Everybody's a Critic

An Open Letter to the Editors of Ultra-Hip Online Magazines Everywhere

Easy container plants? Beginning gardens?  This isn’t needlepoint, people.  It’s mud and thorns and roots and worms and screeching crows and poisonous Batspendulant daturas that are pollinated by bats.  It’s the plant kingdom, for chrissake.  Something’s going on out there. (This gets back to the first point in our manifesto. Have you had a chance to review the manifesto?  Item 1:  Gardening MATTERS. It ain’t fluff.)

Don’t you go anywhere, Salon.  We’re not done yet.  You flirted with brilliance back in the dot-com days with your coverage of Garden.com, the catalog/magazine ("catazine"?  Or did we eventually settle on "magalog"?) formerly known as Garden Escape.  We loved this:

Take the company business cards: They change every season to display a timely flower or fruit. Right now, they are brightened by a bold red tulip, but soon they will switch to a yellow sunflower for summer. In fall, Garden.com employees proffer pears and in winter, workers hand out an amaryllis, a holiday flower. …

Sundie Ruppert, Garden.com’s art director, came up with the concept and defends the seasonal cards in the name of branding. "People who are gardeners get it," she says. "They want to collect all four." Passing out four — when you can get by with one — can’t be good for the balance sheet.

and this:

Garden.com calls Garden Escape "the first print magazine to be created by an electronic-commerce company." Now if you tax your memory, you might recall when publications exclusively devoted to selling a single retailer’s product were called by another name. But in the age of new business paradigms, the hip e-tailer does not traffic in anything so passé as a "catalog." Instead we have "seamless integration of commerce and content," as Garden.com CEO Cliff Sharples proudly described the periodical…

OK, so that was great.  Maybe you saw it as more of a technology/e-commerce story, but as far as we’re concerned, that’s awesome gardening coverage.  But then what happened?  Salon readers get Milkweedall the sports, food, travel, and literary writing they can handle, along with a generous helping of technology and politics. 

It’s as if this brave new world of online magazines got created without so much as a glance out the window.  Look–trees! Grass! Flowers!  Holy shit, they’re everywhere!  Not to mention the fact that, according to the Harris Poll and as ranted about previously on this site, gardening is more popular than travel, golf and other sports, cooking, dining out, and animals/pets (not to mention sex, which was not mentioned), all of which get plenty of column inches (pixels?) in the average hip publication.

So come on–what gives?

Posted by on June 19, 2006 at 8:37 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic.
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3 responses to “An Open Letter to the Editors of Ultra-Hip Online Magazines Everywhere”

  1. firefly says:

    It was really disheartening to see “Why I Hate Liberals” as the first entry in Slate’s garden article search.

    Which just serves to reveal the magazine’s content: Stale.

  2. Laurie says:

    Believe me, some people do need Slate’s three days to a garden article. I betting not many of your readers do, but we all know someone who desperately needs the advice of someone they are not related to.

    My “person of little gardening experience” ordered many plants from an out of state company (always try to buy from local growers), didn’t plan for sun exposure (how do you skip this?), had things delivered well in advance of the planting season (plan ahead!), and had no garden space ready when they came (see previous comment).

    I accidently offered to help in planning and planting the garden. Ever wish you could grab the words out of the air and stuff them back into your mouth?

    When I got there, the POLGE had started planting a few things. Ther wasn’t time to correct everything, so here are a few suggestions:

    Window boxes are not a good place for climbing roses, especially in z4.

    Dicentra aren’t fond of full sun.

    Why would anyone buy shasta daisys, and not just grab a seed head if you really want them?

    Some people only believe what people in authority (like Martha Stewart) tell them. I’m sending the Slate articles to my POLGE. Since it’s in print, on the internet, it must be true, right?

    I don’t know when they are planning on starting the new garden, but I’ll be out of town.

  3. Priscilla Gutierrez says:

    Has any of you gardners ever used messenger on your plant,s? It makes them larger and healther. I,ve bought it but havent used it yet.

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