Sowing Stories at P Allen Smith’s Garden2Blog
April 7, 2011 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
The Garden2Blog event, hosted by P Allen Smith April 26-27, will be a rich opportunity for the invited bloggers to learn and explore–to offer “cuttings” from each other’s own unique perspectives, to spread the seeds of creativity. As described in my earlier post, the event is an invitation to contribute to each other’s word gardens–a real-time exchange among a group of writers and industry specialists, with P Allen Smith’s signature southern hospitality providing the setting to bring us all together.
A Cornucopia Beyond Words
The blogosphere is by its nature a place for sharing and interacting–be it by commenting, linking to each other’s blogs, or through other social media outposts like Twitter and Facebook. For me, being able to move from the virtual to the ‘real” world, as we’ll be doing at this event, makes the whole endeavor really come to life. When I first launched Urban Gardens in April 2009, one of the first comments I received was from Jenny Nybro Peterson of J Peterson Garden Design–aka @MulchMaven on Twitter. I got to know Jenny through Twitter, but it took a while for me to connect that MulchMaven was Jenny Peterson. “MulchMaven, it’s me, Urban Gardens!” I blurted excited to finally meet her for the first time at last year’s Garden Writers Annual Symposium. And it felt like we were old friends. She is as smart, funny, and friendly in person as she is in the virtual world. I got to spend time with her last week at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show and I’m really happy she’s one of the bloggers attending this event. “Through blogging,” Jenny told me, “I’ve met people personally and professionally that I never would otherwise had an opportunity to connect with.” And now we all get to do more of that at Garden2Blog.
A Harvest of Everyone’s Combined Talents
I have learned so much from and been so inspired by the bloggers, designers, and specialists that will be attending this event, some of whom I have met through the Garden Writers Association, some whom I can’t wait to meet for the first time. Here’s who will be in attendance:
Shirley Bovshow, Los Angeles garden designer, garden television host, syndicated blogger, and new media broadcaster, publishes Eden Makers Blog and hosts Garden World Report, where she broadcasts gardening events all over the globe and offers weekly reports on the garden world. For Discovery Home Channel, Shirley hosted The Garden Police, where she and her co-host would bust homeowners for ugly front yards and then redesign them! “Blogging,” Shirley told me, “has provided me a platform to communicate with gardening friends from all over the world who know me from my garden TV work. I love the interaction!” It’s impossible to not have fun whenever Shirley is around, as I did with her recently at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.
Jacqueline D’Elia, Houston author, publisher of the delightful blog Southern Post Journal, and owner of The Olive Barn, an eco-friendly garden home store. D’Elia explained that, “Blogging is a creative expression of my garden that I share. What I love the most is inspiring others to grow and share their gardens.” Look forward to meeting you!
Teresa O’Connor, whom I was lucky to have at my dinner table at the 2010 Garden Writers Symposium, is trained as a Master Gardener in California and Idaho. She is a writer, author, speaker, consultant about gardening, fresh foods, seasonal folklore and other topics, including social media, and creator of the blog, Seasonal Wisdom, as well as co-host of Nest in Style podcasts.
Mike Lieberman, aka @CanarsieBK on Twitter, is a New Yorker newly transplanted to Los Angeles, where he continues to write his blog, Urban Organic Gardener from his balcony instead of from his fire escape. He takes great pride in exclaiming that he “had no gardening experience and read about a half of a book on gardening because let’s be honest–most gardening books are mad boring.” He continues to grow more food in Los Angeles. But still, he says about himself: “I am not a gardener though. I might have a vegetable garden, but I grow food.” I am eager to learn more about this distinction!
Fern Richardson, as she says, has a name that really does fit her. I’d exchanged blog comments and Tweets with Fern for a while before finally got to meet her last summer. A Master Gardener, Fern publishes one of my favorite blogs, the award-winning Life on the Balcony, with container gardening tips for apartment and condo dwellers. Fern, her husband, and four cats live in an urban Southern California condo with a west facing balcony, and an east facing front porch–together comprising about 50 square feet–where she grows herbs, peaches, nectarines, figs, blueberries, flowers and succulents and also publishes creative concepts like the DIY pallet garden she recently posted. Oh, and did I mention that she was trained as a graphic designer, has a law degree, and a soon-to-be published book? Like I said, a whole lot of talent is coming to Little Rock.
Andrew Keys, whom I also met at last summer’s GWA Symposium, hails from north of Boston, has a background in design and strategic planning, is a web and graphic designer, and possesses “everyday skill and passion for all things green and growing.” If that’s not enough, he is an accredited organic landcare professional who runs Oakleaf Green Landscape Design, a boutique horticultural consulting firm specializing in low maintenance, low water, and native plants. Andrew’s blog, Garden Smackdown, is as he describes it is, “a smorgasbord, a mashup, and this here blog will be just that –a place to talk about plants.”
