Meeting Carol & a tour of Jenny Stocker’s garden

On her Blotanical “Plot” (site no longer active), in her entry for Garden to See Before I Die, Carol of May Dreams Gardens has written, “All those gardens of the Austin garden bloggers!”

As it happens, a number of the Austin garden bloggers have had a burning desire to meet the woman behind the Victorian dress and reel mower too. This morning our wishes became reality, as Carol, who arrived in Austin yesterday, met MSS, Annie, and me for lunch and some pre-Spring Fling garden visiting.

Is Carol as interesting and funny and thoughtful in person as she seems online? I have to say, Yes, she is. She cracked us up with sly asides about her hoe collection, and we had fun horrifying each other with our worst garden-pest stories. (Mine involve the kind with a sharp nose and a long tail; hers the kind with yellow stripes and a stinger.)

Carol gamely brought a sunhat and sunscreen along this morning, but the weather started out stormy and then, as it cleared around 9 am, the wind shifted and blew strong from the north, causing us to pull on light jackets.

Not to worry, though. By the afternoon it had cleared and become sunny and breezy, and tomorrow’s big day is expected to be in the upper 70s (F) and sunny. Good thing we put in that weather request early.

I’ve been regaling you with photos from Jenny Stocker’s garden in southwest Austin. Jenny is going to be our docent on the Wildflower Center tour tomorrow, and she graciously agreed to give us a tour of her garden this morning as a warm-up to the Spring Fling. Despite the chilly temps, what a warm-up it was! I toured Jenny’s garden two years ago on the Wildflower Center-sponsored Gardens on Tour, and it knocked my socks off then. I swear it’s even better now.

She and her husband, both of whom hail from garden-loving England, created this one with their own hands. Jenny designed it with many native-Texas plants and also came up with creative solutions that she and her craftsman husband made on site, like the beautiful but inexpensive pavers made of tinted concrete, impressed with a lumpy stone while damp to create natural-looking depressions and giving it the look of cut stone.

Jenny’s garden is composed of a series of walled courtyards filled with self-seeding annuals like bluebonnets, California and pink poppies, larkspur, blanketflower, and blackfoot daisies, as well as agaves, succulents, roses, flowering vines, and small trees like pomegranate, vitex, and flowery senna.

It looks simultaneously Texas Hill Country (plant choice), English cottage (billowy with flowers and intimate in scale), and Mediterranean (warm stucco walls, sunny outlook, and fruiting trees).

If you want to see her garden for yourself, go on the Inside Austin Gardens Tour on April 19. Thanks, Jenny, for giving us a private tour of your incredible garden.

Evening update: I wrote the above earlier this afternoon, but I’ve just returned from the Welcome Dinner for the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling, where I met approximately 30 garden bloggers and some of their spouses/SOs/friends. Wow, what a night! How do I even describe the experience of greeting, face to face, so many friends I’ve only known through online words and photos. It was like going to a family reunion where you’re reintroduced to distant cousins you played with as a child, and you reminisce while trying to match their faces with what you remember of them. Unfamiliar and yet familiar at the same time.

The restaurant was loud, and we’ll no doubt all be hoarse tomorrow from trying to make ourselves heard, but it was a lot of fun to meet everyone. We’ll meet even more folks tomorrow at the main event. Onward, Spring Fling!

One sad note: Layanee‘s flight was delayed such that she missed her connection and couldn’t catch another flight to Austin. After many hours hoping for a stand-by flight that didn’t have room, she made the difficult decision to turn around and go home. I am very sorry not to get to meet her. We’ll miss you, Layanee.

P.S. Elizabeth Licata of Garden Rant has beaten me to the punch with her “preamble” from Austin.

All material © 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

35 Responses

  1. I can’t believe you already have a post up. And with such evocative photos of Jenny’s garden. (I knew that there wasn’t any point in my getting my camera out if you were going to do the blogging.) However, the photos I took have already served their purpose; I’ve shown AJM the poured concrete pavers and said to him brightly, “Maybe we could do something like this.”

