Am I actually evolving?

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.

8 thoughts on “Am I actually evolving?

  1. Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening

    Bravo!!!! I loved this. Your story is from the heart and your passion shows through your words. There is something about blogging that does give you a true appreication for everything living and it encourages one to see things in a new light. The pictures of your milkweed (which is so valuable) and hummingbird moth are fabulous!

  2. Amy at love made my home

    We all grow and change as we go through life in so many ways, even though we kid ourselves that we are just the same as we were when we were 20somethings! I suspect that this is part of your “change”, but it is interesting that you were able to look back. I have never been a writer of a diary, but since I have been writing my blog I have been far more aware of what I have said and think and act and that has changed me in a way that I hope is for the better! Keep on with the milkweed, it looks as though it is a beautiful and very worthwhile plant and I love the seedpods by the way! xx

  3. PlantPostings

    Yes, yes, I agree. I’m a recent Swamp Milkweed convert, too. And the monarchs love it! I didn’t see any eggs or caterpillars on it this year, but it was the first year. But I did see monarchs AND hummingbirds nectaring on it. I’m trying to go with more native plants, but I still have some ornamental non-natives. Thanks for generating the discussion.

  4. kate

    I enjoy your blog and read it regularly for the very reasons that you come to at the end of this post. Love your excellent photos. Love your down to earth wry tone. Also we share the affliction of boggy sections of garden (mine is in shade). What is working for me: swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), royal fern, cardinal flower (lobelia), Itea, siberian iris, iris cristata, clethra, Ivory Halo dogwood, Rodgersia elegans, dappled willow (Salix “hakuro nishiki”), Jack in the Pulpit. What didn’t work: any hydrangea, cimicifuga, ligularia. On trial: meadow rue (thalictrum), ligularia grown on a hummock of soil, hellebores, tiarella, Athyrium ferns.

  5. jj

    I love your blog and photos. I read it daily and I don’t have one professional blog or website in my topsite file. I can relate, I love knowing I am not alone, I learn more because you don’t lecture, you show by example. Your manner of writing is delightful and makes me want to read more. Keep on with what and how you are doing it. I don’t have the same issues you have nor do I live in the same part of the states, however, I can make the changes needed to keep on keeping on!

  6. Kris Peterson

    Sharing experience is always valuable. That’s not always the case with Martha’s “rules” for living. Her dismissive comments (which I hadn’t previously seen) surprised me, especially recalling that her own early cookbooks were criticized as containing recipes that didn’t work. I appreciate the experience you share with honesty and humor.

  7. Anonymous

    What does Martha really know? If we were ALL paid for our opinion or the opportunity to voice it, who would be richer? Personally, I enjoy your blog tremendously . . . it’s real, it’s funny, the pics are great and it is informative. Your “evolution” is a gift to all of us home gardeners.

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