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Visit in Brenda Haas’s Garden

Along the pumpkin path

It’s hard to decide where a tour of Brenda Haas’s ranch should begin! In a gorgeous border beside her house, a volunteer pumpkin plant capriciously cavorts among the ornamentals. One of the surest ways to my heart: grow food in your show garden.

Remember Cultivate ’14? I wrote about it here: Horticulture Conference for Industry Geeks. I saw and learned so many cool things at that conference, but the trip gave me an opportunity to do something even more awesome: I spent the day after Cultivate ’14 visiting with Brenda Haas in northern Ohio.

Who is Brenda Haas?

To me, first and foremost, Brenda is a friend from my early days on social media. I got to know her as @BG_Garden on Twitter, and later as Bren… pretty much also on Twitter. I hope you also already know Brenda but if you don’t, let me encourage you to change that.

Bren is the curator of #gardenchat.

What is #gardenchat?

If I understand correctly, #gardenchat started on Superbowl Sunday with a group of gardening enthusiasts on Twitter. They had casually organized to tweet with each other while planting seeds instead of watching football.

Bird bath in a shaded garden

Not far from the pumpkin path, a bird bath holds promise of avian visitors in a shady garden spot. The view is across a lawn toward the road concealed by a hedgerow.

Participants enjoyed this first gardening-specific twitter chat and several turned #gardenchat into a weekly event. They tweeted about #gardenchat to their Twitter friends, and over the course of several months participation increased.

To be honest, I kept hearing about #gardenchat, but took about 6 months finally to tune in. The chat hooked me instantly.

During the #gardenchat hour, there may be twenty, thirty, or more conversations happening all at once, with one main conversation tying them together. New participants often comment about how impossible it is to follow what’s going on. Fortunately, Bren posts recaps. There is a supertanker load of gardening wisdom (and a lot of other interesting banter) in the #gardenchat archives.

How to #gardenchat

All you need to participate in #gardenchat is a Twitter account and a working Internet connection. On Monday nights at 9PM Eastern time, you can navigate to, log in with your Twitter credentials, and type in the hash tag #gardenchat. Every tweet anyone posts that includes the #gardenchat hash tag will scroll by on your screen.

If you type a tweet into the box at the top of the screen, automatically adds the hash tag at the end of the tweet.

Things move quickly during #gardenchat so hold onto your teeth. Follow @bg_garden on Twitter and watch for announcements about upcoming topics, giveaways, and other news related to the garden industry. Most of all, have fun! I hope to see you on the Chat!


A screen capture of provides an idea of what you’ll see during the #gardenchat hour on Monday nights. Click the image to see it full-sized.

The box titled, How to #gardenchat will help you participate. This is one of the most important destinations for gardeners online; several times over the years, the #gardenchat has ranked among the most active topics on Twitter. Please check it out a few times before you make up your mind about it; you’ll never meet so many like-minded gardening enthusiasts so easily.

One more time: Who is Bren?

So, Bren organizes #gardenchat and has expanded the #gardenchat experience onto many social media platforms. You can find #gardenchat on Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr. As well, Bren manages some #gardenchat activity on her personal website, and she manages a second website specifically dedicated to the #gardenchat community.

Bren was a garden photographer until all this social media stuff came around. Now she’s a wizard with social media… and she’s also a garden photographer. I learned when I visited her that she’s a talented gardener, and that she has boundless drive and energy. I already knew that she’s a warm, generous person—we’ve met several times over the years.

Colors and textures in Bren's garden

Bren’s gardens displayed layers of colors and textures that encouraged me to linger. Now and again, I spotted plants I recognized, but mostly I just enjoyed the scenery.

I love that Bren opened her home to me and that I got to meet her family. I love that she took time to give me a thorough tour of her ranch. I love that we started yapping when I arrived and paused only when sleep became inevitable… and continued the next morning pretty much until I had to head home. We talked about gardening & social media, and maybe even a bit about family.

For me it was the perfect punctuation to a terrific gardening-focused week in Ohio. Photos provide some insight into Bren’s gardening style. I have more to share; in the next month or so, I’ll post again about visiting in Brenda Haas’s garden.

Complementary plantings in Bren's garden

An eye-catching combo that includes hostas, heucheras, and ivy.

Gaining perspective in Bren's garden

A gorgeous flowering succulent grew in a pot near the “water feature” at Bren’s ranch.

On the deck in Bren's garden

Across the pond at Bren’s, you might glimpse horses through the fence. A gorgeous willow tree adds drama.

Water lily in Brenda Haas's pond

If there are water lilies, this photographer must capture at least one in a photo. Bren reported the unusually cold winter killed back her water lilies, but it’s clear they’re recovering.


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2 Responses to “Visit in Brenda Haas’s Garden”

  • Daniel it was an honor to have you as our guest here in Ohio. Thank you for such a beautiful write up… it seriously made me cry! It was a dream come true to have one of my social media friends come and visit FOR REAL : and we even got to do some #selfie tweets! HA. Maybe we can make a visit to BGgarden a regular event each year after Cultivate?!

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Bren: You’re too kind. You were a terrific host; I’ll be back every chance I get! You might want to get a guard dog.

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