Maybe more intentional high-jacking would be good

Frankie_in_zone_7April 22, 2011

Ok, just slap me if this would be rude, or considered just part of life on the Internet.

So a lot of posters have a help me, foundation, what shrub, etc question. But they also post a picture.

Responders try to address the question, and design-oriented folks try to steer it toward design principles and OP education. Often the OP isn't ready for that and there's a lot of back and forth trying to meet multiple needs(which is not wrong but doesn't always work in this format). Sometimes the thread winds toward a reasonable compromise, sometimes it is "high-jacked" on a rollicking fun design tangent, and sometimes it fizzles, sometimes gets testy, or sometimes no one responds because of the desire to avoid one or all of the above.

What if more of the postings were just opportunities to discuss cool design issues illustrated by the photo (plus any other useful information in the post) and without regard (much) to the question? Could an OP "observe" the discussion and, as in the mantra, " a word to the wise" learn something even if was not the actual question ? Or would that be a huge turnoff? Would it be too "clinical" and not fuzzy-personal enough? Or have paradoxically too few constraints, and a discussion would also fizzle without more input from the real situation?

It would not be just, what would you do with this photo, but different people might say, oh, here is a classic example of the ___, here is what I did to mitigate that once; or, see the excellent use of negative space there, do you notice how it ..... Or whatever. And you wouldn't necessarily care whether the question was, what shrub should I put next to the walkway or try to make the OP see anything.

I observe that that is already being done, so this is not a news flash, but I wonder if it could be done more? More like just intentionally going all the way past the question instead of getting hung up over it.

....frankie (who also does not want to be seen as trying to dictate how threads should or should not develop or make any other rules in that regard).

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I think it's considered life on the internet that if you post something, you have no control of where it's headed afterward. If you think you do, you need to reconsider what you're doing. Personally, I don't post anything without thinking that it could end up wide and far. This makes me consider whether I want to put up a picture of my whole house and how much information to give out.

I think it does help if you can see somehow that the person didn't just join today for asking one question about what plants to put in their porch flowerbox. If they've been watching long enough, they should know that there are tangents and often those are the ones with the most useful information slowly teased out.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 2:18PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I think it's important when the OP stays involved, whether the thread gets 'hijacked' or not. I enjoy the theoretical type discussions but I also like getting a glimpse of other people's gardens and getting a feel for the personality involved. Threads where the OP disappears tend to die fast. I generally only respond on a thread when the garden/property in question appeals to me on some level.

The 'help me' questions don't bother me at all - if I'm not interested, I don't respond; if I have something to say that doesn't fit the specific query, it doesn't stop me from speaking up.

I generally like the wide range of questions and responses found here. I've participated on a few other garden forums but I've newer found anywhere where the the range of discussion matches what is found here.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 4:50PM
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That reminds me of the first time I saw an albino robin I had just returned from a walk around the garden where I was trying to remember where I had planted those red tulips last fall just before the first snow fall that made the roads so slippery that my wife couldn't get home from visiting her father who was seriously sick in the hospital and had to stay overnight in a Holiday Inn but trust me it was no holiday as the heating had not yet been turned on and she almost froze but she was home the next day in what turned out to be the coldest November day on record it was the snow that made remembering where the tulips were so difficult but they did come up along with all the other tulips I just couldn't remember which were the red ones oh yes robins

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 5:05PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Impressive run-on sentence Ink! :-)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 5:14PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Frankie, the right to do what you describe is sometimes the only difference here between feeling like a garden bot ("I'll just look it up on the internet" where we forum regulars *are* the internet) and actually feeling in control of how we spend our time! So I definitely engage.

I get a bit of a chuckle out of OPs whose response is an aggrieved "would somebody PLEASE just answer my question!!!" I'm sure they're nice people if you meet them in person but some have just not registered that we too are, in fact, people, and not handmaids who live in their computer.

