Digging is 12! A blogiversary retrospective

I was in my 30s when I started blogging in February 2006. Now I am 50, a milestone year. Twelve years is kind of a long time to publicly document one’s life, even if it’s mainly the gardening side of my life that I share. I sometimes wonder if the blogging era is an aberration, a time of public sharing that our children, who prefer private texts and Snapchat videos, won’t relate to. Who knows what the future holds for blogs, but I’m grateful to still be here during this blip, if that’s what it is, when many of us are documenting publicly what would otherwise be a solitary pursuit behind the garden gate, connecting along the way with thousands of other gardeners and garden lovers.

Blogging is, as I’ve noted, about sharing and making personal connections. It’s a place of creativity and personal improvement. It’s about commemorating the ordinary yet extraordinary daily life of a garden — which represents all gardens — and what it means to be the one digging in it.

For my 12th blogiversary, I thought it would be interesting to see what I was thinking about as I marked my first blogging milestone in February 2007. Unsurprisingly, I was feeling introspective and family focused. Here it is again:


My grandmother and I in her garden, circa 1969

A couple of months ago, Carol at May Dreams posed the questions, “What makes a gardener? Do you consider yourself a gardener? How did you decide you were a gardener? When is the first time you referred to yourself as a gardener? Where and how did you learn to be a gardener?”

I answered in her comment section:

Though I’ve been gardening for 12 years, I don’t believe I ever referred to myself as a gardener until about two years ago. People who came over to my house might say something nice about my garden, and I’d say, “Thanks, it’s a hobby of mine.” What I didn’t admit—and what must have been obvious to the visitor—was that gardening was a compulsion for me, and that I loved it.

I began to realize that my interest was more than a hobby when people would see me reading a book like Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners or Jill Nokes’s How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest, and they’d raise their eyebrows. One day I was going on about some plant or another to someone kind enough to listen, and she said, “So, are you a gardener?” Without hesitation I said, “Yes!”

A year ago today I started blogging here at Digging. At first I posted my best photos of my prettiest plants, adding notes about the plants’ habits and the weather. To keep a record of my garden’s changes and growth, I posted a backlog of photos and notes from earlier years (these comprise the 1st–4th years on my blog). I wrote to my favorite garden bloggers to ask if they would visit my blog. They did, and even commented, and I felt like I’d joined a club that I’d been wanting to get into.

Garden blogging connects me to a like-minded community. It’s social. It’s informative. It’s fun. It makes me think about gardening, the world, myself.

But it isn’t much related to being a gardener.

What makes a gardener? It was Carol’s first question, and I didn’t answer it. But what else could it be? You just want to grow things.

Maybe it’s in the genes. My mother has always gardened, from simple sweeps of annuals when she was younger to the exuberant cottage garden she tends today. And her mother—who scraped by in rural southeast Oklahoma—gardened as well, planting roses on her fence, moss rose in troughs, annuals in tire-lined flowerbeds. A quiet, mild-tempered woman, she’d shout at us kids to climb down out of her prized mimosa tree that smelled heavenly, worried that we’d damage the limbs. I understand that now.

My mother was her last child, a late-in-life baby. To me, my grandmother was always old and frail, her back eventually bent nearly horizontal from osteoporosis. Yet I remember her regularly hoeing and weeding her garden, wearing a faded dress and an old-fashioned sunbonnet like a pioneer woman.


My mother and grandmother, circa 1960

My grandmother died years ago. Her gardening legacy carries on though. My mother’s garden is a tumble of old favorites like hollyhocks, irises, lilies, and roses. When I talk to her on the telephone, I often picture her in the garden, checking on her plants or resting in the shade of a jasmine-covered trellis.

As they say, blood will out. Probably I owe my love of plants and digging to them both. And so, on my first blogiversary, I dedicate this post to my mother, June, and my grandmother, Demma, who taught me a love of gardening.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Calling all garden bloggers! You’re invited to register for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling tour and meetup, which will be held in Austin this May 3rd-6th! Click this link for information about registering, and you can see our itinerary here. Space is limited, so don’t delay. The 2018 Fling will be the event’s 10th anniversary, which started in Austin in 2008.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2018 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Got a cool gardening business? Austin Garden Bloggers Fling wants to partner with you!

Do you own or do marketing for a garden-related business? Would you like for garden bloggers — i.e., social media influencers — from across the U.S., Canada, and beyond to know about your products?

I’m on the planning committee for Garden Bloggers Fling, an annual 3-day meetup and garden tour for garden bloggers that will be hosted May 3-6, 2018, in Austin, Texas. We’re partnering with gardening businesses across North America to showcase those businesses to our expected 100 blogger-attendees, while helping to keep our event registration cost affordable.

If you’re interested in hearing more, please contact me. I’d be happy to tell you about our event and discuss how we can partner together! And by the way, all donations to our nonprofit organization are tax-deductible.

Here’s a little sneak peek at Austin Garden Bloggers Fling!

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Don’t miss the Austin Open Days garden tour sponsored by the Garden Conservancy on November 4.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Willowsford Farm market stand & Fling wrap-up: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


I’m not a food gardener myself, but I enjoyed the Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling welcome-event visit to Willowsford Farm, a 300-acre farm surprisingly located within a recently developed planned community in Ashburn, Virginia, about an hour’s drive northwest of Washington, D.C.


After a lovely outdoor reception, we were invited to tour the farm with director Mike Snow, starting at their farm stand that sells “a variety of our own and locally sourced products, including veggies and fruit, meats, cheeses and dairy, honey and pantry goods, prepared foods and more,” and that’s open to the public spring through fall.


As Mike described the farm’s operations and prepared to lead bloggers on through the farm…


…I was sidetracked by the pretty fruit and vegetable displays in the open-air, roofed market.


Here are Flingers Lisa Wagner of Natural Gardening and Julie Thompson-Adolf of Garden Delights enjoying the stand too — and matching the purple cabbages.


And here’s the ever-cheerful Peggy Anne Montgomery of American Beauties Native Plants showing off some blueberries she purchased and was sharing around. I had some, and they were yummy!


Photo courtesy of Julie Thompson-Adolf/Garden Delights

And that’s a wrap on my posts about this year’s Garden Bloggers Fling, which introduced me to a gardening region — the rolling, bucolic country of northern Virginia and suburban Washington, D.C. — I knew virtually nothing about, despite numerous visits to D.C. as a tourist over the years. Hats off to the woman who put it all together as the organizer of the 2017 Fling, Tammy Schmitt of Casa Mariposa! Notice her cheeky Game of Thrones-referencing T-shirt, which reads “Mother of Dragons,” with “Snap” penned in red just before “dragons” — ha!


Thanks, too, to all the sponsors of the Fling, who help make this annual event possible and much more affordable than it would otherwise be. They’re listed in the 2017 Sponsor Directory, as well as on the Fling website’s sidebar. Many of the sponsors not only give money but donate items to the attendees’ swag bags, as shown in this incomplete sampling from my own bag: shout-outs to Garden Design, CobraHead, Corona, Hortus TV, Teak Closeouts, American Meadows, High Country Gardens, Botanical Interests, Timber Press, Kelly Moore, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Dramm, and many others.

To any garden blogger who thinks all this looks like fun and wants to Fling too, join us next year right here in Austin, Texas! Diana Kirby, Laura Wills, and myself are already well into the planning for the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling in Austin and look forward to hosting our fellow bloggers here May 3-6, 2018!

Here’s a little sneak peek!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my series about the gardens I toured on the Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling. For a look back at the Japanese garden and garden art at Hillwood Estate, click here. And to read other bloggers’ posts about the tour, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Follow