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An Interview with a Gardener
If you take a popular hobby like the gardening system and nurture it with a little enthusiasm and dedication -- what do you get?

An incredible community of gardening enthusiasts devoted to the discovery of new plants and resources. Calah Greenleaf, a member of this community, was one of the first to gather and report her findings on the resources that can currently be obtained through the new plant system.

We recently caught up with Calah and asked about her experiences with the gardening system.

How long have you been playing Ultima Online?
Calah: I have been in UO for over 4 years now.

What did you do in UO before becoming involved with the gardening system?

Calah: I did many things in UO before the gardening system. I enjoyed hunting with friends on occasion with Wynterhart (my warrior) or Sapsar (my mage/fisher) on Sonoma, taming with Elya on Catskills, or fishing with Rainesong and the members of EFP. I was also involved in many of the Seer and player run events on both shards. My favorite activities have always included things that were not, as they say, right on the front line of fighting. I would rather hang back and heal others as they fought, sit and fish for hours, or get involved in many of the crafting skills.

I ran an RPG type bakery in Catskills for almost two years. It didn't provide much in the way of income, but it was rewarding in that I met many people who would stop by for dessert before they would log off for the day. It also afforded me the opportunity to expand upon the cooking skill by employing members of my guild as waiters for large catering orders I would be asked to do.

One of my favorite things has always been decorating. In December of 2000, my submission was posted on the UO.com holiday spotlight for the Christmas decorating contest (cape-side villa on Sonoma). Along with running two guild sites for UO, I also have a decorating site that includes many decorators from other shards. UO Designs Unlimited is sort of a collective where people who need decorating assistance or ideas can go and find a decorator or ask questions. Most of my in-game gold came from doing decorating jobs, so I never had to worry about going hunting to support my interest *laughs*. I run two shops, one on Sonoma and one on Catskills. Playing two shards can become hectic at times, especially when events are happening.

I was also a volunteer with the Counselor program for at least two years, as a Counselor and mentor. So, as I said, I have been very involved with the entire spectrum of things that UO has offered, though hunting was probably on the bottom of my priority list :)

Then came the gardening system...

(Remember, you asked. Hehe)

How long have you been participating in the gardening system?

Calah: Since it started with the advent of the boglings/bog things in the last scenario.

Approximately how many plants have you grown to date?

Calah: Well, I decided to start small, so I planted 12 plants on Sonoma and 12 on Catskills (3 of each color of the bog thing seeds). That allowed me to get to the 3rd generation easily. Though, somehow, I had forgotten to grow enough of the first generation seeds to be able to get a pear cactus, which made me late for some of the 4th generation crosses. So, if I had to estimate how many plants I have grown, it would be roughly around 500 on Sonoma and close to that on Catskills. And I am still growing. :)

How much time would you say you spend (or have spent) on growing in-game plants?

Calah: I spend a good two hours on the days I do not have a lot of crosses or seeds to plant; if I do, sometimes 3 hours. Of course, that is just in the caring and planting part. I spend more time filling up my plant vendors on both shards, meeting people from the UO Gardening Forum, and soliciting traders for a few of my mutations. I just opened my shop on Catskills and spent almost 3 hours just putting the seeds and plants on the vendors, and I still do not have everything on them yet! So, I spend a lot of time on it, but I enjoy every minute of it.

Do you still do the things you did in UO before becoming involved with the gardening system?

Calah: I still have time for most of my other vendors and spend time doing things with friends. But to say I spend as much time on other things as I do on the plant system -- I don't. For instance, I have not mined since the last scenario, so my stone items are running low, and wood and leather items -- well let's just say I will be employing lumberjacks, miners, and hide hunters very soon.

Some of us doing the gardening have caught a bug that I hope we don't get rid of for quite sometime!

How long did it take before you were able to gather resources from your plants?

Calah: Well, to get to the 4th generation it took approximately 5 weeks. Waiting for that particular seed was a pain. I checked both my plants everyday, 10 times a day! I had the orange resource producing plants on both Sonoma and Catskills, and the red producing plant on Catskills; I had somehow missed it when I was cross breeding on Sonoma. So, early in the morning on the 3rd, I logged onto Sonoma, took care of my locked down plants, and watched time go by until 12 pm. I was the first one to post my findings on the Gardening Forum. My findings were also posted on Stratics. It took everyone awhile to convince me to eat this orange petal I had just taken 5 weeks to grow!! Posting the testing results was a lot of fun, and kind of a great reward for all the hard work. The next day on Catskills, I got the red leaf resource and was again the first to post the results, which ended up on Stratics yet again. Testing for that one was a bit easier after the shock of eating the first one *laughs*.

What do you do with most of your plants once you've grown them? Decorate with them? Sell them?

Calah: I do a few different things with the plants I grow. Most end up going in a secure container with the seeds on them for cross pollinating other plants, which is also a convenient way to catalogue the seeds and keep down on the amount of lockdowns. I take 5 seeds from each of the plants and keep one to grow, while 4 go on my vendors for sale. I have given away about as many, if not more, seeds/plants than I sell. When I first got the resource producing seeds, each day I gave one set (bright red and bright orange) to an EFP guild member, so they could also start growing the resource producing plants. I concentrated on getting to the 4th generation and then looked at what I had. I then grew what the market was asking for, as well as those colors that I thought looked nice, or ones that I may have missed.

I just finished decorating and opening up a garden center on Catskills called, "Grandier Garden Center." I sell seeds, decorative plants, un-pollinated plants, and resource plant seeds, as well as the resources themselves. I put a book with some info on the gardening system in the shop with some links to other sites and the UO.com Garden Forum to help those who are just starting out. I will probably incorporate the plants into my decorating. Many people have already asked for my services to decorate with the new plants; I just need to find the time. I am looking forward to the many venues the plant system offers for those of us who have the dedication and enjoyment to continue making it a part of our daily UO lives.

What advice would you give someone just starting out with plants, or to someone that has been working with plants, but hasn't gotten to the point of being able to harvest resources yet?

Calah: Well, for the person just starting out, my advice would be to get at least two of each starting plant. My second tip would be to visit the UO.com Gardening Forum and read some of the posts. There are a lot of informative gardening sites out there, and the people who post on that forum, besides me, are all a bunch of wonderful and helpful people. Ask questions a lot! And use some of the tools people have on their sites that help with cross breeding. Many of us are willing to spend time helping those who are new to the system, or who need specific things like resource plants or an elusive color they want to decorate with. That's the fun of this system!!

What do you think is the secret of your success?

Calah: Diligence first, followed by enjoyment, patience, and, I would say, the whole gardening community that has formed from this. We help each other out with advice, seeds, and information. Since the gardening system was implemented, I have met many people from the UO boards and around the community. It's nice to share in the excitement of a new system and to be able to lend each other a hand when something happens.

I grew every single plant with regular dirt. Getting things fast is not necessarily the best way! :)

If you could add or change one thing about the Gardening system, what would it be?

Calah: Currently, I would have to say there is not a thing I would add or change about the system that Augur has not already worked on, or is waiting to put in the game after the next publish. Though, seed bags would be great! :) I just love it!!


UO Designs Unlimited



Thank you, Calah, for a fantastic interview, and happy gardening!

We are always proud to share your in-game accomplishments and adventures with the Ultima Online community. Keep your eye on FYI for future Spotlight announcements!        

Published: March 2003
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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