Thursday Opinion: A Life Of One’s Own

A few days ago, the feature on my blog which sends emails to subscribers to alert them to a new post went haywire.  Subscribers were getting emails every few hours, most of which were for posts I had written years ago.  I was appalled.  People who subscribed to Dirt Simple were getting spammed.  The blog had suddenly gotten a life of its own, and was clogging up innocent inboxes all over the place.  I apologize for the nuisance-truly.  Debbie Saro, from Web Savvy Marketing,  keeps a close watch on all of my wordpress websites.  She knew there was a problem long before I got the message from Buck, and wrote to her.  She deactivated that portion of the blog immediately, and let WordPress know they had a problem that needed fixing.  Astonishingly enough, readers responded favorably to all those emails.  I had no complaints.  I had lots and lots of readers reading those multiple posts.

It happens all the time.  Something in one’s life gets a life of its own, and all one can do is bring up the rear. Our past summer was cold and rainy.  I had no say in that decision.  Coping with the fallout fell to me.  My wishes for stellar summer weather-just wishing.  Nature, who most definitely has a life of her own, batted last- as usual.   In mid November of this past year, Mother Nature decided to get sudden and serious about winter.  By late November, we were chopping frozen soil out of pots in order to do the winter arrangements.  We had no warning, nor did we have a grace period.  One day all was well.  The next day, we had trouble.  I was irritated, but I wasn’t waving flags, writing letters, or sounding off on the radio.  Why not?  Every living thing-and this includes nature-is entitled to a life of their own.

Landscape design is work that I do based on the parameters set by the client, the parameters set by the site, and then there is nature.  The drawing that I present to a client is not the beginning and the end.  It may look like a document, but it is in fact a description of a big fluid situation.  It is an invitation to interact.  Plenty of times I have visited a site after I have drawn a design, and gotten back talk.  I may call it back talk, but I know better. Any client has a life all their own.  Any property has a life all its own.  If I am confident, I will let anything pertinent to the design have their moment to speak back.  Listening to what gets spoken back will greatly inform your design. My advice?  Listen. Have you not had plants that let you know they are not happy where they are planted?  Plants have a life of their own.  On a good day, I am tuned in to what they see as a life of their own.  On a worse day, I am moving plants around.

Just like you, I have a life of my own.  I may tag along, or I may insist on forging my own way.  I like having freedom of expression.  If you are a subscriber who was annoyed about WordPress going rogue, I am sorry.  Given how many of you subscribers read multiple old posts over the past few days, I may repost some old essays this winter.  Who’s to say WordPress cannot have a life of its own now and then.  The now and then is over-for now.  Whew!


  1. Linda Hagler says

    I enjoyed them all over again.

  2. Marguerite Neuhaus says

    I had just subscribed to your blog this past week, and silly me, I thought your blog system was being considerate and catching me up on all the “deep background” that one should know in order to follow along with your terrific posts. While I had gone back to read some of your previous posts on my own, none were in the group WordPress saw fit to send me, so I enjoyed them immensely. I especially loved seeing all those lovely white flowers while sitting home snowbound in Conn. We all have people in our lives who tell a favored story more than a time or two, so how could I have reason to complain hearing and possibly reliving garden wisdom from Deborah. Thank you WordPress!

  3. I too enjoyed them once again. Especially as the winter and the -15 below temperatures are challenging. Re-reading Dirt Simple warms me up and makes me know that as it has been said, “This too shall pass.”

    • Deborah Silver says

      Greg, the temps are indeed challenging. I am not a fan of this weather. It looks like it will go on for the foreseeable future. We all need to do what we can to stay warm. Deborah

  4. Paul Michaud says

    I enjoyed them too….probably too much….more fun to read than work!! All good things must come to an end

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Paul-don’t despair! I may be reposting more older essays-at least until the winter is OVER! Regards, Deborah

  5. Duane Hesse says

    I enjoyed the old posts as well … it was actually a good thing in that I am a relatively-new subscriber to your blog and I thought, “How wonderful that she is sending out old posts” to provide historical background to us newbies. So, it was a well-thought-out screw-up by your WordPress web host and definitely NOT considered spam by most (perhaps all) of us.

