The garden podcast has become an essential listening tool for budding and experienced gardeners, as horticulturalists take to the airwaves to offer a helping hand.
But how do you find the best ones, and which will be right for you?
Ellen Mary co-hosts The Plant Based Podcast (theplantbasedpodcast.net) with Michael Perry (aka Mr Plant Geek), covering a wide range of subjects, and whose guests have included Chris Packham and Matthew Pottage, curator at RHS Garden Wisley. “Listeners want to learn new things but especially during this year, and some light fun thrown in is really important,” says Mary.
Fellow garden podcaster Jane Perrone, a journalist with extensive horticultural knowledge, has a hugely successful indoor gardening blog and weekly podcast, On the Ledge covering an impressive range of indoor plants and answering listeners’ plant questions.
“People often watch TV shows like Gardeners’ World and they want a beautiful garden and they want to see Monty Don. With podcasts, you are getting something quite different, which isn’t celebrity led,” says Perrone. “Usually you are able to listen while you are doing some gardening and you can be pottering in the greenhouse or tending your houseplants or doing whatever you want, with your earbuds in. In that sense, you can be doing two things at once.”
So, what makes a good podcast?
Perrone, whose podcast is consistently in the top five garden podcasts on Chartable (chartable.com), says: “In the case of my podcast, there just wasn’t much out there on houseplants when I started in 2017, and there wasn’t the in-depth information available.
“I consistently publish every week, which is a very good way of building up a podcast fan base because people know you are going to be there. People all have their own personalities which make their shows unique. People who have a clear remit of what they want to do have more chance of success.
“Some podcasts offer a more immersive experience and make you feel like you’re part of a lovely chat with plant-loving people, others go really in-depth on a particular topic. They offer something different to what we get on other garden media.”
Mary adds: “I think a podcast that really captures the listener with a topic that can be both educational and fun is particularly good.
“The Plant Based Podcast is about the whole world of plants, not just gardening but food, clothing, medicines; so it hits a number of audiences. We both participate a lot on social media as well to have fun with listeners and get the word out there about how cool plants are. I also think the world is waking up to the importance of our climate and plants are key, so more people are becoming interested in general.”
How do podcast newbies find a good garden one?
“There are various podcast charts online you can dip into,” says Perrone. “Or just do a web search of ‘garden podcast’. Most are free. I don’t know of any behind a paywall.”
Mary adds: “Most podcasts are on all of the usual platforms such as Apple, Spotify and Google, and many also upload episodes to their website. I usually find new podcasts to listen to via recommendation from friends, social media and shout-outs in magazines and newspapers.”
How do listeners get the most out of a podcast?
“I think being able to engage with the podcast host is really important,” says Mary. “People are looking for interaction and to feel involved in the podcast journey. Engaging with competitions both via the podcast and on the associated podcast social media, along with giving feedback, is a great way to really feel part of it.
“If you like one episode of a particular podcast, listen to more and get to know the hosts’ characters as well. It makes it more personal. We love our listeners and are always doing giveaways, online quizzes and videos so everyone can get involved.”
Garden podcast recommendations…
Ellen Mary loves… Fresh From The Pod (candidegardening.com/GB/podcasts)
Bubbly host and RHS judge Tamsin Westhorpe collaborates with the Candide gardening app to bring listeners this lovely podcast featuring all of the big names in horticulture, including Chris Beardshaw, Christine Walkden, Adam Frost and Carol Klein. Westhorpe delves into guests’ lives, teasing out quirky gardening tales and tips and finding out more about some well-known faces.
Jane Perrone loves… The Garden Log (thegardenlog.libsyn.com)
The softly spoken Ben Dark offers this award-winning podcast, featuring his diary-type musings on what he’s done or hasn’t done during the week depending on the weather, what you can do at this time of year, and what you should be seeing. It’s a gentle, cosy reflection rather than an instruction, and perfect for chilling out.
Others to look out for…
Roots And All (rootsandall.co.uk)
This fortnightly podcast from down-to-earth horticulturist and vegan Sarah Wilson aims to demystify all aspects of gardening, from digging to sowing seeds to creating a new outdoor space, with emphasis on wildlife and the environment. She brings some heavyweight experts to the table, including historians, scientists and plant specialists.
Gardening With The RHS (rhs.org.uk)
This highly informative podcast takes the listener through everything from helping hedgehogs to thrifty gardening, with guests including nursery specialists, scientists and TV gardeners, all bringing their expertise to the masses. Often hosted by dependable RHS chief horticulturist Guy Barter and featuring other RHS experts who offer words of wisdom to gardening enthusiasts; it’s one you can rely on for sound advice.