A review of Federal Twist

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 18.26.52I spoke to Anne Wareham (http://thinkingardens.co.uk) about doing a blog review and she suggested http://federaltwist.com. I knew nothing about it, but landing on the opening page, I instantly disliked it. It was extremely elegant and well presented. The photography was beautiful and the layout cool and considered, all the things I struggle to achieve and hardly ever do.

Before going on further I stopped and asked myself, ‘why read a garden blog?’ It can’t be to find out about the mechanics of gardening as there are websites and books that will give more focused answers. It might be to follow the progress of a garden but mainly, given the huge number of garden blogs, it was because the blog and blogger ‘share’ something with you. Their experiences connect and resonate with yours and so they are able to provide insights and highlights that are relevant. Blogging, I felt, should be intimate rather than corporate.

Knowing I wasn’t going to like the overly polished federaltwist, I started to read it again with the aim of trying to see what others had liked. I began with the post “Ecological disruption: Has Travis Beck been in my garden?” – it sounded suitably self important. It was more than surprising and not a little humbling then, to find a third of the way through the post that I was really, really interested.

I realised that the author was well read, thoughtful and articulate. He wasn’t pompous or longwinded and actually, if it mattered, I liked him. It dawned on me that of course, there is another reason to read a blog and that is to learn something totally new. “Is planting Dahlia ‘Bishop of Landaff’ an immoral act?” is an engaging article about native plants and it made me think in a way I don’t often bother to do.

There is much in this blog to enjoy and admire. I equally loved reading posts like ‘Garden is a verb’ which talks about an area of the garden he is replanting. The photos are very good and are an essential element to the blog. However, it is in his writing that the author really paints pictures with the plants. The names are listed like the words of a poem.
“Rudbeckia maxima (five) in a group, several new and recycled Miscanthus, Panicums, two amazingly mature Baptisias …. 10 Liatris ligustylis, several Angelica gigas, and a number of things to seed in:  Prunella grandifolia as a ground cover, Bronze fennel, Verbena bonariensis, of course.’’

So, I stand totally corrected. This is a clever and insightful blog, it’s authorative and yet intimate. Most importantly, it is a blog from the heart, federaltwist cares and there is something great in that. Not every post will to be everyone’s taste but it is definitely worth a visit, or two.



  1. Toby

    There’s something about the way this is written that also reminds me of gardening your own thought processes… Thanks for the tip.
    I am currently living in a forest of glass towers, human hives here in Vancouver . Not unbeautiful but not much Latin to describe it!

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