Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Blogging can lead to....

I started blogging almost 3 years ago and went ahead really on a whim, as a progression from writing on my website about my garden and presenting things I make on my computer. In the beginning I didn’t have any response at all, no comments from anyone, for almost a whole year. I could see that I had visitors from my statistics, but didn’t know if people stayed and read or just skipped past to next blog. I joined Blotanical in December 2011 and that’s when my visitor statistics started picking up and comments began to appear.

My tiny London garden has been the main topic of my blog throughout, although I have from time to time written articles about other topics too. My garden is the most important room in my house and as a housebound it is now the only place where I go on ‘photo safaris’, usually several times a week. There is something new to discover all the time, even on a blustery day in late October like today. Blogging has lead to my garden having changed considerably the last 2 years. I have visited so many beautiful blogs where I have read about plants I have never even heard about. As the curious person I am, I often look up plants I read about, to see if they could possibly grow in my own garden. If they can, many of those I have read about have ended up on a shopping list to the many mail order companies I use for plants and garden supplies.

I had never heard about David Austin Roses until I was introduced to them on someone’s blog nearly 2 years ago, now I am completely hooked and would have liked to have many more if I could only find space for them! This is my beautiful 'Scepter'd Isle'.

And this is 'Wildeve'.

I would not have known that daffodils come in white too unless I had seen them on other people’s blogs, the ones in the parks around here are all yellow. This is 'White Lion'.

And I had never heard about Anemone blanda mix before, now I can’t
get enough of them!

They make a great display in between the crocuses down at the woodland corner of my garden in the spring.

But blogging has lead to other things too, I feel much more confident as a gardener, I have learned so much! Even though we all have gardens in different countries and in different climates, we have many things in common and so many tips can be adapted to suit whatever conditions we have. My style of gardening is pretty much trial and error, with a dash of research online when I am stumped. Thank heavens for Internet, I have no neighbours the slightest interested in gardening so there is no one to ask around here, thank you all, fellow bloggers for contributing to my growing gardening knowledge!

My garden is filled to the rafters with plants, some of which I would never even have thought of putting in here. I read on a blog that contrary to what I thought, Heliniums could do well without full sun. I promptly bought one. 'Moerheim Beauty' is still alive, one year on.

And who would have thought that poppies could be so beautiful? I saw photos on a blog and just had to have one. This is Papaver orientale 'Beauty of Livermere'

Over the last almost 3 years I have seen so many plants on other people’s blogs that I would have liked to have, so many beautiful plants! OK, so I know there are some plants I can just forget about growing outdoors in a London garden, we do actually have winters here, even though they are reasonably mild, but the range of plants I can grow is quite wide and I have made a habit of writing down plant names when I see something I like. I call it my wish list and currently there are 73 plant names on my wish list. I will never be able to fit all those plants in my tiny garden so I suppose I should rename it my ‘dream-on-list’! Some of the plants on my wish list have already ended up in my garden though, Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky' arrived early this spring and I got 100 Iris Reticulata 'Pixie' and 'Harmony’ bulbs last month, looking forward to seeing them in flower next spring!

UPDATE:
I made a separate tab with my plant wish list this evening, have a look if you wonder what’s in the queue for entering my garden, or maybe you can get some inspiration for your own garden? Here in Britain we don’t use the USDA Hardiness Zone system but according to the American system London is zone 9, all the plants on my list are suitable for London and the surrounding area.

I have also taken a bit of a chance by buying a couple of oleanders and palms this summer, not really suitable for the kind of winters we have had in recent years, but I am going to give them my best shot - I saw a photo of oleanders in flower on a blog from Texas and thought ‘I would like to have those!’ So I bought some....

Blogging has made me look at many plants in a new light, before, a snowdrop was just a snowdrop, I didn’t know there were many different types, now I have 3 different types in my garden and would like to have many more if only the rare ones were not so expensive. Blogging has also made me a better photographer, with around 12 000 photos taken in my garden since I started blogging I am gaining valuable experience and I am enjoying my hobby even more than I did before. Thank goodness for digital cameras, imagine having to develop the films for all those photos, what an expensive hobby that would have been!!

