They dare not speak our name?



Here’s some more ill-natured griping during this festive holiday season. But surely you will not blame me for objecting to Garden Gate’s use of 3—3!—big pictures of Buffalo gardens in their January/February issue without any attribution. One is on the cover. It is a garden located at 72 Lancaster that some of you (attendees of Garden Walk) may have seen. There is also a detail shot of the same garden illustrating a feature on Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum superbum) “Becky” on the inside back cover. There is also an image of a Granger Place patio on page 30, illustrating a piece on “Inviting Spaces.”


Many of you have also hosted members of the media in your gardens or neighborhoods, so you know—as exciting and welcome as it is—it can also be a bit of a pain. In Buffalo this summer, we had a bunch of magazines—including Garden Gate, People, Places and Plants; Organic Gardening (represented by Amy); Upstate Gardener’s Journal, Canadian Gardening, and several Better Homes and Gardens specialty publications—visit us, largely as a result of Garden Walk and the Garden Walk book. Gardeners were told that photographers could be coming at any time over one weekend, starting at 6 a.m. Plants and furniture were moved around for them, and we had to be careful not to impede their progress in any way (we were asked not to speak to the Better Homes people, as I recall). Then, after all that, just a few gardens were actually targeted for use in any of the articles. Which is fine. That’s the way it works. But if a garden is used, I do think they should say whose it is and where it is. It’s refreshing to see a lush, summer scene in Buffalo featured in a garden mag at this time of year.

Unfortunately, no one will know. Let’s hope the BHG pubs do better. And thanks to all the mags who DID properly ID us!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood something. The Better Homes people come traipsing through your gardens for the purpose of photographing the homeowner’s hard work, for use in their publications without attribution, and you’re forbidden from speaking to them? What are they, rock stars? British Royalty? How appallingly rude! Screw them and the horse they rode in on. I’d be charging them admission at the gate. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t break the vow of silence- I’d have a sign, and my hand thrust forward, palm up, waiting to be greased.

    On a gentler note, yes, it is refreshing to see lush gardens in Buffalo, especially since most of the country can’t mentally get beyond Buffalo’s annual average snowfall. Nice to have the rest of the nation be reminded that there is more than one season in Buffalo.

  2. In my book lack of attribution is simply bad journalism whether you’re a garden mag, a bridal mag, a hunting mag or whatever. People like to know what they’re looking at.

    And yes, Ellen, that’s the thing that bugged me. I don’t mind staying out of their way or putting up with anything if good PR for Buffalo gardens comes out of it.

  3. And it’s not just about the PR. It would have been a much more interesting story if it had been “Small Space Solutions from Buffalo’s Urban Gardeners” or some such thing. Still how-to, but with some personality and a sense of place.


  4. Sense of place, exactly. I would think that it would hearten many of their readers to know that such lushness is possible in Buffalo–many times before I really got into gardening, I would see such pictures and think, “Sure, but where is that? The Pacific Northwest?”

  5. Hi Elizabeth. I’m really surprised to hear about the way your neighborhood gardeners were treated by BHG. I have worked with them on a few occasions and the homeowner has been a very important part of the team each time. By the way, I got a subscription to Spree for Christmas and am loving it!

  6. What they should do, when they come to publish the pix or when the pix are taken, is simply ask the garden owners whether or not they want attribution – and go by that.

    In my experience, many garden owners ask for proper attribution while some are happy for their gardens to be photographed and the pictures used in a magazine but ask for no attribution, especially if the garden is not normally open to visitors. They just don’t want to look out of the window and find people wandering uninvited across their lawn – which certainly happens sometimes.

    The problem is that whatever the owners tells the photographer can get lost along the way through the editing process, especially now that editorial staffs are shrinking.

  7. Graham, in this case, we all publish the addresses of our gardens months in advance in the Garden Walk map, printed and online. Also, we worked with the Visitor’s Bureau on bringing in media. Believe me, we are all huge show-offs and would have every intention of having our names and at least streets used. This had to have been a GG thing, where they just wanted to use the gardens as pictorial fodder. Indeed, for all I know, they may have included that proviso in the releases.

  8. “The problem is that whatever the owners tells the photographer can get lost along the way through the editing process” –
    Yup, that’s why I have a standard release contract form now.

    My problem seems to lie with stock photographers who have shot projects of mine and keep the images on file.
    When a magazine calls the stock photographer asking if they have an image that will fit a particular story they are running the stock photographer sends out the image(s) gets paid for those images and is also suppose to send out my release form that states under any circumstance they are to credit my firms name with the image and not list the clients name ( most of my clients prefer not to have their names in print for some reason ).

    When I run across an image of one of my projects in a magazine or book which was not credited I simply call the editor and raise hell, which usually leads to some sort of compensation package.
    I also ask who the photographer was who got paid to use my project images and remind them of the release contract that they signed.

    Contracts… they are a good thing.

  9. Please don’t paint us all with the same brush. I’ve been a Field Editor for BH%G Garden Group for four years and have never done anything remotely like this.
    FYI, BH&G Garden Group does not knowingly print photos of someone’s garden without their permission. However, garden owners should understand that by opening their gardens to the public and allowing photography, they are giving tacit permission for photo freelancers (and magazine editors) to sell pictures of what is in their garden.
    That being said, there is no excuse for boorishness. Unfortunately, as everywhere, there ARE some prima donnas in this business.
    I have been asked from time to time, by a variety of people, how I can stand talking to all of these gardeners individually. I enjoy it. (see Some do not.
    It is very difficult for a field editor who is scouting gardens on a tour to speak to every garden host for any length of time, since the garden host is often very busy talking to other visitors, and the field editor is trying to take lots of pictures.
    It is also awkward for the field editor to disappoint a garden host whose garden, while lovely or interesting, doesn’t fit in with the editorial needs of the magazine(s) she represents. Time and experience teach one how to better handle these situations.
    I apologize for my peers who have yet to learn that there are no wonderful gardens without dedicated gardeners.

  10. Thanks for responding, Lois,

    I’ve been trying to clarify the issues here: that this is really about the lack of attribution by GG, not the inconvenience (as far as I know, we were just asked politely not to detain people), but this really hit a nerve. Sometimes the conversation goes in unexpected directions on blogs–something I really enjoy.

    Attribution, permissions, and credits are important issues and I am glad they are being aired here, and I understand elsewhere among garden writers.

  11. I’m guessing that BHG did NOT say it was GG specifically because they are a national magazine with a very broad focus and audience — don’t want to turn off the CA & FL folks by specifying this garden may be out of their zone and vice versa.

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