Friday, February 27, 2009

Why Do Experienced Gardeners Blog?

Three weeks ago Mr. McGregor's Daughter asked why gardeners should read garden blogs as part of her preparation for our individual presentations and group discussion at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show March 7th. Also speaking at the show will be MrBrown Thumb and Gina from My Skinny Garden. I thought it was an excellent idea to ask her question to her readers, and planned to borrow the idea here.

Being the plan-ahead kind of person I am, I've had my part prepared for weeks. I'm very nervous about public speaking, and have procrastinated on finishing starting my brief presentation. So finally at this late date, I'm throwing myself at your mercy requesting your assistance in answering the question "Why do experienced gardeners blog?"

We all speak in unique voices, and I'd like to include yours in my presentation. I hope by sharing my perspectives I'll inspire you to share yours too, whether some of your reasons are different from or similar to mine.

For me one of the best things about blogging is the conversation that continues in the comments. I treasure each one. I love how it's always positive, supportive, and I love how much I learn from you. I love the connection that continues to grow between us. We share our joys and concerns and support each other through personal and gardening triumphs and tragedies. It's about so much more than gardening.

One thing I've learned about gardening in all these years is there will always be more to learn, and blogging is a learning experience all its own. Having the opportunity to visit gardens around the world and getting to know the gardeners who care for them is truly a unique opportunity. Blogging has motivated me in my own garden as I've been inspired by yours.

Blogging has inspired me to visit public gardens I hadn't seen since childhood and others I'd never seen. I've even met other garden bloggers for a couple of those visits. Although I didn't attend the first Spring Fling last year in Austin, I'm in the thick of this year's Fling in Chicago. I'm enjoying the challenge and privilege of being a part of the planning, and getting better acquainted with with my fellow committee members.

It seems natural to throw this question out to you who have become friends and virtual neighbors, and are so valued to me for enriching my perspectives and broadening my views, not to mention sharing your wonderful gardens in photos and words, and sharing all kinds of neat plants, hints, tips, advice, support, and inspiration. So, experienced gardeners, Why do YOU blog? (If you can include in your comment how many years you've gardened and how many months or years you've been blogging, I'd be most grateful!)

p.s. Wish me luck! I'll need it!

p.p.s. Speaking of garden bloggers around the world, Blossom Blooms from Malaysia enjoyed these photos from last season and invited me to swap a link to her "Show Your Garden" post. In case you're wondering, the first shot is from my garden last July, and the second is from the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago last March.


  1. Hello there Linda !
    Can I call myself "experienced" is a bit of a dicey reflection for me. I am self taught .. with just a condensed landscaping course behind me. I have researched a great deal and I have been gardening full tilt about 8 years.
    I first started to blog because it kept a handy record of what I was doing, how I was doing it, and how well it was working. But then since joining this club Blotanical, it has expanded my knowledge and perhaps my confidence amazingly !
    There is no one set answer for "why" .. it changes over the time frame that we garden I think. Constant change just as in, why we actually garden .. hope this helps ?

  2. Hi Linda,
    I blog so I can be jealous of everyone else's plants and climates and have an even more severe case of spring fever than usual. (HA! Too bad the strikeout command doesn't work in comments!)
    Seriously,I started blogging, similarly to GardenJoy, as a way to have a record of my planting and blooming--and it certainly inspired me to take a lot more photos, which is a great record in itself. For over a year, I had hardly any comments, and then Blotanical hit! Now I really enjoy getting and leaving comments, and learning all about what plants other people grow in other places. I always learn something new. And I've enjoyed connecting with people and even meeting one (!), and I look forward to meeting others. The fact that blogging is international also appeals to me. I don't have much occasion to converse in German, so I especially like reading German garden blogs, partly for leaning plant names in German but partly because it ties me to my heritage in an unexpected and real way. The same goes for bloggers in England, who I feel a special kinship with, do more to me ex's heritage than mine. And I just love gardening overall and blogging helps me fuel that love, but by bit, esp. in the off season. Yes, you could even say garden blogging is the heroin an addict needs. (Or not!)