    Tonight’s dinner felt like a family reunion. In some ways, we know so much about each other’s daily life. In other ways, so little. It was great to actually meet the people behind the photos and words. I’ve only managed to talk to about 1/3 of the attendees so far. And, yes! After 13 hours of non-stop talking, I am already hoarse. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  2. shirl says:

    Hi there Pam, sounds like you are all having a great time :-D

    Very sorry to read that Layanee couldn’t meet up with you. Wishing you all a few days of great gardens and even better company :-D

  3. Pam, The first step toward making dreams come true is to write them down. Everyone’s BIG Texas welcome has been wonderful. I’ve chased away that cold weather and am looking forward to more great gardens today.

    Now I’ll have to carefully consider what gardens to list to see on my Blotanical profile, because dreams come true and I’ve learned I’d better be ready for that to happen!

  4. What gorgeous photos of Jenny’s garden. Thanks for posting them and giving me the feeling that I was there too. Enjoy the Spring Fling.

  5. Layanee says:

    What beautiful photos and where can I get some of those poppy seeds! I’d like to say that sitting here at the computer is just like being there with you all but sadly, it is not! Never fly United…they really don’t care! I am with you all in spirit as are all of the rest of your blogging buddies and will look forward to seeing more pictures and hearing about the festivities! Have fun and have a margarita for all of us!

  6. linda says:

    Wow! Awesome garden! I’m enjoying Spring Fling vicariously.

  7. Michelle says:

    Beautiful Photos! Now I feel a little better about not being able to go. Thanks for sharing ;)Have fun everyone!

  8. Leslie Kuss says:

    What an absolutely gorgeous garden…it is just so lovely and your photos really bring that across. Thanks for keeping those of us playing along at home in the loop.

  9. Kim says:

    Wow… what gorgeous photos of a beautiful garden! I think you’re right when you call it part Austin, part English, and part Mediterranean. Beautiful all around.

    I can’t wait to see the rest of the blogs about this event. I’m sure you all are having so much fun! :)

  10. Meems says:

    What a garden Jenny has!My, my…would love to hear about every nook and cranny of that creation! Sounds like the Spring Fling is off to a wonderful start. So sorry for Layanee… what a huge disappointment that must have been for everyone. Can’t wait to hear “all” the stories. Really enjoyed this post.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  11. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh Pam, thank you so much for the first post I’ve read about the Spring Fling. Good to hear that Carol
    made it safe and sound. I hate that Layanee had to actually go back home. BOOOO

    Jenny’s garden is just good beyond words. I love looking through the windows. It makes me wonder what all
    is just out of sight. I can only imagine. This is just the preamble. I can’t wait for the rest of the tour.

    Have fun then pass it on to us.

  12. Brenda Kula says:

    Looks like good old-fashioned fun to me. Love those garden photos. Nature abounds in those gardens. I almost feel as though I were there too.

  13. kerri says:

    Thanks for sharing this delightful garden, Pam. It’s gorgeous! And such a lovely prelude to the Spring Fling. I can just imagine how it felt to meet so many people you were already so familiar with. What fun!
    How disappointing for Layanee that she had such bad luck and didn’t make it. All that anticipation squashed flat! Poor girl.
    I’m sure you all are having a wonderful time today. Looking forward to hearing all about it!

  14. jodi says:

    What, you found time to blog even with all that’s going on??>? Awesome, Pam. And what a garden this is. I’m with you all in spirit, buried under deadlines but still gonna check what you’re all up to. I’m sorry about Layanee…I’ll encourage her to go buy an orchid!

  15. Robin says:

    It sounds like you all are having a great time. I wish I was there too. What great pictures of a beautiful garden!
    I feel so bad for Layanee, what a disappointment.

  16. Stuart says:

    Pam, I too am enjoying Spring Fling vicariously. Just hearing about the dinner in Elizabeth’s preamble had me running through some costing exercises for next year’s event – I’m guessing this is going to become an annual fling?

    Great pics and I wish I could be there meeting you all. Congrats for all the effort you and the Austin bloggers have done in making this happen.

