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Musings » The Garden – magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society
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April 2014

Horticultural magazines keep getting glossier and glossier, with ever larger images engulfing the text. I assume this is because of the immense competition from TV and the Internet. The publishers probably feel they have to do this to catch the reader’s attention to maintain sales.

There are two magazines which have not yet succumbed completely to this trend, “The Garden” from the Royal Horticultural Society in London and “The American Gardener” in this country. The latter is produced by the American Horticultural Society. Even the venerable and formerly spartan Rodale’s magazine about organic gardening has joined in the act.

None of these publications is to be confused with true scientific journals. These magazines are intended for a mass audience but an audience which is largely literate and knowledgeable in the main. We read to be entertained but also informed. A small modicum of useful facts is still to be found in the standard magazines but I was struck when reading “The Garden” by how much down to earth and worthwhile advice its offers. Advice sections appear monthly in each new edition.

Take agapanthus for example. Who has not grappled with huge overgrown clumps of the stuff and yet known it must be divided one day? The author states the roots resent being disturbed and advises gardeners to divide them only after the flowers have stopped for the season. (S)He also supplies handy photos demonstrating the best technique. Presumably the column is written by a member of the staff, without attribution.

This is followed by a brief but informative section on thinning peaches and nectarines to gain a better crop. Alas I do not have peach or nectarine trees but for those who do this is most helpful and these are but two of the valuable columns appearing every month.

There is a good deal of horticultural news specific to the British Isles in every issue. It is not something we can benefit from immediately but it describes gardens to visit, people and places who are accomplishing great things and trends which may well come into their own over here one day. You read it here first. The main feature pieces are worth the time and trouble of reading them. That goes without saying.

One obvious difference between “The Garden” and “Horticulture” is their size. “The Garden” is 146 pages this month while “Horticulture” only runs to 72 pages. “The Garden” has space in which to tell a story to its best advantage.

To show that I am not being chauvinistic I will comment on the excellent content of “The American Gardener “ next month.