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Ilona's Garden, On the Web Since 1998

Updated on June 3, 2016
Ilonagarden profile image

Ilona has gardened actively for most of her life, and been a writer and webmaster online since 1998. Homeschooled all 10 of her children.

I Write About Trees and Seasons

The Sweet Cherry In Autumn
The Sweet Cherry In Autumn | Source

Website Focus: How To Improve Your Garden

My garden website, on the web since 1998, is all about helping people make the most out of their home garden. Ilona's Garden is geared toward every homeowner who wants to improve their own gardens in a personal way and there is plenty of information on deciding your style and growing your plants.

"You can become your own landscaper!" is what I always say. I was always interested in designs, especially when it comes to perennial gardening, so I have written quite a bit about what I've learned on that topic. The garden changes constantly, and I have changed too, although at a slower pace. Dealing with garden challenges, growing plants well, reflect that journey.

The site is growing. It inspires some of the articles I create here on Hubpages, especially in the Home and Garden category.

Want to know the story of the garden website that began almost 14 years ago?

That is my sweet cherry tree in the photo, by the way. Don't you love the autumn colors of its leaves?

Fine Gardening Inspiration - A Great Garden Magazine

There are so many garden books and magazines that you may feel there are just too many to try to choose from. With sites like mine delivering garden how-to and plant information instantaneously, why bother with buying a magazine?

If it is one like 'Fine Gardening', then the answer lies in the top quality photographs of the very best gardens, and a compact feature of expert garden advice rolled into a pleasurable read. I always get great ideas from reading the pages of articles about successful and inspired gardeners.

Fine Gardening
Fine Gardening

Fine gardening is one of those magazines that is filled with the best ideas for design along with in depth and easy to follow information on how to grow the plants and design the spaces in your landscape. It really inspires you to get out in the garden and make some of those ideas bloom for your own yard.

 

3 Answers to Garden Problems

Besides improving the soils and putting the right plant in the right place? Quality plants.

A good garden is as easy as 1-2-3.

This is the focal point of my garden writing.

1. Good soil.

2. Good choices.

3. Good plants.

Discover Ilona's Garden - Interested in touring Ilona's Garden?

The more I wrote about gardening and plants the more I realized I had to focus in on my area, Central Ohio gardening. The topic of gardening is just too broad for most writers, even highly trained experts in horticulture, to cover well. And while I enjoy reading a "kitchen sink" type of reference book, what I usually need is specific advice on the situations and challenges my garden faces. So, I figured that is what others most need, as well.

If you are a gardener anywhere, then any of my design pages will be useful, since design concepts aren't bound by climate or soil restraints. If you need plant suggestions for the Midwest, my site can help you with experienced advice and information.

Find what you are looking for in the Archives/sitemap

Photo of my driveway plantings
Photo of my driveway plantings | Source

Pages you can find on my site

  • Make a Fairy Garden

    You will be enchanted- and it is a fun project for children.

  • Flowers- Annuals and Perennials

    growing annuals or perennials in the garden, general info, garden ideas, lists of favorites...

  • Find Herb Garden and Herb Plants Info

    design your herb garden or grow a certain herb plant, right this way....

  • Victorian Garden

    Example of the history and description of a garden style. Have a Victorian home?

  • Trees for Ornament and Shade

    the best and most lasting investment in your landscape....

  • Garden Tasks & Tips

    Each month has chores and tips for growing a great garden....

  • Garden Tools for the Beginner

    you don't need every tool available- good advice on buying tools

  • The Prairie Garden

    Few of us will ever see a true prairie like the pioneers of old had seen, but we still have the plants, and many of those are ideal for challenging conditions

An Old Photo Of My Garden

My garden, a decade ago
My garden, a decade ago | Source

Tracy DiSabato-Aust Influenced Me

Who Influenced My Garden and the Writing?

Besides my Grandma

If you read my About page on the site you get the whole story of how I was inspired to love gardening from both sides of the family, but I think that certain garden writers had a great influence on me. One of the most recent is in the video on this hub, Tracy DiSabato-Aust. The interesting thing is that she has her home and personal garden not far from where I live. Her ideas of making a garden are what I am now using more in changing it from its labor intensive style.

The garden and my garden writing were both influenced by an author not many will remember, Helen Van Pelt Wilson. She was an American garden author with enthusiasm, experience, and a way of sharing her knowledgeable insights through her own garden; as in 'Helen Van Pelt Wilson's Own Garden and Landscape Book'. I believe that is what I now most try to do in writing the articles, even the rather dry plant and cultivation descriptions, which I try to enliven with personal opinions, anecdotes, and tips I found to be of use.

I read many English authors, as well. Penelope Hobhouse, Margery Fish, and the venerable writings of Gertrude Jekyll have all left their mark on my conscious desire to make and share the making of a garden.

Do Not Underestimate Your Neighbors

When I lived in the city, it became apparent how much my neighbors and I encouraged and inspired each other to create beautiful gardens. It is a synergy that has to be experienced! Not so much "Keep up with the Joneses" as a brainstorm of ideas, sharing of plants, and mutual admiration. I will always be thankful for that group of people at that time in my life.