  3. I forgot to add, no matter how well-planned your presentation (and I did find that helped me feel secure), it's natural to feel nervous. I was literally shaking the first time I spoke and fairly nervous the next few times. You might also find it gives you an odd surge of fulfillment and the nervousness will end over time. Once in a while I still get butterflies, but then, when I;m on, the room is mine, so to speak. It's not something I ever thought I'd enjoy, but I do, and I suspect you may too! See how being a master gardener pushes you outside your comfort zone? Good Lord, I volunteered to talk to a room full of kids (KIDS! This still scares me)... we'll see how that goes.

  4. Anonymous7:49 AM

    Hi.. I never had any formal education in gardening or anything related to gardening. But I love it. I find joy in it. And I started blogging just for fun. It didn't start as a garden blog. But since I love gardening, in time, it become more and more about what's in my garden. And when I found Blotanical, my, I'm overjoyed. The community keeps me going and gives me pleasure in what I already love.
    Good luck!

  5. Apparently, I also like making all kinds of typing errors! ;-)

  6. Good luck! I'm sure you'll do fine. Why do I blog? Since I became a Stay at home dad I needed some grown-up outlet for some sort of conversational discourse. I also like to see what other people have done with their gardens and how I can improve mine with their ideas. You learn something new everyday.

  7. Linda,

    Hello...good luck with your talk...I know you will do well; your voice is strong and always clear. I noticed that from my first visit. You are knowledgeable, funny and always kind.

    Originally I wanted to talk about gardening with cedar glade conditions, but it became clear to me that connecting with other gardeners, sharing the ups and downs, making friends was the real motivator. That I could learn about plants, gardening and talk about my passion...gardening as much as I wanted is a bonus!

    Linda, when you get up to talk~~just pretend you're blogging and the audience is filled with your blogging friends (who love reading your blog and spending time in your garden)!


  8. Anonymous7:57 AM

    Hi Linda, this is a great idea to get some fresh insight for your presentation. You will be fantastic and probably will get a standing ovation! I would give you one anyway, cousin. :-) I do consider myself an experienced gardener, having enjoyed playing in the dirt all my life. But I am a novice blogger, just over a year at it. I began blogging to join in with others who shared that passion for growing things. To find people who were slightly or more obsessed with gardening was the draw. Sometimes your friends and others just don't understand why you love being dressed oddly and getting your hands dirty, even though you are wearing gloves that dirt still comes through the seams. Common interests and the love of talking about plants and gardening non stop forever. We never run out of things to say about that topic. No matter how diverse our situations, we share that love of nature and nurturing. Wait until you see all the bloggers together at Chicago, the sound of happy voices chattering about gardening will be deafening! In the best possible sense. :-)

  9. Hi Linda, I've been gardening for about 35 years in one form or another, give or take. I read everything gardening, take classes, visit every garden I can, and stop in the middle of streets to photograph gardens. I consider myself fairly experienced with gardening, but am always learning, this is why I blog. Initially when I started the blog this was not the case. I had visions of helping my local community to learn about gardening and best practices and so on. That was when I published thru the FTP. That changed when I moved to Blogger. Local folks probably still read, but they don't usually tell me about it. I hear of it thru the extension agent or word of mouth occasionally. So now I blog to share and to learn simply as another outlet for my garden passion. Have fun at your talk! I am doing one on the 24th for about 50+ folks and getting SO nervous, not because of the large numbers, but because it is local folks and I live in a small, very small town. Good thing I'll have lots of friends and supporters there so when I start hyperventilating they can call an ambulance:)

  10. I enjoy blogging because I find it fun to chat with people of similar interests and I learn something new every day! Blogging keeps my mind open and fresh. I am not an avid gardener but more a hobbyist...

