Sunday, June 13, 2004

What Gardeners Want...

Well, I had a mildly scary thing happen to this blog the other day. I was editing the template, and went to preview the edits, and the preview page hung, so I closed it and when I went back to editing the template, most of the HTML code was gone except the first few lines. So, after the blog was published again, it was essentially blank, except for the ad at the top and the green background. I sent a couple of "Help!" emails to Blogger tech support, hoping they could help me figure out how to find my lost code, but got absolutely no response, so decided to just re-select the same template from the choices offered, knowing that all my edits would be gone. (They were probably gone forever, anyway).

So, now I'm back in blogness, but I need to add back the Links for the side panel that I had added to my edited template, which means I need to actually remember what those links were, and find their URL's again. This then led me to an attempt at organizing my gardening favorites in MSIE, which is not as easy as it could be -- I think this is definitely something that Microsoft could improve on in their next version of Internet Explorer -- they need to make a click-and-drag option, and the ability to select multiple links to drag into a sub-folder, much like how one can organize files in Windows Explorer. Anyway, so, in my effort to organize my gardening links into sub-folders, as well as get rid of old, dead links, I have done a lot of surfing on gardening websites in the last two days.

Which leads me to the subject of this post -- What Gardeners Want.

As I surfed gardening cyberspace, I stumbled upon an interesting website for a botanical reference library or master gardening website, (I didn't save the URL and forget which site it was now), but which had a list I thought was interesting enough to save to a text file. They describe their list as "What Gardeners Want: What information do gardeners seek? Our reference logs reflect their most common concerns". Basically, it's a list of the main categories of reference questions that the group receives from gardeners who call, email, or come in looking for information. I thought it would be a good list for me to have, in order to find and post what I consider the best internet resources for each of those needs.

Here is the list of information that the typical gardener seeks for their most common gardening concerns:

1) Diagnostic — something is wrong with a plant. Need to identify pests, diseases, environmental situations, and recommend solutions.

2) Plant identification — what plant is this?

3) Right plant, right place — gardener needs plants appropriate for situation, i.e., shade plants or seashore plants or plants for slopes, etc.

4) Cultivation information — how to grow, care for, and propagate the plant.

5) Where to buy plants — especially ones not locally or easily available.

6) Garden travel — which gardens to visit and best time to visit.

7) Where to learn more — where to take classes, attend lectures, join a plant society; book recommendations; Web site recommendations.

8) How to research historic landscapes — user needs period garden designs and plants.

I will do my best to find at least one good website that represents each of those gardening information needs, as well as a few other excellent websites thrown in for good measure, and post them over on the right in my sidebar, under the Links heading. Stay tuned....

One other thing I noticed as I've been surfing quite a bit these past two days -- there are an awful lot of disappointingly dead website links out there. I guess every website has a lifespan, and some have shorter lives than others, especially if they're not maintained. One of the most disappointingly absent websites, in my opinion, is Barbara Barton's Gardening By Mail,a directory of mail-order resources for gardeners in the United States and Canada, which used to be hosted here, and then here, but both sites no longer exist. Gardeners' Supply Company now owns the Virtual Garden domain, and Time-Life owns the Pathfinder domain, but neither hosts the Gardening By Mail website any longer. The website(s) came after the books she published, and her Fifth (last) Edition is still available for purchase at Amazon and other booksellers. As time marches on and no new editions come out, and there's not a dynamic website that is maintained and updated, the information in her book is becoming increasingly obsolete, but at the time it came out, (1997), it was a golden resource. I suppose she and her website have hit a "publish or perish" phenomenon.... Here's hoping she'll publish a new one, and/or that someone else will take on hosting her website, since Time-Life dropped the ball. So for now, if you're looking for a particular plant, maybe your best option is to Google it....

Gorgeous weather these past few days, so what am I doing inside? Later!


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