We were a motley crew in a rundown neighborhood, trying valiantly to restore our homes and give civility to our neighborhoods. There was something of a golden age to it, but eventually we all moved on and the darkness won... it returned to a place of transient renters, and absentee landlords. Sad, but the time of our success as a group stays with me.

Time marches on and neighbors move....

I moved into the country, my favorite neighbors moved to Canada, the couple from California- who were always motivating for more community spirit and activism- moved on, and eventually we all did. For me, it was when a crazy with a baseball bat took to smashing cars, and an undercover policeman pulled out his gun, while we stared with disbelief from our porch swing one summer evening. Still, I believe that if people are proactive enough, they can be a source of optimism to raise the bar for the entire area they live in.

So here is a salute to those gardeners of my old neighborhood, who were inventive, hardworking, generous, and believing. We made our places better for each other and those who visited our street.... back in the day.

You inspired me and made my gardening better than it would have been without you.

Join Me As I Share Inniswood Public Gardens with You

Online Garden Information - Your Opinions Matter

Is it just me or do you believe that online information is a mixed bag?

What is your favorite way to get the answer you need to your garden questions?

Are garden websites meeting your needs?

See results

Create Your Landscape Plan - Easy to use software

Don't let a lack of drawing skills prevent you from creating a visual plan for your landscape. There are many software programs to use. If you know how to make dream boards or collages, those, too, could be drafted to put your ideas into a visual plan for your plantings.

One Minute Garden Tip

DeWit Fully Forged Border Spade
DeWit Fully Forged Border Spade

DeWit is my favorite tool maker. They consistently produce fine quality tools that are worth the money spent

 

Buy Good Quality Garden Supplies - Good tools + good books= good garden

OK- you need to throw in some hard work, but...

Buy from those you trust... and that means tool and book suggestions. Has the person offering you advice actually gardened, themselves? Do they know what it is like to have a poor quality tool break at the handle, or look for information in a book that is pretty, but pretty useless? One thing that really improves the level of advice is topical experience. I chose Smith & Hawken products here because I have used them personally for years. When I see that name I think of good design and good quality.

Many photos are from my own garden
Many photos are from my own garden

What You Can Find On My Garden Page

The Main Areas of Information

Style and Design Pages - Descriptions of popular garden styles and their characteristics, features and plants of that style of garden, and some how-to tips are all important topics for gardeners. I try to cover all those interests.

Styles like "Cottage gardening", "New American", "English style", and "French Potager" are some articles available.

.

Plant Highlights and Profiles- Pages for the main types of plants: Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, Trees and Shrubs, with highlight pages on my personal favorites. Profile posts giving plant descriptions, growing information ( height, width, hardiness zone, propagation, companion plants, and fun facts). Plant and flower photos.

"Learn to Grow It" pages- how to grow a simple herb garden, a starter vegetable patch, list of the best propagation info, and urban gardening pages... all kinds of growing-knowing stuff.

Garden news in the Gazebo- garden news and additional articles on bees.

Garden blog with Ohio related posts.

To help pay for things like hosting, domain name fees, template costs, etc I have affiliate links.

Brook & Hunter Combo-HT-IND-3TCF Premium 3-Piece Combo Kit With Stainless Steel Alloy Polished Hand Trowel, Hand Cultivator & Hand Fork With Hand Crafted Red Oak Handles
Brook & Hunter Combo-HT-IND-3TCF Premium 3-Piece Combo Kit With Stainless Steel Alloy Polished Hand Trowel, Hand Cultivator & Hand Fork With Hand Crafted Red Oak Handles

Get the best quality hand tools that you can afford- you will use them for years and a good tool makes tasks a pleasure. This is probably the best garden tip you can get! (other than "start small")

 

Got a Garden Problem? There is a Solution

Like a good gardening neighbor, Ilona's Garden supplies answers to your garden questions.

The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs
The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs

This is a garden author who hales from Ohio and offers some of the best gardening information for all levels of gardeners. Her books are a MUST for the bookshelf.

 

Start a Garden Bookshelf and Tool Collection - Everyone needs good tools and good resource books

My Personal Garden Recommendations

On Amazon

I've selected books that I think are worth putting into your garden library, and chosen tools that will help you garden well. More choices can be bound at this link: My Garden Sundries is my Amazon garden store.

Why Have Sales Onsite?

A website has costs that are partially supported by readers who use the affiliate links to buy on Amazon. I pay yearly costs for the domain name, hosting, an attractive theme, and some of the plugins which add function to the site. I also buy gear and software and site memberships to make graphics for it. (Garden websites, especially, need many photos and illustrations.)

What Type Of Links Are Of Value To Readers?

The authors I've chosen to highlight are those who have influenced me tremendously.I think other gardeners will benefit from their books, too.

The tools I recommend are those that I really have used in my gardening experience over the years.

And there is nothing like a good solid trowel to really dig into your own yard gardening adventure. Some I have reviewed, but most simply are linked in my writing.

