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.



  1. Hey Dee,
    Didn’t know much about Pinterist, so thanks for the enlightenment. Seems like it could be helpful to find inspiration to weed and water after you’re reminded of the payoff.
    Still love those red and green glass leaves. Where did you find them? Very Chihuly, my dear friend.

  2. Kari says:

    I too, started playing with Pinterest in it’s infancy. I’m a maker and not a writer so for me the visuals were key. Rather than Flickr though, I’m actively involved on Instagram. My work has been influenced by noticing what I’m drawn to, both in what I photograph and with the photographers I follow. (I’m karibaskets across social media platforms.)

  3. Carol says:

    I’m a casual user of Pinterest at best, but do find that by going over my pins, I can see what I like. I like natural elements in gardens, lots of green and lush, and oh, I definitely need to go to England to see gardens there!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      It’s also a fun place to collect recipes and stuff. Anything to find a bit of fun on the Net.

  4. I was a late joiner of pinterest and still do not use it a lot. I very seldom re-pin and prefer to just add my own photos to my boards. There is getting to be a lot of duplication, after all there are only so many good photos out there. I prefer boards with original content even if the photography is not outstanding.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Adding our own photos is a great way to join the conversation. I add some of my own photos too. You are right about the duplication. I’m glad now when Pinterest tells me I’ve already pinned something to a board. I may repin it to another, but at least I know.~~Dee

  5. Sue Ellen says:

    I do use and enjoy Pinterest. Most of my boards center around my love for gardens. I use one board for interesting plant combinations. By keeping them together it is easy for me to find again if I am trying to plan an area of my garden. I always try to click through so that I can see where the image came from. I have found some wonderful blogs when I do this. The amount of time that I have to spend on the site varies with the seasons, and whether I am researching a particular subject.

  6. Annie Earley says:

    Are you having problems logging in to Pinterest? I have had an off again on again problem when I try to log in with my email. The space for email address will only let me put in a few characters. I can’ t get my whole email address in so then it says email invalid. In the past have been able to get in by notifications of pins sent to my email. Just go to Pinterest from there and log in there. Today this is not working either. I have contacted Pinterest Help in the past and thought it was fixed and again this morning was just curious if you have had this problem?

  7. I’ve wondered about Pinterest from time to time but have never been drawn to it. I was drawn to your beautiful glass grass leaves though and started to hunt the internet for a plant called a ‘Blown Glass Plant’. Oh dear!

  8. I absolutely love Pinterest, but I’ve been neglecting it lately. It always feels like too much fun and like a guilty pleasure, so I don’t see it as “work.” I think I need to get over that tendency. I have several boards, but I need to revisit Pinterest. Thanks for the permission. 😉

  9. Jason says:

    I don’t use Pinterest. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just that I feel my available time is pretty well used up on the blog. I think I am what they call a late adapter – but maybe by the time I get around to adapting to Pinterest it will have less to offer, or there will be something else that has superseded it. That is the problem for me with social media. I like to get used to something and then stick with it, which I guess is not a realistic approach for this environment.

  10. Greg says:

    I use pinterest to capture ideas. and have boards according to subject matter from other peoples pins. I really haven’t graduated forward to a high degree. Maybe I need to organize and add my own pins. Thanks for the forum. btw…I will always appreciate you red dirt photo….it reminds me of my days in rural Oklahoma.

  11. Cindy, MCOK says:

    You’ve given me some ideas, Dee … thank you!

  12. Frances says:

    What a thoughtful and thought provoking post, Dee, my friend, well done! I love Pinterest and sort of went crazy with it in the beginning, pinning everything and anything to just one board. I didn’t even realize there were boards! After sorting that out, I still pin like crazy. It is like having a million magazines for tear sheet ideas on any topic imaginable. Cooking recipes, fashion, shoes, gardening, smart sayings, funny cat pix, it’s all there, all the time, with new stuff constantly being added from all over the world. Has it changed my gardening? No, but it has enriched my life and my husband will vouch for the good recipes that have enriched the menu here.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Have you bought any clothes simply because of things you’ve found on Pinterest? I definitely have. Sometimes, I’m sad though when I find something, and they are out of it.

