Working moms who garden…AND blog about it


by Susan
Elizabeth and I were all ears when we were in Austin for the Gardenblogger Spring Fling – she’s already
reported hearing a complaint that our Manifesto is off-putting (say it isn’t so!)  And I heard this complaint from more than one GardenRant reader: Why doesn’t Michele post more often?  My response at the time – "Well, she writes for a living" – was pretty lame, so I wrote to Michele to tell her about her fans, of which I count myself, and the request for MORE from her.  Her response alluded to such time demands as:

  • A "fiendishly demanding day job."   
  • Three kids at that age where they need to be "ferried to the round of activities that is a modern childhood."
  • "Running 5 miles 3 to 4 times a week in the non-gardening season, just struggling to stave off middle-aged spread."
  • Dishes needing washing, a dog that needs to be walked, etc. 

And she didn’t even mention gardening or that husband of hers who needs whatever it is that husbands need (been there).

Now readers who demand more-more-more of their favorite writers are not easily appeased by such real-life excuses but I hope this expanded answer helps.  I, too, would love to see more from Michele on the Rant but I’d never suggest such a thing because here’s how close we came to not having her at all.

GardenRant was all Michele’s idea, you know.  As she recently told Adrian Higgins of the Washington Post, it seemed like a way to take control of her career and get some gigs writing about gardening.  But successful blogs need frequent posts, so Michele set out to find herself some partners to help with all that writing.

Where to start was obvious.  She’d loved From the Ground Up, Amy’s book about her first garden, and knew that Amy also blogged, so recruiting her was Job One.  Then as a team they recruited me (based on my rant about Jerry Baker, they tell me).  So the three of us created this thing and launched and everyone was happy – until 2 or 3 months later when Michele’s speech-writing client decided they needed her not just on retainer but full-time, at least.  So she took a hiatus for the next few months and threatened to back out altogether in favor of someone who had more time.  No way, we said; take your hiatus and we’ll be here when your schedule clears.  So the Rant was a sparse twosome until we recruited Elizabeth. Then Michele’s workload lightened and she was back!  But only once a week, you say?  We say we’ll take what we can get and feel lucky to have it. 

I ask that question sincerely because I’m not one of them myself.  Hell, I don’t even work full-time, much less have parenting duties.  So I’m mightily impressed that anyone can fit blogging into the impossible schedules that typify the lives of working moms – like Michele with her three young ones.  But then I discovered what gardenblogging pioneer Kathy Purdy manages to do besides blog – write for gardening magazines while mothering a whole clan and home-schooling them, too.  I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy in Austin and saw how generous she is with her time and know-how, despite her full life.  And if I EVER feel busy or harried I’m clicking back on that link about her family.  (And btw, Kathy, you must be an awesome teacher because your kids can WRITE!)

Photo by Michele of her kids at a daylily nursery, with the nursery owner.  Future Gardeners of America!


  1. It was your manifesto that got me reading Garden Rant – I reread it periodically just for the reassurance that there are some gardeners out there that think like I do and to remind me what gardening is really all about. Please, please don’t change it.

    As to working mums and blogging – I’m thankful for every piece we get from Michelle. Having had 3 children while being a stay-at-home Mum (who ran a volunteer pre-school play group, had 3 student lodgers and shopped and delivered kids to school on foot)I am not sure that I would have had the time or gardening expertise to blog, and once I went back to college and started teaching, I was in a state of collapse after doing what had to be done. So good on you, you working-mum, gardening-bloggers.

  2. Susan, thank you for this sweet post. I love the Rant! I frequently wish for inherited wealth just to spend more time on it.

  3. Michele’s posts are worth waiting for. I see that she got a well-deserved Mousie nomination for one of them.

    And yes, Kathy Purdy is totally amazing. I don’t know how she does it, I really don’t.

  4. First of all, I love love love the manifesto! I added the blog to my bookmarks as soon as I read it.

    Second, I’m certain that I would have more time for my blog if I did work. Being a stay at home mom with 3 kids, one of whom is a pre-schooler, I barely manage to sneak an entry in about once a week. If I were working I know I would have down time while sitting in front of a computer screen.

  5. I hadn’t noticed disparity in post frequency between the four of you. Perhaps that’s because you’re all quite good.

    However, I do have to let you know that I’m feeling a little left out.

    What about the working dads who garden and blog about it? Are we in short supply?

    Truthfully, I was a little surprised that the Austin pictures mostly featured women, so maybe there’s precedent for only talking about single moms. But you’ve got to wonder: Don’t more guys garden? Or do they relegate themselves to narrowly specialized segments of gardening? “Flowers? You’ve got to be kidding! I’m a MAN. I only grow giant pumpkins, ornamental poison oak, and stinging nettles.”

  6. I’ve always been jealous that you have four like-minded, witty-writing, garden-loving bloogers to share the work with. If each of you posts just three times a week, that’s 12 posts — way more than most bloggers can claim, myself included. I think it’s key to your success (in addition to the fact that you’re all like-minded, witty-writing and garden loving, of course.) I wouldn’t be too hard on Michelle. With so many of you at the helm, you can each concentrate on quality, not quantity. She does a bang-up job when she’s around.

  7. I LOVE your manifesto! Don’t soften it! It’s exactly what we need…

    From a Gardener in Brooklyn, NY

  8. It ain’t so! I love your manifesto.

    What’s all this about poor working moms who garden and blog about it too? How about us poor widdle gardeners, who blog and have 8 (count them) 8 kittycats? Children, schmildren!

    And to Ed Bruske: well yes! I have this deal with my hubby that everything is always his fault. Works a treat as we don’t waste time bickering on whose fault it is.

  9. I also love the manifesto, and FINALLY the snow is gone and I spent yesterday with my hands in the dirt. It was wonderful. I think the deal with your hubby is brilliant, Yolanda.

  10. Oh please! I do not think busy-ness is the exclusive province of motherhood, and I absolutely hate it when people “excuse” my lack of time because I am A Working Mother! Gag!

    I do enjoy Michele’s posts but then I enjoy all of your posts. Whatever you have to do to squeeze the time in to write them, we are all indebted.

  11. If I didn’t have a bit of down time at the computer at work I wouldn’t have time to even read this blog. 2 kids, trying to get in 3-4 5 mile runs, and going through the big “D”, there is no time to even breathe, let alone garden or blog. Thanks for taking some time out of your schedule Michele. We appreciate it, really.

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