Who Reads Fine Gardening? Fine Gardening is written for gardeners who are passionate about their existing gardens, and are looking for ideas and inspiration for future gardening endeavors. Published six times a year, It presents readers with engaging information and gorgeous four-color photography, in a format that is both educational and accessible. While some gardening experience is assumed, and home ownership is usually implied, much of what is included in Fine Gardening will be of interest to anyone who feels the call to garden, of all levels of experience. You may find yourself saving issue after issue, since all are filled with valuable, practical information, and back issues are valued due to their seasonal nature.
What You Can Expect in Each Issue:
Tips: Reader-written, these tips are great for discovering new, and usually economical, ways to do what you?re probably already doing ? but better and quicker. This is in addition to Over the Fence, the letters-to-the-editor section.
Plants to Know and Grow: Editor?s choice of unusual or new plants, called out for their foliage, growth patterns, and blooming. Also includes zone charts, ideal conditions, and what to feed them.
Q&A and Design Ideas & Plans: Written by landscape designers, garden curators, and horticulturalists, this section focuses on solutions for particular areas of your yard, such as driveway strips or property line fences, or on planning out designs for various color schemes or planting types. Also features questions from readers, answered by experts in the field.
Healthy Garden: A monthly column devoted to fixing what ails your garden, including pest, diseases, and invasive species.
Feature Articles Covering a broad range of topics which will entice intermediate to more advanced gardeners, topics have recently included "Designing with Annuals," "Pruning Hollies," "Demystifying Garden Myths," "Nine New and Unusual Grasses," and "Selecting Trees for Structure."
Contributors Each issue includes a "Contributors" page, complete with concise biographies and some photos of the authors featured in that issue. The range is wide, but their passion for gardening unites them. Some of them are book authors, like Debra Prinzing, John Greenlee, and William Cullina. Others are garden and nursery owners, or curators/administrators of public or private gardens. Landscape designers and horticulturalists, including academics and professionals, round out the mix.
Magazine Layout The editors strive for a clean, visually appealing layout, with gorgeous four-color photography included in just about every feature. Other helpful aspects to the layout include specific schematics for certain photographs, showing the name of each plant included in an arrangement. Overall, the layout is meant to be appealing, educational, and helpful to the reader.
Advertising Advertisers are important to the readership of this magazine, since you?ll likely want to easily find the plants or tools that the editors are writing about. Included in each issues is an Advertiser?s Directory, featuring the page number of the advertiser and their website URL. The majority of advertising is specific to gardening, and include "Reader Service" numbers you can use to fill out an included information request card. Fine Gardening states that they "only accept advertisements for products and services that are directly related to gardening. No perfume ads. No irrelevant clutter," resulting in advertising that is "instructive, not intrusive." They succeed in providing relevant advertising for anyone who loves gardening.
Awards The Garden Writers Association presented five of their Garden Globe Awards to Fine Gardening and their contributors in 2006.
Hands-on advice, information and inspiration on garden design, intriguing plants, reliable techniques and practical landscaping projects.
Useful and Beautiful Taunton Press does a beautiful job with this American monthly gardening magazine, and the beauty is more than skin-deep. "fine Gardening" is also useful.
I'm especially fond of the 'Tips' feature. This month's (08/2005) tips include, among others: "Matching plants to pots;" "Give your pots a spin;" and "Dryer sheets cover drainage holes." I'm thinking very strongly about sending in my own tip and perhaps winning "fine Gardening's" prize pack which is worth more than $200.
Hint #1: my tip involves Vicks VapoRub for squirrel-proofing bird feeders. It's expensive, but wait until you see the expressions on their cunning little rodent faces when the squirrels get a whiff of the stuff.
Another very useful feature of this magazine is the 'Regional Reports,' which breaks the country into Northeast, South, Midwest, Lower Plains, Rocky Mountains, Northwest, and West regions. This month's issue discusses deer-resistant plants for each of the different areas, following a general discussion called "The story behind deer repellents." Checking out the deer-resistant plants for the Midwest, I'm in violent agreement with the magazine's suggestion to "use alliums as floral 'guard dogs'." And not only for deer--I watched a ground hog literally sprint past my allium bed this morning before settling in to munch on the snap-dragons.
Hint #2: (You won't find this one in the gardening magazines.) For small and medium-size critters, get yourself a slingshot and a bag of marbles.
Hint #3: Hint #2 is not recommended for bears.
Continuing with the 08/2005 issue as an example, there is a fold-out with 35 pest and disease remedies that you can concoct from your pantry, medicine cabinet, or even from your garden.
I've never seen this one before, but if you come in contact with poison oak or poison ivy and don't have quick access to soap and water, use mud! "...Put mud on the affected area and scrub vigorously. Repeat several times, using fresh mud. Then pat fresh mud onto the surface of your skin, and let it dry."
Tonics don't come much cheaper or more convenient than mud.
