Back in 2010 I started a blog that was all about my garden. I had been obsessively gardening for more than a decade at that point but had never taken one photo of the garden. This would be an opportunity to do just that and maybe add some commentary along the way.
Fast forward to today and I’ve written over 1,000 posts solely about my gardening experiences. I never went longer than a week without posting. At one point I was writing a post five days a week without fail. What started as a whim became a juggernaut, in my own head that is. I’m hoping to turn the experience into a book and have been shopping the concept to publishers this past year.
When I started the blog I informed no one, other than my wife, of its existence. I didn’t want any courtesy reads and feel-like-you-have-to comments. I wanted to build it from the soil up and felt no rush to build an audience. I could work out the kinks without anyone noticing.
After a few months of mostly dreadful and rambling posts, I took the plunge and started sharing the posts on Facebook. Then I went on a Facebook ‘friending’ spree, making sure anyone I ever crossed paths with was a ‘friend.’ This then extended to anyone who gave even the slightest indication that they liked plants. My new circle was established and all would happily consume my writing.
That is when things started to get interesting. The traffic to the blog increased as a result, which was great. It kept me on my toes knowing there were actual eyes on it. Some people would leave comments but the majority of readers remained anonymous. Who else was a closet gardener like me?
What became most fascinating and eventually most maddening was observing, in person, reactions from those who discovered my gardening passion. Even if they weren’t regular readers, their looks said it all:
“You’re kidding me right?”
I kid you not.
Many didn’t know what to make of this new intel and didn’t know how to broach the subject with me. I enjoyed their confusion and enjoyed their inability to understand it.
I’m stereotyping here but the following is true.
Women found it interesting and had no issues engaging with me on the blog’s origin and asking me about my garden in general.
Some dudes seemed interested but most, could not come to terms with it. This dates back to 2010 and continues to this day. I find the rationalizations they create can be grouped into three different categories.
So you write about your lawn I assume?
Is there anything more “male” than that?
I couldn’t care less about my lawn. I don’t spend a dime on its upkeep. Each year I add more “garden” and subtract more lawn.
I cut the lawn at its highest setting and never water.
I don’t implement the Scott’s 4 Step Plan.
I don’t walk around viciously killing all weeds with a squeeze of the evil Roundup.
So is it really a landscaping blog?
No, it isn’t about “landscaping”, whatever that really means. I’m not a mow and blow bro. If the term landscaping carries a more masculine meaning for you and you need to hear that, go right ahead.
On more than one occasion, I’ve actually witnessed others sell my blog as, “it isn’t about flowers or anything like that. It’s like manly garden stuff.”
Ok, then. Is this manly enough for you?
Is it about growing tomatoes on the patio?
I grow some vegetables but that isn’t my passion. Plus the deer destroy anything that produces anything edible so it isn’t much of an option for me.
Here it is my disillusioned male friend:
I love flowers.
I think they are pretty.
I smell them and smile.
Contrary to popular belief, I am not an elderly woman with a wide brimmed hat.
I am not a homesteader growing their own as part of that whole movement.
Why don’t you just say what you are thinking and often times saying without exactly saying it? That it is strange for a straight male to like flowers.
Listen, I’m not here to whine about being mistreated.
Woe isn’t me.
This is just a simple rant after dealing with yet another male who just yesterday, upon learning that I like to take macro shots of hydrangea blooms, gave me a look that was a mix of sarcastic smile and disapproval.
Bro … how about you evolve one of these days?
I’m admittedly tiring a bit, now entering my eighth year of writing about my garden. I worry that I’ve said it all and that lack of new material may become obvious to my readers.
But without sounding melodramatic, maybe I still need to carry a torch of sorts. The torch that says, like whatever the hell you like. Continue to knock down the walls of stereotypes. Erode the concept of judgment.
Maybe me sharing the picture of a gorgeous peony in full bloom and pontificating about it with 1,000 words is my little way of saying, if that is your thing, shout it to the world and be proud.
There are no rules.
If people take issue or can’t grasp it, that is their own problem.
End of rant.
This article originally appeared on Medium.
All photos credited to the author.