Garden Design Magazine

Wake Up! American Garden Design Enthusiasts

Many of you know that Garden Design magazine has sadly folded.  That in itself isn’t surprising given the economic climate for print publications.  Print magazines have huge overhead, cumbersome lead times and ever increasing competition from the marketplace.  What I found shocking was how small its circulation was- 189,741.

Garden Design MagazineSome will moan about its elitist slant.  What is it about our exterior design community that it can’t find inspiration in, celebrate and aspire to the very top levels of design?  I doubt if all of Architectural Digest’s 800k regular readers can afford or even want what is in that publication yet they obviously see enough value in it to buy a copy.

If we, as a design discipline and community, want to be taken seriously, then we need to support publications at all levels of the marketplace, not just those that cater to the weekend warriors who relegate us to the DIY sector.  Landscape design and landscape architecture are serious, complex disciplines that can inspire within and without.  We need American publications that reflect our diverse economy, interests and regions and we need to embrace those that show us the best of design outside at every level.



8 thoughts on “Wake Up! American Garden Design Enthusiasts

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Susan. There’s a dark undercurrent of hostility toward design in the U.S. gardening community. Those of us who believe that good design can make lives better need to keep communicating that wherever and however we can.

  2. Susan, you make some interesting points here. I subscribed on and off to Garden Design magazine and I was often inspired by it. I think that many of those Architectural Digest subscribers put the magazine out on their coffee tables to impress others; they are probably not absorbing design lessons from its pages. There is certainly a snob factor to that publication, which apparently 800,000 people are willing to pay for.

    The best publication for landscape designers to keep up in the field, I think, is still Landscape Architecture, even though it features quite a few large-scale site planning projects that don’t seem as relevant. I have learned much more about the field of design from LA than from any glossy.

    I am willing to pay for Landscape Architecture magazine because (so far) they offer content that I cannot find anywhere else. I know publishing is tough right now because of all the free online content, but magazines are not charities, there is still a marketplace, and if folks want to make money they need to produce something that others are willing to pay for.

  3. The primary difference is that Landscape Architecture is aimed at professionals. Garden Design was a consumer publication that never fully embraced the same scope as its sister shelter publications do. Every interior/home design based magazine offers ideas that are accessible either by idea or price–and that includes Architectural Digest. GD in its final days didn’t do that very well. In our mashed-up society high and low exist side by side and yet, often by our industry, ‘high’ is vilified as hoity toity. It’s a shame as both sides and everything in between can inspire even if you don’t aspire. There are some interesting comments on a FB thread I started yesterday.

  4. So sad! It was my favorite U.S. gardening magazine. I loved it because it wasn’t about growing tomatoes in containers re-purposed from the recycling bins. It was about beautiful gardens and the thought that goes into creating them. I find the whole “let’s make this is as easy and foolproof as possible” approach of Horticulture and even Fine Gardening discouraging. I want my garden to look obscenely gorgeous and if that takes some work, maybe some trial and error, so be it.

  5. You are right, but then again “high” is vilified as hoity toity because there IS plenty of true snobbery among designers. You yourself mentioned being “relegated” the DIY sector, which implies that you see “high” design as something separate and exclusive from what DIYers do.

    I don’t consider myself a snob because I like Hemingway and TS Eliot, but I’m sure many people think I am. People who are interested in the “high” form of anything — be it art, literature, cooking, or garden design — are always going to be perceived as annoying snobs by some people. And maybe we are a little bit. That’s okay.

  6. Carolyn- I didn’t see your comment before, but agree with what you say about hostility. There is nothing wrong with a ‘can do’ spirit especially if and when it incorporates thoughtful and sensitive design.

  7. A note about corporate publishing: circulation is controlled by the publishing company. Garden Design’s circulation was not reflective of national interest (or lack thereof) in exquisitely designed gardens. Circulation is decided upon based on formulas related to profitability (the printing and mailing of the magazines is the most expensive part of the business).

    Also, generally speaking, large publishing companies do not give editors the freedom to create magazines that the editors 100% believe in and that they know their readers can get behind. Having worked at two such companies, it is fair to say there is endless negotiation and repositioning that editors navigate to convince their superiors that a certain path is the best one, and there is always compromise that is intended to benefit advertisers. Sometimes, those compromises cause a magazine to lose credibility, which turns advertisers off anyway. It is a tricky dance and it is hard to get it right. That’s part of why some magazines grow and others fail.

  8. I was one of those 189,741 and have been for 13+ years since before I went to college to be a horticulturist/landscape designer. I actually stumbled upon this blog while writing a garden talk for a garden club on resources to find great garden inspiration and Garden Design Magazine along with your Leaf Magazine was supposed to be in my talk (of course Leaf Mag will still be) . Do you have any suggestions on another publication that would be of interest?

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