I usually contribute the back issues of my magazines to the library, but not my copies of "fine Gardening." They're much too useful. Plus they make grand winter reading when the garden is buried under three feet of snow.
Well Titled This is a great magazine, and well-titled. The gardening it features is indeed more "fine" than that found in other magazines, with the possible exception of Horticulture (a tie, I'd say), as well as several British mags such as Gardens Illustrated (no contest, I'd say, although its wonderful prose and extra-thick glossy pages come at more than twice the price, and of course the British climate is not similar to much of the US except for coastal Oregon and Washington).
Let me illustrate from my bookshelf: the more middle-brow magazine (not that there's anything wrong with that!) Country Living Gardener has run a cover story titled "bigger, better dahlias; grow a rainbow of dahlias, America's favorite late-season flower" while Fine Gardening has run "ANTIQUE BEAUTIES: Heirloom dahlias, gladioli and cannas offer flower colors and forms unmatched by more recent introductions," and the Gardens Illustrated version is "Fergus Garret, head gardener at Great Dixter, on the exhuberant appeal of the fashionable dahlia."
OK, what's "fine" to one is snobbery to the next guy. If you want English-style gardens with an emphasis on perennials, or you have already read books by the likes of Christopher Lloyd (owner of Great Dixter), then you are more on the "fine" end of the continuum, (or "beyond fine" to British); if you want to put a wheelbarrow full of daisies in your front yard, or to brighten up your porch with hanging baskets of scarlet Pelargoniums, then look to magazines with "Country" or even "Redneck" in the title.
On a more serious note, one problem with all types of specialty magazines is that you will generally outgrow them. This is not likely to affect your appreciation of "Fine Gardening" all that much for some time, if ever, but of course those parts of any magazine which are essentially "timeless" will repeat over time, and will be redundant with your book collection, if you have one; while those parts which are news (such as latest cultivars, new diseases, truly new techniques) are naturally best learned from a magazine. Fine Gardening has plenty of the latter, as well as beautiful "garden porn" which will appeal to experts as well as novices....more info
My second favorite gardening magazine..... I have subscribed to FINE GARDENING for several years, and the only real problem I've encountered is where to house back issues. I have also subscribed to a number of other "gardening" magazines, most of them dropped after the initial subscription period. The exceptions have been THE AMERICAN GARDENER (my favorite gardening magazine) and FINE GARDENING.
Want information on design? You will find many ideas in FG but few are within the reach of the average pocketbook or space permitting. However, unlike other magazines I could name, FG does not limit it's coverage to landed estates or huge houses in Atlanta or Savannah, but covers homeowners all over the US in "regional" features, so occasionally urban gardens are covered.
A nifty thing about FG is that each spine indicates the contents, so as I look though my "stacks" I can find almost any topic covered. For example, the February 1995 issue featured "Hillside Gardens". "Ferns". "Garden Diaries" and "Vines". FG also includes several knowledgeable garden writers on its editorial board.
The downside for FG and many other gardening magazines is that over the years, the text of regular features and articles has been substantially reduced, while the number and size of photos associated with the articles as well as those of advertisers has increased (30 percent of the pages is covered with advertising in the current issue of FG).
If you are seeking first-hand experiences and not "McNuggets" sponsored by gas-guzzling garden tools, you will find fewer and fewer of them in most of the more comercial garden magazines (mags without a "botanical" society-based sponsor).
I am a great fan of photos, but photos have their downside too. I have been gardening a long time so I can look at a photo and usually identify the plants shown...but can every reader do this? Unfortunately, too many of the copy editors know nothing about gardening, thus, too often, the captions they have overseen for photos are misleading. FG does a pretty good job of avoiding this problem, but AG is the best.
The AMERICAN GARDENER tends to include essays by home gardeners (many in urban areas with small yard issues) rather than focusing on the travails of designers working on landed estates or home owners with comparatively large spreads (how many of us have a few dozen acres to "garden"?
AG also favors organic practices and reflects this in its advertising (the current January/February 2006 issue includes articles on "Earth-friendly weeding techniques" as well as "A Plant Buff's Guide to Plant Sales" and a side bar examining top "weed" problems in regional areas).
AG is very plant based and conducts "performance trials" of various new plant introductions, so you can benefit from the "on-the-job" hands-on experince of horticulturalists working at River Farm (HQ of AG) in the Eastern US (Alexandria VA), as well as learn about recent research by plant scientists from all over the US.
THE AMERICAN GARDENER is published by the American Horticultural Society and is the PBS of the gardening world -- comprehensive, in-depth, and earth-friendly (some advertisement but it does not overwhelm--about 12 percent in the current issue, and most of it on behalf of small and/or earth-friendly organizations).
If you can only afford one gardening magazine join the American Horticultural Association and receive their monthly magazine. If you can afford more than one, FINE GARDENING is also a good bet.
