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?