Tenth birthday for iGarden!

Sunday, 02 September 2018

Justica rizzinii, a photo from my first blog in 2008

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I penned my very first blog for this website, a short paean to the beginning of spring in 2008. I had no real idea of what I was doing or why. The only people who knew of the existence of the website were my husband and two daughters. The website owed its existence mainly to the fact that my recently retired husband appeared to need a project ('Nothing to do? How about you make me a website?'). Blogs had become a 'thing', and I was intrigued with a simple website on which a girl in America talked about what she was going to cook each week: surely, I decided, I could write about what I was doing or thinking about in my garden each week! I also thought that it might be good to have a centralised depository (if only for my own reference) where I could distil my knowledge for all the information I had garnered over the years from books, magazines, garden clubs, gardening talks and lectures I had attended, gardens visited, conversations with friends, plus my own experience of gardening in Sydney and what plants did and didn't do well in our climate.

I'd been a Sydney gardener for 25 years by that time, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears had gone into the creation of two successive gardens. I had learned the hard way that the ubiquitous English gardening books and Melbourne-based garden magazines were not all that relevant to our climate. I thought if I could document the plants that had worked for me into a sort of plant directory and write regular blogs about my gardening experiences, this might help other Sydney gardeners.

Cotyledon orbiculata, suggested by several readers as a good doer

I tentatively mentioned my blog to friends, who kindly started to read it, and somehow gradually I garnered more readers, whose feedback encouraged me to continue on. Those who regularly commented on blogs came to be like friends. I have learned much from readers, from suggestions of different plants or gardening techniques to try, to gardens and nurseries to visit. Some of these suggestions in turn became topics for blogs. Ideas for improvements to the website were also often very helpful. Some people even sent me plants. On occasions, such as at open gardens that I was involved with, I met some readers, which has always been a delight.

Salvia dorisiana, which I have grown for decades

My attitude to gardening has evolved over the past 10 years in lots of ways, which is reflected in my blogs. Changing weather patterns, especially with the recent trend to longer, hotter, drier summers have seen me abandon the less-than-tough plants I once loved and focus instead on the more resilient. Sustainability in gardening has become a central preoccupation of mine. I have turned away from all forms of chemical sprays and tried to find other ways to control pests and diseases, as more and more research has shown the harm of such sprays on human health and the natural world. The importance of soil, compost and mulch has become ever more central to my thinking about gardening, along with the vital role of healthy microbial activity in our gardens. I have become more interested in growing some of my own food, which I am thoroughly enjoying. I constantly discover new plants, part of the endless fascination of gardening. My garden is a somewhat mad melange of semi-tropical flowers, grasses, foliage plants and the odd cottage garden specimen from a previous gardening phase, as well as, of course, the survivors from my various plant crazes over the years (most notably Salvia and Acanthaceae plants). I have yet to have much success with native plants in the heavy clay of my Beecroft garden, but am experimenting with them elsewhere with other gardens I am involved with.

A colourful cow greets visitors to the New Secret Garden & Nursery

I've become a firm believer in the importance of community in our lives, especially where gardening is involved. Garden clubs, community gardens, horticultural therapy centres, plant sales and open gardens for charity fundraising, and other good works have had my support wherever I can provide it. I believe in the importance of gardening to retain our sanity in an increasingly bizarre world, and to help us stay in touch with the rhythms of the natural world. I am more and more convinced that gardeners have the secret to a happy life: gardening provides enjoyable exercise; a way to create beauty; a form of beneficial mindfulness meditation as we potter, totally absorbed, amongst our plants; a solace in times of stress and sadness; and a conduit to social bonding, by getting to know other gardeners. Gardeners have the capacity to find joy in the simple things in life: the blooming of a favourite plant, the sound of rain on the roof, the singing of a bird, the germination of a seed. We are the luckiest people on earth!

With 402 blogs after that first one, I still enjoy finding topics to write about, and I still haven't completed my Plant Directory yet! Thanks so much to all my readers for your feedback and support over the past 10 years. Without you, I would have given up years ago. I look forward to continuing to explore the challenges and fun of gardening in Sydney!

