What's Happening

3 Take-aways from Garden Writer Meet-ups


I love hanging out with other garden writers, and have done quite a bit of that this year – at several local and regional events and especially, the Garden Blogger Fling in Minneapolis and the Garden Writers conference in Atlanta. I caught up with old friends, made new ones, and had fun. But did I learn anything useful? Pick up any tips? Three take-aways come to mind.


On a tour-bus in Minneapolis I noticed several bloggers using a portable iPhone charger that’s surprisingly small, lightweight, and cheap – just 13 bucks. I bought one and now use it all the time. To illustrate how small it is for this post I asked one of my cats to pose with it – because we just don’t have enough cat pics here on the Rant.

In Atlanta I attended a talk by Seth Reed and Mason Day about social media in which we were told that the best way to reach gardeners these days is with Pinterest. My first reaction was along the lines of “Oh crap!” at the thought of doing yet another social media platform.


But then I calmed down, looked into it and discovered that videos can be easily pinned. So I created an account, started some boards, and pinned almost 200 of the videos featured on Good Gardening Videos. So easy! Check it out.


My third take-away may not be so simple to implement because I’m no graphic artist. But Kids Gardening.org has a terrific one in 23-year-old Andrea Warren, who designed both sides of this business card for Maree Gaetani, my seat-mate during an afternoon of garden touring in the Atlanta suburbs.

Most business cards I’m handed go directly into my purse, sometimes to never be seen again, but this one impressed the hell out of me for the amount of information packed into such a compelling design. So now I’m determined to have my assorted projects consolidated into one business card that does all that, or at least try.

By the way, how cool is the job title “Director of Mission and Garden Relations”?


And speak of the devil, Maree was in D.C. this week for a meeting and had a whole afternoon to kill! So we met up and here we are on the turfgrass chair at River Farm, headquarters of the American Horticultural Society.  Magazine editor David Ellis, seen here peeking out of the children’s playhouse, gave us the grand tour.

Our next stop was the stunning National Arboretum (here’s what it looks like in October), and our visit ended with a tour of my garden and dinner at the New Deal Cafe.

Clearly, the best take-away from garden writer meet-ups is making connections with cool people.

Posted by on October 21, 2016 at 2:53 am, in the category What's Happening.
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14 responses to “3 Take-aways from Garden Writer Meet-ups”

  1. Louise says:

    I joined Pinterest when teaching a phonics. HS class with no text book. When you pin things they are stored. It’s free and once you join, you can retrieve it later, instead of having to search for it again.

  2. Mason Day says:

    We are thrilled that you enjoyed our talk! If you ever have any questions about what we are up to, please let us know!

    I’ve also taken a stroll through the comments section here…. While I agree, social media is not necessarily a place for everyone, it is a GREAT way to attract new people to your site/blog. It’s a fun/inexpensive form of advertising. It’s not meant to suck up hours of time, just meant to help you spread the word!… but that’s just my two cents!

    Thanks Again!

  3. marcia says:

    One fun and valuable thing I learned (I’m behind on this one) is that one can search his or her photo album without tagging the photos. I use google photo storage.

    Say, for example, if you wanted to find your “monarda” photos, you type “monarda” in search and it will pull up those photos from your collection. You need NOT have tagged them. If you want to search for individuals, it pulls up only those photos in which they appear. Of course, you can have your phone settings set for automatic upload to the site, too, making taking, viewing, and sharing photos quick and easy.

    So, that’s neat. And, since we’re talking about videos, head on over to youtube and watch this new BBC documentary on the “Painted Lady Butterfly.” Why do they migrate? Why are fall gardens so important? Fascinating:


  4. anne says:

    Laura, I think you hit the nail on the head regarding social media, thanks for saying it out loud! Social media is not “free”. I enjoy the serendipity and discovery of browsing or searching the internet (and yes, I’m aware that it’s not “free” either, and is limited to what’s available). That’s how I found Gardenrant!