The reputation of this forum is still shaped by memories and rumours of Mich, Iron Belly, and perhaps others who predate me who used to, more or less, do exactly this. Show them a site, ask a question, and be prepared to hear exactly what your problem really was and just how limited you were for your own jackass attempts! The rest of us are maybe a bit too much like American Idol after Simon Cowell has left the show. There is certainly room for all of us to "man up" a little and actually write the program.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 9:14PM
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It is a discussion forum. As far as I am concerned, I now use it to discuss what I am inspired to discuss. Sometimes I'll put a lot of effort into someones plea for help whether they like, appreciate, or ignore it. I don't do it to help them specifically. I do it to discuss with anyone interested in my sometimes twisted ways of seeing things whether they agree with me or not. I learn a lot from other people as they make unique and intersting points and of myself when I do it. If the OP gets something out of it, all the better. If they don't ... hey, thanks for the discussion material (and go hire someone if you truly value information and knowledge).

You can't hijack a thread on a discussion board. All you can do is steer the discussion in new directions.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 10:16PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Steer it in a new direction, or stop it cold, I'm good at that one.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 3:10AM
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LOL david.
Speaking of hijacking - Its snowing here. Not just snowing we have an inch of snow on the ground. What a wonderful day to meet with new clients about landscaping that you cant see.

Back to the topic...I think its an excellent observation, frankie. I have a hard time separating myself from the demands of the situation - what the OP is asking. But we really should be enjoying this forum for ourselves, not responding to others pleasure. I think that has been the problem.

@woody I like your positive spin on the whole thing.
@ink i didnt know there were albino robins? did you find the tulips?
@laag - its nice to be able to read your thoughtful posts and picture you now!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 8:27AM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

Personally, I would rather have a thread I post hijacked than ignored. Even if it's not the information you were looking for, at least you can learn something if you get feedback.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 11:23AM
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wasabi_(Z6a WesternNC)

Ink, I see you are still practicing less than subtle high-jacking with the best of them. I see you are still patiently participating along with a few other oldies...I trust you all are well and enjoying spring?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 11:14PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Flipping through a garden magazine the other day, and motivated to consult some of my garden books, I wondered if anyone does that anymore when contemplating a garden redesign. Books are useful because they go into so much more depth than can be presented in a thread on this forum. It seems we expect to be able to google everything instantaneously, but some endeavors require more development, layers of design, reflection, further thought, more design, redesign. I enjoy brainstorming, but so much stimulation and inspiration can come from books and magazines, as well as practical application.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 1:26PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Kim, I certainly do the same, and also like getting out to the local botanic gardens or driving the 'hood to get the creative juices going. I know you've got such a great collection of palms, bromeliads, succulents to work with, the hard part is probably trying to fit them all into more permanent situations and keep that diversity, while also trying for unity of design. I'd treat it as an excuse to divide big clumps and unify through repetition, or maybe a shopping excursion to favorite nurseries is in order. Hope your front garden redesign is moving along well!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 1:38PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

I'm a book person so when I finally had my own yard to landscape the first thing I did was go out and get a few books and a little pile of magazines. The biggest problem I have is figuring out how to fit the things I like from the books and mags into my landscape in a practical manner. I have a green thumb and I'm good with plants, but when it comes to designing a whole space I feel like I'm in way over my head. And my bf's friend who is a pro landscaper got swamped and super busy after meeting with us, so it's been a year since we talked and she hasn't been able to do any work on a design for us and I fear that she won't be able to for some time yet. *sigh*

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:05AM
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I do consult magazines and books for most of my designs, also. You could say I am a bookaholic... I have an excellent library of amazing garden/landscape books which I often share with my clients. I dont know what it is about reading descriptions and looking at photos and illustrations that really gets me thinking.

At the same time I do find little information of value on the internet...seems like I am using the wrong vocabulary for google.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 4:06PM
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I hope you don't mind a newbie speaking up here but I just have to say that I like reading the posts that get hijacked. Often times I don't get a lot out of the posts that center right on the OP's problem/question.

Now I admit I came here hoping someone would be able to whip up a picture that would look just like what I have in my head and have a planting diagram and everything. hahah, I know I'm so niave!

