Friday, July 23, 2010

How do you garden online?

Dear Gardening Friends,
I thought it might be fun to talk about Gardening on the Web again.
Wow, is it ever changing, and growing by huge amounts.

A few years after we got Internet I remember looking up my favorite HGTV people and their websites.  What a treat to see their gardens and homes.  So much information.  So many ideas. 
But it wasn’t till about 5 years ago that I noticed private gardeners having websites.  At first you had to pay to have a website, thus it was primarily landscapers and others in the gardening business.  But then came along blogging and it took us gardeners a season or two, but we have since got it plum figured out!
I often wonder who was the first blog I visited…. it would be fun to know, because now I think of you all as friends.  I see your blog name and automatically remember most everyone’s first name and what part of the country they are from.
So I am sure you are wondering what these pictures are?  They are from Country Living Magazine.  I absolutely adore looking at any kind of gardening magazine, I have too many to count in every closet and bathroom of my house.  I keep them for years and look at them over and over.  That is my primary reason to love online gardening… it gives me the same feelings.  Inspired, fascinated and wanting to see more. 
I wonder what is around the corner, down the path, inside a beautiful home.
But visiting blogs is much more rewarding for me than garden magazines.  I can visit the gardens again every few weeks and see the seasons change.  I now have the opportunity to learn…. new plants, projects…. ideas.  And ask questions.
See I am the kind of person that once I see it I can usually do it.
The absolute gift to me has been the friends I have met.  I may never get to actually share a glass of tea with them  or smell their beautiful roses, but I feel I  know so many more fabulous gardeners from blogging than I would have ever meet in person.  Caring, wonderful people that I enjoy so much.  I think that is the definition of a gardener…. lovely, passionate, sharing individuals that just want to make the world a prettier place.  Beauty and grace abounds.
Do you want to do this too?
If you have a garden, computer and a digital camera…. that is really all you need to blog.  That and time and a bit of organization.
Here are 10 tips for gardening online--- and I am sure I could add more, but this is a good start.
1. I use and LOVE Blogger, it is a free service that several of us use.  I would say it is the most popular and very easy to learn.
You register for free or if you have a google account you just log in.
2. I would also suggest your get a separate  email account for garden stuff, I made one just for my “Garden Mail”
It has my blog name in the email, and that is helpful for other to find me.
This is optional but useful in my opinion.
3. The hardest thing will be choosing a name.
I used “Creative Country Mom’s Web Garden” because Creative County Gardens  and Gardener was already taken.   There are so many clever names for garden blogs!  Here are a few that are already taken… I just love the names…. and it will get your creative juices going….  Red Dirt Ramblings, Digging, Our Little Acre, Dirt Therapy, Rose Notes, Muddy Boot Dreams…ect.  You get the idea.
4. Once you have a blogger account you will have a home page or a “Dashboard.”
It is where you manage your blog and read all the new posts of other blogs.
It looks like this….
And should be located here once you register….
It will list all of your blogs where you can edit them, do new posts, customize your home page, ect. That is for another tutorial…. but this is also you reader or feed page for recent blog posts.  You can stroll down and see all the new postings on the blogs you follow with a snippet of the post and the head picture.  See picture above.
*****Okay for those of you who just visit blogs and never plan to make one of your own, this can help you save time.  You can have this reader and never use the blogging area, just have a page to easily read post and follow blogs.  I strongly suggest it, I think it is super easy to use and read*****
5. So you visit a blog for the first time and enjoy it. 
You will want to follow that blog, that means to have the new posts show up where you can check them in your reader aka Blogger…. you will need to be a “Follower”
Click “Follow” at the top of the page if it has a header that looks like mine.
Or it may look like this…. and you can click it.
Here is more info on following sites….
6. But what if it doesn’t have a follow button? 
You can add it by its web address…. on your Blogger Reader.
Click the “Add” button at the bottom of the screen.
You type in the address and click next… and the posts should show up on your reader just fine.  I know there are other readers out there and feeds, but I enjoy actually going to the sites and reading the posts there.  The white background on feeds do nothing for me.  Bloggers work really hard at making there pages pretty with graphics, music and links…. and I think if you just read posts like emails you kind of miss out on the whole experience. 
