One of the things I found most frustrating when I started gardening is that there was SO MUCH conflicting information out there regarding plants, amendments, methods… everything. I’m a scientist by trade, so I’m used to less folk-lore, less “My Pappy did it this way and it works! I swear!”, less bizarre DIY methods (I’m looking at you Pinterest). I’m used to academia, research, facts. But sometimes the sources of facts are thinly veiled advertisements for companies with products to see. So where should one turn when in need of credible information?
It is an ongoing process, but over the years I’ve narrowed down some sources that I think are nearly unimpeachable when it comes to gardening information, plant details, and methods/techniques. The list is ever-evolving and I would love to hear your sources, but I thought I would share the places I go to first when I have a question or need to know something.
Obviously with them being a very fine Botanical Garden, there is no threat of ulterior motives and their credentials are solid. For me, it helps that they are reasonably within my Midwestern region,s o recommendations and plantings are usually within my reach logistically speaking. Their Plant Finder search function is incredibly robust and they have a strong focus on native plants- most of which will grow in my zone. This is my first stop for accurate plant information and the one I trust the most.
Their plant trials are beyond compare and the bounty of scientifically sourced information is truly impressive. While I often find their trials include varieties I’ve never laid eyes on in a commercial nursery, the information and summaries of these plants is a wealth of information. I refer back to these reports often and always look forward to new ones.
These two sites are about as robust and hyper-local as I can get. I’m betting most of you in the states have a local extension that focuses on local garden issues and tips. These sites are well sourced, well written, and usually very useful. Not all are focused on organic practices though, so some pest/weed advice might involve chemicals or be scaled to larger scale/business operations. However, these are my first stop for pest and weed identification and basic information. They are also usually great sources for recommendations regarding trees and shrubs that do well in your specific climate and soil types. Often, they offer online “Ask a Gardener” features that are staffed by Master Gardeners and are incredibly helpful with questions you can’t figure out on your own.
I do love the show and there is a great wealth of information via articles and videos on their site from botanical experts. Some tips (especially time specific ones) are hard to translate here in the states since their growing conditions and seasons are SO very different than ours (unless you live in the PNW, in which case, I find their timing to be nearly perfectly in sync). Plant varieties they recommend aren’t always available here and neither are some of the tools they use/recommend. However, the planting and growing advice is excellent and the videos are far more helpful when it comes to techniques than articles ever could be.
That’s my short list of sites I couldn’t garden without. I’d love to hear what sources you have had success with and use regularly…