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Ten Years in Jean’s Garden

August 22, 2019

imageTen year’s ago today, I clicked “publish” and sent the first post of Jean’s Garden out into cyberspace. At the time, I had no idea how these ten years of garden blogging would enrich my life.

The first unexpected source of enrichment was the community of gardeners and garden bloggers that I was suddenly connected to. imageIn my early years of blogging, that experience of community was mediated by the now-defunct social media garden blogging site, Blotanical.com. Like most members of Blotanical, I signed up hoping to find readers for my blog. But the site was designed to encourage members to read one another’s blogs and engage in supportive interactions, and I jumped in with both feet. Blotanical connected me to an international network of knowledgeable gardeners and garden bloggers. A few of these I eventually met in person. There are others whom I have not actually met, but think of as old friends after years of reading and exchanging comments on one another’s blogs. Regular readers of my blog who are not themselves bloggers have also become part of my gardening community. For example, I now belong to a local garden club that I was recruited to by a friend whom I met through her comments on my blog.

bringing nature homeAs I interacted with other gardeners through blogging, I became a better, more knowledgeable gardener. Writing about my garden and gardening pushed me to become much more aware of what I was doing and why I was doing it. Garden blogs introduced me to ideas and debates in gardening that I hadn’t been aware of before and to books exploring those ideas. My garden reading shifted from garden narratives and essays to books on garden design to books of garden science. The book that influenced me most was Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2007), which I reviewed in 2011. This book completely changed the way I thought about insects in my garden and introduced me to the case for growing native plants. It also pushed me in the direction of thinking about the garden as an ecological community in process rather than as a work of art.

The learning and thinking I was doing as a garden blogger further influenced the course of my life. As I did research and wrote about horticultural science, my confidence in my understanding and my desire to learn more grew. Without garden blogging, I doubt I ever would have used my time in retirement to become a Maine Master Gardener Volunteer or to earn my Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture from the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (where one of the required courses for the certificate was taught by Doug Tallamy).

back garden entrance - JulyJust as I have been changing as a gardener in the course of these ten years, so has my garden been changing. When I began blogging, I had three small flower beds at the front of my house and was focusing on developing a garden around the deck at the back of the house. The third of these back garden flower beds, the Fence Border, was in the process of becoming as I published that first post, and the Serenity Garden was just a germ of an idea.

Morning on the patioI was also just beginning to think about putting an addition on the front of my house when I retired and using that addition as an opportunity to completely rethink the landscaping at the front of my house. Today, that addition is five years old, and most of the new front garden is in place. This area at the front of my house is now my primary focus in garden work and in garden enjoyment.

It’s not just the size of my garden that has changed. My garden today is less controlled and more exuberant. My design process is as much concerned with creating habitat for pollinators as with creating beauty, and my new garden areas are more likely to include native plants. I’m also much more committed to choosing “the right plant for the right place,” rather than trying to change my garden conditions to accommodate plants that will never really be comfortable there.

Ten year’s on, I’m looking forward to more learning, more gardening, and more garden blogging.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. Harriet Robinson permalink
    August 22, 2019 8:20 pm

    What a nice post on your anniversary!

    • August 22, 2019 8:35 pm

      Thanks, Harriet. And thanks for the part you have played in my evolution as a gardener.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    August 23, 2019 7:50 am

    Happy anniversary to a great “natural”.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    August 23, 2019 1:07 pm

    Congratulations, Jean. I have enjoyed reading your blog.

  4. August 23, 2019 5:58 pm

    This post is the best testimonial to the value of garden blogging I’ve read yet, Jean. You certainly maximized the value of the tool. I appreciate the interest you took in other blogs and bloggers as you yourself evolved as a blogger as well. Happy 10th anniversary!

    P.S. I can’t believe it’s already been 5 years since you completed your addition. As I look forward to seeing my own remodel in the rear view mirror (someday), I’ll use this as reminder of how quickly time can fly, even when it feels as if it’s standing still.

    • August 27, 2019 7:26 pm

      Kris, I miscounted; it’s really only four years since my new addition was completed (and thus the fifth year of working on my new front garden. I would say the months of living with the construction seemed much longer than the years since. Hang in there.

  5. Evenstar Deane permalink
    August 25, 2019 12:05 am

    Congratulations! I’ve been enjoying reading your blog for a few years, it’s fun to see what you’ve done

  6. August 25, 2019 10:32 pm

    Hi Jean, congratulations and happy 10th blogoversary! I enjoyed this post immensely. You expressed so many of my own sentiments. My own 10 years blogging anniversary is coming up October 9. I fondly remember my years in Blotanical. I was sorry to see it go. It has been fun following your blog through the years and watching the changes in your garden – and house! Best wishes for the years to come!

    • August 27, 2019 7:28 pm

      Thank you, Deb. I find myself wondering if there has been greater blogging longevity among those of us who found a blogging community through Blotanical during those years when it was at its best.

  7. August 26, 2019 4:31 pm

    Congratulations! Happy Anniversary!

  8. August 26, 2019 6:16 pm

    They have been ten good years, for blogging, and for your garden.
    Congratulations on your tenth blogaversary!

  9. August 26, 2019 7:35 pm

    Congratulations! Here’s to many more years. My garden has evolved in a similar direction.

    • August 27, 2019 7:30 pm

      Thanks, Jason. The similarities are probably not just coincidence, since you are part of the blogging community that has influenced my own thinking about gardening.

  10. September 14, 2019 4:42 am

    Goodness me, Jean, how the years fly by! I can almost remember first coming across your blog and seeing the various areas of your garden develop over the years as you systematically work through them, the extension to your house, the setting of the drive way, the area around the back, the serenity border, blue and yellow border, the slope at the front. I look foward to carrying on reading about how these and other areas will grow in the coming years.

    • September 14, 2019 12:18 pm

      Sunil, Those years seem quite long for me, I think because of the big break in the middle when I went from spending most of the year in southern Pennsylvania and working 60-80 hours a week to being retired and living year-round in my Maine home, which also allowed me to devote much more time and energy to my Maine garden. I imagine the time before you moved to your current house and garden sometimes seems similarly distant to you.

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