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Garden Blogs of the Month: August, 2012

August 4, 2012

How can it be August already?! I’m in an “omigod, I have to start teaching in three weeks and I don’t have my syllabi written yet” state of near-panic. But how better to respond to near-panic than with a little procrastination! And one pleasurable way to procrastinate is to peruse the new blog listings at Blotanical. From those added in the past month, I’ve chosen two to feature here.


Licencetokillslugs is a UK blog just begun this summer. Subtitled “Battles against nature in a small-town garden,” this blog is clearly focused more on the trials and tribulations of gardening than on the romance of communing with nature. And author Claire Davies’ most important message about dealing with those trials and tribulations is that it helps to have a sense of humor. Fans of Mary Gray’s Black Walnut Dispatch will find a similar style of humor here, but with a British accent. Many of these posts are laugh-out-loud funny, especially for those with a keen appreciation of irony. Claire’s first post, on choosing a name for her blog, sets the tone and begins to identify some of her natural enemies. At the top of the list are slugs (of course) and cats:

Cats are up there with slugs as the enemy so I was thinking of This might attract armies of cat lovers who would be inflamed [by] my feline unfriendly slug pellets.  I would have  a cat fatwa on my hands. Cat lovers would break into my garden and plant signs saying ‘cats, welcome to crap here’ in my veg patch. Cats already feel welcome there anyway.

Perhaps my favorite post was a recent one (Garden’s Illustrated are coming) in which she imagines how her garden might be written up in a garden magazine. Here’s a flavor of this wicked send-up of both the genre and her garden:

An urban paradise, designed and managed by its owner, Claire, who fled the leafy lanes of London’s Stoke Newington in search of the harder landscaping of Upper Clapton where dub ‘n’ bass throb from every neighbour’s window. Filled with common plants found in most garden centres, splashes of red from poppies and pelargoniums mirror blood spills from the gang warfare outside on London’s notorious ‘murder mile’. From a bare alley favoured by slugs, the eye is lead effortlessly beyond to a patio and then a raised gravelled area and finally a compost heap. Here and there a skilfully placed object catches the eye: some random bottles, an old trowel, a handful of bamboo canes discarded by the owner.

This blog is a delight for those who enjoy an irreverent look at the gardening experience.


Romancing the Bee is about the romance of gardening – or, more accurately, about the romance of beekeeping. Blog author Deborah DeLong combines beekeeping with English gardening in the US city of Cincinnati, Ohio. She began the blog in January and has posted frequently in the months since. Her subtitle, “Making urban beekeeping beautiful,” clearly indicates that she wants to focus on beekeeping and gardening as beautiful experiences, and this focus is reflected in the visual beauty of the blog’s design. While this blog includes humor (see, for example, Should Beekeeping Be an Olympic Sport?), most of the posts are informational. Some provide information about beekeeping (e.g., types of honey bees, styles of hives, hive management), while others provide information about flowers that bees love or delicious recipes that can be made with honey provided by the bees. There is a wealth of practical advice here for anyone who is considering taking up beekeeping. But this insider’s look at beekeeping is also fascinating for those (like me) who have no plans to become beekeepers.

Deborah’s philosophy of beekeeping is that it should be a source of joy and beauty in life, not a stress-filled activity, and she includes information and advice to make beekeeping easier. Consider, for example, the following (from Bees Love Honey Too!):

One of my goals in writing this blog is to convince gardeners that they can keep bees in their gardens without having to harvest honey every year.  Or even open the hive.

They can just let their bees be bees. I guarantee the bees will be better for it.

It’s difficult to adequately convey the richness of content in this blog. In addition to being a beekeeper and a gardener, Deborah is a writer, and blog posts are always beautifully and clearly written — which is amazing given the frequency with which those posts appear. Deborah sometimes includes video clips, especially when the visuals provide a rich source of information, and she supplements her own writing by reblogging helpful posts from other blogs.

