Portraits from Spring Fling

Normally we garden bloggers “sell” our posts with photos of flowers. Post-Spring Fling, I think it will be people pics that arrest the skimming reader. The Garden Bloggers Spring Fling, held last Saturday right here in Austin, yielded new and renewed friendships, good conversation, good eats, and beautiful gardens. Pictured above: Annie in Austin and MSS (who helped plan the Spring Fling) bask in the friendship of the day in James David’s garden. (My thanks to Barbara, who took this photo with my camera.)

Despite the fact that we spent most of Saturday touring gardens, the scenery—fabulous, flowery, and beautiful as it was—was relegated to the backdrop in my photos in favor of the actors on the stage: all the fellow garden bloggers who’d journeyed to Austin from near and far to get to know each other and talk blogging and plants in person. All while oohing and aahing over some beautiful Austin gardens. Here are some of my favorite portraits from Friday and Saturday.

Libby, Linda, and Frances. I’d just squeezed my way down to the end of the second long table of bloggers at Matt’s El Rancho, where early arrivers met on Friday evening for the Welcome Dinner. This trio looked like fun, but we were sitting too far apart to say much more than hello. And because they carpooled with someone else on Saturday, I didn’t really get to talk with them much, which I regret. We need another Spring Fling soon.

Gail and Cindy at the Welcome Dinner. They were cheerful at all times and ready for adventure.

It was chilly the next morning at the Wildflower Center. Laura is an artist who blogs about gardening as well as her nature-themed paintings, and Diana is one of the Austin bloggers who helped plan the Spring Fling.

Susan Albert joined us at the Wildflower Center and autographed her herbal-theme mystery novels in the gift shop afterward. I purchased Spanish Dagger and look forward to getting to know Susan’s beloved characters.

After lunch my carpoolers needed a caffeine fix, so we darted over to Starbucks in Circle C, and the green roof captured everyone’s attention.

Susan and Tom in conversation at James David’s garden.

Back at my house for the happy hour that afternoon, we soon broke up into small groups to talk blogging with Carol and Kathy. Carol’s group settled into the living room to talk about community-building aspects of blogging, and look how intently everyone is listening to her. I’m sorry I missed her discussion, and Kathy’s too, and I’m hoping others will post about the conversations. By the way, that’s Anneliese and Geoff, siblings who blog for family-owned CobraHead, sitting on the right.

On the other side of the room, Robin, Bonnie (another of the Spring Fling organizers), and Gail follow the conversation too.

Kathy’s group staked out the porch for a discussion of technical issues related to blogging. Here, Karen, Kathy, and Frances talk shop.

The charming Lucinda Hutson, who opened her fiesta-bright home and garden to late-stayers on Sunday. I’ll post about that visit soon.

Meanwhile, on the back patio, I saw Austin American-Statesman garden reporter Robin Chotzinoff interviewing several bloggers, including Dee. Robin seemed surprised to find she had a fan club here, thanks to her book People With Dirty Hands.

How wired were we? Take a look at this. Elizabeth was blogging live on Garden Rant from my garden. Cool.

Fellow Ranter Susan in conversation on the back patio.

I sometimes worry about my home being too small to entertain large groups, but I’m learning that small spaces equal cozy conversation areas. During the blogging discussions, I mixed up another batch of the very popular Texas martinis and then made the rounds. Carol was holding court with a large group in the living room, and while space was tight, 13 or 14 people had found a place to sit, either on the sofa, side chairs, temporarily placed dining chairs, or the floor. The sight of all those garden bloggers deep in conversation made me very happy.

I stepped outside on the back porch to see Kathy and Rachel using a laptop to show Frances how to do something on her blog. Several others sat in the red wicker chairs and purple Adirondack nearby, contributing to the discussion.

On the back patio, I found Robin, the Statesman reporter, interviewing the Ranters and a few other bloggers, comfortably ensconced in the Adirondacks and strategically parked next to the martini and wine bar. You know you can never pull yourself out of these chairs once you sit down, so when you choose an Adirondack, you’re settling in for a while.

Someone asked me a question about a plant in the front yard, so out we went and found yet another group of bloggers in the courtyard garden. What a delight to see all the spaces in my home and garden being put to so many good uses. The only space that people stayed clear of was the trampoline, which just goes to show you how responsible we were all being with our martini servings.

