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Year in Review: Our favourite gardening blogs of 2018

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As a new year is upon us, it is worth looking back over the successes of the last year.  The team at Sloane and Sons Garden Benches are avid followers of gardening blogs.  We thought it would be a great idea to collect together our favourite 20 blogs and blog posts from 2018, as a celebration of all the talent out there.  We know that our benches are only there to complement a beautiful garden.  It is somewhere where you sit and admire your work.  So, we are going to dwell on what is important: the best ideas for the use of your outdoor space.

We present this list of 20 gardening blogs in no particular order.  The best thing about gardening is that there is something for everyone – and the online world of gardening is the same.

One: The Middle-Sized Garden

As if to prove our point, the first of our twenty blogs focuses on middle-sized gardens.  It offers fellow gardeners with a decent size but not too extravagant plot advice and guidance.  The author of the blog is a published author and journalist, which makes the writing something of a treat too.  The main thrust of the blog is the crafty ideas suggested by Alexandra Campbell, which she has used with success in her garden.  There are some brilliant solutions for ordinary gardeners, which is why we love it so much.

However, this goes beyond just gardening and delves a little into life too.  Our favourite entry of 2018 came in November when the writer explored how a garden helped her to heal.  The focus o mental health, stress and trauma and the use of a garden to offer some respire was wonderfully explored – and an important topic.  My escape from fear to a healing garden we believe is well worth a read.

Two: The Frustrated Gardener

Dan Cooper is the man behind this blog, and our love comes from the theme of the blog: the gardener who doesn’t have the space to fulfil all those wonderful ideas that bubble up.  There is something organic and real about the writing in this blog, as Dan was inspired to garden by his grandparents and this passion seeps through his entries.

What is unique about this blog is the reviews of the many gardens that this man loves.  Our favourite was the visit to Disneyland Paris and the review of the landscapes there.  It comes as a reminder to all of us that there is a garden close by most of the time, highly sculptured and cared-for in the case of those in Disneyland.  We like the unusual perspective here – a holiday blog but continuing the gardening obsession.  It reminded us to look at the planting when we travelled, to seek inspiration in new lands.

red rose

Three: The Patient Gardener

We couldn’t help it.  We had to move from one frustrated gardener to another who declares himself patient.  It reminds us all that gardening is an emotional experience – and we all bring a distinct character to our landscape!  Helen Johnstone takes a similar approach to blogging to her frustrated counterpart. She travels around blogging about the latest gardens she has seen, which is complemented by the incredible photography.  This is basically a photography blog with a gardening theme, but we couldn’t resist including this because of the images. Stunning.

If you want to be persuaded by the beauty of the images, then check out the entry from September called Garden Bloggers Bloom DayThis is a post where the words are second to the pictures of the flowers, beautifully composed, with outstanding use of focus.  Look at the Kirengeshome Palmata if you need persuading. Wow.

Four: The Blackberry Garden

We like this blog for photography too.  Alison Levey has a wonderful eye.  However, this blog got nominated into our list by staff because of the Irritating Plant of the Month feature.  This is the naming and shaming of the plant that causes most trouble to the readers – and is a lovely moment of humility for all gardeners who get into mini-wars with our gardens and those rebels in the borders. It is too easy to believe that everyone else has a perfect set of green fingers and a space that can be included in Homes and Gardens.

Our favourite posting came just recently – with the Poinsettia named as the evil villain of the plant world.  It is worth a read for the chuckle, if not the gardening tips!

Five: Vertical Veg

We have a fond spot for vertical gardening, as it forms a beautiful backdrop to our garden benches.  However, this blog makes it to our list of blogs for 2018 because of the practical advice offered for small spaces with a desire for big yields.  There is a focus on growing fresh, unprocessed food – which we believe is an essential message for all of us starting our new year diets.  The enthusiasm in this blog is infectious and matches Mark Ridsdill Smith’s desire to get everyone growing their produce for themselves!

One of our favourite posts came early in the year, with a post on Wellbeing and Changing the City with Containers because it gave hope to all of us hoping to cultivate fruit and veg.  The focus is not only on the wellbeing of the gardener but also of the city environment. The use of pots in a vertical garden is promoted as a means of breaking through the concrete and brick and bringing some life back.

