Garden 'siteseeing' from California to China

Visits to garden blogs from California to China.

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Each week we climb aboard the Web's magic carpet to visit gardens and gardeners in various parts of the world. What's the weather like where they live? What are they growing? Do things look much like our own gardening situations, or very different? Just as with all travel, the answers sometimes surprise us.

Since it's 41 degrees F. outside at my house, so let's start somewhere with milder weather -- Birmingham, Ala. where Steve Bender, the Grumpy Gardener (and a long-time senior writer and columnist for Southern Living magazine) holds sway.

You may also know Steve as the co-author of the great book, "Passalong Plants," as well as a number of authoritative Southern Living gardening titles.

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Steve makes me laugh, whether in print, online, or in person. But beyond that, he knows what he's talking about when it comes to plants and gardening, so his advice is well worth heeding, especially if you live below the Mason-Dixon line.

From Alabama we journey to California and Gardening Fantasies. The designs of landscape architects Heather Lenkin and William Cundiff have been featured in a number of top-flight magazines, so it's interesting to read their take on knot gardens, design tips for a successful home landscape, romantic gardens, heat-loving flowers, herbs for a Japanese garden, and much more.

The variety makes this blog especially appealing.

From California we cross the Pacific to Nanning, China (the capital of Guangxi Province), where Andrew, an older British expatriate, lives and observes the gardening scene. (And where it was 83 degrees F. when I checked. Ah, the warmth of a tropical climate.)

Although he has two blogs, My China Nanning Journal about his general life, as well as a garden blog, he doesn't write in either very often. Nevertheless, it's worth an occasional visit because this is a way of life most of us don't see from the view of an outsider.

He talks about bonsai and penjing (and discusses the differences), expecting snow in a region that's rarely seen it before, a commercial greenhouse growing poinsettias for the Chinese New Year celebration, scenes of a beautiful park in his city (Nanning is known as the Green City), and living through a typhoon.

It's an interesting peek into everyday life.

We'll end our rambles today a self-confessed 28-year-old plant geek in Canada. In Guy Meets Garden, he chats about his experiences with Japanese gardens, a Master Gardener class, and such wry observations as a label in a botanical garden that says, "This plant was eaten by a porcupine"!!

I think that the Hunky Gardener and the Grumpy Gardener would get along together very well.

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