I was recently "selected" for a free issue of a gardening magazine called Garden Gate and dutifully settled into bed with it this week in order to report on this pub.
The magazine bills itself as advertising-free, so you might think that they’d just let ‘er rip and tell the truth about everything. Actually, no. As far as I can tell, the business model depends on your going to their on-line store and buying stuff directly from them.
And the content is so namby-pamby inoffensive, they might just as well have a bunch of blowhard advertising clients of the kind that used to so rattle Darren on Bewitched. Actually, "inoffensive" doesn’t quite describe it. Depressing and insulting, comes closer. Apparently, we gardeners have a hard time comprehending even two-syllable words. Or any plants more daring than daylilies and hostas.
Apparently, we also really, really like being sucked up to. My issue of Garden Gate devotes six pages to the favorite plants of the magazine’s readers. Guess what the readers like? You’ll never guess. Daylilies and hostas. Maybe a good nursery will be able to introduce you to these novelties.
This is democracy at its worst. God, for both information and style, give me a benevolent dictatorship like the Plant Delights catalog any day!
There are certainly better magazines than Garden Gate, but as a general principle, I’d rather settle into bed with a catalog. Why is that?
Clearly, there is a huge passion gap operating here. The good catalogs are put together by people who are insane for plants and know everything about their specialty. The magazines? By editors whose jobs appear to hang on their ability to appeal to a demographic that the Garden Rant community does not fit–uncultured, sheltered, conservative, sentimental, easily spooked.
The interesting thing is, I can’t think of any other subject besides gardening where the same is true, where the commercial content so frequently trumps the editorial. I mean, I’d certainly rather read Vogue than the Bloomingdale’s catalog any day. I’d rather read Bon Appetit than Williams-Sonoma. I love House & Garden and am bored to tears by Restoration Hardware. I’d rather read the op-ed columnists at the New York Times than the brochures I get from politicians. But I’d far rather read the White Flower Farm catalog than even a supposedly serious magazine like Fine Gardening. More stylish.
Am I alone in this?