In the spirit of New Year self-reflection, I pose this question: does the world really need another garden blog? I've been writing in what could be kindly described as a leisurely manner since 2009, but I've yet to declare my raison d'etre.
I promise to keep this short, but let's backtrack to 1979...
I still remember the day my Dad brought home ELO's Greatest Hits. The instantly accessible melodies and faux symphonics dovetailed perfectly with the classical music and Beatles I'd been listening to all my young life. So when I first read that Jeff Lynne had once said that ELO was formed to pick up where I am the Walrus left off, it kind of made sense. The problem is, he never said it.
But there it was again. Reading through my new copy Stacy gave me for Christmas of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, I noticed the review of ELO's 1977 Magnum opus, Out Of The Blue made the same reference to I am the Walrus.
There's probably not a great deal of harm done by misquoting some frizzy-haired musician who's managed to hang on to the same set of sunglasses since 1974. The problem is, I see this kind of thing happening a lot in garden/landscape blogs: the dissemination of information that has a ring of truth to to it, but is patently false. Blogged. Reblogged. Over and over again.
So am I some sort of self-appointed gatekeeper? John the Baptist in the Wilderness? Nah, I'm just a punk who doesn't have a problem pointing out that the Emperor left his pants at home.
The first time this happened I was still under the naive assumption that everyone is seeking the truth. I'd been chatting with some Dr. so and so at a local Ag supply outfit about soil conditioners when the conversation turned suddenly to his research into the recent "billbug epidemic in turf grass".
Innocently enough, I remarked that I had heard of this infestation but had yet to see it in the hundreds of properties that we cared for. I went on to tell him that, in those instances where customers thought they had billbugs, it turned out to be problems related to sprinkler coverage and exposure - both problems which could be mitigated by relying less on turf in landscape design. He threw me out of his office.
Sitting in my truck in the parking lot, what should have been clear all along suddenly became obvious: tacking on a "Dr." to the front of your name doesn't make you any more of a truth disseminator than a contractor with stained Carharts. Dr. so and so's agenda was simply to create a new revenue stream to the business. New infestation = new product to sell.
I'm still on the look out for billbugs and I will continue to keep an open mind about these kind of things but, ultimately, I'm going to rely on the gardener's best tool: our own power of observation.
So does this world need another gardening blog? It does if said blog has something interesting to say and speaks truth to power, money, misinformation, greenwashing, trendiness, elitism, pseudoscience and just plain bad taste.
But it's not all about being a contrarian. In future posts I'll flesh out what xericoasis actually means. I'll also continue to share thoughts and pictures from the field, spanning the whole arc of Willowglenn's services, as well as gardening, cooking (and eating!) in our own urban acre.
Here's to a fantastic 2014!