I'll admit that the investigation is half the fun, I love researching plants, borrowing gardening mags and books from family, friends and cowarokers, spending hours pouring over landscaping designs, planting arrangements, bloom time charts, figuring out mature heights and lighting requirements. I Love that part. Putting it all together into a plan in front my house scares the beejsus out of me!

So I like when I can come in and find some general instructions, things to keep in mind, real life experiences with certain design elements that I might not have thought of or never even considered. I realize now that's what I can get from this forum, not a personalized landscape plan. I just need to confidence to do that on my own :)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 4:59PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Craftlady, maybe you are researching more than necessary.

A basketball player was asked why he was scoring way more points this season over last.
"Last season I was thinking too much", he said.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 5:11AM
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Mike, I could be, that's true. But I'm not just doing it for my front yard, I have big plans for the rest of the yard as well. I just love plants (admittedly, mostly perennials) and love learning about them and playing with them (moving them around and finiding interesting combinations). The more I read about them the more information I retain.

I didn't want people to think I'm using them, that I'm not doing my own homework. I'm not lazy, I have my own ideas but I'm just looking for other alternatives and breaking the mould so to speak.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 7:59AM
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Or, do as many of my neighbor's around me have done, and copy your neighbor's design ideas. When I moved into my current home, I met with a landscaper and over a series of months, based on my needs, interests, wants, and with a little tweeking, he came up with a plan that reflects who I am and what I wanted to project. The plan anchored the new house and made it appear as if it had been there forever. They say copying is the best form of flattery, but I'm not so sure.

With all the plants, and design ideas, why do people, (right next door on both sides) have so little creativity than to do exactly what was done to my house. Don't people want their yards to be a reflection of them?

Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but if you're going to copy, at least go 3 developments over...sheesh.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 8:01AM
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I can't help but wonder if I planted the seed for this thread, over in bahia's thread, or maybe at least provided a little fertilizer for it.

Whether or not, I'm glad to see this discussion taking place, and thanks Frankie for starting it. If the regulars here don't post about things they're interested in, and they either feel obligated to post in the discussions they're not interested in or feel guilty because they don't, then the forum loses its reason for existence in the first place - the enjoyment of the regular participants.

I know a bit about starting/running a forum, and there is a concept that forum owners/admins call "setting the tone". It refers to gently steering a forum in the direction you want it to go, and is generally done by the admin and moderators when a forum is just starting. But there's no reason it can't be used to keep or put a forum back on track.

Frankie said:
What if more of the postings were just opportunities to discuss cool design issues illustrated by the photo (plus any other useful information in the post) and without regard (much) to the question? Could an OP "observe" the discussion and, as in the mantra, " a word to the wise" learn something even if was not the actual question ? Or would that be a huge turnoff?

If design issues presented by a photo are discussed, rather than addressing the specific questions, there is more opportunity for other people to learn from the discussion, than if the specific questions are answered. You might even "enlighten" someone (as craftlady says she was). As to whether it would be a huge turnoff, whether that matters depends on who you're concerned with turning off. It might be a turnoff for the person looking for free custom design services, but it probably won't be for those who read and post (and lurk, like I did for a long time) on this forum for the loftier discussions of design theory and philosophy.

Who are you trying to turn on? Regular and potential new regular participants, or one hit posters who leave without so much as a "thank you" when they get (or don't get) their answer? ;-)

LOL, Ink. drtygrl:

(from:, not me, just giving credit for the photo.)

enailes said:
With all the plants, and design ideas, why do people, (right next door on both sides) have so little creativity than to do exactly what was done to my house. Don't people want their yards to be a reflection of them?

It seems not. A lot of people, for whatever reason, seem to only want what everyone else has. I don't know if it's because they just want to fit in and not call attention to themselves, if they think it's good and they haven't been exposed to better, or if it's just laziness, but whatever the reason, regrettably, it sure is ubiquitous. (At least it is around here.)

