Memories of Austin and the 2018 Garden Blogger's Fling linger with me this wet, lush New England morning. It has been a week since my return and there is much on which to reflect. It was my sixth out of ten flings and while 60% is never a mark I strive for I do feel fortunate to have been able to attend six Flings. This was my first trip to Austin-attempts to attend the 2008 Austin first fling were thwarted due to airline problems. This time I arrived a day early, just in case. Austin is a friendly city and the people of Austin, Austinites, are happy. They are also very polite (I was Ma'amed several times) and, they are helpful. I am used to New England directness. Austinites have cultivated a gentleness and overt kindness which we northerners may possess but often hide. These traits were and are the hallmark of The Austin Fling team, Pam, Diana, Laura, Sheryl, and Jennifer, who were always smiling and helpful under the stress of the event production. All seemed to go off without a hitch. Great garden choices, great buses, lunches, dinners, entertainment and accommodations.
I have made lifelong friends because of these planned garden flings. Flings have brought many gardeners together with our shared love of gardening, writing and blogging. These friends, whose lives stretch from one end of the country to another, are keepers. It is wonderful to be able to look them in the eye, give them a hug and spend time chatting about our lives of gardening and family, work and now retirement. I regret not meeting and knowing all the bloggers in attendance but I did get to meet a few new bloggers, Angie from The Freckled Rose and Jennifer of Frau Zinnie, both from New England along with Liz, Margaret, Ellen, Jenny and Mary Beth to name a few. I hope to see Angie's and Jennifer's New England gardens at some point this year and I truly hope they come to visit me in my garden. (I will make cake).
Each garden will be remembered both collectively and individually for its unique style and generous gardener. Most owner/gardeners greeted us at their garden entrances. Each is deserving of a separate post. Garden art and garden pools took center stage at this Fling.
Fragrance was also present. I will not soon forget the scent of the jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, which was growing in many Austin gardens. I was envious of this scent each time I was enveloped in its fragrance. I cannot grow it in my Zone 5b-6a garden but as I walked my garden upon my return I realized that each region is given the gift of scent. I have lily of the valley and lilacs along with the perfume of the early blooming Viola odorata. I would not trade these scents for that of Confederate Jasmine but I will hopefully revisit that scent with another Texas visit. The lushness of Austin did surprise me. Yes, there were dry gardens. Jenny & David Stocker's garden so reminded me of Beth Chatto's gravel garden. That is a post for another day. Green trees and swarths of lush foliaged areas were abundant. The Colorado river does run through Austin after all and it has been dammed to provide a 'lake', Lady Bird Lake, which was in generous usage while our group was visiting. Austin does seem to have abundant yearly rainfall, 34+", considering its location. I think most of that fell on our group that first day of touring.
Mother Nature provided us with a true Texas gully washing event which only made this Fling more memorable.
Austin Fling's wrap party, it was such a great party, ended with our last visit to Articulture, a unique Austin plant boutique. Tequila and barbecue were served up with Texas style hospitality amidst laughter and lingering conversations. As I reflect on this Austin experience I clearly understand why Texans love Texas. This New Englander loves Texas as well. Thank you Fling Team for a wonderful time.