Saturday, 26 October 2013

My Twitter Experience.

It has been a while since I last wrote a blog post here, mainly because although I have so much to say I'm never quite sure where to begin However, I have an awful lot to say about Twitter and my experiences with it and in light of Monty Don's piece in Gardeners World magazine I thought now would be as good a time to say it as ever.
Primarily, as it appears to me, Monty is not comfortable with social media per se. He says that the sound of silence is the best sound of all, which may be true for him, but certainly is not for many, including often me. He also says that he thinks the reason there are few Twitter gardeners are that most gardeners fall into the over 50 age bracket and so are not comfortable with computers, a point that has very beautifully been written about by Sue Beasley at But mainly the piece is not one which might make you join Twitter and certainly doesn't tell of the amazing gardening community that is there.
So let me tell you about my Twitter experience. When I first joined Twitter I was working at an awe inspiring nursery as a grower and manager and although I loved my job, was being bullied within the workplace and suffering as a result of that. I joined Twitter on a whim, and then realised that there were lots of gardeners there, both well known and not, who were sharing information and photos and generally being as gardeners usually are- nice! One of the first conversations I had was with James Alexander Sinclair, which nearly made me fall off my chair with astonishment. And so I got drawn in, spoke to people, the same people very regularly as well as others not so often. I was lucky in that I worked at a nursery which always had a stand at Chelsea and so every year people would come along and visit me at the stand and we would disappear off for coffee, chats and general friendliness. I met people that I had spoken to on Twitter because whether in life or behind a computer screen you vere towards your type of person, your type of friends. I can honestly say I have never met anyone from Twitter with whom I didn't instantly connect, and they have been gardeners and non-gardeners.
So that is all positive but it goes further. Twitter is an excellent marketing tool and that works in two ways. People use it to sell their business or themselves, but they can also find people who can enhance their businesses. If it wasn't for Twitter and the wonderful @TheFlowerFarmer, aka Georgie Newbery, I would never have given my first workshops and if it wasn't for the amazing @EmmmaB I would never have had the confidence to go out there and become the self employed person I am today. In fact I am just now beginning a new venture with a fellow Tweeter which would never have happened if we hadn't met through Twitter and then met-follow @SomersetFlowers for more!!
If I hadn't met a wealth of people on Twitter who respect me for my knowledge and experience as I do them for theirs, I can honestly say my life would be very different today, and I know in a negative way. Twitter has given me confidence, picked me up when I've been down, joined in when there have been things to celebrate, held my hand in times of stress and offered support in times of need. I have met, broken bread with, in real life, probably more than 100 of the people I regularly tweet with, and have formed what will be lasting friendships. I would never have met these amazing folk without Twitter.
But Twitter has taught me things too. It has taught me the importance of being nice, of offering help and support to others who are in need and never being afraid to be there for others as they are for you. It has also taught me that my knowledge, understanding and experience of gardening and the horticultural world is there to be shared, which I love to do. And it has given me the confidence to shout out if I have issues with things which brings me on to #shoutyhalfhour.
The last paragraph of Monty's article alludes to people being rude to him via Twitter. #Shoutyhalfhour is most certainly not anything personal towards him, but is a light hearted, mainly, and occassionally irritated, look at Gardeners World through the eyes of people for whom, as a programme, it simply does not work. We won't go into the whys and wherefores here, but that hashtag alone shows there is an enormous gardening community on Twitter, many of whom join in and some of whom don't. But it is proof that they exist. And following a short episode when Monty followed me, I am aware that he is aware of it. The cynic in me says his article actually is saying that "nothing to see here, move along", which would be sad as the more knowledge that we can find on social media sites the better as far as I can see.
So my advice to people is this. Join Twitter, join in with conversations, be genuine and it will enhance your life at the very least and if you are as lucky as I have been, and allow it to, it will change your life forever.


  1. I celebrated my 66th birthday on Thursday. I don't have a garden but do have an allotment which I blog about regularly. I'm on Facebook, Twitter and a couple of gardening forums.
    I agree wholeheartedly with what you say here and feel that Mr Don is perhaps one of those people who just doesn't feel at ease conversing with others in the virtual world. People who are rude can easily be ignored, and thankfully are few compared to the people who are friendly and engaging.
    Nowadays the benefits of being on Twitter far outweigh not being on it and which, as you point out in your last paragraph, can change and enhance your life. Flighty xx

  2. Well said,i for would not be without twitter for the very same reasons always someone and something of interest ,iv made many friends gardeners and others thst have enhanced my life.take care x

  3. Welll said, in every way. Sad thing is that all the poor souls who read Gardener's World Magazine and don't use social media will miss this. Has to be a way to reach them. Any ideas?

  4. Written from the heart if people didnt care they wouldnt join in with #Shoutyhalfhour I think its gives a voice in a lighthearted way to real concerns with out premier gardening program,as to Montys point re age and social media I'me 54 and my Mother and Aunts all communicate with various offspring,grandchildren and each other and has allowed closer comunication in these days of familys living all over the Country,whereas Monty feels happier with his silence,daily yoga and writing(which I greatly admire) each to his own there room for all sorts but I like many have found Twitter people nothing but friendly,funny and helpful,thank you for sharing

  5. Twitter can be confusing and fast moving, the opposite of Gardener's World and indeed gardening. For a gardener I fall into the younger age group although have been growing plants for about 30 years.

    I find Twitter more useful as a tool for connecting with people such as the knowledgeable and interesting @rareplants and @Pollieslilies although I haven't as yet chatted with yourself.

    The internet in general has been a fantastic tool for sharing ideas and finding information on plants by talking to real people growing the actual plants and trying out different things and reporting back.

  6. Ditto all the above thoughts. I did it as I felt I needed to dip in before I could say anything about it neg or pos and have found it fascinating meeting all fellow twitterers, learnt lots, have an instant forum for questions, and I hope spreads the word about wfga. As you say, one can ignore or contribute as one wishes and its fun. Mary (don't understand the list below!).

  7. Thank you Sara, this is a lovely piece that I agree with whole heartedly. I have been using social media including twitter for many years now and believe it has played a big part in building my confidence of which I used to have none. It is no substitute for the 'offline' world but certainly can enhance it if, like with anything, you give it a go. Genuinely enjoyed the blog, thank you.