Regarding copying: It's ok, even good, (IMO) to copy, as long as you copy the creative and then make it your own. But at least copy the creative, not the mundane. :)

Mike (botann), I want to tell you that I've had your webshots photo album bookmarked since 2007, and have returned to it over and over. Only in my dreams, my place might ever look even half as good as yours, but it is similar to what I'd like to achieve. Thanks for having it online.

Ok, ladies and gentlemen, get out there and hijack those threads! Set that tone for your forum!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 9:21PM
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Suggestions are made that this Forum needs jump starting in an effort to return it to its former glory and interest. Sadly I do not think this is possible since those posting on The Home Site side of GW suddenly discovered it and swarmed on. This group, interested in home decorating, paint colors and how to do laundry perceives landscaping plants as pieces of furniture which must occupy space within certain parameters; ie. the shrub to fill a border must grow only 2' wide and exactly 8' tall. To them a plant is an object to be put in its place and told to 'stay there'. They talk landscape design but are unwilling to pay for minimal consultations to start them off in a direction to further explore.

Some of us who follow this Forum have many years of plant and design experience. It appears that one by one we are losing interest in posting here.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 3:18PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

So hijack the threads and educate them/broaden their minds...

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 4:17PM
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@ancientdragonfly - are you sure thats not just a regular robin with frost on it?

I have to say I really enjoy reading and posting about gardening no matter what the situation is. I like the direction things are beginning to head lately on this forum, despite the overwhelming number of "help me" posts. I just hope we can keep things up as the busy spring season continues - its really hard for me to check on whats going on here when I am working 6 days a week!

I have a group of gardeners and friends I have coffee with before work all winter. Seems like we never tire of discussing garden issues - mainly bulbs for some reason! Occasionally we come in to talk about what so and so did to her garden, and why does so and so put on so much mulch - but for the main part we are discussing our dreams and hopes for our own gardens in a mutually supportive environment. I love Frankie's suggestion that the direction of this forum should be along those lines. Why should we let newbies dictate the direction of the conversation?

My coffee friends and I have a philosophy as illustrated by the link below...(you can thank me later for this amazing website:)

Here is a link that might be useful: where the conversation gets good

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 4:21PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

AARRGH! Apologies for double posting again!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 4:25PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

So hijack the threads and educate them/broaden their minds...

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 5:00PM
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So you see, you are more likely to see an albino robin (or a frosted red breast)than an ancient dragonfly. My weirdest discovery was the cocoon of a recently transformed dragonfly stuck to a rock. If you can imagine this beautiful creature locked inside medieval armor like The Man With The Iron Mask and then one day it steps out leaving the shell behind, a shell with the dragonfly's shape but devoid of colour that was it. The next stage of a dragonfly's life seems to be devoted to hovering over a forum and then suddenly dashing in with amazing insight accompanied by an Ontarian chorus.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 6:50PM
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Just when I need to be out lifting rocks, this forum comes to life... isn't winter supposed to be the time spent by the computerside?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 4:26AM
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Ink, you make me smile. Thank you. That was beautiful (I think).

@drtygrl: there are lots more.

Oh, and enailes, a stairwell remark: Maybe your neighbors' copycat yards are a reflection of themselves...

nandina, I don't know if it's so much the other side of GW, as much as it is just a reflection of the real world. People have come to think they should have everything they see others having. If they don't have the means to achieve it themselves (money, time, effort, knowledge), someone else should provide it for them. Even on the computer-related technical forums, I see people asking how to do things that are obviously beyond their capabilities, and expecting the more technically adept to hand-hold them through a process which they couldn't care less about learning how to do, but just want it done (for free). Because those people don't want to learn shouldn't stop those who do want to learn from participating in a meaningful way.

It may not be possible to return to the forum's past glory, as you put it, but there are enough people remaining to carry on a conversation without bothering with those who are just looking to "fix" their yards, unless you want to help them, of course.

