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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in garden bloggers (5)


Psst! Wanna See Some Really Cool Garden Pictures?

The internet has made it possible to access the web sites of internationally acclaimed and talented professionals who are garden designers, writers, or photographers. Visitors to these sites are rarely disappointed; most come away bowled over by the talent and creativity that they encounter there.

Another online source of information and pleasure, delivered in words or pictures, or both, may be found in the garden blogs of more than 4,000 hobbyists and amateurs who communicate from all corners of the globe. On rare occasions, a posting from one of these sources will stand out and merit special attention and accolade.

This past week, on August 1, 2011, to be exact, one such garden blogger has taken his site from respected hobbyist to world class professional, when he posted some camera shots he took of the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, in Seattle, Washington. Known to his readers as scottweberpdx, and blogging at Rhone Street Gardens, this garden blogger has created a collection of sublime plant images that are world class. From the point of view of pictorial composition, texture, perspective, and color, they are all works of art that I would be eager to hang on my walls.

The protocol of garden blogging does not permit me to reproduce any of these spectacular images on my site. Therefore, I urge readers to click onto the blog logo above to experience firsthand what I can only write about.


The Gardener as Elegant, Soaring Albatross: the Story of a Cyberspace Community of Garden Bloggers

Image by wildlife and conservation photographer Roy Toft. Click on the image to visit his site.Gardeners who feel misunderstood can take heart that this sensitivity was identified by poets, as far back as the 19th century. In the poem, L’Albatros, Charles Beaudelaire, described the muses among us who soar gracefully with pride when they are being creative but experience humiliation when they return to earth. We gardeners are like that poetic bird. We soar euphorically when we are in the garden but muddle around when we lay down our trowels. That is because there are so few around us who appreciate what we do or understand why we do it.

In spite of the fact that millions of people all over the world garden for pleasure, sustenance or both, gardening is a relatively solitary activity. It does not lend itself to social banter. It is nothing like a quilting bee, a corn husking party or a barn raising. All these activities were undertaken as social gatherings with much verbal interaction among the participants. By comparison, gardening takes place in the minds of gardeners and in their back yards. Up until a few years ago, horticultural accomplishments remained private and unappreciated.

The Internet changed that. With the help of computers, gardeners began interacting with their peers throughout the world, at all hours of the day and night and without ever meeting. In a revolutionary manner, the Internet zapped all of the traditional societal obstacles that prevented some from interacting with others: socio economic levels disappeared, age was no barrier, gender became unimportant, politics and religion stayed in the background, distance and location were irrelevant, ethnicity turned invisible, and both skin color and sexual orientation were wiped away. The support and camaraderie among on line friends became a remarkable phenomenon and turning point in our culture. Some, who never met in the flesh, and who may never get the opportunity to do so, have become good friends.

How did this happen? A cyberspace community was created with the help of the garden blog clearing house, Blotanical. Through that site, passionate gardeners began to share experiences and garden images with their contemporaries around the globe - experiences that their own friends and relatives could rarely understand or appreciate. In time, the banter between the bloggers took on a life of its own. Gardeners left uplifting messages in the comment section of each others blogs, earned deeply felt validation for their efforts in the garden or with a camera, and received precious encouragement when their projects failed.

Sometimes, a writer’s focus would be deflected by more pressing issues and the blog site would become a comfortable venue for sharing a personal burden. One writer posted a eulogy upon the death of a parent; another informed about the tragic death of a child. A grower wrote how the devastations in the nursery industry were impacting personal life. An eloquent plantsman, suffering from cabin fever, posted a rant expressing unbearable emotional turmoil brought on by the hardships of winter. Another erudite blogger, who suspended posting in order to assist caring for a newborn child, was mentioned several times by blogging colleagues who missed him.

The need to reach out to like-minded people and to stay connected with them has been clearly identified with the help of technology. This social networking has become the new reality. Possibly, for some very private or isolated gardeners, this remarkable association may be the only venue where one is able to express one’s feelings and where one is comfortable unburdening oneself. We gardeners have created a veritable on line community, ostensibly because we share a love for our hobby. However, in reality, it satisfies a yearning to be part of a supportive social group that swarms around its members when they need to be comforted, validated or encouraged.

No longer are gardeners like the ungainly albatross; no one need be alone or feel misunderstood, anymore. With the help of technology, an environment has been created where gardeners can soar elegantly and with pride.


Image Accreditation: Whose Pictures Are They, Anyway?

A recent blog posted here on October 3, 2010, titled "Does Your Garden Advice Lose its Flavor on the Bed Post Overnight?" generated a significant amount of commentary both on my site as well as on Kimberly’s, who blogs at Garden in Paradise. Kimberly ran with the proverbial ball, so to speak, by continuing the dialogue on garden advice at her site. Her post is titled "Bloggers Bawl" and was posted on October 7, 2010.

Then, a very interesting development occurred on both her blog and mine. At some point in the conversation,  the commentaries turned to the topic of accreditation. I went back to re read all of the posted opinions to make sure that I understood each replier’s point of view. After several reads, I concluded that this subject is not only very controversial but also, that there can never be a consensus because there are too many opposing opinions. The most prominent are two that I label “Black-White” and “Grey”.