  11. First, there's the wonderful community of garden bloggers, who are some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. Not only are they generous in their advice (Anna/Flowergardengirl redesigned an area for me that I was planning to renovate), but also in plants and seeds. I've commented on some plant and received seeds in the mail without even asking for them. It's wonderful to have people with which to share my gardening triumphs and disasters. Sure, I have friends who garden, but they aren't as obsessed as I am about it. Garden bloggers are just as enthused as I am.
    Second, blogging makes me a better gardener. Writing helps me to think about my garden, and taking photos focuses my eye on things I had too easily overlooked.
    Blogging has also helped me to identify some mystery cultivars in my garden and has revealed that some things came to the garden mislabeled. I can post a couple of photos of a plant and somebody usually comes up with a name or two for the plant.
    Blogging gives me a platform to express my opinions and hopefully have some influence for good. I've ranted about the abuse of trees, invasive plants, bad public plantings, and badly trimmed shrubs. I've also raved about prairies & well cared for natural areas, good public plantings, and beautiful gardens.
    Finally, it's fun. I love some of the goofy memes, such as the photos of cats and dire poetry meme. Participating in Bloom Day gives me a chance to show that a garden in Chicago can have flowers in February or November.
    (Sorry this is so long.)

  12. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Hello linda! Great question. While I'm not deeply experienced, I think I know enough about veggie gardening (nothing about flowers I'm afraid!) to be helpful. I think there are three main reasons I blog. The first is that I like to write and.. it's nice to have an audience! THe second is that I find it helpful for keeping track of what I do year to year, month to month. The third is that I want to be able to provide resources to other gardeners on things that I used to wonder about.

  13. Anonymous11:19 AM

    Good luck! I've been gardening for 40 years. I've been using the name Flowergardengirl for 6 years on message boards. I've been blogging for a little over a year.

    I read blogs to get ideas and see the creativity in others. I blog because I like spreading sunshine. I'm an emotional blogger and crave the feedback. There is no one else in my communication circle who understands the joy of a good load of leaf mulch.

    So I blog for understanding minds. I need ya'll to understand what it took to prepare and nurture a garden through the seasons,

  14. Anonymous11:21 AM

    I'd agree with everything the other commenters wrote about their reasons for blogging. Mine started out as a record for myself--an extension of my journal, essentially--and evolved into a conversation with other bloggers and readers, an outreach to local bloggers for in-person meet-ups (i.e., new-fangled garden club), a way to publicize my design business, an advocacy for native Texas plants, and a regular way to practice my photography and writing skills. So many benefits, but the biggest has been the new friendships made.

    By the way, I've been gardening since 1994 and blogging since 2006.

    Good luck with your talk!

  15. Hi Linda,
    When I first began blogging just over 3 years ago I had no idea how fascinating it would be. I grew up with a gardening mother, and began to plant my own gardens 37 years ago, learning as I grew.
    My first impression of garden bloggers was their friendliness and generosity, and oh, how wonderful to chat with people who share our passion!
    As a learning tool garden blogs are priceless. I've soaked up more knowledge of plants, climates and other gardening related subjects than I could ever have found in garden books (although I enjoy learning from those too).
    The added bonus of forming so many wonderful friendships is the icing on the cake.
    It's no wonder we love blogging so much!
    Wishing you the best of luck, and a slowly beating pulse as you give your speech. I'm sure you'll be wonderful! :)

  16. Anonymous1:09 PM

    I've enjoying meeting other like-minded individuals. Blogging is a wonderful way to express your creative outlet & learn new things from other experienced gardeners. Good luck with your speech! I'm sure you will do great. :)

  17. Country Mouse and I both feel there isn't enough information about Native Plants and California Natives out there, so we partly blog to educate. I'll include a link to my blog in my garden description at the, and visitors can go to the blog for information. That was the motivation. But now we also really enjoy the community, live learning from others, see beautiful photos, etc. And, being a two-blogger blog, we finally see each other's garden more often (we're about 40 miles apart).
    (We're both not that experience, 5 years or so, but expertise about natives is hard to find so we're comparatively experienced)

    Have fun!!