And sometimes taking photos in my garden doesn’t always mean just flowers and foliage, I have seen numerous sunrises from my backdoor steps after long nights on my computer before finally going to bed. I have joined a few blogging memes and tried to post regularly on them, most of them are hosted by bloggers abroad which means if you want to post when the meme opens you have to be an early bird – or as in my case, a really late bird. The Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day meme for example opens at 5 am here in Britain every 15th of the month, I have seen some wonderful sunrises this summer and autumn!
But apart from draining my bank account by buying plants I just had to have, losing sleep and gaining a lot of gardening knowledge, I have gained something even more important by blogging. I have got online gardening friends all over the world! Many of the people leaving messages on my blog come back again and again and it is so nice to see you back here every time I have written a new post. I also feel I know you all a bit after having been to your blogs and seen your gardens and read a bit about you too.

But having online friends is of course not the same as meeting people in person, and yesterday I met one of my blogging friends from America! Beth from PlantPostings came to London together with her husband Ernie to visit their daughter who is studying here for the semester. Beth and her husband is staying in London for a week and we spent a lovely afternoon together yesterday at my house. Here they are in my garden, looking at my plants and taking photographs - quite surreal after having had only contact via our blogs and the occasional email for almost 2 years. I have never had a visit from America before, they were so lovely people and we were chatting like old friends from the minute they stepped through my front door :-)

Blogging has given me so much these almost 3 years I have been doing it, but actually meeting people behind the blogs I visit is certainly taking things to a whole new level. Beth and Ernie showed a keen interest in my tiny garden and even the weather behaved for a short period. It was chucking down with rain when they arrived but after a while the rain stopped and all the time when we were out in the garden the rain kept away and it was quite nice and warm. We had a late lunch together and the hours went by so quickly.

Have you ever met anyone through your gardening blog? Perhaps even someone living in another country? I’d love to hear about it, and I can warmly recommend it to anyone thinking of meeting up like this. And if any of my other gardening blogging friends are planning to come to London, please let me know, I’d love to have a visit :-)
Until next time, take care.

61 comments:

  1. What a fabulous post, Helene. You write so beautifully about the wonderful benefits of blogging. How lovely that Beth and Ernie came to visit your London garden. Gardening can be such a solitary obsession, so it is always a joy to meet fellow gardeners - even if it is usually virtually.

    I am now wondering what is on your extensive wish list of plants... it must be a relief to read about one that you don't want to buy!

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments, we had a lovely time yesterday. I got inspired by your question regarding my plant wish list so I posted it on a separate tab, hope you find it interesting!

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  2. How wonderful to have a visit from Beth and Ernie! I enjoy Beth's blog so much too. I have had wonderful visits from bloggers in my city and nearby Austin. It is fun and I look forward to visiting their gardens in the future.

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    1. Beth was one of my first blogging friends and has stayed, other has come and gone, - that’s the nature of blogging I know, but all the more lovely to see all those that keep coming back. I also enjoy Beth’s blog, it is well worth a visit, should have written that in my post I suppose, but I’ll say it here!

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  3. Hi Helene... neat post and yes, I now count a fellow blogger and her husband as good friends thanks to blogging. She is Beth of Beyond the Garden Gate and my wife and I see Beth and husband Ron every few months or so. We live about 400 miles apart but our oldest son lives near them with his family. I have also had other bloggers stop in from near as well as larget distances when they were in the area... it's always a fun experience!! Larry

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    1. Great to hear you have had such a positive experience too Larry, your garden is one of those I so wish I could visit!

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  4. what fun to see the Beth, behind PlantPostings! I've never yet met IRL someone who I got to know via our blogs.

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    1. Well, never too late to arrange that, have you ever thought about coming to London? :-)

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    2. in my dreams we will return to London, but it's not in our budget ;~((

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  5. Well, I certainly agree about acquiring a variety of plants that otherwise I would not have even known about, and about learning so much from other bloggers. But I've never yet met another blogger. Still, I love that we can virtually visit gardens around the world, and think of many bloggers as true friends. How wonderful to have a blogging friend come to see your garden in real life - from another country, too! That must have been very exciting for you both!

