October 3rd, 2018
Austin Monthly’s Best Gardening Websites

Austin Monthly Best Gardening website Zathan Gardens


And now ten years later, I see how prescient I was. But perhaps spring has finally come after a long winter.

Dateline: December 31, 2008

I experienced quite a thrill when I opened up the December 2008 issue (The Cool Issue) of Austin Monthly to the “Keep Austin Wired” section and saw Zanthan Gardens listed among Austin’s best gardening websites, along with The Natural Gardener and the city’s Grow Green sites.

Austin frequently ranks among the geekiest spots in America and when it comes to garden geekiness, it has no close contenders. As 2008 draws to an end, Blotanical lists 31 Austin garden blogs. (I can no longer keep up with them all.) So to be singled out…well, I squealed with delight.

I’m surprised, too. After eight years of writing Zanthan Gardens, my passions are shifting. 2008 has seen a series of transitions at Zanthan Gardens, both virtual and real. It began with the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling and meeting many people I knew only through their garden photos and writing. Spring Fling was an intoxicating experience: a reunion of old friends who had never met before. And bonus! I got my photograph in the Austin American-Statesman, garden blogging in the meadow.

After Spring Fling, I became more interested in chatting over the back fence with my fellow gardeners than with writing about my own experiences. This, combined with a really awful summer in Austin, has resulted in a dearth of posts these last eight months. I spent most of my time reading other people’s blogs, leaving comments. Then I discovered Twitter and blogging seemed cumbersome and so 2006.

I’m dissatisfied with garden blogging. I think there are going to be some changes. My interests are focused elsewhere and it’s so easy to keep up the social side via other channels. I find that I long for a winter, a true winter–time to be dormant and still. In Austin, of course, we have no dormant season. The garden To Do list is always full. And as Austin’s drought continues, I find myself just limping along…tired of the dust, tired of watering, tired of waiting for rain.

In some ways it is all those other gardens I’ve read about via your blogs that has made me dissatisfied. They’ve given me an itch to be elsewhere, to garden elsewhere, to grow different plants, to have different seasons (admittedly, I don’t think I could handle your winters). I do truly believe that one must garden where one is–we mustn’t try to turn the desert into Wales. Although others make very successful gardens in Austin, the challenges no longer arouse my interest. The garden is no longer a refuge; we are at odds.

Being a gardener, I recognize that dormancy is a natural state. Sometimes in late spring I worry over a plant, looking for buds, scraping the bark for a sign of green and wonder if it’s going to spring back with Spring or if it’s dead and brown forever. As for Zanthan Gardens, all things to their season.

Austin Monthly Best Gardening website Zathan GardensAustin Monthly Best Gardening website Zathan Gardens

by M Sinclair Stevens

16 Responses to post “Austin Monthly’s Best Gardening Websites”

  1. From bill/prairie point:

    you really are the best, you know.

  2. From Gail:

    MSS, You do mine deeply! It’s one of the reasons I read your posts and enjoy them so much….you write what is often tickling and rattling about in one’s unconscious! I have to agree with Bill’s comments completely!


  3. From Steve Mudge(Fort Worth):

    I kind of sensed your waning interest this last few months…but know that I have enjoyed your blog and my best wishes for wherever your bliss takes you in this new year!

  4. From Jenny Austin:

    You can’t just quit now that I have found garden blogging! What will happen to your garden? I know it’s tough but surely you still have that urge to go outside and plant and watch every little seed that pops up and share with the rest of us. Or is it a done deed. I bet you’ll be back. I hope.

  5. From Vertie:

    I think you are as always ahead of the trends. I’ve also found Twitter to be easier to use regularly, but I do still enjoy your posts.

    And I am also feeling a bit tired of the garden. Too much watering. By spring I may have regained my zeal.

    (And I must have a word with the author of that article–I know him, and yet I’m not mentioned. Maybe he doesn’t know my alter ego or maybe he just knows that I don’t know gardening like you do.)

  6. From Don:

    You need to come visit me here in Iowa for a couple of weeks in January and shovel some snow; you will go back to Austin with renewed appreciation of your little spot in the world.