And perhaps there's a new glory to be reached.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 10:59AM
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Like nandina, I am disinclined to post here often as most of the questions seem to have little to do with landscape design and focus instead only on plant selection. While important to be sure, this is just the icing on the design cake. 95% of the time, the underlying design principles are overlooked and if presented by responders (pro or not), ignored, dismissed as too much work, too expensive, or just not the answer they were looking for. Frankly, I am too busy with real life design work to educate or attempt to enlighten virtual 'clients' with the design process :-)

And I personally find remote or virtual landscape design requests for assistance often too limiting to offer much in the way of practical suggestions. Even with photos to illustrate, it is such a static, unattached, unrelated view of a potential landscape that omits so many other important factors that can only be perceived or understood by being there in person. Maybe that's why I so often suggest actually hiring professional, onsite help :-)

I do appreciate the more generalized discussion of the "technical and aesthetic issues" the forum was intended to address but these seem to be few and far between. And I also miss the input of the other professional participants we have lost over the years. For whatever reason -- maybe their strongly opinionated but skilled viewpoints -- they seemed to be better able to guide this forum in the direction I would personally prefer to see it follow.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 11:22AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Surely for the pros some (many?) of your clients must share a lot of the 'help me' characteristics of some of the posters here... Laag's use of the forum to hone his communication skills makes sense in light of that. Do the rest of you consider that you've honed your interaction skills sufficiently that participating here in that regard has no value? If you are good at educating potential and actual clients, I'd think you'd be able to exercise that skill with ease in the virtual world too.

Last weekend we were at my BIL/SIL's. SIL said she was considering hiring a designer to do something with their neglected backyard. When I asked her what she was thinking of doing with it, she said -'I don't have any idea... That's why I want to hire a designer - they will do it all for me.' I gave her the usual spiel about 'what do you want to use the space for', etc., etc. so she can start assembling thoughts about it for when she talks to someone. How many of your clients start out the initial meeting with a complete blank slate 'help me' starting point? How much time do you spend 'educating' them?

As for hankering after past 'glories', it is my experience in life that it's best to recognize and accept (not always an easy process) that things change. When they do, it's best to try to actively shape the current situation into something you can derive some pleasure from than to fruitlessly lament what is lost.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 2:01PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Regarding Laag's earlier comment, you maybe can't hijack a thread on your own, but collectively, a forum can do a lot. The glory of the glory days was not just about who was here, but about the sense of camaraderie and collective endeavor that prevailed. Everyone contributed to a shared objective - to get to the meat of the matter, to nail the issue or the challenge, and to effectively and efficiently AMELIORATE :-) the problem.

All we need is a shared objective, and a willingness to pitch in to get to it.

Drtygrl, I LOVE this: "Why should we let newbies dictate the direction of the conversation?" That precisely hits the problem: passivity, waiting for others to solve our problem. Just let the right OPs come along, we plead, and we bemoan our fate when they don't.

That is also what the glory days did not do. There was an assertive territoriality, ie: this is our forum, and this is how things work around here. It was OWNERSHIP. Has to be collective, or you're a forum nazi, of course. And it has to be in pursuit of a high standard, not control for control's sake. But no one of us can do this alone. Anyone who's trying to do it on threads needs the support of other members of the group.

Of course, what we're going to do with the responders that Nandina has so beautifully sent up I don't know, but that is one bang-on characterization! If I see one more recommendation for flower boxes I will likely say something rude, if I haven't already. Mind you, I did spend some time on the home decorating forum last year, and was bemused to find that there is indeed real design genius lurking there. In discussions about how best to place decorative baskets on a ledge or cabinet, or where to hang a picture above a table, there were real moments of insight - I learned a little respect for that field of endeavor and they eye that it requires. The trick was to wade through all the fluffy stuff.

