Monday, September 08, 2008

An Interview with Carol of May Dreams Gardens

Most people reading this will already know May Dreams Gardens. It's a blog which I've read regularly for a couple of years now, and though I don't have time to visit and check out Carol's posts daily, I always try and catch up at the weekend. The posts are funny, down-to-earth and always interesting. So I was thrilled when Carol agreed to do an interview for The Balcony Garden on gardening and blogging.

You live in Indiana. For those of us not in the States, can you tell us a bit about it? Is it a good area for gardening?

Indiana is often called “the crossroads of America” because we are located in the Midwest part of the country, and there are several major highways that go through Indiana. I wrote a post back in February about why I like gardening in Indiana.

When did you start gardening? How quickly did it become a passion?

I’m on one of those gardeners who started at a very young age and can’t remember NOT gardening. It became a passion early on and is one of reasons I decided to major in Horticulture in college.

How is your garden organised?

My vegetable garden takes up about a third of my backyard, the rest is lawn and flower beds. The front is a typical suburban front yard like many found across the United States with a combination of trees, shrubs, and flowers.

Is there anything unusual in your garden which is particularly special for you?

The most unusual plant is probably my night blooming cereus which I inherited from my dad. I’m happy whenever it blooms.

Why did you start blogging? Where did the idea come from?

I read about blogs around 2003 or so and started one in 2004 because I like to write. But I probably posted ten times in those first two years. Then in early 2006, I started posting more often, and here I am!

You post more or less every day, as well as frequently leaving comments on other people’s blogs. And have other blogs too. How much of your time does blogging take up?

I’ll admit I do fall behind on leaving comments on other people’s blogs, and probably have a dozen or so that I comment on the most. But, when it comes to the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day posts, I try to comment on anyone’s blog who has left a comment. My other blog, which is about my Grandmother’s diaries, doesn’t take any time at all and I usually set it up about a week ahead so it ‘auto posts’ through the week. The posts on my blog can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as 1 hour to write.

The thing I like best about your blog is that it’s so easy to relate to. Nearly always I find myself thinking “I could have written that – if I’d thought of that angle”. You somehow manage to give a creative twist to the most mundane, everyday gardening topics. How do you get all your ideas?

What a nice compliment! My ideas come from being a gardener myself, I guess. The more time I spend gardening, the more ideas I get. And when an idea comes to me, I’ll try to write down a few notes about it so I don’t forget.

You’ve also started some incredibly successful memes – Gardeners’ Bloom Day for instance, which continues to grow and grow. Why do you think it’s become so popular? Will it go on for ever?

I think Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is popular because it gives gardeners a good reason to show off their blooms and at the same time compare to what others have in bloom. I’ve learned so much about other climates that people garden in, and who has what blooming through bloom day. Every month, there are a few garden bloggers who post for the first time, and others who drop out. And many gardeners have noted that after doing it for over a year they now have a journal of sorts of their own garden and can compare this year to last year, which they couldn’t really do before. I’m going to keep doing it and I hope others continue as well.

You’ve been blogging for a relatively long time. How has your blog changed in that time? Where do you see it going in the future?

I hope my writing has improved over time! I’ve recently branched out to writing for as the Indianapolis Gardening Examiner, and have been thinking about other venues for garden writing.

Has blogging and the blogosphere changed since you started? How?

Yes, it has changed. There are more blogs, many good blogs. And many bloggers now use sites like Twitter which helps to further create an online community amongst gardeners, and provides a place to provide little updates on first blooms, vegetable harvests, what we are doing in our gardens, etc.

If like me you gardened on a balcony and had limited space, what would you grow?

I think I would grow trough type gardens with miniature plants. I have one garden space devoted to miniature plants mostly hostas and other shade loving plants. I can spend just a few minutes weeding and deadheading in it and then step back and think, “Well, that’s one flower bed done!”.

What was your most important gardening moment?

There are several. I think it is important to plant trees; they will shape the garden for decades to come and help the environment. Another important moment is committing to organic methods only.

What was your most important blogging moment?

