The precept that inspired the free press for several centuries was to make the comfortable less so, and to give hope to those lacking in comfort. It did this through commentary, ideas and opinions that swayed both “the readers and the leaders”. But what of the gardening press? Cultural tips, seasonal reminders, new cultivar descriptions and design ideas have been the staples of garden writing, along with occasional gardener profiles and plant portraits. Add the coverage of horticultural current events, and the garden writing world has been a fertile ground of diverse journalism for many years.
However, trends have appeared that should concern the gardening community. With glimmering exceptions here and there, most TV and radio personalities have vanished. There has been an obvious decline in the number of full time garden writers at newspapers and magazines. Often they are assigned to cover a vast general area, called “Living” or “Inside and Out”. Many have been retired or let go, while others ordered to focus on one angle, such as “tips and tasks” or “local clubs, non-profits and public gardens”. At least, they are still writing. But it is odd that the prime boomer gardening demographic is cresting just when the journalists best qualified are being redeployed.
On the other hand, there have blossomed many fascinating blogs and websites that are lively, fun and informative. Kym Pokorny’s site is a good example. Also great are The Blogging Nurseryman, Doug Green’s Garden, Today In The Garden–which is especially sweet, Fast Grow The Weeds, A Not So Simple Garden, View From Federal Twist, Rainy Side, Garden Path, Mr. Mc Gregor’s Daughter (A friendly Mid Western one) and the True Dirt.
Interestingly, many garden blogs and posts are like newspaper stories of old: short, personal, and often light-hearted “feullitons” from a lost optimistic age. Odd too, because the internet seems to be a perfect vehicle for the illustrated long form–the very stories the print media find too expensive to produce. Yet, I haven’t found any on my web journeys. There should be, in my view, an online “National Geographic” style site for gardening. But I’m no expert. For example, my secretary types these blogs from my longhand. I don’t even have a cell phone.
Alas, the market will decide, as usual. Meanwhile, it is amusing to ramble through these little gardenhoods.
THIS JUST IN
Few may be aware of it, but there is a “second Christmas”, not in any religious sense, but for Santa and the crew. We do not forget the big man’s contributions to our happiness, and when we found out there were no prospects for him after New Year’s, we contacted the North Pole and let him know we were interested. To be specific, we are letting Santa rest up, as well as the elves recover, and also the reindeer. They have to sleep off not only last Monday/Tuesday’s climax, but also the celebrations they themselves had afterwards .
You see, we at Burpee and The Cook’s Garden appreciate the seasonal business such as Santa faces every year. We share his angst— in short, we “feel” him. Our two and a half million catalogues arrive in the world’s mailboxes the day after Christmas, and orders begin processing and shipping out in late January, depending on the weather and the plant zone. This interval gives Santa and Co. time to crash, so to speak. However, cash flow is as important to him as to anyone in a highly seasonal business. Therefore, Santa needs a second job, and we’re proud to say that we can give him one. Indeed, we give Santa, the missus, the elves and the entire workshop employment assembling and shipping the plants and seeds that make up the beginnings of home gardens across the nation. In his words—but softly because he’s asleep— “Hoe, hoe, hoe!”