How to tell fluff from genius? Well, the geniuses had to wade in and engage is all.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 12:43AM
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Well, I've lurked around this forum quite a bit and noticed discussions popping up occasionally about the direction the forum has taken and how tiresome many of the posts have become. I've often wondered why none of the regular posters have taken the time or initiative to create an FAQ section. Other GW forums, like wintersowing, have them and state clearly that posters should search and read the FAQ's before submitting a question to be sure their question has not already been answered. I think it could be accomplished easily enough by contacting the forum admin. Of course, some of the more helpful and generous professionals would have to submit the questions/answers and I certainly don't know if anyone would be willing. And though it wouldn't eliminate all the repetitive questions it would provide a place to steer the posters to for information without having to take much time answering them. I do think it could be helpful in shaping the forum into one that is more focused on true design discussions while still providing some good info to those who really just don't even know what they should be asking.
So I guess I'm trying to say that though hi-jacking posts and steering discussions in more interesting directions is fine, and often really great, you may get a higher quality of questions to begin with if there is an easy and convenient place for people to be educated a bit before they post.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 8:46AM
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I, rather unfortuantely, didn't have to the time to really read and process everyone's answers since my last post so please forgive this question if you feel may have already answered it.

As I was skimming down through this thread two questions kept repeating in my head

"What is this forum really for?" and "What do the people who frequent this forum really want to talk about"

I came here for help on plant ideas (both species and placement help). I already know what I want to do with the hardscape, but I'm willing to listen to other suggestions on that. I know how I want the various parts of my yard (and landscape) to FEEL to me, I know what I like to look at and maintain and care for. For me, when it comes to shrubs, I'm just not sure how to get that from my mind to the ground.

Is this a problem that this forum can help with, or do I need to go somewhere else? Is this something anyone here even wants to talk about.

It almost seems like if the only thing someone comes here for is plant help, well no one really wants to help. And if someone comes here asking for "I have a blank slate and don't know what I want" then no one wants to help them.

But maybe I'm missing something.
The general concenus answer seems to be "talk to a designer", which is a truly valid answer and something I do think would probably benefit the majority. And if that's the case, then what's the point to this forum?

I know hiring a designer is certainly one way to get what I want, but I don't want to go that route right now. I'm not at my wits end, I have not exhausted all my resources, I have the time, just not a lot of money (which is part of the reason for not hiring someone, but not the entire reason). I like the sense of accomplishment of doing it myself. I know I can figure it out, I just wanted to see if anything else out there had any other ideas they wanted to throw at me. I also realze that most of the people who participate here won't be able to help with specific plants because you're not all working in my climate/zone. I don't need step by step directions (even if I had gotten the personalized planting plan with step by step instructions I probably wouldn't have followed it anyway), just some general thoughts "Hey what about and evergreen in that corner or a short decidous shrub there with a spreading conifer" etc. Or "That sounds like my problem and here's what I did".

And I did get some good suggestions in my thread, mostly about the hardscaping and what to do to my house as we fix it up, which is all very much appreciated but also some thoughts on the overall look which is more along the lines of what I was hoping for.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 1:08PM
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I don't know what it is. Not wanting to make invidious comparisons, but will go ahead and do it anyway... I've lurked on Home Decorating long enough to know the proper names of many Ellen Kennon shades of paint; where to order stuff to make my kitchen look like the Olive Garden, or that there is no end of solutions available for the 800 lb. gorilla (which is generally an overwhelming entertainment center or super sized reclining leather sectional with cupholders).

But I don't understand the disconnect. The ability to order furniture and expensive rugs to put together an interior seems to be easy, so why have apoplexy over buying a cheap bag of bulbs? Or how does a window box, container of colorful annuals on the porch, or a bright red front door become landscaping in any of the same sense an arrangement of candlesticks, seven or eight hundred displayed pictures of the grandkids, or colored glass genie bottles is interior decorating?

On the surface, an FAQ might seem a good idea... if only countless volumes haven't already been written on every facet. And Google is so handy - sift through it and much of the information is as reliable as what is provided by many forum thread responders. It appears to me - as someone with nothing other than about 40 years of working in and on my own outdoor spaces - that people don't recognize their own particular "situation" as having been addressed because something is always different.

