Spring Fling-Tip Toe Through Texas 2008

The Garden Bloggers’ Spring Fling this past weekend in Austin, Texas is now history, one for the record books, in fact, the first of its kind. It was one of those rare instances where the anticipation of the event was far exceeded by the actuality of it. Far, far, beyond our wildest expectations. Wanting to share some photos and narrative for those of you who could only be there with us in spirit rather than in the flesh, here are some images and thoughts about this delightful trip. For a complete list of the posts from the attendees click on Pam’s link here. It is probably going to be the flower most blogged to represent the weekend, the Texas bluebonnet, above and in the first photo with the Indian Paintbrush, its sister wildflower showcased at the lovely Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, where our Saturday festivities began.

The bluebonnets are deserving of the fanfare they receive, but the more subtle beauty of the columbines appeals more to some. It is believed that the Hinkley columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha, with its large yellow flower had cross pollinated with the smaller yellow and red A. canadensis to produce this large flowered, long spurred, pink and yellow tinted beauty.

There was a tower with a spiral stairway that was climbed to get a 360 view of the surrounding countryside. The stairs were entered from a walled courtyard that was planted with this red berried tree, possibly the Possum Haw. It was a sunny day and the blue of the sky, the tans of the Texas limestone in use throughout the center and the play of shadow and light made this an arresting sight as we followed the curving tunnel to get to the stairway.

There will be photos of the bloggers at their best presented in other’s posts about this event. To beat anyone to the punch with some embarrassing shot of the Faire Gardener, none will be more silly than this one. This rusty metal cage at the entrance to the gardens cried out for someone to get in and break out.

Back into the car and onward to the Natural Gardener Nursery after a delicious fajita lunch and thought provoking talk from Tom Spencer, it was time for a little shopping. How it was wished we were traveling by car rather than by air, for these ceramic glazed pots were greatly coveted. The financier was happy that only a couple of small plants, and a special weeding tool, which will be written about later, were purchased there.

More sightseeing along the way as we traveled to the private garden of James David and Gary Peese. Pam wrote a post about a tour of this garden in October of 2006,here .
This is a magnificent home and garden. There were nooks and crannies filled with art and whimsy, not to mention prize plant specimens and well designed plantings on steep hills and level woodlands. This charming stone face caught the eye of the camera, backed by water filled basins on the steps to the front door of the house, which we were allowed to go through to get to the back gardens. The artistic talents of the owners was as impressive inside as it was out.

In the back was a shed that offered a see through view from the veranda with the clipped boxwoods adding a contrasting formality to the metal structure.

Looking from the other side of the shed towards the house, the view is equally inspiring.

In addition to the sound of several water features was the charming crowing of roosters in the chicken house. On one side were the pure breed silkies. The rooster, above was a wee bit leary of being photographed and flung himself against the wire fencing to get his message across.

The gardens were wonderful, the food was delicious, the itinerary was well paced, but the most rewarding experience of this road trip was getting to know some, but not nearly enough, of the bloggers whose posts I read, and some I had no familiarity with. This was the most congenial group of ladies and gentlemen and it was a joy to learn more about them. Thank you so much, Austin bloggers for organizing this most satisfying get together. Talk has it that another meeting may occur in the Chicago area in the fall of next year. A true sign that the good time was had by all is when they are already planning the next one.


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48 Responses to Spring Fling-Tip Toe Through Texas 2008

  1. mss @ Zanthan Gardens says:

    I’m still dizzy from all the conversation. And yet I didn’t manage to get to talk to everyone as much as I would have liked. (I hardly got to talk to you,I’m afraid, even though you visited my garden.)

    Thanks so much for making the effort to come. For us Austin Garden Bloggers, y’all turned this into something that far exceeded our wildest expectations when we discussed the idea last December.

  2. garden girl says:

    Frances, it sounds like a feast for gardeners! I’m so enjoying reading the posts and seeing the pictures from the fling. Wish I’d been there!

    A Chicago fling sounds awesome! I’ll be looking forward to it!

  3. Carol says:

    Frances, great pictures. I am only sorry I missed seeing you ‘break out’ like that from those cages.

