For the last five years, Benjamin Vogt has been writing the garden blog "The Deep Middle."
The project started as a way for the English lecturer to simply record the evolution of his garden. However, the blog — an infusion of gardening tips and selections from Vogt's published work — has bloomed into a medium that allows the writer and naturalist to connect with gardeners and writers around the world.
The blog, http://deepmiddle.blogspot.com/, has helped establish friendships with garden aficionados from Vietnam, South Africa, France, England, Greece and Mexico. In addition to his traditional gardener following, Vogt has also had visits from best-selling authors.
“My work as a professor and writer is intertwined with having a gardening blog since I’m most interested in creative nonfiction and ecological issues — how writing about our lives actually gives us our lives and our world,” Vogt said. “I’d say it’s my main way to test environmental ideas and share my writing.”
Vogt began planting and developing his garden in July 2007. The main part of the garden is roughly 1,500 square feet at its southeast corner, with additional foundation beds along the back of his house.
Last summer, Vogt’s garden was part of a tour, and many of the 500 visitors asked if he offered coaching services. A week later, he started Monarch Gardens, a garden consulting business.
“I’ll walk their landscape and we’ll discuss what native plants might work well,” he said. “I also do nursery visits, provide plant research, deliver plants and suggest organic methods. Gardening is so easy. Honest.”
“I hope both the blog and Monarch Gardens encourage people to think about adding native plants to their landscapes,” he said. “Each suburban garden bed is now pretty much a wildlife refuge. Just one New England aster and swamp milkweed make a large difference and you’ll see it almost instantly.”
Vogt said he also hopes people will garden for kids because there’s so much for developing minds to see, touch, hear and experience.
“I’d love to have a part in creating a children’s prairie garden, even posting nature-y poems in the space,” he said.
Vogt’s next memoirs are on Oklahoma Territory, Mennonites, the Cheyenne and prairie ecosystems. His blog shares anecdotes about his research trips and family homesteading stories.
“I try to mix up posts about my garden, pictures, research and my own poetry and nonfiction,” he said. “It’s a Benjamin potpourri, and oddly, people of all stripes keep visiting.”
As Vogt researches plants, he’s come to favor natives because when they’re properly sited, they bring in more wildlife and are easier to care for.
“Gardening didn’t germinate until I had a house of my own,” he said. “I spend only a few days working on the garden each year and that’s it. No one believes me. Not even my mother.”
— Mekita Rivas, University Communications
More details at: http://go.unl.edu/vogt