Become A Garden Writer

Improve or Begin to Write About Your Garden Experience

The world of garden writing is a varied one. Most of us think of it as pure nonfictional writing that covers the how-to of gardening, making a garden, and growing plants, but the best garden writing incorporates more, and there are pockets of garden writing that soar with inspirational prose and are hybridized with spiritual and motivational writing.

Improve Your Writing Skills – Keep writing inspiration and tips handy

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov.

Poetic and rhetorical devices to enhance your writing. Work on improving the beauty and magic of your words.

Cultivating Words: The Guide to Writing about the Plants and Gardens You Love
Cultivating Words: The Guide to Writing about the Plants and Gardens You Love

Get to the gist of your goal to become a garden writer. Covering such topics as the “how-to” article and giving guidance on writing well, the will help you interest your reader and organize your outlines. The all important story telling gets a chapter, along with the nuts and bolts you will need for your blog or book.

Different Styles

…of writing are good to know and practice.

 

Garden Writing is Technical Writing

Though it may be primarily dressed in another form


In a sense all garden writing is technical writing. When the subject includes so much of a scientific area of subject, such as horticulture and botany, a certain amount of precision and accuracy is needed to identify the plants properly and to discuss the matter of designing and growing a garden well.

Even in a romantic fictional piece of garden-focused writing, it is important to get plant nomenclature and description correct for the reader to fully appreciate the thought and emotion being conveyed. To use some wordplay, it roots the imagination into the the fertile, substantive source of the writing.

How will the transport of the scent of lilacs be truly understood if the writing isn’t clear about the context of place, and the nature of the plant? Lilacs, for instance, are known to survive for a long time, surviving the ruin of a house or the disappearance of the other original signs of human habitation. The scent is a musky, heady sweet fragrance, and the shrub was once planted in almost every dooryard of old farmhouses. It is a plant that connects generations, and their memories of their own old homesteads…sometimes miles from where the family would finally settle. Understanding a plants persistence or ephemeral nature, its scent or unpleasant smell, where one might have happened upon it, or who was likely to grow it may make a world of difference in how to incorporate the response to a characteristic, the gardens, and the plantings into a story.

How-To Writing

In writing “how-to” information the technical aspects are easy to see. For success on the part of the reader, they need all the accurate information necessary to accomplish their desired task. Use expert information, and if anecdotal information is included, please label that so the reader can take that point into consideration in their own set of conditions.

Plants have many romantic common names, and there are enough duplicates which refer to very different plants to create some confusion, so the use of Latin names ( as frustrating as that can sometimes be…see the case of the aster or the autumn clematis…)

More Reading

Why Latin?

The practical side of better writing- the tools to create your art.

How to Write About Gardening – Get a Camera, Open a Blog, Start Writing

Most garden writing is “how-to” essay writing. It is largely non-fiction, although some of the best writers do use a story telling style as they describe their activities or what impressions nature makes on their lives. The format of “How to Grow” or “5 Tips to…” “10 Plants…” etc. also work well.

Try to visualize your audience. Is it a new gardener, or someone who is experienced and wants something new?

I personally do not like highly hyped garden writing, which is common in the genre. Not everything is easy, beautiful, or must-have in gardening. In fact, gardening is a highly individual occupation, with a range of tastes in what is considered ideal both in in style and method. Hype sells more, but restraint and valuable information educates leading to the success of the reader and the future cultivation of the hobby.

Anyone can have a beautiful garden that functions well for their family with all the planning helps and online tutorials that are available. I really believe that. It only requires taking the time to watch some videos and read some articles before you are ready to face the challenges and choices of making a garden.

Now, mind you, I;m not saying it is easy… or even simple, but it is easy and simple to start. And those first steps are supported with expert advice that is as close as your iPhone or PC to support you along the way.

The great thing about nature is that it wants to grow and thrive. So you are bound to have a number of successes. Failures are just learning opportunities, anyway. Write about both your successes and your failures; they both make interesting reading material.

Conversational

is a style that mimics the way we communicate verbally. Almost all my online writing is done in this manner, which means I play fast and loose with numerous ellipses, sentence fragments, and such devices.

Common Writing Tips To Review – Do you have these skills under your belt?

 

“Read a lot and write a lot.” – Stephen King

  1. Be clear, and edit,edit,edit.
  2. Avoid cliches.
  3. Use, but don’t overuse, adjectives and adverbs.
  4. Try to use as many of the five senses as possible.
  5. Research and validate your facts.