7. Gardening on Twitter…. are you kidding?  No… I am not.
If you have an account you can click on my own list called Gardening Friends and see what some of my gardening buddies are twittering about in the garden world.  You can also then add them as you own friends to follow.  There will be several familiar faces if you read blogs on there.  Don’t forget to add me too!  My list is added to everyday as I find more people I know.
I have had my account for awhile, but lately I have been logging on every day again.  It has been fun to hear the talk, you kind of get the “behind the scenes chatter.”
Plus I have met even more people and great blogs they write.
8. So what do I do with all of this?…. I share it.
It has been a decision to take my “Gardening Obsession” and sent it out in my own real life.  For a long time I didn’t tell anyone I blogged.  It was not a secret, but I felt that if you did not garden, you wouldn’t care about it.  Now, I post my website posts on my facebook page and I am so happy I do.  People I grew up with and went to school with can see what it is I enjoy and do.  Look at it this way, I could be up to much worse.  When is see people at the fair or a ballgame they come up to me and say they enjoy it, even if they do not enjoy gardening.  I also get asked lots of questions about plants.   And every day I am learning more about gardening, so I feel better in giving them correct answers.
I am also active in my community gardening.  I am in the county garden club and getting ready to go to the Master Gardening Program.   I see all of these inspiring posts and thought it would be fun to “show my friends” this or that post.
So, since I was on facebook, I started a gardening group there called WebGarden
What is this and what do I do with it?  Well it started a few months ago with me wanting to share posts with my local gardening friends and family here.  I wanted them to see this or that online that I thought they would enjoy.  But I did not necessarily want these posts to be on my own blog.  So I opened WebGarden and posted them there on Facebook.
Now we are at 150 members and over 1000 links.  All and only about gardening, not just blogs, but sites and information.  Basically I read a ton of blogs and the things I enjoy and find to be interesting and pretty that day, I post them to the group.
I figure if I enjoy it , they will too.  I have gotten the most positive comments from this, and I know it does not take away from any blog, it will get them new reader because they go DIRECTLY to the sites, it is not fed into anything on this page except a snippet and a link.
9.  How much time does all this take? 
I get asked this a bunch.  Let me start by saying I enjoy it.  I really miss my garden during the winter months and visiting gardens online is a joy to me.  I can see things blooming from across the globe and imagine some green here in Indiana.  So I well tell you I give it more time and energy at certain months of the year.  If it is too cold or too hot, I am at it more…. if the weather is nice…. I am out in the garden or doing something.
I take the weekends off.  And usually am online for 45 minutes or so of a morning, and then I check in on and off throughout the day, but just my emails.  But I have a job that I check my emails for, so maybe it would not be so often for you. 
As for writing a post…. it varies.  I’d say start to finish… taking the pictures…. editing…. writing… then posting it online…. an hour?  It depends on how much you talk I guess.
10. Is there an easier way to do my posts?
Yes, I use “Windows Live Writer” and it has worked out great.  It has been easy to use and easy to see how my post will actually show up, and I can save posts in my drafts and finish them later easily.  Here is the site, but it might be on your computer already.
I am not going to get into this program, but the site will help you get started.
Okay Brooke, that was 10…. I know…. but let me give you some final thoughts.
-Make your pictures as big as possible.
-Be friendly and treat your blog like you would a garden tour of your home.
-If you don’t know the name of the plant, it is okay to ask.  We as reader enjoy helping you garden and explore new things.
-Just because you don’t have many comments, does not mean other are not reading your blog.  I comment more in the winter months, but during the summer I feel a bit rushed and just pop in and see what is going on. 
-Same goes for followers, many will use different programs or just bookmark you on their own systems.
- Include a bit of the history of your garden.  How old is it, how big is it, ect.
- Readers love garden tours…. your garden… the neighbors… anything.  We love to see new places…
-Make sure not all of your pictures are close up.  We like to see the whole border or bed, not just the bloom…. include a little of both.
-Consider joining in some of the “Garden Days” Online…
There are many a few of my own favorites is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day…. the 15th of every month at Carol’s blog…..
Fertilizer Fridays at Tootsies (every Friday during growing seasons)
- The more active you are in groups and blogs, the more readers you will get.

