Garden Blogs of the Month: October 2012
After a one-month hiatus, “Garden Blogs of the Month” returns with two months of new listings at Blotanical to select from. Although the three blogs I have chosen to highlight are all newly listed at Blotanical, they are not necessarily new blogs.
Bluebell Cottage Gardens and Nursery is a case in point. This UK blog has been around since 2007, the year after author Sue Beesley won the BBC’s Gardener of the Year competition and the year she bought a cottage in Cheshire with a 1 acre attached garden open to the public and a perennial nursery. With that purchase, Sue went from being a hobbyist “weekend gardener” (the title of her previous blog) to a professional horticulturalist. It’s worth going back to read the early posts on this blog because they recount the process of getting a neglected nursery ready to open for business. It provides much useful information for anyone who has ever dreamed of owning a nursery, but it’s also just a compelling story that is well told. Those who prefer an abbreviated version of the backstory can get it in three posts from February 2012 (In the beginning, Bluebell Cottage, five years on. Part One, and Bluebell Cottage – the first five years – Part Two). Some of Sue’s posts include a behind-the-scenes look at the garden shows she participates in as a nursery owner. Most, however, are reflections on gardens and gardening practices. I was intrigued by her recent discussion of using grasses in perennial borders (Perennial grasses, perfect partnerships), and I loved her very thoughtful reflections on what it means to garden organically (Am I ‘Organic’?)and on weeding (Weeding is not a dirty word). This is a thoughtful, thorough and well-written blog; and whether you are a professional or amateur gardener, it is not to be missed.
Her Way at Crabtree Gardens is another blog associated with a business, this time US blog author Sandi Crabtree’s gardens and guest house in Drums, Pennsylvania. I was first attracted to this blog by its subtitle, “Work with her or against her, either way Nature will have her way,” a philosophy of gardening that resonates for me. The early posts in this blog (begun this past July) also look back on the first five years of starting a new garden-related business. But most posts provide the reflections of an enthusiastic and experienced gardener. There are posts that take joy in a bit of gardening serendipity (Floating Hearts), others that show the garden’s growth and development (Her Masterpiece), some that share gardens Sandi has visited (Goodell Gardens and Homestead Tour), and many that provide helpful gardening advice (Take a Chance). Because Sandi gardens in a climate similar to mine and because she grows many of the plants that I love, I am looking forward to the information and inspiration waiting for me here.
Fleeting Architecture, the third blog in this grouping is the newest (a little over two months old) and one that also attracted me because it speaks to my own gardening experience. The author, Shenandoah Kepler, describes herself in the blog’s subtitle as “An Ancient Gardener Aging in Place.” And “aging in place,” particularly aging in place in the garden, is what this blog is all about. As Shenandoah encountered health problems, she discovered that she and her “dear husband” (DH in the blog) had to think differently about their garden. In an August post (Aging in Place in the Garden: Eight Reasons I Started This Blog), Shenandoah reflected on her reasons for wanting to write about their experiences: “Interior design has quite a bit about aging in place, but exterior features might also need to be modified to make it accessible over one’s lifetime, not just if one becomes disabled.” Many of the posts in this blog are opportunities to delight in the garden, including many Wordless Wednesday photographs. In a post about the name of the blog (Fleeting Architecture, What It Means), Shenandoah reflects on how aging has shaped her philosophy of gardening:
When I was younger, I made plans, worked on projects, had lists pages long, kept journals and notebooks, and loved crossing something off one of the lists… I still do these things, but ….
Nowadays, I have taken the time, at least every hour in my projects, to stop and enjoy where I am, what I am doing. I don’t fret about getting something done as I used to. I don’t frantically try to finish up when the light, or my strength, or the heat gets to me.
I now realize I will never really finish anything in the garden. It is a work in progress, and in a way that is the point. It is fleeting.
As much as I appreciate these reminders to slow down and enjoy the garden, what I value most about this blog are the posts of concrete advice about how to design a garden with physical limitations (your own or others’) in mind. Three of these (Steps to an injury-free garden – part 1, Steps to an injury-free garden– part 2, and Steps to an injury-free garden – part 3) have been highlighted as separate pages that are featured on the blog’s header. As I move toward my own retirement and think about aging in place in my Maine garden, I am happy to have Shenandoah as a mentor.