-from December 2007 issue of BBC’s Garden’s Illustrated magazine.
“Sassy and savvy in its approach, Canadian garden website You Grow Girl has nurtured a thriving online community since it was established in 2000. With regular entries by site creator Gayla Trail, attractive images and lively forums, You Grow Girl is fresh, funny and unconventional — and all the better for it. “
- page 95
So I was gonna hold off on this one until it hit new stands but it looks like Organic Gardening Magazine let the cat out of the bag early and has published an article I wrote for the Feb 2008 issue (“Grow Where You Are Planted”) on their website.
I really enjoyed writing this article. When they approached me about writing a piece the timing was good — I had been itching to write about the topics covered and needed the impetus to get off my butt and do it. It’s a short piece briefly outlining my overall experiences as an urban gardener. The article also addresses outsider feelings I have struggled with since entering the world of garden writing and publishing as a career: Where and how do I fit in to this world of gorgeous, expansive gardens, expensive hardscaping, and quaint early-life garden experiences? Since writing the first book, several interviewers have asked about my childhood and early experiences with gardening. I have stammered and fallen over myself every single time. There is no easy answer to this question. There certainly are informative early experiences but my feeling has often been that the answer they are looking for is not one I can provide. And as far as how do I fit into this world, well it seems that in every category possible I stick out like a sore thumb. I did not have quaint early childhood gardening experiences, there were no early-life mentors, I live in a small apartment, I have only lived in a house with an actual backyard for 3 brief moments through the course of my entire life, I still consider myself to be lower to barely lower-middle class, I have never owned land, I don’t drive a car, I do not have a degree in horticulture (I studied Fine Arts), I have a terrible potty mouth… shall I continue? When attending garden shows and giving presentations I have rarely felt comfortable with the other “Gardening World Celebrities” and have always felt a bit like an impostor accidentally admitted to the Country Club. It’s not a feeling of inferiority or insecurity so much as a feeling of strangeness and difference. And a feeling that sooner or later that membership is going to be revoked.
It has taken some time but I’ve finally hit on an answer to this issue that I bring up in the course of the article. The answer is in the tagline I’ve been using for this site over the last few years, “Gardening for the People.” I’ve been living out the answer all along. I just needed to get there in my own head, for myself, in a new way. Gardening is not just a homogeneous experience in which rich white people with big floppy hats and sparkling teeth increase their social standing and property value through proper plant and rock placement. Gardening is for all of us. Gardening is for anyone who loves plants, or wants to grow food, or thinks flowers are pretty. Gardening is for anyone who is scared to try but who wants to give it a go. We all come to this from different places, different backgrounds, different experiences (and experience levels), and different interests. My life is complicated. Your life is complicated. I’d wager a solid bet that the seemingly quaint life of every single “Gardening World Celebrity” is also complicated.
In the end I don’t care how different we are. The only thing we need to have in common is the love. And even that isn’t a prerequisite.
Check out the article here or see it in the February 2008 issue of Organic Gardening magazine.
- American Horticultural Society (November/December 2007 – Volume 86, Number 6)
I was interviewed a few month back for an article on gardening blogs entitled, “Virtual Gardening in the Blogosphere” by Doug Green. I will admit that it’s been only about eight months since I began to tentatively tiptoe my way towards even remotely considering this site a “blog” making it kind of strange to talk about it publicly in those terms. Since this interview I have done a few more in which the interviewee has referred to this site as a “blog.” Despite the transitions this site has taken over the years I can’t say I will ever feel comfortable with the word. Can’t we all just agree to call it an “Internet Website”?
A brief history: I started this site as an “online magazine” (the popular term of the time) back before the word “blog” existed. About a year or so in I started a “journals” section on the site but it wasn’t quite a blog given that I hand coded each and every entry including editing text, and resizing and colour correcting photos for submitting writers. Back then I designed and hand-coded each and every article myself (often with a unique design) except the forums. Sometimes I look back at that time and can’t believe how much time and work I put into this project in addition to my regular work and other personal projects. It wasn’t until last year when I finally resolved that after seven plus years an online magazine was not the best place to put my energy anymore that I finally began to identify this site as a psuedo-blog, a website that among other things happens to contain a blog within it. That was a very hard decision to come to and an even harder one to announce publicly. It is out of that history that I still struggle with the term and am now resolving to secretly substitute under my breath the phrase, “Gayla’s Very Special Place for People Who Like Plants and Gardening on the World Wide Web” anytime the word “blog” is used.
As an aside Hanna at This Garden is Illegal has an interesting conversation going about gardening and age. This question comes up a lot for me in interviews… people want to know what the demographic is of this site and whether young people garden. Through my own personal experiences with social gardening and activism networks, meeting members of this site, selling products at events, and traveling to various locations around North America to speak, I can say for certain that young people do garden and that readers of my book and this site are of all ages. I am learning more and more that what we are bound by is a shared passion for plants and gardening that isn’t so much about age, or the kind of space we inhabit but about perspective and a common approach.
p.s. Hanna, I collect stamps AND have brought the odd air sickness bag home from travels.
p.s.s. Would anyone happen to have a copy they are done reading and can send me? I can’t get a copy here and would like to see it in context of the mag. Thanks!
I had a TV crew here for about 2 hours one scorching hot and humid afternoon in August shooting a segment on heirloom vegetables for a show called “Living in Toronto.” There are other “Living ins” across Canada however the first is set to air tomorrow afternoon.
Details: CBC “Living in Toronto”, 1pm – 1:30pm.
My rooftop garden as seen from underneath the tent.
Here I am with the segment producer Myrocia preparing for a tomato-tasting bit. Did I mention the unbearable heat and humidity? By the time this picture was taken I had completely given up on any attempt to look TV-ready. I had to dab my face with a towel between takes. Good times!
“I don’t promote myself as an authority. I’m a person who really, really loves to garden. I know a thing or two but there is a ton I don’t know and will probably never know. I make mistakes. I experiment like crazy. I don’t have all of the answers, I don’t believe in that “right” one way to do things, I don’t have buckets of cash, a sprawling estate or a backyard even. There are a lot of people like me who want to grow something and that group of people have been mostly ignored by the gardening industry.“
My interview with The Germinatrix (aka Ivette Soler) is up today on the Domino Magazine blog. This was a really fun and brainy interview — one of my favourites to date. Thanks Ivette!