  18. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I started blogging because, although I'm a freelance writer and gardener, I didn't get to say as much as I wanted. I wanted to talk with other gardeners, and I felt like gardeners in Oklahoma didn't have as many people talking about how difficult it is to grow things here. I think I've accomplished all of that, and I've received so much more from other bloggers. Friendship has been the best gift. I also see people while I'm out, and gardeners here seem grateful that someone finds gardening in OK challenging and beautiful.~~Dee

  19. It's funny I didn't start out blogging about my gardens, but after meeting up with all of the wonderful folks at blotanical I felt more motivated.

    I've always thought it would be nice to grow my own food but never got anything going on my own. I did much better with flowers and ornanmental shrubs than I did with edible plants.

    I guess I like the blogging world for it's input, understanding, sharing ideas, and the way it motivates me to act on the ideas that keep flying through my head.

  20. Anonymous1:04 AM

    Welcome to 'Show your Garden'. I'm glad you joined in. I love both garden especially the second one.

  21. I started blogging on my laptop when I was confined to bed for several weeks after an operation. My son suggested it as a way of passing the time. But by the time I got up again, I was hooked. I blog for all the reasons people have suggested, but for me the main ones are that :
    a) researching the posts is an enormous learning experience - and something I'd do much less of if I didn't have to get something written.
    b) I love writing, and the past few years of writing posts has led me to explore writing styles and to really work on what makes a good post. Not there yet, but I think I'm improving :)
    c)the community. I love interacting with people from all over the world. I'm in contact with fascinating people in India, Australia, the States, as well as in other parts of Europe, who I would never have come across in the "real" world.
    c)I don't have a garden! Just a balcony. But knowing that I'm going to blog about it makes me keep experimenting with different plants, different growing conditions etc.
    Looking at what I've written it's all about exploration and learning - even the community bit, as it means finding out about people's experiences in different social and climatic conditions. So in a nutshell - that's why I blog.

  22. Hi Linda,
    I honestly haven't answered that question-but it's been mulling over in my head for a while. Just wanted to stop by & wish you luck at the spring fling. I'm sure you'll do well w/your speaking. I hate public speaking, as well:)
    When I saw the first photo I thought 'is that her garden?'...then was relieved to see that it was a public garden. Not to say that you wouldn't have one like that--maybe you do?-if so, I'm envious:) But it is a gorgeous garden. I love to visit public gardens & need to get out more around here in the DC area. We have a lot to see as well:)

  23. Anonymous10:47 AM

    I love Dave's comment about needing grown up people to interact with. LOL.

    I wouldn't say I'm experienced but I garden blog because I like spreading information and on the internet so many people are looking for the same kind of information I've come across or am also seeking.

  24. Linda, you will shine :) A gardener for 34 years, in hopes of organizing my seasonal cookbook and photos (primarily macro from my garden), I began blogging in Oct 2006 in conjunction with working on my novel, DIARY OF A HO-HUM HOUSEWIFE. Sidetracked by life (2 yrs. caring for my legally blind sister through several horrific illnesses), I often considered quitting. But strength came in the rich communtity of blogging friends with similar interests that helped me focus on needed sense of self. Good luck!

  25. Anonymous9:47 PM

    Well I'm not 'experienced', but the first reason I started to blog about our garden was to keep a record of changes, so that I have photos and dates of when I planted things, etc. to see what worked and what didn't.

    I also find it very useful to read other blogs to gather information, and look at nice photos :)

  26. Thank you all for your wonderful comments and for sharing your reasons for blogging!

    Your responses are all confirmation of the reasons I blog and I'm very grateful for them.

    Anyone else who'd like to weigh in, I'd welcome your input!

  27. Your audience may not know what blogging really is, so you might need to show some garden blogs to them?

    Experienced gardeners blog because you can never know too much--it's not a monologue when you blog, you get insightful comments from gardeners in your own area and all over the world.

    The unexpected benefits are the free garden tours in other states and on other continents. Also the garden blog community is the friendliest one I have encountered online--no flaming or nut cases.

    Good luck with your speech!

