April 11, 2012

The garden blogger’s balancing act

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of the year to avoid posting mediocre photos on my blog. I decided to stretch my skills and work toward higher-quality shots. I think I made a little progress, but then I slipped several times—particularly in my last post. The photos are out of focus and grainy.

My excuse is that I ran out of time. I probably should have posted some old photo from my files with my Easter greetings on Saturday, but I wanted to include a photo that showed what was happening in my garden on Easter weekend. I should have set up a backdrop, carefully placed the arrangement, and made sure all the shots were of decent quality. But I had a house full of guests and about an hour to download photos and create a post.

And therein lies the challenge, the balancing act: As garden bloggers, do we always post perfect shots, perfectly framed, and perfectly lit. Or do we sometimes settle a little bit to convey the immediacy of what’s happening now?

I’m finding that higher-quality photos require an increased time commitment. Duh. And now with Pinterest, I don’t mind if people repin my photos, but I’d like to direct a little traffic back to my blog. That means every photo needs a watermark, which takes yet a little more time. And then I want to make sure the photos are placed effectively, adding more time.

I don’t want this post to turn into a whining session, because all garden bloggers face these same challenges. My point is to discuss the fact that sometimes we slip a little bit. And it’s OK.

Most of us aren’t professional photographers, landscape designers, gardeners, writers, AND social media experts. We’re garden bloggers. We might excel in one or two or three areas. We’re talented at several different things—but not experts in all of them. It’s OK! It’s the combination of these different things—sometimes of exceptional quality and sometimes of average quality—that make up an interesting, evolving, and wonderfully imperfect blog.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to present the best prose, photos, and presentations possible. And we should always try to stretch and improve. But don’t feel inadequate and let it hold you back. I want to know what’s going on in your garden in your little corner of the world! And I hope you’ll forgive me for my imperfect posts, too.

I wasn’t planning to include any photos with this post. But then I saw the Crabapple tree in full bloom and realized I wanted to share a snapshot of its beauty. Because of cooler weather and several nights in the high 20s, many plants and trees are frozen in bloom. The Redbud has been blooming for two weeks!



And I wanted to let you know that my Easter bouquet is even prettier today—nearly five days after I arranged it. Here it is in all its imperfection—on the back porch where it greets visitors…with the wood pile, ash can, and cobweb-covered barbecue grill in the background.



Holley at Roses and Other Gardening Joys has awarded me the Sunshine Award, and I’m truly honored. I hope she’ll forgive me for breaking one of the rules. I’m supposed to select 10 additional bloggers to receive the award, but I just can’t do it! There are way too many excellent garden bloggers! Any of the blogs listed on my blogroll or faves listed on Blotanical can claim it.

But I will answer the questions included with the award:

1. What is your favorite color?
Aqua
2. What is your favorite animal?
Cat/dog
3. What is your favorite number?
17—I have no idea why.
4. What is your favorite nonalcoholic drink?
Strawberry-Mango Fruitista
5. Which is your favorite—Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook for fun, Twitter for work.
6. What is your passion?
Um, I think it’s obvious.
7. Do you prefer giving or receiving presents?
Giving
8. What is your favorite pattern?
Huh? I don’t know. Depends on whether we’re talking clothing or drapes.
9. What is your favorite day of the week?
Saturday
10. What is your favorite flower?
That’s impossible, but Stargazer Lilies, Trilliums, and Zinnias come to mind.

Thanks Holley, and thanks fellow garden bloggers!

29 comments:

  1. We do the best we can always striving to improve...that's a perfect post Beth...their is beauty and wonder in imperfection...that's why we visit your lovely blog and never see the imperfections...and congrats as you so deserve the sunshine award!

