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Indy gardener pots and prunes blog posts into book

Carol Michel. Photo courtesy Jill Thompson

Carol Michel has come a long way since I first interviewed her shortly after she won the 2009 Mouse and Trowel Award for MayDreamsGardens.com, voted the best blog by readers from all over the country.

“I love writing, and blogging gave me a way to write about gardening and share what I wrote almost immediately with others,” she said at the time. Michel, who grew up in Greenwood, Indiana, and has been blogging seriously since 2006.

Since then, Michel, who has a degree in horticulture from Purdue University, wrote a garden column for a south side community paper for a few years, writes regularly for gardening magazines and began accepting speaking gigs. And she’s won other awards for her blog from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and Garden Writers Association, of which she’s a member.

She retired a year ago after 30-plus years in information technology and almost immediately started on a book. Published earlier this year, Potted and Pruned pulls from Michel’s blog, showcasing her practical advice, heavily seasoned with her unique sense of humor.

“After 10 plus years of blogging, I felt like I had some good essays about gardening that were trapped in the online world. By putting some of the essays in a book, potting them up and pruning them first, I hoped to reach a new audience of gardeners who haven’t discovered garden blogs,” she said in an interview

Michel, who declares herself a Gardenangelist, published the book under Gardenangelist Press. She worked with Deb Wiley, a freelance editor in Iowa, and with a former Indianapolis resident, Katie Elzer-Peters of Wilmington, North Carolina, who served as managing editor. Elzer-Peters fostered the book through the publishing process, and coordinated the design and graphics. The book is available in had and soft cover and Kindle at Amazon.com, or signed copies are available from her blog.

Michel, who claims to have the world’s largest hoe collection with 56 of the tools, embraces the old-fashion and historic aspects of gardening. She prowls used bookstores and lurks online auction houses, searching for first editions of garden books, such as those by Elizabeth Lawrence (1904-1985) or Cynthia Westcott (1898-1983). Michel has made the pilgrimage to Wing Haven, Lawrence’s home and garden in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was so impressed with Westcott’s ability to write about plant pathology in a way that was easily understandable, Michel helped create an award from Garden Writers Association to honor academics who communicate complex horticulture information in language a gardener can understand.

“I read once that the Smithsonian Museum and other archivists would far rather preserve something on paper than in an electronic format,” she said. “Though I don’t think my book is by any means worthy of a museum, I hope that someday a gardener discovers it in a used bookstore, the way I’ve discovered old gardening books in used bookstores.”

 

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