Garden Blog Pioneers, Part 4

– Posted in: About this site, Blogging Art and Practice, Garden Blog Pioneers, Mailbag, Recommended Links, Series

This is the fourth part in a series about the early days of garden blogging, written to commemorate my four years as a garden blogger. For those just joining us, the the names of the respondents to my email questions, and links to their respective blogs, can be found at the end of this entry. Links to previous posts in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

4. What do you think has caused the proliferation of garden blogs in the last year?

  • [DW:] “I think the proliferation of gardening blogs is part of the general proliferation of the Internet and user-created content in general. I often bemoan the fact that over the course of the last century, music changed from an active pursuit, where almost everyone played an instrument to a passive pursuit where we sit and listen to what others have created. I think writing had fallen into the same trap. Today’s blogging tools, though, offer anyone who has the desire a chance to get their word out to the world.

    As for garden blogging in particular, there is simply more attention being paid today to the environment and ecology. More and more people are “gardening” even if it only includes a container garden on their balcony. As this interest in the environment grows, more and more people rediscover gardening as a hobby. In many cases, these people already have an online presence, so they begin sharing their gardening stories with their readers simply as another part of their life.”

  • [EBD:] “Alas, I no longer read all the garden blogs out there as regularly (compulsively) as I previously did due to all the other demands on my time. But my guess is that the number has increased as blogs become more ‘mainstream.’ “
  • [IL:] “Blogging is growing exponentially, so it only makes sense that garden blogs would benefit. I think that it is turning the bend on following static websites into the business communities interest. Unfortunately this sort of makes the highly individual bloggers a little harder to find, and sort of homogenizes everything down, making portals the destinations and the lowly individual hard pressed to keep up. Remember when we were so excited to find a new garden blog? The upside is that there are wonderfully experienced gardeners and talented writers who are raising the bar on what it means to have an exceptional assortment of material to read.”
  • [JZ:] “I don’t really know. If I were to posit a hypothesis, it would be that this growth is a reaction to the media meme that went around recently, indicating that ‘gardening was dead.’ Another factor may be the publication of the book Blogosphere: Best of the Blogs by Que publishing in November of 2005.”
  • [MSS:] “More people outside of the circle of techies are aware of blogs now. And blog technology has become more accessible. Google’s Blogger has made it easier than ever for people to create a blog. Most of the new blogs seem to be from Blogger. Rss syndication has made it easier to keep up with a large number of blogs. (I track three times more blogs than I did when I just followed links in my sidebar.)”
  • [PS:] “The proliferation of gardeners! When I drive around town here, houses are awash with flowers and flowering shrubs. It used to be plain evergreen shrubs, and once in a great while, a dinky row of tulip soldiers – five of them – under the front window. You could tell the age of a house by how much the front windows were covered by shrubs! Blah! I attribute the proliferation of gardeners to TV gardening shows. Thank you, TV, it’s one very good thing you’ve done for us :-)”
  • [TG:] “Definitely the ease of blogging. At the risk of sounding insulting, any and every idiot (I don’t mean gardeners, specifically) has a blog now. It’s easier to keep a journal, to post pictures, to join forums, etc. Thank goodness the Internet is still free, for the most part, as that has allowed many of the blogging and community resources to remain competitive. Also, I think gardening is becoming cooler — especially among younger people — spurred by an interest in organics…at least, I hope so.”
  • [KP:] “Of course, we’re all guessing . . . my first guess would be that a lot of gardeners got a digital camera, and then tried to find a way to justify the expense. Probably even the greater availability of high-speed internet access was a factor. But I also wonder if the creation of Garden Voices by the same firm that runs GardenWeb had something to do with it. I believe a lot of gardeners were exposed to garden blogs for the first time by reading them there. And surely after actually going to a few blogs and reading the entries, many of them thought, ‘Hey! Even I could do that!’ But we’ll never really know unless we ask. To all who are reading this: if you have started a blog about your garden (even if you also write about other things) in the last year, please state in the comments why you did so. Who, or what, inspired you? Why in the last 365 days, and not earlier? Inquiring minds want to know!”

Click here for Part 5.

The Respondents

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

Garden Man May 4, 2007, 1:32 pm

Starting a blog of my own… Liked this site a lot.

Garden Man April 26, 2007, 12:07 pm

I have noticed today actually while looking for gardening blogs, that it seems there are quite a few! I was definately surprised.

Loretta September 1, 2006, 1:32 pm

In response to Kathy Purdy’s last comment- I actually started a gardening blog because I was searching for interesting garden blogs to read, and I hadn’t discovered Garden Voices or other gardening blogrolls yet. So I decided to create my own gardening blog, document what was going on in my garden and also use it a vehicle to teach people around me (friends, coworkers) about basic gardening techniques, what to grow when, etc. Also, I wanted to start a blog to geek out on- there’s only so many times your friends want to hear about all the different varieties of lettuce you plan on growing or different varieties of tomatoes-only hardcore gardeners want to hear you ramble on or understand your language!

Once I started, and spent a little more time on the web searching, I found lots of great, interesting blogs to read. I think access to technology has made blogging way more mainstream. In fact, since I started my blog in June, people around me have started their own blogs. It’s a way to connect with people, even if it’s in a slightly voyeuristic way…

Now that I’ve started, I realize I’m one of the only garden bloggers from Los Angeles, which I find so odd- or at least I haven’t found any yet! But it’s been wonderful to hear the stories and insights of aother around the globe.

Oh, also- I didn’t tell anybody about my blog until it was a little more than a baby, either. I revealed it to friends and people slowly… But it is, as Carol says, a wonderful way to keep people informed of what’s going on in your garden.