Whether you are a beekeeper, thinking about becoming a beekeeper, or interested in a little vicarious beekeeping, take a look at Romancing the Bee.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2012 3:21 am

    Thoroughly enjoyed your suggestions this month. Thanks Jean! (PS: Any verdict on the future of blotanical yet?)

    • August 10, 2012 8:39 pm

      Hi Jack, I have heard nothing about Blotanical since Stuart’s March 7 lament. Perhaps he’ll add an update on Sept. 7. (Communication is clearly not his strong suit.) As you said in a recent post, Blotanical is moribund, but not dead. It keeps limping along as users do what they can to make it work.

  2. August 5, 2012 6:39 am

    Hi Jean
    Thanks very much for suggesting my blog, I am honoured as well as relieved that someone understands it is meant to be funny! The sense of humour has brought me a few near-misses with colleagues in the past who took e-mails too seriously….Had a wander around your blog and I love your approach to the sociological aspects of gardening and what it actually means to garden. It does mean something very important to me to be out there with the plants but I can never find the words to describe it.

    • August 10, 2012 10:51 pm

      Claire, It was my pleasure to highlight your blog.

  3. August 5, 2012 11:03 am

    I visited and adore both..I quickly subscribed via email which is easier for me to follow…great recommendations Jean

    • August 10, 2012 10:51 pm

      Donna, I’m glad you enjoyed them as much as I did.

  4. August 5, 2012 11:05 am

    I am familiar with Deb’s blog but will enjoy visiting Claire’s. You must keep a sense of humor where gardening is concerned. I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone by. I know you will miss the peaceful time spent in your Maine garden when you head home.

    • August 10, 2012 10:53 pm

      Karen, This summer really has sped by. I’m now at that triage stage of figuring out which of this summer’s projects I can actually make some progress on in the next week (depressingly, hardly any) and which need to be put on the list for next year. Sigh.

  5. August 5, 2012 3:27 pm

    Thanks are always in order for your scouting efforts…really good ones this time: we could all use a good laugh.

    • August 10, 2012 10:56 pm

      Ricki, I’m glad you enjoyed them. I agree with Karen’s comment above that a sense of humor is absolutely essential for gardening.

  6. August 6, 2012 4:56 am

    I always enjoy checking out your blog recommendations Jean, mind you I am rather peeved at the moment as my last two posts have not appeared on blotanicals list for picking.

    • August 10, 2012 10:58 pm

      Alistair, Sorry to hear about your Blotanical glitch. Did you try “pinging” from your “my blogs” tab. Sometimes I’ve had to ping multiple times before Blotanical finally picks up the feed for a new post.

  7. August 6, 2012 10:25 am

    Good picks!

    • August 10, 2012 10:58 pm

      Becky, I’m glad you found them worthwhile.

  8. August 6, 2012 3:41 pm

    Jean thank you for your monthly review. I am so behind in readings (and posts too) that I will, as usual, keep your recommendations for a more relaxed time!

    • August 10, 2012 10:59 pm

      Hi Lula, The question always is “Will that relaxed time ever come?” 😐 I actually got caught up with blog-reading very briefly this summer, but now the posts are piling up in my Google Reader again.

  9. Astrid permalink
    August 9, 2012 8:19 pm

    Hi Jean
    Thanks for drawing my attention to both of these blogs. Claire’s sounds like a riot!! Should be a lot of fun to read. And the bee blog sounds lovely as well as being educational.

    • August 10, 2012 11:01 pm

      Astrid, I think that’s a great way to characterize these two blogs. I hope you enjoy them.

  10. August 11, 2012 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions! I always love reading new blogs. 🙂

  11. August 20, 2012 8:25 am

    oh excellent!these will be helpful.thank you for posting it.

  12. September 11, 2012 11:50 pm

    Great blog. I love garden and you have added great ideas on garden. Can you suggest some ideas on open terrace garden.


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