Speaking of which, I promised to share the recipe for the signature drink of the Spring Fling. The Texas martini, also known as the Mexican martini, is essentially a margarita served in a martini glass with salt on the rim and a stuffed olive (preferably stuffed with jalapenos) on a sword pick and a wedge of lime in the glass. Yum.

I use the Cedar Door‘s Original Mexican Martini Mix (basically pure cane sugar, water, and citrus oils), which has the recipe right on the back:

Over ice, pour equal parts Tequila, Triple Sec, and Mexican Martini Mix into a pint (16 oz.) glass. Add one freshly squeezed lime (important!) then shake well. Garnish with 3 skewered green olives and a lime wedge.

For the happy hour, to save time, I mixed up a large batch in a pitcher the night before, chilled it overnight in the refrigerator, and set it on the bar along with lime wedges, salt for the rim, and olives, and let people pour their own. I wouldn’t advise mixing the martinis more than 24 hours ahead, for freshness.

One last image for now: my “Fling bling.” Moo cards and business cards from other bloggers, gifts from many kind friends, a bouquet of beautiful sunflowers and iris, seed packets from our welcome bags, and passalong seeds and plants from other bloggers. Also a beaded bat, Austin’s mascot, which I bought for myself at the Natural Gardener.

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

28 Responses

  1. Karen says:

    Lovely! Just what I needed. I’m awful at names and was having a hard time putting some names to faces and vice versa. It’s not that names and faces really matter, but when I visit a blog, I like to know who I’m talking to, if you see what I mean.

    I like to have a picture of the blogger in my mind when I read a post too. Now we’ll have not only that mental image but a little knowledge of their personality too. Nice, huh? —Pam

  2. Hey – you cut yourself out of that photo! I’m glad you liked my work with your camera (once distinguished the shutter from the power button). Thanks for all the head shots & links.

    I did. It was a good photo of me too, actually, but I was off to the side, and MSS and Annie were so charmingly posed together that it looked better with a tighter focus. Look for more people photos soon when I post the door-prize shots. —Pam

  3. Great job of putting this together. Enjoyed the tours and of course enjoyed meeting so many garden bloggers.

    It was great to meet you at last, Bill. Thanks for participating! —Pam

  4. Gail says:


    Your house was perfect…lots of spaces to hang out, sit and enjoy the great company. Thanks, again for your graciousness. If the door prize shot shows me doing that dorky pose…I will be so embarrassed! Deservedly so! Gail

    We shall see, Gail. I haven’t even looked through the door-prize photos yet, but soon! :-) —Pam

  5. Leslie Kuss says:

    It looks like a wonderful time was had by all…thanks so much for giving the rest of us a nice look at the gathering!

    You are welcome, Leslie. Wish you could have been here too. —Pam

  6. kate says:


    Thank you so much for posting these pictures – they give such a wonderful sense of what Spring Fling was like. What an amazing group of people – it is wonderful now to be able to put faces with blogging names. Your house looks as if it was a perfect setting for the group discussions. Thanks for the recipe for the Texas Martini. Does that ever look delicious!

    I’m looking forward to reading more …

    Thanks, Kate. More is on the way, and we’ll have the summary of everyone’s posts up soon. —Pam

  7. Kathy says:

    The social hour was my favorite part, and I wished I could be everywhere at once. Other people posed for their door prize picture, I was like a deer in the headlights. Despite having seen two dozen other door prize winners collect their booty first, it didn’t dawn on me that you were taking my picture until after it was done.

    Don’t worry, if your door-prize photo is not flattering, I’ll shrink it way down. Or, oops, lose that one. I’m glad to know you enjoyed the happy hour. Everyone did seem to be having a good time, and I was glad to see that the discussion groups worked so well too. Thank you again for leading yours and for the follow-up email with all the great information. —Pam

  8. Lori says:

    Hee! I suggested to someone that it would be hilarious to see a bunch of drunken garden bloggers hopping on the trampoline. If I’d had any more martini than I did, it might have been me. ;)

    I had no idea at the time that Robin was a garden writer, but Annie lent me “People With Dirty Hands,” and it looks like an entertaining read.

