How did you come up with the idea for Birmingham Gardening Today?
John: Several years ago, after I retired from Southern Living, I realized that my best source for local gardening information was a record book I had been keeping of the daily things I had done in my garden. I had 10 years of records! Since gardening is so local and weather-driven, I started searching for a web site that would fulfill that same need, and I discovered there was not one. I had lunch with Jason to talk about the idea, and I knew that he would be a perfect partner because of his digital expertise. Plus, Jason likes to garden too. And since his interests in gardening differ from mine, we could both bring a lot to the table.
Who is your target audience for the site, and what can they expect to find?
John: We aren’t necessarily targeting expert gardeners, but we do have information they will find relevant. Our main goal is to help the folks who want to keep their yards and gardens in good shape and who need their questions answered with a bit of an opinion.
Jason: One of the aspects of the site that I find most compelling is the timeliness of the information. Where else could you ever learn that you need to water your plants before tonight’s frost, that Hanna’s Garden Shop just got in a shipment of roses, or that this weekend is your last chance to trim monkey grass to look its best?
The site allows users to interact with you and with other local gardeners. How does that work?
John: Users can submit a question to the “Ask John” section of the site or in the comments, and I will answer. Sometimes, we also ask for thoughts from our audience on a certain subject.
Jason: From the start, it was important to us that the brand was built around conversations. John is our leading expert, but the audience shares their opinions, photos, and questions not only through the site comments and “Ask John, ” but also through social media interactions.
With a PhD in plant physiology and decades of local gardening experience, John has a definite fondness for native plant species that grow well in our city’s climate. Check out his favorites:
Native Azalea, Trillium, Native Crapabble
Oakleaf Hydrangea, Yellow Wood, Black Gum
Visit BirminghamGardeningToday.com to find daily gardening inspiration, advice, and solutions specific to the Magic City. Socially, interact on Facebook, use #bhmblooms to share gardens on Instagram, or follow on Pinterest to pin favorite photos.
text by julie gillis • photos by art meripol