Monday, November 28, 2005

Products Without Inventory or Investment

We've introduced a new calendar to our offerings. View and order it at:
http://www.cafepress.com/washgardener.38799618

All photos were taken in the great Washington DC area. Some are from famous gardens, others from backyards. Some professionally landscaped -- others more homespun. We wanted to keep a variety of images to inspire and amuse you throughout the year.

I really just wanted to make the calendar as a nice promo or gift item to order for our company, but if others enjoy it and order a few that is a great side benefit.

I've been singing the praises of Cafepress.com for a few years now. I love them! What are they? A web site that allows you to put a design on various products - tshirts, mugs, mousepads, etc. and you can order just those you want and have them within 2-3 days. Your "customers" go to the site and order exactly the size and style they want. No need for you to invest anything but your time to make and upload the initial design. You carry no inventory stock -- so you are not stuck with 50 size "M" tshirts in yellow when all your customers want pink in size "S." The product prices are not the cheapest but they are good quality and have stellar customer support.

I started using them with a club I'm in and think they are great for family reunions and such. This is ideal for small companies and entrepreneurs just starting out. When I began last January, it was simple to design polo shirts and hoodies to wear at local gardening events. Tote bags were done as contest prizes and buttons as promotional giveaways. I've added other items that I thought our readers might enjoy as well.

I'm working on a few new designs to add to Washington Gardener offerings -- some logos incorporating DC landmarks with flowers -- experimenting really with what is immediately recognizable. Hmmm, how would the White House look sprouting flowers?

If you decide to give www.Cafepress.com a try, please tell them "WashGardener" referred you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Partnerships

Much of my time lately has been devoted to two exciting partnerships with area gardens. The first one is a Seed Exchange coming up on Saturday, January 28 at the U.S. National Arboretum. We hope to make this an annual event. I'm working closely with the USNA (http://www.usna.usda.gov/) staff to develop a great afternoon -- expert speakers, fantastic door prizes, and of course, seed swapping. We'll even have some seeds culled from the USNA grounds to share! I had the brain-stirm for this event last summer while attending the Mail-Order Gardening (http://mailordergardening.com/) conference in Orlando, FL. I was trying to think of an activity the magazine could host for our readers. What was not already offered in the area? What would be of value? What time of year would be best? I thought of the in-person seed exchange while talking with a few seed companies and realizing that it is rarely done face-to-face. We're very excited about this and will have more details and a registration link up in the next few weeks.

The other big partnering event on the horizon is Hillwood Gardener’s Day. They had one this year in June, but are moving it up in 2006 to Saturday, April 29. Hillwood Museum & Gardens (http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org/) is a must-see for area gardeners. If you take a look at the gardens section of their web site, you'll see why. We actually did a "Daytrip" article on them in our May/June '05 issue. I met yesterday with their staff and their enthusiasm is contagious! For this upcoming event they want to make it a day for real "dirt-in-nails" gardeners to come and learn. We brain-stormed several workshop topics and ground tour themes -- such as walks on the grounds pointing out the use of natives. We'll be helping promote the event and assist with programming They are thinking of adding on a plant sale as well and I'll be there at a "meet -the-editor" type set-up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In The Online News & Links

Fun to get a bit of press from other press. Here is a recent clip about us http://dc.about.com/od/media/a/WashGardener.htm.

Also getting more blogging links from DC area bloggers. Any DC-area gardeners with blogs out there? If so, we'll gladly add you to our links here.

We've recently updated our Media Kit and are in process of an ad campaign. To view the PDF file of the kit, go to:
http://www.washingtongardener.com/index_files/advertise.htm.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Gardening Events Still in Season

Even though it is the end of the traditional growing season in our zone, it is still busy with local gardening events. (My excuse for not posting here that much this past week or two!)

Of course the big news is the Titan Arum at the U.S. Botanical Garden (USBG) blooming now. I've been keeping the list serv discussion group ( sign up at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WashingtonGardener/) updated daily on the progress since I got word last week of its impending stinky debut. I'll post photos of the opening progression to the list serv group later today as well. If you go to the USBG (http://www.usbg.gov/) in person, also check out the "sLowlife" exhibit -- interesting theories and point-of-view on plant life. Lastly, while at the USBG, you'll want to see the holiday train display. All of the buildings of the DC mall were created in miniature using plant materials such as cedar leaves.