    And you’re right about the small spaces lending themselves to intimate conversations. That was my favorite thing, actually, about your and Lucinda Hutson’s gardens. They’re both so cozy!

    Ha, like you, I wouldn’t have been too surprised if the trampoline had gotten some use by the end of the happy hour, but it just goes to show you how responsible we were. That, plus everyone knew bloggers with cameras were at the ready. By the way, I’m so glad to have met you, Lori, and to have spent more time with you on Sunday. —Pam

  9. Diana Kirby says:

    Ah – your house was perfect for our little groupings and discussions and a lovely garden backdrop as well. So fun to see it all in person and appreciate how wonderfully it flows. And since I forgot to take a single picture there, I am so glad to see all of yours, which perfectly captured the time we spent there with you. Can’t wait for dinner photos~!

    They’re coming soon, Diana. Thanks again for all your help in making the event flow so smoothly. —Pam

  10. Pam you deserve kudos for putting together such an incredible event with all that attention to detail. Now you can add seminar and party planner to your resume.

    It was a lot of fun, Christopher, and I’m proud to have hosted the first Spring Fling in Austin, along with my incredible co-planners MSS, Diana, and Bonnie. But I look forward to attending the next one as a guest. ;-) —Pam

  11. The social hour was a lot of fun! I’m afraid, though, that when I found out Robin had written “People with Dirty Hands”, I might have gushed a bit at her. I own that book and got it off the shelf today to re-read.

    I love all my “fling bling”, including the beautiful cards featuring your own photography, and the very cool gardening hat door prize, which I wore today when I mowed the lawn for the first time this spring. I was stylin’ and smilin’ while mowin’ today.

    You endured your own share of gushing from your fans, didn’t you, Carol? Thanks for being a good sport. And for leading the discussion group at the happy hour. Enjoy your bling! —Pam

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Love seeing the people behind the blogs.

    Thanks, Lisa. More is on the way. —Pam

  13. When the photo of MSS and me [and you!!!] was taken, we’d just told the story of how the three of us first met in 2006. I held back the tears then, but when I clicked on ‘Digging’ and saw this post – no stopping the waterworks. Thank you Pam and MrMcGregor’s daughter.
    ALL the photos are wonderful, your house and garden were perfect, and oh, those Mexican martinis!
    “Fling bling” is hilarious… and a good idea for a future post.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    That photo of you and MSS is my favorite from the day (so sweet), and I didn’t even take it though it’s on my camera—how about that for irony? (Good job, Mr. McGregor’s Daughter!) —Pam

  14. Robin says:

    I’d love to be in on those conversations, they looked very interesting. It is really great to put faces with favorite blogs.

    I wish you could have been here too, Robin. It was so much fun to meet in person. Maybe next year? —Pam

  15. Frances says:

    Pam, your welcoming home was the perfect spot for us to mingle and visit with some of the bloggers in different car pools or seated at different tables, the places where the conversation was more intimate. I feel like I hogged Kathy with her technical expertise and Rachel too, but what you might have missed was the back popping done by Vickie, oh baby, that felt good!

    I did miss a few things, didn’t I? I didn’t know about Vickie’s back-popping skill, and I wish I could have listened in on both Kathy’s and Carol’s discussions. But I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on the other conversations I participated in instead, so clearly we all just needed another day added to the Spring Fling. Or video coverage of each event. ;-) —Pam

  16. Layanee says:

    Great shots of the garden bloggers! I’m crying too, Annie, but not for the same reason! Gotta laugh at life!

    Layanee, I thought of your plane misadventure with regret throughout the weekend. We were all so sorry you couldn’t make it to Austin. In particular, at the Welcome Dinner, three or four people specifically asked me where you were, and they looked so glum when I told them what had happened.

    Now that we’re all posting about the Fling, I know it must be doubly hard for you to read about an event you planned to participate in but missed. So sorry! :-( If Spring Fling happens in ’09, I expect to meet you there! —Pam

  17. I love the pictures…it’s so nice to put faces with blogs. I can only imagine how much fun it was for all of you in Austin.

    Super fun. I hope to meet you at the next one, Sherry. —Pam

  18. Dawn says:

    Wonderful photos! Now I can put names to faces and recall everyone I met. What a fun day! Thanks for this, Pam.