Maybe it is the internet that has caused us to lose our "daring do". Maybe it's too much HGTV and their 1001 ways to plant up a yard, any yard, with whatever falls off the Proven Winners truck. It just seems that beyond the front door, the plot our house sits on has become a puzzling forbidding place.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 5:09PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Just a quick response to craftlady - there is a current thread by WestcoastJay in which he asks for plant suggestions. Missing the Obvious has responded perfectly - I really dislike the layout and location of your bed, and so am hard pressed to make plant suggestions.

That is in a nutshell why we so rarely stay within the boundaries of plant selection: if there is bad design, and we are being asked to suggest plants to override or compensate or ameliorate that, that is anti-design. We will always go to the root cause. Not to say we are always right, but that's the drive. And not to say that the underlying design is always bad, but that's what we explore.

Not to speak for the forum... just using "we" in the descriptive sense.

That, and if I don't know what's on offer at the local nursery, or what the OP likes, I'm probably totally wasting my time thinking about plant selections, not to mention if I don't know the zone. And we learn this the hard way. you know... I make a long list of options for an OP, and the OP comes back with "I found some arbs at HD". Sheesh, there's 20 minutes I'll never get back. So we get a bit wary.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:37AM
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I agree with you regarding the plant suggestions, KarinL. I think it would be silly for anyone to suggest a plant for someone else to buy if they had no experience with it. And if the responder can't get past a bad design, then that makes perfect sense that they can't and/or won't help.

But would they be willing to come up with a new design or plant list if the OP asked them to? (I'm not specifically asking about missingtheobvious, just a general more rhetorical question).

I think what would be helpful, at least in my own personal situation would be if someone told me a general shape or texture or color combination, etc to use. Or say "if you were in my zone I would use xxx in the coner and fill in with yyy or use ZZZ for a focal point and bring the bed out around it to tie in the whole picture" and use examples that they were familiar with to get the look across to the poster who could take that information and build on it. Now I know I can't use a crape myrtle in my yard, but if someone told me that would be a plant that would use in my situation if I were in their zone I'd be able to use that information to find a suitable substitute. And that way I wouldn't waste anyone's time if I couldn't find a specimen that they specifically listed just for me and took the time to research and place perfectly in my landscape plan. I can see how that would be very frustrating.

I think that the people who come here for help have to take their own time and do some of their own work if they're going to get any help at all.I think they need to get their hands dirty, figure out what kind of soil they have, figure out the path of the sun around their yard and the watering in needs they'll have to provide for. Like I stated before I realize this is not the place to get a planting list, a to-scale layout of their yard in photoshop and a maintenance plan....if someone is looking for that then a professional is absolutely the way to go.
If they're just looking for a place to get some ideas of what they could do with their space, then some off the wall suggestions might be just the ticket to get them excited about their landscape :)

In a perfect world, I'd love to see some more general discussions on landscape design, not specific answers to specific problems that only the OP can get anything out of. I realize that will probably turn off a lot of people coming in for the quick fix to their problems, but for those who really enjoy discussing plants and design of outdoor spaces I think it could be a lot of fun.

I say bring on the intentional hijacking and lets see what comes out of it :)

I'll ask it again - What do you want to talk about?
(I'm game for anything!)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 1:12PM
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CraftyLady said "What is this forum really for?" and "What do the people who frequent this forum really want to talk about"

Well, originally this forum was for professional discussion of landscape design. To professionals, landscape design is a somewhat artistic endeavor that reflects design principles and has an end result that is different from the landscaping most of us see on a day to day basis. We don't consider ourselves artists, but there is a level of gardens and landscaping which is beyond "what plant do i plant" and "i need a low maintenance garden". I would love to draw you a garden design, a landscape design and give you information beyond what to plant....but most people pay me for that advice, so I am not sure, why do you think I would give it to you for free?

Sometimes I may provide you professional advice because it promotes discussion, but it is never because I want to give you advice: but because I am interested in promoting discussion. The discussion has a pay off for both of us but the advice benefits you and harms me. Its the harsh reality of this forum, but this forum has limitless - and i really do mean limitless- requests for "help me with curb appeal" posts. if there was a better forum I would be there - but I have checked them all out - and they are as limited as this site is. And at least here there are the echos of an interesting design discussion of the past...and the occasionally an interesting discussion of something...and limitless "help me" possibilities.

