The British garden writers - and other media garden people - had their annual Garden Media Guild bash in London this week and judging by the tweets from the pub afterwards it was quite an event. The next day, the tweets were all about going back to the pub to retrieve phones, coats, and underwear thoughtlessly forgotten in the fun the night before. I really missed it, this year - I'm on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
But, for gardeners on both sides of the Atlantic, the awards point to books, websites and other outlets for the expression of garden writing and horticulural insight of all kinds of which we should all take note. So here’s a few winners and finalists that my transatlantic readership in particular will find interesting or amusing.
The Website of the Year award went to Thinking Gardens (left, click on the image to go to the site). Quite right too. Anne Wareham, who runs the site, is committed to realistic garden criticism and campaigns against the platitudinous puffs that fill so many garden magazines or, as Anne puts it more effectively, are “caught in a fixed tradition of relentless admiration”. Why don’t writers about gardens write about them in the same way film critics write about films?
Blog of The year went to Midnight brambling, from Lia Leendertz. I like it because Lia brings together domestic life and garden life – and in particular because it’s well written. She doesn’t post very often, but her blog is always worth reading. Amongst the finalists, Mark Dianco’s Otter Farm blog may bewilder some Americans but they'll certainly find it intrigung. Described as “a window into what's happening at the UK's only climate change farm - where we're planting olives, peaches, pecans, persimmons, apricots, szechuan pepper, vines” but lurching off into his entertaining asides. It’s very English. And all the better for that.
Of the award winning books, for Transatlantic readers I’d pick out The Kew Plant Glossary: An Illustrated Dictionary of Plant Identification Terms. As the judges said: “Thrill to the fact that not only will technical terms from abaxial to zygomorphous be at your fingertips, but that you will understand them.”!! This is an issue whose complexities befuddle many gardeners around the world – trust me, this book will help.
Of the journalism awards finalist Victoria Summerley of The Independent should have appeal beyond Britain’s shores especially in highlighting the idiosyncrasies of Britain’s gardens - not to mention its gardeners - as in this piece on colour. Sparky writing, and always a sense of fun. But: please will her newspaper’s website banish those huge and horrid pop up ads that blot out everything just as you're startibng to read? You can always check her Victoria's Backyard blog as well.
And finally, every year the members of the British Garden Media Guild votes for a Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, the award to photographer Andrew Lawson. If you’ve opened a garden book or magazine you’ve seen his work. Crucially, it seems to me, he trained as a painter and looking at plants and gardens as an artist seems to infuse everything he does.
OK… That’s just a few. You can check out the whole list of awards here. People not mentioned - don’t be offended, no room here for all fine work that was honoured. And, sorry, but there’s not much interest in broadcasting awards for shows never seen over in California and Nebraska. And anyway... if I go on too long, everyone will click off somewhere else. Congratulations, everyone. [And I lied about the underwear - I hope...]