Ginny and Tammy

Guest Post by Ginny Stibolt

When we write online, who’s actually reading and what are we trying to accomplish? Articles for magazines (and maybe even newspapers) are easier to target, because we know the demographics of the readers. When we write in cyberspace, we have no idea who’s reading, except for those who respond.

We’ve talked about the disappearing garden writing for newspapers and garden programming on TV. Maybe our online writing is filling the gaps left elsewhere. I know that after I moved to north Florida in 2004 and found that gardening was really different here, I starting writing “Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener.”  I received some pretty good feedback, which encouraged me to continue writing. I’d found a niche, which continued to expand in various ways, including  writing for the Florida Native Plant Society, Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens, the Lawn Reform Coalition, a couple of guest rants here on Garden Rant, plus podcasts at The Times Union, and articles for The Vero Beach Magazine.  Now, I also have written two books for University Press of Florida. That’s a lot of writing…

What I Thought I Was Doing

In a former life I was a teacher–7th & 8th grade math and later, community college level science and business courses. I don’t know about you, but once a teacher, always a teacher. So I thought I was helping Florida gardeners learn to cope by sharing my experiences and what I’d learned with others.

Maybe if more gardeners learn the best way to plant a tree, or find out that putting a layer of gravel in the bottom of a container impedes drainage, they would be less frustrated. And maybe if more of Florida’s gardeners would plant natives for their butterflies, stop using poisons, and install rain gardens, the state would slowly become a better place. Hey, I can dream can’t I?

Then One Day I Received an Email that Changed my View

“Ginny, Thank you so much for your blog, articles, and podcasts! I’m a Navy Nurse, currently deployed in Afghanistan, where all I see is tan desert…missing green! Your content is keeping me sane, and I can’t wait to get back to my Orange Park home and into the garden. Tammy W…”

When I received Tammy’s email back in 2010, it brought a tear to my eye. Orange Park is the town just north of me. Last Tuesday Tammy and I had lunch together. She’s back from Afghanistan and is now stationed at Jacksonville Naval Air Station Hospital.

She described the hospital she was assigned to in Afghanistan and her duties there as the lead U.S. nurse (it was under British management). The hospital consisted of several trailer-like metal buildings connected together. The quarters for all the personnel were located in big tents with cloth floors. Tammy said she’d created a small private nook around her cot using cloth that people had sent her from home.

It was in that small space that she listened to my podcasts, looked at my garden photos, and read my articles.

So in the End…

Maybe I’ve been able to educate some people and maybe they’ve become more sustainable gardeners. But if my simple garden writing has lifted the spirits of someone, then I’m even more compelled to continue.