Blessed are the Question-Answerers


Here’s what Doug writes in his invitation to subscribe to his
newsletter:  "Subscribe and discover a different way of looking at the
garden – an environmentally sound, tongue-in-cheek, gotta-have-fun way
of gardening."  Sounds a lot like a team blog I know of.  But then Doug
may be parting company with us when he describes his style as
"Entertaining: I have a bit of a sense of humor and refuse to take
gardening seriously."  He must be referring to minor points like
whether to love or hate annuals because, as anyone who’s read our
Manifest knows, gardening MATTERS.  And I can report that Doug’s
exactly on target when he advises garden writers everywhere (on the
Garden Writers Listserv) to get on line and fast, advice that’s
usually met with deep denial on the part of print writers, I’m afraid.

Though curiously not linked on his site, Doug also has a blog,
where he’s currently lamenting the failure of Blogger to let him upload
pictures to illustrate a story.  Lord knows I’m in solidarity with him on that point and have our own e-frustrations to share (coming

So I’m hoping that Doug keeps on answering, and I may even send him a few myself, on referral.  Meanwhile,
are there any other question-answerers out there?  I have a vague
memory of finding a blogger who solicits them, but vague memories and
actual links are two different things.  For my part, I’m considering
stealing the instructions that Genie posts prominently on her blog: "Need garden advice?  Then you probably shouldn’t send me an email."  Me, either.

They’re popping up everywhere, but how are they at answering your gardening questions?  Starting with the original Dave’s Garden and GardenWeb but now including the blogging world’s own Stuart,
they’re making an important contribution to online gardening and I’ve
consulted them myself with great success.  Way back when I was starting
to make hypertufa pots my Google search led me straight to Dave’s
Garden for instructions and discussion by real hypertufa-makers, all of
which proved invaluable.

So readers, how do you get your questions answered?


  1. I’ve been amazed at how quickly I get answers by just asking a question in my blog — people are speedy with helpful and varied comments. Even if I don’t get the right answer from my visitors, they usually give me enough to start with so between Google, the Master Gardener who works in my office, and my own vague high school biology background, I can figure things out. It’s handy.

    I’m not sure how anyone gardened successfully before the Internet, though. I’ve gone to books for answers to questions, too, but what I find most helpful about the Web is the profusion of photos to help me identify bugs or diseases. Where a book might have one photo, by doing a Google Images search, I can find dozens of photos (or hundreds…or thousands…) in a variety of iterations, and one is almost certainly going to match what I’m looking for.

    The funny thing, though, is that even with my own admonition (mostly because I’m so new to this) that I’m not a worthy source of information, I still get lots of questions from people about how to do this or that. I try to just point folks in the right direction and hope they find their way!


  2. You just need to appear inept, Susan! If you have any questions about how to do that, shoot me an email. I know more about that than gardening. 🙂

    I can’t think of any time I’ve had a gardening question that didn’t get answered beyond my expectations on GardenWeb. But I’m also a relentless web researcher. If it’s out there, I’ll find it. I guess most people probably aren’t as tenacious if they think they can just ask someone.

  3. How do I get my questions answered? Google, books, and experienced gardeners. Family and friends ask me questions, and if I don’t know the answer, helping them find an answer helps me learn more about gardening and plants. Why do they ask me? It must be that degree in Horticulture that I got “back in the day” and they know I love to garden and talk about gardening. (No, I do not work in the “horticultural industry” but that’s a long story!) I live to garden and work to support my gardening habits.

  4. “(And, I might add, most questions are answered by the most cursory of Google searches and yes, that’s a hint.)”

    In my line of work, the applicable acronym is RTFM. You can ask your geeks for a translation!

    I’m trying to reverse-engineer the acronym to a gardening equivalent:
    – Rake to Find Money
    – Ready the Fancy Marigolds
    – Remember: Toads Favor Mud
    – Repeat ‘Til Full Mulch
    – Resist Topiary Follies, Mary
    – Rubes Totally Find Me

    Anyway, I’ll think of something …

  5. I will happily spend many hours on-line and in my local library or book store to find answers to my gardening questions…and I generally do this before bothering to ask another gardener for advice. However-there are times when what I really need is to discuss my question with a person because sometimes I need to hear someone tell me that they’ve successfully tried something I’ve read about. And then, of course, some experienced gardeners will tell you what no book will ever tell you, such as: your garden will not shut down immediately if you stop weeding it.

    Now that I am a much more experienced gardener myself, I love to be able to offer encouragement and answers whenever I can to those who are just starting out, even if they could be looking that same information up on Google.

    But I’m not a professional garden writer getting asked questions all day long.

  6. I don’t agree with Heather that all you have to do to stop the avalanche of questions is appear inept. The two plants I get the most questions on are posts where I admitted killing said plant.

    Often questions I get are either answered in the same post or in the comments. And no matter how I explain that my meager store of knowledge is based on very narrow site-specific experience, I get questions from all over the world asking, “Can I grow that here?” I refer people to their neighbors and their local nurseries and their County Extension Office but I often wished they would write back and say what worked for them.

    With the explosion of garden blogs in the last year, I’m finally getting my wish. More and more people are writing about what grows and doesn’t in their little corner of the world. I love it!

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