Gardening news is going local

The Renagade Gardener came to my attention some years ago through Garden Rant.  Don Engebretson, who is The Renegade Gardener hails from Minnesota and every year he puts out his "High Spot/Black Spot" awards in which names what he feels are the high and low points in the world of horticulture.hort-mag-cover.jpg One of Don's Black Spot awards is for the "Most Careless Magazine Gardening Article: 'Collector’s Choice' by Daniel J. Hinkley Horticulture magazine, August/September 2010." Don say's "Southern fur was flying after a recent issue of Horticulture hit the mailboxes and newsstands. Globetrotting plantsman Dan Hinkley had contributed an article on large-leaved plants and their use in the landscape. Among his recommendations: Paulownia tomentosa, commonly known as the empress tree, native to central and western China." Beautiful flowers, fast growth, and giant leaves. It really sounds lovely until Don tells us, "one small problem: The plant (also known as the princess tree) has proven to be terribly invasive and is deemed as such by the U.S. Government, as well as the departments of natural resources in over a dozen states, from the east coast to the deep south to Texas. It is a self-seeding monster – a single tree is capable of producing an estimated twenty million seeds that are easily transported long distances by wind and water. All the more menacing when you consider that each seed can grow into a 50-foot tree."

In gardening all things are local. What is an invasive pest in one region may not be elsewhere. This leads to Don's question, "Are national gardening magazines even necessary anymore?" To which both he and I would say, no. They are on the way out and they know it. Some may be able to survive, if they make some changes that account for the way we gather information theses days.

Horticulture Magazine is making an attempt to stay relevant by starting a new online column, "Best Garden Blogs, with Anna Looper who is also known as "Flowergardengirl" and writes a blog by that name. Her job, according to Horticulture will be to "introduce you to blogs that she and we have selected as one of Horticulture’s Best Garden Blogs for 2011..." Horticulture is smart to make this move. Anna is well known and well liked in the garden blog community. Horticulture will get eyeballs it never would have gotten before. Frankly, now I have a reason to visit their web page. Garden Blogs and other social media are taking over as the information portal's for horticultural subjects. This is huge news for those of us in the business of horticulture. It means more effort can be applied to social media and less to TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. At our Independent Garden Center Group the consensus was Yellow Page advertising was a waste of time! What was a necessity just a few years ago is now seen as a dead platform.

If your in the business, being aware of the online community is important. What are the local garden blogs saying about you? Are the saying anything? Don't discount a garden blog that may appear to have a small audience. We don't want a huge audience, we want a focused audience. The people who are reading garden blogs are more likely to come into your business. As business owners we tend to try and please the largest number of people lest we loose a sale. Sometimes those attempts end up creating a dull and uninviting web presence. Nowadays it might be better to have more passion for your business, and willingly express that online. Who knows, that local garden blogger might just end up having a much larger audience and would love to tell them your story.