Nine wild plant lovers on Instagram

These Instagrammers will inspire you to get back to your roots and forage delicious food from the wilderness.
Image source – Shutterstock

If you love country walks, fine food, and communing with nature, give foraging a try. Whether you’re hunting for wild food or wildflowers, there’s plenty of hidden treasure in our countryside. And for a little support or inspiration, here are ten of the best wild-plant Instagrammers to follow.

@emmatheforager

Foraged salad with ground elder, violet leaves and garlic mustard
Image source: @emmatheforager

Carragheen (Irish moss seaweed) makes a great vegan alternative to gelatin, writes expert forager, designer and writer, Emma Gunn. This “all-round plant guru” uses the seaweed to set her coconut panna cotta. Emma leads foraging walks and lunches in and around Cornwall. Understandably, seaweed is often on the menu, as is sea buckthorn, from which she makes a delicious-looking cheesecake and a rather cheeky gin!

@handmade_apothecary

Jelly-ear fungus is said by some to be great for adding texture to soups, gravies and stocks
Image source – @handmade_apothecary

Did you know that nutty flavoured hawthorn makes a great anxiety-reducing tea, or that elderflower cordial can bring down a temperature? The Handmade Apothecary is bursting with traditional remedies and herbal lore. Follow

Medical herbalists Kim and Vicky as they share their wild-plant knowledge. “Our aim is to help others to re-establish a bond with nature and use plants and natural ingredients for health, home and self-care,” say the pair.  That self-care extends to foraging safety too. They’re careful to let you know to never consume a plant or mushroom from the wild unless you are 100% of its ID”. Wise words.

@wildflowerhour

Early marsh orchids can be found across Britain and Ireland
Image source – @wildflowerhour

“Feeling a bit grey and miserable? There really is no better antidote than flooding the internet with wildflowers every weekend,” says Wild Flower Hour. Join the hundreds of people who share photos of flowers found growing wild in Britain and Ireland every Sunday, using the eponymous hashtag: #wildflowerhour. With a weekly podcast and a bevy of experts eager to help with identification, this could soon become your new weekend ritual.

@fathenforager

Beautiful, edible chanterelle and amethyst deceiver foraged in Cornwall
Image source – @fathenforager

“Never take any chances with the carrot (apiaceae) family…..it’s not worth the risk. If you don’t know what it is don’t eat it,” warns Caroline Davey of Fat Hen wild cookery school. She is a master forager, leading wild food weekends and ‘forage, cook, feast’ days around the beautiful county of Cornwall. Follow her on Instagram for mouthwatering recipes like nettle pasta ravioli or hake wrapped in kelp, and for sound foraging advice – like what to do with late-season rock samphire.

@foragefinefoods

Delicious za’atar with marjoram, sumac and bergamot, foraged in Herefordshire
Image source – @foragefinefoods

Elderberry balsamic, hawberry ketchup and rose-petal preserve are just some of the delicacies foraged and produced by Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods. Liz also teaches wild cookery courses and sells her own range of wild flavourings inspired by the countryside of rural Herefordshire. Follow her on Instagram for tips like adding ladysmock into apple cider vinegar or cooking lavender leaves with peas.

@totallywilduk

Turkey-tails mushroom make a good natural chewing gum
Image source – @totallywilduk

Immune-boosting turkey-tails mushroom can be turned into a delicious broth or a forager’s chewing gum, says James Wood of  the UK’s only Ofqual accredited foragers, Totally Wild UK. James has spent years developing his knowledge of all things wild and runs foraging and cooking courses in the North of England.

If you fancy tapping (and cooking with) birch sap, distilling troublesome knotweed into a tasty jam, or eating roasted dandelion roots, this is the Instagram account to follow. And if you want to dig even deeper, check out James’ book, The Forager’s Cookbook.

@the_wild_room

Salty fingers – a delicious Cornish succulent
Image source – @the_wild_room

Steer clear of wild chervil unless you’re a seasoned forager, advises Mike de Stroumillo of The Wild Room: “This charming wild herb is ubiquitous but has a handful of dodgy lookalikes”. Mike (AKA Mushroom Mike) is an expert forager and supplier of fungi and other rare treats to fine-dining restaurants. His Instagram account will introduce you to delicacies such as bearded milk-mushrooms, pine-needle tea, and salty fingers.

