Facebook for gardeners

Chances are you'll have come across Facebook. If you're not on it yourself, you will know friends and family that are. But, how can it help with taming a misbehaving wisteria, or with encouraging your alstroemeria seeds to germinate? Michael Perry explains...

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Until Facebook came along, gardening was a primarily solitary activity, with the occasional shout (or boast) over the fence. Now, however, there’s a ‘digital garden fence’, which you can even peek over once it’s gone dark. Gardening is all about having a go, and Facebook can give you the confidence to do just that.

You can chat with like-minded gardeners, find out what does and doesn’t work, and if you want, show off your own garden too. Whether you have a full desktop computer, laptop, tablet or iPad, or simply a smart phone, you can access Facebook, either through the website www.facebook.com or by downloading the Facebook app, which you can download in the App Store on your device.

What can you find on Facebook?

Michael Perry Facebook Page
Michael Perry’s Facebook Page

Almost everyone can be found on Facebook. Digital communities are popping up all time. Thanks to the interactive medium of Facebook, you’ll be able to see photographs of plants and gardens, or even demonstrations of pruning techniques. Type any gardening public figure, nursery or garden centre into the top search box and see what’s about.

Some phrases you may come across when searching:

Public Figures– these are the official pages for well-known gardening names. Follow James Wong or myself, Michael Perry, where I offer a sneak peek into my day to day job role.

Richard Jackson's Garden Facebook
Richard Jackson’s Garden Facebook page

Pages– the official page of any company. Acting as a social media hub for garden centres, nurseries, mail order plant companies, National Trust properties, the RHS and other societies; even Richard Jackson has a page on Facebook. Keep an eye on feeds from these pages to gain first dibs on any special offers, and you can also interact directly with the company should you have any queries or complaints.

Groups– now this is where you might feel most at home. You’ll find a whole range of groups, sometimes eclectic, but all with an endless supply of like-minded people. Swap ideas (and maybe some cuttings too), get recommendations, ask for advice, check advice and have a giggle. Some groups even have real-life meets at RHS gardens or flower shows now and then. These groups can be quite specialist as well, even down to groups chatting only about saxifrage. So if that’s your thing, get stuck in.

What can Facebook do for me?

Gardening advice – You can find advice covering a range of planting and pruning techniques. Now, if you’re anything like me, my style of learning means I need to see something being done before I truly understand it, and Facebook videos can offer you this opportunity. You can find new advice too, and it’ll be published years before it appears in any book. You can also share your own tips, ones that have never been seen in any book. Maybe squashing a banana into the soil around your roses wasn’t so crazy after all.

Guardian gardens Facebook page
Guardian gardens Facebook page

Gardening news – Follow pages such as the RHS and Guardian Gardens to keep up to date with changes to the gardening world, whether it’s waves of disease to look out for (for example the dreaded Busy Lizzie mildew problems) or teasers about brand new plants.

New ideas – Take that sneaky peek over the digital garden fence to see new planting combinations, get release dates for exciting new plants and review those plants and gardening tools. You can either recommend them to others, or let them know which ones haven’t lived up to the hype. You can also find about which gardens are open, so you can pop along and snaffle a few extra ideas too.

Win prizes – If we’re honest about it, companies set up pages on Facebook in order to gain more exposure for their brand, so it stands to reason that they would want to increase their audience. Therefore, you can often find competitions designed to boost the ‘likes’ on a company’s page, where you simply click like and share, then leave a comment to enter the competition. I’ve seen prizes from packs of plants to iPads.

Plant and disease identification – Perhaps one of the gardening areas that Facebook helps with most is identifying mystery plants and/or pests and diseases. Before the internet, we would have to pore over books in the library but now, with the power of a community, we can usually get an answer within a few minutes.

Getting started

So, my advice is; get stuck in. Get your digital hands dirty. Start off by tapping your few favourite companies, nurseries or gardening magazine titles into the search bar, and you’ll see what’s on offer. I guarantee that with the unique community support of Facebook, your garden next summer will be at it’s best ever!

Michael Perry

About Michael Perry

Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan. Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media - so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook.
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