“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
-- Jack London
I started gardening in earnest a few years ago, right around the time urban farming and the Eat Local/100-Mile Diet movements started trending. It was easy for me to find how-to books and compare notes with friends and chat about different varieties with local farmers at markets.
Having an interest in edible landscaping, I read up on permaculture and forest gardens, adding a small backyard orchard behind the house. Nearby garden centers, designers, and mail-order nurseries have all the information I could possibly need for planting and taking care of fruit trees.
But now that I'm stepping into the world of ornamentals alongside edibles, how-to books don't seem to be enough. There is so much to consider, foliage, color, seasons of bloom, fragrance, form, site...
It's hard to keep from getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information. I'm determined to seek out inspiration, ideas, from existing gardens and the gardeners who create them in hopes, not of finding one to copy, but gaining the courage to make one of my own.
Below are the gardeners and gardens I am 'going after with a club' to learn from.
Blogging Gardeners You Need to Know
Thanks to the internet, I am learning a lot from very influential and experienced gardeners and designers I may not have discovered on my own. Many of them are authors who blog and are on Instagram. It's amazing to be able to read their books and then get their perspectives and even see what they are working on right this minute!
♠ Don Engebretson, the Renegade Gardener, guides readers in the 10 Tenets of Renegade Gardening and as 'the lone voice of horticultural reason' posts no-nonsense landscape advice once a month spring through fall.
♠ Thomas Rainier, a landscape architect, and gardener based in Washington, D.C., blogs about his home garden, and the form, meaning, and expression of designed landscape at Grounded Design
♠ Garden Rant is a well-rounded blog/online magazine written by Susan Harris, Elizabeth Licata, Michele Owens, Amy Stewart, Allen Bush, Thomas Christopher, and Evelyn Hadden. Representing the north, south, east, and midwest United States, they are doing their best to 'uproot the gardening world'.
♠ Self-proclaimed garden geek Scott Weber writes from Portland's Brooklyn neighborhood about his gardens and visits to others at Rhone Street Gardens.
♠ Gardener, teacher, author, and lecturer Noel Kingsbury posts his admittedly "unfashionable" musings on the state of gardening, agriculture, and food at Noel's Garden.
♠ James Golden, garden designer and coach, shares his "ramblings" of a New American gardener and updates on his New Jersey garden on his blog, View from Federal Twist.
♠ Gardenista, sister site to Remodelista, is another blog-azine. Featuring public and private gardens, books (I learned of Piet Oudolf's books here), design tips, and gorgeous photography, the site is a good resource with quick, easy-to-read posts.
Books by Gardeners You Need to Know
Brought up in a house with walls of books and in a family that never missed a library book sale, the written word is where I find my greatest sources of inspiration. These authors and their books are the ones most influencing my thoughts on gardening.
♠ Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes by Thomas Rainier with Claudia West (Read James Golden's thorough review of this essential must-read here.)
♠ Designing Borders by Noel Kingsbury
♠ Planting: A New Perspective by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury
Gardens You Need to See
♥ Gardens in Detail: 100 Contemporary Designs by Emma Reuss breaks down the design elements of each garden to show how and why it works.
♥ The Renegade Gardener finds great inspiration in the landscaping of the PNW, Vancouver, BC and Seattle alike. After living here for nine years, I absolutely agree with him. The parks, home gardens, and commercial landscaping all show a knack for creating interest through foliage, native-looking arrangements, and offbeat pruning techniques.
Small Screen Gardens You Need to See
In many British shows, the scenery is presented as one of the main characters in the storyline. I like seeing the differences between the estate gardens, cottage gardens, those in the suburbs, and those in the city. These are the top three shows I check out for the greenery (I don’t vouch for the content!).
♠ Rosemary & Thyme The two main characters, a gardener and a horticulturist, solve murder mysteries and care for various English and European gardens. Sweet Sunday Mornings has compiled pictures of many of the gardens here.
♠ Doc Martin Tales of Doc Martin and the accident-prone residents of Port Wenn (Port Isaac), a picturesque Cornwall village. I watch it for the hedgerows, the coastal and farm views, and the peeks of private container and backyard gardens. Links to all the filming locations are here.
Which gardens and gardeners inspire you the most? Who are you learning from?
Do you have any favorite books, TV shows, or blogs that add to your education as a gardener? Have you visited any gardens that sparked a change in your thinking? Please sound off in the comments below!