Friday afternoon, as the rain began to descend upon I-10, I climbed into FloraBob, my little red truck, and headed out for Austin to participate in the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling. As I traveled along I-10 between Katy and Columbus, I was disappointed to see that the wildflowers were indeed not as prolific or as colorful as in years past. There were fewer bluebonnets, only a paucity of my favorite winecups and the Indian Paintbrush were a washed-out orange rather than the vivid red I so love. Thankfully, from Columbus to LaGrange on Highway 71, there were several very nice stands of bluebonnets, interspersed with Indian Blankets (Gaillardia), Thread-leaf Coreopsis, Evening Primroses and Drummond Phlox that positively glowed! (This does seem to have been a banner year for evening primroses and Coreopsis. A warning to those tempted to plant the former in garden beds: it will take over. World domination is its goal. Do not be misled by its demure demeanor.) From LaGrange to Columbus, only a few patches caught my eye. Still and all, there were enough to brighten the drive and make me smile.
I made it into Austin and arrived in Central Austin late afternoon, giving me just enough time to relax and catch up with my awesome/wonderful/amazing sister and the Wild Bunch (Chihuahuas Otis & Ricky and Chihuahua-Terrier mix Sydney) before heading over to Matt's El Rancho to meet the garden bloggers. This isn't the first time I've met up with a group that I'd only known online ... I've been part of an e-mail group known as the Garden Bobs for nearly 10 years now. We've been through a lot in those years and we've become close friends. Still, first time meetings can be a little anxiety-making and because I was probably the newest of the Garden Bloggers, I was a tad nervous. Any trepidation vanished the moment I walked in the door, got my name tag and spotted other bloggers eager to start talking about gardening, blogging and our lives beyond those passions. It was a noisy, entertaining, and absolutely delightful beginning to an even more amazing weekend. (A shout out to the staff of Matt's who were in charge of our rather unruly and very talkative group ... they did an awesome job of keeping us supplied with food and drink. despite the difficulties inherent in doing so for 35+ people.)
Saturday morning we headed over to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and I hope our out-of-state bloggers were wowed by the native beauties it had to offer. (God bless Lady Bird Johnson for her vision, dedication and passion ... our country is so much richer for it.) My favorite factoid supplied by our docent: if you look at a bluebonnet, you'll notice white dots on some of the petals and red on others. The red dots are a sign that the bluebonnets have been pollinated by a visiting bee. Bees are unable to see the color red so they don't waste time attempting to pollinate those petals. Isn't nature wonderful?
Later, we were treated to a very tasty fajita lunch, with a meaningful and thought-provoking talk by Tom Spencer, heard on radio station KLRU in Austin and blogger himself at Soul of the Garden. His words on finding sacred moments in the garden and how important it is to our spirituality resonated with many of us. From there we headed to The Natural Gardener, John Dromgoole's organic nursery. I won't guess how many of us bought plants there but I can tell you that I was one of them! Afterwards we headed to the amazing and inspiring gardens of James David and Gary Peese, a special treat since they normally open only for the Garden Conservancy's Open Garden Days.
Right now, a caveat lector (reader beware): I did not take a single picture over the course of the weekend. I was too busy talking, looking, socializing, talking, eating, talking, drinking and discussing.
Fling organizer Pam of Digging hosted a most convivial and entertaining happy hour at her home and garden: thank you, Pam, for welcoming us to Green Hall and its surroundings. Our official activities concluded with dinner at County Line Barbeque, to make sure our out-of-state visitors didn't go home inexperienced in the magic wrought when mesquite wood meets brisket. No one went home empty-handed, either: door prizes were awarded to each blogger and I was ecstatic to be the recipient of a long-handled Cobrahead tool. I bought one of the hand tools from Cobrahead blogger Geoff, one of our Fling participants, several years ago at a Farmer's Market in Austin. It has become an indispensable implement in my garden.
After attending services at Trinity United Methodist Church with my sister on Sunday, we made our mandatory visit to Trudy's for Migas Enchiladas and then headed to Shoal Creek Nursery, which is blocks away from Pam of Digging AND my sister. I did not go home plantless: Mexican feather grass, Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea) and one unidentified but very cool agave are now residing in my garden.
So there you have it: a chronicle of a weekend well spent. Next time, I'll do my best to stop talking long enough to take pictures!