I should stop being surprised that people read my Twitter feed, but it’s a pleasant shock when some blurb about weeding out grass hits a chord with someone and they reply. Sometimes I get a “Retweet.” They are more rare, but I don’t find them as satisfying. I’d rather interact with someone directly—to a point. It’s okay to strike up a conversation, but not for more than, say, 9 or 10 ripostes. After that, fellow Tweeps start making asides along the lines of “get a room.” Rightly so.
What surprises me most of all about Tweeting about my garden is how everyone presumes I’m an “expert” gardener or some kind of guru. There have been several instances where I mention that I’ve acquired a plant and people have Tweeted me, asking for a diagnosis or a tip on how to make their own plant grow. Granted, I usually research plants pretty thoroughly before I buy them, so I will usually tell them what I know from what information I’ve gleaned, preceded by the caveat of “This is a guess.”
Asking me for advice is flattering, but I am not an expert, people. When I describe myself as a “dilettante gardener” in my bio, you may think I’m just being clever or coy, especially since I also describe myself as an “ersatz absurdist,” but really, I’m still in amateur territory. I can’t say how long I’ve been gardening as I could argue I’ve been gardening ever since I was a kid pulling weeds in my mother’s garden. If I had to peg it down, I would say I’ve been actively gardening for 12 years. I did work in a nursery, but mostly as a cashier and a watering- & deadheading-flunkie. I did take some horticulture classes in college, but nothing that required time in a lab or greenhouse. I do belong to several plant societies and am involved in the local native plant society, but I still consider myself very much to be a beginner there and rely heavily on books for plant identification. This is hardly the C.V. of an expert.
Not an expert.
Yet, I will say that I’m an amateur and no longer a beginner. I can read gardening books that list off plants in their latin names and I know what they are talking about, and photo-less plant catalogs are no longer inscrutable, so that’s progress. It’s only been about 4 or 5 years now that I’ve been growing things from seed so I still have a long ways to go there, but it’s better than nothing. And, I try to never give advice about areas in which I have no knowledge at all, which turns out to be a lot.
Of course, given that many experts are continually learning about new plants, maybe it means we’re all still dilettantes and amateurs. Except Panayoti Kelaidis. He is an expert. You should be reading his blog instead.