Six: Two Thirsty Gardeners

This a highly lauded blog.  You will find it on the list of favourite blogs for gardeners over the last few years.  We were tempted to try to look for something different, but to be honest, Rich and Nick do produce an excellent blog.  It tells of their love of growing after they paired up to make cider out of some pilfered apples.  This continues to be the point of the blog – a crossover between the garden, the kitchen and your home bar.

For this reason, we think it is entirely acceptable to promote our favourite blog of the year, which came as part of The Brewing Shed series.  We loved playing the Ryder Cup Drinking Game! Thanks, boys.

Seven: Growing Family

You will find there is a theme amongst our chosen blogs.  There should be a focus on gardening – of course – but there needs to be an added element that speaks to another part of our lives.  Growing Family is a blog written by Catherine Hughes and focuses on how she tries to get her whole family involved in the gardening experience.  She reviews items you might want for your garden, but she mostly offers lessons for getting the family together in the garden.

How to Make Leaf Mould is one of our favourite posts from November.  It offered practical tips, and we agree that there is nothing more fun than collecting leaves with little people!  Also, our favourite suggestion, when that pile of leaves is huge remember to jump around, stomp and finally lie down amongst the pile of debris.  This beats snow angels any day!

Eight: Veg Plotting

Michelle Chapman has been featured in The Telegraph and The Guardian, as well as the Reader’s Digest.  We are not getting in there first with this suggestion – but her accolades suggest she deserves to be in our list of favourite blogs for the year.  She shares tales from her allotment and her garden, offering hints and tips that are genuinely helpful.

We like the added element of the family and the stories from home.  However, our favourite type of blog on this site are the seasonal recipes that support the veg growing.  We tried this Version of Tzatziki for ourselves and loved it!  This is definitely what you do if you have a glut of cucumber.

vegetables

Nine: Alternative Eden

So, two gardeners – Mark and Gaz – had a plan to turn an ordinary space into something a little more exotic.  They decided they needed a koi fish pond and then set about sorting out the garden to surround it.  Then, they write about the trials and the journeys they are taking to bring it about.  What we like about this is that it isn’t really about this garden so much, as the gardens they visit in the rest of the world.  Yes, it is a travel blog – but one focused on gardens – so we love it!  In Beautiful Bruge was our favourite post – but that is because a) we love the city and b) we love the film by the same name!

Ten: The Garden Smallholder

We have done middle-sized, so it is fitting we do small too.  This is the story of two people who looked to create an escape from the city in their allotment.  If you are old enough to remember The Good Life, then you can sort of gather the feeling of this blog and the intentions behind it.  There is advice and the odd tip – including how to catch your chickens if they escape.  Really, we love this for the story and for the photography – but there are some excellent hints and tips too.

We find the simple tips blogs the most useful for our own garden.  We particularly liked the tips on starting tomatoes – something we always struggle with.

Eleven: The Anxious Gardener

Another emotional gardener! This describes itself as “A Gardening Blog. Mostly” and has won its fair share of awards over the time.  This is about a man’s relationship with the outside.  We like it because we like the writer.  If you want to be persuaded, then visit our favourite blog post this year – written in November – this is about An Otter in Stroud.  There are some beautiful photographs too.

David Marsden is a professional gardener who is caretaker of two large multi-acre gardens.  He offers some of his triumphs and his failures – but it is honesty that is so wonderful here.

Twelve: Growing with Plants

This is a blog produced by Matt Mattus, who is a horti-culturalist of some renown, but his day job is actually as a top designer for Hasbro.  He has exhibited across America, and he has a passion for botanic gardens.  He has just this year published the first gardening book that he believes contains all the information you need that is usually missing when you need it.

This is the theme of this blog, really.  All those titbits of advice you gather if you are a regular gardener. The main focus in veg – and our favourite is a sort of rant against kale and a celebration of cabbage.

Thirteen: The Urban Veg Patch

Another favourite also focuses on vegetable growing.  It is lovely to know that you can still have your veg patch if you live in a built-up area, and this is the point well-explored in this blog.  Caro, the blogger, is also a writer and photographer – and has won a fair few awards for her writing.  The site started with a specific focus on one project but has since evolved into a place where Caro shares her outdoor journeys.

