A Year of Jean’s Garden: Taking Stock, Making Changes
One year ago yesterday, Jean’s Garden made its debut with a post called “Welcome to My Garden.” It had been about a year since my friend Laura asked if I had ever thought about writing a garden blog. I hadn’t; I didn’t even know what a garden blog was. But once this seed was planted, it germinated and grew. In August of 2009, as a number of stressful events dominated my life, I was looking for a way to reconnect to sources of calm and pleasure, and a garden blog seemed a good way to do this. I initially expected to use the blog to reflect on my garden and particularly on my emotional responses to it. Once I began to write, however, it quickly became apparent that my social scientist self was much more inclined toward information and analysis than toward poetic meditations.
At the end of a year, I find that I have published 106 blog posts, which – much to my amazement – have been viewed tens of thousands of times, I have exchanged more than 2000 comments with readers, and what began as an escape has become a serious commitment.
A year ago, I never imagined that I would write blog posts about blogging as well as about gardening; but my sociological analyses of community among garden bloggers, my blog of the month reviews, and practical information for bloggers (like my introductions to Windows Live Writer) have been among my most popular posts. When I look at which posts have gotten the most views in the first week after publication, the top seven are all about blogging. These blogging posts do not necessarily have staying power, however; many get a lot of readers in the first week and then drop out of sight. Interestingly, the reflective posts that I originally imagined would be the mainstay of my blog also tend not to have staying power. The posts that are still being read regularly weeks and months after they were initially published are those that provide helpful information – garden how-tos (like Weed, Water Mulch), portraits of specific plants (like Hardy Geraniums in My Garden), and information about gardens that are worth visiting.
Some changes are in the works as this blog enters its second year. For my blog’s first birthday, I’ve decided to give it a facelift and a new tagline that more accurately reflects its scope. (Special thanks are due to Melissa Clark of Garden Shoots for help in the design of the new header and to Gloria Bonde of Dakota Garden for help in formulating the new tagline.) In the weeks and months ahead, I also plan to update and improve my blog’s supplementary pages.
This anniversary post is being published a day late because I spent a long twelve hours yesterday driving from Maine to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where I am resuming full-time teaching after a year’s research sabbatical. You should expect to see some posts about my Gettysburg garden in the months to come. And, as I readjust to the 60-80 hour work week of teaching, I will have less time to devote to blogging. I will continue to try to visit my favorite blogs regularly, but I may only get to yours once a week. I will also be slowing down the pace of my own blogging; I’m aiming for one post every 5-7 days or 4-6 posts per month.
I’m excited to see what a second year at Jean’s Garden will bring, and I hope you’ll continue to join me here.