Celebrating All Things Plants

Posted by @Sharon on
It's been a little like Jack's beanstalk, you know, the rapid growth of All Things Plants. It's only been a year, but just look at what the year has brought to gardeners all around the world. Let's begin this article now with a word from the top.

First, a note from Dave:

2012-07-02/dave/c010abIt has been a year since ATP opened its doors. On one hand, it feels like the year went by in a flash, but on the other hand, it feels like ATP has been around forever. One year ago today, we launched the site as a gardening-specific community with some forums and articles moved over from Cubits, a shiny new blogs feature, microbadges, acorns, and a few other small features. Today we have a world-class plant database, a rich and fully developed Gardening Ideas feature, plant inventory lists and much more. Every day of this last year I have worked to expand the site and its offerings, and have been rewarded with watching it grow in membership and in content.

I have spent most of my adult life behind a keyboard, writing software for gardeners. It's something I have always done, and it's something I will always do. As I gained experience over the years in both gardening and programming, I have learned new ways of doing things and envisioned new innovative ideas for improving the sharing of information online, and ATP is the culmination of all my experience. Our plant database, currently in its infancy despite its huge size, is the work that I am currently most proud of, and we have big plans to continuously upgrade its capabilities and features.

On top of all that, I'm having fun and learning new things every day, and I hope all of you can say the same thing.

Every day, between 250 and 300 logged-in members use ATP. Additionally, a few thousand visitors come daily and enjoy some aspect of the site, mostly visiting the database and forums. This number continues to grow each day, and every day quite a few of those visitors create an account and join our community as members. This site is built around those members, and every aspect of the site shows the strength that comes when a group of like-minded individuals get together to share information and ideas.

There are around 11,000 discussion threads on the site, and 277,000 posts inside those threads. 1,532 people in total have posted to our various forums.

Our Plant Database has over 533,000 plants, and almost 100,000 images! I love our database, it's my favorite part of the site. In fact, I consider the database to be the central feature of the site, with everything else revolving around it, and it becomes that way more and more each day. Our plant database admins (Calif_Sue, eclayne, and KentPfeiffer) and various moderators have done an astoundingly amazing job building out the areas of the database that they are most interested in. It is a fact that we have the most complete database of daylilies in the world, surpassing databases that have been in existence for more than a decade. Likewise, our Roses, Lilies, Irises, and Sempervivum/Jovibarba databases are equally impressive.

Standing at the entrance to our second year, I'm formulating plans to further expand the capabilities of our database, making it even more central to the site and making it much more interactive than it already is. We have so many ideas that it's just a matter of taking the time to sit down and make them reality. Piece by piece innovative ideas continue to be realized at ATP, making it more and more fun and useful to gardeners everywhere.

The plant inventory lists feature was recently launched, and I have plans to continue to upgrade and enhance its capabilities.

We want to launch a "Recommendations" feature where members can share with each other reviews of their favorite gardening companies.

While we are quietly building the largest and most complete gardening site in existence, my other big goal for the coming year is to get the word out about the site. We need more people to learn about ATP, and we need more sites out there to link to us. When other sites link to us, that increases our reputation in the eyes of search engines and makes us appear higher in the search results. More visitors means more signups and more growth in membership. Each new member makes our community stronger. Getting more links to ATP is a challenge that I spend a lot of time thinking about, and it's something I want to focus on more heavily in the year ahead.

So those are my thoughts about the future. Looking into the past, my thoughts keep coming back to the hundreds of names of people who I consider to be close friends, many of whom I have had the privilige of serving for over a decade. The more I get to know you all, the more you all endear yourselves to me. The recent birth of our latest child was shared with those close friends, many of whom came together and sent us a financial gift that we used to buy lots of things for him. I really do believe that the people here represent the finest group of individuals that is available to the human race and it's an honor and a joy to be a part of it.

I'm so excited as we enter into year #2. I'm having the time of my life and I hope you all are, too!

A note from Trish:

The year has been so fun building ATP with such great gardeners.  Thinking outside the box to come up with new ideas, and new solutions to old problems. Working with members who care about the site as much as we do. I don't know which is better: seeing the excitement bursts that come with each new feature, or feeling the happy comfortable ease of friends gathering together to discuss common interests.

Let's face it- we all work very well together! It isn't about Dave or me; it is about the community together. So many contribute so much.  From good gardening content posters, article writers, photographers, moderators, cheerleaders, word-spreaders, and database contributors: every member has worked to make ATP the best and I appreciate all of you!