    Your generous offering of passalong plants survived the trip and now await planting. They will look great in my garden.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  4. Rurality says:

    I am so enjoying reading all the posts about the get-together, and finding new blogs while I’m at it!

    Loved how you put that silky plant photo right after the silkie chicken! 🙂

  5. Dave says:

    It looks like you had a great time! Great photos.

  6. Diana says:

    Frances – so glad you came! And your photos are great – and so different from mine. I missed the chickens and while I saw the boxwoods, I didn’t see them through the shed. That will be the next discovery of our meeting – looking at everyone else’s perspective through the camera lense. So interesting.

  7. Melanie says:

    Hi Frances, thanks for the wonderful photos, it looks like it was a spectacular event!

    I don’t know how you were able to leave that collection of glazed pots behind 😦 It would have been torture for me.

  8. Frances, says:

    MSS, thanks so much for everything you did. In fact I feel like I got to talk to you more than some of the others, especially those who rode in the car with me and those who sat nearby while we were eating the most delicious food. Your garden was perfect, even hubby liked it, or as he now calls himself, the financier.

    Linda, thanks and wish you have been able to attend. Don’t you think now that the event turned out to be such a smashing success that there will be even more who will come next year?

    Carol, thanks, there was only one witness to the cage incident, the one who took the photo. It was here idea, in fact. We’ll see if she shows herself. You were the reason for the ribbon grass being brought, I wanted to bring the hellebores anyway, we have so many. I expect to see a recant of the dissing of the genus phalaris now.

  9. Frances, says:

    Rurality, thanks for noticing the silky theme, not even noticed by me until you mentioned it! I truly wish every blogger could have come to experience the fun and comraderie that we shared. Next year! will be the new rallying cry.

    Dave, thanks. Maybe you will be able to attend some time.

    Diana, thanks again for the lift back to the hotel. I think you have hit the nail on the head with the different perspectives that are going to be shown, expecially at the David garden where we kind of dispersed more. There was so much to see there, it was a paradise.

  10. Gail says:


    This is a great post about our remarkably wonderful Spring Fling adventure! How did I miss you in the cage? This is so perfectly you!

    As always your photographs are lovely.


  11. Annie in Austin says:

    It was fun to meet you, Frances, and today it is a pleasure to see our wildflowers through your eyes – love that paintbrush!

    The seedlings are potted and my fingers are crossed – whether or not the plants themselves survive Texas in August, the memory of your kind wish to share them with us will remain.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  12. Nancy J. Bond says:

    Everything looks so amazing — I sure would love to have a carload of those pots!!

  13. Frances, says:

    Melanie, thanks. That is the one regrettable thing about the trip, not being able to bring back more plants and any pots.

    Gail, thanks and so very gratifying to finally meet a fellow TN gardener.

    Annie, likewise I’m sure. If the plants survive, that will be a bonus, you probably already know how much fun it is to share things from your own garden with others. The pleasure was mine.

  14. chuck b. says:

    So far, my favorite visual image is actually the manic gardener car-pooling.

    It would have been fun to meet you and I would have climbed in the cage too.

  15. Pam/Digging says:

    Frances, what can I say? It was terrific meeting you and Heathcliff, and I just wish I’d had a bit more time to visit with you. Beautiful photos. Thanks for coming!

  16. bill/prairie point says:

    There was a lot to see on the tours. I missed so many of the things you photographed – that face at the David garden, the Hinckley columbine, and especially you in the cage.

  17. Brenda Kula says:

    I have never seen a rooster like that one! How pretty. You all must have had so much fun and the companionship of gardening talk must have lasted long into the nights.

  18. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    It sounds like you all had such a great time!!! 🙂 It’s so much fun seeing how many different photos get taken of all of these places that everyone went. I like seeing what strikes people’s eyes.

    By the way, what on earth is that last picture?!

  19. Frances, says:

    Nancy J., thanks. I had two photos of pots at the nursery, only wanted to post one, but the selection of size, color and shape was incredible. It was tough to not get one.

    chuck b., where is the car pool photo, I don’t remember seeing it?

