At some point in the midst of COVID madness, I received a message from the WordPress gods that my blog had reached its 9th anniversary, the gift for which is pottery (hence, the opening photo). That announcement, in combination with all of the quarantine days and weeks and months I’ve had to work in the garden, I’ve had some — and by some, I mean a lot of — time to reflect on this blog… where it began (during my time as a Long Island gardener), where it is now (during my time as a South Florida gardener), where it’s going (I haven’t a clue), and all points in between.
When I made the decision to start this blog, I was at a very stagnant time in my life. So much was about work, and there was very little time for anything creative — and I felt I needed to do something, anything, to be able to breathe. Gardening has always been that for me, but the idea of a blog was a way to reignite my passion for writing, reading, and photography.
Along the way, I’ve had some posts I’ve been especially proud of and some that were outright clunkers. Similarly, some photos are “meh” at best, and others still have the ability to take my breath away.
There’s also you.
When I began this blog, I always told myself that it’s perfectly okay if no one reads it. The blog was meant for me, a warehouse for writing and photos — but it amazed me then and still does now to post something and to see the first readers’ responses, whether it’s a “like” or a “comment.” On my dashboard, I’m also able to see a map of the world and each time someone reaches my blog, his or her country lights up, and the color deepens with each hit from that country.
It reminds me of how I’ve always felt about the blogosphere, especially the gardening neighborhood. I feel as if we all live next door to one another. Each time we post or leave a comment, it’s as if we’re neighbors having a chat across the garden fence — and in these current times, that means so much more.
There are also the adventures… like the artist, Cathyann Burgess, who reached out to me after finding an interview with me on another blog about bloggers who drink coffee and have a dog. She saw a photo of Murphy and me there, but she was quite taken with one particular close up of my dog. She contacted me and asked if she could paint Murphy’s portrait for a pet rescue fundraiser. Of course, I agreed — and she sent me a copy of it. Now that Murphy is no longer with us, I cherish each brush stroke of that furry face.
I also enjoyed interviewing authors (like Linda Holden and Dr. Twigs Way), celebrities (like Dante), and gardeners (like Margaret Roach, who invited me to be a part of her book blog tour before I even knew what a book blog tour was). To be honest, as much as I enjoy the interviews, I really enjoy the challenge of the hunt. Some might call it stalking, but if I read a tidbit that a celebrity gardens, I’m on their trail to make contact. I’ve done that since I was a young teenager, writing fan letters celebrities to get their autographs. (At this point, Joe would say, “Nerd alert.”)
Finally, there’s the potting shed. Let’s face it, it’s always been about the potting shed and it will always be about the potting shed. Technically, my potting shed is no longer mine. It now belongs to my nephew and his wife, since they bought our house before we moved to Florida. Still, though…
It’s difficult to remove that picture from the side of the homepage, or to take away its own page, the one that has all of Joe’s hand-drawn building plans. Heck, it’s the cover model on my book, Seeing Green: Life Learned In The Potting Shed! (Shameless plug: the book is for sale on Blurb, a print-on-demand service. If you decide to get a copy, always check Blurb’s homepage for promo discount codes. They do that a lot!)
I have to admit something here. Although I have a beautiful area along the side of my Florida house, where I can garden and write on the same potting bench that once was in the potting shed, I still miss looking at and working in that potting shed. I loved — and love — that shed. I love every memory that was made there, especially during those white winter days, when I could garden under glass while snow fell just on the other side of the panes. As much as I love the sight of the shed alive with flowers and color… I keep a photo on my phone of the potting shed in the snow, and despite its frosty appearance, just looking at it is like feeling the embrace of a warm hug.
Apparently, I’m not alone. Occasionally, I receive emails from people who have used my potting shed plans to build their own versions of it, from full-size to miniature! I am thrilled to know that so many people are smitten with my potting shed and that I’ve been able to share it.
Similarly, of all the posts, the one that consistently gets the most likes, the most traffic, the most links, the most questions, the most shares is the one about the potting shed, The House That Joe Built. In fact, whenever those WordPress metrics gurus alert me to a surge in site traffic, it’s always because someone has shared the potting shed’s link to their own blog, website, or Pinterest page.
That’s what happened a few months ago, when a writer for HGTV found the potting shed. After contacting me, she said she would like to include it in a selection of great garden sheds. She had questions for me and I had to sign releases — and now, my potting shed is number two on HGTV’s website, and I can proudly say, “As seen on HGTV.”
I’m not sure if all of this attention has gone to the potting shed’s head, but I’ve warned my nephew that he may see garden paparazzi lurking in the shrubbery. That being said, blogging has been a remarkable adventure, packed with mostly smile, occasional tears, and always flowers. Thank you for being a part of this adventure. I’m looking forward to more. Stay safe and, as always, happy gardening.