Connecticut-based videographer Patrick Volk emailed me recently, having discovered my blog posts about videos. It seems that this son of a landscape architect teamed up with neighbor Eric Larson, long-time director of Yale’s Marsh Botanic Garden, to create a slew of outstanding gardening videos. They call their website and Youtube channel GardenClips.
In a follow-up email Patrick wrote that “These days video (primarily on YouTube) has become the first place people look for information on everything from fixing their clothes dryer (I’ve done it!) to gardening. In the beginning you could throw pretty much anything up on YouTube and people would watch it, but the medium has evolved and now high quality is expected. There’s still a lot of junk videos online but there’s increasingly excellent work being produced, too – if you can find it.” Then he “shamelessly plugged” Good Gardening Videos, a plug I’ll shamelessly mention.
Over the four years that Patrick and Eric have been making beautiful videos together, they’ve profiled many, many plants, as no one else has, to my knowledge (and I look for this stuff). The formula is simple – a passionate expert talking and showing, filmed professionally. Check out their “Popular” playlists for perennials, flowering shrubs, trees, et cetera.
Then they go deeper with longer ones about topics like hybridizing Mountain Laurel and Iris genetics, using experts in those subjects. Great close-ups like these might actually inspire me to give hydridizing a try.
To date, Patrick and Eric have produced 141 videos.
Their target audience? People who want “information that speaks to their botanical compulsions and satisfies their more esoteric gardening interests.” In other words, plant geeks. Some of my best friends.
To their surprise, viewers everywhere are finding their videos, not just gardeners in the Northeast. So they get questions and comments from viewers all over the world – from Hong King, India, and Saudi Arabia – and the channel’s subscribers are in 114 countries.
How to grow a Youtube channel
Patrick writes that “The early days of a YouTube channel require a tough or nonexistent ego” – because much like beginning bloggers, they “expected gardeners to FLOCK to the videos, tell their friends, and turn Garden Clips into an overnight success.” It took a lot of videos and a lot of waiting before eventually “Youtube’s all-powerful algorithm detected them, deemed them good, the reward algorithm kicked in, and people began finding the videos.” After the first 1,000 subscribers, GardenClips was invited to join a Youtube network (who knew?), and signing with BroadBandTV gave them extra tools for getting even more viewers.
So while I’m happily spreading the word about GardenClips, Patrick is already on the job as my unofficial Youtube coach. By phone and email he’s helping me figure out how a channel that curates other people’s videos could and should work, and in a recent post I showed off the resulting channel with 16 of those all-important playlists.
Oh, and did I mention we’re almost neighbors?
I’ve saved for last the biggest surprise in hearing from Patrick – learning that he grew up two blocks from where I now live, and as an adult lived even closer. He discovered this amazing coincidence by reading my About page and that clinched his decision to contact me.
Though his parents recently moved to New Hampshire, Patrick still has family and friends in my area and we’re determined to have an local meet-up the next time he’s down this way. We have plenty to talk about.
Meanwhile, I’ve found and photographed his parents’ garden and will be on the look-out for more of his mother’s designs as I walk around town.