šŸŒæ Botanica Chaotica Chronicles: Dancing with the Pineapple Express on December’s First Day šŸŒ§ļø

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Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve actively participated in the continued downfall of humankind. You may not know this, but, I am a rather slow writer, spending a lot of time thinking/rethinking, editing/re-editing, angsting/reangsting until things sound more or less like I want them to. It takes a lot of time and can be quite frustrating (though ultimately rewarding). So, after listening to a couple of podcasts about artificial intelligence (AI), I’ve decided to give it a whirl and see whether it can improve my writing experience or perhaps even give me a different perspective on garden blogging. So, today’s post is an experiment, generated within seconds. The title above, and everything between the zipper lines was written entirely by AI based on the following prompt. The only thing I’ve added are the pictures and captions. See you on the other side!

ChatGPT prompt: Write a garden blog post blog in the style of Botanica Chaotica about the first day of December and trying to garden during the pineapple express.

Greetings, fellow garden enthusiasts, and welcome to another riveting episode of Botanica Chaotica! Today, we embark on a daring journey into the heart of December, where chaos meets cultivation, and the Pineapple Express graces us with its presence.

Me, sitting on the couch, looking out the skylight, deciding whether to stay in or go out. I played with AI instead.

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As the first day of December unfolds, the garden is shrouded in mist, and raindrops play a symphony on the leaves. The Pineapple Express, a tempestuous weather pattern that brings warmth and moisture from the Pacific, has decided to join our gardening escapades. Ah, the unpredictability of nature ā€“ a dance with chaos, a tango with tempests.

Rain droplets on shrubby tororaro, Muehlenbeckia astonii

The Merry Mayhem of the Pineapple Express:

Picture this: a garden bed transformed into a canvas of droplets, each leaf a glistening masterpiece. The air is pregnant with the scent of wet earth and anticipation. The Pineapple Express, notorious for its erratic behavior, has us gardeners on our toes. Will it bring a deluge or a mere drizzle? The suspense is part of the thrill, my green-thumbed comrades.

Canvas of droplets on honeywort, Cerinthe major ''Purpurascens'

Embracing the Chaotic Elegance:

In the spirit of Botanica Chaotica, we refuse to be thwarted by a little precipitation. Deciding to embrace the chaos, we don our rain boots, unfurl our umbrellas, and waltz into the garden. The plants, resilient as ever, nod approvingly at our audacity.

In between deluges

TIP #1: Waterproof Your Green Haven

Invest in quality rain gear for yourself and your plants. Mulch, that unsung hero of the garden, becomes a fortress against erosion, and raised beds stand tall against waterlogged soils.

My quality rain gear is a ratty pair of crocs
Freshly fallen apple leaves as mulch
Raised bed standing tall

Planting with Purpose:

While some may shudder at the thought of gardening during a Pineapple Express affair, we view it as an opportunity for strategic planting. The soil is receptive, the roots eager ā€“ a perfect moment for transplanting and sowing seeds.

TIP #2: Choose Your Allies Wisely

Opt for water-loving companions in your garden orchestra. Think kale, chard, and the ever-resilient lettuce. These moisture mavens thrive in the midst of the Pineapple Express’s watery waltz.

Kale, chard, and lettuce?!?! Western skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) going dormant in the creek for the winter.
Two days later this became a muddy torrent.

Unpredictable Pests and Delightful Surprises:

Ah, the Pineapple Express ā€“ a harbinger not just of rain but of unexpected guests and garden delights. Slugs emerge like tiny pirates, leaving silver trails in their wake. However, they are easily deterred with eco-friendly methods, such as coffee grounds or diatomaceous earth.

TIP #3: Keep an Eye on the Sky, but Also on the Ground

Be vigilant for signs of both friend and foe. Mushrooms, those enchanting fungal wonders, may spring up as if summoned by the Pineapple Express’s magic. While some are harmless, others may pose a threat to your plants. Know your allies from your adversaries.

Turkeytail fungus, Trametes versicolor

As the day draws to a close, and the Pineapple Express bids adieu, our garden stands resilient ā€“ a testament to the gardener’s ability to adapt and thrive amidst chaos. Until next time, dear readers, may your gardens be bountiful, and may you dance fearlessly in the rain with the spirit of Botanica Chaotica as your guide.

Happy gardening, and may the Pineapple Express bring you both challenges and unexpected joys! šŸŒ§ļøšŸŒ±

Parting shot of the rock garden in between rain events. It looks like the Pineapple Express will be here longer than day!

Lessons learned

Ok, that’s it! I was a little surprised how fast it spat something out. Overall, I don’t think it mirrored my writing style very well because I couldn’t point it specifically to my website. It used many, many more adjectives than I tend to do (unless you count my Spooky October Doomsday Post) and a broader range of adjectives to boot. It almost feels as if ChatGPT just pasted a bunch of related words together in a mellifluous jumble of garden verbiage (which, in fact, it did). To be honest, I am a little envious of its ability to rapidly make smart metaphorical connections and to use fluffy filler words. It is a skill that I wish came more naturally (and quickly) to me. Some of my favorite garden writers are able to do this. But, it is evident that real human writers spend more time “thinking” about the subject and what the words actually mean.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Treasure Island'

The other thing I noticed is that ChatGPT used more headers (something one of the WordPress experts told me to do – I forget why – something about making content easier to digest by readers and for search engines to find). The tips were something new too.

Favorite quotes

  • “where chaos meets cultivation”
  • “a dance with chaos, a tango with tempests”

Giggly, cringey moments

  • “the air is pregnant with the scent of wet earth and anticipation”
  • “the plants, resilient as ever, nod approvingly at our audacity”
  • “These moisture mavens thrive in the midst of the Pineapple Express’s watery waltz” – OMG, too much!
  • I also disliked all the woo, pseudoscientific stuff around tip 3 – coffee grounds, mushrooms posing a threat – it just wasn’t precise enough for me. It was all written so vague as to be almost completely useless.
I am one of those people who has to buy every variety of squash at the store. By far my favorite vegetable.
The wrinkled little one in the middle is my favorite.

I will be toying around with ChatGPT again, though I won’t post the results as my own original content without making a disclaimer first. Anyway, what do you think? Is AI coming for our blogging jobs? Have I made it easier for machine learning to take something innately human away from us? I’m going to keep blogging regardless of whether AI can do it better than me or not, mainly because it is a way of organizing MY thoughts and writing about things that interest ME. If I had ChatGPT do everything, I don’t think blogging would be half as rewarding. Blogging is my way of making sense of the world. It helps guide my growth as a gardener and connects me to other gardeners around the world. I don’t want to lose that to another mindless, automated piece of software. I do want to explore what ChatGPT means for us though. Can it be useful? Can it point out problems? How is it at editing and getting me out of a writing rut? Exciting times are upon us whether we like it or not. How do we keep up enough so that we don’t fall behind?

I’ll leave you with one last thought – I took the paragraph above and asked ChatGPT to edit it for clarity. Here is what it came up with.

I’ll be experimenting with ChatGPT again, but I won’t publish the results as my original content without a disclaimer. So, what’s your take? Is AI poised to take over our roles as bloggers? Have I unwittingly made it simpler for machine learning to snatch away something inherently human from us? Regardless, I’ll continue blogging, whether AI can outperform me or not. Blogging serves as a means to organize MY thoughts and delve into topics that interest ME. If I had ChatGPT handle everything, the gratification from blogging would likely diminish significantly. Blogging is my method of comprehending the world, fostering my growth as a gardener, and establishing connections with fellow gardeners globally. I’m not willing to forfeit that to another mindless, automated piece of software. However, I am curious about what ChatGPT signifies for us. Can it be a valuable tool? Can it identify issues? How proficient is it at editing and pulling me out of a writing slump? Regardless of our preferences, exciting times are upon us. The question is, how do we stay sufficiently abreast of these changes to avoid falling behind?

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Elena

    Being in my seventies, you can imagine that “falling behind” is not a personal concern, but I much prefer your own style of writing than ChatGPT’s, so please take your time and do your own writing! I’m sure it will be more satisfying both to you and your readers. I’ve only been reading your blog for a short time, and am enjoying it–it brings me in contact with a nature so different from my own here in the east. I’ve never had problems writing for my blog, letting the images I’ve selected guide me to find the flow of words (and English is my second language!). Your photos are so wonderful anyway, they only need a bit of narration. It’s the human touch that is important.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I do struggle with writing quite a bit, but most of it is trying to put together a story that I want to tell and flows the way I want it to. It was interesting to see what ChatGPT pulled together for a garden blog, but it did completely bypass a lot of the creative process and definitely felt a little artificial. I like your strategy of letting the images guide where you go. I can only imagine what it is like to put things together in another language. I’ve been practicing Spanish everyday for 4 years, but not immersed in it enough to be fluent.

  2. Anna K

    Personally, I w-a-y prefer your own, less forced writing style over that. A friend asked that same app write a goodnight story for his sixyear-old, involving their two cats. It spit it out in no time, and the result was downright creepy.

    For me, your last paragraph brings it home. Like you, writing is my way of organizing my thoughts, and a good way to hash out answers to my own questions. I also like its archiving function. It allows me to think/learn/discover, synthesize and write it down, and then forget about it. Some of my more ambitious posts are full of information I may not always be able to retain. They are also my most read, but took weeks – if not months of research – so Iā€™m glad they have staying power. Alas, in the end, it was still mostly written for my own benefit – though Iā€™m always happy when others find it useful as well.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Yes! The archiving function is super important. I have an absolutely terrible memory and although I’ve only been writing this blog for a short amount of time, it has been helpful to be able to search it for information and past thoughts. I too have spent quite a bit of time researching things and it’s nice to see a topic come together. Blogging has been a great tool for self-reflection and discovering new perspectives. I think we have to struggle through the words and putting together our thoughts in order to grow as human beings. It’s hard to imagine personal growth without that struggle.

