Eight of the best Instagram gardeners to follow in 2018
Gardeners growing their presence on social media are becoming key influencers
“Instagram at its very best is a potent mixture of beautiful, original imagery and informative, witty, inspiring text”
For years, I’ve sniffed at Twitter, rolled my eyes at Facebook and snorted at Snapchat. But then just when I couldn’t get any more toploftical, along came Instagram to win my heart and prove me completely wrong when it comes to the world of social media. Why so? Because at its very best it’s a potent mixture of beautiful, original imagery and informative, witty, inspiring text. Not only that, I’ve learned so much about gardening as a result of the generous nature of Instagram’s community of gardeners and growers, whether it’s discovering how to pre-sprout ranunculus, stop pesky mice from eating my sweet-pea seed or finding out which are the best gardens to visit on a flying trip to Amsterdam. Which is to say nothing of the joy of meeting/making online friends with like-minded people from all over the world. So thank you Instagram. I never thought I’d say this, but you rock.
Belonging to the stately home of the Duke of Devonshire, the beautiful cutting garden of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is one of the rising stars of Instagram, due in no small part to the work of its brilliant head gardener, Becky Crowley. Her daily-updated Instagram feed features a smorgasbord of botanical beauties – it might be a photograph of pastel-coloured varieties of dahlias, or Crowley’s favourite tulips for cutting, or the finest sweet-pea varieties for scent/length of stem – all of it set against the wonderful backdrop of Chatsworth’s historic gardens and glasshouses. @beckycrowley
An increasingly familiar name in the world of international horticulture, the British market gardener, author, permaculturist and “no-dig” exponent Charles Dowding’s Instagram feed illustrates the many benefits of his organic, soil-friendly approach to food-growing, from the impressive productivity he has achieved to the health of his plants. Add in the fact that the no-dig approach is so much kinder to backs and it’s no wonder that Dowding’s very 21st-century methods of growing food are becoming increasingly popular with Irish gardeners. @charles_dowding
Wicklow gardener Jimi Blake’s Instagram feed is a window into the world of this passionate plant boffin, from his latest horticultural crushes – rare salvias, extravagantly beautiful begonias, choice woodland species – to his trips to some of the very best gardens and plant nurseries in Europe and the United States. Add in lots of lovely images of his large country garden, Hunting Brook in west Wicklow, plus a smattering of shots of his two dogs, the lovely Doris and Billy, and it’s no wonder that he’s winning hearts on Instagram @huntingbrook
If the Instagram feed of Gardenista isn’t already on your radar, then what can I say, except that you’re a social-media dinosaur. Okay, I’m kidding, but do follow this feed, whether to lust after those luscious shots of beautifully-designed gardens from around the world or to ooh and ahh at snazzy, Bauhaus-inspired birdhouses, tiny terrariums and gorgeous botanical collages. Its Instagram feed also serves as a portal to the very popular Gardenista blog (gardenista.com) where keen gardeners can happily while away hours feasting on beautifully illustrated stories of the latest gardening tips and trends. @gardenista_sourcebook
The Instagram feed @theplanthunter belongs to the popular online magazine of the same name, a digital publication “devoted to celebrating plants and the varied ways humans interact with them. Edited by Sydney-based writer and landscape designer Georgina Reid, it features contributions from a host of talented writers, artists, gardeners, ecologists, photographers and landscape architects. The result is an fascinating mish-mash of plant-related imagery that sucks you right in and makes you want to know more about the stories behind them, whether it’s the remarkable wild flora-inspired textiles of Edith Rewa or the newest clever apps helping people to green up their homes and offices.
The official Instagram account of the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, @kewgardens, features a succession of seductive garden-related images, from the floral installations of artist Rebecca Louise-Law on show in the garden’s Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art until next March to the “Big Stink” giant arums – one of the largest flowering structures in the plant kingdom – that flowered in the garden’s conservatory earlier this year. Add in generous dollops of fascinating horticultural facts and figures and it’s easy to see why it has hooked itself more than 125,000 followers.
If houseplants are your thing, then you’ll love @urbanjungleblog, the Instagram feed devoted to “bringing some green into our homes”. Cue lots of luscious shots of elegant, leafy interiors from around the world filled with giant monsteras, spiky succulents and exotic terraiums. They’re a small but delicious taster of what you’ll find on the blog of the same name, which features contributions from a worldwide community of indoor plant lovers offering ingenious suggestions as to how to creatively green up your gaff. Yes, some are definitely on the whacky side, but then that’s part of the fun.
So many Instagram feeds seem to scream “Look at me”, but not Dan Pearson’s, which is both quietly elegant and refreshingly understated, much like his design work. A magical mixture of snatched moments from his long career as a garden designer and plantsperson of international renown, it also charts the evolution of Hillside, Pearson’s 20-acre country garden in Somerset. So along with discreetly glamorous shots of some of the many gardens he has created for distinguished clients including the fashion photographer Juergen Teller, expect charmingly intimate shots of his first haul of summer raspberries or homemade hummus. For more of the same, check out DigDelve.com, Pearson’s and his partner Huw Morgan’s excellent online magazine. See @coyotewillow
This week in the garden
Spring may seem like a million moons away right now but the canniest gardeners make a point of getting their seed orders in really early in the new year, well before stocks of the most coveted/newest varieties run out. Now’s the time to take advantage of the post-Christmas lull to browse the latest offerings. Recommended Irish online suppliers include seedaholic.com, brownenvelopeseeds.com, greenvegetableseeds.com and irishseedsavers.ie.
If you’re wondering about ways to give your garden more all-year-round interest, then why not pay a visit to the treasure that is the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, a place that will provide oodles of inspiration as regards the very best plants for winter flowers as well as attractive evergreen foliage and colourful bark/stems. See botanicgardens.ie for opening hours.
Last chance for bulbs
Remember those bags of spring-flowering bulbs that you bunged in the garden shed a couple of months ago, guiltily promising yourself that you would definitely find the time to plant them once you had a moment or two? Well, that moment has come and it’s now or never, so no more procrastinating. Yes, their flowers might be a little shorter and later to appear than their autumn-planted equivalents but I promise you that it’s still well worth getting them in the ground. Don’t worry if they’ve already begun to sprout, just make sure to plant them the correct way up – foliage to the top and roots to the bottom – and to handle them extra-gently while planting.
Dates for your diary
Wednesday, January 10th (8pm), Kill o’ the Grange parish centre, Kill Lane, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – “The Secret Lives of Gardeners’, a talk by James McConnell and John Curran on behalf of South County Dublin Horticultural Society. Visitors €5.