running a virtual gardening group during covid19

You would think because I garden, I was the soul of patience with human beings, and sadly I am not. I try, but often I fail miserably.

My virtual gardening group has a couple thousand members. And given the world in which we live where Coronavirus/ Covid19 is keeping us all home, things like virtual gardening groups are exploding.

Like with any virtual group, there are a million personalities. Mostly good, some irritating. I sadly removed a person today.

I had posted about one of my favorite native shrubs, Itea. Otherwise known as Virginia Sweetspire. A woman who used to own a nursery between Chestertown, MD and Chesapeake City introduced my late father and I to it years ago. We were looking for shrubs that could take some partial shade and not mind it wet — it was a slightly low spot in the garden at my parents’ house. There weren’t many in that garden but there were a few.

Well, I liked the shrub so much with its gently arching branches and white spires of flowers in the spring that I have planted this shrub in every garden I could since. I even planted it at the top of a riparian buffer of one garden. I have a few scattered here and there in my current garden and I always recommend them to people because it’s a lovely understated shrub that people forget exists.

Itea is also known as Virginia Willow and it’s a shrub that many consider good for erosion control because of its suckering roots. That’s why you will sometimes see it growing on creekbanks or something like that.

Anyway this woman asked if it attracted bees because she was thinking about planting it around her deck. I told her it was a native shrub, how I had planted it before as well as in my current garden, but I did not know how to answer that intelligently because anything that flowers whether it’s a shrub or something else will generally attract bees.

Well that sent this woman into a swivet . She told me it sounded like I knew how to answer the question intelligently, just not nicely.

HUH? How was I not nice? How do you have a garden without bees? Isn’t that why we garden in part to help the bees? I am allergic to bees, but I still garden. So seriously how do you garden without bees? AstroTurf? (Which I did not say.)

I told her I was sorry if she didn’t think I was being nice but I answered honestly. This woman persisted in telling me that I was mean, that I should be quiet, needed a lesson in being nice, and oh yes, I should just “go away.”

HUH? It’s my group. So I thought I could go back-and-forth with her but why? I removed her from the group. I don’t have time for people like that in the current framework of what we are dealing with just trying to live day to day. Gardening is supposed to make you happy not want to tell people they are mean for I guess telling you what you didn’t want to hear.

I think part of the other problem here is people are cagey and a lot of people are talking about gardening but they’re really not doing it. And it might do their head good to get out digging the dirt a little in a time like this. 

I will note I have been trying to be outside actually gardening versus monitoring this group. So I check in here and there and I answer a question or I post an article about gardening or some photos. A lot of times people just have to get out there and experience it themselves. You can’t get all the answers always from other people virtually you have to do some of your own like work and apply your own sweat equity.

We are living in oddly uncertain times for the foreseeable future. None of us are used to being told we really shouldn’t go out at all. But this is our new normal and really what is the alternative? Not so pleasant.

So please enjoy your virtual gardening groups wherever you live but also remember there’s a real garden waiting for you outside that will make you feel better.

Happy gardening!

One comment

  1. Thank you for keeping the group going in spite of people. The walks through your garden and insights as to what you have planted and why have been helpful and enjoyable. Happy gardening during these unsettled times!


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