What have we here A pic. I always start with a pic. So what have we here? A bromeliad? A penstemon?

25 July 2010. A year ago today, rather impulsively, I started blogging. Where am I after a year? Some of the statistics surprise me – who would have thought that there would be 12665 visits to my blog during this year? That my busiest day would bring 113 visitors? That I would write 129 posts during the year – well, make this one number 130. Or for that matter that the number of blocked spam  comments would not be too far below the legitimate ones; in fact I guess my own replies were counted, so there are most likely MORE spam comments…

Why did I start? And where do I stand now?

I like to write. I like photography. I love my garden. And – most importantly – it was time my garden made me money by being an advertisement for my gardening talents (oops, sometimes I wonder about that one. Try: garden design talents. I feel more comfortable.)  – and also an advertisement for Sequoia Gardens as a holiday destination: a garden to visit, but above all a place to stay. So my motivation was in many ways monetary.

Have I succeeded? The simple answer is ‘no’, the long one is ‘most probably’. See, one year on I find my life less focused, not more so; more complex, not less so. I am back teaching (part-time only.) I have learnt that never will there be x in your pocket on the 25th of the month. More likely it will be x-y%, or only arrive on the 15th of the next month… so teaching takes the stress of making ends meet away, and part-time teaching leaves some time for the other interests and activities. But the dream of making my passion pay remains. Except I’ve realised that teaching is as much of a passion. It is great to be back.

Bottomline: I’m a real Jack-of-all-trades, and a focused effort at only one thing is as foreign to me as – well as my life is to many other people!

The House that Jack Built The Big House

Photographed this morning: The House that Jack Built and The Big House. Trailertrash Cottage between them…

And what a year it has been!

  • I nursed my mother for nearly two months, day and night.
  • I converted a tiny stone outbuilding into a tiny house, now approaching completion. There is a wonderful definition of wealth and non-wealth in the modern world: the wealthy spend money to save time, the poor spend time to save money. I am poor. The building of Croft Cottage has been hands-on…
  • I moved out of The House that Jack Built in order to prepare it for letting as holiday accommodation, and moved into the original caravan house we put up in 1981 before we built the other houses. I rechristened it Trailertrash Cottage, for no matter how neat, the veranda is a mess, home to six (now five) dogs and assorted brooms, pails, gumboots and odds that don’t fit into the tiny house.
  • Yesterday I started moving slowly into the Big House. My father has decided, at 81, that he would rather be a house-guest than a home-owner on his occasional visits to the farm. I in turn realised that if my accommodation was cramped before, it was impossible now for someone who generates so much paper on so many different topics… and owns five dogs.
  • I was president of my local Rotary Club, and took a strong club and made it stronger. I give myself a big tick for that one – as do my Rotary friends!
  • I worked on a few gardens and did some renovation in my own gardens. Nothing that looks wow on my CV there… (And when I started the blog I was still recovering a considerable amount of money from a client whose path had separated from mine 3 months earlier…)

What happened to my blog? Along the way I started developing it as a marketing tool. Very much a work in progress, but before spring it needs to be completed: why come to Sequoia Gardens? Where will I stay and what will it cost me?

Early on I discovered and most of my traffic I think has come from there. Many new gardening friends – but business…? My following grew from month to month, with only two slight dips between July 2009 and March 2010, when it peaked at almost 2000 views. Since then, a steady decline and I will only just reach 1000 this month. An average month, you might call it, considering the total of a little over 12000 visits. 😉

But an average month at a time when so much else has been happening. An average month with a history of writing already there for anyone wishing to explore my blog.

Like so much in your life, Jack, see what has been achieved, not what is unachieved. Look deeper. See the bigger picture. Don’t get bogged down in details. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills…

Oh and that first picture? It is of moss on a rock…

Moss on a rock






  1. If it is about tourist accomodation, are you also listed on a tourism site? Make that sites?

    (Don’t mind the Blotanical stats wobbling, remember it was down for a while, and we are all a little lower, but climbing slowly back 😉 We one-year-old blogs were a good batch – with Great Stems and Galloping Gardener. I think Tatyana too?

    And I love reading your words 😉

    • Thanks Diana! I’ve also noticed though: there is a lot of quit pro quo on Blotanical, and when I visit fewer people, fewer people visit me. And inevitably my garden has been neglected among my many other priorities this year, together with my garden blogging.
      I am on our local site, but must during August market more widely. I didn’t want to start till my accommodation was quite ready!
      Thank you for all your support 🙂

    • Hello Catherine, and thanks for stopping by. I’ve been subscribed to your blog for a while now, although a bit of a lurker (as explained above ;)…)

  2. Congratulations on a year well spent, Jack. I know what you mean about teaching. There is something very gratifying about it, though it certainly does place demands on us. Part time sounds like a good idea. Hopefully that will permit you time to still keep the other balls you’re juggling up in the air. May your next year be as good to you.


    • Hi Mark! And I’ve just noticed that you too now have a blog. I’m so used to finding you on Flickr and at Mooseys… I’m off to explore it!

  3. Congratulations on a year of blogging! You’ve had quite a year in addition to developing your blog. I think all of my blog traffic has come from Blotanical and I am thankful for the community that I’ve found there. I do agree that leaving comments on other blogs generates traffic to one’s own blog. I’ve not paid much attention to the Blotanical stats. Since my blog is purely for pleasure and recordkeeping, I’ve tried to avoid looking for fear of caring a little too much.
    Now I want to spend some time looking through your older posts!

    • Hi Ginny. “caring too much…” That is exactly my concern about Blotanical. But how much is too much? I’ve learnt some valuable lessons – gardening AND marketing – there. And I find the stimulation of other gardeners a vital challenge to my own efforts… And now I’m off to explore your blog further!

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