Now, the rest of the article is by Sharon:

July 4, 2011 seems like only yesterday. The doors to All Things Plants opened wide to its first members that memorable day. Here we are a year later with a gardening website so filled with incredible information and wonderful members, Jack's amazing beanstalk wilts in comparison.  I honestly couldn't think of another thing to compare ATP's rapid growth to, so it simply had to be the beanstalk.

What's ATP's most valuable asset? What contributed most to its growth? No doubt about that answer:  its members, of course, and it's only right that we hear from members on this big day of our first celebration. I asked a few questions randomly throughout the ATP membership and I'd like to share the answers I received.

What is the most unique and innovative feature that ATP offers its members?

Carolyn22 said:One of the things that I think has made ATP truly unique is that both Dave and Trish go out of their way to make sure we are happy with this site. They are both very approachable, visible and willing to work with each and every one of us to make sure that we are happy. I don't know of any other sites on the web where that can be said.

Vic said:The most unique and innovative thing about ATP is Dave in that not only is he a gardener, he is a programmer and if the members can think of it, he can write it. Sometimes he writes and implements before anyone can even think of it.

Dave and Trish have the unique ability to make each of us feel like we're home when we are at ATP. That we are part of their family. They include all of us in their decisions. They care about the wants and needs of all members.

The members of ATP are the greatest folks on the planet.

ATP encompasses the entire gardening world – be it flowers, shrubs, trees, veggies, garden art, and wonderful articles written about each of them. From amending soil to the birds and butterflies in the sky and everything in between.

It is by far the the easiest gardening website to maneuver. It has the best database of any gardening website.

Colorful – it's so happy and colorful!

ATP is a joyful and happy place to be.

zuzu said:When you're compiling statistics, please add me to the people naming Dave as the best thing about ATP. As others have pointed out already, his speedy responses to our requests and his uncanny anticipation of our needs before we're even aware of them are amazing.

Some other features no one's mentioned yet are the acorn incentive program and the attention to quality control.

I love the opportunity to "cash in" acorns for merchandise and for not-a-raffle raffle tickets.

I appreciate the members' efforts to ensure the quality of the database. So many other Internet databases are full of misspelled names and misinformation. The ATP members value accuracy and are quick to detect and correct errors.

I also appreciate the articles, garden tips, garden tours, Trish's nursery reviews, and the member blogs.

And the photos! The photos on ATP are fabulous! The thumbnails are larger than on most sites, the lightbox feature is wonderful, and there are never any of those disappointing broken links to photos.

chelle said:Dave's programming expertise, and the opportunity to connect with him directly (and promptly) is certainly at the top; without that one thing all else pales.

The rest is just (the very best) frosting on the cake.

patrob said:I know of no other gardening website that makes members feel a part of the family in so many ways. We have been allowed to see ATP grow before our eyes and asked for our comments and suggestions. I, along with many others who have seen their ideas implemented or added photos and data to the database, am very proud of what ATP is rapidly becoming, the very best website for gardening and connecting with friends.

pardalinum said:This is a difficult question because there are so many features how does one choose? I'm going to make it easy and say the design of the homepage. Since the inception of ATP we have watched the homepage blossom (pun intended) into a navigational tool that leads the unwary to all the nooks and crannies of ATP.

I have to admit I am easily distracted into exploring random plants, garden tips, new images, recent threads and more! The page is designed in a way that a new member can quickly see what ATP is all about.

Happy Birthday ATP!

KentPfeiffer said:I think the customizable nature of the Plant Database is ATP's most innovative feature. Most databases, online or otherwise, attempt to either shoehorn all plants into one simple format or include all of the unique characteristics of a huge range of plants. The former approach can't accommodate important details about many plants and the latter inevitably becomes unwieldy.

The ability to customize the Plant Database has already been used to great effect by Rose, Iris, and Daylily enthusiasts, among others, here on ATP. But, I think we have barely scratched its potential.

daylilydreams said:I very much enjoy when I am on a specific forum, say daylilies, that on the right hand side of the screen some of the daylily photos in the database are displayed; often some I have not seen makes for wonderful eye candy.

CAKnapp said:I love that each member can have his or her own ‘home’ page with the forums which interest the member most. It’s great not having to wade through subjects of which I have little or no interest. If there is something else that I am looking for, I can always go to the forum tab to check out the other forums.

