Bloggery by Emma Bond

May 15, 2012

in Blog Reviews

Garden blogs have become a vital and exciting – and deadly and boring – part of the garden world in the last few years. It seems time to review them and consider what they have to offer to serious gardeners, and the first reviews will appear here in a few weeks time. Here is Emma Bond’s introduction to the topic.

Anne Wareham, editor

One of Emma Bond's Blogs

Emma Bond:

I was first introduced to blogs and blogging about 6 years ago and enthusiastically starting reading about anything from food to interiors, from fashion to gardening as well as craft and vintage writing. At the time the most evolved and sophisticated blogs seemed to come from the USA and their style and layout set them apart from the British offerings. Not long after discovering blogging, I started up my own blog and obsessively updated it regularly and commented on other’s blogs in return for much-wanted comments on mine as that seemed to be the ‘thing’.  This was my first introduction to writing and through it I met a number of people IRL (in real life) and got to meet other bloggers, gardeners and garden designers.

However, and this also seems fairly common among bloggers, my blog is now unloved and fairly neglected as once the initial excitement wore off, the reality of writing original and interesting content became apparent and I have slowly let it wither on the vine occasionally returning to post something and check it is still alive.

There seems to me to be two types of bloggers. Those who are in it for themselves, to have an outlet for their writing or photography and make connections with other bloggers, and those who are in it for a more commercial purpose, and this is what seems to sort the men from the boys. This is of course about advertising and there are those who do and those who don’t.  The worst type of advertising is in the form of the cheapest looking Google ads, which really put me off, I think because they slightly smack of desperation and really mess up the page. The well-designed and less intrusive advertising tells me that the blog is probably read by many and might have enough about it to give it a read. Overall though, I prefer those without any.

The standard of writing and photography varies wildly and I just move on if I come across a badly written blog. The kind of gardening blogs that most turn me off are humourless and prone to too much of the kind of detail easily found in gardening books. Often featuring endless photos of patches of bare soil, lots of close-up shots of flowers and far too much information, making them as dull as a round-robin email at Christmas. Add in poor layout and crammed with too many widgets and I can hardly bear to read them.

Having said this, over the years I have found the standard has improved massively and there is now a vast array of fairly interesting and well written gardening blogs.

The best are well designed with good clear layouts, well photographed, brief blog posts, well written and preferably with some wit and humour, as I do believe that garden writing can be dreadfully dull in the wrong hands. I want to know about the kind of gardens people love or loathe, the kinds of techniques and tips they find useful, the books they read, the food they grow and eat, the plants they love. I’m also interested in reading about the bits around the edges, the tools people use, the bits and bobs people put in their gardens, where they like to buy stuff, that kind of thing.

I’m currently enjoying a few gardening blogs including The Oxonian Gardener which has great photos, interesting content and is a beautifully designed site. I also enjoy reading Harriet Rycroft’s blog for Whichford Pottery: she keeps it short and sweet with good photos and lots of interesting info. Gill Carson’s My Tiny Plot is an interesting blog for those into veg growing and Gayla Trail, You Grow Girl, which has been going for nearly 13 years. There are many others worthy of comment, Fennel & Fern, The Enduring Gardener and Charlotte Weychan’s The Galloping Gardener.

Overall, love them or loathe them, there is a breadth and variety to garden blogging that is hard to find in the mainstream garden writing world which is dominated by a relatively small group of writers, mostly men. Blogging has given a voice to many people, and as an outlet, and as a way of being part of a community and meeting people, it’s not to be beaten. Even though the standards vary enormously, there is room for everyone. There are many elements of garden blogging that I find frustrating, mainly that bloggers need to read a lot of other blogs to find their own voice and stop reinventing the wheel. There is an expertise and lack of patronising that can be found in blogs and not in gardening programmes or publications far more suitable to the very experienced gardener, equally this applies to new gardeners looking for advice and help and there are many blogs that cater to these groups.

I think gardening blogs are certainly here to stay, I imagine in the near future more bloggers will switch on to the fact that video is the new medium and we will be seeing lots of either interesting footage or a good deal of wobbly hand held detail. It could go either way. It’s clear that advertisers see blogs as a good way to get their product message across, and we will see more professional paid blogging and perhaps from this a new generation of gardeners will emerge who we will soon see on our screens as well as writing in gardening publications.

Emma Bond.

See also Emma on the Laskett.

