Best of the Web
Growing flowers and attracting birds can be a lot of fun when you bring the Internet into the mix. These birders and gardeners are doing great things with websites. Check them out!
Are you wondering what Facebook and Twitter have to do with birding and gardening? The truth is, growing flowers and attracting birds are easier and more fun when you bring the Internet into the mix. There's a wealth of information, advice and new technology right at your fingertips. Check it out!
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Shawna Lee Coronado is a gardening jack-of-all-trades. You can find her everywhere on the Internet-her own Web site, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. She's also the author of a book called Gardening Nude.
Throughout her blogs and social media sites, her message covers not only green gardening but also living a healthier, greener lifestyle. She hopes to educate others who want to green up a little bit, too.
She started using Facebook and other social media to promote her book and soon realized how effective those sites were at getting her message out. Before long, people from 20 countries were following her blog.
But for Shawna, social media aren't just about business. More important, she says, are the friends and connections that she's made through her various online platforms.
In the offline world, Shawna created a community garden on a busy public pathway in her own town, a suburb of Chicago, to inspire her neighbors to get involved in growing things.
Why should you visit? Shawna's blogs are filled with lots of tips for green living. She suffered from health problems for many years, so her new "green" take on life is truly inspiring.
Shawna's hint: "Saving water is easy if you group plants together that have similar requirements. A community enjoyment garden I built is filled with half native perennial plants and half drought-tolerant perennials. It requires very little, if any, watering."
Podcast with Personality
Christy Wilhelmi's original mission was to create a useful Web site for people to get answers to gardening questions. Since its inception, her site, gardenerd.com, has turned into much more, including a blog, a picture gallery, a store, and a source of podcasts and tips focusing mostly on vegetables and organic gardening. (A podcast is a prerecorded radio or TV show that you can download from the Internet onto an iPod or similar MP3 device.)
Christy records a new podcast each week, offering tips related to what she's doing in her own garden.
Today, her Los Angeles backyard boasts raised beds, rain barrels and a seed-starting system with grow lights. But before she had her own house, her passion for gardening started on her apartment balcony, carrying over to a plot in a community garden, which she still maintains today.
Why listen? Christy's weekly podcasts are short, informative and easy to listen to. Visit gardenerd.com to hear her free podcasts. Or find her by searching for "gardening" in the podcasts section of iTunes.
Christy's hint: "I think all gardeners should compost their garden and kitchen waste. Composting closes the natural gardening loop. The more we can rely on ourselves to create our own gardens, the better we are overall."
Bloggers with Flair
The women of gardenrant.com have a lot to say. Here's a snippet of what they have to say about themselves. "We are: In love with real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden gardens. Flabbergasted at the idea of a 'no-maintenance garden.'"
The foursome behind this blog all met online. Two of them, Amy Stewart and Michele Owens, found each other first and wanted to start a lively gardening blog with frequent posts. When their busy schedules kept them from posting as often as they'd like, they recruited Susan Harris and Elizabeth Licata.
Susan says the best thing about being a part of the blog is that there is no plan or strategy. She doesn't know what her fellow bloggers will write about until she sees it for herself.
And don't let this blog's name turn you off-Susan assured us that they rave more than they rant!
Why is this group unique? The no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point take on gardening is refreshing. Each time you visit, there are bound to be at least a few new posts, and you'll learn a lot along the way! Check them out at gardenrant.com.
Susan's hint: "Two years ago, I got rid of my lawn. In urban gardens like my own, it's all about lawn replacement. Why go though all the trouble of lawn upkeep when you can create a natural garden?"
iPhone App All-Star
Mitch Waite is the man behind the hot ID site whatbird.com. Most recently, his iBird application for the Apple iPhone has taken the birding world by storm.
This new technology, available to iPhone owners, is essentially a digital pocket field guide. Earlier this spring, Apple introduced an add-on application that lets you keep your bird life list in conjunction with iBird. And iBird is expanding to other countries with the release of iBird UK.
Mitch says he's been doing more birding than ever as he uses and tests his own technology. He and a group of fellow birders often take walks, bringing their iPhones and identifying the birds they see. In fact, he says, they're getting so good at it that they hardly have to look them up anymore. There's proof that this technology will actually teach you something!
Why check it out? The ease! Whether it's iBird on your iPhone or whatbird.com on your computer, you can identify a bird in just a matter of minutes.
Mitch's hint: "You don't have to own an iPhone to take advantage of iBird. All the same information can be found at whatbird.com for free." The iBird app also works on the iPod Touch; all you need is a wireless
Favorite Girl Birder
Sharon Stiteler started doing TV and radio segments about her bird-watching adventures and eventually became known as the "bird lady." Looking to differentiate herself, she created the Web site, birdchick.com.
Her site's motto is "To show the world that you can be a birder without being a geek." She came up with that slogan to challenge the stereotype that birders are nerdy.
One of Sharon's original ideas is something called "Birds and Beers." They are informal gatherings for birders to get together, talk about birds and maybe have a drink. She's organized many successful Birds and Beers get-togethers in her own area and encourages everyone to steal the idea and try organizing their own. She says all you need is a place with a good atmosphere for talking and a group of birders.
Why visit? Sharon's enthusiasm for bird-watching is evident simply through reading her blog. Her blog offers a real-life account of an every day birder. Read about Sharon's birding adventures at birdchick.com .
Sharon's hint:"Keeping feeders clean is the best thing you can do for birds. And you can't go wrong with providing black oil sunflower seeds."