Calif_Sue said:My favorite aspect of ATP is of course the developing database that is being tailored and fine tuned with input from its users. Also, ATP is a wonderful garden site that, as Dave wrote, brings "gardeners together and provides them with custom made software tools to both serve gardeners as well as take online gardening to the next level". Being on the ground floor of this new site with Dave at the helm making things happen is a unique aspect for me.

Horntoad said:I've been thinking about this for days now and still don't know what to say. There are so many things to like about ATP that it's hard to choose. Of course as others have said Dave is a major asset. I like the fact that he and Trish are part of the community, not just in the background. Also that they are so accessible and listen to all our ideas and are quick to implement those that they feel will improve the site.

I like the fact that we were able to help make ATP what it is. Dave started with a model and allowed us to build on it and fine tune it.

As far as site features are concerned I think Acorns and Badges are two of the most unique and fun. I believe the plant list is going to be a great feature also. I could go on and on about all the great features, but the one feature I think is most indispensable is the forum and thread watch. How could we possibly keep up with all our favorites without that.

jmorth said:I can only echo the above concepts; it just feels good to be here.
What comes to mind here is a German word, gestalt - 'perceptual pattern or structure possessing qualities as a whole that cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts'. It's not just one feature or a sum of all features, it's more. It's an on-going evolution, a creation fueled by that innovative captain at the helm, Dave.

eclayne said:It's hard to believe a year has gone by. After reading the initial launch announcement on Cubits my first thought was, but I'm just getting comfortable here! Dave was the mythical name out there, while those who inhabited my Cubits were becoming friends. Well, the list of friends has expanded here on ATP and I now know Dave and Trish.

The general and evolving site interactivity greatly expands the overall experience here. There always seems to be a new back alley to explore and a new way to express yourself. A trip to a thread prompts a visit to the database, prompts a trip to a photo comment or a different thread in a different forum. Or reading an article, or someone's list of plants. This interactivity coupled with the ease of navigating around ATP address both casual and focused curiosity. How does it get any better than that?

Question #2: What do you think has contributed most to the rapid growth of ATP during its first year?

Horseshoe said:There's no doubt in my mind "member suggestions" and "dedicated member participation/contributions". This is not to rule out the multitude of other contributions but those two sure step to the front of my mind immediately.

As the site was being built people stepped up to the plate critiquing certain features, suggesting others, etc., and Dave was on it to make improvements, changes, and/or to narrow down the fine-tuning of it all.

Member participation/contributions were not only helping to put some finesse to the overall site but also in building the Plant Database, a huge project in itself but its growth was shared by many, lightening a very large load. I'm SO impressed with the givingness of the ATPers, continually impressed with Dave and Trish and their powers behind the helm.

Wow. So it's been a year already? Time flies when you're having fun, eh?

woofie said:I have to agree with Shoe's comment!. I think we also have to thank the members who got the word out about ATP and encouraged new members to join. Coupled with Dave's decision to make the site open to all, that's probably been a factor as well.

Marylyn said:I agree. I think ATP has grown so fast because Dave and Trish
A) invited input;
B) actually listened to the input;
C) responded respectfully and quickly to the input, even when it was negative; and
D) continue to fine tune existing parts of the site per recommendations from the community, as well as adding new features;
E) and have continued to keep the relational doors wide open with the community at large.

All five of those things are very rare in a website like this, and they get progressively rarer as you go down the list.

Horseshoe said:And Marilyn, you said it best by bringing in the word/feeling "Community". There it is in a nutshell, eh?

Joy said:I've got to agree with all that's been said. And said so much better than I could have said it, I might add. This has fast become the site I check first whenever I sit down at my computer. When you look at all this site has to offer, and how much member participation there is, it's mind boggling to realize that it's only a year old. Just amazing!

Happy birthday ATP.

Frostweed said:#1 My first good impression was being invited to join the site, it made me feel special and I imagine many people felt the same way.

#2 After joining I was impressed by the layout and the easy way it functions.

#3 Being asked to participate in helping with the data base was very special.

#4 The Articles, Garden tours and Gardening Ideas are very special features that keep people interested.

#5 The acorns are a very fun way to reward people for contributing to the site.

#6 It is very easy to contribute pictures and info to the data base.

#7 The picture icons [microbadges] are very nice and let others know what your interests are.

#8 Most important is the attention that Dave and Trish lavish on the members, making everyone feel special.

All in all, I think this is the best gardening site around and I love it!!

