Monday, 3 January 2011

Blotanical - where I'm not embarrassed of my Foxglove Fetish (03 JAN 2011)

On 1st Jan, this blog was accepted by Blotanical ("where garden blogs bloom"). It was timely, because on New Year's Eve I had been looking back at the year and thinking that I should have spent less time gardening and more time DIYing or working on my chartered engineer membership.

If you are reading this post and wondering how to access a global gardening community or just want to put your gardening visions & thoughts out there to see how people respond (without having to look them in the eye), let me explain how I reached this point ….

I am young enough to feel comfortable meddling with e-stuff, old enough to be in awe of how communications have changed :
- I didn't use a word processor till I started working.
- I'm still cautious using the internet, I am not into Facebook or on-line shopping.
- Until 3 months ago, I only used the internet for E-mail & Googling.

I started gardening (responsibly) in March this year.

In July it was noticeable that all the weeds had been replaced by flowers. However, my visitors didn't seem as impressed with my efforts as I had hoped. They actually seemed quite bored when I dragged them out for garden tours and told them the stories of each of my ten foxgloves, and how I was taking measurements to understand if size matters re. flowering performance. Maybe my wish for a Secret Garden had come true and no-one could see it the way I did.

By August, I was truly hooked and started drawing sketches marking out plant locations and making plans for improvements. It occurred to me that this process would be much easier if I had a camera, so I bought a basic digital camera for £79. Then I took photos of every nook and cranny of the garden with my new toy and attached them as post-scripts in e-mails (whether the recipients were interested or not).                                                                                                    

In September, I created a new central flower bed to highlight my favourite plants of the season and took before & after photos. It was at this point that I started compiling them into a garden diary. I wanted to put them on the internet, so I could direct people to them with a web link instead of attaching large files to e-mails. I had heard of blogs from people at work who travel a lot. I googled reviews on blogs and found that was recommended especially for beginners. 

In October,  I set up a Google account (a requirement) and then a Blogger account within minutes. When I was thinking of a blog name, I came across other gardening blogs and realised that I was not the only one who had this idea. Then during an afternoon I started this blog using a "simple" template, inserted my favourite photo, wrote a few words around it and pressed the Publish Post button.                                                                 

In November, about 3 posts later, the blog could be found via Google, but it was competing with all the other sites referring to Experiments with Plants. I read that the best way to let readers know that your blog exists is to register with a relevant blog directory site. I googled "gardening blogs" but couldn't find a site with similar blogs to mine. (I didn't persevere as far as p.4 where Blotanical was listed.)

Then one day I googled "How gardening changed my life" as a potential new blog name (a bit melodramatic, but true), found a blog called My Skinny Garden which was right up my street (in a spiritual sense - it's actually in the USA) and noticed that it had a link to which turned out to be just what I was looking for and more, so I registered and applied to have my blog added to their list.                                                                                              

During December, I continued posting. What started off as a
collection of photos with minimal descriptions turned into a collection of writings. I studied the blogs listed in Blotanical and wished that mine was amongst them. I noticed from the maps that most of the bloggers were from the USA and wondered why there weren't more British ones, as Britian is supposed to be a nation full of gardeners. Hopefully this post will increase awareness.

There are a couple of technical hitches with the site, you have to keep logging in and I haven't been able to "pick" people's posts to show I like them, but I understand that the site is currently being revamped so I'm sure these issues will be ironed out. From what I can see the Blotanical team seems responsive to tailor the site to meet the needs of the community it serves.

I'm not sure how many people apply to Blotanical, how many people get rejected, if getting chosen is an achievement or not. I do know that after 1st Jan some people around the world have started reading this blog, making comments about it and sending me messages. It's such a thrill.


Mal's Allotment said...

Your enthusiasm is infectious!

(And if you want to know you follow two sites I'm interested in, which is how I linked up - curious to know about the 79 in the "Top 100" Gardening Sites award)

lifeshighway said...

I have found blotanical very welcoming because I am an odd duck amongst the pretty flowers and plants. I love that you have a fox glove fetish. I love that you keep measuring you plant for a reason I cannot understand. You have me hooked. I love a good mystery.

b-a-g said...

Thanks for the two comments. (The thrill hasn't worn off yet.) Re: Top100 Sites, I'm curious about the rating too. I registered to this blog directory because I saw it on other people's blogs. You need to paste in a script they provide as part of the process. I'm awaiting approval so I don't know how I got a rating number. I agree it's a bit misleading, but I just do as I'm told (sometimes ...) b-a-g

Makarimi Abdullah said...

Hi, Nice post and interesting. Welcome to Blotanical, the place you can find the kindness gardeners. Looking forward to read your next post.

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad you joined. You have a great and interesting writing style. I know you have not been on Blotanical long because your blog was approved when my second blog was. I have two blogs so I share your enthusiasm. I wrote a post on my Blotanical experiences on GWGT too.

You will find viewers here who will appreciate your 'secret garden'.

It is fun here and you will find that your enjoyment increases with your participation. That is really the infectious part.

Garden Sense said...

Welcome to Blotanical; I'll enjoy following the continuation of your story as it unfolds!

Diana Studer said...

You are in the batch of about 50 Stuart added on the 1st January. When he got home from a 6 month trip around Australia. Welcome to Blotanical!

Alistair said...

Really glad I found your blog, amusing and interesting. I have been gardening for 40 years and started my blog five years ago. I was invited to join blotanical in November by the patient gardener check it out.

One said...

I must say I enjoyed your post. Welcome to the 'gang'. You will find garden people like us a whole lot more enthusiastic over your virtual garden tour and your ten fox gloves as compared to your guests. Have fun!

Town Mouse said...

Welcome! Yes, what a relief to be amongst friends, to be able to share the ups and downs. I think you'll enjoy garden blogging and blotanical. In so many other blogs, commenters are mean. Garden bloggers tend to not say anything unless they can say something nice. Very refreshing.

Have fun!

Esther Montgomery said...

I currently have a garden full of bedraggled fox glove plants. I'm growing them for the first time and hadn't realised how much leaf space they take. Come the summer, I hope I'll be glad I planted so many. (Plus lots in pots - they germinated well!)


(Through Blotanical.)

b-a-g said...

More comments !

Lifeshighway - there really is no mystery. I'm an engineer - I measure Everything. All will be revealed in the summer when I am ready to share my results table.

Orchid, GreenApples, Garden Sense, Elephants Eye, Alistair, One & Town Mouse - Thanks for your welcomes and words of encouragement. I'll be checking out your blogs if I haven't already.

and Esther ... I can see you're playing it down but I think you may be a fellow fetishist. You can never have too many foxgloves! Let's compare results in the summer.

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