- Etiquette: Initially I didn't know what the accepted protocols were for any aspect of blogging. Should you reply back to every comment or only to questions? It appears some reply back to all, and some don't reply to any. I certainly didn't want to accidentally be rude to someone. This is but one example of the questions I had, and there seemed to be no source for ready answers. Eventually, it occurred to me that one should simply go with what one felt comfortable doing - and hope that visitors would understand.
- Blotanical: This one site likely had the greatest initial impact on my garden blogging experience. Without it, I'm not sure I would have as easily discovered my local gardening community or would have developed the contacts that have guided me in my endeavors. Though I have utilized its aspects less as the year progressed, its impact in the beginning can not be overtstated.
- Photography: My initial garden blog postings tended to be predominantly text, typically accompanied by small photographs. But after viewing many other blogs, and examining ones I highly respected, it quickly became apparent that a picture really is worth a thousand words. I concluded that a garden blog without pictures is like a garden without flowers - visitors want the shared information, but they also need to see.
- Memes: I did not even know that scheduled blog activities (Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, Foliage Follow-up, Picture This, etc.) existed until I saw them on other people's garden blogs. I quickly found that I had to be selective in my participation as these activities could easily consume my entire blogging energy. But the one discovery that participation brought to me was the way these activities helped one to "see" their garden; to actually view it through a fresh set of eyes. (A good list of garden-related memes can be found at Gardening Gone Wild: Memes and Contests for Garden Bloggers)
- Inadequacy: When I started blogging, I also started reading other garden blogs - and this quickly led me to wonder: What the hell am I doing wrong? It seemed that everyone's garden was magnificent, and the gardeners so knowledgeable. Even their blogs looked snazzy. Everything about my gardening experience seemed dull & shoddy in comparison. It is easy to quickly become intimidated and overwhelmed when one begins a garden blog.
- Vulnerability: Posting one's trials and tribulations for all to read, and showing pictures of one's garden certainly makes one feel "exposed". When I view my garden, my eyes tend to gravitate to the empty spaces, the struggling plants, the work not yet completed. And now I'm supposed to post pictures of this for all to see? Garden blogging requires that one allow oneself to be vulnerable to the eyes and opinions of others - and that is no easy task.
- Discovery: Blogging has allowed me to see what others are thinking & doing, to see their creativity and design. Because of this, I have been able to look at my own garden areas with fresh eyes and new ideas. None of us can think of everything. And we certainly don't have time to be reinventing the wheel. Participating in the garden blogging community has helped me to expand boundaries and overcome obstacles.
- Sharing: I am no longer alone. When I have a problem, there are individuals out there who can point me to the solution. When I can't identify a plant, another will readily provide not only its name but information about its cultivation. Nearby gardeners (discovered through their blogs) have shared information about nursery sales, provided tours of their gardens and gifted me with pass-along plants. The camaraderie I have discovered through garden blogging has made the entire gardening experience even more enjoyable.
- Responsibility: Oh my goodness...people that are not even related to me are reading my garden blog. What do they want, why are they here, who are these people? Discovering that your blog has followers is quite inspiring. And eventually, you begin to feel a responsibility to them, to provide something of value for the time they take in visiting your postings. It is, of course, a balancing act as blogging is likely not the only responsibility with which one is dealing. But once your blog has followers (even just a few), one feels pressure to produce.
- Reason: At times, that responsibility can take what was initially an enjoyable activity and turn it into a tiresome chore. And that is when one needs to revisit the primary purpose which led them to garden blogging. What was it that drove the blogger to begin? I think it is important that we occasionally return to that question. For me, it was primarily a digital method for replacing my hand-written gardening notebooks - which never seemed to quite work because they were always so hard to search. It has, of course, evolved beyond that - but at its heart, it is as the banner says: a diary of my shady garden.
Planted in the Ground:
- Wall Iris (Iris tectorum): Was on my Gotta Get list; planted a one-gallon and two 4"; have an additional two 4" that I'm holding on to as possible replacements for my Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis plicata) (just in case they don't recover from the winter's extreme lows)
- Crimson Queen Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Crimson Queen'): This will be my second attempt at a Japanese Maple and my first at planting one in the ground. Had decided that they were too much trouble for my garden, but after seeing pictures of them in other Austin gardens - I just had to try again.