Thank you Dave and Trish

Dutchlady1 said:Dave and Trish are special people - and it shows in the sites they create. But the fact that they continually solicit the help of the inhabitants of their sites, make these places unique. It is why we all feel at home: we helped paint the walls, and chose the colors!!

threegardeners said:It all boils down to one thing. Any website is only as successful as its members. Dave lets us participate in the growth of ATP, he's hands on, he isn't just some data dude in the background; he participates. That what makes it work, he makes us all feel that we are helping build ATP, not just him alone. He makes us feel important too, even more important than he is some times. That's a good thing.

wildflowers said:I agree too, it's everything that has been said here!

First, by Dave and Trish putting together the most fantastic gardening site, where everyone can participate with great interactive features, and the "suggestion box" is always open. I would think people are drawn to the friendly atmosphere, feel welcome to chat about their favorite topic, "All Things Plants," and be a part of the community, with access to the database and other features. Gardeners love to share! I also think there are more people becoming interested in gardening and growing their own edibles who want to learn. Another draw is, we're talking just about gardening, away from all the other noise of the world! And the acorns ~ they are just plain fun!!

bonitin said:I've got to agree with all that's been said. And said so much better than I could have said it, I might add.

sandnsea2 said:Wanted to add that I think easy access to detailed, well-organized plant and growing information has contributed to the growth of ATP this first year, in addition to all that has been said above.

Question 3: Has ATP improved your life in any way?

valleylynn said:ATP has improved my life in many ways.
Top on the list would be the people I have met. Creative people that have taught me amazing things to do in the garden:
1. New plants to grow and creative ways to use them.
2. Learning to be a better writer of articles. I still have a long way to go on this topic; with Sharon's help I am steadily improving.
3. Support from a large and caring community.
4. All the great teachers here helping me to learn more about computer technology. Dave and Trish for all their patience and encouragement while I am learning.
5. ATP has given me a way to share my love of Sempervivum, Sedum and Jovibarba.

Paul2032 said:ATP is a pleasurable part of my day. I check it first thing in the morning, several times during the day, and at bed time. Plants and my garden are a very important part of my life, now more than ever before. I enjoy visiting nurseries, gardens, taking pictures, and sharing them. I can't grow everything I would like to but can enjoy seeing what others grow. My knowledge is increasing as I read the threads. A thumbs-up or acorn is like a little pat on the back. Thanks to Betty for guiding me here, thanks to all of you for being friends I'll never meet. Thanks to Dave for being helpful and patient.

CDsSister said:Although I have only been a part of ATP for a few weeks,

1. My life has been enriched by the wonderful people who give so freely of their time and expertise.
2. They are a bunch of encouragers as well. Love the hurrays which are always given.
3. It's like reading the comics to follow some of the threads. People are just so funny. I am delighted to find myself laughing out loud at some of the comments. They brighten my day.
4. I am now more knowledgeable and interested in more than just annual plantings.
5. I told my friends ATP is social media for people who love flowers, plants, gardens, art, babies, squirrels, photography and a hundred other things that pop up.
6. And did I mention how much I love the photos of all the various and sundry things on the site. Plants of course but also people, places, objects etc. All truly works of art.
7. And the creative talent/ideas, which is so freely shared and added to.

I too check up on what is going on now" several times a day. I love the way people interact when a question is asked or a comment made. People on this site are kind and supportive and I have never seen anyone put down because they are new or have asked the same question, already answered by someone somewhere else. Just a kind pointing of a URL to the answer.

I suspect I have only touched the tip of the iceberg in answering your question, as time goes by I am sure I shall have more to offer, because my life is in change mode due to this site.

Thanks to all the unselfish managers and moderators and especially to Dave and Trish. They are the best!!!

ATP is therapy, mental, physical and spiritual.

I wanted to expand my notes on why ATP has changed my life in the last two months. I suspect mine is not the only story we could find like this.

About the first week or so in May, I was still recovering from surgery to remove a benign brain tumor June 2011. I was almost totally sedentary during the winter, spending many hours at my computer working on my family history projects, “Fat, dumb, and happy”, I thought. So what if I found myself short of breath walking to the grocery store. The more I sat the more I was unable to do anything but sit.

I was looking forward, as I do each spring, to adding some color around the entrance and on the patio of my townhouse. I have always used annuals, due to the intense shade, bad winters and little planting space.
Things were about to change. This year, I had the great joy to have a visit from my brother and SIL, CD & ValleyLynn.