  7. From Layanee:

    For every season there is a purpose…eight years of blogging? Kudos to you and thank you for sharing your garden. Maybe you just need a bit of a break from the garden blogging. It may be a challenge to find new subjects to discuss via the garden after that amount of time. It hasn’t been quite two years for me and I fear that I am being repetitious! Heaven forbid. Anyway, Happy New Year and congrats on the mention in the article!

  8. From our friend Ben in Pennsylvania:

    Hi MSS! I too have missed you and wondered where you were and what you were up to. Thanks so much for letting us know what you’re doing and thinking! Your blog is wonderful and deserves repeated recognition—congratulations on the latest! I wish you all the best in 2009, and have a strong feeling that you’ll be back, in some form or other, if you feel you have something to say. Your honesty, even when you’re tackling something difficult, is one of the things I admire most about you!!!

  9. From Linda San Antonio:

    I was an AF brat, who lived in places with much better climate too. My parents had to drag me from Wisconsin, kicking and screaming.

    I hate our summers.

    I’ve also lived in Seattle and California-which would be considered climate paradise.

    Wisconsin has a “real winter” and believe me there is a lot of necessary “outdoor” time, shoveling snow, starting cars.

    I would rather garden than shovel snow.

    Our summers just about kill me. It would be nice, if we didn’t have to constantly water, fight bugs, and funguses in the awful Texas heat.

  10. From Diana - Austin:

    MSS – that is quite the honor, and so well-deserved. You’re a pioneer and you give the rest of us so much for which to strive. In blogging, and in gardening. But only you can know your heart and if you need a break, more power to you. I can sympathize – I am here in fits and starts and sometimes it’s just too much work…even the reading and commenting. I hope a nice little dormancy and we’ll see you back on a more regular basis as the Spring meadow peeks out at you from the kitchen window. Peace. (Maybe breakfast next week?)

  11. From Pam:

    Whenever I visit your site, I always learn something – either about a plant or how to grow it, or reinforcement of why I go ‘to the trouble’ of gardening in the first place. I rarely leave comments, but I always come away with something interesting. All things evolve – and I’m guessing that whatever direction you decide to go in, that it will be interesting too.

  12. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    This dormancy thing is not all it appears… like Don said, a visit to some snow and ice would convince you… I’ve been iced in twice so far this winter, and we are just barely getting started.

    Your blog is one of the best, an anchor in this growing and expanding world of gardening blogs, a place we can come back to and see how it is done, and done well.

    I read your post about larkspur so I’m hopeful that indeed your garden is drawing you back again, ready for another round… and I pray you get the rain you need…

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  13. From Annie in Austin:

    Dear MSS, it is most appropriate for an Austin magazine to recognize you as one of the coolest sites – you’d racked up years of archives and observations before most gardeners knew that garden blogs existed. And even if you never posted again, what you’ve written has more substance and less fluff than 6 ordinary blogs put together.

    But as your faithful reader, I sure hope you will keep writing!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  14. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    I’m sorry you’re so dissatified at the moment. I will miss your posts if you do decide to stop blogging. I’m not on Twitter, so I wish you would join us on Plurk. We’re have a great time & it would be even better if you joined us. Maybe a nice sabbatical from the blog would be just the thing to refresh & renew your spirit. And yes, you should visit somewhere up North (Midwest, Vermont) in January or February to see what you’ve been missing.

  15. From ESP, Austin:

    Hi MSS.
    Sorry to hear you are dissatisfied with the blogging format, I would really like to hear more about that, being probably five years behind you!!!
    Blogging should never be a chore, personally for me, if it ever becomes one, I will stop immediately, dosn’t matter what infrastructure, or how many on-line relationships and friendships have been developed.

    I follow bloggers that post but once in a blue moon, and there is something powerful in the waiting!

    Are they ever going to post again?

    Oh but how powerful these blogs are when they do: this one always raises my blood pressure when I see a new post:


    I hope you continue. Even if it is once in a blue moon.

  16. From Bonnie:

    Thanks for being so forthcoming about what so many of us feel, yet stay quiet on the sidelines. I’ve been taking quite a few little hiatuses as my work with the master gardeners has heated up and my activities with the kids.