  6. Starr Foster says

    Me too. when I first saw them, I did wonder, but read and enjoyed them all!
    I always learn from your blogs.

  7. How ironic! I stumbled upon your blog today while I was “pinning” one of your gorgeous vines in a basket on pinterest. I clicked on the picture for more information and 20 minutes later was 6 entries into your blog and had dinner burning on the stove! Although I wasn’t a subscriber at the time I was still reading older posts! So enjoying your work! I’m moving soon and am incredibly inspired by your artistic touches. Thank you!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Thanks for your letter, Leslie. I hope you keep reading – But don’t burn the dinner! regards, Deborah

  8. Donna Perdue says

    I was curious as to why there were several at once but thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them. Bright spots on a cold, snowy day 🙂

  9. No problem here. I enjoy ready every blog current or past issues. Great ideas!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Trish, thanks for your vote. I hope that if old posts get reposted that I will be in charge of how many and which ones! Best, Deborah

  10. Nancy Edwards says

    Hi Deborah, There can NEVER be too many of your fabulous blogs for me! Love all of them & learn something from each one. Happy New Year!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nancy, Happy New Year to you too! The best part of today is that we won’t have to deal with it again for a whole year. Thanks, Deborah

  11. madeline foster says

    Old news is good news ! brings you right back to what you could have been doing. Good lessons. – xo

    • Deborah Silver says

      Old garden news can be new news-no doubt. Madeline, I hope you plan to stay put for a good while-it is miserably cold snowy and icy here. Deborah

  12. That was the nicest spam I’ve ever seen. I’ve been enjoying your blog for about six months now, immensely! If I don’t have time to read them, I save them. I have a few more saved up now and am looking forward to some time to enjoy them at my leisure very soon. Thanks, Deb, you are such a talented woman and a thoughtful one indeed!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Susan, I am so enjoying hearing from everyone today- What seemed like a disaster has turned out to be fun! Thanks, Deborah

  13. I enjoyed all of them. I just figured you were drinking extra strong coffee.
    Your posts enlivened my day.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Sue, I am drinking a lot of coffee now! I’ll try to keep them coming. Thanks for your letter-it made me laugh. Deborah

  14. I’m a newcomer as well and thoroughly enjoyed all the inspiring and educational info

  15. I was delighted since the posts were new to me. Those extra reads were like a reward for being hunkered down and stuck complaints here!

  16. Truly serendipidy! Great blog…wonderful posts, beautiful visuals, helpful advice…Hope to make it up to Detroit sometime to visit your shop.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Belinda, you are welcome any time. Let me know in advance if you can, so I will be sure to be here. Hearing how much people enjoy the posts at a time when we are struck inside makes me realize that it’s important to write, even when the garden is sleeping. People don’t hibernate, do they?? Thanks, Deborah

  17. As a recent subscriber, I was thrilled to receive flock of your posts in rapid order.
    We have snow and more snow here in the Northeast. Your blog is a most welcome
    remedy for the cabin fever. Please thank wordpress for going rogue at a most opportune moment. : ) : ) : )

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Kathleen, a flock of posts is a god description. I have been reading about your weather-it is worse than what we have. And what we have is terrible. Keep warm! Thanks, Deborah

  18. Deborah,
    I discovered your site right before the holidays and was inspired to make custom front porch pots combining your evergreen and eucalyptus idea with bamboo shafts to welcome home my freshman son for his first visit home. For some reason he loves all things bamboo and he loved the results. I didn’t even notice the dates and was thinking “man, it must be really cold where she is because she can’t get outside and is really pumping out some good thoughts and ideas”. Didn’t mind them a bit.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Pam, it was below zero this morning-I am worried about the dogs being out longer than 2 minutes. So yes, we are cooped up here. Happy to hear that your son noticed your front porch pots-wow! I am glad you weren’t irritated, hearing from me 6 times in one day! Thanks, Deborah

  19. I thought you just had too much time on your hands with the cold weather! I didn’t even notice that they were old posts. Love your blog.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Elaine, your letter made me laugh! I do feel like I have too much time on my hands. It is too nasty to be outside. This glitch kept my attention for the better part of an afternoon. Thanks, Deborah

