Garden & Gun: I Gave It a Shot
Of all the magazine titles that pair gardening with some other aspect of the sweet life, few are more inventive than Garden & Gun. This is a new periodical out of the South and is surely more intriguing than poor old House & Garden, now going the way of Garden and Forest magazine, which folded in 1897.
Having a gun in the forest might make sense. In the garden, it might be of less value. Or not. A little scattershot could accomplish organic control of aphids in those hard-to-reach spots. And have you ever tried to have dinner on the patio only to have a single cicada interrupt the conversation? A double-barreled 12-gauge would shut it up.
I know gardeners who are gunning for deer, and I suspect a fancy rifle with scope would dislodge a bit of mistletoe on a high branch. Eventually. Could you use a shotgun to blast holes for your bulbs? Would Garden & Gun tell me what size load to use for crocuses, vs. daffodils?
No. Sorry, I know I'm taking it far too literally. The gun in Garden & Gun ( http:/
The summer issue of Garden & Gun had a fascinating story about a preserved 19th-century garden in Georgia that had been spared Sherman's torch, but the cover story was about surfer babes. The magazine has also featured Southern painters and writers, living and dead; jazzers in New Orleans; and a fashion shoot at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.
To paraphrase Bruner, the magazine delights in the culture, pursuits and literary heritage of the South, but, with a national distribution, it invites all to the feast. The title, by the way, was inspired by a former Charleston disco and nightspot, the Garden and Gun Club.
Not a lot for the hands-on gardener, though.
Whether you aspire to the Southern lifestyle, gardening in the Washington area has a definite Southern flavor. Don Humphrey, an old gardening friend and mentor, once said to me that our gardens here are in the South climatically and we must accept that if we want to succeed. That was shortly before he moved to Ohio.
The value of the climate in the mid-Atlantic is that we have a long growing season and a broad plant palette. The downside is that we have winters that are uneven and damaging, particularly to evergreens, and hot, humid summers that stress plants and make a lot of desirable cooler-zone plants hard to grow. Oh, for a good clump of rhubarb.
Southern Accents, the shelter mag based in Birmingham, Ala. ( http:/
The dilemma for editors like MacDougall is in picking sumptuous landscapes that are inevitably way beyond the purse of even well-heeled readers. However, "they can get great ideas," she said. "It's inspirational."
Inspiration is, in my book, better than aspiration. The current issue of Garden Design magazine ( http:/
I will miss House & Garden, whose December issue will be its last, because it had a genuine and abiding interest in good gardens. I wrote for it in the early 1990s, when it was styled as HG. It was a golden moment; it seemed that my boomer generation was coming of age in the garden. Various assignments sent me to splendid places that opened my eyes to the beauty and power of artfully crafted gardens and to the engaging worlds of the people who created them.
Today I'm more of a hands-on gardener, and I love unusual plants. The magazines I favor are those that offer sound advice about plants and planting while understanding the importance of good design. Fine Gardening ( http:/
Horticulture magazine ( http:/
Sometimes I need an out-of-garden experience and turn to British magazines. Now that plantsman and writer Christopher Lloyd is dead, Country Life will never be as good as it was. Gardens Illustrated, at more than $8 an issue ( http:/
Back in the States, Organic Gardening offers advice on raising produce, but its emphasis these days seems to be on ornamental gardening and soil science. That's fine, but what America needs is a practical, inspiring magazine devoted to growing fruit, vegetables and herbs, and perhaps raising a chicken or two. We could call it Fig & Fowl.