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    1. It was very exciting! Even though we had commented on each other’s blogs for almost 2 years and sent the occasional email, we still didn’t know much about each other. The only thing I really knew anything about was Beth’s garden. It was a lovely experience and I hope I get to meet many more of my fellow bloggers :-)

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  6. You've pointed out so many wonderful benefits of blogging. By far my favorite is meeting fellow bloggers. I have met several in my region and consider them friends. This is a wonderful hobby!

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    1. Thanks, great to hear you have managed to actually meet some of your fellow bloggers.

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  7. Nice post. I feel better after blogging. More friends, more knowledge. I could share everything that I have or I know to others. Blogging and gardening ... both of them really interesting!

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    1. Yes, blogging and gardening – and photography combines so many of my interests too!

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  8. I think blogging is just great for someone who would otherwise feel isolated..

    I have met up with two lots of blogpals but both live reasonably close to me, By close I mean 1-2 hours drive away. I would guess more people visit London than other parts of the country so you have a better chance of overseas visitors dropping in.

    I do share you appreciation of digital photography - taking over 200 photos in a single day would be a big no no using film!

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    1. Blogging isn’t a substitute for socialising and meeting people but it certainly fills a need when the alternative would be just to read and watch TV - it certainly does to me. I would be lost without my digital camera, I still have my old SLR film camera from 1979, in a box in a cupboard, don’t think it will ever come out of that box again!

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  9. My experience has been very similar. I spent most of the first year writing to myself. But then gradually, I have made friends and it has been wonderful. I have communicated with other bloggers outside of blogging, exchanged seeds and plants, but haven't met up with anyone...yet.

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    1. Never too late, Jennifer, now you have an open invitation to come and visit a fellow blogger in London!

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  10. Helene, Your garden looks especially beautiful right now. You write so well about the benefits of blogging. I hope I contributed to your new appreciation for snowdrops, at least they are small and fit anywhere. I too love befriending bloggers all over the world virtually, although my plant nursery keeps me for visiting as much as I would like. Your visit from Beth sounds magical. I have met Donna from Garden Walk, Garden Talk and we have traveled together quite a bit over the last two years. Jean from Jean's Garden and I have visited gardens several times together. Julie from Wife, Mother, Gardener, Pam from Pam's English Garden, John from Mac Gardens, and Jan from Thanks for Today have all visited my garden. It is so much fun to meet people in person. Carolyn

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    1. Thanks Carolyn, you certainly have contributed to my improved appreciation for snowdrops and many other plants for shady gardens, as when I started gardening I felt a bit despondent by the fact that so much of my garden is in part or full shade. But I have of course learned that I can grow just as many beautiful plants in my garden, just not the same plants as I initially wanted. My wish list is heavily influenced by what you have presented on your blog, only a dash of realism now and then stops me from adding many, many more plants to the list!
      It’s fun to hear you have met some of the people behind the blogs I also visit, small world this garden blogging community!

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  11. Wow that is a lovely post, i don't normally read long posts word-for-word, but this time i did. I can relate very well with you about meeting blogging friends. I've also read some meeting garden bloggers in other countries, just like an American who came all the way to Mark & Gaz' Alternative Eden in London too. I wish i can also visit some of my blogger friends in their own gardens, i know we will also experience what you had, as if we were old friends.

    A Japanese blogger came here to scuba dive with his wife, so I made sure to go home in the province just to see them. It was really wonderful to see bloggers as real persons. It was amazing as he turned out to be an administrator of a known university where some of my friends here also took their PhDs. It seems like we even had more sense of belongingness. And i guess he felt the same too, as he explored our wonderful marine biodiversity. By the way, i am also a follower of Beth of Plant Postings, hahaha!

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    1. How lovely that you also have met a blogger in person, I think it brings a new dimension to blogging and it is great when meetings like this are possible to arrange.