  17. Diana Kirby says:

    I love seeing the pictures of Jenny’s garden. I’ll have to go on the tour next week to see it in person! I’m sending you my link for the first of several Fling posts!

  18. bill says:

    Pam, Thanks so much for putting on the Fling. It was even more fabulous than I expected. You, and the other Austin bloggers, were great hosts. I had a wonderful time, and I am so glad I could be a part of it.

  19. Gail says:


    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the absolutely wonderful time in Austin. I just now arrived home, tired but so glad I got to meet up with my distant ‘family members’. I know tomorrow will bring posts from everyone and more wonderful photos and stories. Now back outside to the garden.


  20. Marie says:

    What an amazing garden :)

  21. Kathryn Hall says:

    Wow! Congratulations to all who participated! And, Pam, what a lovely way to present your first post
    with the fantastic photos from Jenny’s garden. What an inspiration. Can’t wait to hear what happened

    Warmly, Kathryn

  22. Nancy Bond says:

    The photos of Jenny’s garden are spectacular — what a wonderful design. I’m pea green with envy! Wish I could have been there.

  23. Pam/Digging says:

    Thank you all for your comments. This really is one of the most lovely gardens I’ve seen in Austin, and I’m glad I can share some photos of it with you. The Spring Fling was a huge success, and I’ll be posting about it over the course of the week, as I try to process everything and maybe even get a good night’s sleep. Look for more soon.

  24. june says:

    Wow! What beautiful gardens. Thanks for sharing the pictures. I love all of the pebbly paths.

  25. Cindy says:

    Oh, MY! I wish I’d been along for the tour of Jenny’s garden … judging from the pictures, it’s tadiefer, to quote a (non-blogging) garden buddy. I’m so glad that I made it for most of the fun, though: it was a noisy, entertaining, educational, spirited, informative, lively, hilarious, exhausting, invigorating, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable time!

  26. Pam, it was so wonderful! I’m still in the ‘pinch me – was it real?’ stage today and your photos assured me it wasn’t a dream.

    Did you ever get any sleep? This was an enormous, wonderful project!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  27. Karen says:

    My goodness, Jenny’s garden is GORGEOUS. She was our docent at the wildflower center, but I would MUCH rather have seen her garden. I love gardens that are in tune with their surroundings and this looks so Texas hill country. Thank you for your always-wonderful photos.

  28. I wish I could have seen this garden, it looks so beautiful! Thanks for posting the shots of the poppies; they were my favorite flower in Austin, yet I failed to take any photos of them. (Can you say “sleep deprivation”?)

  29. gorgeous gardens!

  30. Pam/Digging says:

    Thanks again, everybody. I’m glad you are enjoying the photos of Jenny’s lovely garden. It’s full of inspirational ideas.

    Spring Flingers, it was a blast, and I was so happy to meet everyone who came. When’s the next one? —Pam

  31. I had to come back by and see the pictures again. Pinch me, was I really there in that incredible garden talking to incredible gardeners like you and Annie and Melissa and Jenny?

    What a blast!

    Consider yourself pinched, Carol. It really happened, and it was fabulous. Thank you for coming! —Pam

  32. Joy says:

    Wow … these pictures are wonderful .. if I could only have a bit of the style and grace these gorgeous shots display. Something to keep in mind and aim for … garden heaven !
    Thanks !

    This garden did seem like garden heaven to me too. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Joy. —Pam

  33. […] Spring Fling fun began for me with meeting May Dreams Carol in the beautiful garden of Rock Rose Jenny. That evening, I met 30 more garden bloggers for dinner. […]

  34. […] and went out like a lion. The socializing, nonstop talking, and garden visiting began for me on Friday morning and didn’t end until late Sunday afternoon. It was a more incredible experience to meet all […]

  35. […] had the pleasure of visiting Jenny’s garden four times, always in spring: last year with May Dreams Carol, in 2006 and 2007 (I think) on the Wildflower Center-sponsored Gardens on Tour, and again last […]