    Pam, thanks. I had really intended to have more of a conversation with you also, but you were so busy and I got distracted talking with so many wonderful bloggers. Next time!

    Bill, thanks. I think one of the best things is seeing everyone’s different experience at the same event. So nice to meet you!

  20. Frances, says:

    Brenda, it was truly the most fun ever, to be around others who shared your interests and passions and talk, talk, talk,

  21. chuck b. says:

    “where is the car pool photo”

    Whoops, I should have said “mental image” not “visual image” because I’m seeing the picture with my mind, not my eyes.

  22. Frances, says:

    Kim, thanks. I had to go back to the big photo file to see the uncropped shot. It was in a pot around the pool, mostly xeric things there. Don’t know the name but it looked like a pointy tipped lamb’s ear with orangey red tubular flowers. My photo is of a bud. Maybe someone will know if they read this.

    chuck b., that was very naughty of you, I have been searching frantically for that car pool photo on all the blogs that have posted about it. Oh, a picture in your mind you forgot to mention! I am going back outside to pull the many weeds that had a party in my absence.

  23. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    LOL – birdcage sculpture shot! I missed that mask, I guess I was too busy admiring the waterfall & container adjacent to the studio. Of course I have to be different & say that the Bluebonnet is not the flower I was most impressed with on this trip. That honor goes to the Bread Seed Poppies that grew so lushly. The weird thing is, I was so busy touching & admiring them, I forgot to take a single shot of one. Duh!

  24. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Since I didn’t get to go to the Fling it will be great fun to cruise all the blogs and read/see all the different perspectives. I would love to have met all the gardeners. What a joy no doubt.

    That Rooster looks like he knows he is something special. I am sure he would hate the thought of sharing the limelight with the flower after his photo. I won’t tell him that the flower showed him up.

  25. Meems says:

    Frances, you coming out of the cage is just what I would have imagined from you… willing to laugh at your self and have fun. It is so interesting to hear of everyone’s ‘fling’ experience.Your photos are helpful (and beautiful) giving us an idea of what we missed. I love the tunnel capture with the light on the red blooming tree. Great job. So glad it was all and more of what you anticipated.
    Meems @ Hoe&Shovel

  26. Frances, says:

    MMD, it was a pleasure to meet you. I agree about the poppies, so many in one place is an impact shot. Are you scared yet about next year? Or not organized enough to think about it yet, LOL!

    Lisa, the white silkies, hens and the rooster were on one side of a large pen, a real assortment were on the other including some ‘naked necks’. I may have been the only one to shoot the chickens, they were hard to get to, and one blogger said how bad it smelled there. Carol yelled out, “You can take the girl out of TN, but you can’t take the TN out of the girl”, as I went charging over there with camera ready. Few things are as lovely as colorful chickens, IMHO.

    Meems, wish you could have come. The next fling will be up north, possibly, so you guys might be able to come. The sight at the end of the tunnel was picture perfect, as was nearly everything about it.

  27. karen says:

    Oh, Frances, now I KNOW I have to get myself a better camera. What glorious photos. (Though I’m not convinced a new camera would solve all my photography problems!) It was great talking to you on Saturday. We shall have to do it again.

  28. Frances, says:

    Karen, I was hoping you would stop by to see the good shot of the columbines we were discussing. I bought one that I thought was the yellow red mix and it turned out to be the straight yellow, according to the label. I think the bloom is over for the year. But I planted it next to an A. canadensis and am hoping for that same cross we saw. I really enjoyed speaking with you too.

  29. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    Frances, I finally got to meet the girl behind the faerie garden posts. It was great. I planted the ribbon grass and the hellebores. Thanks so much.~~Dee

  30. Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com says:

    Frances, your photos are truly a gift for those not in Austin. Very beautiful. I had to note that the flower following the rooster looked like something he might have hatched! LOL!

  31. Anneliese says:

    Frances, I had a wonderful time meeting you at Spring Fling and being one of your carpool buddies. The photographer wasn’t the only witness to your cage incident. I distinctly remember you enthusiastically volunteering to pose!

