Three Years of Garden Growth
Three years ago today, I clicked “publish” and sent the first post of Jean’s Garden out into the world. When I look back on those three years, I’m most amazed by the amount of growth that has occurred.
First there is growth in my Maine garden. During that first year, I was just in the process of adding a third flower bed, the Fence Border, to my back garden, and quite a few of my early posts focused on that project (e.g., Garden Alchemy: Turning Sand to Soil and The Pleasures of Planting). In the three years since, the Fence Border has filled in and become an established flower bed and yet another garden area, the Serenity Garden, has also been realized.
Second, Jean’s Garden the blog has grown. Readership numbers, whether counted by number of followers, average views per day, or number of unique visitors, have more than quintupled since the first year. The blog has also grown in terms of both the breadth and depth of content. When I began blogging, I mostly imagined using it to share my own garden; in the years since, the content of Jean’s Garden has expanded to include discussions of garden design, blog reviews and book reviews, visits to special gardens, the sociology of gardening and garden blogging, and the scientific foundations of gardening.
Third, and most importantly, through the process of blogging I have grown immensely as a gardener and as a person. When I published that first post, I had no idea that doing so would initiate me into a community of garden bloggers and new friends from whom I would learn so much; thanks to them, I am a much more aware, intentional and knowledgeable gardener today. (Sometimes when I re-read the “information” and opinions in some of my early posts, I blush in embarrassment.) Writing about my gardening experiences also led me to reflect on those experiences in a way that helped me to grow as a gardener (for example, by developing a much better understanding of garden design). And while I originally saw blogging as a leisure activity (like gardening) totally separate from my work life, I quickly found that I couldn’t keep my habits of scholarship and research out of the blog. Within months of publishing that first post, I was collecting data about Blotanical users and doing research on the community of garden bloggers (see, for example, Bloggers, Blotanists and Superblotanists). More recently, I have also been using my research skills to dig into botanical science. My recent post on the scientific explanations for color changes in flowers (Blue Is a Cool Color) is one example of this new direction. For the past several months, with the guidance of a botanist friend, I have also been immersing myself in botany textbooks and scientific papers that will help me to understand how botanical taxonomy has been revolutionized by the new genetic science. (More about this in a post to come.) In the process, the girl who avoided science like the plague in high school and college (having been convinced by the gender stereotypes of the time that I couldn’t possibly be good at science) has become a woman who finds botanical texts exciting reading!
At this point, I find it hard to imagine my life without the blogging and blogging community that have enriched it so much. What growth do I foresee in the months and years to come? My Maine garden will continue to grow. The Serenity Garden project still has more components to come. In the next two years, I also expect to complete an addition on my house, which will open up a whole new set of garden projects as I completely redo the landscaping at the front of my property. (This will coincide with my retirement from teaching, which will provide the luxury of time for me to devote to these new projects.) I hope that the blog will also continue to grow. On my first “blogaversary,” I launched a new, more professional and sophisticated blog design. For this third anniversary, I plan to update my garden tour page and add a new page on the history of my garden. I also plan to get back to my sociological research on gardening and garden blogging this spring. Finally, I foresee continued growth in my knowledge of botany, horticulture, and garden design. My recent forays into botanical science have given me the confidence that I can succeed in the Master Gardener certification course, which I plan to enroll in during my first year of retirement.
To all of you who visit this blog, comment on it, and teach me through your own garden reflections, thank you for all you have contributed to my gardening growth.