Gardening can be so…boring. I don’t mean all the time, of course. I really love my job, but the pruning, leaf blowing, and weeding can be downright monotonous. And since all these tasks are a large part of my job, I need to find ways to stay motivated to do them. A little background noise—some music or an audiobook—can do the trick, but my favorite thing to listen to while gardening has to be podcasts.
To those of you out of the loop, a podcast is like a radio show, but the episodes are available to stream on-demand. It’s sort of like Netflix for talk radio. You can listen to podcasts in apps like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Spotify, and many others. Most podcasts are completely free to listen, and there is a podcast for just about every topic: from true crime to celebrity gossip, politics to comedy, and game shows to sports news. Luckily for us nature-lovers, there are plenty of podcasts for us, too.
So, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite podcasts to listen to while working in the garden (in no particular order):
1. In Defense of Plants
Hosted by Matt Candeias who has a PhD in ecology from the University of Illinois. He covers all things botany, from plant conservation efforts to deep-dives into fascinating plant species. This podcast is highly informative and well-researched, and episodes are released every Sunday. Since the huge success of this podcast, Matt has gone on to write a book of the same title as his podcast that was featured as the very first book read in Holden Forests and Gardens newly founded book club.
Episode to catch: “Ep. 376 – Adventures in Azalea Pollination”
2. American Birding Podcast
The American Birding Podcast is presented by the American Birding Association (ABA) and hosted by Nate Swick. Nate is the editor for the ABA blog, author of 3 birding books, and an avid birder himself. Each Thursday, the always upbeat Nate excitedly interviews experts in the world of birding and reports on avian news.
Episode to catch: “06-20: Gardening for Birds in Ohio with Julie Zickefoose”
3. The Native Plant Podcast
Formed by a group of nine friends who met at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference, The Native Plant Podcast focuses on sharing plant news with an emphasis on topics impacting both backyard gardens and wildlife conservation. You can always count on The Native Plant Podcast for hosting interesting and knowledgeable guests.
Episode to catch: “Using ecological ethics in Landscape Design with Jessi Bloom”
4. National Park After Dark
Although not directly related to gardening or plant conservation, National Park After Dark celebrates the great outdoors in a different way. Hosts Cassie and Danielle call their show “a podcast for the morbid outdoor enthusiast” and they cover all things National Parks, including what can go wrong there. Survival stories, true crime, and paranormal come together in this show that feels like telling stories around a campfire.
Episode to catch: “67 – Premonition. Olympic National Park.”
5. Completely Arbortrary
A tree lover (arborist and dendrologist Casey Clapp) and self-proclaimed tree agnostic (Alex Crowson) review and rate different tree species. This hilarious duo is just the right mix of educational, entertaining, and engaging. It kind of feels like you’re hanging out with a couple buddies talking about trees.
Episode to catch: “Please Send Us Pawpaws! (Pawpaw)”
6. The Field Guides
Speaking of hanging out with friends, this podcast has the same vibe as Completely Arbortrary but instead of sitting around and chit-chatting you’re on a hike. Complete with the ambiance of the great outdoors, hosts Bill and Steve record their podcast about North American plants and animals while hiking different trails.
Episode to catch: “Ep. 25 – The Eastern Screech-owl”
7. Ologies with Alie Ward
Rated on of Time Magazine’s Top 50 Podcasts, Alie Ward hosts Ologies, a podcast about all different types of science. Each episode, Alie interviews scientists in different fields, from ursinology (the study of bears) to zymology (the study of beers), and lepidopterology (the study of butterflies) to gluteology (the study of butts).
Episode to catch: “Foraging Ecology (EATING WILD PLANTS) with @BlackForager, Alexis Nikole Nelson”
8. Backyard Ecology
Shannon Trimboli, host of Backyard Ecology, was worried people were thinking of nature as some far-away, exotic place, so she created this podcast to help people fall in love with the nature all around them. Shannon, a wildlife biologist herself, invites guests on to her show to help listeners understand local ecosystems and teach us what we can do to support wildlife in our own backyards.
Episode to catch: “Getting the Community Involved in Creating Pollinator Habitat”
Whether it is eating plants, making them into clothing, or simply appreciating their beauty, Planthropology explores the connection people have to plants. host Dr. Vikram Baliga delves into the world of plants by talking with scientists and professionals about what makes plants great.
Episode to catch: “66. Tree Talk – Trees Aren’t Real”
10. Crime Pays but Botany Doesn’t
The last podcast on our list is one you’ll probably want to listen to with your headphones in because Joey Santore, the host of Crime Pays but Botany Doesn’t, sure knows how to fill up a swear jar. This self-taught botanist speaks with a thick Chicago accent and isn’t afraid to hold back any opinions. He practices what he calls “blue collar botany”: a rough-around-the-edges, hard-working, boots-on-the-ground brand of plant science. Don’t let Joey’s tough guy exterior put you off: the man is a botany genius—he never fails to amaze with his wealth of botanical knowledge.
Episode to catch: “Propagation as a Means of Refraining from Homicide”
I’ve compiled my recommended episodes into a podcast playlist in the Spotify app. Just click the search icon (the little magnifying glass) at the bottom of the screen, then the camera icon at the stop and scan this picture.
Hedy Wade (she/her) is the gardener at the Holden Arboretum’s, Arlene and Arthur S. Holden Jr. Butterfly Garden. She began her career in wildlife conservation on the island of Maui in Hawai’I where she worked with invasive species before moving on to native Hawaiian plants. This is where she fell in love with botany. During Covid, Hedy moved back to her hometown of Rocky River, Ohio and began to study Ohio ecosystems and started work at Holden in May 2022. In her free time, she enjoys painting watercolors and volunteering with her therapy dog, Nalu.