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.