Yesterday I went to the AHS River Farm site to attend the Eastern Performance Trials for new annual plants to debut on the market next spring, a woman commented to me: "Garden writer?! That is quite a narrow and unusual specialty"
Actually, it's not. There are literally 1,000s of garden writers out there and many, many more who are aspiring to be. Some are life-long gardeners itching to become writers. Others, like me, are from journalism and writing backgrounds looking to focus on a hobby they love.
There are probably as many different stories or ways of getting into garden writing as there are garden writers. I know many with day jobs that would give you no clue as to their ambitions from lawyers to grocery clerks.
My biggest advice to those looking to get into the field is to join the Garden Writers Association at www.gardenwriters.org. (And please tell them "Kathy Jentz of Washington Gardener" referred you!) This is a great bunch of folks and I've only been a member for a year and can say with complete satisfaction the dues are worth it. Aside from being a professional tax deduction, GWA membership and activities allow me to meet the most amazing personalities, pick their brains, and learn from their experiences. I'm really looking forward to the next year of membership and being able to attend big annual conference.
I come from an association background -- interned and worked at 5 different trade and professional associations in the DC area -- and I deeply believe in joining your professional association for whatever field your in.
Right now I'm weighing a decision whether to require that all of the Washington Gardener magazine writers be GWA members as well. It would show a level of commitment and professionalism to garden writing that would set them apart. Maybe something to introduce for 2006 on my writer's guidelines.