Reader Comments

  • By Barbara 6025 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Well done Deidre, despite the fact that I garden on the other side of this sunburned country, and most of your gardening conditions are not relevant here I just love your blog. It is lovely to get a notification in the mailbox. It is like getting a letter from a friend. Keep them coming Thanks for reading even though you are in a different climate! Deirdre

  • By Carmel 2219 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Thank you so much for your blog . I find so much great information in it and you have introduced me to such a wide variety of Salvia. Congratulations on 10 years of dedicated writing. I look forward to many more. With great appreciation. Thanks, Carmel; so glad you like salvias! Deirdre

  • By Tracey 2158 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Congratulations Deirdre I enjoy starting my week reading your blog. It is always full of great advice ideas and encouragement. Heres to the next 10! Happy Gardening Everyone, Tracey Thanks so much, Tracey. Hope I will have the stamina for another 10 years! Deirdre

  • By Bren 2540 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Yes, your blog is a wonderful source of information and inspiration! Thanks, Bren, and thanks for all your comments over the years. Deirdre

  • By Lindy 2093 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Well done, Deirdre! You keep me inspired with my very challenging Clontarf garden! Keep it going!! Thanks, Linda, and good luck with your garden. Deirdre

  • By margaret 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    I well remember reading your first blog Deirdre, and all the following ones, enjoying every one of them. You write concisely, knowledgeably, and with encouragement, supplying information in an easy to read format. Please continue forever and ever - there are so many topics to cover,just waiting for you, and there is always a book or two to consider?? Thanks for all your encoragement right from the very start, and yes, I hope the book will materialise some day! Deirdre

  • By Peta 2758 (Zone:9 - Cool Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Goodness, how time flies! I always read your blog but don"t always comment. This time I"d like to say congratulations! I have been fortunate to visit your current Sydney garden and really loved it, specially the way you co-ordinate colour and texture. Please keep up the good work. As gardeners we need to roll with the punches that Mother nature has been dishing out recently. Gardening successfully is getting more challenging and blogs like yours help us travel that sometimes rocky road. Thanks, Peta, and your garden has been very inspirational to me, plus of course, the wonderful plant fair that you ran for so many years, where I was able to see and obtain lots of unusual plants. Deirdre

  • By Maree 2074 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Well done Deirdre. I live in a ground floor garden apartment and find your blog inspiring particularly for plants that do well in shade. Keep going. Thanks so much, Maree, and good luck with your garden. Deirdre

  • By Janice 2067 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Congratulations Deirdre, gardening can be a solitary endeavour but your blog has enormous outreach sharing insight for your readers horticulturally and "events" so easily missed to our attention, for life cannot be all thistles! Grateful thanks. Thanks, Janice, and yes gardening can be quite solitary and it was for me for a number of years, but I was thrilled when I met other like-minded gardeners and love getting feedback from readers of my blog! Deirdre

  • By Chris 4034 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Well done Diedre, Amazing how many seasons you have been gardening. We went to some Spring plant sales here in Brissie on the weekend and your website has been a constant reference for me when trying to find out about an ornamental plant such as salvia and many more. Lately I have been concentrating on the soil and it"s life and also on fruit trees but ornamentals are planted with them. We have to keep our native bees happy. So glad the blog is useful in Brisbane; I think our climate is becoming more like yours each year! Deirdre

  • By Annie 3131 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Thanks, Deirdre for your newsletters. I always enjoy reading about the plants you feature but also your thoughts on gardening. The rich experience over time that you allude to is so much more valuable than flash in the pan fads of landscaping and gardening to be read elsewhere! My garden here in Wangaratta is in a more challenging area than yours, but I can adapt many of your recommendations. Please keep up your writing! Thanks so much, Annie; I am glad the blog is of interest. Deirdre

  • By Susan 2430 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Congratulations on your milestone. Your blog has been such a help and inspiration to me in my new foray into warm temperate gardening.I found it shortly after we moved here and it still delights me. Keep going, please! I am happy the blog is useful for you. Susan. Deirdre

