Everybody's a Critic

What if there was a Wired magazine for gardeners?

First, it wouldn’t have to be very seasonal or regional.  It could be global in scope because it would not be focused on what you are going to do in your garden this weekend.  So it would hardly be necessary to put tomatoes on the cover in July (an interesting tidbit a garden magazine editor shared with me once: putting tomatoes on the cover in summer is like putting a girl in a bikini on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  Sells like mad on the newsstand) or "plants with interesting twigs and branches" on the cover in winter. 

Second, it would be mostly about people.  You wouldn’t even put a plant on the cover necessarily–you could put a person on the cover.  You could profile a plant explorer in Africa.  A designer at the Chelsea Flower Show.  A rose breeder.  A soil scientist. A cactus farmer.

Third, it would cover plants–of course it would–but as news.  As stories. The discovery of a rare plant in China.  The impact of pollen-producing male trees on the American urban landscape.  The strange history of Abrus precatorius, which was once believed to be able to forecast the weather.  The British allotment garden trend.  Guerilla gardening.  (But you’ll miss learning about the 20 different varieties of hellebore you could plant in your garden this year?  That’s OK!  Lots of other magazines will still publish those stories!)

Fourth, it would cover the gardening industry.  Look again at that Wired cover.  That’s Rupert Murdoch on the cover.  He just bought MySpace.  That’s news.  Burpee bought Heronswood and shut it down.  That’s news.  Most garden magazines behave as if the industry does not exist:  "Ignore the man behind the curtain!"

Fifth, it would do actual reporting.  Wired sent a reporter into the Colombian jungle to write about Roundup-resistant coca plants.  Why isn’t there a single magazine about the plant kingdom covering stories like that?

Would it still be fun?  Of course. Wired is great fun to read–if you don’t believe me, go get a copy. (or better yet, subscribe-amazingly, Wired is only $10/yr.)  So yes, it would be fun and hip and lively and full of interesting little newsy bits, fun profiles, reports from the garden blogosphere (yeah, baby!) and even some product & plant trials, book reviews, events, travel, and so on.  But it would not talk down to its readers, and it would vigorously resist sliding into "ladies’ magazine" territory.  (No floral throw pillows on the products page!) 

Ah.  It felt good to get that off my chest.  So–who’s got a million bucks to start a magazine?

Posted by on July 6, 2006 at 10:48 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic.
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13 responses to “What if there was a Wired magazine for gardeners?”

  1. Genie says:

    I don’t have the start-up funds, but if you get ’em, let me know so I can submit a resume and clips. That sounds like a really fun reporting gig!

    Genie
    http://www.theinadvertentgardener.com

  2. Claire Splan says:

    I’d definitely subscribe to such a mag and I’d love to write for it. Maybe we could do some plant sales to raise the startup funds. 😉

  3. Talbin says:

    Maybe you could get the folks at Dwell to work with the people at Wired to come up with the perfect combination. Dwell can supply the aesthetic sensibility, and Wired can supply the global reporting know-how.

    I’ve also been thinking about garden magazines, and just recently posted on a magazine that’s no longer with us – Kitchen Gardener. It was full of stories of real people in their real gardens, and it was great. http://timberglade.typepad.com/outside/2006/07/i_really_miss_t.html

  4. Stuart says:

    Preach it Amy. This would be awesome. Instead of WIRED maybe it could be called STAKED.

    I would love to see a magazine with content like this – in fact, I’d love to see a blog with content like this!

  5. firefly says:

    I am so there! I work in academic publishing on editorial staff. I’d volunteer time to get something like that started — and if it started up online and then went into print, wouldn’t that be a great shakeup for the publishing industry too?

  6. Amy Stewart says:

    STAKED! That is so BRILLIANT! You people are amazing. I, however, am married to a magazine editor/owner and there is only room for one shoestring startup in our relationship! We need somebody with some bucks, baby.

  7. Xris says:

    Another possible title: GROUNDED

  8. STAKED is brilliant, Stuart. And this sounds exactly what you were talking about in your post “My frustration with gardening blogs” (http://www.gardening4dummies.com/2006/06/my_frustration_with_gardening_blogs.html) which set off such a controversy among garden bloggers last week. Yep. This is exactly the kind of garden writing I most enjoy reading.

  9. Trey says:

    Can we have a section that devotes itself to telling the story of the people who are creating a whole new garden center experience? I know they are out there. People who have an eternal optimism that next year will be better, that just by surviving they are winning, that next year will be the one that pays all the bills that have been racked up, that growing and selling plants is an honorable trade. Men and women who work six and seven days a week but still find the energy to smile on a Saturday Morning in spring and toast themselves at the end of the day for a job well done.

    I can admire, but don’t really want to hear about the second or third generation garden center owners plans to expand their holdings or their new “magazine”. The fun is on the edges, and I hope that “Staked”, or what ever it’s called will tell that story.

  10. Michael says:

    Perhaps Garden Rant should be doing these kinds of stories? I’m still hoping to read a post here that tells us WHY gardening MATTERS.

  11. Josh says:

    I love it. I like to read Wired but a gardening mag like that would do well. Why not start it here? You don’t need to travel at first–you’ve got the internet! You’ve got local folks all over, and some UK folks too.

    Why not?

    Josh

  12. Heather says:

    Yep, I’d pay for a magazine OR web site that offered that kind of content.

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