If I am completely off base - I am sure the 'regulars' will let me know; but when craftylady asks, i dont really know why we wouldnt give her a direct answer.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 7:18PM
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drtygrl, thank you very much for your answer. I was not around when the forum first began so I wasn't sure what the original intention was. The description from GW is very vague.
I understand what you're saying about not giving away free advice, design and specific ideas. I hoped I had conveyed that in my last post. I think that level of response should absolutely be something they get from a local professional.
When I first started reading this forum (on and off over the years, but more regularly a few weeks ago) nearly all of the posts I clicked on were the Help Me type and there were very few concrete helpful answers. It seemed like most responses were asking questions and the OP didn't come back to answer so the discussion died. (which is certainly not a bad thing for the responder to be asking for more information). Even as a reader I find that extremely frustrating, so I can only imagine how disheartening and infuriating that is for the person who was actually trying to help.
And like I said, I made a mistake posting my own "curb appeal help" thread. I'm sorry for that. I know I didn't help the situation.

I'd love to read what the professionals talk about when they talk landscape design.

If that's what people on this forum like/want to talk about I'll definitely stick around to pay attention. While I won't be able to participate on a professional level I'd hope to still contribute on some level.

I want to move beyond the standard, the mundane and the boring. Gardening and Landscaping will always be a hobby for me but I thoroughly enjoy it.
But if you (professionals) don't want the help me posts, have you petitioned GW to change the description to clarify this is not a free design service forum? I'm just asking, not trying to sound snarky or anything.
I also think (as a newbie with an interest in gardening), if I came in and the majority of the active posts on the first page were not "Help" related, I would probably have thought twice about starting my post. I kind of thought "well everyone else is doing it, I'll throw my hat into the ring too"

I agree with you, why should you let newbies direct the conversations. I know its difficult to participate here when things in your won life are busy, so that's probably a large part of the problem. But there's no reason that more professional threads can't be started and remain active to newbies have a better sense of what this forum is really for.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:19PM
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since i'm a noob who has just this week popped in for the first time :) i have a small suggestion for setting the tone of your forum.

i scanned the topics before asking about my problem, and MOST of the posts on the first page said: help/advice/what plant?/help/HELP/curb appeal?/want/help!

so I drew the conclusion that this forum was exactly the right place for help ;) based on the rest of the post headings that i saw.

I think you need to dilute the number of HELP ME posts that are visible to people when they first come to this forum.

So, get busy, post LOTS on things you regulars find stimulating. Then the casual surfer will not automatically assume that the main function of the site is a Med Express for yards.

On the home dec forum (which I also like) some of the uber-talented design folks periodically throw out interesting photos for discussion, or start a thread on principles of design which i enjoy following although I am in no way qualified to comment. Regulars share websites that stimulate them and often point hapless noobs to other websites that have answers to questions they are not interested in answering. This keeps the number of "Which white is right for this room?" questions from being overwhelming ;)

(Maybe a FAQ thread that you keep bumped saying "Hey NOOB, read me first!" ?)

I just think that a lot of vigorous postings initiated by knowledgable, thoughtful people would probably lift the tone of the forum pretty quickly -

And I did really appreciate the solutions and apologize if my questions were inappropriate ;)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:28PM
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hee craftlady and i posted very similar responses within 10 seconds of each other... there's bound to be a term for that --

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:45PM
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lol, kiki I was just reading your other thread and I love the ideas you got and how your thread developed. And I love that we posted very similar ideas in this one. :)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:17PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Nobody should apologize for posting - thank heavens people do post, or there would be nothing here.

Drtygrl, well put. I'm not a professional, just a plantaholic who finally went "why does my yard look so awful when I have so many great plants?"

The Forum admin posted a while back asking us to do some FAQ. I was interested in participating, but not leading. Maybe we should revisit that.

And also stop waiting for the newcomers to change and thus solve our problems :-)


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 12:53PM
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