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  12. Great to read your experience with blogging. Lovely your blogfriend came to visit your garden. And last year I met Janneke in her beautiful garden. Had a great time.
    Blogging is bringing a lot. I struggled my whole life with a performance anxiety. Examples: bad writer, bad photograps's. And now the anxiety is gone. I don't think about it any more posting a blog and thinking now my blog is mine and that's the way I am. I have learned a lot about photography, discovered a lot of things in nature wich was not know by me before. And all bloggers are so helpfull if you have questions.
    Fantastic blog Helene.
    Have a wonderful evening.

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    1. Great to hear your experience with blogging Marijke and how it has lifted your confidence. One thing blogging has done for me that I didn’t mention in my post is to help improve my English. I have lived in Britain for 14 years and my English was pretty basic (learned in school as a child) before I came here. After writing posts in English for almost 3 years I can see how my vocabulary has expanded and my sentences has got better flow. My grammar is still a bit iffy, but English is such a complicated language once you get past the basic, tourist level – I wish there weren’t so many exceptions to the rules in English!
      Hope you have a great week-end.

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  13. Helene, what a wonderful blog and how lovely that you got to meet Beth and her husband. Personally, I haven't met any garden bloggers yet but have made a few online garden friends via gardener forum website. None of my family are into gardening and my small circle of friends have little interest either. It's nice to be able to share our gardens with others who care as much about theirs'.
    I've a wish/dream list the length of goodness knows what - for each one that comes off the list and into the garden, a few more are added. I'm sure you know that feeling. Blogging has given me a far better understanding of what I like too - not forgetting to mention all the tips and advice I've picked up in the short 12 months I've been doing it.
    BTW - the Helenium - if ever you are dividing, should only be done in springtime. They don't take if done in autumn. Something I learned via blogging :)

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Angie, and I certainly know the feeling in terms of the wish-list, only a tad of levelheadedness prevents me from making my list 10 times as long!
      And thanks for the tip about the helinium, it is only a year old and didn’t like the spot I chose for it – a bit too shady I think, although it did flower, so I dug it up, but no need to split it yet. At the moment it grows in a pot on my patio and have already got new green growth for next year! I need to find a new spot for it, but sunny spots in the ground is difficult to find in my garden.

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  14. What a cool post! I've met many people through blogging here in Austin, Texas. There are skads of us garden bloggers here. I think 50 or more. We meet monthly to visit each other's gardens and it's lots of fun. There is also an annual garden bloggers event that is called the Garden Blogger's Fling. It's mostly in USA, but in 2015 it's branching into Toronto, Canada. Maybe someday it could be in London. What a fling that would be!

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    1. How fun to hear you are so many bloggers that meet regularly! Yes, please, a fling in London sounds great :-)

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  15. Hi Helene
    I discovered your blog through Blotanical and have followed it ever since. It's fun having "virtual" friends especially in far away countries. Yes, I have met a few fellow bloggers in person and that's always fun! Please continue with your bog - it's a very fine one. Your commentary is excellent and so are your photographs. I thoroughly enjoy it.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Astrid, how nice to hear you also have met a few fellow bloggers! Blogging takes up a lot of my time, I thoroughly enjoy it and intend to continue, but I have actually thought about reducing it down to one post a month next year, the GBBD every 15th of the month. Hope it won’t be a disappointment to all my readers, but I have so many things I want to do and despite asking for more hours in the day, my wishes have so far not been granted! I am planning to write another book next year and I know I will have to be totally absorbed in that, or not do it at all, so one post per month might be a compromise as I don’t really want to take a complete break and lose the followers I have. But I haven’t decided on when I will start yet, so far it is just a loose plan.

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  16. Helene, you make a wonderfully impassioned case for both blogging and gardening; they both create connections with kindred spirits around the world. Who could have imagined such before the age of computers.

    By the way, on oleanders, be careful; that plant is seriously addictive. I love it so much, I put two in the ground in Connecticut ~ where they promptly bit the dust in winter. Now living in Georgia, I've planted several and am in oleander paradise. In London, they'll at least have a chance to survive.

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    1. Thanks Lee, I never thought I would be so absorbed in blogging when I started, before then I had written about my garden 4 times a year on my website, but getting the feedback blogging gives makes all the difference.