Annie Haven, of Authentic Haven Brand, from San Juan Capistrano, California, is one of the kindest people I have never met. Her company offers a full line of all-natural, premium soil conditioner teas for the home gardener, landscaper and farmer. Her Moo Poo Manure Tea bags were a big hit when I used them in the Creative Garden Retreat I created last fall for the Shippan Designer Show House. With nearly 7,000 Twitter followers, Annie’s “authentic brand” extends to the social media sphere, where she truly is authentic. You can depend on her to spread the word, offer up a nice blog comment, or just a fresh shout out of support. Hey, Annie, can’t wait to meet you!
Kerry Michaels writes the Container Gardening column for About.com and recently wrote a wonderful guest post on container gardening here at Urban Gardens. When Kerry and her family moved from Manhattan to the coast of Maine, she quickly found out that she was “not much of a landscape gardener, but that I could get incredible results and satisfaction from container gardening.” As she describes it, container gardening, writing, and photography are her passions, and on About.com, she gets to combine all three.
Steve Bender is a Senior Writer for Southern Living where he writes the blog, The Grumpy Gardener, “to get your garden growing with humor and wisdom” as well as other articles in Southern Living, which often poke fun at the foibles of gardeners. Bender is the author of several books and the recipient of too many awards to list here. He’s going to add to the Garden2Blog fun for sure.
Helen Yoest (whom I also got to meet last summer) coaches other gardeners, consults, designs, maintains, and styles gardens in the North Carolina Triangle area including her own garden, Helen’s Haven, a half acre wildlife habitat in Raleigh, NC. In addition to being a seasoned garden speaker and a field editor for Better Homes and Gardens and Country Gardens, Helen publishes two blogs, Gardening With Confidence and Tarheel Gardening, an online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts. Lots to learn from Helen!
Rhonda Fleming Hayes, who publishes The Garden Buzz, has on her own account, been gardening in some form or fashion since she was a child at her grandmother’s side. After leaving her native California, and following along with her husband’s career, this horticultural nomad has gardened in various locations in the South, the Midwest and England. Rhonda has been an Extension Master Gardener for 10 years; currently with the University of Minnesota. Her passions are kitchen gardening and growing habitat for wildlife. She still innocently believes, she says, that gardening is the way to world peace. “Blogging,” Rhonda shared with me, “gives an immediacy and an intimacy with your reader that other garden communications can’t provide; like inviting good friends over to your garden.” I look forward to meeting Rhonda in Smith’s garden.
Brenda Haas has a background in Fine Arts and a love of gardening. A Midwest native, Haas created the BGgarden web site “with aspirations of sharing the creative aspects of growing green.” Over the past three years Brenda has been sharing life in the garden through her photography on the web and also ventured into the commercial sector when she began selling her images to garden publications, creating ads for gardening companies, and contributing to Shirley Bovshow’s Garden World Report. “What I like most about blogging,” Brenda explained to me, ” is sharing information that has changed my growing experience and later finding out I’ve helped someone else do the same. The latest ‘thrill’ was meeting three Twitter/gardenchat participants in Seattle and having them tell me they would have never known about the event if I hadn’t networked it on #gardenchat! How cool is that?!” Pretty cool.
Shawna Coronado is the author of Gardening Nude, publisher of the personal blog, The Casual Gardener, and the blog, Gardening Nude, for Chicago Now. In Shawna’s words, she is an on-camera correspondent, newspaper columnist, keynote speaker, eco-travel adventurer, health and greening expert, and social media consultant focused on teaching and living a green lifestyle. Shawna’s business, MAD4World Enterprises educates the online community on eco-travel, green-living tips, sustainable gardening, inexpensive cooking, home vegetable production, and techniques for every day homeowners to save money by being green and feeding the hungry during a down-economy. Her goal with the blogs and online presence, she says, is to better the world through community involvement and simple green living.
Dee Nash, publisher of Red Dirt Ramblings–”Firmly Rooted in the Oklahoma Soil”–says her children all agree that her blog takes up way too much of her time. The kids, she says, are the center of her life, but she needs some form of self expression, “so I type on.” And it’s a good thing she does: it’s a pretty darn good blog. In addition to writing about gardens, she blogs about chickens and, as she is gluten and casein intolerant (no wheat or dairy), she writes on that subject as well. She sounds fun doesn’t she?
Jean Ann Van Krevelan, whom I also met last summer, is a published food and gardening author from Portland, Oregon. She does so many wonderful things, I’m just not sure where to begin. She’s President of White Willow Media, a new media-focused marketing company serving the gardening/horticulture and food industries. She’s also Director of Social Media for Cool Springs Press. Her book “Growing Food: A Guide for Beginners” teaches new gardeners to grow, harvest, prepare and store vegetables in an easy and approachable way. In addition, she’s the co-host for “Good Enough Gardening”, a podcast that encourages listeners to “embrace the perfection of an imperfect garden.” Jean Ann is the author and producer of multiple gardening and fresh food blogs, including Garden to Farmer, where “organic vegetable gardens respond well to humor.”
Gayla Trail, whom I have followed for years and really look forward to meeting, is a writer, photographer, and graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of two best-selling books on gardening, with a third book currently in production and scheduled for release in Spring 2012. You Grow Girl was launched in February 2000 and has grown into a thriving online community that speaks to a new kind of gardener, seeking to redefine the modern world relationship to plants. Her contemporary, laid-back approach to organic gardening places equal importance on environmentalism, style, affordability, art, and humour. Now in its eleventh year online, You Grow Girl has become a thriving community for like minded gardeners and even self-confessed “black thumbs.” The project’s aim has always been to promote exploration, excitement and a d.i.y approach to growing plants without the restrictions of traditional ideas about gardening.
Jenny Nybro Peterson, of Austin’s J Peterson Garden Design, aka @MulchMaven of Twitter, publishes a blog that includes regional gardening tips, project ideas, random musings “and the occasional offbeat picture to put a smile on your face!” which, by the way, it does. She suggests you contact her personally though “to get started on your own slice of Austin grooviness.” And if she hadn’t been sitting next to me at the Garden Writers Awards dinner last summer, I would have totally missed it when they called my name.
Kaylee Baumle, one of The Soil Sisters, publisher of Our Little Acre, lives and and gardens in Northwest Ohio with her husband and nine cats. “I was bitten by the gardening bug in 2005. It soon became my passion. Writing was next (2007) and the two joined forces. Now I write for a local newspaper, two regional gardening magazines, and am the book review editor for Horticulture magazine. It’s amazing what can happen when you follow your heart.” I got to meet Kaylee and her mom last summer (the mother and daughter duo travel quite a bit together and both are incredibly down to earth and nice to be with)…hey, is mom coming with you?
Stephanie McCratic publishes Evolved Mommy “for all of us who are growing, learning and evolving everyday. We are conflicted, funny and stylish. We are moms, moms-to-be or friends of moms. We are unique.” The mission of Evolved Mommy, she says “is to be a warm, welcoming place for women to learn about emerging and popular technologies.” I’m a mom, but I don’t think you need to be one to enjoy what she writes. Besides writing about diet, baby gear, faith, family, and parenting, she pokes fun at herself while musing about mundane passings of daily life, with a style a bit similar to Heather B. Armstong’s of Dooce.com: “Even though I have been completely freaked out by food, if left alone in a room with a bag of Cape Cod potato chips I immediately go into a food blackout only to come out of it when the bag is empty…This is very similar to what used to happen after the sixth glass of wine. I’m still walking and talking and appearing coherent, but it’s all a facade. Mentally I’m nowhere to be found and I will have no recollection of the event.” I’m bringing potato chips to Little Rock.
Adriana Martinez, whom I also met last summer at GWA, lives in Los Angeles where she publishes the blog, Anarchy in the Garden. Adriana says that “there is nothing more punk rock than growing your own food…I’m a city girl with limited space. However I grow enough vegetables for an entire block in two-4?X8? raised beds and a 10?X10? community garden plot, mostly in raised garden beds made of upcycled wood and hand-built by my husband. I’m a lifelong gardener turned horticulturist.” Adriana is also a certified Master Gardener, community garden founder and manager, and guerrilla gardener. Adriana’s business, Anarchy in the Garden, Home Edition, offers affordable professionally built custom raised beds and expert home garden consultation “to fellow backyard micro urban farmies interested in creating their own home based culinary vegetable plot.”
Laura Mathews, who publishes Punk Rock Gardens, gardening and growing news for Pennsylvania, is a garden writer and photographer. According to Laura, her family believes she spends too much time studying plants, soil and gardening. She writes about and photographs what she knows: gardens. Laura is fascinated with sustainable farming and local food. Once in a while, she hangs out with new-ish gardeners and helps them with their projects as a garden coach.
Janet Carson, whose blog, In the Garden With Janet Carson, for The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, is about, well, gardening in Arkansas. But not lately. She’s been blogging from Costa Rica since March 27–check out her blog for some fantastic photos and stories about the trip. I’m eager to learn more about Janet and will keep you posted about my findings.
Beth Phelps really does get out of the office…
Beth Phelps writes for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Polaski County Home and Garden section. Among other subjects, Beth has written about container gardens, ground covers, and going native. Looking forward to hearing more about Beth’s work.
“I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone to the Garden Home Retreat and getting to know individuals in the online gardening community,” Allen told us. “It’s such a creative and knowledgeable group coming to visit. I can’t wait to see what shakes out of our time together.”
Ditto, and check back for more on this exciting event with all the ideas, tips, and great photos I plan to come home with! Stay tuned for more…