11 episodes

Gardening walks and green thoughts from award winning writer Ben Dark and guests.

Dear Gardener Ben Dark

    • Leisure
    • 4.3 • 18 Ratings

Gardening walks and green thoughts from award winning writer Ben Dark and guests.

    [Roving Episode] Hop Poles and Wild Garlic: A Hampshire Hangers Walk

    [Roving Episode] Hop Poles and Wild Garlic: A Hampshire Hangers Walk

    On this episode of Dear Gardener, Ben Dark takes us on a journey through the wooded Hampshire Hangers, discussing plants and history along the way. Passing cowslips, wild garlic, incongruous copper beech, and wildly inappropriate bamboo, Ben shares his love-hate relationship with these plants and how they fit in the changing English countryside. Our host also delves into the writing of William Cobbet and his critical commentary on the landscape while relating his own experiences with managing meadows and creating a space for both people and wildlife. Tune in to learn more about the beauty and challenges of gardening.
    Episode breakdown:
    [00:00:06] Podcast discusses the potential reason behind gardeners' dislike of the colour orange, possibly due to its association with plant blight.
    [00:05:42] The English countryside is going through significant change as ash trees are being lost, allowing new plants and vistas to emerge. This is similar to the aftermath of the great storm of 87, which led to a boom in gardening as people were freed up to create something new.
    [00:09:50] William Cobbet as inspiration for J. C. Louden. Weather and its importance to nature writers
    [00:11:19] Forest floor covered in wild garlic due to deer agitating it in the dawn
    [00:14:49] Trees grow conjoined with roots exposed.
    [00:18:13] Dan Pearson's newsletter Dig Delve and artisanal tulip bulbs
    [00:21:24] Eric Newby's wife and her drunken suitors.
    [00:26:05] Description of a house with symmetrical plantings including a native white beam tree and a fantastically shaggy bamboo.

    • 27 min
    [Roving Episode] It was a day in spring

    [Roving Episode] It was a day in spring

    Malus × domestica and Taraxacum officinale (apple and dandelion) take to May's springy stage in this special on location recording that starts deep in the beach woods and bursts into the orchard.
    Episode overview:
    [00:00:16] Ben talks winter and spring weather and how it affects the growth of plants like apples and bird cherries, and why he decided to record the episode in the woods rather than at his desk. The ground is covered in beach kernels and dry leaves, making a crunching noise when stepped on.
    [00:02:48] The winter aconites are blooming staggered, possibly for an advantage. The area will soon be deserted of pollinators, but was once covered in flowers. The author wishes they could experience the beauty forever. They walk past an understory U tree.
    [00:05:12] Discussion of spring in the UK and Denmark, including the appearance of dandelions and their potential use in producing rubber for car tires. We also examines the anatomy and function of dandelions, including their papas and role in seed dispersal.
    [00:13:59] Blowing dandelion seeds not all bad. Dandelions hard to grow, try not cutting lawn too short. Seed-eating beetles help reduce dandelions. Leave lawn longer for fewer dandelions.
    [00:16:20] Apple blossom time is perfect when buds are half open and half closed. The king bud produces the best fruit. Apples need cold for proper formation of flowers and lack of cold causes poor pollination.
    [00:24:01] Observations of diverse species in grassy understory with small apples on dwarfing stock, well-pruned for fruit. Seeing a variety of heritage apple trees with grafted and non-grafted roots. Also, discussion of a recent planting project and a classic rose ACA flowering.
    [00:30:50] Bee landed in hair, hair wild, no time for vines, thanking supporters.