@foragerltd

 

Garlic-fried toothed wrack with roast squash and black pudding
Image source – @foragerltd

“The forager’s eyes are always open,” says Miles Irving of @foragerltd. When it comes to sourcing the tastiest wild ingredients, these guys are true pros, exercising their expert eyes for a number of high-end restaurants. Follow Forager for exotic wild-food recipes including: forager soup – made with sargassum stock, three cornered garlic and lacto-fermented ramsons – and garlic-fried toothed wrack

@edulis_wildfood

Goodies collected on one of Lisa’s foraging courses
Image source – @edulis_wildfood

A super-low tide means only one thing to Lisa Cutcliffe of Edulis Wild Food: “time to go spooting!!” Spoots, or razor clams are only accessible at these precious times of the year. Lisa has been foraging since childhood and now describes herself as a wild-food foraging tutor and “all-round mushroom nut”. Follow her Insta for such treats as truffle-honey vodka, foraged toffee apples, and aelder and stout chocolate cake.

With spring almost in the air, now’s the time to dig out your walking boots and get foraging with the best of them. If you know of any wild plant Instagram accounts we should follow, please let us know via our Facebook page or Instagram account.

6 inspiring garden blogs

inspiring gardens

Some gardens are made to inspire – and here are some inspiring garden blogs
Image: shutterstock

Some gardens and gardening blogs are just too good to not to share, which is why we’ve scoured the web to bring you a bunch of superb blogs that showcase some really special gardens and truly dedicated garden owners and keepers. From the Sussex Weald to craggy Cumbria, here are eight extraordinary garden blogs.

The anxious gardener

anxious gardener tulip tree

The tulip tree in spectacular autumn display
Image: The anxious gardener

Here’s your chance for sneaky peek at not one, but two five-acre plus private gardens – one in the South Downs National Park, the other in the Sussex Weald. This charming and well-written blog is gardener David’s way of bringing these enchanting but rather secluded spaces to a wider audience.

You’ll love David’s post about the tulip tree, which having been planted too close to the house in Sussex, presents a pain in the proverbial for the man tasked with clearing the gutters. But every autumn, this large, but unremarkable tree has a chance to shine – and with his wonderful photography, David does his subject full justice.

Growing family

growing family gardening

Make every minute in the garden count
Image: Growing family

Time starved? From lifting your patio containers to prevent winter water-logging, to a reminder to deadhead your summer flowers, blogger Catherine’s 10 minute gardener  series gives you quick, manageable jobs to help you keep on top of your garden when life’s hectic and crazy.

An account of her gardening life which revolves around growing her family as well as her plants, you’ll love reading about Catherine and co’s latest ventures in and out of the garden. From what to look for when choosing outdoor clothing for kids, to family-friendly holiday activities, there’s something for everyone here.

The middle sized garden

middle sized garden

The magic of an overgrown garden
Image: The middle sized garden

“A middle-sized garden doesn’t usually have a drive, and vistas and views tend to be of next door’s garage,” says gardener, author, blogging expert and writing coach, Alexandra Campbell. But that doesn’t mean a middling-sized patch can’t be something special – which is the raison d’etre of this fun, friendly, info-packed blog.

Renovating a garden, and wondering whether to bulldoze the lot? Don’t says Alexandra: There’s a “magic about it that a brand new garden can never hope to achieve.” Take a look at architect, Tom Croft’s extraordinary garden renovation – we guarantee inspiration awaits.

Dinchope diary

dinchope windfall for birds

Leave some of your windfall fruit for the birds
Image: Dinchope

Want to bring more wildlife to your garden but don’t know quite where to start? Let Jenny Steel be your guide. A plant ecologist and author with over 30 years experience as a wildlife gardener, she certainly knows how to make your garden a hotspot for birds and other wildlife.

About thirty percent of us put out seed and peanut mixes to help keep the birds fed during the winter, but do remember give your feeders and bird tables a clean from time to time, Jenny says. “There are several bacterial and viral diseases that affect our birds and these can be passed from one to another in their droppings or by close contact.”

DIY garden

diy garden butterflies

Grow the right plants and the butterflies will come
Image: DIY garden

Help save the butterflies, says Clive Harris – “Gardener, blogger, outdoor enthusiast, husband, dad, and all the rest!” That’s because three quarters of British butterfly species and a quarter of moths have declined over the last 40 years.

Help by growing butterfly-friendly plants, like nettles, bird’s-foot trefoil, nasturtium, garlic mustard, ladies smock, long coarse grasses, oak, elm, holly, and ivy, says Clive. And that’s just for starters – checkout his post for a wealth of information about the lives of our fluttery friends. DIY garden does exactly what it says on the tin – everything you need to help your garden grow.