  20. Dear Deborah,
    I enjoyed reading all of the older posts. I just wish I had checked my E-mail much earlier in the evening, as I didn’t check until about 11:30 pm. and stayed up very late reading them all! Enjoyed everyone and I’m retired so I just took a short nap while it was raining …..AGAIN….here in Belize. I’ll come over to Detroit area this spring on way to Muskegon. What is your address at Detroit Garden Works? Keep blogging to keep us all inspired year round. Thanks!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Joyce, the shop, and my office, are at 1794 Pontiac Drive, Sylvan Lake, Mi 48320. Let me know if you plan to visit-I would like to meet you. Thanks, Deborah

  21. I did think it was odd that so many posts were coming in one day – but what a wonderful way to spend a cold winter day reading your blog. Each article was excellent and a nice distraction from the rest of my to do list.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Melissa, I was in a panic about the whole thing. As I said in the post, sometimes it’s better to just go along with what’s happening, than worry about changing something that cannot be changed. I am glad to hear from a number of people that they were not put off by it. Thanks, Deborah

  22. I enjoy reading your posts. Sometimes it is helpful to retread an older article because the info maybe more relevant at a later date. Thanks, DiAnne

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear DiAnne, sometimes I do go back and reread, or update old posts. Some of them are still relevant. Thanks, Deborah

  23. Viewing the old posts was the most pleasant gift in this cold weather. As if you picked this occasion to display the family jewels for the viewing of your fans and subscribers. Your posts are the finest treasure we look forward to receiving.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Ms. Simi, thank you for your more than kind letter. I am glad to hear you are enjoying the “overflow”! Deborah

  24. Randi Lynn McNeill says

    I personally was thrilled with all the blog emails! I’d not seen any of them before since I’m relatively new at following your blog and they brightened up the day, and they gave me even more stuff to put on my wish list for the coming months!
    Thanks to the blog gremlins for getting me up to speed on your older blogs 🙂

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Randi, its 1 degree today-and we have snow and ice piled up everywhere. It is a good time to read, and plan. Thanks, Deborah

  25. Katie Barrack says

    I have been following and greatly admiring your work and blog for a while now. I too wondered about all those posts in one day, then realized what was going on. Actually I enjoyed those I was able to read. In one of them a reader was wondering where to get a twine dispenser. I actually have a wonderful one that I bought years ago. It clips to your belt, and has a string guide AND blade to cut the twine so it can even work one handed!!! Here is a link to the website
    Keep up the great work both inside and out!!

  26. Hi Deborah. I also thought it was in purpose. I was surprised to see so many emails but we had a snow storm so I thought you were snowed in too and were giving us all something to do!
    I am also a landscape designer and found you while doing a plan for school years ago and had to research crushed granite driveways. Found your site and have been a fan and following you ever since. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Mary, happy to hear from you! I may post more of the old essays this winter-I have written close to 1300 since 2009-why not? I am sure there are not so many people who have had the chance to see them all. Thanks, Deborah

  27. I didn’t notice that they were old, I just thought you were making the most of winter and getting some serious writing in! LOL I’m new to following the blog and enjoyed reading them all as I haven’t had a chance to sit and go through the archives yet!

  28. At first I thought…………Boy,she’s on a roll…….then I realized somehow you may have pushed the wrong button and all your “inventory”for further blog posts got PUBLISHED!Then I saw a date and realized what had happened…………..NO worries here…..since I’m fairly new to your posts,I enjoyed reading the old ones…….besides your writing is EXQUISITE!

  29. Interestingly Deborah I just thought, this teacher, writer has more time on her hands in winter and loved every post.
    You are much admired, never fear

  30. Your WordPress gremlin has brought immense joy to all your loyal followers… there could never be ‘too many’ posts from you Deborah…and I think we have all enjoyed this Dirt Simple blog-binge. Look forward to the next ‘glitch in the system’!!!

  31. Diane Harris says

    As a recent new subscriber, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘catching up’ on some of your old posts, and enjoyed each and every one!

    Thank you for bringing some sunshine into these dreary, brutally cold winter days!

  32. Lynn Fiorentino says

    Completely enjoyed the posts. As part owner in a fairly new container and landscape business, I am always opened to learn from and listen to those who have gone before me. I admire your passion and talent in your work.

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