Who’s Who in Garden Writing – A sampling of those authors I like, and why

Garden author Gertrude Jekyll

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Helen Van Pelt Wilson

You may not be familiar with her name, as she was an American garden writer more popular in the past generation, but Helen Van Pelt Wilson was a writer whose warmth and love of garden plants sparked enthusiasm for creating gardens and growing things for many, including me. I recently purchased two of her out-of-print books through Amazon, so I could have copies on my bookshelf, since I had borrowed the library’s copies so many times.

His writing is clear, fascinating, and expert. John Brookes tackles the difficult task of covering a wide range of topic and does so with seeming ease. I love his books, filled with the best of illustrations to inspire and informative in the way only an excellent teacher can match. I own many of his books, and would gladly own them all.

Penelope Hobhouse

I love English Garden Writers in general, but Penelope Hobhouse has been the one to mark my sense of garden color and fired up my imagination more than any other. She, too, tackles very broad garden subjects, but it is her intimate garden experiences which I love to hear about and the illustrations of her matchless garden plant combinations which inform my own gardening.

Tracy Disabato-Aust

This is a garden writer from my own native Ohio. That is not why she is one of the best garden book authors, though. She creates garden books which are practical, inspiring, and ultimately the best for American gardeners. She manages to provide expert information that almost any gardener in the USA can use. That is a tall order for so vast and varied a country, but perhaps that accomplishment is due to her great design sense and the fact that she concentrates on the plants. You learn much about gardening by reading her books and they point to straight to the garden to put the head knowledge into experience. She is my favorite contemporary author, at this time.

Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll is an example of how a garden writer may be an arbiter of taste and change the landscape of how we make our gardens. Influenced herself by William Robinson, her writing grew from her landscape design prowess and reputation. She is still influential today and her ideas are the foundation of creating perennial borders and monochromatic gardens. Her most famous books have reappeared in reprints that are revised for plants name accuracy ( since many of the names have changed over the years) and with colored illustrations.

 

Penelope Hobhouse – Expert and Enjoyable Garden Writer

Penelope Hobhouse is an example of fine garden writing at its best, from her expertise on plants to her accurate and enjoyable prose.

In Search of Paradise: Great Gardens of the World
In Search of Paradise: Great Gardens of the World

Start your own collection of her fine tomes.Her expert guidance through some of the great gardens makes for an excellent tour.

The Modern Writing Tool – A Mac Pro Computer

I switched to the Mac when I had to replace my laptop. There is so much going for the design and capability of this tool that you will be happy you made the decision to buy it.

Write what you know

…And write what you love, but that is not all.

Spelling is important.

Punctuation is important.

Work on improving your writing skills, consistently.

I want to write things for which my only explanation for writing is not, “I needed the money.”

Garden Writing

hellebores now planted in my garden

Ilona’s Garden is a Website…. and my garden

I write about what I know – a key to better writing

Some websites are impersonal things. They are a company or about a product, or general information or lots and lots of information and writers. That is great- sometimes it is just what you need and want. But sometimes someone has decided to share a bit of their life and the wisdom garnered from their own experiences. That is what my garden website consists of, in Ilona’s Garden. Come visit with me and read about the plants I love or what I know about garden design. Or you can visit the blog on my new domain: Ilona’s Garden Journal for conversation and whatever is going on in the garden and during the season….

If you would like to know more about gardening my website holds the keys of my experience of many years in my central Ohio yard. It is always growing! I like to blog, play around with trying new stuff, garden (of course).

Designing for Zazzle and Cafepress are two new avenues I’m taking. Mainly on Zazzle, to help supplement income for online costs and to use my graphics and photos in an alternative way.

Little Known Secret

 

About Garden Information Online

garden writing secrets
garden writing secrets

Maybe it is better known than I think, but the web is flooded by poor or just plain wrong garden information. It is true… and garden writers, in the confines of their hangouts sometimes will bemoan the fact. It isn’t a matter of a gateway, or a degree, or anything like that. It is a matter of experience with plants and gardens.

I noticed this when I was first writing my beginning pages on Geocities. There were garden websites that were getting quite popular, even though their creators knew little about gardening…. they were quite good at marketing and at making community. That is an expertise in itself, but it doesn’t help people garden successfully, except when they share their own hard won advice. And that is the secret sauce: real gardeners who like to talk “over the fence” about what is working for them and the basic how-to science and art of making a garden ( things like propagating plants, and building soil….etc,etc.).