Also happening is the Brookside "Garden of Lights" display in Wheaton, MD (http://www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/brookside/). As a sponsor of the event, I attended the preview night last Friday with several other invited groups and had a great time walking through the displays and viewing the indoor mum show (which ends this Sunday). Even though it was a bit chilly, it really does put you in the holiday mood. Started me thinking just how I could do some more creative lights in my own garden to take advantage of a few focal points and features. I especially liked their "gold fish" and "sea creature in the ponds and the "lightening" storms outlined on tall trees. This display does not include your typical holiday symbols, but instead focuses on plants, insects, and other natural creatures. It was also nice to be walking through it, rather than driving as other area park displays do. I'll be back again on December 17 with an information table on the magazine -- hope to see many of you there!

Monday, November 14, 2005

MultiTask

As most busy DC professionals are, I'm always looking for time management tips. Somewhat related to that, I'm also interesting in simple living movement and getting rid of unnecessary clutter in your life both literally and figuratively. So I was toying with both trends and thinking of how I could apply them to gardening and maybe write an article or two on the related topics. So I googled "multitask" to see if any inventive folks out there ever do multiple gardening chores at once at how it worked. I got this definition:

multitask: n. Often used of humans in the same meaning it has for computers, to describe a person doing several things at once

Huh?!? Isn't that a bit backwards? Wasn't the human concept first starting way back from the caveman days when mom's propped their infants on one hip while gathering berries with the other? I wish I could locate this poor techno-soul and straighten their head out. If anybody out there needs a more simple life and a bit of green plant exposure it'd be him/her!

Anyway, got any garden time-savers or multitasking tricks? Send them my way!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Several Irons in the Fire

Good thing I enjoy multi-tasking! I've been spending the last few days revamping our media kit. Meanwhile, have several projects simmering including a partnership with a local TV station, nailing down the details for our first annual seed exchange at the US National Arboretum this January, planning a couple garden tours for the local Takoma Horticultural Club, and designing a subscription postcard mailing for the holidays.

Hope to have much more to report on those first two items (TV partnership and seed exchange) in the next few weeks, but don't want to 'jinx' anything. You know the theory that the more you talk about something, the less likely it is to happen? It is as if you are sucking the energy out of the idea by giving voice to it, instead of just doing it. I think that runs counter to being able to fill this blog with the (often boring) background details of magazine goings-on. I'll have to find that balance as I go. How much to tell up front and how much to hold for later...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This Time of Year

Time for a rant. I hate this time of year. I hate it being dark by 5:00 pm. I hate the falling leaves drowning out my flower beds. I hate the cold winds that blow when I'm trying to clean out my pond. I hate the 1,000s of acorns that I'm constantly stepping on, sweeping aside, picking out of pots, etc. I hate the thought of that coming hard frost that will kill all my still-blooming annuals. I hate everything turning the same muddy brown and sallow hues.

Okay, I've got that all out now. Really, autumn has its few good points but I'm a summer person. Love spring too, but it is so fleeting here that I hardly get to experience it! Seems like we are moving towards only two seasons in our area instead of four - with a few brief transition days inbetween. I either am in sleeveless shirts or bundled up -- not much chance to wear the wardrobe choices I'd like.

For gardening, it is tough to deal with short fall days. I'm glad I'm working from home now and can get in the garden in the early afternoon. When I worked for others, I never saw my garden during daytime except on weekends. I had to squeeze in the time to get bulbs planted, beds cleaned out, leaves raked, etc., which makes it more like chores than pleasure.

Maybe we gardeners should join with the farmers in opposing daylight savings time (http://www.standardtime.com/). Maybe we should start a movement to set the standard work day from 9-5 to 7-3 like construction workers and other outdoor careers.

Maybe we should push for a national or regional "gardening day" every month or quarter. Yeah, that's it! A day when everyone can stay home and devote to get their gardening chores done. Those without home gardens can volunteer at parks, churches, schools, etc.

All right, back to reality and what we can do here and now. How do you fit gardening into your busy life, especially during these shorter days?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Meeting Readers

Yesterday was so nice out that I held a yard sale. I'd been planning one since last April and this was the first Saturday morning I've been home and weather cooperated. What was interesting was the number of people who came by just to ask gardening questions. Many were unaware of the magazine, but had watched the evolution of my corner from all turf to all garden beds over the past five years. Lots of compliments as well which is gratifying.

