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Garden Blogs of the Month: January 2011

January 6, 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:

screenshot - Gardens Eye View 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.

screenshot - Landscape Lover's Blog 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.

screenshot - Carolyn's Shade Gardens 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.

screenshot - On Botanical Photography 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.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2011 4:10 pm

    Carolyn has been encouraging me thru my 12 days posts. New to Blotanical but definitely part of the family already ;>) Jean you have such a gift for inviting us in! Tomorrow I am going to revel in these blogs.

  2. January 6, 2011 4:25 pm

    Thanks for the links to these blogs. I’ve been reading both Donna’s and Carolyn’s but hadn’t seen the other two before. I’ll go take a visit.

    • January 8, 2011 7:55 pm

      Diana and Catherine, I hope you are enjoying the blogs.

  3. January 6, 2011 4:26 pm

    Jean, I am so honored to be included in your review of new blogs. It validates all my hard work and inspires me to go on (though how to do this during the nursery season is on my mind). To have Diana at Elephant’s Eye say that I have been encouraging her is also a high compliment. I too can’t wait to read the other three featured blogs and add them to my subscription list. You might really enjoy the UK blog, A Digital Botanic Garden—professional botanist shares his wealth of plant knowledge in excellent writing and exquisite photos. I just convinced him to join Blotanical, but the blog is not new. Thank you so much, Carolyn

    • January 8, 2011 8:01 pm

      Carolyn, It is my pleasure to highlight your blog (although your blog has already become so well known in such a short period of time that I don’t know if this will bring you any additional readers). The number of readers who have been attracted to your blog is a testament to its quality and usefulness.

      How to keep blogging when other obligations loom large is something many of us have to figure out how to deal with. I faced it last August, when I had to go back to a 60-70 hour teaching schedule after a year of blogging while on sabbatical. For me, the answer was to keep blogging regularly, but less frequently, and to cut back dramatically on the time I spent reading and commenting on others’ blogs. You might check in with Allan Becker on how he handles this during his busy garden design season.

      Thanks for the tip on A Digital Botanic Garden. I know I skimmed it at one point, but I’ll go back and give it a closer look.

  4. January 6, 2011 4:52 pm

    Jean, thanks for choosing Landscape Lover as one of your blogs of the month. It’s an honour to be listed. It’s also given me the chance to get to know your blog a little. It’s a fascinating mix of stuff and I have enjoyed looking round – and will be back! As someone who used to live and garden in Massachusetts, I was amused by the comments on your calendar post about the length of the Maine winter. I remember all those months and months of snow, and then suddenly everything bursting into leaf and flower in May. While it is wonderful to be in Paris, we have no garden here, and are in some ways nostalgic for our little New England plot…

    • January 8, 2011 8:10 pm

      Jill, I’m delighted to be able to call attention to your very interesting blog. I grew up a little south of Boston, and the Maine spring comes even later and more quickly. Blink and you can miss it! The last time I was in Paris was in 2003, when I took an impromptu trip there in April using frequent flyer miles. When I left Maine the second week in April, my garden was still under snow. When I arrived in Paris about 24 hours later (by way of Amsterdam), it was sunny and mild and the city was a riot of tulips and blooming chestnut trees. I began each day by walking to and in the Luxembourg Gardens, bought flowers for my hotel room from a florist stand, and spent much of my time visiting gardens (including Giverny, Fontainbleau, and the lovely gardens at the Musee Rodin). By the time I returned to Maine two weeks later, the snow was gone and I got to experience spring all over again (albeit in a sped-up version). I can appreciate, though, that it would be hard to do without a garden even with all those wonderful Paris gardens available to visit.

  5. gardeningasylum permalink
    January 6, 2011 5:44 pm

    Happy New Year Jean, Those blogs sound absolutely fabulous and I will definitely check them out. I’m especially interested in the one that’s Paris-based – won’t be back there anytime soon, but it would be fun to dream…

    • January 8, 2011 8:13 pm

      Cyndy, I hope you enjoy all the blogs. For a gardener, Jill’s blog is probably the next best thing to a trip to Paris. Reading it made me want to go back there — if only to see all the gardens I missed before!

  6. January 6, 2011 6:14 pm

    Jean I am truly honored to make your list…what a wonderful surprise and great welcome to Blotanical!! Blogging has been such a great experience and I love sharing my garden with people. I am new to Blotanical and will certainly be following your blog to share in your garden and to find more wonderful bloggers out there. Happy 2011!

    • January 8, 2011 8:16 pm

      Donna, I was really delighted to discover your blog. I think you’ll find the garden blogging community at Blotanical enfolds you with warmth and friendship. The trick is to figure out how to develop all those wonderful blogging relationships while still continuing to write, to garden — oh yeah, and to deal with the rest of life’s responsibilities!

