The Weekly Meow–2010 Gardening Year in Review

Was this not the year of the succulent? I don’t think a week has gone by without a post on succulent containers, succulent wall hangings and terrariums and gorgeous succulent landscapes. And what was the driving force behind this explosion. I think the credit goes to Debra Lee Baldwin. Her book came out in early 2010 and the reviews were fabulous. Gardening By the Book listed it as one of five favorite books for the year. And it’s no surprise.  Succulent Container Gardens is gorgeous and well worth the cover price for the inspiration alone. But what really draws people in is Debra’s passion for succulents. It’s evident in everything she does. You feel as those she’s discovered a secret beauty in these odd little plants and can’t wait to tell the world. In the gardening world nothing spreads faster and burns hotter than passion. We thrive on it. Succulent growers should be thanking their stars that they have such a champion in Debra.

And yet, with all that passion, things were still tough. With the economy taking a dive and home sales coming to screeching halt the nursery industry struggled. Sure, we still gardened. Vegetable gardening was huge, but most didn’t landscape and it hurt. Industry giants, some of whom we’ve heard about forever stumbled. Some even fell. Chapter 11 filings started to pop up all over. Hines nursery filed in November. Isley Nursery and Week’s Roses filed In October claiming problems caused by another giant, Jackson & Perkins Roses for not assuring to pay a 1.7 million dollar order. In September, Target closed all it’s remaining garden centers.  Those that continued, struggled. In December Monrovia nursery sent out a plea to all it’s customers asking them to help increase their spring bookings by 20 million dollars to get the bankers off their backs.  What’s a grower to do? Amy Stewart suggested on Garden Rant that wholesalers like Monrovia needed to reach out to not only the retailers but to the consumer. She even suggested that harnessing the power of social media might be one way to go. This set off a whole back and forth argument about the differences between wholesale and retail nurseries. As far as I’m concerned, in the end if the consumer isn’t buying we are all out of a job and that should be of concern to everyone in the trade.

Speaking of back and forth arguments, Cooks Source sure made a big mistake when it plagiarized an article from a blogger. Their subsequent lack of remorse and pathetic apology caused an uproar among bloggers, internet surfers and just plain trolls that was so violent they were pretty much out of business in less than a week. Theft of copy is one of the most frustrating problems bloggers face. Often you will find your photos or information posted on another site and when you go to contact them you find some made up company or such. The responses vary from “nothing you can do about it” to “so sue me.” The problem normally being you can’t easily find the person you need to sue. But with Cooks Source magazine, they were easy to find and perhaps that’s why the retribution was so harsh. Bloggers are angry. We work hard to provide interesting content. We take what we do seriously. And we certainly don’t take theft as a form of flattery.

And always individual tastes and preference can divide gardeners. Just look at the uproar Robin Ripley’s Garden Rant post entitled “The Dark Side of Grocery Gardening” caused. Gardeners were furious that someone would suggest that any vegetable garden was ugly. In reference to gardeners who don’t take care of their vegetable plots Robin stated, “If gardeners are going to approach grocery gardening in that lackadaisical way, I suggest they find another hobby.” This enraged folks who felt it was an attack on gardens that weren’t the epitome of a French potager. Mary at My Northern Garden suggested that ugly gardens was a feminist issue. Some gardeners (myself included) followed Gina’s lead at My Skinny Garden by posting pictures of our ‘ugly’ gardens for all to see. I especially enjoyed Colleen’s  post “Giving Vegetable Gardeners a Bad Name Since 1996” for the way it continued to inspire discussion in the comments. Obviously gardeners do have strong opinions that they aren’t afraid to share. With Rosalind Creasy’s revised Edible Landscaping coming out late this year and Ivette Soler’s The Edible Front Yard coming out in 2011, I’m sure we haven’t heard the last on this subject.

I’m sure there were plenty of controversies and newsworthy items in the garden blog world that I’m forgetting. What stood out for you in 2010? Did you comment on any rants or participate in any passion fueled debates? Do you feel 2010 was the year of the succulent or am I way off the mark. Let me know in the comments below.

And be sure to tune in next week at about the same time for some gardening predictions for 2011.

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2 comments for “The Weekly Meow–2010 Gardening Year in Review

  1. at 11:04 am

    Kat, I’m purring over the first section of this Meow. Actually, more than purring, I’m on a catnip high. What a wonderful way to sum up the year. I do indeed have a passion for these “odd little plants” (love the phrase). As for 2010 being the “year of the succulent,” perhaps, but from my perspective, so were 2007, 2008 and 2009.

    My first book, “Designing with Succulents” came out early in 2007, as a result of my editor at Sunset telling me I had great scouting photos of succulent gardens and should write a book. The timing couldn’t have been better, what with the ongoing drought (succulents by definition store water in fleshy leaves and stems), a greater sophistication on the part of the gardening public (appreciation for foliage over ephemeral flowers) and for and plants with geometric, architectural shapes, more varieties of succulents available than ever before, and in general, a desire for low-maintenance, easy-care landscaping.

    After “Designing with Succulents” (which targeted primarily a Southwest/Southern CA readership) spent 19 weeks on Amazon’s list of the ten bestselling gardening books, Timber Press agreed that a sequel was in order, one that would take the gospel of succulents to the rest of the country. Hence “Succulent Container Gardens”. The premise: People anywhere, regardless of climate, can grow these marvelous (but for the most part frost-tender) plants in containers, which are portable and can be moved indoors. The book came out in 2010 and also became a bestseller. Both books were named by Amazon as among the top 10 books for their respective years, in the category Home & Garden.

    Based on emails I’ve received, FB comments, and attendees at my presentations, I’ve seen people go from despising succulents to being fascinated by them. High-end designers and exhibitors at flower and garden shows are incorporating more of them every year, using them creatively in living walls, topiaries, floral arrangements and more.

    Anyway, it’s been an amazing ride, and I hope interest continues to grow. Who knows…maybe a year from now you’ll be rubbing up against my legs and telling me that 2011 also was the year of the succulent. (There’s a can of salmon in it for you, ha.)

  2. Kat
    at 8:27 pm

    Too funny Debra. I do believe that the interest in succulents won’t be fading anytime soon. They are so interesting, so useful and so easy to care for. What more can one want in a plant?

    As for 2011? Well I’m going to post my predictions next week and then can meet back here about this time next year to see if I am even close.

    Thanks for stopping by. I do believe it’s truly all about passion in this business.

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