Growing nicely

borage growing nicely

Jill looks forward to enjoying her Pimms with a sprig of borage in it
Image: Growing nicely

New to gardening and wondering how to harden off your seedlings for planting out? Find an area of dappled shade, says blogger Jill, and, on an overcast day, put your young plants out for a couple of hours before bringing them back inside. Repeat over the next two weeks, gradually extending the outdoor time until the plants adapt to life in the garden.

Blogger Jill is a professional gardener, garden designer, and instructor, and now creates this wonderfully informative blog which showcases her garden, and gardening adventures, from garden visits to how to grow food for the plate. You’ll love her recipe for elderflower cordial.

Have we missed any fab gardening blogs you love to follow? Do let us know what we’re missing by popping over to our Facebook page and leaving us a message.

10 professional gardeners show how it’s done

pro gardener pruning

There’s more to pro gardening than just secateurs
Image: shutterstock

Looking for a bit of gardening inspiration? It’s always nice to know that the hints and tips your favourite garden bloggers pass on are backed up by some verifiable gardening know how. We’ve scoured the web to bring you the scribblings of ten professional gardeners – blogs from green-fingered pros with skills and knowledge to share.

Jack Wallington

jack wallington

Pro gardener Jack takes some inspiration from the Lost Gardens of Heligan
Image: Jack Wallington

Jack’s rock garden may consist of just the one rock – and not even a real rock at that, but it’s worth a look because it’s just the sort of quirky personal growing project you’d expect from an RHS qualified horticulturist who specialises in creating contemporary gardens with unique plantings.

The Sempervivums are just about hanging in there but what’s really required is a bit of moss to provide the growing media for other plant species to grow into. An entertaining and informative blog, there’s so much interesting reading here, a quick visit could last hours.

Driftwood by sea

geoff stonebanks open garden

Geoff’s stunning garden, with the sea as a backdrop
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

If you’d like to see how someone takes a patch of barren, sloping seaside garden and turns it into a major attraction on the National Open Gardens Scheme calendar, you’ve come to the right place. Aided by a small army of volunteers, Geoff Stonebanks now opens his garden to the public to raise money for charity – raising nearly £100K for a variety of charities, including MacMillan Cancer Support.

We think you’ll agree Geoff’s patch is a heck of a garden, and a must-visit-site for anyone growing in harsh salt-laden conditions near the sea. The great Monty Don himself describes Geoff’s East Sussex garden as “a small garden by the sea that’s full of character”.

Pulling weeds

pulling weeds cydonia pruning

Let Graham help you whip your fruit trees into shape with some winter pruning
Image: Pulling weeds

“Trees put out shoots in all directions, which can lead to them becoming quite congested.” Says professional gardener, Graham Wright. If you’re in need of a quick lesson on the art of pruning your fruit trees, here’s a good place to start. With his quince tree doing just that, he’s waited until the dormant time of the year to get his secateurs out.

What you should be looking for is an open shape, Graham says. This lets the most light into the centre of the tree, which is essential if your fruit is to ripen properly. The quince jelly’s on you then Graham.

David Domoney

david domoney buddleja cottage

Buddlejas make an excellent border plant – just remember to prune vigorously
Image: David Domoney

If you’re looking for some low maintenance outdoor plants to help get a beginner gardener off the ground, you’ve come to the right place. TV gardener extraordinaire, David Domoney gives his top five recommendations. He says: “Buddlejas are great for putting into beds and borders if you have recently moved to a place with a larger garden or are branching out from container planting.”

Presenter of ITV’s Love Your Garden, and the resident gardening expert for This Morning, David’s blog is a superb resource for anyone interested in gardening or wildlife. Fancy testing your knowledge of British birds? Why not take David’s fun quiz?

The tattooed gardener

tattoed gardener

Snake’s Head Fritillaries make a colourful spring display
Image: Tattooed gardener

Looking for something a little different to brighten up your spring garden? Take a look at these Snake’s Head Fritillaries nodding their, chequered purple and white, bell-shaped blooms. Most bulbs like free-draining soils says Dennis, aka the tattooed gardener, but not this one, which makes it perfect for wetter conditions.

Former head gardener at Trinity College, Cambridge, Dennis is now a gardener, garden consultant and children’s writer. His blog is a font of gardening knowledge and wisdom, with tats and the odd bit of Megadeth thrown in for good measure.

Mr Plant geek

mr plant geek

This nandina goes from green to pink to bright red
Image: Mr Plant geek

“Every so often, a plant comes along that makes you question whether it’s actually real or not,” says gardening expert (and former T&M Product Development Manager) Michael Perry. He’s talking about the pillar box red leaves of the unbelievably riotous nandina (pink blush) – a low maintenance foliage plant you’ll love for its year-round colour.

