The Language Of Gardening
My fiance and I recently moved to Los Angeles and inherited a large garden, which includes, but is not limited to: roses, figs, artichokes, lemons, loquats, oranges, figs, and grapefruits. I have been known to kill bamboo. Clearly, we needed guidance, information, and resources, a lot of which I found online. Learning how to garden is like learning a new language. For those who’ve always wanted to connect to other gardeners, get advice about compost and plants, and trade seeds and stories, this round-up is for you.
Plantwire is in beta. Plantwire is an online resource that uses Flickr photos that have been release under Creative Commons licenses to identify and provide knowledge about interesting and important plants. Each plant is identified by its common name and scientific name. Every entry has a short description of the plant, along with statistics about its cultivation, growth, and propagation methods. The site is easily searchable – you can click on tags, search by color, or enter plant names. The site promises that new features are in the works, which I’m looking forward to. It would be great if the site had community features, or included contributions from other photo sites.
Plantcare is a similar, more comprehensive site. It is not as visually appealing as Plantwire, it has some cool features. PlantCare has a plant encyclopedia in which plants can be found by name or attribute, and there are great, well-rounded articles on different gardening tips and guides. Each article can be rated by the user and saved to different bookmarking services such as Digg or del.icio.us. Readers can also join the forums to discuss topics such as plant identification, or growing different foods and flowers. I really liked looking for plants by attributes – there were several attributes that I hadn’t thought of, like whether a plant is toxic or not, and whether a plant can be “bonsaied”.
I Heart Gardening is a gardening community maintained by Patrick Hempton for those who love to garden. Users can create their own gardening blogs, contribute to the site’s plant database, and communicate with other gardeners through the forums. The plant database is the best aspect of the site, and would greatly benefit from more participants and comments. Users can upload photos, and contribute their own knowledge to the site. Hempton is also looking for gardeners who also love to write to contribute articles for the I Heart Gardening community. This small, growing community would be a great place for a novice gardener to start.
Garden Guides is a one-stop resource for gardeners, for the new and experienced, the curious, and those looking to join a friendly community. It currently boasts a “new and improved” community section. Participants can start their own blogs, comment on other gardening blogs, upload photos, research plants, pests, and supplies. There are several directories for gardening-related subjects such as landscapers, nurseries and public gardens. It’s a great resource with a user-friendly interface.
Grows On You is an online community for people who love gardens. Pleasantly designed, easy to use, and friendly, this community is perfect for gardeners who are unfamiliar with online social networking. In addition to standard features, like the ability to upload photos, trade advice, and create blogs, Grows On You has a seed exchange, the ability to find and review “open gardens”, or gardens that are available to the public, and see which members are also growing the same plants, and get advice for taking care of them.
There are several Ning communities dedicated to gardening, and Garden Gallery, Garden Life, and Backyardster are some great communities where you can start and join groups, upload photos, videos, and participate in forums and communicate with other members. Each one is worth checking out – Garden Gallery is great for gardeners who love to take photos, Garden Life for general gardening topics, and Backyardster for people who are interested in not just gardening, but also landscaping and just making use of the backyard.
MyFolia is in beta. MyFolia is one of the best new additions to the available online gardening resources. As with other great ideas, this one began when the founders need to solve a problem and couldn’t find the solution they wanted. They created their own, and the result is a gorgeous site that’s feature-rich, and provides plenty of tools for users to organize and share their garden with others. You can create a garden “progress” journal, add multiple gardens, list your “stash” of seeds and cuttings, make them available to swap with other MyFolia users, and ask questions and get answers to your most pressing gardening dilemmas. Participants have signed up from all over the world, and it’s a fun look to see how people garden in places as varied as Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.
Blotanical is much more than a directory of several hundred garden blogs. Check out gardening blogs from all over the world – from the United Kingdom to South Africa, and from India to Canada – using the Google Maps feature to locate them. To join the aggregator, you can add your own gardening blog. There’s a comprehensive FAQ to help you get started, and you can take advantage of the site’s features, such as “faving” your gardening websites, and obtain “blotanist” points by participating in the site. It’s easy to use, and great for finding other people who are really passionate about gardening.
Gardening can be exhausting, frustrating, and confusing. But it’s also rewarding, exhilarating, and fun. It feels great to know that you’ve nurtured a small seedling to a full-blown plant that bears fruit, or that you’ve successfully composted your leftover scraps and reduced garbage waste. The gardening resources I’ve listed will help make learning about your garden easier to learn, maintain, and grow from others just like you.