Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garden Coaching (Got Advice?) Apres the Tour

On Sunday I had 500 folks come through the garden in five hours. Even though I was sweating like a rain forest--man it was steamy--I so very much enjoyed talking with people, and even seeing strangers in my garden. If you know me, THIS IS NOT LIKE ME AT ALL. But I also like vegetables now. I wish I could remember who I talked with, what we talked about--so many interesting folks who were willing to learn about native plants, who asked tough questions, and who were genuinely interesting (and respectful as they navigated my tight paths).


My god, look at all that grey hair on me!!!

I was already exhausted two days before the tour....

We got lots of folks to see the monarch cats on the deck.
















Luckily, my wife helped, and was able to talk with as many people as I did--even though I was talking with three people at once in nine directions. She said several asked if I did garden consulting or coaching, and one or two also asked me. I've been playing around with the idea for a year as a way to have summer income when I'm unemployed. But I woke up Monday energized by the idea. Any garden coaches out there? Any advice? If you snoop around hard enough, you'll be able to find a website I already have regarding Monarch Gardens, my shadow native plant consulting / coaching business.

If I could write in the mornings, coach in the afternoon, garden in the evening, that'd be a perfect way to spend one's life. For a while anyway. A trip to Provence would be nice. Maybe a book tour.

19 comments:

Kyna said...

I'm glad you didn't suddenly decide that you COULDN'T handle having strangers in your garden and then start attacking everybody lol.

And there's nothing like seeing a picture of the back of your head from up above. Just be lucky it's grey hair and not a bald spot, like poor Prince William at his wedding...they could have done without the aerial shots in that event.

That's a nice pic of you from the front, btw.

Benjamin Vogt said...

K--That's what my wife says, but I don't believe her. And yeah, I could snapped and, at the height of the tour screamed "Who ARE all you people? What are you doing here? Get out!!! Get out or I'll feed you to my cats!!"

Victoria said...

It's funny, I enjoy talking to people during open day too, whereas the rest of the time, I really relish the peace and quiet of my back garden. From somewhere deep inside comes this seemingly limitless patience and good nature, which is most unlike me! At the end of the day I feel like a speaking clock, having regurgitated the same information over and over again. But I also feel great about having shared something I love.

Benjamin Vogt said...

V--I must've said the same thing 100 times, but you captured the day perfectly. I'm such an introvert, and for every hour of social interaction I need like 6 alone.

Elephant's Eye said...

So it was a good day. They came, were interested, you survived, you even enjoyed it!

Alison said...

Sorry I have no advice about the garden coaching. But I have to say you were very brave to invite all those strangers into your garden. I'm an introvert too, I much prefer plants to people, and opening my garden up to a tour would freak me out. I know, I invite people in via my blog, but that is on my terms. I can frame the pictures any way I like.

Benjamin Vogt said...

E--Check, check, check, check. :)
A--I love being alone, silence when I want it, stillness when I need it, my own thoughts are plenty loud enough! Yes, a blog is on your own terms, as is most writing, which is why I / we write. Perfect.

James Golden said...

That's a huge number of visitors. I don't know anything about garden coaching, but what do you have to lose since you have the summer off? I'm curious. With so many visitors, were you surprised by any visitors' reactions, startled by any unexpected questions, enlightened by any?

Benjamin Vogt said...

James--It'd appear I have much more than the summer off, thanks to budget cuts. More on that later. As for my garden visitors, I was surprised at how eager many folks seemed to be about native plants. I was not surprised that some folks refused to believe me what a plant was, and that I do not fertilize my garden or do much weeding. I honestly spend more time on my lawn than the garden (or one could do that, I'm a dabbler).

I heard a lot of oos and aaahs when people first entered the garden, and many folks told me I had the best garden on the tour (one woman said she was going to go home halfway through she was so bored, but then she ran into someone who said she had to see mine--but that was her value judgement). Several folks got upset and defensive when I said Asclepias tuberosa does NOT attract many insects or monarch caterpillars. I also had many people dragging me around asking what something was, then writing it down. That was inspiring to know I influenced them in that way.

But I know you're more interested in design and such, so I did hear one person say it was impressive how complete of an ecosystem seemed to exist in such a small space, all the variety (without massing, yet still cohesive and not a hodge podge) as in, 1500 feet was like a patch of 1500 acres. I never think of my garden as small, but I suppose it is.

Certainly had smart people come through, but for the most part no one "smart" came up to me and argued or made "suggestions," they mostly came up and agreed with my choices and my aesthetic. But who knows for sure.

scottweberpdx said...

Wow...just watched your video tour...I'm even more enamoured of your garden now! Love the little shout-out to Senna! If I was still in NE, I would have definitely made a trip out to tour your garden...but this was the next best thing. The Callirhoe coming up through the bench was such a great, spontaneous little vignette. Which Baptisia is that to the left of the path, about half way through the vid...it's huge!

Les said...

Though not a garden coach, I recommend to anyone interested in the business of horticulture to get over any illusions about making good money. However, it is better to realize you would rather work at what you love before spending a life doing something else. Good luck to you!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Scott--When will transporters be invented? Until then we have YouTube. I love that bench pic--a still shot is on the top right of the blog on the Flickr stream.
Les--As a writer and part time prof, I have no financial delusions of grandeur, I assure you. But even a few hundred bucks would be nice. Nicer would be doing something I enjoy. Like writing and teaching.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Scott--Baptisia 'Twilight Prairieblues.' About 4 years old, and getting munched on a tone by some grey beetle.

Christine B. said...

You didn't blow a gasket during the tour...I'd say you have the right temperment to be a garden coach. So far, that's been a service people want me to do for free. I keep telling them, OK but don't tell anyone I did this for you. And then I'm surprised I keep getting asked. Well, as grandpa says, you can't fix stupid.

Good luck with your new coaching adventure.

Christine in Alaska, dumb pro bono garden coach

Benjamin Vogt said...

Christine--For free is silly. Yer grandpappy is wrong. Trust me. People owe you interest.

James Golden said...

I think it's fairly common not to get informed comments at such events. I suppose it depends a lot on who the sponsoring organization is, and how that affects the level of knowledge of people who come to garden tours. You certainly got a positive response, and lots of interest. Just curious about people's reactions to a garden like yours, which I see as in the broad "prairie garden" category.

Benjamin Vogt said...

James--I figure the informed folks were usually the more talkative, but who knows for sure. And I don't know if I can keep believing my garden is in the prairie category--I'd like to think so, but it's starting to resemble a cottage garden, unfortunately. I've been trying to fill in with grasses, but that's harder than establishing shrubs after the tall perennials are unleashed.

Jenn said...

Garden Coaching.

Susan Harris has been blogging and sharing her knowledge and gardens for many years now. She started coaching several years back:

http://www.thegardeningcoachblog.com/

Benjamin Vogt said...

Jenn--Thanks, I'd forgotten about Susan's website. I'm going to have to go grassroots on spreading the word, because selective advertising ain't working.