It's time to put the garden to bed, so find inspiration with our pick of the best nature-talk on the airwaves.

Winter is coming, and that means two things for gardeners: one, it’s time to get your house (read garden) in order and do a good old rake and broom tidy up.

And two, this is the moment to sow your bulbs – think tulips, daffs, hyacinth – for the spring ahead. It might seem perverse to start plugging into gardening advice right now, just as the mercury plummets, but we’d argue that, as winter is about to do its worst, it’s exactly the moment to get out there and dose up on some fresh air to blow the central heating cobwebs away and reconnect with the earth. This is our pick of the best nature-talk on the airwaves to plug into for inspiration.

Growing Wild

On the last Sunday of every month, Charlotte Petts, winner of the Alan Titchmarsh New Talent Award at the Garden Media Guild Awards, delivers a 50-minute nature-packed broadcast. Her array of fascinating guests – individuals or representatives of organisations trying to make a difference in some way to the natural world – join Charlotte for her dispatches, more often than not from an allotment or a community garden. It’s an excellent listen, especially while busy digging at the allotment yourself; tune in to pick up tips, to relax and to foster wellbeing through connecting with the earth. Charlotte’s chatty style is winningly tranquil, as is the music that the podcast is interspersed with, and she is excellent at letting her guests talk without interruption (not the case with so much radio content).

Produced by the not-for-profit RadioReverb in Brighton, this is a brilliantly varied show; in an episode, Charlotte might explore outdoor pursuits such as wild swimming and bird watching, and then go on to address societal threats to our green spaces, right through to how to engage with nature, whether you live in a rural or an urban environment. This is the kind of listening which really makes you stop and smell the roses; which encourages you to appreciate the dirt under your fingertips; and which gently persuades listeners to get out into the elements to enjoy it all – including the rain on your face – all year round.

On The Ledge

As a born-and-bred Londoner, the joy of this podcast is hard to overstate. Having lived in gardenless flats – so many flats – in those coming-of-age years, houseplants were the only way to live with some token of nature. On The Ledge’s presenter, journalist Jane Perrone, does, in fact, have a garden in which she raises what she calls ‘weird veg’, but that doesn’t detract from her love of a good houseplant. We especially love that this is not a podcast exclusively aimed at pros; neophytes and serial plant killers are welcome here too.

For the latter, her back-to-basics episodes – clearly flagged on her website –usefully detail the plants that are near indestructible (in short, those colloquially known as the Money Tree, the Dragon Tree, Devil’s Ivy, the ZZ plant and the Cast Iron plant.) There are episodes brought to you from the inaugural Cactusworld Live event (who knew?) and episodes dedicated to keeping your beloved plants spider free, plus many and much more besides. Tune in and never kill a houseplant again.

The National Trust’s Garden Podcast

The National Trust’s raison d’etre is to preserve and to protect the country’s historic spots of importance for the enjoyment of all. It stands to reason, then, that the country houses bequeathed to the Trust should be set amongst some commensurately important gardens (think Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Blickling Hall, Nymans and, perhaps most famous of them all, Stourhead). And all that is not to mention its considerable environmental work (thanks, in part, to a legacy from Beatrix Potter, the Trust owns 20 per cent of the resplendent Lake District, as well as the Yorkshire Dales themselves).

So what better podcast for the ultimate in green-fingered inspiration, then, than that delivered from the country’s very finest gardens? The weekly series is just 15-30 minutes long and began in 2016 at Stourhead; since then, host and estate manager at Stourhead, Alan Power, has delighted listeners with broadcasts from some of the charity’s very best: Cliveden, Humphrey Repton’s Sheringham Park, Vita Sackville West’s Sissinghurst, Capability Brown’s garden at Stowe and so many more. Alan chats to the staff and volunteers to get under the skin of what it really takes to keep the gardens looking as dazzling as they do. These may be short, sweet bursts of horticultural heaven, but if they don’t inspire at least a handful of wistful sighs and plans to visit these places of rare beauty, then nothing will.

The RHS Podcast

The Royal Horticultural Society is our absolute go-to for all our garden quandaries. Unfailingly, it proves itself an endlessly useful resource for what, when and how to plant, and how not to make a pig’s ear of the whole affair. It would be impossible – nay, improper – then not to mention this gem of a podcast, which is packed full with instructional detail for the seasoned and the neophyte gardener alike. There is a wealth in the way of inspiration, as well in the way of reassuringly veteran pros, who deliver all the latest advice, scientific research and techniques. Episodes, which come out fortnightly, are delivered from RHS Wisley as well as other gardens of note and take in discussions ranging from how to get the best from your grapevines; to which clematis has been crowned the people’s favourite; and seasonal lawn care; right through to how to deal with bugs. Essential listening for gardeners of all levels of experience.

The Kitchen Garden Magazine podcast

Unless you’ve been living off the land on a remote island far away from news sources – in which case you’re unlikely to be part of the problem – we all, by now, know that the struggle against climate change and the sea of plastic polluting our seas and oceans, is real. Who would not, then, prefer to grow their own produce, thereby avoiding food miles, pesticides, preservatives and plastic packaging? And what better resource to help you to start than The Kitchen Garden Magazine podcast? It comes out weekly and details what you should do – and crucially how to do it – at that particular moment in the gardening calendar. Right now? It’s time to harvest pumpkins, and even sow salad leaves, winter lettuce and broad beans. Rather than being directed by one dynamic presenter, this is a gentle and entirely natural chat between gardeners, as if in the shed on the allotment. No bells and whistles here, but in their flashy stead, there’s plenty of useful detail and advice. Soothing listening.

A Way to Garden

This one hails from across the pond (New York, specifically), and is just too good not to mention. Its host, Margaret Roach, is an acclaimed garden writer and was the first garden editor at Martha Stewart; in addition to her much-loved blog, she was an early adopter of the podcast, having been recording her musings and interviews weekly since 2010. Over the course of her 25-year career, Margaret has made a lot of friends in high horticultural places, many of whom join her for discussion of all things earthy, floral and al fresco. It’s slightly offbeat and totally charming – topics include insistent birds tapping on windows, and Margaret’s dislike of Asian jumping worms – and, frankly, garden or no garden, this is a sublimely restful listen. We’ll say it: we’re obsessed.


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By Nancy Alsop
November 2019