The most important moment was probably not on my blog, but because of my blog, connecting with other gardeners and flying to Austin, Texas for what was hopefully the FIRST garden bloggers spring fling. Probably the most touching moment was when Annie in Austin wrote a song about my garden. . But every day, I’m touched by the comments other gardeners leave on my blog and the connections I make through my blog with other gardeners.

Carol, a big thank you. If you're new to garden blogging and have never come across May Dreams Gardens, check it out now. I promise you won't be disappointed!


Anonymous said...

Thanks - an enjoyable interview - and a good introduction to May Dreams, where I am going now!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! It's interesting to hear about people who have used their blog as a jumping off point for other pursuits.

Chandramouli S said...

Of course I enjoyed it, Sue. Thanks a ton! I am a great fan of the May Dreams Gardens

kompoStella said...

thank you, Sue, for this interview - good questions and then it's always interesting to learn about different ways of 'branching out'!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Interesting interview, Sue. I'll check out the website.

Thank you for visiting my site and leaving a comment and a welcome to Blotanical. For some reason I'm having trouble navigating that site.

I answered your screenshot question on my site but if you don't get back there. You need a program to create a photo of your computer screen. Go to:

download Prinkey 2000 v5.1 which is free. Until you learn how to work it, select full screen on the left and click on 'snap fixed rectangle'.

Zach said...

Oh, you are so creative, I am absolutely amazed at your garden...I looked through some of your older posts, and my jaw just about hit the floor. The pics were beautiful. You must be the envy of the gardening world. I can tell you went to school for this very subject. I though about going to college to become a botanical architect, but was not sure if it would pay enough to support a fam. So I am not sure of what I want to do exactly! Once again, thanks!

Cosmo said...

Hi, Sue--Thanks for visiting my blog--I'm really enjoying yours. I loved the intereview with Carol. How lucky you are to live in Milan--I love that city! And I'm enjoying your posts on balcony gardening--I have mainly large-ish beds (we live out in the country), but I use LOTS of pots and the ideas about form and contract and visual impact translate into the beds and borders as well. Nice to meet you!

Susie said...

Thanks Sue for such an interesting idea! Loved reading the interview. I haven't visited that blog before but now I must. Thanks again and for the visit to my blog.

Carol Michel said...

Sue, thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed. At Cosmo's suggestion, I added a link from my blog this evening. Before that I had it in on a Twitter. I'm looking forward to other interviews you have planned!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Annie in Austin said...

You asked good questions, Sue, and Carol gave good answers - sounds like a perfect interview to me!

Carol said my song "May Dreams in Indiana" was a moment that touched her. I'll tell you what ... having the Cruise Director of the Garden Blogging World sit in my living room while I played her song for her was quite emotional for me, too.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Lisa at Greenbow said...

A good interview of Carol. She is a great writer and keeps us all thinking about our gardens in fresh ways.

Cribs said...

Thanks for your welcome to Blotanical. I, too love Carol's blog. What a good idea for an interview.

Anonymous said...

Great interview with the queen of blogging herself. I enjoyed this post very much. -

roybe said...

Hello Sue, thanks for dropping by. yes we have a property at Tamborine Mountain which is an hour's drive south of Brisbane. We divide our time between the two places at the moment and hope to retire there in a few years. So we have two gardens to maintain. we absolutely love the place, fortunately we are garden tragics and it's not a burden. It was interesting to read about the Plumbago, we have a clump of three bushes which have been allowed to grow feral by the previous owner and its been a heck of a job to remove. Sorry I havn't been blogging reglarly but hope to update soon.
regards Roy

Anonymous said...

This was a very nice interview, Sue. Carol is a good friend of mine, and a delight to read.~~Dee

Robin Ripley said...

Very nice. I always learn something new from interviews like this one. Thanks!

Robin Wedewer
Gardening Examiner

Sue Swift said...

I'm glad everyone enjoyed the interview and thanks for your nice comments on the questions - but the questions wouldn't have been anything had tthe answers not been so interesting - so it's all thanks to Carol.

Zach - I think your comment was directed at Carol rather than me, but don't worry - she's seen it.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I enjoyed the reading the interview. Even though I know a lot about Carol (having met her at Spring Fling), I learned even more through this interview.

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