01 May 2010

Pieces of April on a morning in May

It's Saturday, the first of May, Day 2 of the 6th annual Saltscapes East Coast Expo. The show is fabulous as always, with all kinds of things to do and see, taste and listen to. There are musicians and dancers, artisans and speakers, cooks and creative people galore, lots of cool retail items, innovative ways with food... I always explain the show as being as if Saltscapes magazine came to life in Exhibition Park; it's not your average home or trade show. It's just different, and I'm honoured to be a part of it.

The show comes at a very hectic time of year, especially for me, as I race towards my book deadline, enjoy the pleasures of the garden, visit different clubs and other organizations to give talks, and also meet my commitments to my other clients. It means something has to give, and in my case that something tends to be both writing my blog, and visiting others as much as I like to, and also not being as active at Blotanical as I normally am.

Someone asked me recently, "Why do you blog? Do you make money from it? Are you selling a service? Why don't you promote yourself more?" And so on. These questions, coupled with some rather cranky and mean-spirited posts and discussions I've read recently on assorted topics around the blogosphere, really got me thinking again about why I DO write this place of little scribbles.

Here are my answers to those questions, for what they're worth:
1. No, I don't make money from this blog. I have a google ad section on here, but I've never had a payout on it, (and in fact, I block ads via my browser so I don't even SEE the ads that come up. I am going to discontinue them because the randomness of them annoys me, and often promotes garbage sites that I don't wish to encourage).

2. I'm not selling a service. People who wish to hire me to write for them contact me by other means. And I'm plenty busy, with some very good clients who are great to work for, so I'm blessed to be able to make a living doing what I love. That's part of the reason for the blog--a way to give back to others.

3. I've never been much on self-promotion. There's nothing wrong with it for those who do wave their own flag to help encourage readers and/or buyers of whatever they're selling, etc. It's just not how I roll. It embarrasses me to be at the top of the favourite heap at Blotanical for long periods of time, I don't like awards, and I won't be asking anyone to vote for me in any of the award memes that go on periodically around the blogosphere.

4. But I do take pride in writing posts that (hopefully) amuse, educate, and most importantly, encourage others. Doing talks at events like the Expo remind me why I do what I do. People come to ask questions (and if I don't know the answer, I try very hard to find the information for them). They tell me stories about their gardens, their battles with goutweed, their interest in new plants and new ideas about gardening. They show me photos of their gardens, give me wonderful tidbits of information that I had no idea about.

They say things to me like, "Because of your (columns/talks/blog posts/newsletters) I have added new plants to my garden." or "We've added some plants to encourage bees and butterflies." or "I've gone organic in my garden."

People often come up after a talk and tell me that they are encouraged when they read bloomingwriter. They don't all leave comments, of course, just like everyone who reads a newspaper doesn't necessarily write letters to the editor. I can tell, from looking at my stats, how many of my readers come from around the region.

I make them laugh, sometimes. I make them think, and most importantly, make them think they CAN garden. Because they can, of course. Sure, it can be hard work, but it's also an uplifting, happy-making, beauty-making pastime. There's a satisfaction with looking at a newly-planted shrub, or with having pleasantly-sore muscles after a day spent making a new bed or battling the goutweed.

I will maintain until my last breath, "We can all grow great gardens. IF we want to." But let's be clear: there's nothing wrong with NOT wanting to garden, either. Not everyone has the time, space, interest, etc. It's not my way to be didactic with people, not about what they should plant or how they should garden (or how they should write a blog, for that matter) ; when something becomes a 'should', it loses some of its spontaneity and joy. I prefer for people to choose to plant a garden or go organic or encourage pollinators.

THAT's why I write this blog, and why I sometimes feel guilty when I'm so busy that I can't post.

To end on a less pensive note, here's a totally gratuitous photo of the always-naughty Mungus, having an overdose of catnip. He got this bag down off a high cupboard, ripped it open to share it with his cohorts, then licked it quite clean. Then had a nice long snooze.

Which is what I'm about to do!