  28. Linda, I'm sure your presentation will be wonderful--wish I could be there to hear it!

    I don't think I'm qualified to answer this, as I certainly don't consider myself "experienced." I caught the gardening bug about 7 years ago, but was a complete novice when I started. But I'll answer the question anyway... In the soon-to-be one year that I've been blogging I have learned so much, and as you say, there is always something new to learn, even for experienced gardeners. Visiting gardens via cyberspace all over the globe has been so exciting! And I've enjoyed the camaraderie as well.

    I think you have answered the question already so well, Linda. Oh, and after reading some of Monica's comments, I will say I enjoy the humor that often appears here in Blog Land, too:)

    Oh yes, and one more thing--my family thinks I'm crazy to spend so much time and money on plants. It's nice to meet so many other "crazy" people here:)

  29. Hi Linda,
    I feel for you being nervous about your talk. Fortunately it will be an easy crowd of fans. But I know all the pep talks probably don’t help much. Writing about your garden is very different than speaking to gardeners. Somehow I’m confident for you that you’ll do just fine once you get started.

    I’ve been gardening for about 25 years but seriously (as in obsessively) gardening for about 15years. I’ve been blogging about my gardening experiences for almost 2 years. When my blog first went on line I had absolutely NO idea there was even a single other gardener out there blogging. It took me a few months to even discover the first fellow gardener. So at first my blog was a log of sorts to keep track of the phases of my garden and to share my photos with family. But once I found out there were other gardeners out there that liked to “talk” about gardening, I was completely hooked.

    Then a few months later along came Stuart’s Blotanical and literally the whole world opened up. What fun.

    I’ve never been too much of a garden magazine reader. They rarely have anything relative for my zone. But blogging has been one learning experience after another. So many times I’ll read about a plant someone out of my zone is growing and it causes me to do the research to see if I can grow it here. Prior to blogging I stuck to the plants I had always been successful with and didn’t venture far from the comfortable.

    For me, learning and playing with photography has been a big draw. Blogging is artsy in a way and it offers my designer-wanna-be imaginings an outlet to share the combination of these aspects in one place.

    Lastly, getting to ‘talk’ about gardening with fellow obsessed gardeners as much as I want is very satisfying. Don’t know what that is for sure (except I know I do like to talk) but it surely is a motivator for me to keep on blogging.
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  30. Linda I want to agree with all the above but add that this isn't just open to people with blogs. I read and comment on a lot of blogs and been made very welcome. It is like having a friendly gardener over the garden fence, some one to share in the ups and downs. I would love to blog but time doesn't allow it though I do have an occasional guest post and I really appreciate being part of the virtual garden blog world. So please add that reading blogs is just as addictive and if you leave comments you will be welcomed. None bloggers are made very welcome on Blotanical as well.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  31. HI, Linda -- from your written words on your blog, I think you will do really well at that talk. Your words are lively, fresh and interesting.

    I'm new to Blotanical, and somewhat daunted by the level of garden experience and knowledge here! I have been a gardener for most of my life -- started by following my grandmother around more than er ... years ago. I've gardened in lots of places, but for the past many years have done so in US Zone 7. I began my little blog about a year ago mostly as a record for myself of what is going on in my own garden, and because I like to write. I am not a great photographer, although my digital camera has improved things there. The pictorial record is perhaps more valuable than the written comments.
    I love the comment about garden bloggers knowing the value of a load of leaf mulch! Exactly! Some things MUST be shared with like minds.

  32. Good luck with your presentation, Linda - bet you'll have fun once you get started!

    I've been trying to grow flowers and vegetables since childhood, with interest turning to obsession once we bought a house with a yard in 1973. Guess 35 years makes me experienced at trying, anyway!

    It was fun finding other obsessed gardeners - friends, neighbors, garden club pals - but they weren't interested in sharing their experiences in writing.

    Then around 1991 I fell into the world of garden bulletin boards on Prodigy - what joy! Gardeners who wrote! My conversations with people all over the US tied up our phone line - it was fun but it didn't last. For the next few years I was reduced to inflicting emails crammed with garden photos on friends & family.

