Garden Blogs of the Month: April 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 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 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 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!