Alison Levey, the author of The Blackberry Garden, has a rather philosophical take on gardening, in that she believes gardening teaches us patience and careful watchfulness. For Alison it is not just a hobby, it’s a daily devotion. Even though she claims to be no expert, she does declare herself to be an obsessional gardener! In this spotlight, Alison, who is the number one blogger on our top ten gardening ranking chats to us about what plants she likes to grow in her garden, how she likes to work with PRs and how they can improve their blogger outreach.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog? My blog is about my garden and what inspires my gardening. I also write about gardens and garden shows that I visit. I enjoy reviewing gardening related books and products. I live in Leicester which is nice and central for going on lots of garden visits and I work full time in education as a senior administrator.
Why did you start the blog? I started the blog very tentatively back in 2011. I have always loved writing and I have been keeping a garden journal for many years. I had been reading other blogs and thought that I would like to dip my toe in the water. I quickly discovered that I loved writing it. I thought I might run out of things to say quite quickly but six years later and that has not happened yet.
What is gardening to you (how important is it you to have a garden in your home)? Gardening is very important to me, when I was very young I used to help my neighbours in their garden and they taught me lots of things that I still do today. When I bought my current house I decided I wanted it the moment I saw the garden which was then mainly lawn. I tell people that I bought a garden and the house came with it.
What types of plants do you grow? Oh lots of things, I love perennial plants because they are so easy. Ferns are an increasing part of my garden and I have to stop myself from buying trees as I seem to be collecting a small forest (for which I do not have space). I do grow some vegetables but only easy ones. This year is particularly special as I am growing the flowers for my daughter’s wedding.
Did you anticipate for your blog to become this popular and successful? Not at all, when I first started writing it I was amazed when I received my first few views. I am always immensely grateful that people take the time to read it and make such nice and useful comments.
What is your major challenge as a gardener? Having enough time to do everything I want to as I have to fit my gardening around my job. I also seem to be completely unable to grow carrots successfully. I think they should be easy to grow but I seem to fail year on year. I shall not even mention that my quince tree fails to fruit year on year!
What advice do you have for others wanting to start their own gardening blog? Firstly, just do it, get writing and see what happens. Very importantly I think people should be themselves. Do not write how you think people will want you to, write as yourself and be authentic. Finally, when your heart is no longer in it then stop. Writing a blog should be enjoyable and not a chore.
How do you like to work with PRs? I like nice friendly working arrangements. I am very happy to be asked to write things as long as the PRs understand if I do not want to do I will say no. I will not write about things I have not personally tried and cannot recommend from my own experience. For me blogging is fun and anything that starts to take the edge off that is just not for me.
How can PRs improve their blogger outreach? Actually, read the blogs you want to work with before contacting them. There is nothing more annoying than the email that says ‘I love reading your (gardening) blog and I have a project working on curtains I would like you to feature’. What do you see in the future for your blog?
That is a good question, my blog has already led me on some great adventures and to meet some wonderful people. I hope it continues to do so. Who knows,