Live from Austin (preamble)



There is really not much to blog about yet in terms of the Austin Spring Fling, but what the hell, I’m isolated in a hotel to the north of much of the group, and it’s still early so here goes.

The first thing you learn about Austin is that it’s surrounded by incredibly verdant countryside: trees, lakes, little streams, and even hills. This is one of the aspects that makes Austin so different from other parts of Texas. The second thing you learn is there are two kinds of food: tex-mex and barbecue. My cabby took me by one taco place after another. “How can anyone eat that many tacos, so often” I’m thinking. Yeah, I’m sure there are lots of other types of food in Austin.

As it happens, our first meal of the get-together was tex-mex at a Matt’s El Rancho, a wonderful place that also served excellent Patron margaritas (I can never remember the other types of tequila I like, so I fall back).

Amazingly, the bloggers took up two very long tables. I did not even begin to have an opportunity to even say hi to most of them. Our little group at the end was delightful though: the team from Cobrahead : Annaliese Valdes and Geoff Valdes; Mary Ann Newcomer/Idaho Gardener; and Dee Nash/Red Dirt Ramblings (Oklahoma). There was also Geoff’s lovely fiancée Raemelle (whose full name does not appear on the printed list). Raemelle and Geoff are shown above.

So many of these gardeners write for magazines, work as garden designers, make garden products (Cobrahead), or otherwise surpass me in horticultural chops. I feel bemused to be among them. In a good way.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. If you have a chance, you should try a breakfast taco at Maria’s Taco Xpress, which was next door to the restaurant we were at tonight. A south Austin icon.

    I enjoyed meeting you tonight. Thanks so much for the lovely book of the Buffalo Garden Walk.

    PS. Austin is not normally very green…but it did rain this morning and April is one of our nicest months.

  2. For really good Margaritas, such as pomegranate or prickly pear, go to Manuel’s. Found in during the early part of our evacuavation (the beginning of a 6000 mile circle of the U.S. to return to New Orleans). Good food, too, worth the money.

  3. I’m jealous… even with just this teaser post! But I’ve never visited a blog named “Cobrahead”… links, please?

  4. Chris, 38 bloggers, representing more than 38 blogs and about half are from out of Austin.

    Kim, Cobrahead is a cultivating tool. Google it if you are interested (that’s what i’d have to do). Anyway, the cobraheaders are very nice!

  5. “This is one of the aspects that makes Austin so different from other parts of Texas. ”

    Actually, only parts of West Texas are kinda brown and dusty. We have more types of terrain than most people imagine — mountains, piney woods, canyons, rolling hills that look like Tuscany, beachy places, etc. etc.

    Dang Hollywood… made us all look like boll weevils!

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