How The Site Got Started

...once upon a time in Geocities...

A son needed something constructive to do with his interest in computers and the internet, so he was assigned the task of setting up a personal website for his mother in 1998. Divided into sections that mirrored her life experiences, the garden section became the most updated and evolving part of the site. No surprise, since gardening had been a passion of hers for many years. Thus, "Ilona's Garden" flowered from the sprouts of a desire to share "over the fence" garden advice and enthusiasm.

How did it look back then? Check the wayback machine.

Eventually, in 2007, it was decided (by me, finally) that it was time for its own domain -to take this garden website writing seriously!

After moving the original pages to ilonasgarden.com, the detour into blogging made Wordpress the obvious choice to use for continuing the site ( which is run, written and composed by one person, Ilona). Garden writing demands photo illustrations, so that is one effort that is seeing more development. Photos from wonderful sources such as morguefile and Flickr Creative Commons are a real boon, too.

Today the site is growing with special emphasis placed on getting plant profiles published of plants grown in Ilona's Garden. Branching out into articles on Urban and Food gardening, the gardening of her roots is finding space, as well.

You are always welcome at Ilona's Garden.

I highly recommend a couple premium theme sites for those who use Wordpress:

Elegant themes and Genesis Framework (affiliate links)

CobraHead Original Weeder & Cultivator Garden Hand Tool - Forged Steel Blade - Recycled Plastic Handle - Ergonomically Designed for Digging, Edging & Planting - Gardeners Love Our Most Versatile Tool
CobraHead Original Weeder & Cultivator Garden Hand Tool - Forged Steel Blade - Recycled Plastic Handle - Ergonomically Designed for Digging, Edging & Planting - Gardeners Love Our Most Versatile Tool

One of THE best weeders bar none. The only one I like better is a Cape Cod Weeder, and this one goes neck in neck with it.

I do occasional reviews of products I use, and hope to increase that part of my garden writing because there are so many tools and books out there.

 

Web Stuff: Same Platform, Different Themes

How the website keeps changing

At first, the biggest choice was what to use to create the web pages. It started out with webpages that were hard to change and update: html static pages. That is meaningless to some people, but blogging software created a whole new way of making updating and adding new information easy as writing an email. The hard part was in the way the page functioned and looked through use of the "theme".

Once the decision for Wordpress was made, the journey through different themes had begun. Now, many of the best sites use "Premium themes" which you pay a fee to use. I am using one type of premium theme. The advantage to this is to get a way for your site to function well for visitors. Different kinds of pages, ways for the information to be highlighted, all sorts of bells and whistles. The greatest challenge I have for a garden website which is best with many photos, is to streamline the load time for visitors. That remains something to work on....

I started a new site to document some of the things I've learned about blogging and creating a website, etc. It is new, but if you are curious about that, check out WebHelp.

Create Your Own Websites and Blogs - Get a leg up on building your own website

Blogging and webmastering is almost as fun as gardening! There is a learning curve that is just a bit steeper in the software part of web gardening, but never fear, because there are lots of books and sites out there to help you.

Source

Feedback from others has always been of prime importance to this webmaster! Your opinions for improvements and your ideas are welcomed. This is a site for *you* and anything you can suggest will make it better.

How Did This Influence You? - Interested in the garden website?

Did this hub interest you in visiting Ilona's Garden?

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Sit and visit a spell - What would you like to share about garden sites?

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    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      A beautiful garden and a nice introduction about how to take an idea and market it. I think you are well focused on providing value to people who are interested in gardening. Voted up.

    • Ilonagarden profile image
      Author

      Ilona E 4 years ago from Ohio

      @laurenrich: Thank you- I'm so glad you visited and took the time to comment:)

    • profile image

      laurenrich 4 years ago

      I love this lens. It is very informative with beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      johanna-lea 6 years ago

      i followed you here...is this the writing place? %)

      my squid name is johanna-lea.

      have no idea what i'm doing

    • profile image

      johanna-lea 6 years ago

      i followed you here...is this the writing place? %)

      my squid name is johanna-lea.

      have no idea what i'm doing

    • Ilonagarden profile image
      Author

      Ilona E 6 years ago from Ohio

      @tssfacts: definitely go into your garden asap! It will do you good :) I have been gardening more and more in containers. Too rainy here for me to do much myself, though. Thanks for the kind words- they mean much to me.

    • profile image

      tssfacts 6 years ago

      Very nicely done. It makes me want to go out into my garden (containers at the moment) and expand on what I have. Great job.

    • Ilonagarden profile image
      Author

      Ilona E 6 years ago from Ohio

      @ICanCook: you are multi-talented:) Keep gardening !

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 6 years ago

      I too am a gardener and for many years my retired neighbor inspired me to press on despite the hard work. Last year he passed away. I will surely miss him and his inspiration. Maybe you can take up the job of keeping me inspired.

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      Lovely garden lens.

      Well presented.

    • Ilonagarden profile image
      Author

      Ilona E 6 years ago from Ohio

      @PrettyWorld: thank you for your visit and commenting - I appreciate it so much :)