Friday, November 6, 2009

Prescription for winter blues: garden magazines

So what do you do in the wintertime?  Downhill skiing, ice skating, snowmachining, ice fishing, sledding, skijoring, mushing, cross-country skiing, walking, snowshoeing, etc.  If you are an Alaskan, gardening is not on the list.  I don't count watering the houseplants as gardening.  How does the avid gardener get through these lean times?  Well, books and magazines help.  If we can't participate in something, we like to watch someone else doing it, right?  How else can armchair quarterbacks, C-SPAN, and travel shows on cable be explained?  Garden mags can be a lifeline on a long, dark afternoon.  The colorful pictures transport us to gardens in Seattle, LA, or Conneticut.  Anywhere is good, so long as it is somewhere that's not under four feet of snow.

The problem is, as with all products, there are inferior ones out there.  Some garden mags just don't deliver.  When I buy a garden magazine, I want to see a lot of gardens, find out the new products, hear from the experts, etc.  I don't want lots of casserole recipes, home decor tips, and lifestyle articles.  So when I am on the hunt for a quality garden mag, I usually confine my pick to a few names, gleaned from long experience and a good chunk of wasted cash.

The British just "get" gardening.  I have never visited (someday, I hope!) the place, but many world-famous gardens are located in Britain: Sissinghurst, Foggy Bottom, and Great Dixter spring to mind, but there are scads more.  They also turn out some spectacular garden magazines.  Plenty of pictures, great colors, experts, behind the scenes, current gardening events, new products, and more.  Check out: BBC's Gardens Illustrated.

We have some nice publications on this side of the Atlantic, too.  The great thing about some American garden mags is you have a hope and a prayer your region (and plants that thrive there) might be occasionally featured.  Our climate in Alaska is (mostly) very different from England, and anywhere else in America for that matter.  In Anchorage, with our measly 16" of annual precipitation, we are a far cry from London's 23", Seattle's 37", and Conneticut's (Hamden) 47 inches.  Every town/state/region has different weather, so it makes sense to have regional features in the magazines.  I'm just glad a few gardening editors have caught on to the fact.  I might enjoy reading about and looking at Seattle gardens, but I am ecstatic when an Alaskan garden or gardener is featured.  It's like an affirmation Alaskans actually exist as part of the gardening community.  Check out: Fine Gardening (my favorite), Garden Design, Horticulture.

 Next time you are cruising through the bookstore or grocery store, make a detour to the magazine aisle. There are more garden magazine choices at the bookstore, but if one is not handy, surf the web for them.  Garden magazines are also great for perusing whilst waiting for one's feet to thaw after a long day of mushing.  Happy trails!

For next time: great books for Alaskan (and other cold climate) gardeners

1 comment:

  1. Christine, I used to read the last three magazines and a handful of Canadian gardening magazines. I don't read any magazines anymore. I find the internet has taken their place. Most of the magazines I used to read have internet sites and then off course there are all you fabulous garden bloggers.


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