Alys Fowler's 10 best Instagram accounts for gardeners
From nibbled leaves to effortless style: there’s plenty of winter inspiration to be found online
I sometimes fantasise about having my favourite gardeners as my neighbours. What if, instead of looking out on to a broken fence and children’s trampoline, I got to look at Charles Dowding’s vegetable garden? And, if I craned my head from my study window, instead of seeing a train line and the park, I got to peek into designer Dan Pearson’s garden, and opposite me was Canadian writer Gayla Trail.
I’ve created my own fantasy street on my phone: my daily wanderings on Instagram are the equivalent of peering over my neighbour’s fence, and my “likes” a daily wave hello. My feed isn’t all gardening: there’s a healthy dose of mycology, entomology, politics, women’s fashion and wanderlust, too. I love a mountain view first thing in the morning.
The joy of Instagram and social media is that it is democratised. For every well-known gardener I follow, there are ordinary gardeners sharing their everyday joys and heartbreaks. This is the community I love and go back to several times a day. Social media, blogging and photography have opened up a more honest world.
Yes, there are plenty of accounts where everything is effortlessly styled for thousands of “likes”; but there are just as many where truth prevails and is celebrated – the nibbled leaf, the diminutive pumpkins, a handful of less than perfect tomatoes. The humour and heartbreak of gardening is what I love Instagram for.
The internet is a dichotomy: a place of truth and of lies. But in gardening, it’s easy to spot those who are trying too hard; or, to put it another way, those who are honest are rewarded with kindness. For every artful shot of a handful of harvest there can be a line to say, “This was it, the entire lot.” It speaks to the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi, which I love, where imperfection is celebrated.
Yes, I can get lost down an avenue of envy. But when this happens, I have a reshuffle, and fill my feed with something nourishing instead.
• Alys Fowler can be found on Instagram as @alysf.
@coyotewillow belongs to the garden designer Dan Pearson and documents many aspects of his gardening life, including his new garden/farm in Bath, which is unfolding into something quite beautiful, as you’d expect. But just when I could get haunted by the green-eyed monster, he posts a snap that’s so ordinary, I forgive him his exotic wanderings
@Annemorshage’s Norwegian kitchen garden and greenhouse is a simple account of the daily things that delight her, which include a lot of peppers. Clearly Norway is cold and a greenhouse is a must for year-round growing this far north. If you like this account, you’ll also like @Parsell17, an allotment in Sandefjord, Norway. It’s deep under snow at present, but a joy when that melts away
Taylor Johnston, @gamine_co, makes great jeans for hard-working outdoor women, so there’s a fair amount of denim in this account. But when she’s not comparing fades it’s full of her working life at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where she looks after an extensive collection of pot plants
@selfie_sufficient belongs to my friend Ming de Nasty, a photographer and brilliant gardener. This account is a year-long project documenting the back garden growers and food producers of the Midlands. Heart-warming and brilliant
@farmersroots belongs to Joneve Murphy, a young American grower who journeyed across the globe to meet other small-scale growers. She began in Europe and travelled to Asia, India and Africa documenting farmers of all ages, abilities and styles. It is full of interesting growing methods and has introduced no end of new vegetables to my lexicon
@charles_dowding. I may ogle his perfect vegetables, but Charles Dowding’s account is perfection in the art of teaching online. The king of salads and no-dig gardening has cracked Instagram. You will learn an awful lot about vegetables; consider it one of your five a day
@Zoes_garden is another one for vegetable lovers. Zoe’s allotment comings and goings are interspersed with her charming watercolour illustrations of what she’s been sowing and how her harvesting is coming along. A brilliant bit of joy
Fritz Haeg is a radical American gardener and artist who is restoring a 1970s commune on the Mendocino Coast in California. @fritzhaeg_salmoncreekfarm documents the loving restoration of handbuilt wooden houses, the rolling community of artists and builders and their amazing vegetable gardens. I never wanted to live in a commune – until I saw this
For good humour and gardening, I recommend @mark_diacono, who runs Otter Farm in Devon. You’ll get long walks, discographies and alcoholic experiments, as well as interesting and unusual vegetables
@saralimback is an inspirational community gardener based in Bristol. From hydroponics to seed saving, food sovereignty and land grabbing, this is a truly thought-provoking account ■