Thursday, June 14, 2018

Garden Blogger's Fling 2018: Getting There

About the time I first discovered garden blogging in 2008 a group of bloggers gathered in Austin for the first Garden Blogger's Fling.  They had so much fun they decided to keep it going and continued to meet in different cities every year since.  In 2011 I began my own blog and in early May I joined 90+ garden bloggers for the 10th Annual Garden Bloggers Fling in Austin.  It was my first fling and I was excited to experience one after several years of reading about all the fun.

Planning a trip to Austin seemed a bit odd at first as the hotel is just over an hour from my house and I've been traveling between the two cities since childhood.  There were still a number of decisions to make.  Parking at the hotel is expensive so we decided Neal would drive me up.  Driving presented its own challenges on what to take (pillow or boots?) and what to leave behind.  There's plenty of room in the car but I would still need to get all that stuff up to the room and store it all day Sunday after checkout.  I brought my boots and left the pillow.  In retrospect I should have brought the pillow too.

When I was a kid it seemed to take all day to drive between Austin and San Antonio.

In a way it still does.   With that in mind it's going to take a lot of photos to share the trip up to Austin before the Fling even begins.

We'll start in my driveway with Yucca Rostrata planted last year and blooming for the first time.  I paused to take this in case I got homesick or anyone asked about my garden.

Now on to Austin.  First stop was The Natural Gardener, a Fling Sponsor and local nursery, where we were to have lunch on Friday in the big "Revival Tent."  I usually head toward the Hill Country style garden just below the tent.

Thinking it might rain during our Fling visit (it poured) I tried to get photos of what we would see the next day.

It's always a treat to visit The Natural Gardener and I noted everything looked especially nice on this day before our scheduled tour.

Owner John Dromgoole's ride.  I saw him getting into a vintage red truck several years ago so that's a clue this is probably his car too.

After the Hill Country Garden I usually walk over to the Labyrinth.

The staff was busy fluffing as if they were expecting lots of important visitors.

So we walked on through to the Willie Nelson tribute garden.

The guitar's name is Trigger and you can't quite see it from here but there's a worn spot just below the sound hole.

I don't usually like tire planters but this rustic scene caught my eye.

Enchanted Walk is new to me and an improvement over walking back to the front entrance along a service road.

Artfully designed bug hotel.

Wooden sundial

Metal version of our ubiquitous grackles

The back gate with red wagons used for carts at the nursery is certainly cool.

Plants!  They always have an awesome selection.

Lots of cool stuff for the garden.

Herb garden designed by Lucinda Hutson whose garden we were to see later in the weekend.

Some areas are left natural with wildflowers.

A favorite stop in any season is the Butterfly Garden

I see something new each time like these cute caterpillar hedges of  Dwarf Yaupon hollies.

A good way to dress up a fence.

Butterfly chair in the butterfly garden.  Get it?  Sometimes cliches are mandatory.

Back to the nursery which is always fun to visit.

My favorite spot is the ever-changing perennial section where all manner of special native plants are sure to turn up.

We received a nice coupon for 20% off any one item the next day and I seriously considered an agave but it seemed to hard to carry on the bus and up to my room so I selected a Euphorbia rigida instead.  Nice selection though.

A practically constructed bridge that wouldn't be too hard to copy.

Hill Country pond and waterfall surrounded by colorful plants is a nice way to end our tour.

The Natural Gardener is just off 290 on the south side of Austin and fairly convenient as a day trip from San Antonio.  It's a fun place to walk around and enjoy their extensive display gardens. 

I'm so glad I got these photos before the rain to show you how it would have looked.  This was just my first stop on Thursday and the Fling hasn't even begun yet!

More Fling fun on the way in future posts.


  1. Wow! I'm so glad you've shared your excellent photos of your pre-Fling visit to The Natural Gardener, Shirley. I'm sorry that I missed so much of it during the deluge the following day. Wet and semi-miserable at that point, I covered only a very small part of what is clearly a fabulous place.

  2. I agree with Kris. I should have ventured around in the rain a little more--I spend a lot of time indoors and at the covered plant areas. I did see and photograph the butterfly garden and the holly "caterpillars," but I didn't see the guitar garden--that's awesome. Thanks for sharing! I do hope to get back to Texas one of these days and spend more time in the Hill Country. I'd also like to get back over to Big Bend National Park--that was a highlight of our trip years ago. Texas is an amazing state!

  3. The wonderful folks at the Natural Gardener really went all out for us in spiffing up the grounds and making us feel welcome. I’m really glad you posted your pics from the day before the Massive Deluge, which made for a soggy garden exploration but hopefully resulted in some nice sales for them indoors.

    1. I like your name for that rain event. One of those days that will stay in the memory bank.

  4. Congrats on the Yucca rostrata bloom, it’s magnificent! I’m so glad I finally got to meet you, although I wish we would have had a little more time to talk. It all went so fast!

    Thanks for all of these great photos! I wish I would have been up for exploring more of the grounds, but was just too darn soaked!

  5. I love this nursery! Glad you had a good visit.

  6. I have been there multiple times this spring and apparently did not explore enough. The guitar. And fancy you seeing his wheels. Need to go there without plant buying in mind.


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