This post was originally going to be a straight forward take on how much I love Swamp Milkweed after having planted it for the first time earlier this spring. But after locating and posting the photo below, everything changed:
Allow me to explain ...
When I started this blog just short of four years ago, I really had no plan or concept of who I was as a "gardener". It was only at that time that I even started taking photos of my plants. I figured the blog would be a diary of sorts; a place where I could upload some pics and maybe share with my friends and family. And if I wasn't happy with how it all looked, I could stay quiet and never promote it.
As time passed, and I started posting on a regular basis, I began to find my voice. And it was kind of an annoying complaining voice. While it all came from an honest place, damn did I bitch and moan a lot. Too high maintenance for my liking now and obviously how the title of this blog came about. I wanted to "keep it real" and talk about the not so sexy side of gardening and plants, but this dude needed to chill out a bit.
Now, if you look back over the past year or so, you'll see that the negatively toned posts have diminished to a large degree (although I'll never stop mocking myself over bad planting decisions) and I seemed to have relaxed a lot more. Again, this isn't contrived, just a true reflection of me at the time. Somewhere along the way I gained perspective and may even, dare I say, evolved. Before, I judged my gardening "talents" based on a successful bloom, now I fully enjoy the non-blooms.
A few months back, Martha f'n Stewart made her infamous comments about bloggers not being "true experts" in their field. You can read more about it here if you are not up to speed on what she had to say. While she may have been specifically referring to lifestyle bloggers, I took her words to apply to all bloggers. Upon hearing her comments, I once again started to reflect upon the purpose/direction of this blog. That's just how I roll.
I know I am not close to being an expert on anything garden related. Shit, I downright suck at it at times. I'll never dole out "advice" or take a definitive stand on garden design because I am still learning/evolving like everyone else. But I'll be damned if I don't have the passion and love for this gardening thing. I enjoy simply showing readers what is going on in my garden, warts and all. I also enjoy including my emotions in the mix, be it immature and whiny like in my early blog days, or more reflective and mature as I think I am doing now (even I'm smirking at that one). And to top it all off, I do my best to incorporate how my family/real life
gets in the way intersects with my gardening efforts.
When I take all of this into account and take a high level view of ONG, I realize it is really the story of one gardener and how he has, and I apologize for the repeated use of the term but it is so accurate, evolved. And I think that "evolvement" (sp?) is something people can relate to. You aren't coming here to better understand soil compaction or how to root prune. You're coming here to share in the pain of deer damage or to see if it is possible to have a garden solely composed of ornamental grasses or to see if Amsonia can withstand wet feet or how my experimental pruning of a shrub played out in the long run. Did I mention some pretty sweet photos too? This is my unique voice and one that couldn't be shared prior to the creation of the "blog". While I reference hardcore 'how-to" or "fact filled" websites for garden info, nothing resonates more than reading about a real person and their unique/real garden experiences.
Which brings me back to that photo at the beginning of this post; that photo of an open seedpod of Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed). Not too long ago, I would have complained about the ugliness of that scene and how it was detracting from the beauty of my garden. But as time has elapsed over the years, I've come to appreciate exactly what is going on in this pic. I am proud to now fully understand the need to grow more Milkweed to aid in the production of nectar for the monarch butterfly. Actually, I am proud of the fact that I am "seeking" out information on milkweed and the monarch butterfly. Speaking of which, check out this article for a depressing take on the state of the monarch.
And let's extend this further. The monarch example lends itself to a discussion on the use of native plants. This was something that I glossed over years ago but now find myself consumed with. Where I fall on the debate of using exclusively native plants vs some or even none is still falling into place. But it now has an impact on my gardening practices and that is a good thing, giving the landscape even deeper meaning. Yet again, I give you a great article on this topic that you can check out here. And be sure to read the comments after the article as well. Good back and forth.
So as we move forward and I write about a particular plant, I am going to shy away from the factual stuff; you can all find that out for yourself through a simple Google search. I am going to focus even more on my personal adventures with said plant and how it has affected me, both positively and negatively.
And f you Martha.
But before I go, a photographic reminder of why you MUST grow more milkweed.