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Garden Blogs of the Month: August 2010

August 8, 2010

I’m a bit late with my Garden Blogs of the Month post (which I usually try to post within the first week of the month). I found the choices difficult this month; I have discovered so many wonderful new blogs in recent weeks, and I couldn’t possibly highlight all of them. In the end, I decided to focus on two that fill special niches in the garden blogosphere.

screenshot - Mostly Shade There are a number of excellent blogs that focus on shade gardens, but those I’m aware of are by northern gardeners. Mostly  Shade is about shade gardening in the deep south. The foundation plants of Jeff Branch’s southern shade garden are hostas, hydrangeas, and ferns. Many of his blog posts are plant portraits of specific varieties of his favorite plants. He has also included a number of posts highlighting gardens he has visited and some about places visited on family vacations. My favorite posts, though, are the ones that provide garden tips based on his own experience. Jeff’s post on how to garden safely in extreme heat was both practical and fun. Although he warned that his step-by-step description of installing his drip irrigation system would be “boring,” I found it very helpful. And his clever solution for plant labels that are both clearly visible and unobtrusive is one I intend to adapt for my own garden. I was impressed with the way Jeff has used pages to make some important posts easy to find. His “About” page takes you to his first post, and other pages link to his most current plant lists. Although I usually find eye strain a problem when reading blogs that use light color print on a dark background, the medium gray of this background, combined with an easily readable font, is easy on the eyes.

screenshot - Restoring the Landscape with Native Pants Like Mostly Shade, Restoring the Landscape with Native Plants runs against type. Just as blogs about shade gardening tend to focus on northern gardens, blogs about native plants are mostly set in mild climates, particularly California. But Heather Holm is writing about the experience of landscaping a suburban property with native plants in central Minnesota.  Heather is trained in horticulture and has a strong interest in ecology, and this blog combines the story of a particular garden with lots of great information. The Resources page alone deserves star billing. Added to that are lists of native plants she has added to her property, invasive plants that have been removed, pages on the birds and insects found there, a page of photos, a page of phenology, and informative blog posts. Many of the posts are plant portraits, including a “Native Plant of the Week” series. These are interspersed with posts about insects, amphibians, and the transformation of the property. My one frustration with this blog was the lack of easily accessible information about the garden itself. I had to do some detective work to learn that the garden was in Minnesota, and I only stumbled by accident on a very interesting chronology of work in the garden. I would love to see the author add a brief overview of the garden in a prominent location near the top of the sidebar and an “About” page with more detailed information about herself and the garden, including the chronology.

Although each of these blogs is grounded in a specific region, they also have much to offer those who garden in other regions.  No matter where you garden, I encourage you to take a look at them; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2010 10:31 am

    Thanks Jean for the well written introduction to these blogs… I will check them out. I have been thinking of you and hope you are OK.

  2. August 8, 2010 12:42 pm


    Thanks for reviewing my garden blog. On your recommendation, I have added more garden/yard photos on my photos page and will make a few other updates.

    Any other visitor feedback is much appreciated!

    Restoring The Landscape With Native Plants

  3. August 8, 2010 1:02 pm

    I’m glad to have learned about a Minnesota blog in your post. Maybe she can tell me what I’m doing wrong with my snow-on-the-mountain, since I’ve read it’s a plant native to MN. I’ve been offline for a while, but will now be enjoying your posts again. Barbara

  4. August 8, 2010 4:51 pm

    Jean – always a pleasure to see your “Blogs of the Month”!

    Cruised “Restoring the Landscape w/ Native Plants”, which was fascinating. (I’m feeling better and better about the clover in my yard!) Now off to visit “Mostly Shade”….

  5. August 9, 2010 10:21 am

    Jean, I appreciate you doing such reviews! They are a big help. Will go check those blogs. I started to visit blogs which are at the end of the ‘200’ list and found them to be very interesting.

  6. August 9, 2010 7:10 pm

    Jean – thanks for featuring my blog. Your comments are too kind 🙂

  7. August 9, 2010 8:07 pm

    I can’t wait to visit both~thanks for introducing them. gail

  8. August 9, 2010 9:08 pm

    Jean, your two picks are wonderful, to say the least. I like that they fill a niche…something out of the norm. I’m especially interested in the native plants blog…I think this is something everyone, in every region, should consider when gardening. Great choices, Jean!

  9. August 10, 2010 9:11 am

    It is always such fun to find new and useful blogs to read. And it is even better when a blog you love reccomends another blog, I feel like I can trust your judgment and advice.
    Thanks for steering me in the direction of some great blogs.

  10. August 10, 2010 1:55 pm

    Jeff is practically a neighbor of mine, so I really enjoy his blog and the helpful information. I also enjoy blogs from other climates, so thanks for the tip on Heather’s blog. With many hundreds of blogs out there, I know i am missing some great ones, so it’s good to get recommendations.

  11. August 10, 2010 4:55 pm

    Thank you for the great information. What a good idea! I’m headed over to the shade now…

  12. August 10, 2010 5:27 pm

    So much fun dipping into all of the above mentioned gardens.

    Thanks Jean,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  13. August 11, 2010 12:54 am

    Very nice introductions, Jean. I enjoyed visiting them. I’m much too ADD to write such a focused blog, but really appreciate dedicated folks who can provide deep insights into a subject.

  14. August 13, 2010 10:30 pm

    Thank you for your blog reviews. I must say that I envy the gardeners who garden above my zone 3. Gardening in the Canadian prairies is challenging at the best of time with such a short growing season. I started my own web site in order share with other gardeners the complete makeover of our new 400 foot deep lot. Most days, I can be found digging in the dirt or deadheading the spent blooms. Again, many thanks for sharing.

    Doris McComb

  15. August 14, 2010 9:33 pm

    Heather and Jeff, It was my pleasure to review both your blogs; I’ve been enjoying them immensely.

    Carol, I’m doing fine. I’ve been making serious headway on preparing for fall courses, and I’m finally getting my head around the fact that I need to leave Maine and go back to PA in a week. It’s going to be a major transition!

    Barbara, How nice to hear your voice again. Welcome back!

    Shyrlene, Tatyana, Gail, Kimberly, Rosey, Deb, Elizabeth, Sharon and James, I am tickled pink that others find these blog reviews helpful. They provide a great way for me to at least skim a lot of the new blogs and focus on a few to look at more intensely.

    Doris, Thanks for visiting. Gardening in Zone 3 is certainly a major challenge. I am always grateful for the zone 5 plants that are willing to perform well in my garden; doing without both them and the zone 4 plants boggles my mind! I’ll try to get over to visit your blog and take a look at your makeover.

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