During my childhood in the fifties and sixties in suburban Minnesota, my mother initially had some apple trees and a small vegetable plot I helped out in. Such plots slowly disappeared in our suburb, and my father's attitude of "why go to all that work if you can buy everything conveniently frozen" was probably typical for the time. Soon our suburb looked like others all over the country: expanses of green lawn with a few solitary trees and some shrubs in a retaining wall in front of the entrance.
Years later I ended up making my life in Germany, where vegetable and flower gardening are widespread. Here I became reacquainted with the custom of kitchen gardens - still very much alive all over Europe. Many people own a garden plot somewhere, not necessarily at their dwelling, sometimes located in organized garden colonies (known in Britain as allotments, in Germany as Kleingärten or Schrebergärten). If you bring up the topic of gardening here, the most unlikely people will start talking shop with you about onions and tomatoes, roses and peonies.
About to retire and inspired by the garden culture surrounding me, I acquired an allotment garden last summer. In previous phases of life with a demanding job, three children, a long commute, etc., there had been no room for anything like gardening. My new found passion for gardening soon led to a desire to document it and share what I was doing with friends and family. Since I knew something about the internet and computers from years of using them at work, a blog seemed a logical choice.
While browsing the internet for similar gardening blogs, I not only discovered that I was by no means the first to come up with this idea, but that there was a huge network of garden blogs called Blotanical out there, in which hundreds (or maybe even a thousand?) garden blogs have found a platform for exchanging information, getting acquainted, and reading and commenting on each other's blogs.
If you join Blotanical, you get your own "plot" where you can point to your blog, name other bloggers you like (known as "faving" a blog), award points to blog posts you've liked (known as "picking" a post), send messages to other members, search their huge base of blogs in various ways including map-based, and just generally move around in a world of friendly gardeners.
Blotanical has a system of awarding points that can eventually lead to a higher status (from "Patron Blotanist" up to "Guru Blotanist"), which in turn gives you more participation privileges in the Blotanical world.
One thing I haven't been able to find on the Blotanical website, though, is background on how it started and who maintains it. It would be nice if there was an "about" or "mission" tab on the homepage. I know there's someone named Stuart Robinson from Australia who is apparently the webmaster in addition to running his own gardening blog. Thanks to him and whoever else is responsible in the background, many bloggers like me have found a community of the like-minded that is always fun to visit and where people are always supportive and friendly. Do take a look if you're interested in gardening or garden blogging. You will discover gardens on every tillable continent on earth.
Proud of getting my simple blog up and running at all, I was, however, somewhat daunted by the other bloggers at Blotanical. There are LOTS of bloggers there who:
- write excellently, some are even professional writers
- must be IT specialists on the side, since their blogs are technically perfect
- take gorgeous photos, have tasteful attractive layout
- are master gardeners, landscape planners, or garden architects
- even if hobby gardeners, are highly skilled and knowledgeable
- manage to hold down jobs; maintain imaginative, labor-intensive gardens; and write frequent blog posts
- keep up communication with and regularly read the blogs of many other bloggers.
And because there was no photo in this post, here's one of some appealing mushrooms I found in our garden one damp fall morning last week (please click to enlarge). I had wanted to mow that patch of grass, but couldn't bring myself to!