Hitching my wagon to the social media star

August 15, 2010

Welcome to Your Garden Show!

Wait. I didn’t get that quite right.

While I like to think of my program as your garden show, I’m actually talking about a new website called “Your Garden Show.” Are we clear? It’s the brainchild of Tom and Lisa Marini Finerty, a couple of ex-patriate Chicagoans who were looking for a way for gardeners of all shapes and sizes to be able to connect with each other online. Of course, that’s been done before, but not with the unique vision that the Finertys have brought to their project.

Tom and Lisa enlisted the aid of a group of smart, techno-savvy and accomplished folks and the result is a website–actually, more of a web-community–that allows gardeners to post slide shows and videos of their gardens; share information about their plants, themselves and their pet projects; and even GLOG (funny…I thought that was a Scandanavian wine drink…go figure) They say that a GLOG is a fully searchable garden log that allows you to look back over past growing seasons, or set reminders for gardening events in the future.

It’s all easier to figure out when you go to the website. There you’ll see scores of thumbnail photos, some of individual gardens, some of community gardens, some of conservatories and more from all over the world. Just click on one and it will take to to a slide show, video or both of that particular garden, along with comments by the gardener and even comments from other gardeners. And then there are the bells and whistles–check out how you can “tag” photos in your slide show with plant names, much the way you can tag people on Facebook.

Is this the future of online gardening? It might very well be.

Gardeners, start your ranting!

As long as we’re on the subject of social media of various sorts, I pose the question: Do you think gardeners rant more than other people? Regardless of what you think, there are four women out there who rant more than…well, than just about anybody.

They are the creators and perpetrators of one of the (THE?) most popular sites in the blogosphere: Garden Rant. The primary authors are Susan Harris, Elizabeth Licata, Michele Owens and Amy Stewart and the best way to describe what they do is to present their own Manifesto:

We Are:
Convinced that gardening MATTERS.
Bored with perfect magazine gardens.
In love with real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden gardens.
Suspicious of the “horticultural industry.”
Delighted by people with a passion for plants.
Appalled by chemical warfare in the garden.
Turned off by any activities that involve “landscaping” with “plant materials.”
Flabbergasted at the idea of a “no maintenance garden.”
Gardening our asses off.
Having a hell of a lot of fun.

And these four riders of the Gardening Apocalypse are in Chicago this week to speak (and, presumably, to rant) at the annual Independent Garden Center Show (IGC) at Navy Pier. As a matter of fact, they’re going to be all over the area this week, so if you trip over one of them, at least apologize. By the way, Amy Stewart has been on my program once before, to talk about her excellent book Flower Confidential. She has written several other books and is already an important garden writer.

If you’ve ever wondered what gardeners could possibly rant about ad infinitum, I advise you to stop by the Garden Rant website. But I’ll give you an example. One of the more recent conversations arose from a new book by Eric Grissel called Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens (Grissel is a terrific writer, by the way–I interviewed him a few years ago). So the ranters challenged their readers to come up with limericks about bee, wasp and ant sex. Ahem. You can read the best of the best here. They even got the staff at Timber Press, which published the book, to read some of the limericks on tape. I don’t think that bribes were involved. Hey, I’m still trying to get the powers-that-be at WCPT to install a version of Adobe Reader that isn’t more than five years old on the station computers. I need to get some tips from the gals.

There’s no point in my trying to explain their own rants, guest rants, book and other reviews, and how they generally suck you into their edgy web of gardening and related issues. The best way to appreciate their talents is by visiting the website. Unfortunately, only three of the four are on the program today (Michele is out of the country attending an 80th birthday party for her favorite aunt). So it’s merely three against one. Oh, dear. I don’t stand a chance.