New Design for Cold Climate Gardening

– Posted in: About this site
15 comments

Welcome to the newly designed Cold Climate Gardening. I’ve spent a couple of months working behind the scenes, to give you a better-looking and better-functioning website. I’m hoping it will be easier to find the information you need and to continue conversations in the online gardening community.

I’ve created this new design using Thesis, a theme framework created by Chris Pearson, the same guy who designed my previous theme. It’s been challenging learning new concepts such as functions and hooks, but also gratifying, as I see a design I’ve had in my mind finally take shape on my computer screen. Just imagine how you feel when a garden bed you’ve been working on for three years finally comes into peak bloom, and everything works together gloriously.

Lots of Little Improvements

I hope you’ll appreciate the changing photos in the right-hand corner, and find the overall design easy to read and navigate through. I’ve also made a number of small improvements and additions:

  • The Garden Blog Directory has been restructured so that you can now jump to a state or other geographical region. I’ve also added a few other categories, such as Garden Writers Association (GWA) members and Spring Fling attendees, and since this is a website about cold climate gardening, I’ve grouped them into a category of their own as well.
  • I’ve brought back the Subscribe to Comments feature. It makes it so much easier to follow an interesting conversation going on in the comment.
  • I also added Commentluv, so you can see each commenter’s most recent post
  • There is now also a place to enter your Twitter name in the comment form, which is visible to everyone reading the comments. Hopefully we’ll all find new gardeners to follow.
  • I also put a link to my contact form up at the top. I was surprised how many people weren’t clear on how to contact me with the previous design, because my email was at the end of every post, and a link to the contact form was in the menu. Hopefully no one can miss this.

Garden Tweets

Speaking of Twitter, I’m experimenting with a new way of posting to my blog. I’ve always felt frustrated during the peak garden chore rush that I didn’t seem to have time to both garden and blog. Last year, I thought Twitter, with its 140 character message limitation, would enable to me to send brief “notes from the field” when there wasn’t time for a longer post. But not everyone follows Twitter updates–not even when they’re in my sidebar–and not all of my tweets were about gardening.

By adjusting my settings on Ping.fm, I can send only my garden-related tweets to this blog. Currently when I do it this way, they are also going to Twitter and Facebook. The faithful few who follow me on all three might get sick of the repetition. You guys will have to let me know. The other problem is I haven’t figured out a good way to style these messages so that it’s clear they have a different origination, and so that they fit in with the other, longer posts. I’m still working on this, and I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts.

More on the Thesis theme framework

I first became interested in Thesis because I was using Cutlines, an earlier theme of Chris Pearson’s, for my previous design. Chris does a great job with typography, always producing WordPress themes that are easy to read, which is very important to me, since I tend to write longer than typical posts.

But as I did more research, I realized Thesis is more than a theme; it’s a framework that enables you to change the outward appearance more easily without losing track of modifications you have made to the underlying software. It has a lot of flexibility built into it, so that the designer can readily avoid a cookie cutter look. Both Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden and Susan Harris of Sustainable Gardening Blog are using the Thesis framework for their website designs, and they couldn’t be more different.

As I continued to work with Thesis, getting ready for this new design, I was impressed enough that I decided to sign up for the affiliate program. That means if you click on any of the Thesis links on this site and buy it, I’ll get a commission. I also plan to help others use this theme through my blog consulting service. As their marketing slogan proclaims, Thesis is “a search engine optimized WordPress theme with options galore for serious online publishers.” But as with any full-featured product, there is a learning curve involved. If you’re not already a whiz with php, css, and WordPress, you’re either going to have to hire someone to help, do some serious learning, or stick with the out-of-the-box design, which itself offers many options.

Let me know what you think of the new design. I hope you’re as excited about it as I am!

Don’t miss the Scavenger Hunt going on in celebration of the new design! Prizes awarded on April 13th.

