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Eight Years of Garden Growth

August 22, 2017

porch border AugustIt was eight years ago today, that I clicked on “Publish” and sent the first post of Jean’s Garden, Welcome to My Garden, out into the world. In the years since, the garden has grown, and I have grown as a gardener.

When I began the blog, my garden consisted of the circular bed at the turn into my driveway, the back slope, two small plantings along the front of the house (the iris bed and the bedroom border), and two large borders at the back of the house (the deck border and the blue and yellow border). A third flower bed for the back garden, the fence border, was under construction. By the time I prepared an overview diagram of the garden in January 2011 (see The Big Picture), the fence border had been completed and I was imagining another flower bed at the back of the garden, the serenity garden.

garden diagram

In the years since, not only has the serenity garden been created and a raised bed added to close off that area of the garden from the clothesline and driveway, but I have had an addition built on my house and embarked on a 5-year project to create a whole new front garden.


Eight years ago, the front of my house looked like this. front garden before
house front 2017 Now it looks like this – and work on developing a lower garden below the retaining walls has just begun.

As my garden has been growing during these past eight years, I have also been growing as a gardener; and blogging has been an important catalyst for that growth. Blogging put me in touch with other gardeners, both online and in person, from whom I have learned a great deal. (When I read some of my early blog posts, I’m sometimes embarrassed by my own ignorance.)

I found that writing about my garden process required that I reflect on it, and reflection led me to a better understanding of garden design (see, for example, Serendipity in Garden Design) and to reading books about garden design in greater depth and with more appreciation (e.g., Favorite Garden Books: The Inward Garden).

Participating in a series of Earth Day memes (see, for example, Books That Have Turned Me Green) led me into an interest in garden science. This is probably the greatest area of growth to result from my blogging experience, because I was a science-phobe when I was young. With the help of a botanist friend, I began to study and write about garden science (e.g., Botanical Identity Crisis). Since my retirement three years ago, I have been pursuing the study of horticultural science – by becoming certified as a Master Gardener Volunteer and through my work toward a Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture from the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

When I clicked on “Publish” eight years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know how little I knew, or how much I would learn, or how much my life would be enriched by becoming a garden blogger.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2017 4:02 pm

    Jean, this post has come at a good time for me — I’ve been thinking about whether to continue blogging, and if so, for what reasons. How wonderful to look back at 8 years and to realize how influential blogging has been. I started in Jan 2013 so am a newbie in comparison. Was there ever a time when you questioned why you were doing it or considered stopping?

    • August 30, 2017 8:32 pm

      Pat, I think most garden bloggers go through a slump about year 3 or 4. The excitement of blogging has worn off, and they’ve pretty much cycled through all the topics they imagined writing about when they started. Some stop blogging at this point. Others re-imagine their focus (often broadening it). I don’t think I ever considered stopping, but the frequency of my posts has slowed down since the early years; and I’ve decided that’s okay.

  2. August 22, 2017 9:19 pm

    Happy Blogiversary, Jean. Amazing what you have accomplished!

  3. August 22, 2017 11:02 pm

    Happy blog anniversary, Jean, and congratulations both on the transformation of your garden (and the house!), as well as your energetic pursuit of the knowledge to support your gardening endeavors! You’re an inspiration.

    • August 30, 2017 8:36 pm

      Thanks, Kris. Being retired and having the time to pursue all these gardening interests has been a treat.

  4. August 23, 2017 7:15 am

    Congratulations on eight years! You’ve come so far over the years, it’s great to have this kind of a record for yourself and also to share it with others. Thanks!

    • August 30, 2017 8:38 pm

      Thanks, bittster. I haven’t normally thought of myself as a creative/artistic type — so sometimes I look around my garden and think, “I did all this!?! Wow!”

  5. Leslie, P. permalink
    August 27, 2017 3:24 pm

    Hi Jean

    I love receiving your blogs and reading about your adventures. And it helps me learn more about USA flora as I come from the UK.

    Best of wishes to you!



    • August 30, 2017 8:41 pm

      Paula, The comparison of flora is very interesting. For a long time, American gardeners were trying to create English gardens. In New England, we have the cool summer temperatures to grow many of the plants you do that are not heat tolerant (e.g., peonies, delphinium and hardy geraniums); but we have much colder winter temperatures, so we also need cold-hardy plants. In recent years, Americans have been developing a much greater appreciation of our native plants.

  6. August 28, 2017 7:00 pm

    What a transformation Jean! Congrats on 8 years….

  7. September 3, 2017 1:20 pm

    Congratulations on your eight years of blogging….remember Blotanical! I have enjoyed watching the progress of your garden and especially the latest developments.

    • September 3, 2017 2:20 pm

      Carolyn, I have very fond memories of Blotanical; and I hope that Stuart, wherever he is now and whatever he’s doing now, takes satisfaction in having fostered all those enduring relationships among bloggers.
      I feel as though I’ve been a bit stalled on the new front garden this year, but things are happening. The clover has germinated on the clover path, and the rain garden has been planted. Next year will be a big push forward, with the front slope and the shrubbery getting planted. You should think about coming to visit while you’re in Maine. I may do some kind of open house/garden party bash in July to celebrate my 70th birthday. (My birthday is actually in March, but I figure that once I hit my 8th decade, I can be like the Queen and celebrate my birthday when the weather is nice 😉 )

  8. September 3, 2017 2:24 pm

    Many congratulations on reaching that milestone Jean and I hope that your blog continues to flourish. Fascinating to see how much the front of your house has changed in appearance. I’m sure that you will have great fun developing the lower garden.

    • September 3, 2017 2:35 pm

      Thanks, Anna. Thinking through the design for the lower garden has been fun, and the first plants are in place — germinating clover seeds for my clover path.

  9. September 9, 2017 6:41 pm

    Congratulations on your eighth blogaversary!
    You have interesting windows for me, with your new blog too.

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