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Garden Blogs of the Month: April 2011

April 6, 2011

The first week of each month, I take time to peruse newly discovered garden blogs – usually those newly listed at Blotanical – and choose a few to feature here. A lot of new blogs were added to the Blotanical listings in March, making the process of choosing just a few both extra difficult and extra enjoyable. In the end, I decided to highlight three, all newly begun in 2011.

Visionary Gleam - screenshot Visionary Gleam is written by Jim Lewis, a high school principal who recently relocated to South Carolina where he and his wife purchased a house with a beautiful garden. In his first post, The Beginning of the End, Jim explains how he became “a reluctant gardener” as he realized that a garden is not just a product that you buy and as he became aware of how much his neighbors valued  the garden created by the house’s previous owner, a master gardener:

I had purchased a neighborhood shrine, enjoyed by soccer moms in velour sweat suits, who powerwalk past it, sometimes stopping to look, or joggers and bikers, who ignore their side pains for a few seconds while they smell the pollen wafting through the air. I was living in a neighborhood with a “Garden Club,” and a southern one at that (cue southern women, who nod sagely), in a house owned by a Past President.

This blog is the account of Jim’s education as a gardener. The posts are often laugh-out-loud funny, with a sensibility reminiscent of The Idiot Gardener, and I find myself charmed by Jim’s attempts both to learn about gardening and to “fake it” while he learns.

Green Out Every Window - Screenshot Green Out Every Window is also the story of a move to a new house. In this case, though, the author (Bel Mills) was an experienced gardener, and the new house had no garden at all. After Bel’s husband tried to console her on the loss of her old garden by promising her they could build a new one, he asked warily, “So what are we talking about, here? How much garden do you need?” Her answer: “Green out every window.”

Bel promises to take us along on the transformation of her landscape from bleak to beautiful. Because many of her posts provide detailed accounts of her gardening process, they are also great tutorials. And she doesn’t mind letting us learn from her mistakes and disappointments. I particularly enjoyed Living With The Sticks, her account of joining the Arbor Day Foundation and then waiting eagerly for the arrival of the “ten free flowering trees” that were promised as part of membership. This is a beautifully designed blog; the graphics are simple, easy on the eyes, and very attractive, and the blog has separate pages for “What’s Blooming", “Book Reviews” and “Garden Verse.”

Hardy Eco Garden - screenshotHardy Eco Garden is about the transformation of gardeners’ attitudes. Author Megan tells us on the “About” page that her goal is “to contribute to the renaissance of gardeners interested in common-sense, environmentally-friendly techniques.” She’s especially interested in providing information and resources for those gardening in cold climates. Megan also wants to connect the theory and practice of the new generation of (often younger) “sustainable/organic/permaculture” gardeners with the wisdom and traditional practices of an older generation.

Roughly half of my gardening clients tend to fall into the latter, "old-fashioned" group, doing things the natural way their family has always done them without labels, shaking their heads at the newer terms mentioned above.  I’m fortunate to get to work beside a few of those older gardeners ….  They’ve been, and continue to be, my best mentors.  I might do the physical work on their land, but they’re in every way the grand designers and curators of vast knowledge about their soil, their plants, and the subtleties of weather, climate, and garden stewardship that’s born out of decades and generations of dirty hands.

In her posts, Megan often moves from reporting on an experience or practice in her own garden, to some more general reflections or practical tips, to some links to useful resources. With the approach of Earth Day, many garden bloggers have been thinking and blogging about sustainable practices, making April a perfect time to highlight this blog.

It’s probably not coincidence that I chose three new blogs that focus on transformation as those of us in the northern hemisphere witness the transformations of spring. Each of these blogs has something special to offer. Enjoy!

23 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2011 9:37 pm

    Jean, thank you so much for introducing your readers to new garden bloggers. I just checked out green out every window and immediately clicked “follow” after reading several posts. Such great writing and I was giggling with understanding.

  2. April 6, 2011 9:51 pm

    Lovely choices, Jean. Happy gardening!

  3. April 7, 2011 6:19 am

    Thanks Jean, though I have to admit that, as I am currently struggling to keep up with the blogs I already follow this is a mixed blessing! I shall have to go visit, but I just hope they have “subscribe by email” options!

  4. Lula ( permalink
    April 7, 2011 7:52 am

    Always appreciate your monthly post on blogs, and your help on finding inspiring bloggers out there! Lula

  5. April 7, 2011 9:44 am

    Can’t wait to become acquainted with some new blogs…always a fun adventure…thx Jean

    • April 9, 2011 10:44 am

      GrafixMuse, I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying Green Out Every Window as much as I did. One of the ways I choose blogs to feature is when I find myself just going from post to post and not wanting to leave the site.

      Diane, You’ve emerged from hibernation! I saw your new post yesterday. Welcome back, and I hope you enjoy these blogs.

