Garden Blogs of the Month: January 2011
It’s a new month in a new year and time for me to highlight some new garden blogs. Since I was unable to review blogs during my end-of-semester grading crunch in December, the new listings since November at Blotanical alone provided me with a cornucopia of new pleasures. I’ve selected four to review here:
At Gardens Eye View, Donna Donabella combines reflections on her central New York garden with reflections on life. Each post is given a deceptively simple single-word title that describes the spiritual or life-lesson focus, but the combination of practical gardening information and philosophical ideas is complex. In an October post called “Balance,” for example, Donna moves from issues of balance in garden design to balance in nature to balance in life, from the attempt to create a formal garden to the ideas of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. A November post entitled “Flow” combines practical information about the creation of a wildflower meadow with life lessons about accepting the changes that are part of the flow of life. Donna Donabella has been blogging at Gardens Eye View for five months and has already established a considerable following. Those who are enchanted by Meredith Wickham’s reflections at The Enchanted Earth will find a kindred spirit here. If you haven’t discovered this blog yet, you have a treat waiting for you.
If Gardens Eye View combines garden experiences with spiritual reflections and life lessons, Landscape Lover’s Blog weaves together garden visits, garden history, and the philosophy of landscape design. Author Jill Sinclair is a British landscape historian and garden designer currently based in Paris. Many of her posts focus on parks and gardens in Paris and its environs. These range from the large and well-known (Giverny, Versailles, the Tuileries) to a tiny garden tucked in beside a church or window-box gardens outside Paris apartments. Whether the garden is large or small, well-known or obscure, most posts combine descriptions of plants and garden features with discussions of landscape history or political issues or design philosophy. A recent post (Sex and Death in the Garden), for example, questioned the garden design philosophy of “year round interest” in climates where a period of dormancy is part of the natural cycle. For those who are planning to visit Paris, this blog will provide useful information about gardens worth visiting and garden-related events. For others, this blog can provide a virtual holiday in a beautiful city. But Landscape Lover’s Blog is about more than Paris; this is a blog for anyone who likes to think about gardens, their place in human experience, and larger issues of garden and landscape design.
Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is another new blog (only two months old) that has already established a solid following. This is a blog associated with a nursery (of the same name) in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Although the blog is new, the nursery is not. Carolyn has begun the blog as a way to share what she has learned about shade gardening and shade garden plants over the years. And this blog lives up to that promise; it is chock full of useful information and gardening ideas. Posts on hellebores, snowdrops, and camellias, for example, have explored the enormous variety of plants in each genus. Other posts provide suggestions about seasonal garden chores, how and when to plant, and garden design. A recent post on editing the garden resonated with many gardeners and attracted a lot of response. In addition to all this useful information, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (the blog) includes links to the catalogs of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (the nursery). I find I can get lost for hours in the catalog sections, with their wonderful lists of plants to dream about. As many have already discovered, this is a blog well worth visiting.
I am very much a word person and have a strong preference for blogs that are more word-based than image-based, but I make an exception for On Botanical Photography. Lula Alvarez, the creative genius behind this blog, is a professional photographer whose botanical photographs are stunningly beautiful. Most of her images are macro shots, and their composition sometimes resembles abstract art. But these photos are careful botanical studies. Plants are carefully identified, and the images often provide extraordinary detail that leads me to look at familiar plants in a whole new way. For those of us whose winter landscapes are predominantly white and grey, the intense colors of Lula’s images (even those of plants in snow) make the spirits soar. Although this blog is several months old, relatively few people seem to have discovered it. If you are one of those who have not, check it out; you won’t be disappointed.