Washington Gardener Magazine – Making Gardening Happen

  • Held two very successful Seed Exchanges, the first in conjunction
    with the National Arboretum and the next year without them (after they
    withdrew their offer of space at the last minute!  Kathy prevailed by
    finding even better space.)
  • Started a Yahoo group for other regional gardening magazines.
  • Created the first Washington Garden Photography Contest.
  • Lead a trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show and is planning more trips in the future.
  • Created the Washington Gardener website, blog, free e-newsletter, and subscriber Yahoo Group.
  • Arranged to have our own Amy Stewart talk to local garden clubs.
  • Appeared regularly on both CBS and NBC local affiliates.
  • Written a twice-a-month gardening column and calendar of events for Washington Examiner newspaper.
  • Manned booths at just about every garden and environmental gathering
    within 100 miles – home shows, plant sales, you name it. 
  • Assumed the presidency of the venerable (oldest in U.S.) Takoma Horticultural Club, recently vacated by yours truly.

All I can say is Whew (and I haven’t touched on her nongardening
life, of which there actually is one).  And all this activity doesn’t
just sell subscriptions; it builds a gardening community, a culture of
gardening here in D.C., and that’s a Good Thing.  But I wonder:  Does
it take all this for a local gardening magazine to succeed?  And how
about the challenge of supporting yourself full-time as a garden
writer?  I wonder what our readers think.

I caught up with Kathy recently to ask how it’s going
("great") and if she’s noticed any trends in gardening in the D.C.
area.  She reports that interest in native plants is still growing,
ditto for tropical plants, including summer bulbs.  Vertical gardening and
containers are increasingly popular for city-dwellers with less land
(or just a balcony or rooftop).  Other hot topics are Less Lawn (a
trend we GardenRanters are stoking as fast as we can) and the growing
of edibles.

Kathy thinks it would sure be nice if the folks at People Places and Plants Magazine,
which ceased published of its Mid-Atlantic edition two years, would
finally reimburse its subscribers and pay its writers.  That kind of
detritus can saddle a successor magazine with some bad karma, ya know.

Kathy says
that the most important thing to tell non-gardeners is not to worry
about perfection, just to get
started.  People blame themselves for failures, when it could just be a "crappy

And for a quick example of the need for gardening information to be LOCAL, Kathy cites some advice given in the Rebecca Kolls Magazine
It seems that Rebecca recently advised her readers to plant new shrubs
"if your garden is ready."  Maybe she should have added: "For help in interpreting this advice, consult your local Cooperative Extension Service."


  1. I never get any sympathy from anyone when I play the crappy plant card. Which is so unfair because sometimes it IS the plant. Not the plant selection, the plant.

  2. Thanks for the coverage!
    And yes, Chuck, often it is NOT the gardener but the plant condition upon purchase that is fully to blame. I mean with all the hell a typical garden center or mass-merchandiser offering goes through before it ever gets into your shopping cart, it makes you wonder how incredible it is that many of them actually do survive. Plants should be labeled with where they were grown and when they were potted up and shipped. Wouldn’t you love a “best by” date! And then there is the “care” they are subjected to by some employees. How would one ever know by looking that the poor things were so over-fertilized and over-watered that they are stressed out and on a long, slow road to decline? IMHO, most plants are just bred and groomed to be sold — not for the purpose of actually living and thriving in your home garden.

  3. “Started a Yahoo group for other regional gardening magazines.”

    How do I find this? Using Yahoo search was not helpful.

  4. Jenn & others – The Regional Garden Mag yahoo group is a private invite-only list so is not listed in their public searches.
    We are trying to keep it to those currently publishing a regional garden mag or getting ready to launch one (i.e. no printer sales reps, pr pitches, etc.) Discussions are sticking to Editors/ Publishers issues mainly, but other staff are welcome to participate. If you would like to join up, please send a note to me at [email protected] and include a bit about yourself, such as your title and a link to your regional garden publication.

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