  3. danger garden

    I loved “where chaos meets cultivation” and think that’s worth hanging on to. However “The air is pregnant with the scent of wet earth and anticipation” and “Slugs emerge like tiny pirates” sent me into fits of giggling. This was a fun experiment, but like you it completely misses the point of why I blog; recording my experiences and my thoughts, and connecting with other gardeners. There was a couple month stretch where I got emails almost daily about how to use AI for blogging. Perhaps I’m lacking imagination but that’s just of no interest whatsoever. Maybe if I was managing social media for a company and it was my job to blog, rather than my passion.

    On another note you’ve reminded me of an AI generated blurb a friend did and sent me. I got his permission to use it, now I just need to dig it out and post it. (to be continued…)

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      It was just a tad hyperbolic, wasn’t it? All fluff, no real content though. I’m going to try a few more experiments at some point and see what I learn.

  4. Kris P

    Methinks ChatGPT has a penchant for poetic phrasing. It leans too heavily into that at the cost of meaningful content in my opinion, although without any actual experience gardening during a deluge perhaps the best it could do is to link the concept of moisture and its superficial effects. AI’s revisions to your final paragraph amounted to little more than word or phrase substitutions that contributed nothing to its meaning. Frankly, I believe that simple straightforward phrasing often packs more punch than clever synonyms. I also find that better posts often emerge as a result of creating a story that links the photos you’ve selected to share together. Nonetheless, it’s an amusing experiment.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Yes, I agree. Very, very heavy at poetic phrasing, but hardly any meaningful content. Scientific writing has forced a lot of adjectives and metaphors out of my vocabulary while ChatGPT seems to rely heavily on both of them. It now makes more sense to me that the best that AI can do (at the moment) is compile related words and phrases based on what I prompt it to find online. In a way, I almost think ChatGPT provides an average of whatever content it can fine. Nothing exceptional, nothing terrible. Just something in between. It’s up to us as humans to instill content.

  5. I prefer your style of writing; it’s genuine and human. To Danger’s point – it’s why I blog too, recording my experiences, thoughts and connections. It’s a mental exercise that I think is helpful in fostering creativity and my thought process, and frankly, AI is creepy but kudos to you for trying something new. And to Anna’s point, your words are not forced! And research is a valuable tool to expand our own knowledge. Gosh, I’m babbling…..an oh-so-human trait of mine. Cheers and thank you for the open experiement!

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Yes, creepy! I’d been worrying about AI after listening to the news, thinking about it taking over and collecting data on everything, dumbing us down as a species. However, after listening to a few podcasts, I felt much better about using it as a tool. There’s that quote “AI isn’t going to take your job. Someone using AI will.”. So, I thought I would at least see what it’s all about.

      Have to say that I appreciate hearing from several of you that at least my words are genuine. Sometimes I spend too much time trying to get things just so and it probably isn’t worth it. I too tend to babble – it’s tough work to make sense and order out of what flows from my mind. At least putting it down in words lets me get it out on “paper” and prevent it from circling for hours in my head.

  6. Beth@PlantPostings

    How interesting…I didn’t even think to try that. I might do it one of these days just for fun. I prefer your writing style, as the others mention, but this was a fun experiment. Your photos are captions are lovely.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Thanks! It definitely was a fun experiment. Will be interesting to see what I can get it to do.

  7. Linda Brazill

    I retired after almost 30 years as a newspaper columnist and editor. That has been followed by 15+ years of blogging. My early blog posts were more like my columns until I realized many readers tend to want more pix and fewer words. But I want to write long still. I do find it harder to create posts that are as well-written and memorable as some of my columns. I do spend crazy amounts of time re-writing, editing and making sure I am not using the same words in sentence after sentence. As a journalist, the whole concept of AI is disturbing. But it seems to fit right in with our disturbed world and nation. Love the evergreens in your rock garden and the great patterns provided by the tororaro. As for that fungus it means one’s tree is not healthy. Learned the hard way.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I’ve heard that advice from several bloggers and website creators – that people want more photos than words nowadays. But, my natural tendency is to write long. I’ve been giving myself a little bit of a break on that, though, because if I am mainly writing the blog for myself, then I can be as long-winded as I want…as long as I don’t lose the message along the way.

      It was a bit of a relief to read your comments about your experience writing as a former editor and long-time blogger. I do the same thing – hours re-writing, editing, checking wording. I think it comes from my time as a science writer. But, I definitely have a set pattern that I tend to use over and over in my paragraphs. It’s frustrating to break out of those habits and I always want to write faster. AI is definitely disturbing. It could portend changes that I’m not sure that we are ready for. I am hoping that by better understanding what it can do, I am better prepared to fight against its potential to spread misinformation.

  8. Tracy

    AI loves the waltz apparently. This was equally cringey and funny.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      That is an interesting point. Waltzes seem to be more poetic, I guess. It definitely changes my imagery when I substitute in another dance style.

      Deciding to embrace the chaos, we don our rain boots, unfurl our umbrellas, and…
      …samba into the garden.
      …cha cha into the garden.
      …hip hop into the garden.
      …foxtrot into the garden.

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