A prolific writer and accomplished photographer is the newest recipient of our Best Gardening Blogs 2011 distinction. Nancy Ondra is the author and garden guru behind Hayefield, a blog based in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Nancy is a published garden author with over nine titles to her credit. Many years ago Nancy gardened a tiny spot of land in the shade. About ten years ago, when her gardening space ran out, Nancy moved to Hayefield, a four acre parcel drenched in the sun. With all her publishing accomplishments and garden expertise, Nancy is still just a lady who looks forward to her time in the garden where she experiments with new plants and plant collections and spends time with her Alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
“I consider myself an equal-opportunity plant geek, but my current ‘thing’ is colored foliage (specifically, variegated and chartreuse leaves). And ornamental grasses. And meadows. And herbs. And vegetables. Oh, and shrubs, too. And annuals, of course. Um…just about all kinds of outdoors plants, actually. I also enjoy raising plants from seed.”
A garden blog can draw us in any number of ways. Most often it is the photographs that catch our eye. Then, it may be the author’s style of writing that speaks to us, making us an avid reader. With Hayefield I was enticed by Nancy’s post Pretty in Pictures. Nancy shares with her readers what to look for, what questions we should be asking, when we look at garden pictures in blogs, magazines and books for ideas for our own gardens.
When looking at garden photos Nancy writes that, “straight-out-of-the-camera photos seldom tell the whole story. The truth is, many lovely images are purely a matter of chance: things blooming out of their normal season, tall plants sprawling onto low ones, foliage or flowers changing color depending on unusual weather conditions, and so on.”
As she coaches her readers on how to nurture a discerning eye when it comes to garden photography, she simultaneously provides wonderful information on the plants found in the photographs. Pretty in Pictures is a visual and intellectual delight, and as I delved deeper into Hayefield I was continuously rewarded with helpful garden advice delivered by an enthusiastic and passionate voice.
Jenny Koester, AKA The Landless Gardener, is the Garden Blog Editor for Horticulture magazine and the author of The Garden Life and A Year in the Park.