This week, Kevin at Nitty-Gritty Dirt Man was kind enough to present me with the Versatile Blogger award, and I thank him for the recognition. Receiving this award led me to think about the meanings of versatility. To be versatile is to have many uses or many talents or to be adaptable. I think of daylilies (Hemerocallis) as versatile plants because they can grow in so many conditions. And I think of Amsonia (blue star flower) as versatile because it has so many uses in the garden, providing lovely flowers in June, a strong architectural shape throughout the growing season, and colorful foliage in fall.
Like all blog awards, this one has rules:
- Include the Versatile Blogger Award logo in the post.
- Thank the blogger who nominated you with a link back to their blog.
- Share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
- Include this set of rules.
- Forward this award to 15 fellow bloggers, and inform them with a comment on each of their blogs.
Let me first share my 7 not-so-random pieces of information about myself:
- I am sufficiently sensitive to color and harmonious color combinations that I sort laundry before hanging it on the line so that clashing colors will not hang next to one another.
- Love of color is probably the reason for my deep appreciation of 20th century abstract expressionist art. I am the person in the museum who is standing by the canvas covered with subtly varied shades of white and one orange splash of paint in the lower corner, moved to tears by it while others walk behind me, grumbling, “You call that art? My three-year-old could do that!”
- My favorite time of day is sunrise. I trace this back to my toddler days sleeping in a crib next to an east-facing window. I would pull myself up in the morning and watch the colors of the sky change as the sun rose outside my window.
- I talk to myself.
- I also talk with my hands.
- 4 and 5 can be a bad combination, especially because I do a lot of walking in public places (walking to work and for exercise). As I walk, I think about things; and pretty soon I start talking to myself about them, and – well, I think you get the picture.
- Fortunately, the combined effects of 4, 5, and 6 are mitigated somewhat by the fact that I’m a college professor, an occupation with a reputation for harboring eccentrics. As a result, when my neighbors see me walking along the side of the road in animated conversation with myself, they don’t say, “There’s the crazy lady that lives in the next street.” Instead they say, “Oh, it’s just the professor who lives in the next street.”
Selecting nominees for the Versatile Blogger award from among my favorite blogs turned out to be a difficult task, because garden bloggers are a very versatile group. I didn’t worry about whether my choices had already received the award or how well established their blogs are. Instead, I focused on the different meanings of versatility.
Some garden bloggers are very versatile because they bring together so many different kinds of information and perspectives in their blogs. I consider Clare at Curbstone Valley Farm the queen of this type of versatility. Between Mushroom Mondays and Fowl Fridays, information on bee keeping and on grafting fruit trees, how-to posts on building retaining walls and greenhouses, and scrumptious recipes using farm-grown ingredients, there is something for just about everyone in this blog. Elephant’s Eye is another blog that features a variety of topics. In addition to sharing her garden, Diana also covers South African native wildflowers, birds, wildlife, and visits to beautiful parklands. In the United States, Joene’s Garden provides a mix of reflections on Joene’s Connecticut garden, plant care techniques, scientific gardening news, local events, and her GOOPS (Gardening Oops) series about lessons learned from her own gardening mistakes. In my own home state of Maine, Allison at A Tasteful Garden includes not only information and updates about her own vegetable gardening and chicken raising experiences, but also recipes, reflections on rural Maine living, and wonderful photographs that get us to look closely at the natural world around us. My final entry in this category is the first garden blog I ever read and still one of my favorites. At Allan Becker – Garden Guru, Montreal garden designer Allan Becker provides a professional’s perspective on a variety of garden matters, including news about new plant varieties, clear explanations of garden design principles, discussions of debates about gardening and garden design, and book reviews.
My second category of versatile garden bloggers are those whose blogs are characterized not so much by a diversity of topics as by the diverse talents of the blogger. First among these is the multi-talented Carol Duke at Flower Hill Farm. Carol’s blog features her amazing photography, but also includes her talents as a painter and a poet and combines these with prodigious knowledge of the birds and butterflies that she often focuses on. Two other bloggers whose wonderful bird photographs first attracted me to their sites are Jan of Thanks for Today and Catherine of A Gardener in Progress. Jan combines her exceptional photographic talents with a talent for using her blog to make the world a better place, especially through her focus on native plants and environmental issues; I have been particularly impressed with the impact of her Gardener’s Sustainable Living Projects in 2010 and 2011. Catherine combines her photographs with a talent for making her readers feel like welcome old friends or maybe even part of the family; I love the way that, in sharing her garden, she also shares her life. Another talented visual artist whose blog is imbued with her artistic sensibility is Kathy at The Violet Fern. Her artistry is apparent not only in her garden design, but in the beautiful and functional garden support structures she creates. What I most appreciate about this blog, though, is Kathy’s talent for creating instructions for many of her projects that even those of us who are not so artistically inclined can follow with some hope of success. As my final entry in this category of versatility, Mary at Black Walnut Dispatch brings a different set of talents to her blog, combining exceptional writing skills with a rapier-sharp wit and solid gardening knowledge.
The final meaning of “versatile” that I want to recognize in this post is “adaptable to change.” Deborah at Green Theatre, whose talents as a floral designer are often apparent in her blog, could easily have gone in the last category; instead, I’ve chosen to focus on the adaptability she demonstrated when her husband’s job required a move away from her beloved Kilbourne Grove in Ontario, Canada to Barbados. Although Deborah does not have a garden in Barbados, she has taken us all along with her as she has learned about the flora of Barbados and about Caribbean garden design. Two other garden bloggers who have adapted to occupation-related moves are Cindy at Enclos*ure and Jill at Landscape Lover’s Blog. Although Kevin already recognized Cindy’s blog, I cannot leave her out of this category; her connection with the US Foreign Service has taken her to many places, and in each place, she gardens and learns about local gardens and plants. When I first began reading Jill’s blog, she was living in Paris, without a place to garden, and writing about the public gardens, large and small, of that great city; now she is writing about landscapes and gardens in India. Marguerite at Canoe Corner didn’t move to a new continent, but she did move across one, from Canada’s west coast to Prince Edward Island in the east. I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm with which Marguerite has adapted to her new gardening habitat, embracing the opportunities offered by a very different climate and never bemoaning her losses. Stacy at Microcosm is an exemplar of a different kind of adaptability, not to geographical change but to physical limitation. When serious physical illness limited what Stacy could do, she did not give up gardening, but chose to garden on a smaller scale; her blog demonstrates wonderfully how to live large by living small.
Let’s raise a virtual glass to celebrate all these versatile garden bloggers.