Kathy Purdy September 1, 2006, 6:00 am

I find the same is true of me, Pam. Writing entries and maintaining this website does keep me out of the garden, while at the same time keeping me immersed in the world of gardening. I still haven’t found a balance I’m happy with.

Pam/Digging August 31, 2006, 10:29 pm

Before I started blogging, I followed local bloggers Zanthan and Soul of the Garden for a couple of years, longing to join them but lacking the know-how. Meanwhile, I kept extensive photos and notes about my garden, hoping to someday get my own blog up and running.

Last January, overwhelmed by my requests for help, my techie husband took pity on me and created my blog from a WordPress template. I was so excited to have one that I stayed up until 3 am several nights in a row to customize the colors and the look (learning a little html in the process) and to put my collection of photos and notes into it.

Unlike Annie in Austin, I wasn’t shy about advertising it to my friends and family, and I immediately sent the link to my favorite local bloggers, who were kind enough to encourage me and link to me.

Since then, blogging has become as much a hobby of mine as gardening, which is ironic. It keeps me inside on some days when I really should be out in the garden. But it also sustains my gardening interests and stokes the feeling of belonging to a gardening community. Recently, we Austin garden bloggers breached the limits of cyberspace by meeting face-to-face. We had a great time getting to know each other as people rather than online personas. Who says the Internet leads to loneliness and anonymity?

mss August 31, 2006, 12:55 pm

Annie, I’ve never understood why you were shy about commenting in the first place but I’m so glad you finally started. When you were on vacation and I didn’t see your comments on anybody’s blog, I was panicking, “Where’s Annie? What’s happened?” You have such a way with words (“I was swimming before I realized the water was over my head”) that I was thrilled when you started blogging, too.

Kim, despite how long I’ve been blogging, I’m still thrilled with every comment. In those early days it was awfully silent. It’s so fun meeting new people and going over to their blogs to check out their gardens.

bill August 31, 2006, 10:51 am

I think there are more gardening blogs just because there are more blogs, period. And blogging has filtered out into the general population, into an older and less “geeky” demographic.

Kathy Purdy August 31, 2006, 6:03 am

Yes, I still love to get comments. I always hope I’ll get one more. I especially love getting comments from someone who’s never commented before–now I know someone else who is reading my blog.

Annie in Austin August 30, 2006, 9:06 pm

MSS has come up with one good reason – Blogger technology helped me start blogging in June. After decades of gardening, I started the Divas of the Dirt website in 2003, updating it once or twice a year. I visited a list of favorite blogs, many from Austin, then in early 2004, got up the nerve to make comments. This spring, when some sites required a Blogger account just to comment, I realized it was free and signed up. The system was so workable that I was swimming before I realized the water was over my head.

Unlike Carol, I haven’t told many people about it yet!


Kim (Blackswamp_Girl) August 30, 2006, 8:58 pm

Carol, I STILL smile with amazement when I see that I actually have a comment! πŸ™‚

Kathy and all of the rest of the more experienced garden bloggers: I’ve been wondering, does that sense of amazement at having an actual comment go away? Or do you still get a kick out of receiving comments, even after all of these years?

Carol August 30, 2006, 8:23 pm

I started and stopped a blog a few years ago and attempted to actually delete it. (You can’t really delete a blog, Internet content lives forever!)

Then last fall I restarted my blog because I love to garden and write and writing helps me sort out my thoughts about gardening and keeps my mind off work for awhile.

At first I made my blog “private” then I made it public but didn’t tell anyone about it (in case someone might actually read it), then one day I got a Comment. A comment!

I realized that someone(s) had actually read what I wrote and thought it was interesting. So, I began to tell a few people about my blog, then sent a link to my siblings, an aunt, etc. I added pictures. I got myself listed on blog aggregrators and other sites. I’ve posted more than once in a day! I read other blogs and post comments. I even started a second blog on an unrelated topic, and added yet another blog to show case my collection of garden hoes.

Now when someone asks how my garden is doing, I tell them they can keep up with it on my blog and I give them the url. Ditto if they hear about my hoe collection and want to see picture.

Kathy Purdy August 30, 2006, 12:34 pm

I love long posts, and long comments, especially when they confirm my own pet theories.

Kim August 30, 2006, 12:19 pm

Sorry for the very long post, by the way… obviously I need an editor! *grin*

Kim August 30, 2006, 12:17 pm

If I had any mental barrier to starting a garden blog before this year, it was my own mistaken perception that blogs served mostly as online soapboxes for fire-and-brimstone types like politicos and activists.

While I have strong convictions about a lot of things, I am not a lecturer at heart. I also have no need to recruit people to my way of thinking, be provocative or shocking, or dazzle people with my edgy writing. So blogging–about anything at all–didn’t really seem like something I would ever do.

I would say that finding Garden Voices really did give me a gateway into the blogosphere, because it helped me find many interesting blogs like those authored by the people above. I discovered that most garden blogs are about sharing the trials and tribulations of gardening in your own little plot of earth.

Reading them is rather like being permitted to leaf through someone’s garden journal–albeit one that has been formatted into short, timely chapters full of pictures that illustrate the accompanying subject matter. When I read them I gain ideas, clarify my own thoughts and opinions, and sometimes simply enjoy the view.

As I devoured other gardening blogs I thought, “Yes! I can do this, too!” The fear and doubt that I felt when thinking about the possibility that nobody would care what I have to say was outweighed by the benefit of the online garden journal that would result from my efforts, even if nobody commented on the posts. (The comments have made the whole experience even richer, by the way, and have helped me learn even more about my own garden!)