Pick up the skills to dig deep with these online courses, apps, podcasts and blogs.

The days are drawing out and now is the moment to start getting hands dirty in the soil once again as Mother Nature wakes up from her long winter sleep. Throw into the mix that we’re well into our third lockdown in just under a year and suddenly cultivating our plots – whether you have a large garden or a couple of window boxes to tend – feels less like a diverting hobby, more a sanity-saver. And that’s without even getting into the myriad environmental benefits of planting trees and providing hospitable habitats for wildlife. If you are new to getting busy with a trowel, or you simply want to hone your skills, there are plenty of brilliant online resources that you can use to bone up to learn your begonias from your buddleia, your agapanthus from your aster; these are just a few we love.

Happy digging.

RHS


Beginners’ Guide To Gardening


The Royal Horticultural Society is a fantastic resource for gardeners of all abilities. But if, as a newbie, you feel flummoxed by the wealth of information there is to absorb here, then head straight for its beginners’ guides. Specifically, it has twenty-three comprehensive how-to manuals, which cover all the bases, from how to plant a container and how to sow seeds, to how to grow a mini wildflower meadow and how to plant pretty borders – and so much more. Once you’re up and running, do also check out the RHS’s monthly to-do lists. Wonderfully useful and comprehensive.

Learning With Experts


Self-Sufficient Veg Gardening


Do you dream of the good life? More and more of us are cottoning on to the idea of self-sufficiency through, in particular, cultivating our own vegetables. This course, led by Sally Nex – a former journalist who left the BBC to devote herself to horticulture – demonstrates to gardeners of all abilities how to plant a garden that will offer up delicious bounty all year round – all for £35. As they say, ‘In this comprehensive guide to growing your own fruit and vegetables, Sally Nex will talk you through crop selection, managing your land and the best ways to avoid the so-called ‘hungry gap’ in early spring. By the end of this course, you’ll be one step closer to becoming fully self-sufficient.’ Learning With Experts also offers other gardening courses, which include Introduction To Garden Design Course, Design and Create Your Dream Country Garden, and Grow Your Own Flowers For Cutting, among many others.

Candide Gardening




This wonderful community-focused app aims to connect nature lovers from around the globe with one another, as well as sharing a tonne of plant knowledge, incorporating a plant identifier and posting brilliant horticulturally focused articles. If you’re not sure about something, whether a neophyte or a seasoned pro, fellow users are brilliant for giving friendly advice. And, even better, it’s free.

Masterclass




Masterclass is jam-packed with inviting and excellent-looking tutorials (learn creative writing with Margaret Atwood, or filmmaking with Martin Scorsese, anyone?) For keen gardeners, the Ron Finley-led course is great, particularly at demonstrating inventive ways to use things you may have knocking around the house as planters and at using the space you have – no matter how small – to best effect. Known as the ‘gangster gardener’, Ron got the planting bug after he grew a garden on a curbside dirt strip before promptly getting arrested for it – fighting back from which saw him start a grassroots movement. It’ll cost you £14.17 per month which, we say, is well worth it.

Aesme Studio




The sisters behind Aesme, Alexandra and Jess, are largely self-taught florists and, as such, free from the shackles of formal flower arranging. This course may not be focused on gardening per se, but for those without gardens who would, nonetheless, like to enjoy tokens of wild nature, the duo’s online courses, titled simply Colour (£85) and Shape And Form (£85), are superb.

Monty Don’s Blog



We love Monty Don (who doesn’t love Monty Don?) And while he doesn’t offer courses, he does share free tips and advice via his indispensable month-by-month guides to life in the garden. He writes beautifully yet succinctly, reflectively yet purposefully; in other words, it’s absolute perfection, much like his garden (on which note, do follow him on Instagram for daily shots of joy.)

Anna Greenland



The former head gardener at Soho Farmhouse, as well as having been one of the senior horticultural team at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons for whom she still consults, these days Anna Greenland supplies many a stellar chef with the ingredients she grows organically from her Suffolk home. Naturally, then, she is particularly strong on edible plants. Her regular instructional videos are friendly, useful and completely accessible, as well as being very inspiring. Follow her on Instagram to learn all about tending your garden – as well as your health – throughout the year.

On The Ledge Podcast




Gardening does not always have to mean getting outside. Indoor plants can also bring untold joy – and health benefits – as extolled by Jane Perrone via her podcast, On The Ledge. Tune in for episodes as various as learning how to poach cacti and succulents, how to use Ikea cabinets as makeshift greenhouses, and how to clean houseplant leaves. Each episode is roughly forty minutes long and is as meditative as it is indispensable for green-fingered folk.

By Nancy Alsop
February 2021

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