Sunday, November 22, 2009

What makes a good garden magazine ?

The magazine industry is dropping like maple leaves on a cold autumn day.

So what can a good garden magazine do to keep its dedicated readers and attract a new following ?

Well first and foremost, ‘Content.’ New, exciting, inspiring, innovative, entertaining and educationally informative content produced aesthetically and profoundly presented.

It goes without saying that quality writing is extremely important but lets admit facts, it has everything to do with presentation.

When standing infront of a shelf of garden magazines at your favorite bookstore and you page through a half dozen magazines, it is going to be the magazine with exceptional graphic layout , eye candy photography and inspiring innovative content that piques your interest enough to reach for your wallet and step up to the cash register.

Another boring article on the unique qualities of boxwood is not going to do it, at least for the modestly experienced gardener.

I love Garden Design Magazine because of its diversity in content and excellent graphic presentation.
There is something for everyone at any stage in their gardening hobby or career.
It stays along with and at times ahead of the cutting edge end of garden design.
From Publications

Gardens Illustrated has by far the best garden writers. I look forward to their gardener biography stories that always comes complete with a beautifully rendered portrait photograph.
I am also in love with their horticultural biased crossword puzzle.
And their photography is sublime.
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

Fine Gardening Magazine is another magazine that continues to deliver nicely presented and well researched inspiring content.
Sure , there ris some ‘’how to” content but it doesn’t overwhelm the issue and they balance the ‘how to’ content to beginners to the experienced gardener.
From Publications

Alfresco gardening magazine out of New Zealand is for the cutting edge , top of their game gardeners who are excited by new plants and plant design.
The editor is fearless. She take chances and she has a wicked sense of humor.
How many editors of garden magazines would show themselves in a bikini and talk about great gardens to overly enjoy a bottle of wine in ?
Alfresco is fearless and it is fantastic.

From Publications

And it goes without saying, that to keep up with the changing climate of content delivery that a magazine MUST have an online content presence. That presence MUST be just as good as the magazine itself , and by that I mean excellent editorial, excellent graphics, exceptional writing and innovative content. It has to be as good as or in many senses BETTER than the magazine itself. This is how it is going to attract new readership.


Susan aka Miss R said...

More often than not, when browsing through magazines, I flip through the garden magazines and put them down. I rarely fork over the cash buy them. Instead I buy others--like Objekt and Clear that rarely have anything to to with gardens (both by the way have compelling websites). These have great writing, plenty of eye candy and ideas outside yet related to my design discipline.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

...well that and the way they handle their budgets...

Christine said...

Hmmm, alfresco definitely looks most interesting to me, but is also the most expensive! (it just has that look). Because I garden with natives, I tend to enjoy the design focused magazines since I don't expect anyone to devote pages and pages to Ca native plants every issue! I'll have to check these out- thanks!

Kerry said...

I've become really tired of the magazines rehashing the same old thing all the time. I no longer subscribe to any magazines, I cruise their websites and check out the issues at bookstores. It's rare that I find one that contains something compelling enough to lay out the cash to buy it.

I frequently find myself attracted to the foreign magazines that seem fresher and more interesting, and have a different spin.

Most of the blogs for the garden magazines are lackluster and have little to no activity (for a blog). They're quite boring compared to more individual garden blogs that keep their content fresher and always have an interesting perspective (such as this one).

There is so much fantastic content and inspiration on the web, a magazine needs to be fabulous on a regular basis for me to consider buying it. I'm not a pay my subscription and forget it person, if I'm going to lay out the cash - I want my moneys worth. I used to subscribe to every garden magazine imaginable, these days - none.

Phrago said...

Hey, I subscribe to a couple of magazines, but not the volume of Mags I used. I grow Orchids and one of my favorite Mags on that subject is Orchid Digest, a quarterly mag but definitly the best of the lot, IMO.
American Orchid Society has really become expensive and has nothing to offer any more, especially since they bought the "club house" in Florida. I like Garden design and will order that this year. Alfresco is almost $100.00 for 6 issues, so I would guess it is fabulous, but not on my radar (talk me into it). Horticulture sure has lost its place since The change of editors a few years back. If you're a master gardener than Yippe, that's the Mag for you. Too bad. Maybe I will consider "Fine Gardening" this year. One surprise Mag for home decor in the past couple of years: "Elle Decor". Just blows away other mags Like "Met Home"...
I love the accessability of Blogs, since I'm on line most of the day. Michelle, yours is one of my favorites... Patrick

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

I just spied Objekt at the bookstore. Next time that I am there I am going to spend some time with it , I'll also be on the lookout for Clear.

Yes agreed. It goes without saying.

I have a tiny job where the client wants to use all natives. So not my style but I'm gonna try to make it work. Get this, the cliff side slope that she want to landscape is almost 90 degrees vertical and full of rock. I was thinking lithophytes , bromeliads and tillandsias but she wants natives.
Maybe some native Dudlyas will work ?

Kerry, I hear ya !
Last year I had to travel to Spain for family reasons.
While there I was smitten with my cousins European collection of magazines.
Couldn't read a word in most of them but the images were fresh, inspirational and oh so new .
Particularly loved the Italian mags and the few from Greece were really interesting.

The only subscription that I take these days is from Garden Design and Sunset.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Hi Patrick,
Yes, the international price for Alfresco is steep.
I started purchasing their old issues for a reasonable price. Don't know if they still offer that.
I haven't bought an issue in about a year though.
Had to really cut back expenses.

By the way, I have a box of succulent cuttings for you that I hope to get off in the mail in the next day or so.


danger garden said...

I was excited to go investigate Alfresco, until I saw the subscription price on Phrago's comment. Yikes!

Garden Design is a must, and Sunset too. I love garden blogs but wouldn't want to go without my magazines too. I'm old school that way. BTW Met Home is closing up shop....

Phrago said...

Hey, I can't wait for the box! I will be asking some advice oon a few of them I think. And I have a box ready for you too, you're in for a surprise, hehehe.
By the way, did you have the tour with the mag yet? Please let me know how it went... Patrick

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Hi Patrick.
Nope the photo and story scout happens on Dec. 2nd.
I'll let you know how it went.


Bay Area Tendrils said...

Thanks for letting me know about Alfresco. I'll have to check it out.
Sorry to hear you won't be doing a garden for the SFGS. We still haven't met, and this would have been a sure-fire way to run into you. That said, I have a hard time getting excited about this show, and especially regret the San Mateo location.
I moved here after the days at Fort Mason, yet I continue to hear glowing reminiscences about that show from my horti friends.
Happy turkey day, Michelle!

ryan said...

Haven't seen Alfresco. I don't think we get any gardening magazines these days. We usually take a magazine for a year or two, then we get bored and let the subscription run out.
Currently, we get the ASLA magazine. Surprisingly good at times. I think their blog, the dirt, is much better than any of the other magazine attempts at a blog.

Unknown said...

Online presence, however, cannot take the place of quality published material.

Some of us are old school, man...

That said, it looks like I will be coming back to Garden Design - a mag I deserted when the spent more than three issues focusing on design more than garden - pots are nice, yes, but if it can't GO in the garden, because it's TOO precious, it doesn't belong in a Garden mag. [Yep, I'm opinionated]

And I'll let my subscription run out on the sad mag with the long history that now focuses on adverts and plugs for the web content over actual content [and layout, oy, the demise of the layout] I'm paid up until 2012. We'll see if they last that long.