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.
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.
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
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