  • By Mandy 2515 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Thank you. I"ve recently joined your blog. I lived in Canberra for 25 years and moved to the Illawarra five years ago. I was a completely new gardening experience and your blog has been my best source of information and inspiration. Keep it coming! Thanks so much for your feedback, Mandy, and good luck with your new garden. Deirdre

  • By Elyson 4069 (Zone:11B - Tropical) Monday, 03 September 2018

    I remember the pleasure I felt when I first discovered your blog and realised the access I now had to so much information, insight and a shared joy in gardening. Thank you Deidre for sharing your garden and knowledge with us all. That is so nice, Elyson! Deirdre

  • By Maureen 2118 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    I have over many years since "finding you", referred people to your Blog. Amazing what"birthed" out of a husband"s "I have nothing to do" comment. He sure is occupied now having then launched MyOpenGarden.com.au on the demise of Australian Open Garden Scheme in 2015 You both contribute so much to the Gardening World!! Congratulations to you both. Thanks so much, Maureen, and I am glad I have got to know you through the local garden club. Thanks also for recommending me! Deirdre

  • By Paula 4209 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Thank you Deirdre for the pleasure you impart. I concur with all the comments above and as time permits will attempt to read all your previous blogs especially the ones that fall at the current time of year. There are so many lovely distractions where your print colour changes and by clicking on I am transported to yet more valuable and heart-warming photos and commentaries. Such a pleasure. Thanks so much, Paula, for your kind comments. Deirdre

  • By Ann 2454 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Happy blog birthday Deidre and congratulations on the great resource you have created. I live & garden in Bellingen on the mid north coast of NSW. I"ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now and always keenly look forward to diving into it each Monday. I agree - gardening is the best hobby ever in so many ways! All the best, Ann So glad you enjoy gardening so much. Deirdre

  • By Sue T. 2566 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Thanks and congratulations on ten years of your blog. I enjoy logging on every Monday to see what you"ve written. Looking at people"s comments many others do too. Looks like you will have to keep on writing. Aargh ... as long as I don"t run out of topics! Deirdre

  • By Christine 2429 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Thankyou again Deirdre. Love your blogs and feel happy when they arrive and can"t wait to read. I refer to your 2 publications regularly and am trying hard to be more sensible and practical in plant choices....note I said TRYING!! Wish you could publish your articles in a book in the future??? You and Peta too....would be two wonderful books!!! As if you don"t have enough to do......just dreaming.... Chris Thanks, Chris; I do have plans one day of completing another book! Just need more time in each day. Deirdre

  • By Jason 2204 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Hi Deirdre. Congratulations on your 10th anniversary. I"m not sure I"ve ever posted a comment before but I have participated in the Plant Share forum over the years. I just wanted to thank you for sharing all your knowledge in such a gracious and accessible way. You are my first go-to for anything I need to research for my beloved Inner West garden. Many thanks for your generosity and inspiration. Cheers, Jason Thanks so much for your kind feedback, Jason. Deirdre

  • By Susan 2093 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Reading these lovely comments, I realise that I am a newbie to iGarden but since April 17 when I joined I have grown to love it, and to look forward to Monday mornings! Now I"m about to embark on an entirely new gardening experience in England, making a new garden to surround our converted barn. But I shall still look forward to your words of wisdom (which will arrive on Sunday!) and be inspired by my Sydney gardening experience over these last 14 years. Thank you, Deirdre. Keep on gardening! Best of luck with your new gardening adventure, Susan! Deirdre

  • By Derek 5250 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Terrific stuff Deirdre I look forward to your blog every Monday and even though my climate here in the Adelaide Hills doesn"t quite match up to where you are in Sydney neverless I still manage to get some inspiration from your writings so well done kiddo, and now you can sing the old cliff Richard song. Ready.... Congratulations And jubilations I want the world to know I"m happy as can be I want the world to know I"m happy as can be Best wishes Derek Glad some of the info is of use; each climate area is so different! Deirdre

