An Alameda Garden: Garden Magazines Aren't What They Used to Be and That's the Good News

Monday, March 14, 2011

Garden Magazines Aren't What They Used to Be and That's the Good News

It used to be that American garden magazines were pretty ho-hum--lots of pretty pictures, but as for advice and inspiration they tended to be tame. To some extent, that's still the case. Fine Gardening, for instance, has solid, reliable information and would be one of the first places I'd turn to for how-to guidance. And yet, I confess I find the magazine a little dull. Sunset also offers good information (although if you ask me far too little of each issue is devoted to gardening) but it focuses on professionally landscaped gardens that I think reflect a certain sameness. I like that Better Homes & Gardens offers more real-people gardens as opposed to the pro landscapes, but again there's only enough garden info in each issue to whet the appetite and leave you begging for more.

In addition, I really grew tired of the Northeast and Southern bias of so many garden publications. Hey guys, we garden here out west too! A lot, as a matter of fact. Only Sunset seemed to be aware of that.

But in the past few months I've come across a few magazines (two recently redesigned and one new) that I really like and look forward to reading. The visuals are great, the information seems solid, and the scope and attitude of each seem to be pushing the boundaries a bit. For an interesting read, check out the following mags:
  • Organic Gardening. With the tag line "Living lightly from the ground up," OG is as much about gardening as a lifestyle as it is about actual gardening. And it doesn't assume that you have 40 acres to garden on either. One recent article about raising potatoes tested 7 ways to grow them, 4 of which were container methods. I've been subscribing to this one for a year or two and I've found every issue more than worth the cost.

  • Garden Design. With a focus on design, you know this recently revamped magazine's going to be all about the pretty pictures. But there's some great writing and fresh thinking here too. And they do seem to really like, you know, plants. My sister got me a gift subscription to GD  (thank you, Laurie!) and so far it's a hit with me.  

  • Urban Farm. I came across this new magazine (it debuted last fall) at the close-out sale of my local Borders bookstore. Seed-starting, bee-keeping, chicken coops, fruit tree grafting--Urban Farm isn't afraid to get its hands dirty and presumes its readers are willing to try just about anything. Good for them! This magazine is targeting all those urbanites who are new to vegetable gardening but want to think big even in a small garden. To which I say, Amen! I'm going to be subscribing to this one.
Are there any other good garden mags I'm missing?

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