GardenWeb – Back in the Day

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Purchased from Frazier’s Concrete Statuary.

I know many of you are every bit as addicted to gardening as I am.  I just wonder if a few of you remember GardenWeb,  which is now Houzz?  I am not a subscriber of Houzz, but I was a GardenWeb member for many years.

For those not familiar with GardenWeb, it was a free web-based garden site where gardeners from anywhere could log in and discuss almost any gardening topic.  At its prime, GardenWeb, was a great resource.  I participated in several forums such as the Texas Gardening Forum, the Garden Party forum, the Organic Gardening Forum, the Cottage Gardening Forum and so forth.  I think I became a GardenWeb member in 2002, but I don’t actually remember the exact date.  (If you ever read an ancient post written by Redthistle on GardenWeb, that was me, and it’s true that what you put on the Internet never leaves!)

Back in the day, the GardenWeb dictator– moderator was a guy who went by the name of Spike.  That name says a lot.  It was a name, that if you were a GardenWeb person, you knew well because Spike could make or break you.  How so?

If Spike didn’t like what you posted, *poof* it was gone.  If you posted too many things Spike didn’t like, he could ban you (gulp) permanently from GardenWeb and from that time forward whenever you attempted to log in to GardenWeb, you would be sent to the official website for the magical kingdom of Disneyland   In retrospect, that’s pretty funny.

I used to think anyone who was permanently banned from GardenWeb must have committed some terrible atrocity until I met a lovely woman who happened to wear the stigma of being “permanently banned”.  She was visiting Austin to attend a work conference, and because of our mutual love of gardening, we agreed to meet at a restaurant for supper.  While I don’t remember what she did that warranted her banning, I think in the end she dared to argue with Spike and that was all it took.  Spike controlled GardenWeb, and you didn’t dare offend him.

I, too, had one comment disappear in my many years on GardenWeb.  This particular comment was made in the Permaculture Forum where a deep discussion regarding Monsanto was ongoing. It was apparent World War III was about to break out before I entered the comment fray. I dared to disagree with someone and *poof* my comment no longer existed.  Since I couldn’t see my comment, I wasn’t able to analyze why Spike decided it needed to be removed, but I never challenged Spike so I wasn’t sent to Disneyland. ~ Grin!~

It’s funny how all GardenWebbers would talk about Disneyland discreetly. A short conversation in the middle of an unrelated post would go something like this:

“I think So-N-So was sent to Disneyland.”  “No, really?! Come to think of it, I’ve not seen him post in a while.” “Yes, he emailed me, and he told me that Spike sent him to Disneyland.”

After that, there was silence because you couldn’t side with Spike’s offender or Spike might see your comment, and you could be banned.  People went off of GardenWeb to their private email to discuss the banishment.

GardenWeb was the source of at least three friendships for me, one of which still exists today.

Through GardenWeb I met one woman, Joella, in the Garden Junk forum, and eventually Joella drove two hours to my house to pick up a mannequin leg.  She planned to place the mannequin leg in her garden as “something unexpected.”  Back then, this was kind of a trend.  Well, okay then!

Joella was a fun gardener, and we corresponded for 2 or 3 years via email. My husband and I eventually drove to Joella’s house, toured her garden, and went to Frazier’s Concrete Statuary  and then to lunch with Joella and her husband.

Another gardening friend I met through GardenWeb was Jolana.  Jolana and I wanted to go to various plant nurseries in the greater Austin area, so we made “a date” to meet.  Other than “talking” on GardenWeb and through email, we didn’t actually know each other. We learned afterward that both of us were rather scared to meet in person.  Both of us thought, “Is this person who he/she claims to be?”  We ended up having a blast, but sadly were never able to do it again.  I worked and Jolana didn’t, so my time was limited.

Finally, my most enduring GardenWeb friendship is with Suzi.  I think of Suzi as my substitute mother.  Suzi is also a great gardener and has a wicked sense of humor.  We’ve been through a lot together, such as major plant problems, children with issues, and widowhood to name a few.  Suzi is my go-to person for big issues. We talk regularly and have met in person many times.   Sadly, Suzi doesn’t garden anymore, but her gardening knowledge is still alive and kicking.

As mentioned, GardenWeb was acquired by Houzz. (Wonder if they acquired Spike, too? Where are you, Spike?)  Although I could have signed on to be a Houzz member, I decided against it.  Their membership asked too many questions.

In the end, I have to say thank you to GardenWeb for all it gave to me–friendships, gardening knowledge, plant swaps and plants. It doesn’t get much better than that.