  • By Leigh 2107 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Thanks so much Deirdre for sharing your knowledge and your thoughts which are always inspiring and reassuring! I rather think you have cultivated more than the garden that surrounds you; what you have done for your band of followers is the same as the practice of your gardening: brought us together, coaxed us along, shared your successes and failures and allowed us to do the same. I daresay many of us are thriving [like your blog and your garden] as a result. Lovely thoughts, Leigh; I do hope people find the website of use. Deirdre

  • By Geraldine 2902 (Zone:8-9 - Cool Temperate to Alpine) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Congratulations of your 10th anniversary of blogging. I enjoy reading your blog (although I live in Canberra...but used to live in Sydney)and I agree with all that you have said about gardening, and how lucky we gardeners are, because gardening provides so much joy and interest. It is so different gardening in Canberra, but I guess the basic things about gardening are universal, including its benefits! Deirdre

  • By Pam 3216 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Congratulations Deirdre,a wonderful achievement for you. You provide a wonderful resource and a sense of belonging to the gardening community for all your readers. May you enjoy and celebrate many more anniversaries. Best wishes, Pam. Thanks so much, Pam! Deirdre

  • By lillian 3951 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Right on Deirdre! Congratulations on a wonderful achievement. Thank you all above for your thoughtful comments- with which I totally concur. Bloomin" marvellous! Thanks so much, Lillian. Deirdre

  • By Norman 2653 (Zone:8-9 - Cool Temperate to Alpine) Monday, 03 September 2018

    Thank you Deirdre from your friend. Lovely to hear from you, Norman. Deirdre

  • By Janna UK Monday, 03 September 2018

    Wow, ten years! Congratulations Deirdre. I couldn"t agree more with you about how lucky us gardeners are and how bizarre the world is becoming (or am I just getting old?). I"m so grateful to have learnt a bit in Sydney (especially from your plant directory) and in particular about using resilient plants - it has been a godsend this very dry summer over here. I do hope your native experimentation is going well - I was just thinking about you and wondering how it was going at the weekend! x Lovely to hear from you, Janna! Hope all is going well for you with your new garden. The native plantings are proving a challenge, as I battle drought, wallabies and brush turkeys! I have had to modify my ideas somewhat and accept that the whole garden has to be netted permanently! Deirdre

  • By noeline 2081 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 03 September 2018

    The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul...... Alfred Austin. Happy Birthday igarden and congratulations Deirdre I look forward to reading your blog as much now as when I first discovered it in 2012 I have made many of my choices of plants due to your advice on Sydneys climate and plant share gardeners generousity Thankyou. I am so glad the website has been useful, Noeline. Deirdre

  • By Sue 2074 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 04 September 2018

    Thank you and congratulations for your great blogs over the years. I first stumbled across it when I was looking for some plant info and your site came up and I continued to read with pleasure from then on enjoying yours and others comments. I have also used your plant share which is a "garden sharing experience" and a nice way to help each other. I have really appreciated having the thoughts and experiences of a Sydney gardener to define what is a Sydney garden.Thanks, Sue, and I am pleased the Plant Share has worked for you. Deirdre

  • By Caroline 2068 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 04 September 2018

    Thanks to you Deidre, I agree with everything and I think it"s a really wonderful and important thing that you have done. Living in Sydney I frequently refer to your plant list to see if what I am thinking of growing will actually work here. Like you I have also changed the type of plants I grow from the English cottage garden style to plants that will actually survive our conditions. It"s just been so great to read your blog each week. Congratulations! Thank you, Caroline. I found it sad to give up my cottage garden plants but I feel we can still create the look with our warm-climate plants! Deirdre

  • By Kerrie 2104 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 04 September 2018

    I only discovered you a year or two ago but I"ve really enjoyed your blogs & the plant share page. I"ve made a couple of new gardening friends in my neighborhood through the plant share page too. Happy 10th anniversary Dierdre! How lovely that you have made some gardening friends through the Plant Share -- that makes me feel happy. Deirdre

  • By Patricia 2100 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Wednesday, 05 September 2018

    Happy 10th birthday igarden and thank you for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm so generously. Thanks so much for your feedback, Patricia. Deirdre

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