Right now, there are a flood of garden writers coming online and making blogs from mainline media, like magazines and newspapers. It raises the quality of the writing, and sometimes of the information, but it also seems to bring the system of inbred networking and impersonal disconnect from that industry. That is just my opinion, you may think differently, but I still hold out for the individual voice of the everyday gardener who will tell you the truth when something won’t work for you. Or is just as glad at a small vegetable patch as at a magazine ready potager layout. Because it is all just as good, when it comes to people loving their little plot or -if they have it- spacious stretch of landscape, whatever makes it yours. Size doesn’t matter; well, it kind of does, but not in the way we think (mostly in how much work is involved).

Anyway, I want you to know why I keep laboring on creating a website for gardeners. I have LOTS of information and links going out to other great sources . It isn’t always easy to find my sites in the flood of new websites and blogs! But that is OK, once you find it I hope you will bookmark and then offer your suggestions on how it can be better for you. I invite you to do that by commenting on this lens, or joining the Ilona’s Garden Facebook page, which has discussion and comment opportunities and you can upload pictures of your own gardens,etc. That is an idea! I love other people’s gardens.

The marketing and writing lesson which I could away from the Squidoo community and others that count in creating truly helpful information is “to focus in”. That was something that was starting to get obvious as early as a couple years into writing about gardening. It is a huge topic when all the variables are factored in: climate,soil, plants,environments, animals,even fashions…. So my focus is not just Ohio, but on the groundfloor of “Central Ohio”. And from there everyone who has similar circumstances or similar needs for plants can benefit.

The little known secret for everyone is to find quality sources for your garden information. Sometimes hooking in with someone who gives you leads and links. That is why I started The Garden Librarian, too – to wade through the many garden books and find the best.

A comprehensive guide to garden writing.

The Penguin Book of Garden Writing
The Penguin Book of Garden Writing

A Place To Write – A Beautiful Inspiration To Write Daily

Can you imagine yourself sitting at a lovely writing desk, before a large window looking out into a blooming garden? can you picture yourself inspired to write all about the effects of the garden on your life, on your thoughts, and how you created the gardens with love? Can you convey the emotion of your heart when you peer into the face of your favorite flower? If you are not a garden writer yet, you may have all the makings of one. Give it a try.

Better Writing Links

I found this poster on Pinterest and think it is a great way to remember some simple tips on writing well.

  • 34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer
    A couple of weeks ago we asked our readers to share their writing tips. The response was far beyond the initial expectations, and the quality of the tips included was amazing. Thanks for everyone who contributed. Now, without further delay, the 34 wr
  • 9 Expert Tips For Better Writing
    One of the things I like best about social media is the way it helps me discover talented writers. They remind me a lot of distance athletes with their

Be Accurate

Check your facts.

Check plant names.

Make it a rule to use Latin plant names, whenever possible.

Record up to date information on hardiness, etc.

Let Grammar Girl Help You – Improve your writing

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty Tips)
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty Tips)

Everyone can use some help on their grammar, and good grammar is a must in good writing.

Blog Well – No matter what your topic niche may be

ConcreteLoop.com Presents: Angel's Laws of Blogging: What You Need to Know if You Want to Have a Successful and Profitable Blog
ConcreteLoop.com Presents: Angel’s Laws of Blogging: What You Need to Know if You Want to Have a Successful and Profitable Blog

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About Niche, Evergreen, And Seasonal Writing

It is all old news now: blogging is /and has been/ changing.

If you are new to creating a blog and writing online, maybe these terms are new to you. Or maybe you are like me, and never really “got it”, needing to bone up on these pillars of blog success and learn some new “tricks” at the same time.

With the tsunami of internet blogs comes a necessity to keep your head above water just to get an average number of readers. But fear not, there is still opportunity and with good old grit and determination online writers can still craft a following while pursuing their dream of creating a body of work.

First Some Definition

What is a niche?

It is a specialized subject area. Preferably your niche is narrowed down to the point where you have appeal to a loyal tribe of people who share your interest.

The alternative is to have a broader area of interest, but create a prolific amount of articles which have good authority.

My own example is that my sites mainly revolved around the topic of gardening. Since that was such a broad topic, I further reduced the scope to  Central Ohio Gardening , with an emphasis on home landscaping design.

Even there, I am finding that I must greatly increase the output of articles to improve my online standing.

