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Garden Blogs of the Month: February 2013

February 11, 2013

For those of us whose gardens are dormant, garden blogs provide a great winter garden fix. And how lucky for us that great garden blogs continue to be added to the Blotanical listings every month. I found those added in January a particularly rich selection and, once again, I found it difficult to focus on only a few. In the end, I chose three to highlight.

imageNoel’s Garden Blog and its author, well-known English garden writer Noel Kingsbury, are hardly newcomers and do not need any introduction by me. Nevertheless, although this blog is now more than five years old, I somehow missed it until it was listed at Blotanical. I include it here both because I am smitten and because others may also have missed it.

In his first post, Noel described his intentions for the blog this way:

This blog …. is meant to be an occasional source of interest and opinion, and possibly of irritation and annoyance; for anyone who may want to know what I am currently doing in my own garden and in my work. I have published much ‘conventionally’ and shall continue to do so… but this is a way of doing so which is entirely under my own control. Say exactly what I want. Garden publishing is very restrictive in many ways. This is an opportunity to supplement my published work with a body of work which would fit into the current options for garden journalism. Gardening of course links into so many other areas of life too, so there will be occasional digressions …. food, agriculture, environment, ecology. It will be a place to express opinions…. which I do not expect everyone to agree with. There is too much agreement in gardening, too much complacency, not enough debate.

And the blog very much lives up to that promise. Blog posts focus on Noel’s own garden, on gardens he has visited, on his travels (as, recently, in South America), or on things he has read – but description is always combined with meaty reflections and strong opinions. This is not a blog that can be skimmed quickly; each post rewards careful reading and demands thinking.

imageGardening Through a Lens by Emily Schiller is a US blog that combines beautiful photography with beautiful writing. Emily is a retired Professor of English Literature who loves language and who chooses words and composes sentences with care. Listen to this introduction in the blog’s first post:

I decided to start a blog because I wanted a place to bring together my words and images. And when I was waiting for the first flowers to appear at the beginning of the year, I knew that the garden would be the right place….

Every word I type slumps under the weight of all the books I’ve read, all the authors I’ve admired, and every hour in the classroom (as student as well as teacher). And every photograph I take reveals the inadequacies of my equipment, my skills, and my imagination.

However, gardening is free. At least for me. I have few expectations of the garden or myself. Plants live and plants die. Some bloom one year and hold back the next. I go about my gardening by instinct and by books. It’s science and it’s magic. And it’s life that makes my life ever so much better.

In a later post, Emily tells us that what she really loves about gardening is not grand design but looking at plants up close. In The Collector, she tells us: “I buy plants I want to photograph. I don’t plan, I don’t design. I collect…. My garden is more like a menagerie than a landscape.” It therefore isn’t surprising that, although there are some wonderful landscape shots in this blog, most of the images are up-close-and-personal macro shots. I love the examination of flower sex organs in “A Bit of Botany: Stamens & Pistils” and the amazing portraits of blue flowers in “An Eccentricity of Color: Blue Flowers.” I would happily visit this blog just for the photographs; that those photographs are set in the context of well-crafted essays is a wonderful bonus.

imageBalcony in Berlin is as different from the previous two blogs as they are different from each other. This is a blog in which the author chronicles the development of a new garden, in this case a balcony container garden; and as a lover of garden memoirs, this is a genre of blog that I particularly enjoy.

The first posts provide descriptions of how the bare concrete balcony was prepared for its future as a garden and the addition of the first plants (potted herbs). Then, after an illness-induced hiatus, the blog picks up in fall with a description of preparing the balcony garden for winter. I particularly appreciate the mixture of story-telling and practical tips in this blog. I am looking forward to more posts about experiments in balcony gardening and their results.

Whether you want the intellectual stimulation of horticultural debates, gorgeous garden eye-candy, or a focus on everyday practical gardening, you can find it in these blogs. Enjoy.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2013 12:07 pm

    Good picks! I love Noel’s blog and just became acquainted with Emily’s. Love her photo of the blue heron on ice. Will be sure to check out that balcony in Berlin. Thanks!

    • February 19, 2013 9:23 pm

      Karen, I’m very happy to have found these blogs.

  2. February 11, 2013 12:44 pm

    Jean,
    Again, I must thank you for introducing me to such wonderful thoughtful people through their blogs. You have picked some doozies this month – and I will be grateful for a long while…

    • February 19, 2013 9:23 pm

      Shenandoah, I’m glad that you are enjoying these.

  3. February 11, 2013 12:50 pm

    Thank you for the recommendation, Jean! I’m very pleased that you liked my amateur blog – and I’m now encouraged to finish all those draft posts lying around…

    • February 19, 2013 9:25 pm

      It was my pleasure. I, too, have a long list of partial drafts and post ideas in a computer file. I’m happy to give you encouragement to get back to work on some of yours 🙂

  4. sweetbay103 permalink
    February 11, 2013 9:24 pm

    You post such good finds!

  5. February 12, 2013 1:36 pm

    Jean, I am so very, very flattered by your interest and your wonderful comments. Thank you SO much! What a generous writer you are. And I too love Noel’s blogs. I’m off to visit Balcony in Berlin next. Cheers!

    • February 19, 2013 9:26 pm

      Emily, You are very welcome. Thank you for sharing your wonderful images.

  6. February 12, 2013 4:27 pm

    Jean 3 wonderful blogs for me to explore…thank you as always!!

    • February 19, 2013 9:28 pm

      You are very welcome. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  7. February 12, 2013 8:45 pm

    It amazes me the amount of new blogs that are listed each month. So great that there’s so much interest in gardening that more and more people are starting to blog. I’ll be checking out Noel’s blog for sure, haven’t seen that one before.

    • February 19, 2013 9:30 pm

      Marguerite, It is amazing. Every month I go to Blotanical expecting to find no new submissions (especially since Stewart seems to have abandoned the site), but I’m always wrong. This month’s new listings were particularly good. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who had missed Noel’s blog; it’s very meaty.

  8. February 13, 2013 2:09 pm

    I always enjoy these monthly posts, Jean. I’ve been so remiss about keeping up with new blogs listed at Blotanical. I think I happened upon Noel’s Garden once previously, but it’s been a while. Looking forward to exploring the others listed too, especially a blog written by an English Professor…I’m intrigued!

    • February 19, 2013 9:32 pm

      Carolyn, I think there are a lot of us professors and retired professors hanging around in the blogosphere. (I suppose it makes sense because writing is such a big part of our jobs.)

  9. February 19, 2013 7:24 am

    I appreciate so much you taking the time to find new blogs withing Blotanical! Thank you very much.

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