Gardeners are slow on the uptake. Heads down, hands mucking about in the manure and compost and weeds, we tend not to notice much in the outside world until someone brings it, albeit forcefully, to our collective attention. We were getting passed by in the new electronic age. The information highway had started up and zoomed by somewhere between fall planting and harvesting and spring garden startup. American Online had left without us.
My son Michael phoned one day this spring. "You need to get online", he said breathlessly. "What do you want your domain to be called?"
He had caught me completely unaware. "Whats a domain?" I asked.
The sigh that escaped from him was filled with exasperation. "Your web page, mom. If you are going to sell roses, you need a web page. Even if it is going to be awhile, you still need to get your name out there."
"But, its going to be some time yet until Im up and running. Do you really think I need a web page?" I questioned. Silly question, of course I did! And if I didnt soon, I would lose my spot in history, my domain would not be Antique Roses, someone else would have it and I would have to settle for second best.
My husband was not so easily influenced. Not intimidated by his Speech Communication major son, he held his ground point by point until he saw what this new computer setup could do, but in the mean time we would do with our old dot matrix printer and obsolete terminal.
"You do what?" laughed my friends at the newspaper who are completely computer and information literate (Diana Finlay - www.riverrats.net/getalong).
"Well, until Im all hooked up with a modem or whatever, my e-mail goes to Michael who in turn faxes it to the bus barn", I repeated which brought on fresh chuckles. Finely tuned to the information highway, I was not. It was more remniscent of the pony express days.
But however patched together it was, it was a line to the nation and the world. Via my son, I had a web page and was on my way. In my own patched in round-about way, I met people from Washington state, other parts of Texas, Georgia and Florida, all with questions about roses. Not hooked up on my end with e-mail, I settled for dropping them a note explaining the situation.
As spring warmed into summer and more people hooked up their computers to share information, the snail mail picked up. I began receiving catalogs from business that wanted me to order the latest order forms and business cards. Then I began receiving slick color catalogues from wholesale nursery suppliers that wanted to sell me a minimum of $500 worth of pots and so on.
And then I started hearing from the gardeners. Slowly we all got our act together, sharing plants with friends who would then use their talents to connect us with the world of gardening. Showing us that by connecting with the outside world, we could help each other by answering questions on the net.
Still not able to participate, I was only able to read the snail mail that came my way like Traditional Gardening published by GardenWorks, Ltd. (www.traditionalgardening.com). It is a journal of practical information on creating and restoring classic gardens that is published quarterly with wonderful articles for anyone who lives in an old home or just wants to duplicate colonial brick patters, 19th century walks and drives, knot gardens and your own topiary, and more. Articles about the great American lawn, historic climbers, apples and creating Victorian Annual Gardens explain the whys and how-tos.
The article on Foundation Plantings and the Victorian House written by the editor also lists suitable shrubs and vines to use as well as their placement.
"He cautions that having settled a continent of dense forests, the last thing the inhabitants of newly cleared countryside wanted was a house surrounded by gloomy vegetation". It was wonderful reading. I would have never known about it had they not come across my web site.
Ever so slowly, it seems, the links that will hook up my computer at home to others around the world are set in place and I can send and receive e-mail on my own at any time of the day or night, whenever the spirit moves, or someone has a gardening question.
Everyone asked why this super information highway was needed at its inception, much the same way we all questioned why anyone would need 24 hours of news when we first heard of CNN. I suppose the answer is about choices, and the more information we have, the good, the bad and the ugly, the easier we can make an informed decision.
But, for whatever the reason, sharing information among people of like interest is entertaining and easy over the Internet.
(This article was written in the early summer of 1997. All the necessary links and new equipment were in place by the fall. Since then Michael and I have had great fun adding to the web site, learning as we go along. In the year that has passed, even with the frustrations of learning to operate a new machine, the joy of being able to correspond with hundreds of people made it all worthwhile.)
[Editors, a.k.a. Son, note: There is nothing like teaching your Mother how to use email, browsers, and Windows 95. It has a way of bringing Mother and Son together.]
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