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.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

Comments on this entry are closed.

debra April 10, 2009, 10:05 am

Hello Kathy, thank you so much for this post – I haven’t been able to stay on top of reading my favorite blogs and this morning I am indulging. You are so incredibly talented and I never cease to be inspired by the way you have a perfect balance of right-brain and left-brain creativity/logic. I really love the new format and what I appreciate MOST is your comment about Thesis’s “readability” because I, too, write longer-than-average posts. The leading (white space between lines) is easy on the eyes. I’m finished with my spring lecture travel (7 trips in 12 weeks-UGH) and can’t wait to resume my regular routines in the garden and with garden blogging friends. I’ll visit more often! Congratulations and Happy Easter, cheers, Debra

debra’s last blog post..You say Toe-MAY-toe; I say Toe-MAH-Toe

Craig @ Ellis Hollow April 6, 2009, 8:48 pm

Bump up the font a click or two, particularly on the homepage. It’s not like that will devour a forest of trees.

Craig @ Ellis Hollow’s last blog post..More little bulbs, rfirst primrose

Les April 6, 2009, 7:39 pm

I like your redesign, although I did like the old header pictures as it rotated through the seasons. The new geographical organization of the Garden Blog Directory is very nice. I will be back to spend some time exploring.

Les’s last blog post..The Hofheimer Camellia Garden

Jenn April 6, 2009, 4:13 pm

Everything old is new again!

It’s good to see the daffs again.
Site looks good, Kathy.

Jenn’s last blog post..Comments Moderation: The Horns of the Dilemma…

Gail April 6, 2009, 3:24 pm

Kathy, it’s great looking! I have always loved your tag line~~Hardy Plants for Hardy Souls. Isn’t that the truth for you way up north gardeners!

gail

Gail’s last blog post..Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Diana April 6, 2009, 2:32 pm

Love the new format and I am so impressed at your blog and web skills on top of your gardening and blogging talents. Not to mention Mom-Extraordinaire! Can’t wait to see you at the Fling and hear more about what all you did to the new blog.

susieshomemade April 6, 2009, 1:41 pm

It looks great!!

susieshomemade’s last blog post..Easter Menu

Dee/reddirtramblings April 6, 2009, 12:46 pm

Kathy, it looks great. Good, clean lines. Great information, and I like this little Twitter ID tag too. Very nice of you.~~Dee

Dee/reddirtramblings’s last blog post..Dear Friends and Gardeners, Week Five

Linda MacPhee-Cobb April 6, 2009, 11:25 am

I love it! It’s much cleaner and it feels like spring here (though it sure doesn’t outside today ).

Linda MacPhee-Cobb’s last blog post..Wood sorrel ( Oxalis sp. )

TC April 6, 2009, 9:23 am

Hello Ms. Kathy,

Not being a regular visitor to your old blog, I can’t really offer a legitimate comparison to the new one. I will say that your new design is very professional looking, and appears to be easily navigable. I can only offer a review based on what I see as a garden writer myself, so I might not be giving you the type of constructive criticism that the “average Joe/Jolene” might provide. I’ve not clicked through any of the tabs above the header, or searched the site for gardening info. However, I am aware of your presence in the gardening communication industry and I’m sure all of the information you offer is legitimate and helpful to northern gardeners (and probably to southern gardeners as well).

TC’s last blog post..Say Nothin’ Saturday

Kathy Purdy April 6, 2009, 1:18 pm

Thanks for stopping by, TC and entangled.

entangled April 6, 2009, 8:59 am

I haven’t explored all the functionality yet, but the design is clean and beautiful!

entangled’s last blog post..Angry Weather?

Karen April 6, 2009, 1:50 am

Nice redesign! I think it’s funny that you explained the whole design without mentioning the beautiful daffodils in your header- Poetica, no? 🙂 You probably assumed we knew that already. Man, you are one hard working blogger! I fear the amount of work it would take to trick out/fully customize my blog. Maybe someday.

Karen’s last blog post..Book surprise

Kathy Purdy April 6, 2009, 1:12 pm

Yes, Karen, they are Narcissus poeticus. They’ve been a part of my online identity (as well as on my business card, pictured above) from the beginning. You can see them on an old version of my blog, thanks to the Wayback Machine. I’m gratified you appreciate the work that went into it. I’ve been neglecting family and friends to get it done, and feeling a bit guilty about it.