Are the big gardening magazines worth the money?

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Hi all,
I'm just curious as to how many folks see value in subscribing to gardening magazines. I have subscribed to two of the biggies for a little over a year now. There are some beautiful pictures, however often the plants in large vignettes are not identified. One magazine always highlights some rich couple's gardens, the ones done by professional landscapers, and the ones that you really need to have some $$$ to afford. Well, it is nice to see these photos, but I'd like to see some pictures of gardeners more like me. A few more practical gardens. The other magazine has too many articles and ads for garden furniture. For either, when a plant is identified, I find it is not something carried in the local nurseries where I live.
Do you all think they are worth it? Anyone else get annoyed that the featured gardens always show some wealthy couple lounging around in pricey furniture, next to their outdoor shower, which is being fed by their faux waterfall, etc...
Heidi
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On Thu, 28 Aug 2003 19:31:24 GMT, "Cereoid-UR12-"

Any you would care to recommend? I do enjoy "Pacific Horticulture."
--

- Charles
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-does not play well with others
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We don't get that one in the eastern US, for obvious reasons.
Both Horticulture and American Horticulturist have gone downhill in recent years. What a shame that is. As was said previously, most of the other ones you see over-the-counter have little to do with plants and are just excuses for off-topic advertisements.
wrote:

stores,
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My mother likes to read "garden gate" which is a pretty good gardening magazine that has lots of ideas and tips for gardeners. Horticulture is one that I have tried a few times but they seem to focus too much on herbaceous plants and I am more of a nursery person. For professionals or gardeners who have lots of experience, I would reccommend american nurseryman, though it is available my subscription only. It is put out twice a month and has lots of info about what is going on in the industry and has good articles about new introductions and things. It is packed with techinical terms however, so some may not find it easy to read.
Toad
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Dunno what mags you guy's have over there.. Here in the UK we can get the reasonably good BBC gardening mag..
The RHS does a more Horticultural biased mag as part of their subscription (I think it may be included in the International verison check the website)
I've also found Organic Gardening (both the original US version and the UK equivalent (different publisher same title) well worth the cash..)
For specific plants though, I do tend to use smaller specialist nurseries where I know I am more likley to get specific advice.. Plants tend to have their own specialist publications to go with them..
If you're really into bamboos, theres mag on them! Likewise if you're into Passiflora etc etc.. Someone soemwhere will be keen and these are the places to seek out ideas and information.. A lot of the garden centres in the UK are just 'design shops' and match many of the glossy mags. Rather than being into any serious plantsmanship or gardening that is.. Whatever floats your boat!
// Jim
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Where my parents live, there is a monthly "community" gardening magazine called Hampton Roads Gardening and Home, an excellent little magazine for the average gardener. It is a small magazine using newsprint, but with lots of color photographs. More importantly, the content is relevant to the region and zone. And best of all, it is free! It even has its own website (http://www.dailypress.com/features/home/garden ) You should try to look for a similar magazine in your region.

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<snip>
Looks like 'Organic Gardening' is going into the dumper again -- getting slimmer and slimmer ever issue -- but it always has some useful, real-world info. 'Mother Earth' is a lot more homestead-y, but again, has interesting gardening pieces. You might check
http://garden-gate.prairienet.org/garden_magazines.htm
for a list of gardening magazines. If you live in the west, 'Sunset' mag has regionally-tailored issues that always include a garden/plant articles. 'Southern Living' is much the same sort of thing (except the recipes make no low-cal concessions) with garden info for the southern US. There's probably something similar in other areas of the country.
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try mailorder

Not many mags are worth the price today,( Why I remember when a mag cost............).But I do enjoy many of them . With a tall glass of iced tea or a cold Sierra Nevada Summerfest, and a comfy seat on the patio, it's fun to look and dream. And nice to see many kinds of plants, even though I don't have room any more for most, or they wouldn't like this climate. I enjoy seeing what other peope in other parts of the country are planting in their gardens. New trends in plants, etc.
Anyone else get annoyed that the

Now Heidi, we must be tolerant, the poor dears can't help it if they're wealthy! No, I like to see those, too. I usually can find some little thing they have done, that's kind of quirky or fun, that I can adapt in my own little frugal way.
I too like Pacific Horticuture for a more professional, botanical view. But it's only quarterly, wish it were published more often.
Birds and Blooms always has more "grass roots" type gardens, done by the owners. The plant ID is not always the best, relying on common names a lot, and some of the gardens are not quite my style. But it's nice to see what people can do own their own.
Emilie NorCal