The point of having a niche topic is to build authority and gain readership by reducing your competition for keywords and interest. It is a combination of catering to Google for search engine results and catering to those who wish to find authoritative information on their favorite subject.

What are some other popular niches?

laptop lady

DIY Home Decor
DIY Crafts
DIY Interior decorating
Selling Homemade Items
Self-sustaining lifestyle
Grow your own food
Use alternative energy
Preserving Foods
Simpler Living
Green living
Organizational Skills
Lifehacks

Actually, these are all highly saturated topics now, but by studying “long tail keywordsA long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that contains two to three words” you can successfully choose a good niche topic for your blogging.

I have seen advice consisting of writing on a certain long tail keyword for a few key posts, and then branch out to adding posts on other related keywords for your chosen subject matter. I tend to write as the muse hits me, but this tip strikes me as a more organized and targeted approach. Even though my blogs are established, I think that is good advice to round out my own content.

What Is An Evergreen Post?

scotch pine evergreen
As may be surmised, no matter what the season year, in and year out, something that attracts reader’s interest  is called “evergreen content”.

Posts that have no expiration because they hold long term interest.

What type of topics might qualify for this type of article?

    • Instructional “How To” Tutorials
    • Product Reviews
    • Top Tips
    • Lists

What do people love to read about? Food, romance, money, weight loss, their pets …you know, the usual. It’s the usual because we are perennially interested in these topics as humans.

And that… is Evergreen.

Seasonal Writing

The seasons give rise to traditions in food, holidays, activities, and many other types of subjects that perennially pop up and create interest in our writing.

Here is a list of common topic examples by month:

January: 

  • dieting
  • depression
  • taxes
  • money, budgeting, earning extra income
  • New Year’s resolutions
  • weather
  • baking, recipes

February:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • football
  • income tax, spring,
  • Chinese New Year
  • love, romance, dating.

March:

  • Daylight savings time
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Spring
  • Easter, Palm Sunday, Passover
  • diet, exercise

April:

  • April Fools Day
  • fashion, shoes
  • Crocus, Tulips
  • spring birds
  • relationships
May:

  • Spring break
  • Mother’s Day
  • spring flowers
  • babies, children
  • gardening
  • travel
  • graduation, prom,
  • summer employment
  • weddings

June:

  • Weddings, graduation
  • summer, summer break
  • children, games
  • travel
  • outdoor activities
  • Father’s Day
  • summer employment

July:

  • Fourth of July
  • cameras
  • Independence Day
  • Warm weather foods (barbecue, ice cream, salads).

August:

  • summer activities
  • back to school
  • computers
  • college, dorm
  • students
September:

  • Labor day
  • Clothing
  • Canning
  • Fruit
  • Health
  • Harvest

October:

  • Crafts
  • Autumn
  • Halloween costumes
  • Baking
  • Fashions for fall and winter

November:

  • Remembrance Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Turkey, holiday recipes
  • Gifts
  • Baking
  • Black Friday

December:

  • Christmas, holidays
  •  Ornaments, Christmas trees
  • Winter, cold, ice, snow, snowflakes
  • Winter sports
Writing Schedule
To take advantage of seasonal searches, write your articles 3 months in advance of the expected interest dates.

Generally Speaking

Building a solid base of evergreen content within a niche is a good way to start out with your blogging. It is also a great way to view where an established blog might flesh out their appeal.

If you are interested at all in making income from your writing, I’d say these concerns should rise to the top of your writing “to-do” list. You are much more likely to hit your target when focused, then using hit or miss style of building your blog.

Myself? When free to experiment with writing topics, as in my time on Squidoo, I found that evergreen content and creating a niche were best combined for success in drawing readers and earning money.

Today, one of the fastest ways to get these articles seen and grow in traffic has been through the use of Pinterest. Utilizing social media is the next step, after writing a foundation of solid content.


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iPad Owner Adventures In Blogging

I originally bought my iPad to be a simpler way to blog while traveling. So how has that worked out for me? And what might my experiences mean for you?

What are the features of an iPad?

  • Small slimline profile means it easily goes into a large purse. It can function as a phone, though I don’t use it that way.
  • Loads of apps, many of them free.
  • Accessories can expand usefulness (I have a keyboard cover).
  • Bigger screen than a phone, while remaining compact.
  • Portable
  • Battery has longlasting properties (compared with a laptop)
  • Works well for reading eBooks and PDFs

I ended up buying an iPad Air 2.

ipad controls

-click home button to awake, twice to bring up app screen.