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    1. Thank you, Donna. You are so kind. I love garden blogging, but the best part is comparing notes with people around the world. I don't expect perfection either--quality, yes, but the main point is to communicate activity in our gardens. :)

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  2. Oh, my! If I only posted perfect pictures, I would never post again! :) You're right - we're just garden lovers, thus garden bloggers, and to me each flower is perfect enough. All of us have so much to do in our own lives, it's amazing to me that we all find the time to share our love of gardening, but I'm so glad we all do! You are very gracious to pass the award on to anyone wanting to claim it. The crabapple is lovely and your arrangement is amazing - 5 days is a long time for an arrangement to still look beautiful. Aqua is one of the most beautiful colors, I think, but 17 is an unusual choice for a favorite number!

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    1. Thanks, Holley. I agree-each flower is perfect enough. I know it's kind of a cop-out to avoid picking 10 bloggers, but it's become more and more difficult for me to choose among my favorites. Everyone is so talented--each in his or her own way. The fun part of this award is learning a little more about each other. Thanks for the honor. :)

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  3. Your crabapple is beautiful! Mine have leafed out now, and I miss that magical time when they were all in bloom.

    I think blogging is a balancing act in general--trying to find the time to write a post and edit photos when garden work beckons. I enjoy seeing what is going on in others' gardens and actually appreciate some imperfections. It makes me feel better to know that others are struggling with the same things I am.

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    1. Hi Rose: Yes, this time of year is extra challenging. The scent of the Crabapples is intoxicating right now. I have later blooming Lilacs, but they're about to bloom, too--so early, even though we've had cool temps for a couple of weeks after the summer weather in March. I hesitated to publish this post, but I wanted to encourage myself and others to keep posting even if we're not perfect. :)

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  4. First let me say Congratulations and then Amen! I agree we all have our areas of excellence and then our areas where we strive to be better. And sometimes life gets busy and we don't have time for perfection. Alas, I am thrilled to be part of a gardening community of wonderful people who are very accepting of all our flaws. Besides there isn't a perfect plant out there either! :)

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    1. So true, Karin! It's a great group. We challenge each other, but we also affirm each others' strengths. Most of us have only met online, which is quite incredible when you think about it! Thanks for your friendship and encouragement!

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  5. We are maybe too quick to see our own imperfections...I know I am. Well done on your Sunshine Award.

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    1. Thank you, Bridget. I need to add your blog to my blogroll--that's another thing I'm behind on! You are among my favorites, too. It's so fun to compare gardening notes with you!

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  6. I'm just happy to get a blog post done at all most of the time! Imperfections don't matter, it's actually quite encouraging to see that everyone else's gardens and/or photography skills aren't perfect. I'm never going to have the patience for excellent photography or perfectly maintained gardens, although I appreciate those who do. All kinds of blogs are enjoyable if they demonstrate passion and the excitement of growing things.

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    1. Well said, Lyn! It seems like we're all striving to be the best we can be. Your photographs seem excellent to me! And the key to it all is passion and excitement about growing things. Cheers!

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  7. I'm happy if my pictures aren't blurry and don't have a pooping dog in them. :o) Congrats on the award and love the redbud picture.

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    1. Ha! That is something I don't have to worry about yet, but very funny. Thanks. Actually the top photos are Crabapples, although stems of Redbud are in the floral arrangement. I can't believe how long the Redbuds have been blooming--since just before we got back from New Orleans, which was two weeks ago! Usually the Redbuds bloom around prom time--in May!

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  8. I love the honesty of this post. TWG started out as a personal journal to reference back to so I could see how my garden has evolved. I never in a million years thought people would actually read it! While I love the artistic qualities of photography, sometimes a photo is just meant to help support an idea or my writing or just capture a moment I want to remember. They aren't all perfect moments and they won't all be perfect pictures. And you're right, that's okay.

    Great job on the sunshine award...I'd give you an award too for flower arrangement - your Easter arrangement is beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Cat. I had similar thoughts with PlantPostings. I actually started it as a way to document all the plants in the garden. And then I started meeting so many great friends online who have the same interests. I'm loving the photography end of things, too. I just wanted to encourage everyone, including myself, to keep posting--even when the photos and the stories aren't "perfect." Thanks so much for your encouragement and friendship.

