Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary! Celebrating Our First Year as Blotanists

Time flies when you're having fun!

One year ago today, we became members of Blotanical.  It hardly seems as though it's been that long, but it has.  And what a year it has been!  Much of what we first learned about Blotanical and hoped to gain by being part of it has come to pass. (You can see our initial post about Blotanical from a year ago here.)

Steve and I have been gardening for nearly a decade together and for decades separately before that.  But in the last year, we've achieved milestones that in some cases, we didn't even know existed, and in other cases, while we were aware of various organizations and programs, we never anticipated becoming involved in them and certainly not to the extent that we have.  We can definitely see how being members of Blotanical has figured heavily in the choices we have made.

What a difference a year makes!

Attending a Titanic era afternoon tea, April, 2012.
Since last spring, we've gotten more involved in the regional and international gardening community than ever before.  In April, 2011, we joined both the American Rose Society and the New England Rose Society, renewed our membership with the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and started posting regularly on our blog.  We also began logging the number of visitors to our blog.

After we joined Blotanical in May, the number of visitors to our blog increase ten-fold.  We've met scores of  fellow gardeners and have developed friendships across our own county, in every quadrant of the country, across oceans, and across several continents.

Combining our love of old garden roses with my love of regency novels and recently discovering vintage dancing has also given us a wonderful pastime for the long winter months when we can't be out in the garden.

So what are some of  the actual stats?  Well, here are a few....

Since May 25, 2011, garden lovers have visited our blog nearly 19,000 times. We've gone from just over 100 views per month to as many in the average day.  We've posted 90 blog posts to date of which 84 were published between May 25, 2011 through May 25, 2012.

And lest you think we spend all of our time blogging, we actually spend a fair amount of it weeding.  We now have 32 distinct garden beds on our half acre property that include several sun and shade cottage beds, a formal English garden, briar patch, woodland garden, shrub and tree grove, herb garden, blueberry grove, butterfly garden, and water garden.: We went from 179 roses last May to over 200 this year (despite the damage caused by the dreaded voles).

At Blotanical we currently have a user rank of 191 and a blog rank of 190.  We've been "faved" by 38 fellow bloggers.  We've earned 5,812 Blotanical points.  More important than the numbers however, has been the sense of community, the support we've received, the genuine feelings of camaraderie and friendship.  Being a part of the Blotanical community has made us better bloggers, better gardeners, and more involved in our local and national gardening groups.

We attended our first district convention, the annual main event of the Yankee District of the American Rose Society held in March in Rhode Island.  This month, Steve and I were elected to the Executive Board of the New England Rose Society as Treasurer and Secretary respectively.

A sparrow takes a bath in the waterfall of our water garden.
Statistics aside, the most important things we've gained in the last year through our participation in Blotanical are knowledge and friends.  We've learned a lot.  We've learned about flowers, birds and wildlife all over the world.  We've learned to take better photographs, we've learned shortcuts and better ways of doing gardening chores, and we've learned to be better inhabitants of the planet.  Our garden is now a certified wildlife habitat. We've also learned that there are untold resources at our disposal and we frequently tap them all.

But best of all, we've made friends all over our county, our country, and around the world.  Friends we care about and who care about us.  Now, when we hear about a natural disaster or terrible storms or floods in other parts of the world, it's much more personal for us and we quickly check the blogs of people we will likely never meet in person but who we have come to call "friend".

Steve spends a few hours each month tending to the Masonic Center Garden.
We've also learned that sharing is caring.

We share our time and knowledge, teaching others about "green" gardening and encouraging others to nurture and protect the environment.

We also help in more tangible ways. We share plants from our garden with neighbors, guests and even strangers who stop to admire the gardens.

As members of the New England Rose Society, we support the mission of the Rose Society by volunteering in the rose yard of the Wolf Hill Garden Center.  There, we help people to choose the perfect rose for their yard and then teach them how to properly plant, prune, and care for it.

We also continue to help maintain the rose garden at the Masonic Center in Newburyport which we helped to design and build two years ago.  We open our gardens to the public one day a year for the Country Gardens Annual Water Garden Tour.  (This year, the tour is scheduled for Saturday, June 23, 2012.)

Our love of roses extends all the way to Brooklyn, NY where next week we will spend much of our vacation helping rose curator Sarah Owens to prepare the Cranford Rose Garden for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's annual "Rose Night", a labor of love we are eagerly anticipating.

So what does any of this have to do with Blotanical, you might ask.  All of these activities and more have been shared on our blog, generated comments and interest within the Blotanical community, and have contributed to the ever widening audience of readers who have encouraged us and supported us.

Most importantly, we've appreciated being part of a community where we can share the highs and lows of our lives through and by gardening.  Our blog has been the vehicle and Blotanical has been the means by which we've done that.

Last June, we showed our roses for the first time ever in a juried rose show sponsored by the New England Rose Society and earned a Best in Show prize in addition to a fistful of first and second place ribbons. We blogged about our experience here.  We also shared our grief and the memorial garden we've established in the memory of nine soldiers who died in the crash of Blackhawk #571 in Afghanistan.  As Memorial Day approaches,  we have once again dedicated one of our garden beds to the soldiers of that mission and will share that with the Blotanical community on Monday (Memorial Day, for those of us here in the U.S.).


  1. It's been an absolute joy following your gardening adventures ever since I discovered your fabulous blog on Blotanical. It certainly has been a great site in so many ways for so many gardeners, that I do so hope it continues for a while to come.

    Congratulations on all you have achieved in the last year. Your garden is just so beautiful and deserves to be shared world wide. It's no surprise to me that your following has grown and you've had so many readers pop by every day.

    Keep up all the fabulous work you both do. I know that I'm definitely an avid reader, although I have to admit I don't always leave a comment. But I can say I so appreciate the beauty you've both created and look forward to another great year of your blog ... and many more after that! (P.S. Loved the Titanic era outfits too!)

  2. I love this have summarized so much in the last year that tells us why our garden blogging community is strong....I cannot get over how much you have done and all the wonderful accolades bestowed upon well deserved. Thank you for this post to remind us of the community we belong to...

  3. What a nice posting. You have achieved so much and given back so much. Blotanical is a wonderful collection of garden bloggers from around the world and I hope it has continued success.

    Your garden is amazing on one half acre with 32 beds and 200 roses. It is very beautiful and you two keep it looking nice for every posting that I have seen.

    You guys look cute in your Titanic attire. What a fun tea that must have been.

  4. I agree that an unexpected fun surprise of blogging is the friendly community. I, too, think about my "friends" when I hear about a different part of the country. I am amazed at all you do! And in addition to everything else, you maintain 32 beds!!! I have no idea where you find the time!


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