Five Stars from a Landscape Designer I do landscape design and landscape maintenance professionally, and this is the only magazine I'd recommend to clients. As another reviewer noted, The American Gardener is also a fine publication if you are very serious about plants, but for most readers, Fine Gardening best walks the line between accessability and having great information.
I have been a subscriber for eight years and have kept every issue. The information on the spine is clear and so you can easily find that elusive article you remembered and wanted to refer to, without pulling out every issue and having to look at the cover.
As a professional, I find the in-depth articles on different kinds of plants really helpful. It is neat to focus on say, all the different kinds of Forsythias around, so you can really compare the varieties available and know all of your options if you would like to plant one. They usually have six or more photos of the different varieties, with each photo highlighting an important aspect of the plant's habit, foliage, or bloom, plus a few photos of the plants used in a garden, so you can see what kinds of textures and colors the plant works with.
The articles on landscape design are by well-respected professionals and offer a wonderful balance of intellectually interesting discussion and gorgeous photos. They don't always tell us exactly which plant is which in each photo, so that would be a drawback to the new gardener who isn't familiar with a number of plants, but they usually only neglect to name the plants when the photo is trying to illustrate a design concept. I think they find a good balance between urban gardening/ gardening in small spaces, and gardening in a more country or spacious setting.
They also have articles on seasonal care (and as a reader for eight years, I haven't found any articles that are overlap or repeats), articles on broader topics like groundovers for shade or grasses in the garden (in which they usually include a large and useful list of plants, organized by foliage and flower color, size, sun needs, zone, etc), and profiles on the latest tools, books and other gardening needs.
I have read a lot of gardening magazines over the years and Fine Gardening is by far the best. The language is simple yet the ideas are not dumbed down. Most other magazines have huge amounts of distracting advertisements, and Fine Gardening's are related to gardening, useful, and not too prolific.
Thoroughly pleased I have enjoyed Fine Gardening for a year so gave it to myself for Christmas. It's helpful to re-read past magazines as something new pops out to me each time. Great to keep for reference. ...more info
Good magazine but not what I thought it would be This magazine is about gardening, but it is not quite what I was hoping to find. The articles are interesting and the photography is is outstanding but since I was hoping to find plant articles that I could use in the Northwest I found it difficult to translate the articles for my own use. The magazine started coming much earlier than I had expected, which was a pleasant surprise....more info
It must have changed a lot since 2002 I read all the reviews especially the earlier ones saying how wonderful the expert advice is. It must have changed since those reviews were written. I started receiving editions a few months ago.
The photos are still beautiful and it has good tips from users; but I found errors that even I recognize and I am no expert. Wrong names for plants, misspellings... but what disappoints me the most is the content seems to be 'crowd sourced,' largely from readers and not so much from experts.
I want to learn about plants that I didn't know about for different seasons and conditions, so I was surprised that it did not have a section for plants that are in season for the West (California), but covers the rest of the country in some detail: Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Southern Plains, Northern Plains, Mid-West, Southeast, Northeast. What happened to West and Northwest?
I found the ads interesting and they give me ideas to decorate my garden elegantly, although having checked some of the vendors, their prices seem high. Maybe they're targeting designers?...more info
Fine Gardening is more than fine for all levels of gardeners Whatever skill level you have -- avid gardener to willing accomplice -- Fine Gardening is a good reference and source of inspiration. From the attractive photography and appealing design to informative content, Fine Gardening packs a lot of useful information in a manner that both beginners and experts can enjoy....more info
I Can dig it! I love, Love, LOVE this magazine. It is the perfect combination of technique, design, and inspiration every issue. If you are a beginning gardener, you cannot do much better than study this magazine. If you are an experienced gardener, you will learn something new every issue.
This is one of the few gardening magazines that covers the US West -- it is different out here, and they know it. It is rare that you will read in any of their articles, "If it has not rained this week..." which is always a sign to Californians that the article does not apply to us.
One of my favorite features is the semi-regular tool essays. It must be a guy thing, but I really enjoy their tool expert explain the proper way to use a tool. Since I started paying attention to his advice, my back has stopped aching so much at the end of a garden day, I know how to keep my shovels sharp (you would not believe what a difference this makes), and I gave away the leaf blower -- there is a real peacefulness to raking leaves that you will never achieve with the Devil's hair dryer.
However, I think the best feature is the tips from other readers. I have learned so many clever things from other gardeners volunteering their suggestions -- one person suggested putting vegetable scraps in a blender jar (it's airtight, so it won't smell) and when it is full, just whizz the stuff and pour onto the compost hear. That tip alone has paid off in my compost pile being active year round. I turn to this section first every time.
It is a great magazine, you won't regret subscribing....more info
Much info for learning gardeners This is a great magazine for someone who wants to know more in detail about specific topics in gardening. As a chairperson for a homeowners association I always want to learn more. Very informative without being too wordy. Lots of nice pictures....more info