Screen time spent scrolling through social media is perhaps the antithesis of gardening. Sitting quietly inside, head down toward the blue-lit phone, digesting comments, advertising and lists of random information in rapid succession is all a stark contrast to an early morning in the fresh air of spring, digging in warm earth, working with cool water and breathing in the smell of leaves wakening for the day.
Still, we return to social media sites like Facebook and Instagram for our own reasons. For me, Facebook is an add-on to small town life, a place to keep track of local events, tune into chatter about what’s going on, and often in our rural area, seeing what’s growing and developing into scenic displays. Instagram is something entirely different, because I’ve populated my feed with the public accounts of famous gardeners, truly special gardens, and up and coming landscape designers. Rather than keeping me connected to what’s buzzing where I live, Instagram has become, by my own choices and design, a constant tutorial in plant names and amazing designs.
Here are a few of the accounts I follow. If you don’t have Instagram, ask your children or grandchildren – they’ll know how to help you see all these windows into special gardening worlds.
@edenprojectcornwall (almost 2000 posts and over 55,000 followers)
Described as the “world’s largest rainforest in captivity”, the Eden Project is a series of biomes (large dome structures) in Cornwall, England. The biomes were built as a tourist attraction in the remnants of a china clay pit and opened in 2001/2002, and feature programs with an educational focus on plants, nature and interconnectedness. One biome is devoted to rainforest plants, another to Mediterranean plants. The outside gardens are stunning displays of hillside meadow plantings, with outsized whimsical sculptures, including one massive bee, and a children’s area for “wildplay”. The photographs regularly contrast the brightly coloured plantings against the impressive structure of the biomes, and the captions are a combination of educational tidbits and clear plant descriptions.
@clairetakacs (450 posts and over 23,000 followers)
Claire Takacs is an Australian garden photographer, and the author/photographer of the books Australian Dreamscapes and Dreamscapes, the latter of which is a world tour of many famous private gardens. Ethereal, light-filled early dawn shots are her signature works. Some of my favourite posts are her pictures of a red ivy-hung stone wall at Gravetye Manor, beside a late summer New Perennial garden illuminated with pale grasses; a burst of sunshine through the topiary lawn of Great Dixter; an aerial shot of Piet Oudolf’s home garden Hummelo; and a stunning red sweep of 5000 poppies at the Chelsea Flower show, under a stormy sky.
@themoosegarden (1181 posts and over 12,600 followers)
This is the account of “Johanna”, who makes far north gardening appear utterly lush from her home in the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden. Ontario gardeners will recognize many familiar plantings among her moss-covered boulders and mirror-like Scandinavian waters: look for her huge white hydrangea blooms, the candy-smelling spires of Actaea simplex (snakeroot; formerly Cimicifuga), and scarlet maples. Her captions read as pleased observation of the changes in her garden through the season: “different shades of green…and a little wilding with red leaves”. She often provides the Latin names of plants alongside the common Swedish names such as “Clematis gouriana (indisk skosklematis)” and “Sanguisorba officianalis (blodtopp)”, and she talks about the challenges of her location, such as finding plants truly hardy to Zone 1 and Zone 2 that might survive in containers through her Nordic winter.
Other European accounts to watch:
And, a little closer to home:
@uogarboretum (University of Guelph Arboretum) – high end photography of wildlife and specimen trees throughout the arboretum, along with educational events and an enviable plant sale.
@rbgcanada (Royal Botanical Gardens) – after our recent speaker at the October meeting, I went hunting for more pictures of the Rock Garden planting and found a treasure trove of detail about Burlington’s garden sanctuary. I love one of the photos of companion planting in the Rose Garden, with towers of Mountain Fleece waving against a blurred backdrop of pale pink roses and a distant garden walkway.
@aldervilleblackoaksavanna (Native grassland located on Alderville First Nation) – featuring beautiful shots of the savanna and the garden (including an amazing video of a hawkmoth in motion), alongside features of their conservation efforts, community projects and events, and dedicated staff.
I hope that the accounts here and the many others you will find if you go looking will serve a truly valuable purpose for you: gardening inspiration, and some much needed colour and imagination as we head into the winter months.
authored by Kat Kitch