Gardener Interview #5 (Noel Kingsbury)


Hello gardeners – I’m back with the 5th in this series of interview posts. I set out to talk to gardeners who have blogs or YouTube channels.

I wanted to learn more about them, their interests, what kind of content they create, how they got started with gardening, and more.

Below, you can read our fifth interview with Noel Kingsbury, who runs the blog noelkingsbury.com.

Enjoy!


1. What is your name and location?

My name is Noel Kingsbury, and I live in Central Portugal, where I have lived for three years.

Before that, I lived near the England-Wales border.

2. What is the name of your website, and what topics does it focus on?

The name of my website is noelkingsbury.com. I have had a blog on the site since 2020. Before that, I wrote on blogspot starting in 2007 (I posted more often back then – now, the business takes up a lot of time).

I also work on gardenmasterclass.org, along with a business partner. This site focuses on education for gardening and landscape design.

These days, one topic of focus is my garden in Portugal. A main topic of mine is naturalistic, ecological planting. I have been active in promoting this since the mid-1990’s.

I like to empower gardeners by helping them to apply basic plant ecology in a practical way to see what is going on with plants.

3. What is your favorite plant? Why?

My favorite plant is cyclamen coum! I just love the way they come up in really cold weather – and all of those colors: everything from pure white through to deepest magenta.

cyclamen coum

Plenty of luck with other cyclamen in the Portuguese garden – but not this one yet, although I’ve got lots of seedlings coming on, and nice foliage as well.

4. What is your gardening nemesis?

In my last garden, it was horsetail – a terribly difficult weed to get rid of.

Here in Portugal, my nemesis is working my way around the very hot, dry Mediterranean summer. It is very stressful for plants, and I am on a learning curve!

I have been learning about dry climate gardening and climate change. I am also working to inform others about these topics as well.

5. What is your favorite gardening gear? Why?

In Britain, it was the Irish ditching spade – a very strong steel spade with a narrow point. It is incredibly useful for planting, particularly on heavy soils. It is still useful here for digging up brambles.

Here in Portugal, I have been very much converted to the enxada (a traditional Portuguese tool), which is like a mattock. It is very useful for levering up things like nettles, surface rhizomes, or weeds.

6. What is your favorite gardening article that you have written on your site?

Over the years, I have covered topics including my garden in Herefordshire, my travels, and the background to books I’ve written.

Looking back to early years, I wrote “Letters To Uruguay” where I gave some advice/mentoring to a garden designer in Uruguay. That had an enormous ripple effect: Amelia is a quite charismatic lady who is lecturing at university in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

She took on board everything I suggested to her, and she has made a whole career out of using native plants and promoting ecological planting design. She has been working with a colleague in southern Brazil.

So, my original blogging – in publishing those letters to her – has been turned out to be extraordinarily influential. That is the type of remote impact I’ve had in South America, and I’m proud of that.

I’ve written about landscape history quite a lot – the last few years in particular, the dire situation with fire and environmental degradation in Central Portugal.

I’ve written some political stuff as well. Just after Brexit, I wrote a piece that had an enormous amount of coverage. One German lady wrote to me to say that it was the best thing on explaining Brexit she had read.

I’ve written a few other things concerning why Britain is in such a mess. I know so many people around the world who are into gardening are terrific Anglophiles (we are one of the world’s leading garden nations).

A lot of Anglophile garden people are very worried and upset about what is happening in Britain. I’d love to do a lot more blogging like this, but I haven’t got the time. Also, it would be a failed compromise to run a business (Garden Masterclass) and nail my colors to the mast publicly.

7. Are there any gardening blogs, apps, YouTube channels, Pinterest pages, etc. that you like?

I would absolutely recommend James Golden, whose “The View From Federal Twist” has been absolutely marvelous – wonderful photography. James is very insightful and a very good colleague.

8. How long have you been interested in gardening?

I have been interested in gardening since I was a kid. My father was a very keen gardener, and my mother was a very successful children’s book writer.

I think as a kid, observing her self-discipline as she shut herself away in her study and wrote, and the whole process of writing books – is something that has given me a lifelong confidence and interest in that whole area.

9. How many different types of plants do you have?

We’ve got several hundred plant species and cultivars in here to try things out and see what works in this climate. A lot of that is the kind of stuff I’m hoping to pass on to people in the form of blog posts that I do.

10. Is there anything else about gardening or your website that you would like to mention?

I got a blog up the other day on the garden in Portugal (first time in months – I will try to do more!) It was sort of a winter report from the garden.

We’ve got about a hectare here, most of which is an olive grove, so I actually garden just a few hundred square meters.


Noel, thank you for taking the time to do this interview!

If you want to check out Noel’s posts, you can find them here.

You can also learn more about Noel’s Garden Masterclass here.

I hope you enjoyed this gardener interview, and I hope you learned something interesting today. Check back soon for more interviews!

You can find our previous gardener interview here.

You can find our next gardener interview here.


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~Jonathon


Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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