My top 10 gardening podcasts: Fionnuala Fallon’s pick of the best

These inspiring shows will take you all over the gardening world

Horticultural entertainment and inspiration for gardeners. Photograph: Getty Images

Horticultural entertainment and inspiration for gardeners. Photograph: Getty Images

 

In need of some horticultural entertainment? From ruminations on the sex life of yuccas to philosophical musings on the naffness – or not – of alstroemerias, here’s a shortlist of 10 of the best garden podcasts out there…

1. Roots and All

UK-based Sarah Wilson’s award-winning fortnightly podcast Roots and All keeps the focus on planet-friendly gardening and features consistently excellent, wide-ranging and in-depth interviews with a fascinating range of experts in their field; recent guests include the biologist and author David Goulson of The Garden Jungle, Norway-based kitchen gardener and forager Stephen Barstow of Edimentals and ecotherapist Stephen Batorijs of Nature & Therapy UK. rootsandall.co.uk

2. On the Ledge

As the former gardening editor of the Guardian, Jane Perrone co-hosted the popular podcast Sow, Grow, Repeat with the paper’s garden writer Alys Fowler, before forging out on her own with On the Ledge, a must-listen for all houseplant enthusiasts. With more than 120 episodes to date covering everything from the nuts and bolts of watering, feeding, propagating and selecting the right houseplant for the right place to interviews with many of the world’s leading houseplant experts, including Peter d’Amata of California Carnivores and “Instagram sensation” and author Hilton Carter, Perrone’s boffin-ish passion for her subject is infectious. janeperrone.com

3. Garden Organic

Launched less than a year ago, the UK association Garden Organic’s monthly podcast shares practical tips and advice on everything from seed-saving and  slug control to green manures and no-dig methods as well as occasional interviews with likeminded gardeners including author and wildlife expert Kate Bradbury and the kitchen gardener, Youtuber and Instagram star @shegrowsveg Lucy Start. gardenorganic.org.uk 

4. Cultivating Place

California-based writer and broadcaster Jennifer Jewell describes her weekly interview-based podcast and North State Public radio show Cultivating Place as “a voice for, with, and about gardeners and nature lovers of all manner around the globe, exploring how and why we garden”. Impressively wide ranging in its subject matter as well as in the guests featured, some of the topics covered recently include biodynamic gardening, ethnobotany, cut-flower growing and urban farming. Jewell’s deep love of the natural world and interest in how it touches on so many facets of our lives shines out in every episode. cultivatingplace.com

5. In Defense of Plants

The American botanist, blogger and plant fanatic Matt Candeias is the host of the popular weekly podcast In Defense of Plants, “a show designed to cure plant blindness around the globe” in which he covers everything from the thorny subject of plant poaching, cryogenic conservation and attempts to resurrect extinct species to the sex life of yuccas. Featuring conversations with a host of expert guests, Candeias’s endearingly geeky enthusiasm for the mysterious, magical world of plants draws listeners right in. indefenseofplants.com

6. Away to Garden

Bestselling author, journalist and former garden editor for Martha Stewart Living, the garden writer Margaret Roach is a household name in America where her long-running, award-winning public-radio podcast Away to Garden has achieved cult status. While some of the topics she discusses are only pertinent to gardeners based in the US (for example, advice on native flora or certain garden pests), much of it is relatable to Irish gardeners. Roach’s “from plot to plate” approach to food-growing and her generous sharing of recipes also stand out. awaytogarden.com

7. Plantrama

Hosted by American garden writers Ellen Zachos and CL, Plantrama is “a podcast about plants” that takes a humorous and informative look at humankind’s interactions with all things leafy. Weekly topics range from the important question of “Are you tired of kale yet?” to straw-bale gardening, autumn cocktails (Zachos is a foraging expert and author of the bestselling The Wildcrafted Cocktail) and eating your dahlias. plantrama.com

8. SodShow

Well-known in gardening circles, the award-winning Dublin-based garden designer Peter Donegan’s interview-based weekly podcast ran from 2010 until last autumn when he reluctantly decided to call time on the SodShow because of a punishing work schedule that took him to France to create a first World War memorial garden within the moat of Chateau de Peronne and to the UK to design an award-winning garden for the RHS Flower Show Cardiff 2019. But all 439 episodes of what must be one of the world’s longest-running garden podcast are still available online and well worth a listen… this is a who’s who of the gardening world hosted with charm and wit. sodshow.com

9. The Garden Podcast

Hosted by its editor Chris Young, The Garden Podcast takes a closer look at the people and stories featured in The Garden, the Royal Horticultural Society’s monthly magazine. From advice on how to garden for health and wellbeing, going peat-free and capturing the perfect garden photo to interviews with famous names from the world of British horticulture such as garden designer Dan Pearson and Fergus Garrett, it provides an excellent and wide-ranging mix of the practical and the inspirational. rhs.org.uk

10. Gardens, Weeds and Words

UK gardener and blogger Andrew O’ Brien’s podcast Gardens, Weeds and Words is a witty and wonderfully eclectic mix of horticultural and philosophical musings – his struggles to share Vita Sackville-West’s love of alstroemerias, for instance, or his thoughts on whether it’s possible to be a gardener without a garden – interspersed with interviews with plantspeople, designers, garden writers, artists and poets, all accompanied by a soothingly atmospheric soundtrack. Very enjoyable listening. gardensweedsandwords.com

This week in the garden…

Hellebores are one of the joys of the flower garden in late winter and early spring but to help these perennials to perform at their very best, it’s important to cut the old, damaged foliage back to ground level before the flowers and new foliage  emerge to prevent the potential spread and overwintering of damaging diseases such as hellebore leaf spot. Signs of the latter include dead patches and dark brown spots on the foliage and collapsing stems. After pruning, it’s also important to always carefully remove, bag and bin any possibly infected material to prevent it spreading.

This is a good time of the year to tidy garden sheds for the growing season. Drop lawnmowers in for a service before things get busy, clean, oil and/or sharpen tools, wash pots and seed trays and take a careful inventory of any garden sprays or treatments, bearing in mind that they may contain chemicals subsequently withdrawn from use for environmental or health reasons. If in doubt, contact the manufacturers for advice. Old or banned garden chemicals should never be placed in household bins or skips or poured down the sink or drain as they can pose serious health and environmental hazards. They should instead be carefully disposed of at your nearest civic amenity centre.

Dates for your diary…

Continuing until January 31st, National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Hidden January Blossoms, a daily guided walk exploring some of the garden’s “best South African and South American blooms, scented Chinese blossoms, and more”. Monday-Saturday: 11.30am and 3.00pm, €5 per person; Sundays: 12pm and 2.30pm, free of charge, see botanicgardens.ie; Wednesday, January 8th (8pm), Kill O’The Grange Parish Centre, Kill Lane, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Secrets of the Smaller Garden, a talk by TJ Maher of Patthana Gardens, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, on behalf of South County Dublin Horticultural Society. Visitors €5; February 1st, Mount Wolseley Hotel, Tullow, Co Carlow, Annual Snowdrop Gala with guest speakers Catherine Erskine of Cambo Gardens in Scotland and Ross Barbour and Helen Picton of the UK’s Picton Old Court Nurseries plus specialist plant sales by some of the UK and Ireland’s leading nurseries, tickets €90 includes lunch, contact Hester Forde at 086 8654972 or hesterforde@gmail.com.

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