Those in the Black-White camp follow the guidelines of the publishing and communication industries. All intellectual property belongs to the creator or the purchaser and should not be used without the express permission of the current owner and that permission must be acknowledged by the user. From the perspective of those in this camp, it is important to appreciate that creative people earn a living from the intellectual property that they produce and that publishers earn a living from marketing the intellectual properties that they purchase.

The grey camp believes that after an image has been acquired, paid for, and posted on line; it may be used by bloggers for non commercial purposes, without time-consuming prior permission, as long as it is accredited. That accreditation includes acknowledging the site where it was found and a link back to that site. However, the exception occurs when an image is expressly copyrighted by the owner, or when a site posts a warning that forbids its re use under any circumstances.

From the perspective of those in the grey camp, it is important to recognize that there is a tacit understanding between blogger and site owner. A link-back from a blog provides free publicity to a commercial website with the hope that it will generate revenue in terms of sales of products, services, or subscriptions. At the least, it is expected to increase the number of unique visitors to a site; a number that has great significance because it is a measure of the attractiveness of that site to potential advertisers. In this manner owners, who have legitimately paid for the images posted to their sites, are happy to share that intellectual property with bloggers who might send them additional reader traffic.

Our community of garden bloggers may have reached, or is about to reach, a confrontation point. Accreditation by link-back, without prior permission, is not acceptable to one camp while the other camp cannot fully appreciate the sacredness of intellectual property. Never should there be a judgment on the intelligence or ethical integrity of either group. There may be serious differences between them on this subject; however, members of both camps are otherwise held in high regard by their respective readers and by their garden blogging colleagues.

I hope that the two opposing camps will not create a schism within our community. That is an occurrence that no one wants as it would be counter productive to the harmony and mutual respect that we now experience. Therefore, in the same spirit that we acknowledge that there are no absolute truths in gardening, we should also agree that bloggers accredit their sources as they please.


Does Your Garden Advice Lose Its Flavor On the Blog Post Overnight?  

Are there garden experts out there that resent the abundance of horticultural advice that is posted online? Sometimes, I get the impression that they would prefer to be the only authoritative voices. I first became aware of this situation last year when I discovered disparaging remarks written by an established garden expert. She was insultingly critical of some garden writers’ opinions and, to avoid censure, stealthfully buried her thoughts in the “comment” section of a fellow gardener’s blog. Another garden expert was not so discrete and publicly expressed her dismissiveness of garden bloggers, as an off-the-cuff response to a question on a radio progtam. She stated that they tend to post incorrect advice. [I learned about this latest affront from Sheila at The Stopwatch Gardener].

The goal of every gardener is to create beauty and pleasure. As we strive in that direction, we adopt rules that seem to help us accomplish our objectives and we discard rules that are obstacles. If, along the way, we have made mistakes in judgment; nature will tell us so by not permitting a plant to thrive. Whether our actions in the garden appear to be successful or disappointing, we are eager to report the results to our supportive blogging peers. The absolute right to post our thoughts is now a forgone conclusion.

When we publish advice that is mistaken or that is not universally applicable, members of our online community tell us so and the doubtful information is usually corrected. Furthermore, some of our blogs are read by many garden hobbyists outside our circle and, for their sake, we need always to be as accurate as possible. However, because we are human, sometimes we stumble. Fortunately, the blogging community is far more forgiving of inaccuracies or omissions than are members of other media.

With or without professional credentials in horticulture or writing, and for better or for worse, technology has permitted many to become garden writers or botanical photographers. Judging the high quality of some of the work that is posted online daily, either as a blog, a photo journal, or a comment, it is clear that we have exceptionally talented people within our garden blogging community.They deserve to be celebrated and not derided.

I wonder if we garden bloggers are accelerating the dialogue of new ideas at a speed uncomfortable for a few established experts. Some are not prepared to welcome modernity in gardening techniques or design, and others are unable to appreciate garden blogging altogether. Regardless of their attitude, we must be prepared to be confronted by them, at any moment. It might be their destiny to forever be dismissive of those who err, who contradict them, or steal their thunder. Perhaps they are unaware to what extent they demean themselves when they broadcast disparaging remarks or derisive comments.

Jan142010, a Community of Garden Bloggers

Some of the most popular and beautiful garden blogs from around the world are cataloged at I can follow only a handful because I prefer information - based blogs, even if they are narrative, to those that are photo-based. There are a great number of garden blog that focus on posting exquisite close-up shots of flowers and foliage. Those blogs that are distinguished by the creativity of both the posted photos and the graphic design of their sites are quickly noticed.

I expect that most blog readers will disagree with me, and some, understandably, will become incensed, when I report that, I find a plant important only if it has the potential to enhance a garden; its intrinsic beauty is secondary. I suppose that explains why I find myself clicking away from awe-inspiring photo-blogs, including those that have won awards. Clearly, I am not their target audience. Because nature has such a powerful effect on the psyche, I prefer to experience plants in the garden.

There are more gardening blogs available to read at than any one can possibly imagine. A new visitor to that site should begin by researching the ones that are most popular or that have recently won awards. Many blogs reveal the personal side of the gardener; some reflect their enormous talent. Ironically, a few bloggers, themselves, have turned out to be more fascinating than the gardens they create.