  5. David mcMullin says:

    This is a little to the side of the topic… Sorry.
    I live and garden professionally in Atlanta and would like to express that there are some great gardens and great nurseries here and designers who are doing innovative and thoughtful work – but the organizers of garden writers didn’t include any of that in this year’s conference. Nor were some of our region’s best designers or writers included in the speaking program. The emphasis of the tours was clearly wealth and white and not design and attendees I talked to were largely disappointed and those that know Atlanta were particularly confused about why certain things like Oakland Cemetery (which is a mile from the hotel) and Sauls Nursery (who’ve introduced many good plants to the trade, including a dozen coneflowers and the very popular Mahonia ‘soft caress’) were not part of the visit. I do know that several of us tried to offer gardens or venues and were either turned down or ignored.
    The consensus among many I spoke with (I ran into a few groups who’d broken from the conference and went to Sauls) was that the organizers seemed to want to keep attendees away from the most “urban” parts of our city and that race may have played a part in the decision making. That may or may not be true, but there certainly is an argument to make. Gardening doesn’t just belong to wealthy white women and our Intown neighborhoods are not dangerous.
    I hope you all will come to Atlanta and seek out our innovative parks and gardens and immerse yourself in the real Atlanta. We are a vibrant and interesting city making art, music, film, glorious food and design that is on the cutting edge of today’s culture and we are diverse and gritty and real and so are our gardens.

  6. Garden Rant Susan Harris says:

    I agree with everyone! First, I’ll Laura that the videos are now in 3 places, 2 of them accessible without joining anything – the Good Gardening Videos website and also its Youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnINzenbFJWGIl5VU_qPtAA Pinterest is just another place that GGVideos can be followed (by people who LIKE Pinterest), not someplace I plan to engage personally with anyone.
    A PBS show I admire uses Pinterest to simply post its new episodes, and that’s what I’m doing – posting links to new videos.

    Social-media-wise other than that, I just post to this and a community blog and use personal and group accounts on Facebook. They work for me and they’re the only social media I can STAND, honestly. Sounds like we’re in the same boat.

  7. Garden Rant Garden Rant says:

    Thanks, Sandy! It’s packed with black-eyed Susans and Sedums from your pal ML, of course. Maybe next year when we see what times have no blooms, you might have some divisions to contribute from YOUR big garden? Susan

  8. Sandy says:

    Hey Susan. Too many social media sites and too much time spent reading/sitting at the computer. Love your work on the corner of Ridge and Westway. Thanks for all your information & work. Enjoyed the tour of the Japanese garden at the U.S. Arboretum last weekend. Working on planting my shady back yard with a Japanese theme.

  9. Papi Jo says:

    Totally agree with Laura! I refuse to join any of those so-called “social” sites. On the other hand I like browsing “free” gardening sites and blogs—such as garden rant !

  10. Don’t feel guilty about a good garden rant Laura, or your honest thoughts – that’s what it’s all about. If we’re all saying the same things, where’s the fun in that? Sorry Susan, had to chime in!

  11. Laura Munoz says:

    Feeling guilty about my post above. It’s not about MY needs or my social media use. If anyone can reach prospective gardeners through whatever means possible including social media, then that’s a GOOD thing.

    Garden writer conferences sound like fun. Even though I don’t write professionally, I wish I could attend one since writing and gardening are my favorite things.

  12. I need to get a portable charger – thanks for the reminder! But, Susan I’ve got to play devil’s advocate on the Pinterest thing. Are all the hands-in-soil gardeners on Pinterest, or are all the garden writers/influencers on Pinterest just talking to one another?

    Here’s the thing. The more time I spend on these social media sites, the less time I actually have to be in the garden, gardening. The less time I have in the garden, the less inspiration/motivation/experience and knowledge I bring to my column and my website. I cannot help but think of a couple friends who tell me how much they “love gardening” yet do very little outside – but man are they active on Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat etc.. – seriously, hours. I’ve got a Pinterest account, but taking the time to get relevant information up there is tough – not to mention the endless re-pinning and networking one is supposed to be doing. Good Lord just give me the dirt.

    However, I attended that talk and really enjoyed it. They are funny guys and truly had my attention. Took away quite a bit, and I downloaded their app. Now I’ve just got to find some time to figure out how to use it.

  13. […] 3 Take-aways from Garden Writer Meet-ups originally appeared on Garden Rant on October 21, 2016. […]

  14. Laura Munoz says:

    Will the videos only be posted to Pinterest? I hope not.

    I don’t “do” Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It actually makes me angry (not at you) that I must JOIN these sites to access information that used to generally be available via the Internet on blogs, websites, and through emails without joining anything. I don’t want these social media sites collecting my information or thinking they can manipulate me (Facebook) with their feeds (and I’m not being paranoid when I write this) or that they might re-use the material I put on their site because suddenly it’s also theirs. Nope.

    Most people don’t care. I do.

    Pinterest seems to own all Internet creativity these days and if you don’t “join” you aren’t allowed to see it. My creative endeavors are mine, not theirs.

    Unless you aren’t on these social media sites (yes, I’m in the minority), you don’t realize any of this.