It's time for our favorite tradition here at GardenRant headquarters – the yearly round-up of Top Rants as determined by the number of comments.
(We exclude contests because they always get lots of comments – for entirely different reasons. For the curious, our Hottest Giveaways of 2009 were for a bulb book, for Eco-Tulips, and a contest for the Best Short Fiction Contest, which drew the most comments of all – 115).
So without further ado, here are Truly the Hottest Rants of 2009, in ascending order:
10. Pollan takes on the Great American Lawn. In a reprinted New York Times piece, Pollan ranted against the White House Lawn and proposed it be replaced with meadows and farmland. Not a terribly popular idea, it turns out, though there's lots of support for going organic on that famous patch of turf.
9. Only the Inexperienced are Cynical. We ranted once again about the poor quality of garden reporting–specifically from writers who are first-time vegetable gardeners, who, because they are naive, spend way too much money and time on their gardens. Then they write pieces informing beginners that growing food is difficult and expensive. Most of our commenters–for once!–agreed with us. You don't have to spend insane amounts of money or time to have a lovely vegetable garden. You just have to have some sense of what you're doing.
8. If I want stuffed animals I would go to Toys R Us. Unsurprisingly, not too many of our commenters (if any) were ready to leap to the defense of the unfortunate habit garden centers have of devoting huge amounts of shelf space to objects that have nothing whatsoever to do with gardening. Most of our readers joined in the rant—and added their own pet peeves.
7. The Real Dirt on Peat Moss. Guest Ken Druse made the case that sphagnum peat moss is "environmentally bankrupt", and almost all the commenters said "thanks for telling us".
6. Smith & Hawken is Dead; Long Live Smith & Hawken. Commenters (mostly) loved Maureen Decombe's fond remembrances of the S&H she knew and loved, and many added their own.
5. Generation Y – the Future of Gardening or the End? In this one our guest Susan L. Morrison stirred the pot about generational differences – always a comment-grabber.
4. Veg-Gardening Not in Current Strategy for DIY Network. This was Joe Lamp'l's story about DIY cancelling his very timely show, and GardenRant readers love nothing more than bashing stupid television programmers.
3. Is it time to re-imagine the community garden?. Guest Ed Bruske made the case for communally run gardens rather than individual plots for growing whatever the plot-renter wants, leading to mentions of Communism, Nazism, hippie values, and at least one "Good Grief!!"
2. Where the $@*% is the Army of Gardeners? Get off your Duffs and Make a Difference! None of our own posts about lawn reform were as heated as Shawna Coronado's all-out rant telling us to grow food, not turfgrass. Again the Nazi label was flung into the fray.
1. What's Invasive? People Telling People what they Can't Plant in their Yards. We ranted that paranoia about invasives is getting out of control when we're being chided for allowing long-time country naturalizers like the orange roadside daylily or flag iris breathing space in our yards. We unleashed a firestorm of pro-fear and anti-fear forces. This is clearly a huge issue in our readers' minds, one that probably deserves more exploration.
Did you notice that 6 of the 10 Hottest Rants were written by guest bloggers? We sure noticed, and we thank our awesome gardenblogging friends for helping us make GardenRant a place that stirs the pot. And keep those guest posts coming, y'all.
Photo credits: Top, from the S&H website, middle by Joe Lamp'l, and lower by Michele Owens.