Well-written and quirky, you’ll enjoy Michael’s unique take on gardening. As he says, he’s just a tiny bit lazy, which makes him an excellent source of gardening hacks and shortcuts. Check out his post on “wabi-sabi” – the art of imperfect gardening, which is all about relaxed simplicity and asymmetry.

Judi the gardener

dingly dells

Anyone for a Dingly Dell?
Image: Judi the Gardener

How would you fancy having a Dingly Dell in your garden? Garden designer and developer, Judi will build one for you. We’re talking about the ultimate place to relax and unwind, created especially for you.

A former dancer and choreographer Judi says she loves to put on her creative hat to help her clients unmuddle their ideas and make an exciting plan for their outdoor spaces. You’ll love what she’s done with the olive tree at one satisfied customer’s garden.

Katie Rushworth

katie rushworth container pond

Kids will love creating a mini pond to attract wildlife to the garden
Image: Katie Rushworth

You’ll know Katie Rushworth as one of the team from ITV’s Love Your Garden. Here she blogs about her love of gardening, and offers the occasional tidbit of behind the scenes insight from the show.

Check out Katie’s ideas for creating a kids’ mini pond for the garden. She says “A small container pond can be a fantastic way to welcome wildlife and get your little ones involved in a quick and easy project that will bring joy for years to come! “.  Katie’s blog is a treasure trove of helpful advice for gardeners, complete with recipes to help you use up your bumper crops.

Thomas D Stone

thomas stone moving shrub

Thomas demonstrates how to move well-established plantings
Image: Thomas D Stone

If you’ve ever wondered how to move well-established shrubs from the wrong place in your garden to somewhere better, Thomas Stone says it’s all about getting the root ball out of the ground. Not sure how to go about it? Check out his post which gives you a handy step-by-step process to make a success of your transplantation.

With nearly 30 years as an RHS trained professional gardener behind him, Thomas says the key to keeping his passion for gardening alive, is never to stop learning. That’s good news for his readers  – there’s a wealth of gardening knowhow waiting for you here.

Ellen Mary Gardening

ellen mary gardening edible flowers

Add some colour to your food with edible flowers
Image: Ellen Mary Gardening

Gardening can be hard on your back, but not when you follow pro’ gardener, horticultural TV and radio presenter, and blogger Ellen Mary’s advice to go vertical with your planting. From reusing soft drinks bottles to raised beds and making planters from pipes, she’ll soon raise your gardening sights – and if you want to extend your menus, this is the place to start learning about edible flowers!

A self-confessed gardening addict, Ellen Mary is a trustee of Anglia in Bloom, and horticultural coordinator for the Royal Norfolk Show. We don’t know how she finds the time to pack in all her gardening-related occupations. She says, “If the job is to do with gardening – anything goes!”

Do you have a favourite pro’ gardening blog we’ve missed? We’d love to hear from you. Just head on over to our Facebook page and tell us all about it.

Blogs to inspire you to grow your own

Beginner or experienced veg grower? Sharing tips helps produce bumper crops
Image: Shutterstock

Not only is homegrown food healthy and nutritious, but planting and nurturing your own crops gets you out in the garden for some good old-fashioned fresh air. You’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamin D-laden sunshine, and interaction with nature is always good for your soul.

If you like the sound of all that but need a little inspiration to get you started, here are some of the best grow-your-own blogs we’ve found.

Smallest smallholding

Nasturtiums are simple to grow, beautiful – and you can eat them
Image: Smallest Smallholding

Seeking a delightful, easy-grow flower that doubles as a delicious addition to salads? Look no further than the nasturtium says blogger Lucy: “These plants are tough. But they’re so, so pretty too.” A great companion plant, like marigolds, nasturtiums also do a useful job in the garden by helping to draw pests away from your precious food crops.

In search of a frugal, debt-free existence, Lucy’s decision to live a little of the “good life” is an inspiration to all, and her blog provides a treasure trove of information and advice for anyone looking to grow their own.

The garden smallholder

Find out what’s growing in Karen and Rich’s veg patch…
Image: The Garden Smallholder

“We love collecting fresh eggs and picking seasonal food from our garden smallholding. No air miles or nasty chemicals. Just us and the soil.” Sound like the lifestyle you aspire to? Have a read of Karen and Rich’s supurb blog to see how they did it.

If you’re new to veg growing, or even if you’re not, you’ll love Karen’s “Jobs each month” category. January – order your seed potatoes ready for chitting. July – plant out your purple sprouting broccoli ready for next spring. It’s handy knowledge to have.

