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Meet two of Lincoln's garden bloggers

Meet two of Lincoln's garden bloggers

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Sue Dawson gets input on her garden from a friend in Scotland and another in France. They share successes and failures and compare insects and butterflies.

Her international gardening friends stop by "A Corner Garden," which is Dawson's garden blog (acornergarden.blogspot.com), regularly.

Benjamin Vogt, who writes "The Deep Middle" blog (deepmiddle.blogspot.com) from his home in west Lincoln, has had 32,000 visitors a year to his website, and many are international gardeners. One of his favorites, a fellow-gardener from France, details the growing efforts at his bed and breakfast.

Because the only thing gardeners love to do more than garden is talk about their gardens, creating a blog makes sense. In today's tech-savvy world, gardeners are blogging instead of talking, and they can do it on their own schedules.

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Here's Dawson's profile for her garden blog: "I am married with two grown children and a grandson. We live in the house on a corner lot that my husband grew up in. I have been talking him out of more grass over time in order to increase space for gardening. I like growing veggies, flowers and herbs."

Fellow gardeners can relate, apparently. Since the growing season of 2008, Dawson has been adding followers who post comments and have become long-distance friends, she said.

Walking through the perennials, dodging a stand of "Octupus" bell flowers and assorted daylilies, Dawson tells a story about each one, as if they were children in a classroom. She describes her garden as "hodge-podge flower beds," but there is definite order to her planting.

Blogging, she says, is more like "talking" to her audience, and that's the way she wants it.

Right now, her followers have been watching the demise of a large silver maple tree smack in the middle of Dawson's yard. It was riddled with holes, making it unsafe, and encroached on the roof, so down it came. The upshot of that is that her shady front garden now is getting a lot more sun.

"We'll see what happens," she said -- maybe it will result in even more garden and less grass.

Over the years, Dawson has become more adept at posting photos and managing the technology of blogging. She has resisted adding paid ads so she can continue to "just blog for fun," although she admits she may spend one to two hours a day working online, usually after her work as a paraeducator. Having the summers off allows her time to focus on her garden.

Dawson said she began her blog as a way to plan and keep records, but now "it's social and educational at the same time."

And the best part: "I can talk when I want to talk and listen when I want to listen."

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Vogt's blog, which has several components besides gardening, such as environment and poetry, includes postings and links to other garden-related sites. This is how he describes his garden:

"I am an ardent/obsessive plant researcher -- the right perennial for the right spot means less maintenance and worrying on my part (this really does work!).

"The plants in my lovely jardin are roughly 75 percent native to either the Great Plains or the eastern U.S. (native species plant or a cultivar of such, which counts in my book)."

Born in Oklahoma, then moving to Minnesota, Vogt remembers his mother gardening. Vogt sometimes helped, mostly doing cleanup, he said.

When he moved to Lincoln to work on his doctorate, Vogt's mom thought he needed a green space. Starting with about 30 plants outside his door, Vogt began to understand how a person gets hooked on gardening.

Vogt's current garden has expanded over his backyard and takes up about 1,500 square feet. "I'm a backwards gardener," he said. He learned as he went, researching like crazy and adding compost to amend the soil when he realized the heavy clay was not working. He has discovered the more you know about a plant before you put it in the ground, the more likely it is to be successful.

For Vogt, the interaction with other gardeners is "the best part." He responds to every comment, he said. Describing himself as an introvert, Vogt thinks blogging is a great medium for him to "control who and when I talk to people."

Time, both for bloggers and gardeners, slips away quickly. By the time Vogt takes his photos, downloads, edits and posts them, then blogs, two hours may pass. And as a university writing instructor, Vogt chooses his words carefully.

Still, the blog has moved far beyond its original purpose -- to keep records. He is passionate about native plants and providing a safe environment for insects, using organic products.

Vogt's garden is in its prime in the fall, he says. And it is the memory of those blooms that keeps him blogging through the winter until it is time to start gardening all over again.

Reach Kathryn Cates Moore at 402-473-7214 or at  kmoore@journalstar.com.

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Both Sue Dawson and Benjamin Vogt are listed at www.blotanical.com, which includes 1,500 garden bloggers from around the world.

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