Lynn was filled with such enthusiasm for succulents and she encouraged me to get started with growing some plants and tracking my progress on ATP. I had the privilege to accompany her on visits to Denver Botanical Gardens and Timberline Nursery. It was there I met some of the ATP members as well. The walking and socializing was a stretch for me but the chance to do something different was irresistible. Together we started my “vertical garden,” consisting of some of the plants I bought and some which were shared with me.

As they say, “the rest is history”, I now have annuals and succulents galore. After they left I visited several nurseries and added plants willy-nilly. I did not really have a grasp on what would/would not grow or how to care for what I was buying. Every day, I logged into ATP, read the posts in various forums, questioned the members and learned. Now less than six weeks later, not all of my plants are doing well, but I now have the support of my online plant family at ATP, including my SIL. I find I am now much more active and enjoying doing things out of doors. I have increased in stamina and strength and have a much more positive attitude.

Even after a hail storm and scorching heat, I am confident that I am learning and growing alongside my new plant family. I just know that by this time next year I will have some surviving plants and will be ready to more intelligently choose plants to add to my crops. I have learned about plants, containers, soil conditions as well as general care and display of the little beauties. I show off my garden to neighbors and friends. They are beginning to roll their eyes when I start talking about the unique characteristics of the different species, as they used to do on my talks about genealogy.

Change is good, change is inevitable, but we can choose to make it a positive or a negative in our lives. I choose to grow with a little help from my faith, family, friends and ATP. ATP is therapeutic.

OH and it is spiritual therapy because getting close to growing things causes you to realize the grace and goodness of God, and to marvel at the beauty and uniqueness of each living thing.

goldfinch4 said:Being part of the ATP family is truly one of the highlights of my life! I've "met" some of the most wonderful people. Through trades and co-ops I've received many beautiful plants that I may not have been able to get or thought of trying here otherwise. This is the absolute best place to come for information on any plants and I always find answers to any questions or problems about them. Everyone is so willing to share their knowledge. It's fun to learn together and the encouragement from others is priceless. Dave and Trish have created a beautiful place where everyone is genuinely concerned about each other on a personal basis as well and that makes this one very special, caring and unselfish family that has enriched my life. Happy Birthday ATP!!!

kqcrna said:Yes, ATP has changed my life, and I have to say it's for the better. Belonging here has allowed me to make new garden friends as well as keeping in touch with old friends. There's a wealth of garden knowledge here, and great sharing among members. And usually there's plenty of comic relief. Like Paul, I check in several times a day and enjoy my time here. I don't watch TV, I spend my relaxation time reading books or here on ATP.

I was lucky enough to have belonged to ATP since very early after it's inception. The road here was a little rocky at times for many of us as a group, but mostly for Dave and Trish. Then ATP was more like a basic message board where we discussed the new site, the features we members would enjoy having. It was fascinating to watch Dave seemingly work magic as the site developed, features like tabs were added, and different forums, and pretty banners. And by the day of the "launch" of the site to the public, I knew I'd witnessed Dave making history with yet another successful garden site.

~*~

There are no more words for me to add to what's already been said. I've made my rounds of gardening websites, hopping from one to the other searching for this, looking for that, needing information. And I've played around the social websites, too, but I don't have to hop or play in other places anymore; it's all right here in one spot. And my friends, they're right here, too, working and playing right along beside me. Like jmorth says, it just feels good to be here.

My son was here recently and I took a little computer break from his company for a minute. He asked me what I was doing. "Just checking my acorns," I said. I didn't tell him I was checking my 'thumbs up' or checking for T-mails, too. He had enough trouble accepting that I was in my right mind over the acorns.  But it's the little things that make life worth living, little pats on the back as Paul said, little connections with my friends.  Dave and Trish, y'all make my heart sing right out loud!  Thank you for this beautiful garden where we all find exactly what we need, and if we can't find it yet, we'll keep right on digging and planting till we do.

Thanks so very much as well to those members who answered my questions. You provided all that was needed for this article, just as you all provide so much that is good for this site. If you have a comment you would like to make, please let us know in the comment threads that follow!

Happy First Birthday, All Things Plants!

 
Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Happy Birthday to us! by Dutchlady1 Jul 6, 2012 9:08 PM 18
♬ ♭ ♪ ♫ Happy Birthday! ♬ ♪ ♫ ♩ by plantladylin Jul 4, 2012 9:27 PM 32
It does not seem a year! by NEILMUIR1 Jul 4, 2012 5:52 PM 5
OMG, yes!!! by crittergarden Jul 4, 2012 12:20 PM 2



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