Garden Blog Pioneers, Part 7

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

This is the seventh 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, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.
7. Does it seem to you that gardeners, as a whole, are late adopters of technology? I mean, look at the categories for the Weblog Awards. There’s a category for best craft blog, best food blog, best entertainment blog, best politics blog, best web development blog, etc. The closest gardeners get is best topical blog, which is basically an “everything else” category. Why do you think this is so? (Or make a case for the opposite–that they’re not late adopters.)

  • [TG:] “Gardeners are often perceived as retired, blue-haired, technologically-ignorant ladies with nothing better to do. While this does represent a fraction of the gardening population (and 75% of my Master Gardener class), it certainly doesn’t speak for all of us. Maybe someone is assuming we’d rather be outside than blogging…?”
  • [PO:] “I think it’s because some of us garden bloggers aren’t gardeners. We’re dilettantes of the dirt who would rather write about it than dig in it. I have a friend whose passion is gardening. So he gardens from sunup until his bones begin to ache. Then he sits back with a frosty, cold one and admires what he has done. He’s also a high-tech guy with a couple of computers, plasma-tv, iPods, and the rest. But after a day in the garden, he would much rather log-on to Myspace, boing-boing, or YouTube. He doesn’t read any of the garden logs, not even mine — and we’re best friends. “
  • [EBD:] “I don’t think gardeners are late adopters so much as our interest is more focused and tends to attract the attention only of other gardeners. As for not having a Weblog Awards category, I think the existing categories generally have a broader base than gardening.”
  • [DW:] “No, I don’t necessarily think they are late adopters, but perhaps they are simply more interested in gardening, and blogging about gardening, than pursuing awards or playing with technology in general. Despite the fact that technology is my life, I have a host of interests that keep me away from technology. I call it the ‘high-tech/high-touch’ approach to life. For every technological interest I have, I have another that involves no technology at all.

    Also, I think that garden bloggers are more interested in their own community interaction instead of worrying about promoting garden blogging as a particular genre. Just like gardening, we are more inclined to simply ‘get on with it’ than discuss how other should be doing it as well.”

  • [JZ:] “Many of the ‘early’ adapters to the web log /blogging format, even after the introduction of the Blogger software by Pyra Labs, were computer savvy individuals, many of whom ran software on systems maintained and operated in their own homes. We may be the next generation to them, but we are on the front of the wave of ‘just plain folks’ utilizing software and services in this way.”
  • [MSS:] “I don’t think that gardeners are late adopters of blogging but that the original blogging community wasn’t very aware of gardening. The initial community of bloggers tended to be in their 20s or early 30s. Young people tend to live in apartments and spend their free time and money on gadgets, movies, and music. I know I did. I didn’t get a house with a yard until my late 30s. Just as they embraced crafts like knitting, I think they’ll get turned on to gardening. And garden blogs will pique their interest.”
  • [PS:] “I imagine that gardeners as a whole are older than the general computing population… less so now than just a few years ago. The earliest adapters were largely young white males (well, except for Admiral Grace Hopper, one of my heroines) with a great interest in computing technology. The early lists, bulletin boards, etc. were all about computing technology. I guess the next people to pick it up were folks in their houses , like crafters. The gardeners were outside, too busy weeding to play with the computer.”
  • [IL:] “I think gardeners–at least in their gardening–are ‘do-ers’, and maybe we are slow on the techonological uptake; I was actually opposed to computers in the ’80’s. Oh yeah, a veritable Luddite in my homesteading ways of yore. Is it true of us as a group? Maybe, but our demographic is flocking to the internet, and even if some of us are less exciting for all that we make up for it with real garden experience. but then, there is also something to be said for novice gardening friends and their enthusiasm… and my sour grapes wants to say their beginners luck. Truthfully though, I think that gardening went through a lull and that the coming generation is just starting to find how satisfying it is to plant a garden. And that may be creating a need for more online resources for gardeners. Bloggers are a part of that . . . sort of organically.”
  • [KP:] “The gardeners I know ‘in real true life’ (as my children would say) are almost all old enough to be my parent, and while they have learned to use email–to get photos of the grandkids–and perhaps do a little rudimentary surfing, the idea that they could solve some of their gardening problems (such as pest identification) or find a community of gardeners with whom to share their successes never occurs to them. In general, I find people don’t get interested in computers much until it meets a need or solves a problem for them. And I know a lot of very good gardeners who still don’t perceive a computer, more specifically the internet, doing that for them.”

Click here for Part 8.

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.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.

~Mitchell Burgess in Northern Exposure

Comments on this entry are closed.

Damon March 13, 2007, 7:09 pm

I use mostly old fashioned gardening techniques to relax and escape from the modern day tech world that we live in. I’m not a garden club type person. I just like to get back to the good old get my hands dirty and put in a good days work in the garden knowing that I actually created something that will grow and flourish.

Annie in Austin September 4, 2006, 8:18 pm

In my experience, gardeners were among the first to use technology to communicate, including a large group of us on the bulletin boards in the ‘early days’. I was addicted to the Prodigy boards from 1991 to 1993, along with dozens of other regulars who hung out on the perennial board.