      I think I could seriously get hooked on oleanders too, I plan to grow them in containers as the sunniest spot is on my patio where nothing will shade for them. I would like to grow one of them as a single-stem standard and the rest as bushes, I have read they can tolerate a lot of pruning and don’t intend to let them grow very big. I am armed with bubble wrap already for the possible winter frost, whenever it may arrive!

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  17. Well if this was an advertisement for garden blogging it has certainly worked. Your enthusiasm for your garden and the plants is catching and it is wonderful to see just how many plants you are able to squeeze in and how well they are cared for.

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    1. Thank you Elaine, every year I think I can’t possibly get any more plants squeezed into my garden, and yet I keep finding space for a few more!

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  18. Helene, you're right, blogging make us feel we know each other well, we learn many new things, new plants, garden experience.I'm thankful to you for learning me about bonsai and anemones. Have a nice weekend!

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    1. Thanks Nadezda, it’s nice to hear you have learned something about growing Bonsais, they are surprisingly easy and very addictive, looking forward to seeing what you choose to grow as Bonsais yourself! Hope you have a great week-end.

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  19. A great post Helene, I discovered too that blogging is a wonderful addition in gardening, we can learn so much from each other. I am always surprised about the variety of plants you have in your garden, I can smile for the queue of plants which are waiting for a place in the garden and your long wish list, it is all so familiar. This summer I met some bloggers in my garden too and it was fun because we have the same hobby.
    Wish you a happy weekend,
    Janneke

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    1. How nice to hear you have met fellow bloggers, I always feel I have so much to talk about with people who are interested in gardening. I bet many of us have queues of plants we would like to put in our gardens, my problem is mainly lack of space in general and a very small part of the garden in full sun. Hope you have a great week-end.

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  20. Hey Helene: Thank you so much for your hospitality! We did, indeed, have a magical visit, and your garden is even more lovely in person. Congratulations on three years! I hope we will meet again, but of course I will always be a devoted follower of your blog. Your friend, Beth

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    1. Thank you Beth and thank you again for visiting me! I hope you and Ernie had a good journey home, you just about escaped the big storm - over here we have battened down the hatches and are just waiting for the arrival of St Jude with hurricane winds sometime during the early hours of the morning.

      I so much appreciate all my followers, and especially bloggers like you that keep in regular contact, it makes writing all the more meaningful.

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  21. Hi Helene
    I know exactly what you're writing about. Blogging is so much more then just writing a post or a comment. I learned so much during my three years of blogging (it seems as if we started in the same year :o) ) and I met some bloggers in real too. At the end of Novembre we've got a little blogger meeting and I'm very much looking forward to that. Such a pity that you live so far away from me... but who knows, maybe some time we will meet too.
    Take care and have a lovely Sunday.
    Alex

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    1. So exciting to hear you are planning a blogger meeting! The world has certainly got smaller with Internet but it is still a big journey going to another country, if you are ever thinking of coming to London, please let me know!
      Over here we are having a windy Sunday, and it will become worse as storm St Jude arrives during the night. Not sure how bad it will be in London but we are preparing for the worst with winds up to 80 miles per hour.
      Have a great week!

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  22. Helene - I also feel the way you do about learning and being inspired by other bloggers, however you articulate it so much better. I've learnt plenty from you too, even how to build a gingerbread house! Happy Third Blogaversary.

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    1. Thank you, so happy to hear you enjoyed my post about making gingerbread houses, it’s about time thinking about it again :-)

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  23. What a beautiful post, Helene. I usually fall in love with a new bloom(s) from your lovely garden with each post, and today it's the white daffodil and the poppies! They're just beautiful! That's exciting that you got some palms lately. I have these two palms that have lived outdoors year round for the past few years through snow, etc. with no problems: 'Windmill Palm' & 'North European Fan Palm.' I also have a 'Queen Palm' that I insist on dragging indoors each winter (just can't let it go). Palms can be addictive too. :-) That's so amazing that you, Beth and Ernie were able to meet! I've often wished I could meet all of my blogging friends. I've met one so far. She happened to be judging a fabulous daylily show in Atlanta, Georgia and we met then. It was so great to meet Nikki (her blog is Zoomin Blooms - A Daylily Blog). Such fun! I enjoyed your lovely post. :-)

