I Wish They All Could Be California Gardens


The magazine also has a strangely corporate, generic look, as if it was really a glorified Home Depot catalog dressed up as a magazine. Sure enough, a little research turned up the publisher:  Armstrong Garden Centers, a regional chain in southern California.  (SoCal readers, chime in here.  Armstrong seems, to an out-of-the-area visitor, to be a welcome respite from the nonstop LA-ness of southern California.  Thumbs up or down?)

We won’t judge California Gardener until we see it, and we’ll be seeing it soon, because we peeled off the Free Issue sticker and moved it a few inches to the right, thus ensuring that our copy was on its way. (by the way, the direct mail industry calls this a “token,” or an “involvement device,” aimed at getting the potential customer more involved in the decision and ultimately making them more likely to buy.)

How likely are we to buy?  Stay tuned. 


  1. Afte reading your post, I did a little sleuthing. As a regional (WashDC/Mid-Atlantic) gardening magazine publisher and someone trying to organize a network of such local publishers, I was very curious about it.
    Turns out it is published by a large chain garden center – see http://www.armstronggarden.com. That may explain its territory better and without seeing an issue, I’d speculate it is more a marketing piece than actual magazine. I’d love to hear more about it though.

  2. When I needed my bamboo poles earlier this summer, Armstrong Garden Center not only ordered a dozen (at $.89 each) just for me but actually called me when they came in. This was not a big ticket purchase but they treated me with great customer care.

    So Armstrong gets the thumbs up from me!

  3. In September I was told my first issue of California Gardener magazine had been sent and I was sent a bill. I sent a check for my subscription on Sept. 5th. To date I have not received any issues. I have not been able to locate an address to communicate with them directly. Please help.

  4. The first issue contained nothing but puff pieces about products available at one garden center… hmm, no thanks. I did not subscribe. Even so, I did receive a bill which contained an implied threat to ruin my credit rating. How nice. But a note to them mentioning the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection got a fast reply with a customer service phone number for a service for several magazines. They were helpful and pleasant.

  5. Actually, California’s climate is unique (not that Armstrong knows anything about it!). While our fair state does include a number of USDA zones as stated, these are defined merely by average lowest temperatures (their definition has little to do with real climatic considerations at all).
    California (and tiny bit of south-western Oregon and northern Baja) enjoys the only mediterranean climate in North America. San Francisco may be in the same USDA zone as Jacksonville, Florida, but I don’t think anyone would mistake them for being the same climate.


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