      Janet, I sympathize with the tensions between keeping up with the blogs we’re already reading, the lures of new ones — and, oh yeah, the rest of life! Part of my motivation for the Blog of the Month feature has been that I can no longer keep up with all the wonderful new blogs on Blotanical — with welcoming the new bloggers, visiting their blogs, reading and picking their posts, etc. So my substitute is to spend one or two evenings a month visiting all the new blogs and then just picking the 2 or 3 that appeal to me most to continue reading. I read them faithfully for the month that they are featured on my blog and then decide at the end of that month whether to continue following them.

      Lula and Donna, It is fun to find fine new blogs (like yours! :-)) I hope you enjoy these.

  6. April 7, 2011 1:25 pm

    you are very good at this!

  7. April 7, 2011 5:37 pm

    Thanks for featuring my blog, Jean! Wow, what an honor. And I so appreciate the leg up from an experienced blogger.

  8. April 7, 2011 8:57 pm

    These are such a great combination, Jean–I love the contrast between having a perfect garden land in your lap that you have no idea what to do with, and finding yourself with a dirt mess that absolutely must change.

  9. April 8, 2011 12:22 pm

    Thanks, Jean, for your kind words, and for leading me to your wonderful blog!


    • April 9, 2011 10:47 am

      Aw shucks, Jess; I’ve had a lot of practice at blog reviewing since that first February 2010 post when I reviewed your blog. 🙂

      Bel and Meg, It is my great pleasure to call attention to your blogs. Thanks for visiting here.

      Stacy, It is fun to read those two side by side. Enjoy.

  10. April 8, 2011 1:55 pm

    Jean, I look forward to your new blogs post each month so I too can meet the bloggers. Hope you are coming to my nursery on April 17. Carolyn

    • April 9, 2011 10:48 am

      Carolyn, Enjoy meeting these new bloggers in cyberspace. And I am so looking forward to meeting both you and Jan in real space on the 17th. I’ll be there with bells on!

  11. April 8, 2011 2:48 pm

    Having been one of your chosen Blogs and a very new convert to this gardening community it is great to have someone take the hard work out of the experience. Again, thank you Jean. What contrast and shared experiences to look forward to.

    • April 9, 2011 10:51 am

      Chris, I do love the garden blogging community, and I love doing these reviews of new blogs. I suppose, after several decades of teaching, finding and nurturing new talent has become as natural to me as breathing.

  12. April 8, 2011 5:42 pm

    Keeping up with Blotanical becomes a burden for all of us. The old blogs have to work really hard now, or do an Oates. I started blogging in June 2009, so the awards caught me before I could judge a before and after. Perhaps we need to ADD an award for non-active Blotanists.

    When I began, I picked all the posts of the blogs I had faved. Took me a long time to realise, I was alone doing that.

    • April 9, 2011 10:57 am

      Hi Diana, I need a cross-cultural translation; what’s an “Oates”? I don’t think you were alone in picking all the posts of your faved blogs; I did that too, as did others. On Nell’s recent poll, I think the most common answer to her question of how people picked posts was by using their “my faved blogs” list. I don’t pick all the posts of my faves anymore, but that’s because the new system only shows the most recent post in the picks list. Since I only get around to each blog once (or sometimes twice) a week, I miss some posts. (You’ve probably noticed me picking about 1 out of every 3 of yours; but I often try to comment on the ones I can’t pick.) I have given up on thanking people for picks; there just aren’t enough hours in the week when school is in session.

  13. April 9, 2011 7:10 am

    I have just stumbled on your blog, and I will be in trouble if I don’t break away from the computer – I have to go to work today! But I will bookmark and come back soon! My son graduated from Gettysburg so I remember fondly driving through farmland and lovely vistas to get there. I still have some great plants I purchased – don’t laugh – from the local Walmarts!!!!

    • April 9, 2011 11:00 am

      Hi Jayne, How nice to have you visit. (I feel like I should start singing “It’s a Small World After All.” :-)) I wonder if I’ve met your son; I’ve been teaching at Gettysburg College since 1989, so if he was there later than that, it’s possible. I can think of one student I’ve had with your last name, but female and not from Connecticut. I spent some years living in Ct when I was in my twenties, but opposite side of the state (near Groton and New London). I made my first (not very successful) attempts at gardening there. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit here again.

  14. April 9, 2011 3:06 pm

    Thanks for searching out such great new blogs and sharing them with the rest of us!

  15. April 10, 2011 7:12 am

    Beautifullt reviewed as always Jean! I’m off for a little peek at your recommendations now as my good intentions of checking in with the newer blogs on Blotanical don’t seem to be seeing daylight 🙂

  16. April 10, 2011 7:15 am

    Oops, that would be ‘Beautifully’!

    • April 14, 2011 12:11 pm

      Byddi and Heidi, I’m pleased that you enjoyed the reviews, and I hope you are also enjoying these blogs.

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