Too polished? Review of the blog ‘View from Federal Twist’ by Lucy Masters

June 4, 2014

in Blog Reviews, Reviews

A very long time ago I promised you reviews of blogs, and indeed, I’ve had this one for a while, as usual. But here it is at last, and it’s by Lucy Masters, the amazing organiser of the thinkingardens suppers (sorry, the Veddw one is fully booked already).

And it’s of a blog by another of my favourite people, James Golden, (and the blog was designed by another favourite person: Karen Wilde.)

Enough nauseating. Here’s the review of James’ blog: Federal Twist

Anne Wareham, editor

Federal Twist Copyright James Golden

Apologies for nicking your picture, James, but thought you might forgive me for this..

I approached thinkingardens about the idea of a blog review and Anne suggested I knew nothing about it, but landing on the opening page, I instantly disliked it. It was extremely elegant and well presented. The photography was beautiful and the layout cool and considered, all the things I struggle to achieve and hardly ever do.

Before going on further I stopped and asked myself, ‘why read a garden blog?’ It can’t be to find out about the mechanics of gardening as there are websites and books that will give more focused answers. It might be to follow the progress of a garden but mainly, given the huge number of garden blogs, it was because the blog and blogger ‘share’ something with you. Their experiences connect and resonate with yours and so they are able to provide insights and highlights that are relevant. Blogging, I felt, should be intimate rather than corporate.

Federal Twist Copyright James Golden

The garden at Federal Twist, copyright James Golden

Knowing I wasn’t going to like the overly polished federaltwist, I started to read it again with the aim of trying to see what others had liked. I began with the post “Ecological disruption: Has Travis Beck been in my garden?”  – it sounded suitably self important. It was more than surprising and not a little humbling then, to find a third of the way through the post that I was really, really interested. I realised that the author was well read, thoughtful and articulate. He wasn’t pompous or longwinded and actually, if it mattered, I liked him. It dawned on me that of course, there is another reason to read a blog and that is to learn something totally new. “Is planting Dahlia ‘Bishop of Landaff’ an immoral act?” is an engaging article about native plants and it made me think in a way I don’t often bother to do.

There is much in this blog to enjoy and admire. I equally loved reading posts like ‘Garden is a verb’ which talks about an area of the garden he is replanting. The photos are very good and are an essential element to the blog. However, it is in his writing that the author really paints pictures with the plants. The names are listed like the words of a poem.

“Rudbeckia maxima (five) in a group, several new and recycled Miscanthus, Panicums, two amazingly mature Baptisias ….  10 Liatris ligustylis, several Angelica gigas, and a number of things to seed in:  Prunella grandifolia as a ground cover, Bronze fennel, Verbena bonariensis, of course.’’

Federal Twist Copyright James Golden

From ‘Garden is a verb’ by James Golden. Copyright James Golden

So, I stand totally corrected. This is a clever and insightful blog, it’s authorative and yet intimate. Most importantly, it is a blog from the heart. Federal Twist cares and there is something great in that. Not every post will to be everyone’s taste but it is definitely worth a visit. Or two.

Lucy Masters

websites: WikiGardening , Sometimes gardening, Blackthumbsblog

lucy masters portrait




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