The combination of writing and photography comes together best in the blog about autumn garden self-seeders.  The focus on a garden as an inspiration for the artist is unusual.  There are some wonderful hints for your plate too.

Fourteen: Rusty Duck

When you get to the home page of this blog it will ask you the question: Can I tell you a story? This is what we love about the site – just this – it is an intriguing telling of a story of a person and the environment.  It is mostly about renovating houses and gardens – but also focuses on the travel of the author – who is the wife of Mike – Jessica.

We love most of the entries on this blog.  Genuinely hard to choose a favourite – but if we have to, we would choose One Man Went to Mow.  This is a mixture of excellent writing and humour – and a great story.

Fifteen: The Compost Bin

This blog is less slick than some of the others on this list – but it is a genuine practitioner trying out good ideas.  Written by a master composter – this blog reports on the trials of a compost-woman and her family – living an organic life.  There is a lot to be learned from this site, written by someone who used to be a research scientist – but now turns her hand to something more simple or homely.  It is primarily about self-sufficient living.

The mix of family story and gardening is best shown from August when we hear about the injured knee and the Green Gathering.  It just makes us smile.

Sixteen: Rosie’s Back Garden

We really like Rosie.  She just comes across as a really lovely person who is trying her hardest to produce a garden from a clay base in a tiny area.  She is a self-confessed lover of flowers and scents and the best blossoms.  If you are trying to learn about all the A-Z of flowers, then this is the site for you.

There have only been a few blogs in 2018, but the victory blog in August was why we wanted this in our list.  Read with the same sense of triumph as Rosie at her scented garden – at last!

Seventeen: Ellen Mary Gardening

We have hit another theme in our flurry around the blogs.  Some people write blogs who have a lot of passion for gardening.  She was sucked into gardening by her family like many of our bloggers – but it is the strong influence of organic gardening methods that really influence our love of this blog.  This is a slick blog – Ellen Mary is also a gardening broadcaster!

Continuing our love of gardens from around the world, our favourite Ellen Mary blog is the one about her travels to Singapore.  You really get a feel for the enthusiastic tone and the learning you can do on the site.  You will find blogs by other writers too – but we prefer the original ourselves.

Eighteen: Grow like Grandad

This is a blog by Matt who attempts to grow his garden like his grandad, Jack Cook – who was the Head Gardener at the Broadfield Estate in Crawley.  Who wouldn’t love a site inspired by someone’s grandad?  As is the common theme, Matt is influenced by his relative and believes that gardening is in his blood.  However, what tops the blog for us is that Matt is honest about his battles with anxiety and he reflects on the help that working his patch gives him.

When you are always looking for something different to learn, it is refreshing when a blog post pops up to help.  Matt has a whole medieval vegetable section.  Our favourite is De Fungo.

Nineteen: A Coastal Plot

This is a blog about gardening by the sea.  The title kind of gives that away, but it is also about family life on the coast.  As with all good blogs, this does something to tell the story of the people with the garden, as well as provide some interesting tips and hints about the garden.  We particularly love the photographs on this site – so vibrant and a sense of the place.

If you want to see what we mean about the photographs, check out the blog about the vase on a Monday.  This is what you get for living in Cornwall with all that amazing light!

Twenty: Honey and Eggs

Last, but equally as enjoyable as the first, Honey and Eggs is a genuinely wonderful mix tip, advice and reviews.  Our favourite blog is the garden review in June which is a standard update of the progress in the garden, but there is a funny, honest tone of voice that we love.  This has some excellent advice on how to propagate houseplants – giving some updates on previous endeavours and giving hope to all gardeners.  We like the adage “only through experience can I learn” that gets mentioned every so often in the blog – just the attitude, we think.

In short

It has been a fantastic year for the gardening blog.  Things may be crazy elsewhere, but thankfully the seasons and cycles of the garden are as stable as ever.  If you scan through these bloggers, you will see that the general trend is that gardeners are good people who love to share.  At least that will always be the same as we enter 2019!

 

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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