16th Nov, 2008

R. I. P. GARDENING LIFE

Well just when I thought things couldn?t get worse, they did. How typical of life.

Friday just after I?d written that cheerful blog below, I was called to be told that Gardening Life magazine was folding. Right now. No advance warning, no time to write a final Back Talk nada. No time to figure out what to do in the future.

Since 1996 as the central part of my life this wonderful magazine is gone like a puff of smoke. There will be one more issue. I guess it?ll be a collector?s item. But there will never be another garden magazine started to take its place. It?s the economy, stupid old me?I didn?t see that coming. I had the usual journalistic focus of deadlines. But no more.

In those 12 years, I outlived several editors: Mary Anne Brinckman, Kate McDonald and Nancy Jane Hastings. They all died way way too early and I miss them still; outlasted Michael Totzke and Danny Sinopoli; and was swept away along with Caren Watkins last week. We all remain friends and will continue to be so.And the person who was at the heart of the magazine was Karen York who was the botanical editor. We started together and finished together. She is one of my dearest friends and the editor on all my books of the past 10 years. We provided the horty stuff, the gardeny stuff and the accuracy for which the magazine became known.

The first heady year of being Toronto Life Gardens was like the fulfillment of a dream. We did stuff in this country no one else had ever done: created a magazine that was the most gorgeous, best-read garden magazine in the world. We had writers and photographers clambering to do stuff. We had an art director, Alice Unger, who was simply amazing in the depth of her design talent.

It was too amazing to last. We were absorbed into Gardening Life and became part of Lynda Reeves? House & Home company. It turned into more of a lifestyle magazine but still with a large gardening component. We were about gardening life. It has stayed more or less intact. We continued to put out issues some of surpassing beauty, and others extremely useful.

We had Ted Johnston for 10 years as our Tool Shed guy (learned a lot there); Alix Davidson who did absolutely everything; and Catherine Therrien who took her place; we had ADs such as Brad McIver and Stephanie White (who now designs the estimable Zoomer magazine). We were running over with talent. Three years ago, it was sold outright to St. Joseph?s Media who?d been a part owner for several years.

I loved working at the magazine and everywhere in the country when I gave speeches people always referred to it as ?my? magazine. It wasn?t at all. The editors (like Caren and Catherine) did the heavy lifting; I worked from home and e-mailed in my suggestions and copy. The art directors changed, the staff stayed for a while and moved on. Karen and I became like leitmotifs.

I?m so distraught I haven?t really had time figure out exactly what I?m doing next but it will involve gardens in every aspect possible. At least that?s one thing no one close down and I should switch to thinking lucky me, because it was a great run and I loved every minute of it.

As we gardeners like to say: Onwards and upwards.

Responses

Marjorie Partridge left this sincere comment on the St. Joseph Media Video Blog and I wanted to pass the comment on:

“Hello Marjorie: thank you for the tips on containers in winter. I don’t think I can do this as I am in Zone 3 but oh! how I wish I could. Instead I have all my containers in our sunroom and they are a joy for the winter.

My other note is I don’t know what I am going to do without “Gardening Life” I recently sent a request for a subscription for myself and my daughter and am wondering what happens to the money?

Marjorie, you have been an inspriation for the years I have received Gardening Life and I am going to be lost without it. The other gardening mags just don’t do it for me.

Good luck to you all and hope that you find endeavours for youselves that are rewarding and meaningful. Sincerely Marjorie Partridge”

– Kyle Wilson

It is a shame when a beautiful magazine closes but even worse when it is closed in such a bad way. I understand that there was little if any notice to Marjorie or anyone else who worked at GL. A rude shock to everyone just before the Holiday season.

The problem may well have been poor advertising revenue but I’d thought St.Joseph Communication was a class act. It appears I was wrong. Scrooge is alive and well and now we know where he works.

What a damned shame it is about Gardening Life. I’ve been a subscriber since day one so I guess I’ll soon have a complete collection of its issues.

While I’ve regretted the more recent emphasis on outdoor living spaces rather than on true gardens, the magazine had consistently high production values and was always a worthwhile read.

I’ve given subscriptions to Gardening Life as a Christmas present from me to six friends for years now; I guess I’ll have to find an alternative gift. And I guess I’ll have to pass on the bad news about the demise – some Christmas present that’ll be!

Thank heavens you have this blog so we can all still hear from you.

I have been incredibly touched by the response to Gardening Life’s demise. I’m still reeling actually.

But if you want to substitute GL for a Christmas present, you can give my book How to Make a Garden. I will sell it to you for the same price.

yours Marjorie

[…] Marjorie Harris 39 Blog R I P GARDENING LIFE Posted by root 22 hours ago (http://marjorieharris.com) Nov 16 2008 we had ted johnston for 10 years as our tool shed guy learned a lot there marjorie partridge left this sincere comment on the st joseph media video blog and i powered by wordpress gardener theme by exus Discuss  |  Bury |  News | marjorie harris 39 blog r i p gardening life […]

Its gardening time and just got out my old Gardening Life magazines got on the computor and find its no longer in print. Just want to say Marjorie how much I have enjoyed your magazine and your tips I have gardened for 30 years and still found lots of good advise and tips in the magazine. It was also a wonderful display of beautiful gardens and was inspirational to seasoned gardeners like myself, who cant always afford what they would like however was able to enjoy the wonderful pictures. Hope you are well and still gardening I catch you the odd time on some of the home t.v. shows and always enjoy your comments and expertise.
Sincerly
M.V. Rush

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Dear Marjorie: I was cleaning out my magazines recently & came across my issues of Gardening Life. I started to re-read them & realized how important they were to me as I started my gardens many years ago. The information still remains recent & I have found some new ideas from them. I regret the magazine is no longer as all my knowledge has come from the articles & yourself & your colleagues. There is definitely an empty hole not being met by other magazines. I miss you & the wonderful Gardening Life…

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