  7. January 6, 2011 6:20 pm

    I am so glad you are continuing your monthly feature of remarkable blogs in 2011. Help discovering new and interesting blogs is always appreciated.
    Lula’s images are fantastic.

  8. January 6, 2011 10:36 pm

    Jean, A good time to be back at Blotanical, and a great post to find when I arrive. Happy New Year!

  9. January 7, 2011 11:46 am

    I’m already familiar with Carolyn’s excellent blog, but the others are new me. I so appreciate your monthly blog reviews Jean, they’re a great way to find blogs I may have missed.

  10. January 7, 2011 11:48 am

    Hi Jean thanks for taking the time to honour other writers, I especially enjoyed discovering ‘landscapelover’ from Paris….happy new year!

    • January 8, 2011 8:19 pm

      Missy, Helen, Clare and Mike, I really enjoy doing these reviews, so it makes me happy when others enjoy them, too.

      Missy, I agree; Lula’s photographs are amazing!

      Mike, Isn’t Landscape Lover wonderful — kind of like “Galloping Gardener” meets “Grounded Design” in the City of Lights.

  11. January 7, 2011 3:10 pm

    Jean, I’m honored that you have chosen my blog for your monthly picks. I thank you for having captured so well in your comment the spirit of this blog, I take it as a challange to continuing submitting quality material.
    Since I am a newcomer to Blotanical, I have had little time to search, and now your blog is going to help me on that. I left comments to some of your posts, and again I love the way you portrayed light in the winter. Thank you and happy new year to all. Lula

    • January 8, 2011 8:21 pm

      Lula, Welcome to Blotanical and the amazing community of garden bloggers. I love your photographs, so I’m delighted to have an opportunity to share them with others. Thank you for all the lovely comments you left on my blog posts.

  12. January 8, 2011 9:03 am

    Jean, another group of lovely blogs. I’m sorry I lost touch with your blog (it’s doesn’t pop up on my bloglist anymore and I thought you were one of the ones that stop blogging for the winter.) I’m glad you are still continuing. I’m taking a break until spring though.

    All the best for 2011.

    • January 8, 2011 8:24 pm

      Hi Diane, Happy New Year. I don’t know why my blog feed stopped showing up on your blog list. I did have to slow down my blogging pace when I went back to full-time teaching in the fall, but I’ve continued doing about 6 posts a month. I find winter is a great time to read and review garden books, to take a more reflective approach to gardening, and to dream about garden projects to come. I’ll look forward to seeing more of your garden in spring.

  13. January 8, 2011 9:13 pm

    Thanks for introducing me to these great new blogs! I am off work for a few days, so hopefully will get a chance to explore them .

  14. January 9, 2011 12:29 pm

    Thanks for the blog reviews. I’ve enjoyed your introduction to new blogs in the past, too, although there are so many great blogs out there it’s getting hard to add more to the reading list.

  15. January 9, 2011 3:24 pm

    Jean – I always look so forward to your “Garden Blogs of the Month”. During these dormant months, it’s inspiration for Spring! –Shyrlene

  16. January 9, 2011 8:12 pm

    Jean, what a wonderful and thoughtful post. I have already explored two that you have highlighted and plan on exploring the others. Thank you. And Happy New Year

  17. January 10, 2011 10:10 pm

    happy new year Jean!

    great suggestions of new garden blogs to peruse. i can’t wait to check them out.

    i hope you had a wonderful holiday season. cheers to seed shopping!

  18. January 11, 2011 12:12 am

    Hi Jean, first thanks for picking my post. These review is really informative, but actually some of them are already in my blog list. But of course your review makes them more relevant.

  19. January 11, 2011 9:32 am

    Jean, These look like fabulous gardenblogs; thank you for sharing them with us~Now, I must pop over to see them first hand…A belated Happy New year to you. gail

    • January 12, 2011 9:22 pm

      Deb, Barbara, Shyrlene, Diana, Allison, Andrea, and Gail, Thanks for visiting and for checking out these new blogs.

      Barbara, I agree that with so many great blogs out there, it’s hard to decide which ones to add to one’s reading list. That’s why I like to peruse the new ones once a month and choose just a small number to focus on.

      Shyrlene, I think these four are particularly good for garden dreaming during the winter months.

      And, Deb, how nice to have a few days off to enjoy that garden dreaming.

      Diana and Andrea, I’m not surprised that you have already discovered some of these outstanding blogs on your own; I hope you enjoy the others, too.

      Allison, I had a great holiday. Did you see my Christmas dinner post? Your cranberry sauce recipe played a starring role.

      Gail, Happy New Year to you, too.


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