All this talk lately of gardening magazines, especially the sudden demise of House and Garden, caused me to take a
cold, hard look at the next one that fell through my mail slot – Horticulture – and ask myself the all-important question: Would I recommend it? Based on the contents of the December/January issue I most definitely would, and here’s why:
- A meaty, 8-page "For the Mid-Atlantic Gardener" section and presumably for other regions.
- Photos of the drop-dead gorgeous English garden of a professional garden photographer. It’s not the usual gorgeosity we expect to see, though. It’s all gravel and meadow-style plantings of Mediterranean plants and grasses. Very distinctive.
- A profile of ‘Gold Cone’ juniper, which grows to 4-6′ tall and 1-2′ wide after 10 years, just the size plant someone in my town SHOULD have put on either side of their front door
instead of the Canadian hemlocks they used. (Ultimate width: 25-35 feet.) Junipers, as common as they might be, are an underexplored genus.
- Most of all, for the feature "A Gardening Life." This one profiled a most interesting man, one J-P Malocsay, who didn’t "get serious about money" until he turned 50. "I’m a working gardener, too dirty and tired at the end of the day to claim anything beyond a comfortable way with the basics." He laments that his clients rarely buy his notion that "a garden worth living with is nature-friendly to the max. Not just the sweet-tweet stuff, the birds and butterflies, but the full range of creepy-crawlies that sustain and animate real organic habitat."
And here’s my favorite part: Every client receives their own copy of a journal he writes to document the garden and make his arguments for environmentally sensitive gardening. "I’ve never been fired but have often wondered why." His current project, transforming the grounds of the hospital near his Pennsylvania home, reflects his mission in horticulture: "To replace the routine horrors of the landscaping goons with public-space gardens that offer genuine down-home appeal." Well said!
- A good feature about rock gardens, including mouth-watering photos, beginning with this quote: "All gardeners become rock gardeners if they garden long enough. Gardening is an art and rock gardening is the purest, most personal of all forms of horticulture." Now THAT turns me on.
- A good profile of agaves, with wonderful photos.
- C. Colston Burrell on "The Invasive Problem," in which he writes, "Exotic-plant bashing has become the pastime of zealots who would like to ban all nonnative plants. This is neither necessary nor desirable." And "Not every invasive species acts the same in all regions of the country, or in all ecosystems within a region." He says it’s hard to predict which nonnative plants will become invasive but that plants bearing fleshy fruits "head the suspect list" and recommends we commit to excluding them from our gardens. Now this seems reasonable, but wouldn’t it mean giving up Nandina, one of the most drought-tolerant evergreen shrubs of all time, even though birds don’t actually eat its berries? Here’s where I wish Burrell had said all this in a blog so we could have a conversation about this hot topic.
To pick a nit (and who can resist?) I wish they’d ditch the
childish, unappealing illustrations and give us photographs in their place. For example, when the author of "Conspiracy Theory" describes "marveling"
at his garden, with its "wonderfully satisfying slope of happy plant
associations," I want to SEE it.
THE WEBSITE and BLOGS
I was hoping to link to these stories on their website but oops – it isn’t current. But I did find something there I can praise – three blogs. They each have About pages that give us all sorts of information I love knowing about a blogger – where they garden, what kinds of garden they have, favorite gardening reference, and on and on.
WANT A LAUGH?
When I Googled for an image of a Horticulture cover, I found this link to the website of a landscape service. The owner either didn’t have a photo for his bio or just thought what the heck – use Brad Pitt instead!