-screen adjusts to landscape or portrait mode.

It has a camera, but so far I found that a bit awkward to use. Better sound when not encased in the Belkin cover, but still good. Clear, beautiful display.

The Adventures: Traveling with an iPad

I found some things I genuinely liked, but the entire experience didn’t quite work out as seamlessly as I’d hoped. Still, I am not ready to say I have fully mastered bringing this portable device into its full potential.

Things I had to get used to:

  • Apps are not full programs, so graphics may need to be done elsewhere. Luckily there are easy online programs like Picmonkey and Canva. Only Canva has an actual IOS app.
  • Passwords. Setting up the device is just like setting up a new computer, so sometimes I have to go looking for passwords. There might be an easier way, but I didn’t know about it.
  • Can’t get used to using it as a phone… at least not yet.

 

I liked the portability and accessibility of the iPad, loved the long battery life, and the Belkin cover lights up and makes typing easy.

That said, the keyboard features are smaller and more awkward than a full laptop keyboard. I found it harder to feel at home on the tablet and that interfered with my inspiration to write- but that is just me. I feel that as I get used to it, it will be as natural and I’ll stop thinking about it so much.

One app that makes a tablet highly functional is Evernote. When I put something into it, it transfers it to all my devices that have the app- including my phone and laptop. That solves issues with the need to have good photos/graphics for a post.

My eyesight isn’t very good, so the smaller screen is not always best for me. I enlarge, but I tend to like a larger screen. Huge imporvement on a phone, however.

Am I happy?  Yes. Happy enough that I want to further explore which apps are best for me and to get greater skill and comfort in using tablets rather than laptops.

What Apps For Me?

I use many that are on my iPhone:

  • Waterlogue for fun
  • Camera +
  • Pronto for graphics (this is a new one for me)
  • Evernote
  • Weather
  • and 22 other apps, including  basics like camera, mail, etc
Other Opinions about Traveling With An iPad

Gizmodo had a post that sings the praises of using an iPad. Joel Johnson also cited the light weight, small size, and the great battery life. This is essentially the same experience as mine.

While written in 2010, I think the plus and minus of the iPads are the same today, six years later.
I do use mine differently since blogging is my main activity on any computer.

Useful Accessories For Tablets

From experience texting, I knew I couldn’t get very far with writing posts, or even social commenting  without  a keyboard. I just can’t. But I found a Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 , after much searching through reviews. I have to say it was a great purchase which I am very happy to use most of the time I am on the

Device Warnings -be sure to keep your OS up to date.

Summed up

I like this device more as I learn to use it. It is very user friendly with apps like imovie along with a decent camera, its size, and its good battery life. The screen makes watching video a great experience and Siri is there to help, too. I think it was worth the money invested.

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Need To Make Banners Or Headers For Your Collections, Stores, Or Posts?

If you need to make a professional looking graphic for your headers or banners it is no secret that Picmonkey and Canva are free, easy, and accessible.

However, maybe you didn’t know about that, yet.

It is easy to sign up for free access to most of the features and use the online editor. However I use the premium, for the extra features. Want to access those? Use my handy affiliate link for Picmonkey, and support me while you do yourself a favor and gain some really useful apps for graphics.

Picmonkey

Here is a link for Canva:

Canva for Web

Canva is very clear that their graphics are for personal use only. So nothing made on their site should be sold, although I am sure that you can make personal headers for your store or collections on this site.

Picmonkey has no dire warnings, so I am not sure about the use of your graphics, although they will be perfectly fine for anything personal, as well. Personal use is posting on your social media, blogs, etc. as well as making products for yourself, like cards you want to send.

Commercial would include POD products like those sold on Zazzle, etc.

Right now the only things I am recommending these sites for is the personal usage. Making Facebook headers, headers for your store, or profile pics. Collection and category graphics which can all be branded with your particular style.

 

Improving Your Zazzle Work

I am always hanging out in the forums looking for tips to be more successful on Zazzle. I am especially interested in improving my designs, because a huge part of being successful, to me, is making people happy.

A happy customer is the desired result for the company you are working for, and for yourself as a designer.

Better Images

This particular helpful tip is in the form of a video I came across. While it has some basic info I already knew, it also has some explanation of the new prinitng process that highlights one reason to go with Zazzle as a company…. both as a designer and as a customer.

Watch And Learn

Leave a comment on the video or your experience at Zazzle.