Name: Colleen Vanderlinden
Website: In The Garden Online
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Size: ¼ of an acre
Age (of garden): 6 years
Bio: I’ve been gardening since I was about 20, but I was bitten by the gardening bug as a teenager (it took a while to get my own garden.) Between pulling weeds in my mother’s garden and spending lazy summer days as a little girl lying under my grandmother’s giant lilac bushes, I’ve been in love with plants for a very long time.
I’m a garden blogger and writer. I blog at In the Garden Online, and am the organic gardening expert for About.com and PlanetGreen.com. I lived a longtime dream last spring when my first book (Edible Gardening for the Midwest) was published. I feel insanely lucky to be able to make a living writing about things that interest me.
Style: I guess if I were being generous, I’d call my garden a cottage style garden. I’m one of those people who falls in love with a plant and figures out where to plant it after I’ve already brought it home. So it’s kind of a mess, but it suits me.
Inspiration: Books and magazines, other garden bloggers, nature, and farms. (You know those people who say that a veggie garden shouldn’t look like a farm? They’d hate my garden because I actually want that straight-row, farm look!) My front garden was inspired by the book “Front Yard Gardens,” and seeing how much more could be done with the average American front yard.
Favorite Plant: It’s a tie between my ‘Miss Kim’ lilac and my ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes.
Biggest Challenge: Trees! We have six shade trees on our lot, one of which is a ginormous silver maple that sends roots everywhere. So between the shade and the roots, it can be tricky to grow everything I want to grow. The upside is that we always have plenty of leaves for mulch and compost.
What your friends say: “You got rid of more grass, didn’t you?”
Biggest embarrassment: This is going to sound stupid, but I’m really not easily embarrassed, so I can’t think of one. I’m sure I’ve made gardening faux pas, I just don’t care
Proudest DIY: All of the raised vegetable beds in my garden. Each one we add means more fresh food for my family.
Biggest indulgence: I’m really cheap by nature, so I don’t have many. I bought a few really nice, big glazed pots for the front porch last year, and that’s probably the most I’ve spent on anything other than mulch and manure in a long time.
Advice: Just do what makes you happy. Don’t stress out when something doesn’t work out – that’s life in a garden. Also, don’t be afraid to try something just because the “experts” say it’s wrong. You’re the expert on your garden, and you might just know a few things they don’t!
Dream Source: The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) catalog. I literally spend hours looking through it, dreaming. And this year I finally joined SSE and got the huge yearbook, with all of the available varieties listed. Heaven!