    I joined the Divas of the Dirt in 2001 and in 2002 told their story for a magazine article, followed by the Divas' website in 2003. "Annie in Austin" started commenting on blogs in March 2004, and I began the Transplantable Rose in June 2006.

    Wherever we moved I've been lucky to find gardening friends to talk to - but it took technology to find people who are also compelled to converse in writing about the gardens they love. This is why I blog.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  33. Hi Daffodil Planter, MrBrown Thumb will be covering that.

    Thanks for visiting and for weighing in!

    I am so appreciative of everyone's comments! You've helped me tremendously, and I'll be incorporating the insights you've shared into my part. Thanks as well for the votes of confidence. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me. I'm still nervous, but it's really nice knowing you're rooting for me!

    Annie, wow, I'm really impressed with how much and how early you were involved in internet gardening groups. I had no idea such things even existed in the early '90's.

  34. Good luck with the presentation, Linda. One thing that helps me is to focus on how excited I am about the material I'm sharing instead of how nervous I am about myself and my speaking abilities.
    I've been gardening since I was a teenager, so about 15 years. My blog is just a year old. I have a fair amount of book-learning and various plant-related job experiences, but I love reading blogs by people with 35 years (!) of gardening experience. That's something you can't learn in a book. I started my blog as a way to share presentations I'd put together previously. Blotanical taught me that I could find friends who were just as obsessed about gardening as I am, which saves my real-life, less-interested friends from listening to my endless garden chatter - I can blog and comment about it all instead. VW

  35. Thanks VW, that's good advice. I do need to find a way to focus on my enthusiasm for the subject instead of my nerves.

    Thanks so much for weighing in with the reasons you blog. It's nice to meet another horticulture professional. I have a fledgling coaching/full service gardening business. Reading the blogs of other professionals is another very good reason for me to blog. There's lots to learn from you veterans of the biz.

  36. Anonymous4:39 PM

    I'll be whirling good wishes your way in cyberspace! On a note separate from why we blog: on recent trips, I've made it a point to visit Garfield Park Conservatory since its renovation. Last year, one of the gardeners bemoaned the lack of support and funding. Said he goes to Home Depot and buys plants himself! That threw me. Chicago has gained such a reputation since the Mayor has planted countless trees, beautified boulevards, and Millennium Park, of course. Still, I'm delighted to see Chicago getting so much attention in the blogosphere. Please say hi to the Chicagoland Gardening mag. people from me if you run into them at the Show. It's just days away, and I'm sure you'll deliver a great talk!

  37. Hi Linda,good luck with the presentation. I am sure each of you will do well.
    Many of the reasons to blog and/or read blogs have been covered but I would like to add one more.
    It was always so hard to find good reviews for garden and nature books before I started reading blogs. It seems many of the blog writers are also avid readers. Now finding good books about gardening in general and the more narrow aspect of habitat gardening is easy. Seems the publishers and authors are noticing this as well.
    See you at the Fling!

  38. Hi Alice, thanks for your good wishes!

    It's pretty amazing GP Conservatory does what they do on such a limited budget! If the budget was so tight last year, I can only imagine the challenges they're having this year with tax revenues dropping even further as the recession has become deeper. Chicago's like a lot of other cities struggling to manage the budget. Hopefully money will continue to be found to maintain cultural and art in these tough economic times.

    Hi Gloria, that's an excellent point. I hadn't thought of that, but you are spot-on. I really enjoy reading book reviews on the blogs, and they have influenced my reading choices.

    I'm looking forward to meeting you in May!

  39. Linda,
    I can't believe I left off (even though I went so long) in my last comment how blogging gave me the courage I needed to plunge off the "afraid to fail" cliff and start a veggie garden last year. I don't think I would have had the little bit of confidence I mustered up to get started if not for blogging. I knew I could ask questions and get good advice in the world of generous garden bloggers.
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  40. Hi Meems! Excellent point! Reading all the blogs about veggie-growing last year made me long for a veggie bed even more than ever, and started the ball rolling here.

    I'm finding so much helpful information on veggie-growers' blogs. After five years I feel a bit rusty, and no matter how long I garden, there will always be more to learn.


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