In the online world, there are Galloping Gardeners, Patient Gardeners, Stopwatch and Enduring Gardeners, Oxonian Gardeners and Inelegant Gardeners, all writing about their own experiences, mostly well illustrated with their own images and begging for feedback. I thought I’d share some of my favourite bloggers, starting with this year’s Garden Media Guild Award winner – The Anxious Gardener.
David Marsden is a professional gardener who looks after two large (five and six acre) gardens in Sussex. Working alone, he felt he needed to share his triumphs and failures with others. “Blogging is hard work though”, he says, “I had no idea I’d feel so responsible to my readers. Media takes up so much time (he also has Facebook and Pinterest pages and tweets), especially if you should be out in the garden”.
With 50,000 hits last year, he writes often, in readable chunks, interspersed with workmanlike photos. A sensitive soul, his mood is often affected by the weather and success or frustrations of his work – a recent outbreak of box blight was a low moment, and elicited much sympathy and advice from his followers. Recently though, he has moved into his own garden, small, steep and suburban, and one hopes for happier times.
With time to spare, I always look forward to garden writer/designer Non Morris’ monthly blog, The Dahlia Papers. Her recent post of a visit to Paris (a family half-term outing) melds cheery visits to favourite shops and museums, with autumn colour along paths viewed from the Eiffel Tower and the Petit Palais at Versailles with its kitchen garden, wall of figs and ‘Reine Claude’ greengages trained onto concentric palmier shapes. It ends filled with sadness: “That our memories of those cheerful inspiring days have been shaken upside down by the horrifying terrorist shootings which have since taken place”.
Non’s blogs are a mixture of travel, gardens, music and poetry, merging a joyous spring border at Petersham House and Henri Matisse at Tate Modern. She fuses potter Edmund de Waal’s white porcelain, the aesthetic of Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge and Sackville West’s white garden at Sissinghurst. She describes it as “a blog that has the freedom to branch out all over the place, with connections to art, food, design and literature”.
Her own favourite bloggers include US Matt Mattus’ Growing With Plants; gardener John Tebbs’ journal: The Garden Edit; and banker-turned-plant hunter Tom Mitchell of Evolution Plants’ blog: Revolution Snowdrops, describing his attempts to travel and see every wild species of Galanthus.
A parallel world of blogging also flourishes: the loamy universe of allotmenteers and veg growers, such as Real Men Sow. Six years ago Jono Stevens took on a derelict allotment in Essex with his mum. Since then, he has managed a spreadsheet, working out how much he’s saved on veg (£500 over a year), written a nice piece about his mum (Forty Years a Gardener), and posts varying from Eight Household Articles to Re-use and Save a Few Quid – (mostly yoghurt pots and loo roll inner tubes); to Can I sell my Allotment Produce? Answer: yes as long as you’re just selling surplus, not carrying out a trade or business. For ‘Eight Ways to get Free Seeds’ the trick is to start writing a blog apparently, and go to seed swaps.