  13. Great perspective, Dee!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hey Linda, lovely seeing your here. I do enjoy pinning. I just wish it hadn’t turned into a spammer’s paradise.

  14. Annie Earley says:

    Had a little kerfuffle with posting. So sorry if I double comment.
    After hearing you speak Dee, I have been thinking about approaching my Master Gardener group about doing Pinterest. We could have boards for our various activities, whats growing in our gardens, container combos, etc.
    On my personal Pinterest I started a Garden Journal Board. I have always saved my plant tags and taped into notebooks. I then make notes as to how things grow. Plan is to do this on Pinterest. As in years past, I have gotten behind in the busy planting season, but I have saved all my tags. I will catch up in the heat of summer, when I get up at 6am to water & weed & am back in the house by 10am.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Annie, this is a great way to use Pinterest. I love how organized you are. When you really get your account and the Master Gardener groups up and going, I’d like to follow you.

  15. Holleygarden says:

    I don’t pin, but I do love that you have figured out what you will enjoy most in your own garden (such as the shininess of the glass and glazed pots). I would pin, but you have to have a FB or Twitter account, and I don’t do either of those (and don’t want to).

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Holley, you can’t use create a login? I started with an original login with just Pinterest. Maybe they changed things?

  16. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I don’t know why but I have never started Pinterest. I guess I don’t collect enough stuff to pin. I will have to give it a look some time. I still like blogs best. Now google is stopping their reader. I am gonna miss that too. I don’t like any of the other feeds I have tried so far. I guess that is another subject.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, have you tried BlogLovin? I think it’s similar to Google Reader. I also use Pocket, but I find I don’t get to it as quick as I did to the GR. Plus, I now subscribe to many of the blogs I read. It’s sad to lose GR.

  17. tara dillard says:

    Blog is where time is spent. Did create a Pinterest account, do little with it currently.

    Result? Huge. Pinterest became one of the top referrers to my blog quickly.

    Strange, in the past few days, Twitter has jumped to the top referrer on my blog. Again, have a Twitter account but do little with it.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    1. Dee Nash says:

      You too Tara. Thanks for your perspective. I still spend a lot of time on the blog. I also love Twitter and Facebook. I wish I didn’t, but there are different friends in each of the places.

  18. Nell Jean says:

    Pinterest started out just wonderful. There was an interval where I deleted some wonderful pins when it was believed that copyright was going to be a real issue.

    Pinterest evolved and now I think it has devolved. Example: Donna Jenkin’s ‘Tinker’ house used to get credited. Now it is credited to everybody but dreyne. Pity.

    I agree that it is a marvelous way to see the best of designers like Deborah Silver and Matthew Mead. I usually see their blogs first; pins just reinforce.

    I think I’ll go weed my pins now.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Nell Jean, I think you hit the nail on the head. I’m not on Pinterest as much as I once was precisely because of these reasons. I still go over there every once in a while though.

  19. Dee I am just finding time to get started on Pinterest so your thoughts and ideas are a great help. I am putting together boards only I can see of my gardens to help me first…eventually I will release them to see. I also found lots of pins from my blog with the proper credit. I have not started pinning from other places yet though.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Donna, I’m so glad to help.

  20. Thanks Dee, I too am stretched social media wise, and have not even looked at Pinterest for that reason. But, you inspire to to check into it seriously for my orchid designs. It is also fabulous that you note the connection between fashion and gardening. I grew up in a garden (my dad and grandad) and fashion (my mom was a master seamstress and we only did 72 piece vogue patterns). My designs come out of that background. yep, it’s true. best and know folks are reading and appreciating, Peggy

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Peggy, it would be a great way to share your orchid designs. I would enjoy seeing them on Pinterest.

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