We’re always trashing mass media garden coverage and, for the most part, rightly so. Yet, obsessives and optimists that we are, we still turn eagerly to the garden pages (or half a page) each Thursday, Friday, or whenever it is, hoping for something interesting, inspiring, and FUN.
Well, sometimes it’s interesting, once every two years or so it’s inspiring, but it’s NEVER fun. Why do newspaper garden writers take gardening so seriously? I mean, black spot, dry summers, weeds, and Japanese beetles will always be with us. There’s a beautiful irony in our continual struggles to garden in spite of nature, but I never get that acknowledgement from the columns. The most deadly articles are the ones in which we are directed to have fun in our gardens. “Add whimsy!” they cry. “Use those old hiking boots as planters!” I find myself shuddering at these grim directives.
Then blogs came along. Many newspapers have added blogs to their online repertoire, with great results in some cases (I do enjoy Frank Bruni’s [in the NYTimes] and our arts blogs in the Buffalo News). Unfortunately, garden blogs have not become regular features of most newspaper websites and—in terms of those that do exist—I can count on two fingers the ones I currently bother visiting. Too often, corporate media outlets engender a deadly blandness in their writers, and it carries on to the blogs. Blogs can’t be bland—well, at least they should try hard not to be.
The Buffalo News garden blog is, to say the least, bland. The NYTimes has a Dream House blog, but I could not find one devoted to gardening. Of course, when I lived in New York, I don’t remember gardening being a hot topic.
The Washington Post. Hmm, hard to say. They actually have good garden coverage and publish columns online that invite comments. They don’t seem to get many though and the interface is a bit oblique.
The San Francisco Chronicle. Though boasting blogs with such glorious names as The Bastard Machine (I don’t even need to read it; I love just knowing it exists), I don’t see one for gardening. Too bad; one senses it would be worth reading (maybe Amy would write it). They also have at least three sports blogs (I got bored after the first three; there may be more). Of course, that is where the action is in the blogosphere—that and celebrity chatter. Oh, and porn, I suppose.
Moving on. The Chicago Tribune has one, The Chicago Gardener. It’s mostly practical talk, but written in a lively style. I enjoyed reading a post about figuring out which container plants and vacationing houseplants would be brought inside and which would be thrown into the compost heap. Yes, I enjoyed reading it, because I LIKE houseplants. So there. No comments, though, not even on a newer post challenging readers to send in their photos of giant tomatoes. I would have thought people would be into that. I’m persecuted by tomato braggarts at this time of year.
Here are the media-related blogs I do enjoy reading. I am sure many of you know the fabulous Greengirls of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Lots of personality and opinion. Check out their wonderful post, generously illustrated with photos, on harvesting honey. Now that it is a group blog, there is more on flower gardening, which is a big plus for me. And then I do like the NPR-affiliated blog Talking Plants, which we often mention here. The Detroit News’ Gardening and Yardening, by Nancy Szerlag and Jeff Ball has good pratical information, though I have issues with the y word that we won’t exhume here.
Is that all there is, my friends? Surely not. There must be other great newspaper and TV-hosted garden blogs out there. Is there a good one in your area?Posted by Elizabeth Licata on September 9, 2007 at 5:00 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic.