Garden Blogs of the Month: February 2013
For those of us whose gardens are dormant, garden blogs provide a great winter garden fix. And how lucky for us that great garden blogs continue to be added to the Blotanical listings every month. I found those added in January a particularly rich selection and, once again, I found it difficult to focus on only a few. In the end, I chose three to highlight.
Noel’s Garden Blog and its author, well-known English garden writer Noel Kingsbury, are hardly newcomers and do not need any introduction by me. Nevertheless, although this blog is now more than five years old, I somehow missed it until it was listed at Blotanical. I include it here both because I am smitten and because others may also have missed it.
In his first post, Noel described his intentions for the blog this way:
This blog …. is meant to be an occasional source of interest and opinion, and possibly of irritation and annoyance; for anyone who may want to know what I am currently doing in my own garden and in my work. I have published much ‘conventionally’ and shall continue to do so… but this is a way of doing so which is entirely under my own control. Say exactly what I want. Garden publishing is very restrictive in many ways. This is an opportunity to supplement my published work with a body of work which would fit into the current options for garden journalism. Gardening of course links into so many other areas of life too, so there will be occasional digressions …. food, agriculture, environment, ecology. It will be a place to express opinions…. which I do not expect everyone to agree with. There is too much agreement in gardening, too much complacency, not enough debate.
And the blog very much lives up to that promise. Blog posts focus on Noel’s own garden, on gardens he has visited, on his travels (as, recently, in South America), or on things he has read – but description is always combined with meaty reflections and strong opinions. This is not a blog that can be skimmed quickly; each post rewards careful reading and demands thinking.
|Gardening Through a Lens by Emily Schiller is a US blog that combines beautiful photography with beautiful writing. Emily is a retired Professor of English Literature who loves language and who chooses words and composes sentences with care. Listen to this introduction in the blog’s first post:|
I decided to start a blog because I wanted a place to bring together my words and images. And when I was waiting for the first flowers to appear at the beginning of the year, I knew that the garden would be the right place….
Every word I type slumps under the weight of all the books I’ve read, all the authors I’ve admired, and every hour in the classroom (as student as well as teacher). And every photograph I take reveals the inadequacies of my equipment, my skills, and my imagination.
However, gardening is free. At least for me. I have few expectations of the garden or myself. Plants live and plants die. Some bloom one year and hold back the next. I go about my gardening by instinct and by books. It’s science and it’s magic. And it’s life that makes my life ever so much better.
In a later post, Emily tells us that what she really loves about gardening is not grand design but looking at plants up close. In The Collector, she tells us: “I buy plants I want to photograph. I don’t plan, I don’t design. I collect…. My garden is more like a menagerie than a landscape.” It therefore isn’t surprising that, although there are some wonderful landscape shots in this blog, most of the images are up-close-and-personal macro shots. I love the examination of flower sex organs in “A Bit of Botany: Stamens & Pistils” and the amazing portraits of blue flowers in “An Eccentricity of Color: Blue Flowers.” I would happily visit this blog just for the photographs; that those photographs are set in the context of well-crafted essays is a wonderful bonus.
Balcony in Berlin is as different from the previous two blogs as they are different from each other. This is a blog in which the author chronicles the development of a new garden, in this case a balcony container garden; and as a lover of garden memoirs, this is a genre of blog that I particularly enjoy.
The first posts provide descriptions of how the bare concrete balcony was prepared for its future as a garden and the addition of the first plants (potted herbs). Then, after an illness-induced hiatus, the blog picks up in fall with a description of preparing the balcony garden for winter. I particularly appreciate the mixture of story-telling and practical tips in this blog. I am looking forward to more posts about experiments in balcony gardening and their results.
Whether you want the intellectual stimulation of horticultural debates, gorgeous garden eye-candy, or a focus on everyday practical gardening, you can find it in these blogs. Enjoy.