Rusty Duck

Find out the lengths to which blogger Jessica and hubby go to protect their crops from the depredations of “flopsy” the bunny (or bunnies) with whom they share their hillside veg plot. Luckily for the cotton-tailed raiders, these veg growers are vegetarians, or they might well find themselves becoming the ingredients of a tasty rabbit pie.

“A person decides, together with her better half, to leave behind the stressful day job and move to a simpler life in the country.”  Or not so simple as it turns out, what with the house needing more than a little renovation, the brambles and weeds, and the 45° slope. But hey – it makes for entertaining reading.

Life at no. 27

Annabelle wants to inspire more young gardeners to get growing
Image: Life at no. 27

“How good are you at avoiding the veg aisles in supermarkets during the winter months” asks blogger Annabelle? Hoping to do better by planning ahead this year, she’s putting her faith in her cauliflowers, brussels sprouts and cabbage to see her through the lean times.

As a twenty-something allotmenteer, Annabelle is a role model for younger gardeners, who she hopes to inspire to “put down their phones and pick up a spade”. To this end, the freelance writer, radio personality, blogger and vlogger is a regular at gardening events throughout the year. You’ll find a host of useful tips and advice here.

The unconventional gardener

Edible cucamelon tubers
Image: The Unconventional Gardener

Clearing old salad or vegetable beds? Avoid the temptation to strip everything and chuck it in the compost bin. Blogger and ethnobotanist, Emma took her time preparing an old salad bed ready for replanting, and was rewarded with carrots, beetroot, beet leaves and even “a little tuft of kale” – it’s surprising what you miss come harvest time.

Passionate about edible, useful plants, Emma is your go-to for information about the quirky and unusual. Did you know cucamelon tubers are edible? Emma only has the one, so she’ll over-winter it and look forward to tasting it once it’s had a chance to grow.

Claire’s allotment

Claire brings knowledge and a light-hearted sense of humour to her blog posts
Image: Claire’s allotment

If you can’t fart freely around your family…, then something is wrong” says writer and blogger, Claire. She’s talking about the annual brussels sprouts bonanza and its windy aftermath – if you’ve ever wondered how best to cook the most flatulent of veggies, look no further than this blogger’s post on the subject.

A must for anyone introducing children to the joys of gardening, blogger and allotmenteer Claire writes children’s books about growing sunflowers, carrots and pumpkins, and also runs garden workshops to help little ones get their hands dirty. For adults, Claire also produces a popular range of ebooks which are ideal for gardening beginners and improvers.

Dogwood days

Blogger Nic is an Ocaholic
Image: dogwooddaysgardener

Meet self-confessed “Ocaholic”, Nic. She’s talking about a tasty little tuber called oca, or new Zealand yam. It’s actually a native of the Peruvian, Bolivian Andes, and thanks to the fact that it’s not related to that other South American staple, potatoes, it doesn’t suffer from blight. While you won’t get bumper crops, Nic says this bright, colourful veg is great fun to grow and eat.

“Our garden is a place of fascination, experimentation and happiness. A modest space where edible and ornamental plants lovingly cohabit” Nic writes. A woman who packs a surprising amount of edible plants into a fairly small garden, this blog is a great place to stop for a browse.

The quest for veg

Sandra says she’s growing more radishes this year
Image: The quest for veg

“Vegetable plants need their space” say Andrew and Sandra. That’s because, unlike flower gardens where more is often better, overplanting a small plot means none of your plants will reach their full potential. Like when their aubergines were swamped by potatoes and courgettes which she planted too close together.

This blog is a great read for anyone looking for some gardening know-how from a couple attempting to turn a small allotment plot into a bumper cropping veg garden. Check out Sandra’s top tips for this year’s garden – including why she’ll be planting plenty of bok choy and radishes. Not forgetting to “weed, weed, weed” of course.

The veg grower podcast

Get the lowdown on propagators
Image: The veg grower podcast

And now for something completely different. If you prefer to listen rather than read, you’ve come to the right place. With over 150 gardening-related podcasts to listen to, you’re sure to find some relevant know-how to tap into here.

Like the episode about propagators – a great way to get your seeds in early – this podcaster has three heated ones and several unheated. Looking for a way to use up your leftover leeks and potatoes? Check out this soup recipe delivered the old fashioned way – the written word lives on.

We hope our round-up of vegetable growing blogs provides you with plenty of food for thought in the months ahead. Come over and join us on our Facebook page to share your top tips and success stories!

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