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Best of the gardening blogs

  • Best of the gardening blogs

Don't know about you, but I find December quite a reflective time garden-wise, what with the dark, the rain and most things going on indoors.

That being so, I thought I'd take a look at the gardening blogs out there.

Clearly, for all but a few, keeping a blog going is a 'challenge'. So many of the ones you find online are, let's put it kindly - 'resting', with a last entry in 2012, or 2009, or a promise to write more later in the summer ... then radio silence.

I think the big problem is lack of encouragement. If you read a blog, do make a comment beneath it. The writer will be chuffed and inspired to do more.

Contributions are even thin on a forum like GreenPlantSwap at this time of year, despite there being many more readers and writers. But at least if you write a post here it won't be long before another one comes along to keep it company. On your own blog spot your golden last words can hang there forlornly and comment-less for months waiting for the next instalment!

Blogs are personal and there's no one way to write them. But tell a good story, share something interesting or useful and put your personality into it and you're on your way. Good photos are great to add too.

Here's a shining example in my view from one of our bloggers, Rachel the Gardener, about setting fire to Pampas grass. She never fails to inject spirit and know how into her posts. Or another from Wrightrhodos for a fascinating piece about Victorian greenhouses. Or one on a rant by John Walker, Join the awkward squad. Or lastly (and perhaps cheekily) one from me - the story about the marvellous Mrs Marrow.

And here are some blogs from 'out there' that I found worth the read - in no particular order. Do add your own recommendations, if you have them, in comments below.

The photo of the lovely Helleborus is courtesy of Linda - not surprisingly they've been early this year.

Comments (8)

  1. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    D'aaw, you! *slaps Jeremy in style of Dick Emery in drag (you know, the one that said "ooh, you are awful!") *

    Having been blogging for a while now, I would encourage everyone here to give it a go - not just for the fun of seeing your name in print, but as a record of what you are doing in your own garden. I "tag" or label my posts, so that I can find them easily - it's often very informative to go back a year or two, and to look at the photos you took then.

    I also agree whole-heartedly with the concept of adding comments to blog posts if you enjoyed them, or if you have a question - I have inadvertently become the "go to" person for questions about bramble removal, which is very flattering, and the original post now has 35 comments on it - which might be a record! (in case you are interested)

    To Jeremy's excellent list, I would add ThinkinGardens - - which is a sort of forum, run by the lady who wrote The Bad Tempered Gardener, Anne Wareham. She invites contributions from really well-known experts, as well as from people you have never heard of (I have even contributed articles to it a couple of times myself!), and she likes people to debate the points raised, which often leads to some surprising new ideas.

  2. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    I agree, ThinkinGardens is a good one to add ... and posts are most rewarding when the comments 'take off'. Two we had in recent months were one about Cricket Bat Willow and one on Echiums. In both members shared knowledge of growing the plants in different conditions and areas of the country, which is I think a real potential of this site.

  3. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Thank you Jeremy, for putting me on your shortlist of the best gardening blogs, that’s truly inspiring! This week it is exactly 5 years since I started blogging and I honestly didn’t expect to still be writing. I have had to cut down a bit on the number of posts per month since my humble beginnings – life sometimes gets in the way of blogging, and then there’s gardening and all the other things I really want to do. Ideally I should apply somewhere to get the day extended with 4-5 hours, that would have suited me very well, but that’s probably a topic for a completely different forum :-)

    In the beginning of blogging – for almost the whole first year - I felt like I was writing a diary for myself - to myself. I had only a handful comments and although I could see from the statistics that I did indeed have some visitors, I didn’t know if they actually read my post or had just landed there by accident because they had searched for something completely different. But then, towards the end of the first year, slowly things picked up and my blog became a two-way communication and I got gardening blogger friends I still keep in touch with. I have even met two of my blogger friends, one from America and one from Russia – they both came and visited me and my garden when coming to London anyway!

    I still write my blog as a diary, I write about my garden, about the things that happens, the things I do and from time to time about specific plants and tools and things to do in the garden. And the last 2 years I have made a video from my garden every month on the last day of the month. I did make videos before, but only a few sporadic ones, these ones have been more planned for and regularly. My blog is always full of photos from my garden and along with the videos they serve as a reminder of how things changes in my garden and how nature changes things for us. Can you remember when your camellia first flowered in 2012? What about in 2011? I can, because I took photos. And discussion like whether last spring was earlier than the year before? No problem, I can pull up my blog and show you the photos and videos.