  1. Nice to read about the show. Its always a pleasure to be here, while your post add a smile... entertaining, amusing, ane yes encouraging us to GARDEN. Thx for sharing your thoughts n view points out loud.

  2. Jodi, I am very happy that you do blog and are so generous with all your knowledge of gardening and plants. As for Mungus and all his buddies, I'm sure they all had a very mellow and happy time. Hope you have a good time at the Expo.

  3. Jodi girl : ) Emma would be thrilled to hunt the bag of cat nip down (but, she isn't into sharing with Sophie .. she is selfish, the little madame ! LOL)
    Magnus is just being Magnus : )
    Funny enough .. I was drawn into a question about why I garden by one of my doctors .. I said that it has saved my sanity even if it takes a toll on my body that is profound at times .. he asked me "Why do you garden .. not to impress your neighbors hopefully ?!!" .. I was shocked with the concept .. I had never even thought of the possibility that I would garden to impress my neighbors ??? .. a resounding NO !
    I literally love plants,my garden, and gardening even with all of the pain it produces .. he seemed to get it because I then found out his wife is a garden nut like I am .. so much so .. he said "she stands back and says "I really, really love my garden" .. he said after the 300th time she has said that to him .. well, it gets old .. to him .. but not her .. and so it would never be that way for me either !
    I think you can tie why you blog to why you garden with some common ground .. because we enjoy it so much .. my garden is very much a part of "me", blogging is another smaller part of me .. but certainly a thread of what makes me. I think you can almost see the personality of a gardener by way of the tone of their blog ?

  4. Always happy to see kitty photos! :)

    My mum says the same sort of things to me. She seems to think I have the talent to take my writing to a more professional level. And maybe I do.

    I don't know. I think for me (and I'm just talking about me because I know you're a professional writer and love it) doing that would take some of the fun out of it for me. I like to be free, and write however I want to write, no editing or censorship. Take cooking. I LOVE cooking. But I've never had one iota of a percentage of a desire to be a chef or work in the food industry. I cook for fun!

    I differ from you in another way. I crave to have my blog read. I'd be pretty happy to be at the top of the favourites list, I'm not embarrased to say that. I'm like that in every facet of life, though. I always want to be noticed (in a good way, I'm not talking negative-attention getting here), and be the best at something. And I never quite make it.

    It's taken me years to admit that, and be comfortable with it. That's just the way I am, and I love me! :)

    Excellent post!

  5. Great post on this topic, Jodi.

    I'm not sure why I garden, except that I know I couldn't not garden. I started blogging for me, but now love the sense of camraderie of other gardeners year round and all over. It's not the kind of thing I would enjoy seeing get competitive.

    Oh, and I think Mungus crazed on catnip is a perfect way to end a blog post. After all, isn't that how we often feel at the end a day in the garden once the season gets hectic? :-)

  6. Mungus is too funny, Jodi:) This reminds me of Christmas time when Toby and Tarzan kept bothering the Christmas stockings on the fireplace--I had forgotten that I had put some catnip treats in their stockings. I finally gave them their presents early so they would leave the decorations alone:)

    The bee photo is wonderful! I've told you before, Jodi, but your blog has always been an inspiration to me and a model of how to write a good post. I don't care for self-promoting either, and your posts have always been informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking. I'm so glad that you have continued blogging.

    Don't feel guilty about keeping up here. I think that spring is the hardest time of all to keep up with posting and reading other posts. Let's face it, we'd all rather be out in the garden!

  7. Hi Jodi - I think you've said it beautifully. I think most of the blogs that I read are written to share the writer's enthusiasm for gardening or cooking or decorating or whatever they love. That's why I started to blog. My sister says that blogging is self-indulgent - I agree. It makes me so happy to share my garden with my friends and family who read the blog.

  8. I have to garden, it is the who and what or everything. I blog, to travel and meet people from around the world, I hope with new ideas, news of what happening in my garden or information on a plant I like. I hope you enjoy your weekend and maybe get in some gardeneing.

