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Garden Blogs of the Month: February 2012

February 11, 2012

I am late this month with my post highlighting newly discovered garden blogs. Neither of the blogs I have chosen to focus on here is a new blog; both are approaching their first anniversaries. But each of these blogs has recently been listed at Blotanical, which is where I learned about them. As you will see, I seem to have felt a particular affinity this month for Scottish gardeners.

screenshot - The Wistful Gardener The Wistful Gardener recounts the gardening experiences of Vicky in her Inverness, Scotland garden overlooking the Moray Firth. Reading Vicky’s posts leaves me feeling as though I’ve just spent a day in the garden with a friend, sharing the pleasures and tribulations of gardening, getting and giving advice, and learning from her experiences. I especially appreciate the combination of realism, optimism, and humor with which Vicky approaches issues and problems in her garden. Witness, for example, this description of her battle with Crocosmia corms (Lifting Crocosmia is Backbreaking Stuff):

Crocosmia’s are corms and they grow in what TV gardeners describe as threads or chains.  Sounds so delicate. Well mine must be on steroids because they were more like potatoes on kebab sticks.  Rock hard potatoes on very rigid kebab sticks.  Or clumps of fossilized dinosaur droppings from prehistoric times.  But not delicate chains…

And this a few days later (Crocosomia Strike Back):

I may have won the first round battle with the Crocosmia in the front garden, but the back garden clumps put up far more of a fight.  My hand fork snapped completely in half and my trowel bent like a spoon.  That is a high tool casualty rate!  Not only that but having to grub the corms out with my bare hands has left an entire ecosystem  of permadirt under my nails.

Whether Vicky is recounting her encounters with exuberant plants, dealing with a failing retaining wall, or considering the most diplomatic way to address the problem of invading plants from a neighbor’s garden, I don’t feel as though I am getting a dolled-up, air-brushed version of her garden, but the real deal; and that leaves me feeling energized and hopeful about dealing with the problem issues in my own garden. This is a well written and engaging blog, and the layout – with distinct pages for information about the gardener, the garden, the back story, favorite garden books, and a garden year in photos – makes it easy for readers to find just what they are looking for.

screenshot - My Mimico Maison Donald, of My Mimico Maison, does not garden in Scotland; but he did grow up there, and he brings a Scottish sensibility to his garden in the Mimico area of Toronto, Canada. Donald began his blog on the spring equinox, and his first post, which contrasts spring in Toronto with the gentler spring of his childhood in Scotland, perfectly described my experience of spring in Maine:

In Toronto, however, spring can be less of a season, and more of an isolated incident.  No long, lingering, slipping and evolving from one season to another.  No, a Toronto spring can pounce on you quite unawares, rather as though some preternatural hand had flicked the switch, bringing a giant furnace room into action for the season.  What was the biggest snow pile you can ever remember just yesterday, can quite literally evaporate overnight, more likely revealing a scene littered with the refuse of other human lives, than the cheery optimism of a carpet of spring flowers.  When the soil finally relaxes from it’s frigid rigidity, crocuses, daffodils and tulips flower nearly simultaneously, fervently trying to get the breeding season over and done with, before excessive blasts of heat and humidity frizzle their delicate petals, and ballooning neighbours, like peonies and hostas, jostle and crowd them into obscurity.

As you can see, the writing in this blog is often delightful. In spring and summer, Donald focused on documenting his garden, including diaries of work days in the garden, reports on plants, problems and projects, and lots of lovely photos of the results of his efforts. In late summer, after a visit home to Scotland, he began to include some posts about gardens he had visited there. These have continued in the winter, combined with an indoor focus on home renovation projects and food and flowers for the holidays. I particularly enjoyed a recent post (A Little Support) that used photos from gardens he has visited over the years to explore the issue of providing garden plants with appropriate and attractive support (often an issue for me). As we move toward another vernal equinox, I am looking forward to seeing the continued beauty and new developments in Donald’s Mimico garden.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2012 8:21 pm

    Thanks Jean…Donald does indeed write beautfully…I have not looked at the other one yet but will do so…right after I go and move some soil …

  2. February 11, 2012 8:34 pm

    Jean- I don’t often go to blotanical anymore so I love these posts! You are my go to person for new blogs, already vetted!

  3. February 12, 2012 6:19 am

    Jean these blogs are delightful…I am already enjoying them…thx again for your incredible recommendations!!

  4. Lula (onbotanicalphotography.blogspot.com) permalink
    February 12, 2012 11:03 am

    It’s always a pleasure to read your monthly review. Thank you.

  5. February 12, 2012 2:16 pm

    Both new to me, and I’m hooked!

  6. February 12, 2012 2:33 pm

    Dear Jean – Thanks for always sharing your “finds” with us! Both of these are now in my “bookmarks”!

  7. February 12, 2012 8:36 pm

    I notice new blogs about the same time that you do but usually I am too distracted by other matters to give them the attention they deserve. Thank you for the patience and generosity that you devote to evaluating them. Over time, many new ones have become favorites, thanks to me reading about them here.

  8. February 12, 2012 10:36 pm

    I have found some great blogs via your recommendations. I just visited the Wistful Gardener. What a delight. Thanks!

  9. February 13, 2012 1:48 pm

    I was familiar with one of these but not the other. I always enjoy your reviews of these blogs. You are very adept at pointing out the best elements of blogs, and when I visit them I see exactly what you describe. Thanks again!

  10. February 15, 2012 8:49 pm

    Both blogs sound like I should check them out. I like the way you included a good sample of the text. Yes, that’s exactly the way I remember Maine springs.

  11. February 20, 2012 11:26 am

    Dear Jean,
    I’ve written a book about gardening in Maine called The Maine Garden Journal – Insider secrets from Maine people who love to put their hands in the dirt. It will be available for sale in the next few months. I’m wondering if you would be interested in talking about it on your blog. You can get more information at my website: http://www.MaineGardenJournal.com
    Thank you.
    Lisa

  12. February 23, 2012 8:02 pm

    Hello Everyone,
    Clearly, I’ve gotten behind on responding to comments. I hope you are all enjoying Vicky’s and Donald’s blogs.
    Since I began this “garden blog of the month” feature (two years ago this month!!) as a form of mentoring, it delights me that many of you have discovered some of your favorite blogs in this way. Thank you all for your positive feedback on these efforts.
    Diana, since you are the queen of Blotanical mentors, it particularly pleases me to have introduced even you to some new bloggers!
    Lisa, Thanks for letting me know about your book; it sounds fascinating.

  13. February 28, 2012 7:12 pm

    Hello Jean,
    I found your blog while doing some research for extending my list of Scottish Gardening Bloggers, and as you have Wistful Gardener ( A favourite writer of mine, who lives just down the road from us) I thought you may like a taste of some more great bloggers from around beautiful Scotland.
    Hope you enjoy, Cat
    http://lochnessgarden.blogspot.com.au/p/list-of-scottish-gardening-blogs.html

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