Dissed, Yet Undeterred


Guest Week Rant by Paula Refi

The downsizing, and occasional demise, of local newspapers
is tragic enough, but the trend has left this gardener bereft. Like many
Atlantans, I loved reading the weekly garden insert in the Atlanta
. This small tabloid was ripe with news of garden club
meetings and informative articles on local plants and gardeners. But the AJC
pruned its pages to smaller dimensions and tossed its local garden writers,
save one, on the compost pile. 

only newspaper continues to publish garden articles, often syndicated stories
that have no relevance here. I read with amusement the AJC’s syndicated piece
on August 10, plucked from some source nowhere near Atlanta. The topic: how to prepare your
garden plants for summer vacation. It appeared the week the city’s schools
reopened after the summer holiday. Go figure.

The situation took an encouraging turn a couple of weeks
ago, however, when a new by-line sprouted without fanfare in the AJC. Perhaps
driven by murmurs of discontent among its readers who garden, the newspaper
published a couple of lively and informative articles by C. W. Cameron, a
credible gardener with connections to the plant societies and the city’s most
knowledgeable gardeners. Let’s hope this turns out to be a perennial feature
and not just a short-lived annual.

Georgia gardeners are an intrepid lot. We seek knowledge and fellowship in equal
proportions. We’ve learned to find the information we crave from groups like
the Master Gardeners or the Georgia Perennial
Plant Association
. I continue to miss my favorite
newspaper columnists. Sometimes I encounter them at garden tours, plant society
meetings, and specialty nurseries. I’ve learned so much from their inspired
articles, and I can identify plants in my garden with links to them. They are
the plants that always make me smile.

Paula Refi gardens in Atlanta, Georgia.


  1. I’m scared.
    I’m scared at how the way you recieve information is changing. Maybe I am old fashioned, in a new fashioned world. I love to read newspapers, magazines, catalogues. I have them every where, the kitchen table, the bedroom, and even the bathroom (hey, I do my best thinking in there).
    I can’t drag my laptop around with me, I hate scrolling up and down, of flipping back and forth to see a larger version of a picture.
    I do it because that is the way the world is now!
    Newspapers are dropping their garden pages, garden magazines are folding (Gardening Life in Canada) and shelter magazines are either going under (bye, bye Domino, House and Garden) or getting smaller. I hate it. Thank God for the garden blogging society, where would we be without it.
    The world, she is a changin!

  2. Join the crowd of disgruntled gardens. The San Francisco Bay Area had some decent garden writers, but the San Jose Mercury News and S.F.’s Chronicle have either pared down their gardening pages to a monthly to-do list, have blogs that haven’t been updated in *months* or post articles from the Washing Post or New York TImes, where the gardening climate on the East Coast has no relevance to Bay Area gardening.

    At least there are a few local bloggers that write about gardening in our area, but it still lacks some of the technical depth that some of the gardening articles used to have.

  3. I sent a 300 word story with pics to the editor of a local paper–with declining readership– where I used to write a garden column.

    I offered them the piece for free and with plenty of advance notice. I had a garden program on that topic coming up at a garden center and have used this technique successfully in the past with several newspapers–the newspaper gets free, professional content, I get free advertising, readers get good local gardening info.

    Classic win/win/win.

    The editor emailed me that they might use it “if they had enough space.”

    No surprise that instead of my piece, the H&G section was filled with syndicated columns from different parts of the country, written by folks with a deadly writing style.

    Oh well, they did include my program in their garden calendar section, which was nice, except they printed the wrong address, left out my website and also left out the mildly useful fact that there was a charge for the program. So of course a minority of people came expecting a free program (even tho the notice never used the word ‘free’) and were miffed at me and the host for the newspaper’s error.

    My conclusion: when newspaper’s ask their staff to do ‘more with less’, readers are likely–and more realistically–just to get ‘less with less.’


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