  9. Great post and photos Jodi. I'm glad you blog because I enjoy reading it. Sometimes life intrudes for me too and I don't get time to read through all the blogs I'm following, although I do try, even if I don't always comment.

  10. A lovely post, Jodi. It's no wonder your many fans are amazed at your many talents and how you do all that you do ... so well. May hugs!

  11. Jodi, I wish more garden bloggers who have ads would reconsider them -- for two reasons: (1) Often the ads take a long time to load; there have been blogs that I have not been able to read for long periods of time because my computer got hung up trying to load the ads. (2) Because those who have ads on their blogs don't seem to have any control over the content of those ads, some of the ads can be quite offensive. I have seen political ads that promoted one or another type of bigotry, and I've also seen ads for garden products that seemed contrary to the gardening philosophy of the garden blogger. I understand if someone makes serious money from their ads and needs that money to continue to blog. But, otherwise, what's the point of including the ads? -Jean

  12. I am proud of you and your blog as a fellow Nova Scotian... I also love the valley (I am writing from the other side of the province) and reading your articles make me feel like I'm "over there". Keep up the good work!

  13. Hello Jodi, a great thought provoking post. The whole popularity/picking of posts/blogs has me quite perplexed at the moment. I've said I don't want to rate posts, but then again, I will generally have a peek at the current popular ones - so I guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite! Your blog is popular because it does share the joy of gardening without being prescriptive and if that means it sticks at 'the top of the heap' then I think that is fine :)

  14. I'm definitely one of the people who have planted things I've seen on your blog, like my 'Green Envy' Echinacea which happily is coming back.
    I can't imagine not gardening. For me it is really therapy, a place to think about things or to not think about anything, just be.
    Seeing Mungus with the catnip reminds me of the cat we had growing up. He somehow "broke into" a cupboard and found the box of catnip, tore through the cardboard and had catnip all over the place. I miss not having a cat now.

  15. Hello Jodi
    thank you for your comment about the my new addition to the garden "Geranium Vancouver Centennial".
    I highly recommend the purchase:)

  16. Hi Jodi,
    The reason that you're at the top of the Blotanical list probably ties in with all the reasons why you say you write. They quite simply make it the best. So don't feel embarassed about it.

    The questions you were asked represent one attitude to blogging, but not the only one. There are lots of different reasons for blogging - and it's daft to expect that everyone will get the same things out of it. Or put the same things in, come to that.

    So just go on doing it and having fun.

  17. Dear Jodi, I like your blog and photographs very much. The writing of a blog is a wonderful way to concentrate on something one sees, experiences and loves - it is like painting something (and seeing it much better than without that, with new eyes) - and you are word-painting. I think in writing one amuses/engages oneself and others - and we don't have always to get a reward or a "gold star" for our actions (although I confess: I love them). So carry on (without a bad conscience if you don't write sometimes). Give us a good time when you have time. Thank you! Britta

  18. Hi Jodi

    I've been thinking about you this weekend as I knew that you had a busy weekend with the expo. I'm sure you are tired after it but I'm sure you have had a great time too from reading your post here.

    So many folk share their experiences with you and its little nuggets like that that I'm sure help you when it comes to writing your articles too.

    I do like the photo of Mungus - I had a local moggy eating it in my garden last week and it then went for a roll in the soil......... no doubt on a bit of a high.

  19. Sorry, Jodi. The top is where you are at, because we enjoy your blog (and your kind heart)

  20. What a nice positive post. You should also pride yourself on the fact that you always have positive nice things to say whether you make them in a comment or you post about them. That kind of blogger is what I want to read and stay connected with. :) Happy May!

  21. I also love to read your blog and peruse your photo's. its funny, I have been contemplating why I started blogging over the past few days,As for gardening, I know why i do that. I LOVE it!

  22. I'm thrilled that you write your blog. From the day I first found it, you have never failed to amuse, educate, and encourage. Keep at it, otherwise your many fans would miss you.

  23. Oh wow, what a great post.

    Exactly. You are *exactly* right about it all.


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