Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Long Live SAGBUTT! February 7, 2009

A few brave souls, some of the Seattle-area garden bloggers, got together for the first time today for a historic and thoroughly enjoyable gathering. I’m somewhat horrified to say that the joke name SAGBUTT (Seattle Area Garden Bloggers United to Talk) seems to have stuck. There were lots of funny ideas for a logo, which I will leave you to imagine, but suffice to say that whatever the name, it was great to meet everyone who could come and we are full of plans and ideas for future gatherings!

Not everyone was wild about the idea of a picture, and a few folks had to go before we asked one of the librarians to come outside with us and take a group shot (she was not only kind enough to do it, but she took some with three different cameras!), but here we are:

SAGBUTT Founding Members (Most)

(From left: Jean, Daniel, Melanthia, Paula, Wingnut, Molly and Karen)

The Elisabeth C. Miller Library on the University of Washington campus was a great place to meet. They provided us with a free meeting space and the librarian on duty even asked me to provide her with a list of all of our blogs, so that the library can help to publicize them (I’ll try to get to that this week). The surrounding gardens and grounds are worthy of a long look, and I hope to return there in the near future to see more of what they have growing there.

Spring arriving at UW Center for Urban Horticulture

I owe a big thanks to Melanthia, blogging as Gardeness at Garden Muse, who helped with the planning and brought delicious treats. She also kindly set up a Facebook group, which you can find under Seattle Garden Bloggers if you are on FB. She also kindly accepted the task of setting up a Yahoogroups network which we can use to keep in contact and have a centralized way to get info to everyone. If you didn’t make it to the meeting today but want to be on the info list, head over to Garden Muse and let Melanthia know you’d like to be included. Here she is, getting a little giddy in the parking lot at the prospect of all those coffee bags (read on to see what that’s all about).

Melanthia and Jean

Further proof, in case any was needed, that gardeners are a generous bunch – many folks brought something to share, from cookies to jute coffee bags for weed smothering to black pussy-willows and even a beautiful, edible pumpkin. Many are excited about future seed and plant swaps in addition to public and home garden visits.

One interesting thing we discovered is that nearly everyone who came today grew up elsewhere. Seattle is infamous for being a place where it’s hard to make new friends, and often the ones who really do make the effort to reach out and connect are those who either grew up or at least lived elsewhere for a long stretch. I’m generalizing here, obviously this is not uniformly true, but out of the nine people who showed up, I think at least seven mentioned that this was true of them.

Another trend seemed to be that gardening, as one member so succinctly put it, is “in the blood.” So many people mentioned that parents, grandparents, or many generations of their families were truck farmers, “crazy gardeners,” and otherwise plant-friendly, that it did make me wonder if there could be a “gardening gene.”

People’s motivations to blog ranged from personally chronicling their garden for themselves, family and friends, promoting a business, distracting themselves from other aspects of life, putting out info or inspiration for others, etc. and one attendee, Margaret, found out about the meeting 20 min. before it began and came because she wants to start a blog herself.

Molly of Life on Tiger Mountain probably wins the prize for earliest entry to the blogosphere, since she started her first blog in 2000. Others of us are much more newly minted (try 6 mo.!) so it will be nice to look to the more experienced for advice and help. Actually, we didn’t talk about blogging all that much – it was just so interesting to hear everyone’s backgrounds, stories, interests that time flew by and the two hours allotted grew to past when the library needed to close, and some stayed and kept talking outside in the gardens, as well as the parking lot (where Paula of Petunia’s Garden so generously shared a station-wagon-load of the aforementioned coffee bags).

Jute Coffee Bags for Garden Use

I have already learned so much from these folks just by reading their blogs, but taking it into the sphere of real life was such a revelation. I hope to go and visit Wingnut from Weed Whackin Wenches up at Sky Nursery to take advantage of some of their current and upcoming sales, am planning a trip down to Macrina Bakery in SoDo to see the life-size tree mural painted by Jean of Pill Bug’s Point of View, want to tap into the knowledge and vision that Liisa of The Intercontinental Gardener gained in her graduate studies of Garden History and years as a garden designer and rehabilitator in Australia and Sweden, and have hopes to someday see the astonishingly large and prolific home vegetable bed (60′ X 160′, yes, that’s feet!) that Daniel of Daniel Mount Gardens has going out at his place in Carnation.

After some discussion, we decided to alternate Saturdays and Sundays for future get-togethers, to include as many folks as possible. Our next meeting is planned for Sunday, March 22, and may include a special international guest member, Matron of the UK’s Down on the Allotment. Paula is planning something, so look to her blog or sign up for the Yahoogroup so you don’t miss out!

To anyone who has read this far and isn’t from the Seattle area, you are of course welcome to come to any of our future meetings if you should happen to be in town for one. And if you have thought about starting something similar in your own area, I’d encourage you to go for it! The worst thing that can happen? Nobody shows up and you get to eat all the snacks. I actually thought that might be the case today, but instead I got to meet eight wonderful people who share a common interest and whom I hope to see again next month! Making connections in the virtual world is great and it can make the world seem smaller, but meeting your neighbors helps so much to keep you rooted in your community. And who could understand that better than a bunch of garden bloggers?

Urban Horticulture Center in Seattle

(The only drawback of today? I spent so much of the day on getting ready for, attending, and then blogging about the event that I didn’t get out in the garden on a gorgeously sunny day!)