I have to thank Colleen Vanderlinden and her Mouse and Trowel Awards for turning me on to Tom Spencer’s site Soul of the Garden. It’s been nominated for the prized Gardening Website of the Year award, along with the highly opinionated Renegade Gardener, and blog compiler Garden Voices.
Now if you’ve visited Soul of the Garden you’ve seen how gorgeous it is but did you notice the quote on his Welcome page? "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to." He didn’t write that just choosing it for that spot tells me that Tom’s another garden-enchantment junkie, someone I recognize as a fellow traveler. (Fellow troweler?)
Then there’s screen after screen of amazing images, a special tribute to Buddhism and Buddhist practice, poetry, Tom’s videos for sale, and his fabulous gardening articles going back to 2000.
I visited Tom’s Buddhist Quotes and these are my favorites:
By correcting our mistakes, we get wisdom.
By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind.
And this one:
Enlightenment is simply this: When I walk, I walk. When I eat, I eat. When I sleep, I sleep.
Everything Tom writes about, I want to explore. Like his own garden, like the Peckerwood Garden and Westcave Preserve. And such cool sites as the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, Singing Insects of North America, Richard Louv, Architecture for Humanity, and scads more for the perusing.
WHO IS THIS GUY?
I’m sure this Austinite is well known to Texas gardeners but I had to look up his bio. It told me Tom’s an award-winning TV producer of public affairs programming of all sorts – art, architecture, gardening, and more. A leader in public affairs television nationally. Star of radio, too. A freelance writer and photographer. Well, no wonder the site’s is so good.
WITHER GARDENING WEBSITES?
New sites about gardening are hitting the Web almost daily, and most look nothing like Soul of the Garden. The site creators have boned up on such formerly arcane subjects as search engine optimization – seminars on the subject are wildly popular – and monetization, the often soul-less task of trying to make money off the damn things.
And a little surfing is all it takes to see examples of sites that are pure BUY-BUY-BUY, sites with almost no content or whose content is clearly only a vehicle for advertising. I won’t name names but I dare say this group is the majority. My own pet peeves about them include ads in the middle of the screen, huge ads across the top of every page, and flashing ads – the worst! – but the list is growing. Yeah, websites can annoy us in SO many ways.
But hey, even gardenwriters have mortgages to pay and I’m very sympathetic. Truth is, gardenwriters most especially could use new sources of income because those magazine articles and even the more successful books don’t exactly a Stephen King make. So we’re seeing garden sites that use Google ads or affiliate agreements with Amazon and other merchants. They offer books for sale, even e-books. And as more vendors offer affiliate programs (paying small finders’ fees to sites that link to them), we may see more of us managing to make a living at it. Doug Green, the web impresario of gardening, reportedly already does.
COMING SOON – YET ANOTHER GARDENING WEBSITE
So it’s confession time. My interest in topics like monetization isn’t exactly academic. My very own website about gardening will be making its debut here later this month. One place where I can say it all, show it all, link to it all, and and maybe sell a thing or two.
Photos by Tom Spencer, with permission.