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    1. Thanks Beth, I agree, the oriental poppies are gorgeous, just wait to you see the white ones I just bought, when they flower next year you will fall in love with them too! My palms are Phoenix canariensis, way too big for my tiny garden but I intend to keep them in pots so they don’t grow too big – I hope!
      Great to hear you have met a fellow blogger, I haven’t seen her blog but I think I will have to pay a visit, I just love dayliies :-)

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  24. I'm always learning a lot of things from your blog. You have many attractive plants in your garden, and have deeper knowledge of them.
    In my Japanese blog's case, I had a lot of chance to meet Japanese bloggers, and became real-life friends. We often hold the meet-ups among bloggers. And now, we visit our gardens each other or go out to public gardens almost every month. Only having common hobby, we can easily become friends!
    But that's so amazing for you to meet Beth and Ernie living in the U.S.!!
    Actually, I might be able to meet a blogging friend living abroad in the near future as you did, so I'm excited!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Keity. So nice to hear that you are regularly meeting up with fellow bloggers! And good luck with meeting your blogging friend from abroad, it is very exciting!

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  25. Hi Helene, I just found your blog through Beth's post, you perfectly capture the way blogging can change and enhance both gardening and photography, not to mention generate infeasibly long lists of desirable plants! The blogging community is an endless source of inspiration, encouragement, advice - and potentially bank account emptying temptation.

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    1. Hi Janet, welcome to my blog. My plant wish list keeps getting longer and longer and I am constantly looking for clever solutions to where I can put some new plants. I saw a great post where someone had hung pots on a large tree trunk. I think my large conifer might get hanging baskets next spring – allowing for a good few more plants!

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  26. Helene, you have touched on so many things that I too have experienced over the last few years of blogging. So many wonderful people encouraging you to learn and try new things, it's such a positive experience. I'm so glad to hear you got to meet another blogger in person and had such a great time together. This really is a wonderful community we've found ourselves in (and you're one of the many wonderful people in it!)

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    1. Thanks Marguerite (blush), for your kind words :-) I have certainly learned a lot since I started blogging, and there are new things to learn all the time!

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  27. It is wonderful how our blogs have helped so many of us connect. I wish I'd had more time when I was in England this summer to visit a few bloggers. But my trip was rushed since it centered around a wedding. I am a much more knowledgeable gardener, too, as a result of blogging. Wonderful post!

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    1. I must admit I never thought I would get as much out of blogging as I have done, it felt a bit lonely the first year, just writing to myself - now I don’t feel lonely at all and although the bloggers I have regular contact with are all very different with their own personal style, they all have so much to give and I learn something all the time.

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  28. Lovely your blogfriend came to visit your garden an the photos are beautiful!
    Greetings, RW & SK

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    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post.

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  29. I love this posting, Helene. You summed up much of what I feel about garden blogging. I had been considering writing a post about what I learned from fellow bloggers -- but could not do it so well, I think. I was fortunate to meet Julie, from Wife, Mother, Gardener, and to visit Carolyn's wonderful Shade Garden. If ever I am in London, I will definitely look you up. P. x

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Pam, so nice to hear you have met fellow bloggers, I so wish I could visit Carolyn’s garden too! And yes, if you are ever in London, please let me know :-)

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  30. Helene, I can relate to so much of what you say--blogging has given me so much information about gardening and has certainly added to my plant addiction, too:) But the best part is making new friends with a similar interest. I have had the good fortune to meet some blogging friends in person on several occasions, but the most exciting experience had to be when Cheryl, a UK blogger who was one of my first commenters, came for a visit three years ago. I felt as if we had been long-time friends the minute I met her in person.

    How wonderful to have met Beth and her husband in person! I think I've visited you occasionally on GBBD, but it was Beth's post about meeting you that prompted me to visit this time. I so enjoyed your post--I'll be back for more visits!

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    1. Thanks for returning to my blog Rose and thanks for your kind words, I have visited you in the past too but there are so many excellent blogs to visit and only so many hours in the day! How great to hear you have met some of your fellow blogging friends, seems like many people here have managed to do that!

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