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Garden Blogs of the Month: September 2010

September 3, 2010

The first week of each month is my time to peruse newly discovered garden blogs and choose some to recommend to my readers. This month I want to highlight three. Not all of these are new blogs, but I only learned about them when they were recently added to the Blotanical rolls.

screenshot - The Upside-Down Garden The one new blog in the mix is The Upside-Down Garden, by Terry Dowdeswell of Dowdeswell’s Delphinums in New Zealand. Regular reader’s of Jean’s Garden will know that I am a fan of Dowdeswell’s New Millennium strain of delphiniums (see Delightful Delphinium), so I was thrilled to find that the breeder responsible for these wonderful plants had recently begun a blog focusing on his personal garden. The title of the blog refers to the garden’s location in the southern hemisphere, and it’s a theme Terry continues when he describes his garden’s location on an “upside-down hill” (aka a valley). The playfulness of this description reflects the playful tone of the blog more generally. But you shouldn’t let that playful tone fool you into thinking there is nothing of substance here. Terry Dowdeswell is a very knowledgeable gardener, and there is quite a bit of useful information to be gleaned from his discussions of his garden and garden projects. I especially enjoyed his explanations of New Zealand geology (in Setting the Scene – Part One) and the micro-climate effects of locating the nursery, house, and garden on the side of a valley (Setting the Scene – Part Two). Most posts thus far have been introducing the property and the garden, but as spring unfolds in the southern hemisphere, I look forward to more virtual visits to the Upside-Down Garden.

screenshot - Beech Street Gardens Beech Street Gardens features a garden in Portland, Oregon.  The garden is a designated backyard wildlife habitat and is also focused on water conservation through the use of drought-tolerant plants. Many of the posts in this blog, which is just over a year old, are  plant portraits, and I love the way these plant portraits are organized. Typically the blog’s author, Steven, sets the particular species or cultivars being featured in the context of the genus and provides information about geographic origins, soil and moisture needs. He also highlights outstanding features of each plant, reports on his own experience with it, and identifies the USDA hardiness zone ratings. As I scrolled my way through Steven’s blog posts, I kept finding lovely plants that I was unfamiliar with, and I was grateful to have information that could help me decide which ones are likely candidates for my Maine garden. (I have high hopes for Helianthus maximilianii.) My one frustration with this blog is that readers who want background information about the garden have to find their way via the archives back to the original August 2009 post; it would be very helpful to have this information more readily accessible in an “about” page or a link on the sidebar.

screenshot - Contextual Gardens Contextual Gardens, the blog of London garden designer and writer Darryl Moore, has been around since April 2009. The tagline describes this blog as about “gardens in the cultural landscape,” and in many ways, it is focused more on ideas about gardens than on specific gardens or plants. This is a blog for those who like to think about gardens and about the symbolic and cultural meanings of gardens. The author is particularly interested in the intersection of gardens and art, and many posts are reviews of art exhibits that feature gardens or displays of art in gardens. He also reviews and reflects on the garden designs featured at British garden shows. Although Darryl Moore less often looks at gardens in the context of culture in a more general anthropological sense, those in which he does (e.g., Pit Stop for Perennials) are among my favorites. I love blogs that make me think about “big ideas,” and I am looking forward to reading more of Contextual Gardens.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 5:39 pm

    What a delight to be featured as a garden blog of the month. Thank you Jean. I was really pleased you read the introductory pieces as these were designed to put the garden in context and set the character of the blog.
    We have a beautiful sunny, warm spring day here today so I should have some gardening to blog about by the end of the weekend. I’m new to exploring the garden blogging community and am finding some delightful blogs and wonderful people. You surely fit with both these categories.

    Cheers

    Terry

  2. September 4, 2010 6:57 pm

    I always look forward to your reviews of new blotanist blogs. Thanks for the hightlights and info. Have a great weekend, Jean!

  3. September 6, 2010 2:44 pm

    Jean – thanks, as always, for bringing new blogs to light! I’m looking forward to checking them out. –Shyrlene

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