OT:Garden Magazines--Quality Thereof
Bill Shear said:
<< I certainly agree with Anner. I dropped Horticulture long ago because of
the irrelevancy of most of the articles. The most recent Flower and Garden
was atrociously edited and laid out, and even Fine Gardening seems to be, as
Anner says, "dumbing down." I find it harder and harder to sell the kinds of
articles I write to American magazines, perhaps for this reason (it may also
be that the articles are poor, too).>>
I've decided to continue this off-topic thread on magazines since meaty on-
topic threads seem a bit scarce at the moment. Perhaps it is a seasonal hiatus
for so many of us who are pretty fatigued about now after digging and
planting. And I think most of us have some interest in this subject.
I subscribe to Horticulture and it has been slipping. I have notebooks of
articles torn out of issues of the mag for the last twenty years and the
differences are amazing. Everything seems to have been shortened up and dumbed
down and padded with trite photos of bright things. And while I'm sure the
information is enormously useful to someone, I'm about to scream about all the
articles on garden machines. Having said that, I might add that they are real
good about keeping one up on fashions in the world of new and modern plants,
which is worth something, and this month's issue is a little better and had
some interesting things which I enjoyed.
I think that Fine Gardening is a shadow of its former self and has been for
some time. I have always considered it too pricey--all of the mags from
Taunton are--and I always thought some of the major articles were too short
and general to be really interesting or useful, but from time to time there
was some really good stuff there, usually in a small out of the way article,
or letter to the Editor. I tended to buy it about three times a year. I'm not
buying it very often at all now. There have been some awful looking projects
showcased and the thing keeps shrinking. I became significantly dissatisfied
about the time that they started that members-helping-members-with their-
totally-inane-questions at the back bit. I don't know much, but I certainly
don't have to spend that kind of coin to watch the magazine's readers do the
magazine's job-- and none too well, either.
The American Gardener is the publication of the American Horticulture Society
and I buy it several times a year. I am no longer a member but this is less to
do with the magazine than it does with my inability to avail myself of all the
other member benefits. So now I often buy the mag off the stand and while it
is a thin one I rarely find an article which is not interesting and most of
them are important. Lots of environmental stuff and exotics and landscape
architecture and city planning issues.
Garden Design is a real good mag in some resects. All that lush plant
photography which sends folks reeling and some good reading stuff, often in
the smaller bits. I check it out and get it from time to time and understand
it is very popular. I may subscribe, but usually it is not the flashy stuff at
the front that gets me, it is the literature reproduced at the back. Stuff on
John Bartram or Lafcadio Hearn, two of my heroes, or Thomas Church and so
forth. I like the fact that this mag deals with history and literature broader
issues, but is still a mite flashy and giddy and I find I don't go back to
older issues often.
Lots of folks talk about a quarterly called The American Cottage Gardener and
from what I've seen it is a quality publication of its literary type, but at
about forty dollars a year it is more pricey than I am willing to cough up on
this cozy subject.
Gardens IIlustrated is just went to 10 or 12 ssues a year from 6 and it is now
about sixty dollars annually to have it shipped directly to one. I renewed,
but am watching to see if they keep the quality up with the numerous issues.
This mag is not as well distributed throughout the country as some other
British ones, but it is available on the newstands here in Virginia at Barnes
and Noble and Borders and Books-a-Million as well as some book shops. I would
advise anyone who thinks they might be interested to find and read a few
issues before subscribing at that new price. Also, they always run
subscription specials in the mag itself which one would want to take advantage
of. It is primarily British, but also treats European and American and
Australian things. I like it a lot and it puts me in a very thoughtful and
The English Garden is not bad as these things go and it is a lot more
accessible. By this I mean it will probably appeal to more folks and I hear it
is distributed more widely. It is just less substantial in many ways to my
And we should not forget the Royal Horticultural Society magazine, The Garden,
which is about as good as it gets in some respects, but not as compelling as
the glossies from the standpoint of visual fodder, and does tell one rather
more than many of us need to know about Society doings.
Those are the mags I pay most attention to.
Anner Whitehead, Richmond, VA
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