. DG - I really enjoyed seeing the garden through your lens. It's fun to see what other gardeners focus on. You captured a few things I missed. I really could have stayed in her garden all day. Great post!

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    1. That's such a hard balance isn't it? How much time in each garden. We want to linger, but yet we want to see it all!

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  8. Once again, you've shown your mastery of shooting around your fellow bloggers, Loree. Your coverage of Pam's garden is full of all the glorious details, many of which I think I failed to capture even as I admired them. My punky little camera struggled with the contrast-y sun-shade lighting that morning.

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    1. My punky little camera continues to earn it's keep. Although you're right, that dramatic contrast is very difficult to over come.

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  9. It's always interesting to see the garden of a blogger through the lens of another. So appropriate that you started your coverage of the Fling with Pam's garden. She balances creativity, style, and plant lust in a seemingly effortless fashion. Fabulous!

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    1. Wish you could have been there Peter!

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  10. I don't even need to write my own post about Pam's garden. You captured it so well, both in words and images, that I should simply repost your post. You echo my sentiments exactly.

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    1. Ha! Except then we won't all get to enjoy your wonderful photos!

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  11. Fun post, since I'd been there before I took a few moments to enjoy watching you see Pam's garden for the first time. It is a fun place to spend time. You had the same thoughts about the layout as I did. It is more linear and parallel to the house than I had pictured before seeing it.

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    1. Really? I love that, and I didn't even know I was being observed!

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  12. It’s great to hear how long you two have known each other and how she has influenced you with blogging and gardening style. Really enjoyed your take on Pam’s garden and you have done a wonderful feature of a wonderful, inspiring garden!

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    1. Searching her blog for the links I wanted to include it was interesting how much has changed in her garden, and I suppose will continue to change. That's what gardening is, right?

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  13. Well done, Loree! Outstanding writing, as always. (I'm carefully watching the masters here...how to start(!) on an overwhelming task!)

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  14. Like you, I don't remember when or how I discovered Pam's blog, but I became an instant fan. We met before her first book came out when she and David were in Madison for the Ironman competition. Having followed the design and changes in her garden for so many years, it is helpful and interesting to see how another person who knew the garden only from the blog, responds to it in person. An excellent post about an excellent garden.

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    1. As I've said to others who weren't able to join us, I wish you'd been there Linda!

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  15. What surprised me the most about Pam's garden, never having been anywhere near Austin (or anywhere in Texas) are the trees growing so tall and lovely, providing shade to many areas, a welcome respite in the heat of summer. I coveted the two hanging planters over the potting table; that green metal chair made me weak in the knee!

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    1. Those trees were a fairly regular player in the gardens we visited (although Pam's are especially nice). I can't imagine how hot Texas gardens would be without them.

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  16. "more wide-less deep" I had a very similar impression, though the lot was smaller altogether than I imagined. My favorite thing about her garden and many others on our tour was the overwhelming sense of place-there was no doubt that you were in Texas and I mean that in a good way.All the best things about the state were here for us to see. Pams' garden encapsulated it, from the stonework to the oaks.

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  17. Fun to see the garden through another photographer's lens.

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    1. A cheap point-and-shoot at that.

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  18. Nice! I feel like I was there with you (almost). I've always admired her stock tank pond and would love to do one in my garden. Winter here may be a road block to that plan but we'll see.

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    1. I wish you had been there, and I think you should try the tank pond. My husband's family had the tanks on their farm in Nebraska. None of your plants will live over (?) but that just means shopping in the spring!

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  19. Thanks for the tour, now I don't feel I missed everything while I "ditched class" that day. Her CMU planter is aging nicely since my last time there, over animal crackers and beer in '13. True dat.

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  20. Nice description of a great garden! It was lovely in the morning light.

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