Four ways Pinterest changed the gardener in me.

A week or so ago, I gave a speech on how social media platforms like Pinterest changed the gardener in me. Social media is also always in flux, so I did some research especially for photo sharing services like Picasa/Google+, Photobucket and Flickr. I don’t use the last two very often because I am already overstretched social media-wise, but other gardeners certainly can. I think Flickr’s platform is beautiful.

My Flickr photostream
My Flickr photostream

I’m still on Facebook, along with Twitter and Sulia, but Pinterest is one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day of critical thinking. When pondering Pinterest and how much it has changed since its beginnings, I thought you might like to hear how it influenced my thinking and my garden. I am a writer, speaker and garden coach. One way I’ve used Pinterest is to send garden coaching clients over to my boards for ideas from my work and that of others. My favorite garden designers, like Deborah Silver and Helen Weis, use Pinterest to help their clients discover the right “feel” for their gardens and to showcase their own work. Pinterest has to boost their sense of pride in their designs when people ooh and ah over their boards.

My Pinterest Boards
My Pinterest Boards

I was an early Pinterest user, and I began playing with it to relax my writing muscles. Writing on a particular topic is work. Good work, but work nonetheless. Looking at beautiful photos is a way to take a breather, especially in winter when I can’t work as hard in the garden. I love pinning, and I’m careful to give people credit for the beauty they’ve created if I can find the source. One thing I’ve noticed recently is how junky Pinterest now feels. Pins are full of “come on” ads, which makes me sad. Spamming pins sometimes take you places on the web you don’t want to go. There are still lots of people who pin good work. I wish others would follow their lead. I’ve seen a lot of bad garden advice on Pinterest lately too. If I put a picture up for people to pin, I won’t add a bunch of advertising to the photo. It defeats the beauty of the boards.

The Board for RDR
The Board for RDR

Maybe there is a designer in me somewhere.

Swiss chard and red fountain early last spring
Swiss chard and red fountain early last spring

After I had a few pins, I began grouping boards and choosing colors I especially liked, not just in gardening, but also, in fashion. Gardening is a lot about fashion anyway. Through this, I learned four essential things about myself and my gardens.

1. Although my favorite colors are blue and green, I love red as a garden accent. This still surprises me. Red is a powerful and hot color. Although I like bright hues in garden plants, I was surprised at my choice for red in permanent accents like blown glass in my back garden, or the fountain in the potager. Gardener know thyself, I guess.

The red and green glass leaves in the back garden.
The red and green glass leaves in the back garden.

2. I live in a dry and dusty climate for most of the summer. In 2011 and 2012, we were in the third year of a desperate drought. Because water is difficult to keep flowing in garden fountains, I need that look elsewhere to feel cool. How did Pinterest help me discover this? I collect blue and white china, especially flow blue, and I pinned a lot of it to boards. I placed these same boards next to ones of swimming pools, fountains and other water sources. Because I could move boards around, I realized what I really love is the look of shiny surfaces. Blown glass has this look as do glazed pots. Once I knew this, I placed all three in accents throughout the garden. This shininess helps me survive the long days of summer.

Hemerocallis 'Cosmic Kaleidoscope' daylily
Just look at the pattern on Hemerocallis ‘Cosmic Kaleidoscope.’

3. Complicated patterns and interesting shapes tickle my fancy. Once again, Pinterest came to the rescue. I knew to mix up texture and leaf shapes in the garden, but I didn’t think about how much these two things were part of my style. I now look for complicated duck-foot coleus and other plants to get the colors and interesting shapes I desire. The Under the Sea collection of coleus put out by Hort Couture are good examples. I bought most of the collection for my garden this year. I found it at Precure Nursery in Oklahoma City.

Kingswood Torch coleus
‘Kingswood Torch’ coleus is not a duck foot, but it is a beautiful shape and color.

4. Colorful foliage is a must-have. Pinterest allowed me to collect all the different coleus and alternanthera I desire in one place for easy reference. A. ficoidea Red Threads’ is only one of many varieties I grow for color. I share my coleus board with a friend. She and I add to our board fairly often, but especially when planning our gardens during the deep, dark recesses of winter.

So, those are four ways Pinterest changed the gardener in me. Have you used Pinterest? Are you a responsible Pinner? Do you give credit to those people and places from which you pin? If you like Pinterest, I’d be excited to hear how you use it. I’m planning a talk about it for another group later in the year. I’m open to ideas. Also, if you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, here’s how.