What has changed in your gardening style since blogging?

I think I am a bit more adventurous in color and size.  I see plants used in other gardens.... plants that are mature and full, then when I see the little 4 inch pots, I know more what I am getting.

I have also been really fortunate to get to know a few of my gardening idols.  Like Paul James, Joe Lamp'l, Erica Glasener and P. Allen Smith. I have gotten emails from all of them, I don't know if it is them or someone in their staff, but I love it anyway... lol.

I get to try things for free or free plants.
That is something I never thought of, but once you label yourself a Garden Blogger, you suddenly have opportunities a regular gardener might not have.  I am a test garden for Renee's Seeds and am working on possibly testing for another large company soon.  Not only that, but recently I visited a local nursery and they gave me a bunch of free plants to try for them.  I was very happy to!


I can dream of going further in my passion.... I would love to be able to send articles to garden magazines or do write my own garden book.  I have actually been contacted by a publisher, but right now it seems such a daunting task.  My girls are small, but maybe one day I might try it.  Who knows. 

I also have a huge dream of having my own farmers market here locally.... to sell flowers and produce in season... mums and pumpkins... crafts and baked goods... you know... the kind of place with rockers on a front porch and carmel apples for the kids.  If I won the lottery today, I would start the plans immediately.... I have it all planned out in my head!
I would also like to be more involved in Regional Garden Activities and Clubs.
I am considering going to the district Rose meeting and Daylily Clubs.. I just enjoy hearing about plants and meeting new gardeners... plus the plant sales rock... lets face it!

I would have loved to gone to Buffa10.... and I may have to start a little savings account for the next trip... I enjoyed reading everyones posts, but it is just not the same as being there!

~~~Here is a list  of the garden blogs I currently follow~~~
This list does not include those who I may follow on facebook, twitter or direct email feeds.
Romantique Inspirations - 190 followers
Rose Colored Glasses - 437 followers
rose cottage gardens and farm
Rose Notes
Roses at Wedgwood House and Gardens - 51 followers
Roses in Gardens - 22 followers
Rosy Inspiration - 227 followers
Sadie Olive - The Blog
Sage Patch - 37 followers
Savvy Southern Style - 736 followers
Secrets of a Seed Scatterer - 151 followers
Seed Savers Exchange Blog
Seed Snatcher - 18 followers
shirls gardenwatch - 138 followers
Sweet Home and Garden Chicago - 70 followers
Take time to smell the flowers...... - 16 followers
Thanks For Today - 175 followers
The BGgarden Blog
the desperate gardeners,A blog for home gardeni... - 13 followers
The Farm Chicks
The Galloping Gardener - 251 followers
The Gardeners Cottage - 196 followers
The Gardens of Petersonville - 141 followers
The Gaudy Garden - 83 followers
The Grumpy Gardener -
The house in the roses - 747 followers
The Ignorant Gardener - 18 followers
The Inspired Room
The Lisa Porter Collection - 234 followers
The Little Big House - 129 followers
the Namaste Garden - 3 followers
The Newlywed Diaries - 436 followers
The Rustic Garden - 13 followers
The Secret Garden - 83 followers
THE VILLAGE VOICE - 122 followers
things i love - 44 followers
TOOTSIE TIME - 450 followers
Topsy Turvy - 60 followers
Trials & Tribulations of a Southern Gar... - 167 followers
Tyras Trädgård / Tyras Garden - 150 followers
urban farmgirl - 656 followers
Velvet & Linen
Vermont Cottage - 134 followers
View From The Pines
WISHNIK WOODS - 43 followers
Zoomin Blooms - A Daylily Blog - 36 followers
~ Wind Lost ~ - 112 followers
So why post all of this?  I hope I might have helped you understand it a bit.  I also want others to enjoy and visit these beautiful gardens and great people I have met.
I was just going to list a few favorite site… but I have to tell you…. I love them all!
Happy Gardening….Brooke


  1. Wow ... this is an impressive post. I think you've done a marvellous job in not only explaining how to become a garden blogger ... but also extolling all the wonderful virtues of joining the garden blogging world. Great job! For a newie ... it's explained beautifully and has all the visual clues needed to make it all seem like an easy thing to do ... which it is!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to share all that good information. I will be checking out some of your favorites soon.
    Have a great weekend,


  3. That was a great article on garden blogging. It should be published in magazines. You really hit on many of the reasons I'm blogging. Nice job explaining the diffeent parts that people can choose to do or not do if they're just readers. I was just a reader for a long time and then couldn't help myself and joined the online world. I love it. So many great ideas and friendly people. Gardening bloggers are the best people out there!!! In my "real" life, only my husband knows about my garden blog. Mostly because I wanted to see how it went first and while I have gardening friends, I also have a "public" job that I don't want to link my gardening passion to. I do this for me. I love visiting your blog. Thanks for sharing your garden.

  4. Great post Brooke! I'm glad I just found you - thanks for some good tips too!

  5. Oh my stars! You took a lot of time putting this together Brooke. Wonderful tips here. I appreciate you having me in your list of blogs you visit. You have a splendid blog and BEAUTIFUL gardens!

  6. Great post Brooke! In fact I'm doing a post tomorrow on a local Daylily farm and she said she may be interested in doing a blog so I sent her your post to look over. Thanks!

  7. This is a great and informative post. A lot of it I'm already doing, but some of the tips were new to me. I love looking at other people's gardens; that's where I get inspiration and encouragement to work at and improve my own little garden.
    Love the pictures from the magazine. Thanks for sharing them.
    Have a wonderful week!

  8. Great post! I stuck my foot into the blogging world about nine months ago and got sucked in. I confess before then I had never even read a blog, so I was a real newbie. There is still much for me to learn. I am lost when it comes to some of the technical terms and how to do some things I really would like to do. My own blog is simple and straight forward, mainly for that reason. I look forward to reading your future posts!


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