    I’m glad you had a fun time, Dawn. I did too and was sad when everyone had to go. —Pam

  19. vertie says:

    I love that first picture. I think the looks on Annie’s and MSS’s faces reflect how everyone felt about the fling.

    I love that one too (which is why it’s at the top). And I’m only slightly perturbed that the best shot of the day that came out of my camera was taken not by me but by Barbara. ;-) —Pam

  20. Girl, what a interesting post. A great way to show your photos and the fun we had in your lovely outdoor space. While I was taking photos, I was thinking about how photogenic your garden is. You are very creative, and it shows. I wish I looked thinner in my photo, but I’m so not. Thank you for having us.~~Dee

    Thank for the nice words about my garden, Dee. I was so happy to be able to share it with you and the others as a place to kick back and relax for a couple of hours. And by the way, you looked lovely in your blue blouse that matched your eyes. Plus I admired your kicky haircut all day. :-) —Pam

  21. Cindy says:

    Pam, your home and garden were very welcoming, just like you :-) Muchas gracias for the Mexican Martini recipe … I’d been planning to ask what brand of mixer to use because those were SO good!

    Thank you, Cindy. And I hope you enjoy your Mexican martinis! —Pam

  22. These photos are wonderful–thanks for posting them.

    I enjoyed seeing your garden in person on Saturday. Thanks for being such a wonderful host!

    You are welcome, Brianna. Thank you for arranging things so you could join us for the day. I know that’s not easy to do with a baby. —Pam

  23. Pam you are so right, a house doesn’t have to be extremely big to house such an event as this. Looking at all the pics it’s clear to see that everybody was having a wonderful time and that is very much due to the lovely ambiance you provided for them, both inside and out.

    That Texas martini sounds yummy but I don’t think I can get hold of that Original Mexican Martini Mix over here. Oh well, I’ll have to make do with a nice glass of G&T then, also yummy. ;-)

    BTW I’m totally shocked that the trampoline wasn’t used at all. What’s wrong with you people? :-D

    Ha! Actually, it was a little surprising that no one jumped. The only reason I can think of is that we all knew that we’d be blogged about if we did anything really stupid. :-) —Pam

  24. germi says:

    Wow… I am so amazed, and also saddened that I wasn’t able to make it -but what a coup! It looks wonderful, Pam, and you can feel the great vibe jumping off the computer screen. All those lovely garden mad faces! I can imagine the conversation and the laughter, and I am even getting an idea of what the drink tasted like. Thank you for making me feel like I was there – and I agree… another fling has to happen soon, No way I’d miss another one!
    You rock!

    I was sorry that you couldn’t come, Germi, and several people asked me about you, hoping to meet you. You were definitely missed. Perhaps we’ll meet at the next Fling (in Chicago?). —Pam

  25. Kim says:

    Oooh… just getting caught up after a week of illness. I LOVE these behind-the-scenes photos on this post, Pam. It gives me the feel of being there, even more so than the mugshots do! Congratulations on putting together such a fun, successful event. :)

    I’m glad you’re on the mend, Kim. I sure do wish you could have joined us for the Spring Fling, but perhaps we’ll meet at the next one. —Pam

  26. kerri says:

    You’re absolutely right, Pam….people pictures are what most of us are looking for, I’m sure. I love seeing all the happy faces and hearing about all the fun. I’d love to see that whole photo at the top without you cut out of it :) Annie and MSS look great, but to see all three of you would be even better!
    We were away for the weekend, and last week was busy, so even though I looked at your posts previously, I’m just now getting around to commenting. Thanks so much for sharing the good times. If I couldn’t be there, at least I can share the fun by reading about it and seeing the pics.

    Believe me, that photo is better focused in on the two of them. I put myself on my blog often enough anyway. Wish you could have been here too, Kerri. Maybe next time? —Pam

  27. […] dinner at County Line Barbecue. The lovely Pam mixed and poured the cocktails. The recipe for the Mexican martini is available on her site. She also had munchies including tiny zucchini, carrots, and a wonderful […]

  28. […] Austin gardener and blogger, and a very nice person whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Spring Fling hour hour in April, I’m eagerly reading her book and look forward to seeing what others have to say […]