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Overall I'd have to say ... nope! Every so often I'll see a mag on the newstand that has an article in it of interest -- I'll usually just take it over to the bookstore's seating area to give it a quick read, if not stand there and read it. I've subscribed to several over the years but they just seem to have more and more advertisements -- NOT what I am buying the magazine to see. My favorite used to be Horticulture and it's still not bad but it seems to have gotten a bit light in actual reading material. About the only thing I subscribe to these days is This Old House magazine and even that one is getting heavier with advertisements while having less articles. :-(
FWIW, if you want to get a wide variety of plants in your landscape you're going to have to break out of the nursery and hit the mailorder catalogs. In some cases you can ask the nursery to order certain plants for you, but they simply cannot carry the wide range of diversity that mail order companies carry. The reason is fairly straightforward -- nurseries have a particular clientele to service and as a storefront they have to stock what commonly sells; when they do pick up something outside their normal stock it doesn't really last long or it never sells. Mail order companies have a wider range of tastes among their clientele -- with a larger market, they can sell a wider variety.

is a different media -- namely TV. The landscaping shows on HGTV only do projects on obviously well-to-do homes and they're all in the LA vicinity. The vast majority of the plants they utilize in their shows only grow in climates where winter is when the mercury hits 65 degrees farenheit -- not very practical for 3/4ths of the continent (or even 2/3rds of the US). I wrote the production company and they made it clear they're not interested in the rest of us at this time. It would be nice to see a show that focuses on colder climates (i.e., Z-7 and lower) and people with less than a $20,000+ budget. Some of the shows aren't bad, but when I hear "...and all on a budget of no more than $80,000" I have to cringe. :)
James
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.

this
Thank God! Most of the "gardening" shows on HGTV send in a crew that slaps together a very crude garden that has little appeal to me and one that I can't image lasting more than a couple of weeks. The "Landscaper's Challenge" show is interesting, but I agree that they only do projects in southern California and the budgets are enormous - not a situations that most of us can relate to or learn from.
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I miss the gardener's journal on HGTV. It was from HGTV Canada which meant that at least some of the time they were showing stuff that would grow here in Minnesota. Also the bulk of the show was showing real people's actual gardens not public gardens with huge staffs. Not every garden was something I wanted but each had something to learn from. Also the hostess of the show, Kathy something, would go through the garden with the owner/gardener and they would relate some of the process, including failures and things they learned over the years. That kind of info is invaluable and the only time you get it is when you are at someone's house.
mm

do
vicinity.
not
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interested
slaps
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wrote:

I suppose like many media enterprises, both gardening magazines and TV shows are directed toward select audiences. Some of the fancy-shmancy displays may be just the 'blueprint' one person needs to hire a landscaping firm and say "I want it to look like this." For others, it might be inspiration to try something on a smaller scale -- maybe just an introduction to a new tree, bush, or flower. My (rich) sister-in-law said she'd planted 300 spring bulbs one day last fall. Well, not exactly. She'd hired a garden center to plant 300 spring bulbs. She's probably not interested in the details of how deep to plant, and when/how to fertilize. She just wanted some spring flowers around the place -- perhaps the way she'd seen in a magazine or on a TV show.
In my mind, there's also a distinction between landscaping and gardening. 'Landscaping' is an architectural enterprise that assumes successful growing; 'gardening' is much more down-in-the-dirt.
It's always (well, usually) at least entertaining to see a tatty bare lawn and 2 bushes transformed into an attractive vision of flowers, shrubs, paths, and arbors, whether or not one can afford such a transformation. I enjoy looking at (not buying!) 'decorating' magazines which feature $5,000 chairs and $100/yd drapery fabric, as well as DIY instructions on making a kitchen light fixture out of a collander and $4 of electrical parts. I'm never going to have a $5,000 chair, but it's interesting to know what one looks like. :-)
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Frogleg wrote:

This has been a pretty darn interesting thread - I am surprised to see how many folks are not knocked over by ether the "big" gardening mags nor the TV gardening shows.
I am a professional in this business - I make my living doing landscape design and horticultural consultations and I have to say that I like 'em both. I do subscribe to Fine Gardening, Horticulture and Sunset and pick up Garden Design and The English Garden from time to time and some of the BHG special interest publications. Yes, there are lots of ads, but that is a fact of life for any periodical to stay in business. There are also wonderful articles that increase my knowledge about specific plant groups ( Dan Hinkley of Heronswood has a very good article on the 'other' Asian maples in the most recent issue of Horticulture), short articles on plants newly introduced in to trade and always photos of great plant combinations and design solutions which I file away in my memory banks for future possible use. And it is always good to see articles written by or featuring other designers whom I know personally or by reputation. One recent BHG article featured an entry courtyard and water feature designed and built by the owners of a local design-build company that I have worked with several times in the past - it was for their own residence and the design and application of the water feature was stunning. Someday, I hope my work will appear in one of these mags. :-))
As to the gardening shows........I tend to be a bit more opinionated about them. But I do watch as many as I can. "Gardening by the Yard" offers excellent, accurate and appropriate gardening information for both the new gardener and the more experienced. 'Landscape Solutions' and another whose name escapes me at the moment present smaller, do-it-yourself projects that anyone, regardless of their budget, can replicate. 'Groundbreakers' and 'Landscapers' Challenge' do feature major installations with significant budgets, but they also offer an opportunity to see how various landscaping obstacles are handled by various professional designers - some more successfully than others. All these shows offer some opportunity to increase one's knowledge base - it just depends on what you find significant in each.
For professional designs and installations, none of the budgets are out of line. In fact, I think they are pretty reasonable given the amount of work that is done. If nothing else, they serve to open some folks eyes as to the cost of a professionally designed and installed landscape and the time and effort involved. Not exactly everyone's cup of tea, specially with this type of newsgroup with a high population of do it yourself gardeners, but valuable nonetheless. Not everyone has the time, ability or inclination to do it all themselves.
The one thing I find uniformly missing in the majority of these programs is a focus on plant material. Hardscaping seems to take a front seat - perhaps because it is the most visually obvious change in a landscape renovation, as well as taking up the majority of the cost. But it is unfortunate that a better discussion of the plant selection is not presented - why specific plants were chosen and what they based their criteria on and what may be a more suitable alternative for other parts of the country with different climate concerns. And also a problem is the lack of clear identification of the plants used - often they are misidentified or mislabled on screen, not to mention mispronounced. If I hear the same guy bungling "liriope' again, I swear I'll scream!
I think one has to look at TV gardening shows as just another form of entertainment - that one may actually learn something useful from them is accidental at best but always a possibility. And if you already have cable, they are free. OTOH, I find the gardening mags to be consistantly informative and helpful and I consider them to be just another tool used to increase my knowledge, in the same manner as investing in yet another gardening book or attending another class or gardening seminar. You are never going to gain all the knowledge you need from any of them, but any increase in knowledge is a good thing.
BTW Vic, Gardener's Diary is still offered on HGTV on Saturday afternoons. Just saw a drop-dead gorgeous lacecap hydrangea featured on that show a couple of weeks ago - a Japanese cultivar called 'Jogasaki' with double sterile flowers. I am off to Heronswood in another week to pick one up :-))
pam, gardengal
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I think those shows should come back a year later, and then see what the place looks like. That way the plants would fill in a little more, and there would be less emphasis on putting in plants that are already blooming.
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On Sat, 06 Sep 2003 01:38:32 GMT, Paul Below

Oh, absolutely! I wish 'Ground Force' (or other TV transformation shows) would do a '1 yr later' special. The stuff that died; the stuff that thrived. Was a non-gardener inspired to spend some time keeping up the new look, or did he/she/they just watch it get completely out of hand? My pessimistic bet is that most will have deteriorated at least somewhat. But what a treat it'd be to see some further improvements! I wonder and wonder...
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Heh -- more like see what plants actually survived. :P
James
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slaps
:-) Exactly! I've been so frustrated with that show. <Sigh> I was disappointed in the production company's response about using plants and techniques with a wider appeal but what can one expect -- it IS the left coast after all. <Grin>
I like Gardening by the Yard -- Paul James hits all climates and he's out in Oklahoma (Zone 6 or 7, I think 7) so it's much more realistic plus he actually does remotes and his garden/landscape is obviously successful. :) I can't stand the DIY channel's gardening show -- their host is too annoying. Landscape Solutions is ok, although I don't care for the host, but they suffer the same issues as Landscaper's Challenge -- little cross applicability. Fix It Up has the occasional garden/landscape related show but they're more home improvement in general as one would expect.
For the main part, when I watch the Landscape X shows it's just to pick up a tip or two on fixing a sore spot.
James
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JNJ wrote:

There's a new(ish) show called Bugs and Blooms which originates in Canada. I haven't spent much time with it, but it's a magazine-type show instead of a project show.
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Hadn't heard about that 'un -- I'll have to search it up. Thanks for the tip.
James.
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For what it's worth, and to me it's worth something, I have subscribed to some pretty decent and big gardening magazines now for well over 20 years. I started out years ago with Mother Earth Magazine, then to Rodales Organic Gardening until Mike McGrath left as editor. Somewhere I outgrew my need for Organic Gardening, but what I learned from them was worth it and has surfaced in my knowledge since then despite that I haven't felt the need to subscribe in awhile. It used to be a good publication for learning and checking out information and new plants.
Once my level of gardening and knowledge increased, I ventured out and tried Horticulture Magazine. I still subscribe to it. There has never been an issue that hasn't taught me something, made me smile, showed me a plant I'd love to have, (they give sources for those plants if it's at all possible and I think were the first gardening magazine to do that). It doesn't matter that I don't have a natural grassland in Marin County, California, I enjoy reading and learning how other gardeners accomplish and solve their various problems and dreams. I stumbled onto Garden Designs when it first came out because for awhile I was quite insatiable when it came to ANY gardening magazine and I read and sampled just about every one. I still subscribe to it as well because despite that there are things in it that don't appeal to me personally, it is a very well thought out magazine. I love the little snippets at the bottoms or sides of the pages in the front and back that pertain to the article or subject on that page.
These magazines don't go out for the rich and well off. They are there to inform us, to show us ideas and yes, they advertise products that some of us can't afford, but that's life in general honey. I don't fault them for that. It's like a given that if I want to watch regular television I have to put up with the commercials for things I don't buy or want. The commercials pay for that programming I'm watching. Well the ads and products that run those nice ads pay for the bulk of the magazine that allows me to buy it and read it each publication.
I also subscribe to Fine Gardening. I have every issue. And that last part is thanks to another gardener when I first came onto this newsgroup putting his collection up for sale and we struck a deal across the country. (I sent him advance money for half of the issues which surprised him and he sent me the second half before I sent the next payment, as I was in short financial straits at the time but really wanted those back issues. My honesty paid off and my best friend got the duplicates). I still subscribe to Fine Gardening and it's never let me down for articles and information either.
I also subscribe to another absolute favorite that I stumbled upon after moving over here to Eastern Tennessee but which is available to anyone. I happened to hear one Tuesday morning the voice of a nice gentleman on the NPR station I had discovered over in North Carolina reading a short piece out of his quarterly magazine. It was a riot. And I could relate to it completely. At the end of the 12 minutes he closed with what later turned out to be the normal closing every Tuesday for another year and a half, that if anyone wanted a copy of the article he had read, to send a SASE to him care of the radio station or him at his P.O. box and he'd send it out ASAP. It was Pat Stone, former writer and editor of an older Mother Earth Magazine who had decided when ME had temporairly ceased publication in the early 90's to start up his own magazine. But not your normal publication. He wanted something different. His baby? Green Prints/The Weeders Digest.
His was not HOW to garden or gardening, it was ABOUT gardening and such. Like this newsgroup is. And he didn't publish but four times a year, or seasonal which was fine with me except once I subscribed to his quarterly publication (I also got my first article published with him and it was incredibly moral lifting. Enough to inspire me to keep attempts at writing to this day regardless of wheather or not he prints it <g>) I really wished he published more because the writings were excellent. I wanted more.
In between all of those tried and true magazines and such I have tasted various successes and failures. There was a brief shining star of a gardening magazine called Beautiful Gardens that was awesome, but it was ahead of it's time. There were no ads and I suspect that is why it died it's rather quick and untimely death.
Bottom line, to ME I will say that the big gardening magazines are worth the money. I adore that Fine Gardening features tight shots of someone's garden combinations. Something that became obvious to me one day as I was looking at the back of one. I realized in my own way I was trying to achieve the textural and visuality the featured picture was sharing. I was thrilled. It might seem simple, and obvious but that's how I felt.
Don't let the majority rule you on this one. I personally think that good garden magazines don't appeal to the "rich and yuppie" as much as they appeal to gardeners who like a good read, a good laugh or idea. Oh and just to let you know, I not only subscribe to those I mentioned above, but I also KEEP all the issues on my shelves for later accessing for a plant, an article, information for how to (one nice thing that Horticulture did was starting in 1987 they began the illustrated Step by Step which was incredibly informative to me) not to mention that Roger Swain contributes still to Horticulture magazine despite that he's no longer hosting Victory Garden on PBS. (I STILL miss him!!)
I hope this helps despite that the majority still thinks they're a waste of money. I always make a concerted effort to keep my subscriptions up on my select magazines. It's nice to get something in the ol' mailbox, not to mention concerning so much about what I love to do, garden and stories about gardening. Might I suggest you take stock again and check out Fine Gardening, give Garden Design a lookie see, and get a year's subscription to Green Prints? Pat's compilations of garden stories is incredible and worthy of the investment. (I have all of those too, and getting the first issue was difficult, I had to beg adn plead his wife to make me a Xerox copy of it since it was out of print and I sent her $10 for her trouble. She complied and put the lion's share of that ten spot onto another few issues.
Of course, this is just MY opinion........<GBSEG> madgardener up on the ridge, back in fairy holler, overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee zone7, Sunset zone 36
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