Emma’s website

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra Campbell June 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Constant access to the internet has really changed blogging (including garden blogging) more than anything in the past few years. Now that so many people type in ‘gardens to visit in Hampshire’ or ‘how to prune camellias’ into Google, then blogs are increasingly important in terms of encouraging newcomers into gardening. Each individual blog can’t compete with a TV programme in terms of viewers/readers/impact, but, collectively, the impact of blogging on new gardeners and new ideas in gardening is probably now even greater than TV or print. Which is always worth remembering – there sometimes seems to be some nostalgia for the days when garden blogging was gardeners writing and reading each other’s garden diaries – still delightful, but not the whole story any more.

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GardenStoreUK October 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm

As with everything, there *can* be benefits to advertising on a blog, if you know what you are doing. However, since G make most of their money from advertising, it is in their interests to keep the whys and wherefores under close supervision! Therefore unless you are really careful you end up as described above, with a once lovely site desecrated by irrelevant adverts which distract and eventually turn off your reader.

If you are blogging for “fun”, or at least as a means of collating all your thoughts and pics in to one place, then a little bit of carefully honed Adsense can bring in a few more bulb tokens. But no-one is ever going to get rich, these days, from running a blog. Of any description. Those who see it as an avenue for advertising are doing themselves a disservice if they think it will achieve anything more than giving them a sore head and a crummy looking website.

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Charlotte May 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Thanks for the mention Emma. Couldn’t agree more about the advertising – that’s why I don’t carry any on The Galloping Gardener!

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Lou May 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Very thought provoking.

I have recently added Google Adsense (should be called nonsense) to my blog and I hate it! I thought I might be able to have a steady (though small) income but doesn’t seem to be the case and, you are quite right, the cheap ads are revolting. I’ve just noticed an ad for a shady lookin’ lady!! Not in keeping with my site which is best described as eclectic….

Off to delete the silly HTML code.

Well done you.

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Elephant's Eye May 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I tried Adsense. Earned an unpaid pittance. And when the Lonely Hearts bobbed up for the second time, after I’d killed them off, Adsense went. It made my blog look like a free flyer that goes straight into the recycling, unread, unseen.
Diana

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The Enduring Gardener May 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Thanks for the mention Emma. Looking forward to reading the reviews that are promised to follow and hopefully finding some more gardening blogs to dip into.

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Faisal Grant May 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

Emma,
debates about gardening need to be kept alive. ‘Official’, or mainstream outlets can neglect so much of what’s happening. Blogging, as such, is a great big ocean of variables. Whether blogs are inconsequential or contributory, what’s happening ‘on the ground’ is really what matters. My concern is that there are thousands of excellent gardens and gardeners that are NOT being blogged about. I’m not sure that it’s an issue of blogs being any good or not, but whether we are yet really seeing what’s out there. I reckon, through blogging, we could all discover so much more.

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Russ May 16, 2012 at 9:18 am

Emma,
Thanks, this is a great article.
Since web based tools such as Wordpress/other blogging software has come on stream this has led to what we call “democratisation of media”. This is great and some very knowledgeable and dedicated people now get their chance to disseminate part of their knowledge and expertise.
It is the same with photography and video. You can get a really decent camera for around £600 shoot beautiful photos/HD video/create timelapse video and use low cost editing tools to create media that would have cost many thousands of pounds to create up to quite recently. Again video is partly about “telling a story” so it will be interesting how this works out in future.
Writing style and presentation is so important. humour and of course passion will immediately come through captivating the audience with ideas and thoughts.
BTW..With many of the modern video editing packages on offer you can do time/motion re-mapping so hopefully you will not have to watch ‘wobbly videos”
Thanks for this post it was a most interesting read.
Russ

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Susan in the Pink Hat May 16, 2012 at 2:04 am

While I’m intrigued by gardening blog reviews, I don’t know if this is the best forum for it. Also, there is the question of whether it’s even worthwhile. Given how busy some gardeners are blogging, Tweeting, and checking their Facebook pages, it’s a wonder they have time to be in their gardens at all.

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Emmon May 16, 2012 at 1:34 am

Hi Emma: Your essay is so thoughtful and, as usual when I visit this website, I find myself slowing down, and yes, THINKING about things I normally don’t ponder over. I gravitate to bloggers who have, as you put it, found their voice. Many, perhaps most, of my favorites happen to be female. There’s often a personal touch to their posts — a project they’re working on, a discovery they’ve made, something personal. I find Anne’s writing here exceptional (and Colleen Vanderlinden is the only blogger I’ve found who’s at all similar in the USA) in that she’s fearless, knowledgeable, and intelligent — quite a package! Thanks so much for your great post — and I look forward to reading your blog!

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