The members gardened in locations all over the US, delighting in plant identification games, color combination ideas, poetry and jokes as well as the kind of “what’s blooming in my garden” updates that are still around. It was all dial-up, the posts appeared much more slowly, and they lacked photos. One year we tracked the opening of the first daffodils as spring spread over the country. When a sudden spring snowstorm buried Atlanta, solicitous notes poured in to the Georgia gardeners from everywhere.

Garden author Allen Lacy was a member, sometimes trying out ideas that would later appear in one of his books, and there were professional horticulturalists and scientists. The discussions could get pretty heated! Many of the posts were sub-basic questions from people who could have found the answer in two seconds, but would rather ask a stranger than open a book. That part never changes, does it?

We mailed seedlings and iris divisions to each other, and the east coast members of the group met, and even toured together – I think one group went to Wave Hill in NY, and another group traveled to Nancy Goodwin’s beloved, long-gone Montrose Nursery and to the NC Botanic Gardens in Raleigh. JC Raulston himself was still alive back then, experimenting like mad!

And we were all quite concerned about the Michaelangelo virus, due March 6, 1992.


Kathy Purdy September 3, 2006, 2:03 pm

Mary Ann–
Just checked out your blog, and it turns out we’re practically neighbors. How did you slip through my radar all this time?

Thank you for your kind words. If you get a chance, pick up the October issue of Horticulture with the More for the Northeast supplement. I wrote up Ithaca for the “On the Road” segment. Too bad I didn’t have the opportunity to pick your brain before I wrote it.

Mary Ann September 3, 2006, 10:49 am

Kathy, thanks for asking these questions. This one (essentially “What took you so long?”) has been on my mind for years. Blogging seems so perfect for gardeners (the photos, the daily or weekly entries) I’ve wondered for a long time why so few gardeners were doing it. I remember when you started – and it was hard to find a handful of gardening blogs. I’m glad that’s changing. Special thanks for starting and keeping up the Garden Blog Directory.

Kathy Purdy September 3, 2006, 9:14 am

My closest local garden buddy doesn’t read my blog. As a matter of fact, she has been distancing herself more and more from computers. She has gone from playing Myst and other games on her computer, to cancelling her free Juno email service. What little emailing she does, she does at a public computer. I’m not sure she even owns a working computer anymore, though her grown son is certainly a gadget geek.

Of the people I know that are aware that I have a blog, I don’t think too many read it. So my personal experience is that gardeners aren’t very interested in what goes on in “Computerland,” and the statistics Doug quotes confirm my suspicions.

mss September 3, 2006, 9:04 am

I admit that my perspective is skewed given that ALL the gardeners I know I met through my blog (with the exception of my mother-in-law who is the only member of my family who reads and comments on my blog). Therefore, from here gardeners look like a pretty net-savvy bunch.

Doug Green has a much more universal perspective. I admit–I don’t hang around at the usual gardening venues of plant societies and garden clubs. So I don’t have a good idea of what the majority of gardeners are really like.

bill September 2, 2006, 6:16 pm

I had a comment on an earlier post which would fit in with this discussion.

I would also mention that I am a member of a couple of local gardening clubs. Within those groups there are people of all ages, but I guess older women are certainly over-represented.

Most of them use email and use the internet to search for things nowadays. But only a few have ever visited my blog and even those probably only looked at it once and none of them commented online, although in person they did make comments to me. I don’t know if any conclusions could be drawn from that.

Doug Green September 2, 2006, 6:51 am

I’ve been in the nursery/gardening business in one way or t’other for over 30 years now (damn, but that makes me sound old) 🙂 and I will indeed confirm the majority of the gardening trade is indeed resistant to technology.

There are still major greenhouse operations that do not even have dedicated fax lines and are not computerized – never mind email and blogs.

Are gardeners similarly inclined to be technologically behind the times?


I run an Internet publishing business and the “problems” I wind up solving for customers such as “I ordered your ebook – it hasn’t come in the mail yet” (meaning snail mail) are constant.

Are these folks bloggers ? No. Those that blog are among the technologically aware and those that actually read blogs are tech savvy compared to the mass of gardeners.

I won’t even hazard a guess why this is so but comparing blog numbers tells one part of the tale.

AngryChicken – one of the bloggie award nominees about crafting has an Alexa ranking of 501,998. This is it’s ranking as the most visited site on the Internet.

GardenRant scores 978,940 – a fair way back. Cold Climate Gardening scores 1,149,141. Zanthan scores 1,171.208,
GreenZoo doesn’t rank,
GardenSpot is the 4,495,354 most visited site on the net,
Welchwrite comes in at 1,083,463
Garden Djinn ranks 4,420,735.

Unfortunately, those hosting on blogger can not be ranked at this time at Alexa – this varies with the day.

So in terms of Internet popularity at least as measured by one craft site up for an award and those blogs listed here plus Garden Rant – we don’t have the same amount of traffic or interest on the Net. This of course makes the assumption that these blogs are the most visited garden blogs and that angry chicken is one of the most visited of craft sites – both assumptions that may not be true.

But still food for thought.