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  9. Your goal is a good one, but photos tell a story too. Like you, many of my photos are a quick point, shoot and post - most of them from my garden in posts like my weather posts. Time is the problem at this time of year. The gardens (mine and those I design) call and blogging gets placed on the back burner in my case. I try to snap photos on jobs, but they are the ones always not perfect because of the time of day. You go with what you got most often as a result for the story. Your crabapple images are magazine worthy, so if you are trying to improve, your nailed it.

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    1. Gosh, Donna, that means so much coming from you! Yeah, the story part of if is so important. I would never know your photos are quick point, shoot, and post--they're all exceptional! You're my inspiration when it comes to challenging myself to stretch and improve. I enjoy every visit to your blog!

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  10. What I enjoy among the blogs I read is the diversity. Some are serious professional photographers who share how tos, some are skilful published writers, someone is a horticulturalist running a nursery, another is an acknowledged expert on ..., she shares my mediterranean climate but in California, he gardens near me. And some on my blogroll have nothing to do with gardening at all! We bloggers each find our circle, our tribe.

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    1. So true, Diana! We find our tribes. We support each other and appreciate each others' gifts. And the main thing we have in common is our love of plants, or our love of travel or some other common thread. Diversity makes it fascinating and rewarding!

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  11. Hi Beth,
    Thanks for your Nice comment.
    THE photo's from my garden Will come soon. We have just two weeks Spring, but it's still too cold.
    Congratulations with your award. You deserved this. Your blog is very nice and your stories and photo's ?.
    I like them very much.

    Lovely greetings, Elly

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    1. Thank you, Elly. I'm so glad you're back to blogging--I missed you. You deserve all your awards, too. I find that your blog is such a calm, fresh, and peaceful destination. Take care, and I will be visiting again soon. :)

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  12. Congratulations on your Sunshine Award...you deserve it! You expressed many of the sentiments that I think we all feel. It is time-consuming to write the perfect post with the perfect photos. I am always trying to improve, but sometimes there just isn't time to make it all as perfect as I want it. I always enjoy your posts and your photos because they come from you...

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. You are so kind. Your words explain the sentiments so well. I wanted to encourage us all to stretch and grow and strive for great content, but also to forgive ourselves for little slips. And I think sometimes it's more interesting to see photos in a real setting than a staged one. You inspire me with your blog, too!

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  13. Here's what clematis love: Rich, moist, well aerated soil high in organic matter. They love morning sun and light afternoon shade. I give mine a ton of compost dug deeply into the soil at planting time along with extra compost in the fall and an application of Plant Tone and a sprinkle of Epsom salts. They're pretty resilient plants. Show 'em some love and they'll reward you with blooms! They're heavy feeders who don't ever want to dry out.

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  14. You know, photography in a garden blog is not just about being perfect (whose idea of perfect anyway?), but about your personality too, and the uniqueness of your garden. When I read other people's blogs, I don't look so much at the technical qualities of pictures but at the point of view of the photographer. Last spring I took so many pictures I felt tethered to my camera. I volunteer for a few rose related projects, and I have shared my pics with some rose nurseries and auctions, all helping a good cause. But I didn't even enjoy the flowers because I was always behind the lens. No more. This spring, I am going to enjoy the flowers, so unfortunately, less time blogging, but that's OK with me.

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    1. "Tethered to the camera" ... I've felt like that occasionally lately, too. I agree totally on the blogger's personality being equally or more important, Masha. Thanks for sharing your wise thoughts!

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  15. I try to take my photos when it's not too sunny, but that doesn't always work out. I think I've gotten better at framing my photos, but I know I post plenty that are not so great. I agree with what Masha said about most of us not paying attention to the technical qualities of others' photos.

    I do not consider myself a writer, either, but like to talk about gardening, and that's what I do in my blog. Still, it is hard to find a balance in time management.

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  16. Talking about gardening and comparing notes is the best part, Sue. Your photos and writing seem great to me. And yes, time management is the hardest part for me, too. You have so many amazing plants--I've enjoyed learning all about them.

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