September 4th, 2006
Vlogging the Drought of 2006

This isn’t exactly a vlog…I don’t talk to the camera. Now that I have my video camera back and a larger disk drive on my computer, I’m looking forward to exploring a new medium for communicating what’s happening in the garden.

The last question on Kathy Purdy’s panel discussion on garden blogging asks us what we see for the future of gardeners on the internet. Well, I’m addicted to YouTube, so I see vlogging in our future.

A vlog, or video log is just that…a blog entry via video. The best vlogs have people talking to you right into the camera. It’s incredibly intimate. You feel like their secret confidant. As some of you have inferred, I’m a rather private person. This site’s not about me, but my garden. So in this video (not strictly an example of a vlog) I keep behind the camera and let the garden speak for itself.

Oh, yes. Most videos have sound and this one doesn’t. I’m pretty new to making videos and this already took far more time than I wanted to invest in it.

by M Sinclair Stevens

12 Responses to post “Vlogging the Drought of 2006”

  1. From Stuart (Australia):

    Great video M. I agree that vlogging will definitely become a big part of the where the blogosphere heads.

    However, one point that you made regarding the time involved, not to mention the expertise required, will limit the spread of these especially in non-tech topics.

    I think for the time being they will be relegated to the novelty department until things like broadband, easier video editing software and the price of video hardware grow from just innovators.

    Vlogs are time-consuming! to make and to view. I was also disappointed to view a video I made on a friend’s machine who has a high-speed internet connection but an older computer with slower video processing. The audio and video didn’t sync. The overall quality was very poor. — mss

  2. From Sue:

    The video didn’t need sound – in fact it would have spoilt it. The pictures said it all.

    Yeah…I couldn’t think of a right cheerful ditty to go with the footage and it was already past midnight. I took the narration out, too. — mss

  3. From M2 (Austin):

    Well, they’re right. A picture is worth 1,000 words, and a video even more. I knew that the drought had hit you hard, but now I see the devastation and the time that it will take to … not recover, but rebuild.

    I’m sorry.

    You live within 10 miles of me…didn’t it hit you hard, too? I’ve been feeling lately that I’m just not a very good gardener. However, one of the reasons I keep a garden journal is to provide a perspective over time. And comparing today with photos of other years reminds me that I’ve had many successes over the years. September is sometimes lush and green. New beginnings are new opportunities for exploration.

    Garden designs exist in time in a way that interior home designs do not–something that people who “install” landscapes don’t communicate well. Garden time runs in cycles. August 2006 might have been Austin’s hottest but August 2004 was Austin’s 4th coolest. Which reminds me…it’s unusually gloomy this morning, cooler with a bit of rain dripping off the roof. Maybe we’ll have a real rain today. I should be outside enjoying this weather. Time to step away from the computer and roll up my sleeves. — mss

  4. From Kathy (New York):

    It does convey the damage quite dramatically. Once upon a time, posting anything online took a lot of time. I’m trying (and failing) to imagin. the equivalent of Blogger for vlogs . . . Unless? Is it YouTube?

    Yep, it’s YouTube. YouTube is going through growing pains, though. It took me two hours and two tries to upload this video last night. But on the days it does work, it’s pretty cool. However, it will be years before everyone’s computers and connections are robust enough to take full advantage of video. And if the ISPs have their way with the US Congress, bloggers might get shut out of video altogether.

    Kathy, thanks again for including me in your wonderful series. I enjoyed reading everyone’s responses and had a blast participating. -. M

  5. From bill (Texas):

    I’m still working with a dial-up connection at my new “digs” so I can’t really appreciate it yet. Hopefully the installer will come soon and get us fixed up.

    But that “time” element you mentioned is scary to me. I already spend more time in front of this machine than I want to.