    • 32 min
    [Solo Episode] Bread for all, and roses too

    [Solo Episode] Bread for all, and roses too

    Tales of horticultural sin and floral redemption featuring Salvia, Nepeta, Carl the Murderous Gardener, Gypsophila and Hemerocallis.
    Orwell's Roses by Rebecca Solnit https://www.hatchards.co.uk/book/orwells-roses/rebecca-solnit/9781783785520
    Husbandry by Isabel Bannerman https://www.foyles.co.uk/book/husbandry/isabel-bannerman/9781914902949
    The Grove by Ben Dark https://uk.bookshop.org/p/books/the-grove-a-nature-odyssey-in-19-1-2-front-gardens-ben-dark/5044771?ean=9781784727413
    Episode breakdown
    [00:00:20] The episode discusses the popularity of the ornamental cherry tree, particularly the Kanzan cultivar, and its rise in popularity throughout the 20th century. Ben briefly mentions his recent writing on lawns and their place in the Gardening World.
    [00:07:48] Heinous garden blunders include buying cheap plants from a supermarket. Reading about George Orwell's Woolworths roses.
    [00:16:05] The author had trouble with overcrowded Gypsophila elegans seedlings and shares their experience with propagation. They also discuss the fraught etiquette of giving plants as gifts and their own propagation progress with London pride (Saxifraga x urbium and Nepeta 'Walkers Low.'
    [00:22:33] Ben cuts back ivy for more light and space but the result is ugly, needs to go completely bare. Ivy on a wall needs constant cutting to maintain modern look, better to hide bulky stems in a small hedge.
    [00:24:23] Archaeobotany and the use of box hedges in Roman Britain. Recommendations for reading on garden history and a call to support the podcast.

    • 29 min
    [Solo Episode] The week in gardening

    [Solo Episode] The week in gardening

    In a solo episode that will probably be familiar to listeners of The Garden Log we discuss things horticultural. Some plants mentioned:
    Ipomoea noctiflora
    Euphorbia oblongata
    Tropaelum peregrinum
    Good to be back!

    • 25 min
    The bird, the bees and the forest trees: the gardens of Brisbane, Devon and the Isle of Wight

    The bird, the bees and the forest trees: the gardens of Brisbane, Devon and the Isle of Wight

    We visit a gardener fighting gales to bring life to Tennyson’s neglected garden, talk to the keeper of bees at RHS Rosemoore and hear about a bush turkey with a nest the size of a bus
    Support the show: https://linktr.ee/deargardener
    The Dear Gardeners on Instagram:
    Zara: https://www.instagram.com/bees_at_rhs_rosemoor/ 
    Ellen: https://www.instagram.com/tennysons_gardener/ 
    Episode links: 
    Farringford: https://farringford.co.uk/
    RHS Rosemoor: https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor
    Save Our Waterways Now (SOWN): https://sown.com.au/ 
    The Helen Allingham Society: https://www.helenallingham.com/
    Maud, and Other Poems: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/56913/56913-h/56913-h.htm 

    • 1 hr 1 min
    River floods and desert flowers: The gardens of Northern Kentucky, Bristol and Shrewsbury

    River floods and desert flowers: The gardens of Northern Kentucky, Bristol and Shrewsbury

    Dear Gardener hears tales of native planting in Northern Kentucky, garden design in Bristol and flooding on the banks of the beautiful Severn. Also featuring a behind the scenes look at gardening TV, iris hunting in the the Negev Desert and why horticulture is lot like tech metal.
    Support the show: https://linktr.ee/deargardener
    The Dear Gardeners on Instagram:
    Brandon: https://www.instagram.com/uncommonlycultivated/
    Charlotte: https://www.instagram.com/c_nuttgens_gardendesign/
    Rob: https://www.instagram.com/scarlettdesignuk/
    Episode links:
    Nuttgens Garden Design https://www.charlottenuttgens.co.uk/
    Wyeth and Willow (Brandon George) https://wyethandwillow.wixsite.com/wyethandwillow
    Two Thousand Trees festival https://www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk/
    Arctangent festival https://arctangent.co.uk/
    Roundstone Native Seed Company: https://roundstoneseed.com/
    Friends of Jerusalem Botanic Garden: https://www.friendsjbg.org/
    The Garden Design School and Bristol Botanic Garden: https://www.gardendesignschool.co.uk/
    Longwood Gardens: https://longwoodgardens.org/

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

Lindseyincornwall ,

Time well spent

What a revelation. Such a lovely podcast in conversation with passionate and interesting gardeners and an affable, intelligent host.

john"treepit"w ,

Dear Gardener

What a great couple of episodes. The Dear Gardener is a real gardener’s podcast, the details, minutiae and narratives evoking a sense of déjà vu in the passionate gardener. What is the reason for this? The voice of far from high-profile gardeners. The vulnerability they show. The quality of Ben’s listening. Listen.

Rache#65 ,

Sorry Ben!

I really wanted to like this - I loved everything about the Garden Log - but I just can’t get away with it. Tried to listen to the first one twice but just couldn’t get very far at all. Strange noises and weird format.
The Copenhagen episodes were a bit better but still not a patch on the Garden Log. I know Ben isn’t doing the same job anymore but he’s still a gardener so presumably still gardening regularly, so is the old format not still a possibility?! 🙏
(My mum loved your book though!)

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