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Cold and Wet

Iam looking out the window of my office at a lake that I used to call ‘front yard.’ It has rained for what seems like an eternity but I guess it’s been more like a couple of weeks. Still, only a few spots of sunshine have popped through in that time. I had to get the Happy Lite out. Thank God (and my mom!) for that thing. And for the cold, I have this in my lap. My daughter knows I’m a total winter wuss and gave it to me a few years ago.

Besides the rain, deer have been going nuts out there, and the first frost burned a few things. Still, it’s fall and the color has been lovely. The dogwoods in particular look really nice. I noticed from an old photo that dogwoods can hold color until into December. I might not have noticed that if not for blogging and taking pictures. I’ve especially enjoyed seeing the asters bloom and the spicebushes berry up and then turn yellow. What a great shrub for the Piedmont. If you don’t have one, consider looking for it.

I squeezed in a trip to the coast last week, which reminded me of some pictures I took a while ago but never posted from the nature trail on Ocean Isle Beach. Its subtle beauty is stunning this time of year. That post is up now if you want to take a look.

One of the biggest events of my year is the Garden Bloggers Fling. Back in May, I attended the 10th anniversary in Austin, Texas, along with nearly a hundred other garden bloggers. We spent three days visiting thirteen private gardens, two large public gardens, and a wonderland of an organic plant nursery.

Besides the incredible gardens, we had an opening kickoff welcome party, a banquet, and a Texas barbecue finale with live music. It’s a lot to squeeze in, but the Austin planners — Diana Kirby, Pam Penick, Laura Wills, Sheryl Williams, and Jennifer Brown — were up to the task and pulled it off without a hitch, memorably, fabulously! I think everyone left tired, but inspired. I’ll be posting the photos as a series, Garden Bloggers Fling: Austin, over the next few weeks. There are two posts so far.

Is your garden under water too? Is anything blooming?

Have a good weekend!

A Warm Welcome and a Literary Scoundrel: Pre-Fling Austin

I arrived in Austin a day early for the Garden Bloggers Fling and took a quick look around town. Nearly adjacent to the hotel was a neat little surprise: the house, now a museum, where William Sydney Porter — a.k.a. the (in)famous writer, O. Henry — lived with his family in the 1880s and ’90s.

O. Henry’s life story is truly interesting. He was born and grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, but it appears that he “got to Texas as fast as he could,” a cute refrain I heard several times while I was in Austin. William tried out lots of jobs and at times was a pharmacist, a ranch hand, a cook, a store clerk, a draftsman, a musician, a bank teller and bookkeeper. He was also an embezzler who once convicted was so freaked out by the idea of prison that he left his young family and fled to Honduras (he is credited with coining the phrase “banana republic” while there).

Becoming a fugitive didn’t help William’s situation, but did give him lots of fodder for stories. He began to use the name O. Henry when he eventually did his time at a prison in Ohio, so he could continue to write for magazines and newspapers and remain anonymous.

O. Henry is probably known best for “Gift of the Magi,” and for the surprising “twist” endings to most of his stories. Among his friends he was probably better known for being an “adult beverage enthusiast.” The QR codes in the photos below actually work if you scan the screen of your computer with your phone. Videos will then pop up to tell you more.

milkweed GBF Austin Vicki's Garden

Look at the incredible flowers on this antelope horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula) in Vicki’s front yard garden!

Convinced before noon that Austin is colorful, and maybe also weird, I met up with Janet and we ubered to north Austin for a gathering at fellow blogger Vicki’s house. It was a nice time of reacquainting and just hanging out in the pleasant verdure of Vicki’s artsy backyard garden. Nothing weird (unless you count that antelope horns milkweed!), just pretty plants, delicious treats — almond cake with strawberries and yogurt and a wonderfully fragrant tea, and then a friendly ride back to town.  It was a pleasant easing-in to what would be an intense weekend of non-stop garden touring.

GBF Austin O. Henry House
GBF Austin O. Henry House
GBF Austin O. Henry
GBF Austin O. Henry House
GBF Austin O. Henry House Fabaceae
GBF Austin O. Henry House Porter Family
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
gbf Austin Vicki's garden roses
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
lonicera sempervirens vicki's garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
milkweed GBF Austin Vicki's Garden
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