    Bill, I think the time element certainly is one reason that most vloggers are in their teens and twenties–with the exception of the famous geriatric1927. And I think younger people tend to have better, newer, faster computers. Also they grew up in front of the camera (all those proud parents videotaped their every moment). I don’t feel at ease in front of the camera, or sharing my private life over the internet. — mss

  6. From r sorrell (Austin):

    The video definately gets the point across, but there’s no way I’d spend that much time trying to put one on my blog. I can certainly appreciate them on other people’s blogs, though.

  7. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    M., you asked M2 (Austin) whether the drought hit her as hard as it did your garden. I live within 10 miles of you too and have definitely lost some plants that are normally very hardy, plus I’ve had to water more than in a normal summer. But my garden suffered nowhere near as much as yours. I have to ask, do you irrigate or is it survival of the fittest? Like me, you seemed to have a lot of native or well-adapted species in your garden, so I’m wondering why it fared so poorly. In one frame, I noticed that even a variegated agave looked drought-stricken.

    I was upset by your vlog. It was like seeing a friend’s dead dog lying in the street. I’ll be glad to share volunteers and divisions from my garden with you next spring. Hang in there.

    Thanks, Pam and Annie and everyone who’s offered to share plants. Before I begin any replanting I’m going to continue mulling hard over my recent failures…not to mope but to figure out where I went wrong. I’ve been working on writing it up and I have quite a few theories so stay tuned.

    Yes, I do irrigate but only my most expensive and/or non-native plants, such as the roses, the magnolia, the ginkgo. Coincidentally these are my newest plants and so they are not as well established and I thought they needed extra care. More on this next post. — mss

  8. From Annie in Austin:

    M, maybe for you it’s less about being a good gardener, and more about being a good scientist? You’ve been a true and resolute recorder of what happens over a 13-year time frame in a specific area. By using your own garden, you resemble those doctors who test new vaccines on themselves. It’s very brave and adds to the sum of human knowledge, but there also can be a high price.

    The video just knocked me over: Point/counterpoint; place in time/silence. Your discipline astounds me.


    Annie, you have the most astonishing way with words. You have really touched me. You have the secret of me. — mss

  9. From Annie in Austin:

    Coming from someone with your talents, that’s a major compliment and affected me emotionally, too. Thank you, because there is effort involved, and it takes me a long time to eke out these works. The sheer volume of what you have posted, with no loss in quality, is very impressive.


  10. From becky:

    Interesting blog and photos. So neat you have a video too for us.

    I hope your garden will survive the drought.

    Thanks. Fall is here now and with it an occasional chance of rain. Some things will die but others are pretty tough. So, we bumble on. — mss

  11. From Maggie:

    I’ve been trying to establish a garden for the last 3-4 years. I moved to Austin in 2000 and didn’t know the climate so it has been a steep learning curve. Viewing your vlog helps me understand that it wasn’t all me when my newly dug soil just didn’t support or nourish any plant life. I watered but that seems more like a technique in a plant ICU unit than a replacement for rain. BTW I loved the vlog. Isn’t that what keeps all gardeners going, knowing that next year will be different? At present I’m reluctant to pull up any plants (even if they fall in the weed catagory) except for the million cedar elm seedlings that are trying reproduce at a dizzying rate. The result could be called untidy but I’m wallowing in the profuseness of it all. Thanks for making your vlog available to us. It has a wonderful tranquil quality that gains by lack of words music etc.

  12. From Rachel from Austin:

    I stumbled upon this older post while googling something entirely different. Having seen your garden recently, after our crazy rainy year, it’s hard to imagine it in as rough shape as this video portrayed. Nature is good at rebuilding itself (with a fair bit of help from you, I’d wager). And so the cycle of gardening continues.

    Thank you again for the oxblood lily bulbs. I’ve planted mine amongst bulbines, and hopefully next year, they’ll be beautiful like they are in your garden. My mom and aunt were also very appreciative. I passed along all the tips you gave me about proper planting and growing habits, and I’ll try to take pictures next year. I’ve also made a first stab at a garden weblog of my own. See the link above.

    It was great to meet you guys. I hope the oxblood lilies do well for you. There will be more available next year. I look forward to reading about your garden. — mss