    In May 2015 my 5 years of blog writing really came in handy as I moved house – and garden. I had been thinking about moving for a long time, procrastinating about it for almost as long but finally I had no choice due to my health issues and I when I managed to find a bungalow with a slightly bigger garden than I already had I was sold – I took it for the garden, the house was nothing special apart from the fact that there were no stairs. I moved out of my Victorian house with 700 plants in pots, from the smallest cutting pot to the largest one, a 3.5m tall magnolia in a 30L pot. I have really appreciated the photos and videos on my blog from my previous garden, they helped making the move somewhat easier. Leaving the garden I had worked on for 14 years was never going to be easy, but in a way the garden keeps on living on my blog – and many of the plants are here with me in the new garden so that helps too.

    And to all of you out there - perhaps you are thinking up excuses why you haven’t got around to starting a blog even if you really want to – if English is not your native language, are you for example scared your English isn’t good enough? I can warmly recommend writing a blog, it will do wonders for your written English! I am originally Norwegian and came to Britain as a 35 year old, with rather basic English I learned in school as a child, just like people here learn French or German. After 16 years here in London my English has improved, but nothing has given me better practice in terms of writing in English than the 319 posts I have written over the last 5 years.

    If you are thinking about writing a gardening blog but can’t really get started – just start! If you think no one is going to read it then…just start and see! If you think what you write is interesting, chances are other people will think so too. You never know what’s going to catch on in the blogosphere. In June 2012 I wrote a post I called ‘Will it ever stop raining??’ So far that post has been visited 1799 times – it is possibly that some of those people did not know it was a gardening blog, but even so! I wrote a post in 2013 about the different aids I use as a disabled in the garden, 1171 people have visited that post so far - and including my replies, that post has 65 comments. You can find the post here:

    Blogging can lead to so many things but for me I would say I have learned so much about gardening the last 5 years! And my wish-list of plants for my garden has grown exponentially with my increasing list of blogger friends. OK, so I watch less TV these days and I don’t read as much as I used to – but now we are back to where I started. Where can I apply for an extension of the day? Surely, 24 hours is way too short – a few more hours would be nice :-)

  4. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi, Helene, waves enthusiastically, at 65 comments you have beaten me quite thoroughly! laughs

    You make a very good point about encouraging people to start blogging, even if it feels like a diary at first - when I started mine, it was exactly that: I would just write about what I had done in the gardens that day or that week, and over time it developed into more of a "how to do it" sort of blog, interspersed with product reviews.

    I am certain that no-one read my blog for weeks! It takes quite a while to be "found" by search engines, so you do have take it on faith that eventually people will see your blog on the google list of suggestions.

    For me, as a Professional Gardener, my blog is also a bit of a shop-front: potential Clients can form an opinion of me, potential plant-buying customers can read about how I have propagated their plants, and it gives me a platform to plug my Botany Field Guides (17 published last year, folks,
    ). But mostly it is a combination of diary, work/weather recording, and general enthusing!

  5. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I find keeping a regular blog quite tough- but I have been trying to keep a photographic record or the gardens I work in. It's useful to have a record of when things are flowering for year to year. I know more methodical gardeners will keep notes in a notepad but a picture is so useful when you are looking at how a shrub has been pruned and how it responds, or which parts of the garden are over-planted, or too bare at certain times. For me, it's a record of what I have been doing in the garden as people have often asked me 'what do you do in December?'. At the time of writing (January) the weather is so wet and soggy here in Somerset that some of the work creating new beds, dividing plants or moving shrubs is difficult so I'm hoping things dry out a bit before I get on with working off those mince pies ;-) However, frosty soil and snow is another problem and sometimes it's best to let a garden sleep.

  6. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    You make a very good point, Helene, about how posts build over time. So much in the modern commercial world seems to be about instant gratification but blogs, like plants, mature over time.

    This is true both in how you build an audience, via Google rankings and followers, and in how individual posts build comment content. GreenPlantSwap is still relatively young, but every post that has plant tags is visible in our Plant Finder against those plants. This means that posts about those specific plants will likely add new comments from people researching them when they are in season ... and interest each year.

    The Echium post I referred to above, for example, attracted comments from several parts of the country and one from abroad in its first year. By this time next year, will we have many more comments from other geographic areas building up a profile of where and how Echiums will grow? I certainly hope so - it will make the post more and more useful and interesting.

  7. Grower

    alison levey

    Thank you so much for the kind mention Jeremy. I have been blogging for a few years now and really enjoy it. I find it makes me take even more notice of my garden than I thought I did .

  8. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    You're welcome Alison. What you say is so true. Once you start writing about your garden, you begin to notice so much more. In case others don't know, it's Alison who writes the Blackberry garden blog

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