things and places for homes and gardens

Drum roll please… announcing plant lust

Tuesday 3 August 2010 - Filed under plant lust

It’s no secret that I love plants. I love looking at pictures of plants, shopping for plants, reading about plants. I never get tired of walking through nurseries and reading tags or flipping through the pages of garden books with big glossy photos. Every day I read gardeners’ blogs: which plants they’ve fallen in love with, how their own plants are behaving or misbehaving, what inspires them. I think we’re damn fine record keepers – some of the best around.

There’s something I don’t love though: searching for plants online. It’s the last place I look, after I have come up empty in books, catalogs, and nurseries. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, you have an okay chance searching and finding something useful. But if you’re looking for ideas for that patch of dry shade in the corner of your zone 8 yard, not so much. I don’t like it – it should not be a chore.

For, well, forever, really, I’ve been thinking about what I want out of an online plant directory. I want to be able to search any which way I dream up on a whim. I want to be able to quickly scan my options and see what plants look like, learn whether I have the right conditions to grow them, read those delicious descriptions I so love on plant tags, and find a nursery that stocks the plant. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

I design things like this for work, but I never had the free time for such a big undertaking on my own. Early last year though, when my former employer laid off my entire department, I took it as a sign from the universe: time to make this thing happen.

Around the same time, Karen commented that I should write a book titled “plant lust.” It was, well… just perfect. A name that captures the passion that garden lovers experience when they find the right plant. I simply could not let such a good title go to waste.

As I started planning, I realized that my goals are not modest. There are so many cool things we could do with a really great plant resource, and I want to do them all. I learned pretty quickly, if I wanted to do it all, I was going to need to team up people who could help make plant lust go.

I’m beyond thrilled to announce that Loree of danger garden fame is joining me on this adventure. Her talents in scouting fabulous nurseries and hot plants are no secret to any of us who have followed her adventures in gardening. Along with undisputed fanatical gardener credentials, Loree’s marketing and communications experience is instrumental in growing plant lust into the thriving resource we want it to be.

The whole reason that I wanted undertake this project is that plant research online is far too difficult. You want to read up about a plant, and suddenly you find yourself with a browser window open to 6 different tabs, surrounded by a collection of heavy books, and you still find yourself asking: how the heck do I get my hands on a Schefflera taiwaniana, will it grow in my garden like it does in the pictures, and can I keep it alive? I want plant lust to change all that. However, to get it to that point, somebody still has to do the routine with six browser tabs and a collection of books, just to find out the basics of a plant. While it is a joy to research and learn about plants, this is a crazy amount work. I am unbelievably lucky that I know someone who has the tenacity and diligence to take on this challenge and get the job done right. My mom Patricia is not only a skilled researcher, she has also worked as a Business Analyst, whipping complex product catalogs and gobs of data into shape, and she’s joined plant lust to work her magic here. Some day when you are looking up a plant, and find just what you wanted in no time flat, that’s thanks to Patricia’s work upfront wrangling scads of information into a uniform organization that makes it look easy.

The three of us make up team plant lust, and we have been quietly working away to get to a point that we could launch so we can show it off and let people kick the tires. We are finally getting close and expect to launch within the week!

We wanted a fantastic catalog of plants to start out with, and Gossler Farms graciously agreed to let us use their catalog to get started. When we launch, we will have their entire plant catalog loaded, so you can see what it’s really like to search for plants this way.

We’ll have at least one photo of most plants when we at launch, but we’ll be gathering many more as time goes on. The idea is that we’ll find other people online who are willing to share their plant photos, so you can see many views of each plant. What we really want to show is an example of all the things people might love about a plant: form, foliage, flower, and any special features like peeling bark or amazing fall color. Gardeners have been enthusiastically capturing these images forever. We want to bring them together in one place so you can see what a plant will really do in the garden.

If you try it out and have thoughts, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to be candid. We mean for plant lust to be as useful as possible, so if there’s anything that would make it even more useful, we want to hear it. We’re in this for the long haul, and this is the first of many steps to follow. We’d love your thoughts as we plan what comes next.

I’ll post a link as soon as we go live.

2010-08-03  »  megan

Talkback x 7

  1. Andrew at Garden Smackdown
    3 August 2010 @ 5:05 am

    That rocks–good for you! Given your taste, I’m sure it’ll be great. My only wish for a site like this aside from everything you’ve listed is an easy way to catalog lists of plants, like wishlists on Amazon. Right now I use Plantfiles for everything, and I use their tag feature for that, but it’s pretty cumbersome.

    I didn’t know you were a web designer (?). Same here, in between landscape design gigs and prior to that. Good luck with it!

  2. megan
    3 August 2010 @ 5:16 am

    Andrew – good to know you would use a wishlist type feature. I’m a list maker myself, and I agree on the need for a good way to build wishlists for plants. While I don’t have them in the site just yet, they’re definitely in the plans for next steps. I will keep this top of mind as we continue building. I’ll be interested to see what you think as a fellow web designer and landscape designer – it’s not very often I meet other people who share those two interests.

  3. tina
    3 August 2010 @ 6:09 am

    Congrats to you! Let us know when you are live and I’ll check it out.

  4. Denise
    3 August 2010 @ 7:26 am

    So excited for you guys and looking forward to the debut of PL.

  5. ricki - sprig to twig
    4 August 2010 @ 11:35 am

    Very exciting…and what a team!

  6. Karen
    5 August 2010 @ 10:32 pm

    Megan – you rock. How fabulous that your dream has become a reality! I was just thinking today about PL and wondering how it was going. How cool that your mom and Loree are helping you to launch and grow it well. It seems like the ideal team, and I hope you guys find your audience – you deserve a big one. I will pass the word and show it off like a proud auntie! You are so kind to credit me for the name inspiration but all I did was make a casual remark and then sit back and cheer you on from the sidelines. I have thought so many times how much I would love a site like this even if I am not much of an online plant shopper – just the pictures and info from a reliable source (i.e. not one that is trying to sell me something so might perhaps be inclined to exaggerate zone hardiness) will be so great to have. And maybe if you show the closest nursery by zip code or something, it could help those of us who want to buy locally too. I second the hope for a “wish list” function, when you are able to get that integrated.

    OK, I am rambling due to lateness and excitement!

    Congrats and hooray!!!

  7. craig helmrich
    6 August 2010 @ 2:43 am

    Hi we have met many years ago I married bills sister
    I am currently working in my nursery in connecticut
    I grow hydrangeas and japanese maples I am having alot of
    fun. your blog is excellent I didn’t know you were doing this.
    I will see your mother for the first time in many years at steins wed.
    keep up the good work