  32. Frances, says:

    Dee, so nice to meet you too, but we didn’t get to sing Oklahoma! Next time, right?

    Kathryn, thanks. There are already tons of great photos and narrative about the weekend in Austin, reading them is fun for those of us who were there but missed that particular scene too.
    Someone did mention about the silkie rooster and the silky plant, Rurality, I think. You girls are sharper than I am!

    Dawn, thanks for the photos. You made the wildflower center especially memorable. My partner in crime!

    Annaliese, meeting you and getting to know you and your brother was a highlight of the fling for me. Now I guess the gig is up!

  33. Cinj says:

    HA! Love seeing you “break out”! Too cute. It sounds like it was a great time for everyone. I too, have NO idea how there were any of those clay pots left. I suppose people didn’t buy them because they’d cause a panic at the cash registers or something. LOL!

  34. Frances, says:

    Cinj, thanks. We had a blast and those pots, well I am still dreaming of them. Never have I seen so many in one place of that quality and variety.

  35. brokenbeat says:

    man, i dig that stone face. what are gargoyles when you’ve got that chilling at the top of a stoop? glad you and candyman had such a good time.

  36. Dawn says:

    Hello Frances,

    It was such a pleasure to meet you. I love your photos. You’ve captured some wonderful views of the David/Peese Gardens.

    You’re right about the chickens: they were charming. They were a far cry from the White Leghorns of my youth in the Ozark Mountains, but I certainly enjoyed them. My impression is they have a rather plush life at David/Peese. Heh.

    BTW, I *thought* I saw a diaphanous figure rise up as I passed by that cage, but then I imagined it was just a trick of the light. Hmmm… 😉

    Take care & keep in touch!


  37. Frances, says:

    Brokenbeat, thanks. That face was wonderful, so simple and ancient. It may be copied this summer if there are any concrete projects done. We did indeed have a super time. love.

    Dawn, thanks. Diaphanous, that word conjures quite a mental image! You are so right about the chicken house at the David garden, as everything else. It is the stuff of fantasy.

  38. Layanee says:


    Great pictures! I love that one looking through the tunnel but all are spectacular. I would expect to see you on a trampoline also! LOL

  39. Frances, says:

    Layanee, coming around the bend in the tunnel and seeing that view was an ‘OH’ moment. Wish you could have seen it in person. We could then have jumped on the trampline together!

  40. Robin (Bumblebee) says:

    Hi Frances,

    I would thank you for the passalong plant, but Carol says you’re not supposed to say thank you. So I won’t. But if I did say thank you, it would be a big thank you.

    It was wonderful to meet you!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  41. Frances, says:

    Robin, you are most welcome. I regret not getting to have a more in depth converstion with you. Next time!

  42. Anneliese says:

    By the way, there is an instruction sheet that comes with that special weeding tool. We like to say that using the tool is pretty intuitive, but if you’re interested I’ll send it to you. Shoot me an email at anneliese (at) cobrahead (dot) com, and I’ll email it to you as an attachment.

  43. Frances, says:

    Annaliese, thanks. I will do that, and used it for the first time today. It was easy to use and I will be writing a post about it, in fact.

  44. Anneliese says:

    Hi Frances,
    In case you tried to email me (I don’t have your email address), I figured I should point out that my name is spelled Anneliese — one A, three EEs. 🙂 Glad you got to try it out already, and I hope you like it!

  45. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    How wonderful that the event itself surpassed your wildest expectations Frances! I’ve read a few Spring Fling posts now and am green with envy. Wish I could have been there too. But it was nice to see your face, and that of many other bloggers, on Pam’s blog.

    LOL your escaping out of that cage. 🙂

  46. Frances, says:

    AnnEliese, thanks so much, you are sharp as a tack to see that misspelling and know it would affect my emailing you. Message has been resent.

  47. Frances, says:

    YE, wish you were there, I would love to meet you in person also. I have mixed emotions about my face being out there, but oh well, right?

  48. Pingback: Year End Wrap Up 2008-Part One « Fairegarden

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