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Garden Blogs of the Month: January 2012

January 7, 2012

With the new year, I’m finding time for relaxation and for more attention to blogging – and how better to indulge both than by making the acquaintance of some new garden blogs. In the past few days, I’ve perused the new additions at Blotanical, and I want to highlight two of them here.

screenshot - Black Walnut Dispatch Black Walnut Dispatch is a new blog, begun this past November, which has quickly developed a substantial following. Blogger Mary Gray is a freelance garden designer and garden coach with a degree in landscape design, who gardens in the US state of Virginia. She notes that she loves writing almost as much as she loves gardening, and it shows; the quality of writing is at the heart of this blog. And the writing here is characterized by irreverent humor that is laugh-out-loud funny. Some of my favorite posts are her “top ten” lists, like Top Ten New Gardening Show Ideas, Top Ten Most Annoying Garden Buzzwords and Catchphrases of 2011, Top Ten Gardening Gifts from Hell, and Top Ten Most Fearsome Gardening Tools. But don’t let the humor fool you; there is a lot of serious substance in this blog, including garden philosophy, solid research and information, and  practical garden knowledge. This blog has already garnered a great deal of well-deserved attention and was reviewed and recommended by Thomas Rainer at Grounded Design weeks ago, so I’m actually pretty late jumping on the bandwagon. The fact is that I gave Black Walnut Dispatch a cursory glance after reading Thomas’s post, but it didn’t grab me. I think that’s because I didn’t have time to read carefully, and this is a blog that demands and rewards careful reading. If you have not yet seen this blog or if, like me, you passed it by after a quick look, do go visit; I think you’ll be glad you did.

screenshot - Gardening with Bob Dylan The serious garden content is closer to the surface in Gardening with Bob Dylan, but that content is also accompanied by wit and gentle humor. This blog is based in the UK, in the clay soil of Kent; and its author, Jane, describes herself as “a working gardener” and as “female and not very young.” She also notes that her “other enthusiasms” include “garden literature and Bob Dylan.” Each post in this blog is linked to a Bob Dylan song. I must admit that, even though I’m the right generation, I’m not a big Dylan fan, so a lot of the song allusions are lost on me. But I find particular pleasure in blogs that link gardening to larger themes, and this one uses the Bob Dylan lyrics as a philosophical touchstone to do just that. In Gardening with Bob Dylan, everyday gardening experiences are tied to larger life issues, to serious discussions of garden philosophy and to practical advice on topics like pruning and seed saving. I particularly enjoyed Mary’s discussion of circular shapes in the garden (Round and Round – Eternal Circle) and her advice on late summer pruning (Judicious Cutting – Not Dark Yet). This is a well-written and meaty blog with much to offer the attentive reader.

If, like me, you find winter a time for garden reading, both these blogs would be valuable additions to your reading list.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2012 2:12 am

    I have to admit, I rarely go to blotanical anymore to search out new bloggers, I just wait each month for you to tell me!

  2. January 8, 2012 9:11 am

    Hi Jean, I do visit blotanical a lot but I’m with Jess, you are so helpful to the newbies.

  3. January 8, 2012 12:48 pm

    Wonderful “referrals”, Jean. I’ve added subscriptions to my reader.

  4. January 8, 2012 1:33 pm

    Jean, thank you so much for this post; it introduced me to Black Walnut Dispatch. I’m a bit jealous of her wit. . . she’s hilarious!

  5. Jane permalink
    January 8, 2012 1:39 pm

    Thanks so much for including my blog here Jean. I see you have much to enjoy here and shall be returning. Nice to have it noted that you can enjoy the gardening bit on my blog without caring much about Dylan!

  6. January 8, 2012 5:10 pm

    Jean it has been a year now since your wonderful blog introduced me to bloggers at Blotanical…so nice to see more worthy blogs to check out…Happy New Year Jean!!

  7. gardeningasylum permalink
    January 9, 2012 5:42 pm

    Hi Jean – ditto what Jess said – you seem to find the truly special places out there for all of us to enjoy – thanks so much and Happy New Year 🙂

  8. January 9, 2012 6:25 pm

    I always look forward to your recommendations. Haven’t seen you around Blotanical lately–is this a new phase? Happy New Year. I hope you are scoping out gardens for us to visit next summer.

  9. January 10, 2012 6:44 pm

    Both sound delightful, Jean. I need more time in my day, that’s all there is to it. 🙂

  10. January 10, 2012 8:03 pm

    Hello everyone, I’m glad that you are enjoying this month’s picks.

    Jane, It was my great pleasure to review your blog. When I find a new blog that is both thoughtful and well-written, that I can enjoy reading and also learn something from, I want to share it with others.

    Alistair, This feature started as a form of mentoring (at the instigation of Jodi at Bloomingwriter), so it makes me happy when a new blogger feels as though I’ve given them a leg up.

    Although, Donna, I always feel that you give me much too much credit in your case.

    Jess, Cyndy and Patricia, The reason I’ve kept this up for so long (well, besides the fact that I’m a creature of habit :-)) is that it turns out to be a very efficient way for me to keep up with what’s new in garden blogland; so I’m delighted that what’s helpful for me is also useful for others.

    Grace, I know what you mean about time. Every so often, I decide to go through the subscriptions in my Google Reader and delete the ones that no longer interest me so much. But, inevitably, just as I’m about to delete a blog subscription, there’s a new post that really grabs my interest and I have to reconsider.

    Debra, I would be envious of Mary Gray’s wit — except that I know I don’t have any capacity for writing that kind of humor, which leaves me free to enjoy her talent envy-free. 🙂

    Carolyn, When life got much too complicated this fall and something had to give, that something was Blotanical; I’ve only been going there once a month to check out the new listings. I’ll probably get back into it with my more leisurely schedule this spring, though. I will start scoping out possible garden visits for summer. Have you ever been to the McLaughlin garden in South Paris? It’s a beautiful ride through the countryside from my house, and I always enjoy a visit there. I’d also love to go back to the Coast of Maine Botanical Garden.

  11. January 10, 2012 11:21 pm

    Jean, these both look delightful! I’ve had fun rummaging around in their posts already. Thank you–I’ll echo what everyone else has said, but I always enjoy your recommendations and still appreciate the leg-up you gave me last year!

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