A few did mention reading this blog, the magazine, or visiting the web site. A pleasant surprise! Sometimes when your write/edit at home and put things out their on the web or send out the magazine that it is just going out into some big abyss and you never hear any feedback -- good or bad. Working from home is fairly isolating that way and you never know if what you are doing is a hit or miss or even going in the right direction.

The only scheduled event I have left this year to meet readers (and potential new ones) at is the Brookside Garden of Lights in Wheaton, MD. I'll be there on the eve of Saturday, December 17 with a table and hoping to capture the last-minute-gifts crowds for magazine subscriptions for area gardeners.

I'm thinking of doing a local market as well in the next few weeks -- like Georgetown Flea Market or Eastern Market on Capitol Hill -- if the weather stays as pleasant as it has been. Will see how things pan out schedule-wise.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you on your thoughts about DC area gardening, our publications, this blog, whatever...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Blooming Away



About once a month I try to go out in my garden and take photos just for my own records as to what is blooming, when, and where. Occasionally the shots show up in the magazine or enewsletter as well. We've been having nice, mild weather so I took a break from paperwork today to go out and get some November shots.

Here, at left, is my Rhododendron PJM that blooms reliably spring and fall. Quite a color combination when the leaves start turning as well! I've had it for 5 years and gets beaten up every winter when sheets of snow/ice fall off my roof during late Winter, but it keeps coming back and is doing pretty well. I checked the tag in my garen journal today - not bad for a $14.95 Home Depot purchase!

At right is my favorite Chrysanthemum -- Sheffield Pink. I got it as 2" rooted cutting at a plant exchange from an elderly gardener who had started it himself. I'm not a big mum fan, but I love the peach petals that resemble a classic daisy and the fact that it is carefree. No pinching back and I neglect it horribly! I've had it 3 years -- divided it and moved it once. It has bloomed more than ever this year and I think is happy in its current location so I'll leave it be for awhile.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

On the Radio...

In addition to several other projects I've got going, I've been "appearing" pretty regularly on WMET's Garden Gurus radio show. The show is hosted by a local garden center, Behnkes Nurseries, and airs on Saturday mornings from 8-9:30am. (They recently changed time slots -- it used to be 9-11am). You can listen live on 1160AM if you are in the DC area or tune in via the Internet link on their web site from anywhere.

One great feature is the archived shows on the WMET web site. I like to listen to the shows I've missed because I was out of town or at some gardening event. Many times I call into the show to talk about where I'm at that day and other local green events, earning me the nickname of the "Garden Gurus' Roving Reporter."

Doing the show is fascinating to me as I've never been a big listener of talk radio, so most of it is new to me. Seeing it behind-the-scenes makes you really appreciate all the effort that goes into it. The "live" aspect is probably the most daunting. I've learned that having written notes works best for me -- even if I don't end up using most of them. It is good to have something to fall back on -- nothing is worse on radio than dead silence!

The most fun aspect is the calls from listeners -- you never know what they will ask. They can lead you astray into a whole different topic and the show takes on a life of its own. The time flies on the show and I'm always shocked when it is over so quickly.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Discussion Group Started

A new subscriber asked if we had a discussion forum and we didn't - but we do know! :-).
To sign-up, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WashingtonGardener/
It is free, easy, and you can sign-off it at anytime, if you wish.

It is open to anyone, but obviously the overall subject is gardening in the greater DC area. I plan on sparking conversations every once in a while with probing questions, controversial subjects, and fun games. I'm hoping to get a nice level of participation in the group -- a steady stream, but not so much that people's email inboxes are flooded.

Personally, I'm addicted to list servs and am on many -- from writer's groups to the neighborhood association to my church's young adults group. Most are easy to keep up with just a few notes a day. I have left two this year that were just getting to be too much to keep up with. One was the bordering town's list that kept getting 100s of posts a day on people fighting over politics. It was actually fascinating reading, but I had to get off it so I could reclaim that hour or so it took of my life every day! The other was DC WebWomen, I plan on rejoining it at some point. Most of their technical issue posts did not pertain to me and they also had frequent off-topic posts on women's work issues that I found thought-provoking, but again too much on a daily basis and something I'll need to "find the time" to get into again.

If the Washington Gardener list ever got to that point, I'd consider splitting it into different subjects or areas, but for now I'm getting ahead of myself. I will just set back and see how it grows...