Friday, December 16, 2005

Predecessors

I finally caught up with the editor of Grandiflora, a MidAtlantic regional magazine that ran for 10 issues - from 2001-03. I had heard great things about the publication, but was never able to track down a copy or locate the brains behind it. Today I was reading the latest issue of HortResources Newsletter, that one of our book reviews from the magazine was reprinted in, and another book review by a Donna Williamson caught my eye. I noted she was a Virginia-based writer and wrote her a short email of praise for the review. She wrote back and mentioned she used to be the publisher of Grandiflora. I hope soon to get a look at a few of their back issues. I'm very curious to see how we compare and contrast.

There are others are still trying to track down. I can across a "Gardener's Directory -Washington DC & Metro Area" at a used book store. (I volunteered the past several years for the ones run by the Friends of the Library in Montgomery County. I had to stop this year due to the hectic publishing schedule, but hope to get back to it soon.) It is written by M. Elaine Evans and Suzanne Judy. It is copyrighted 1995 to the Gardener's Directory Press. This book is a terrific resource and a lot of it is still relevant. Most of it are list of local resources for various things like pick-your-own-farms, plant societies, area gardens to visit, and much more. I've been scribbling all over mine and would love a fresh copy and to find out if they plan any future updates. They did a fantastic job and I would love to meet them to chat.

Two people I'd really love to have a long conversation with are Becky and Joseph R. Pomponio. Here is what I know about them. They published a magazine called "Washington Gardener" in 1984. (I have issues 2-4, would love to have all their issues -- anybody got any others?) I'm not sure when it ceased, but I believe it did not last through its second year. They published out of their home in Bethesda and had an ambitious schedule of 12 issues per year for a subscription rate of $11.95. The cover price was $1.50. The postage must've cost them a pretty penny as the printed on some fairly heavy paper stock.

I ran into their former editor at a nursery this summer. Our conversation was brief. She said her "office" was their kitchen table and that they "lost their shirts" doing the publication. She had not heard from them in years, but said she'd try to track them down and give them my card if she was successful. The funniest part of our conversation (to me, not to her) was when I said, "When I chose the name of my magazine, I had no idea there had been a previous one. It wasn't until I went through the process of trade name registration that I saw it had been registered in the state of Maryland over 20 years ago, but was marked as 'lapsed' and 'unclaimed' so was available again for usage." She exclaimed indignantly, "It has NOT been over 20 years." I said, "I have a few of the issues dated summer of 1984." She said that couldn't be right and I could see the "I feel so old now" look glazing over her eyes so I did not pursue it further. Believe me, I've had a few of those moments myself. A hazard of being Gen X and socializing with those much younger than yourself! In any case, it was great meeting her.


One of the writers for our magazine's first issue, Susan Belsinger, was generous enough to get me those three back issues that I do have of the "Washington Gardener." She had written for them too and had kept them in her files. I've scanned the June 1984 cover here for nostalgia's sake. Every once in a while I'll run into someone at a garden event who sees our signage and says they subscribed or remember "the old Washington Gardener." So you see DC is not a town of transients. A lot of those die-hard gardeners back then are still digging in the local dirt now. Maybe one of them will be able to point me towards the Pomponios or the "Gardener's Directory" authors. I know we'd have lots to talk about.

There is one other preceding publication that I'm aware of -- People, Plants & Places -- which had a MidAtlantic version of their magazine for about 2-3 years. I believe their last issue of that was Fall 2004. They continue to publish their original magazine, the New England version and have also now launched their TV show in HGTV. I have yet to catch it as it airs Sunday at 7:00 am and unlike the rest of their schedule doesn't rerun several times a week. I do have all the back issues of the local version of the PPP mag, though I have yet to get a chance to do more than scan through the pile. I've also been in contact with a lot of their ex-writers and staff. From what I have gathered so far I can see that PPP had a very different editorial focus than ours and obviously covered a larger area (with majority of stories on PA, NJ, and NY gardens), but still had the same written-by-local-gardeners-for-local-gardeners mission as we do which I heartily applaud.

Some day when I have a few more spare minutes I tell the stories about the writer solicitations I get from all over the USA and as far away as India and Africa. For now, I've think I've gone on enough to hold this blog through much of the holiday season. In case I don't get a chance to post again before January 1, have a wonderful rest of your 2005!

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