Stephanie Rose grew up in a big city without a garden. But when she bought her first house, she slowly started freshening up her outdoor beds with flowers. Before you know it, she had transformed her garden and was on a journey to transform her surroundings by getting her hands dirty with new DIY projects and recipes. Today, she shares her discoveries on her popular blog, Garden Therapy. See how Stephanie uses Pinterest to find ideas and use collaborative boards to build a community with other gardening enthusiasts.
Tell us about yourself, how you got into gardening, and ultimately started blogging?
Unlike a lot of gardeners, I didn’t spent my childhood days puttering around the garden. I grew up a city girl without a garden to play in nor the thought to do so. Once I bought my first house I started by freshening up the beds with some flowers, perennials, and then vegetables. Before I knew it, I was growing hundreds of varieties of plants on my small urban city lot and the physical pain that plagued me for years was easing.
I started Garden Therapy as a way to log the transformation of the garden and share my thoughts and photos. It was such a healing journey that I wanted to find ways to get others involved. I began writing DIY garden projects in response to questions from readers on how to get started. I now have almost 500 easy to follow projects, recipes, and crafts that will get people out for even a short while for some garden therapy. I hope that once they tackle a project, they will get hooked like me!
More and more people are getting the green thumb. Why do you think gardening is worth getting into?
Gardening is such a rewarding activity, you get to enjoy the gorgeous blooms, fragrant flowers, or tasty fruit from your hard work. But more than that, it feeds your body and soul. The fresh air and sunshine are good for you, no doubt, but breaking a sweat turning soil or planting an herb garden are just as healing. As you stretch, balance, dig, lift, and squat, you’ll be surprised you ever needed a gym membership. And a connection with nature is not something that you can replace indoors. All that fresh air, exercise, and beauty really is healing for the body and soul.
What are some easy projects you’d recommend for someone looking to finally start adding some green to their garden this spring?
Start some seeds! Why not get down to the grassroots of gardening? You can save money and enjoy the magic of seed starting at home, plus it’s rewarding to sit down to a meal that you started from seed. I recommend deciding on what you want to grow and then starting with one or two kinds of seeds. Pick ornamental plants that you would typically buy as annuals and start the seeds indoors. Create an instant flower bed just by scattering a package of mixed flower seeds. If you want to try edible plants, pick vegetables that you love and that grow well in your area. One of the most popular plants to start from seed is tomatoes. You can get all sorts of heirloom varieties in seed that you won’t find as bedding plants.
We caught your “bringing the outdoors in” boards on Pinterest. How do you find inspiration or ideas on Pinterest?
My home is filled with wood, stone, plants, and flowers, but not in the same way they would be found outdoors. I have photographs of my garden flowers printed on throw cushions that decorate my couch. I have coasters made from a special cedar tree that was cut down in my neighbourhood. I’m delighted to find that others on Pinterest have found ways to bring the beauty of the garden indoors as well. From decorative terrariums and string gardens to botanical prints and moss as art, the “bringing the outdoors in” board if full of ideas on how creative pinners out there celebrate the beauty of nature, year-round and indoors.
I follow a diverse group of people on Pinterest who pin gardening, crafts, food, and home decor in different styles. I love my news feed! There are so many brilliant ideas that scroll down my screen. When I see an example of something from nature being used indoors in a unique or stylish way, I add that to the bringing the outdoors in board.
You have a lot of group boards too. Can you share more about how you collaborate with the gardening community on Pinterest?
Gardening has always been a collaborative activity. Seed sharing, harvest parties, tips passed down through generations are ways the knowledge used to be shared. Collaborative boards are the virtual manifestation of the generosity of the gardening community and the way a new group if gardeners passes on their best practices.
The first board I joined was the Garden Writers United, a board filled with the wisdom of those who write about gardening professionally. The collective wisdom on this board is nothing short of astounding. Next, I joined some craft and DIY boards as I found my projects blurred the lines of pure gardening and pure home improvement or crafts.
I’ve since met a group of garden bloggers who have a similar style and we have come together as The Garden Charmers. We use Pinterest to share our projects with each other and with our collective readers.
I recently started my first group board, Quirky Gardening, to celebrate all that is non-traditional and a wee bit strange out there in the gardening world. You will find people have turned just about anything you can think of into a container garden (typewriter, toaster, flip flops!), they like to wear plants as jewelry or clothes, or turn the strangest things into garden art.
Like anywhere else on the internet, there is a lot of good information available, but there is also misinformation. Some gardening tips that I have seen flow through my Pinterest timeline are cute but just plain wrong. Whether it is scientific inaccuracy or gardening tips that set beginners up to fail, not everything you read is correct. The group boards that I love best are those filled with the wisdom of true gardeners with dirty fingernails and full harvest baskets.
What if someone doesn’t have a yard or lives in a big city without space? What about Winter?
I don’t live in a large space, I have been able to garden successfully in the city. For small spaces, container gardens are a great solution. They can be grown on balconies or decks and can be full of beautiful flowers or edible treats. Another popular small space gardening trend is vertical gardening. If you can find a wall with some sun, you can certainly garden. Plus, this is much kinder to your back!
Winter-schminter! It may be a bit harder to dig in the soil but there are all sorts of activities you can do in the winter to get in your garden therapy. Each year I make a fresh evergreen wreath and holiday planters for the house. I also do a lot of sprouting indoors so I have fresh greens even if the garden is covered in snow. Winter edibles are becoming very popular with the use of cold frames, greenhouses, and hoop houses you can extend the season and still be harvesting dinner in your snow boots.
What’s growing as your next project for your garden or plate right now?
I became a mom last year so this gardening season will be all about how to garden with a little one. I’ve always planted things for my family and children in the neighbourhood, like ground cherries and blueberries they can pick with me, or herbs they can taste. I’ve taught kids about farming and agriculture as part of my volunteer work as a Master Gardener. But this year I will be balancing my garden therapy with creating a garden playground for my son to explore and grow with.