Monday, January 30, 2006

Seed Exchange Success

We'll be doing a re-cap story in the magazine and I wanted to take a few sentences here to say the first annual Washington Seed Exchange held last weekend at the U.S. National Arboretum was a roaring success for us. We got some great publicity out of it with mentions on various radio shows, in local newspapers, and a few TV programs. Not only did we have a solid attendance, but most all left saying they were enthusiastically looking forward to next year's event and we also discussed a "harvest" picnic for the end of the summer to show off what everyone had grown from their seeds. The weather was picture-perfect and our speakers were spot-on. A big THANK YOU once again to our goody bag and door prize sponsors as well as to all of the volunteers and the USNA staff, we could not have it without you!

Judy Tiger of GROW (http://www.growdc.org/) was terrific at corralling the crowd. Kevin Munroe of the NoVA Audubon Society (http://www.fairfaxaudubon.org/) had answers for everyone at the "Native" table. And our staff photographer, Drena, did an especially great job covering it all and acting as "Vanna White" for our door prize drawing. I've posted one of her pics here and more will be in the March/April 2006 issue.

Speaking of TV, I've just got my second booking on our local CBS affiliate, Channel 9, for this Sunday, Feb. 5 at 8-9 am -- I'll be on around 8:45 to the end of the show. Not sure yet on the exact topics, but think I'll discuss and show our "glove wardrobe" article from our current issue as wearing garden gloves was a point of debate at my last appearance. The weatherman, Howard, said "real men" don't wear them!

Now our attention turns to: making our first anniversary issue - March/April 2006 - as good as it can possibly be; getting out our renewals to the charter subscribers; and prepping for our booth at the Washington Home & Garden Show from Feb. 9-12.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Upcoming Events

Okay I've decided to take the plunge and signed up for the Washington Home & Garden Show (http://www.washingtonhomeandgardenshow.com). I'll be in a corner booth #868 - so stop by and say, "Hi" - especiall during Thursday-Friday, when I know the aisles will be fairly empty and the hours will be long. Wish me luck!

More pressing on the immediate horizon is our Seed Exchange at the USNA this Saturday (http://www.usna.usda.gov/). I'm please to report we've far surpassed the break-even number for the Arboretum's budgeting of 40 attendees. Our maximum attendance allowed in the space is 125 and judging by the number of calls and emails I've been getting the past few days and the rate of registrations received, I think we will be very close to it. I'd hate to turn anyone away at the door, but I suppose that is a good problem to have.

I just spent the last few hours packing up the door prize and goody prize items, some stuff I know folks will be ecstatic over. A big thank you to all our prize sponsors? They include: D. Landreth Seeds, Audubon Society of NoVA, Gardener's Supply/Dutch Gardens, Thompson & Morgan Seeds, Nichols Garden Nursery, Chesapeake Natives, Maryland Native Plant Society, America the Beautiful Foundation, and Trident Ent. (MasterGardening.com). Still awaiting a few more last prize items and we'll be all set.

My next few days will probably be consumed with preparations for this event and my wish is for it to go smoothly and for folks to leave it with a ton of seeds, a few new friends, and a lot of information on growing from seed.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Washington Home & Garden Show: Worth it?

I'm debating right now on exhibiting at the Washington Home and Garden Show
(http://www.washingtonhomeandgardenshow.com/) on February 9-12. I'm leaning towards a "yes" right now betting on the exposure and that attendance will stay at their projected of 50,000. However, the booth cost is a bit pricey and the weather can be a factor in attendance, but my real reluctance is that it takes place right as I'm scheduled to finish the layout of our March/April issue, get it proofed, and off to the printer. So those four days are pretty crucial to me and with the long hours of the show (10am - 9pm) this will be quite a time investment. I'm relying though on an email conversation I had last year with the Chicagoland Gardening (http://www.chicagolandgardening.com/) magazine publisher who said that the Chicago Home and Garden show was his best event of the year and his top way to get subscribers. Again, leaning towards "yes" and will keep you updated as to how it turns out.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Taking A Break

Tip of the cursor to my friend, Mary. She is a former DC-area resident now living and gardening in Denver. Mary tipped me to the Slow Down Week site and as I have been doing anything but that - I did not get around to visiting it until today. On it I found this wonderful essay by a professional British gardener:
http://www.slowdownnow.org/stories-of-idleness/the-importance-of-the-british-tea-break/
Take a break today - get a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy reading it. This guy is living the dream of many gardening folks I know.

As usual, my only chance to take a breather this week was my Yoga class, for which I thank God every time I attend. It really is the highlight of my week and without I think I'd go nuts. I also think it has had a direct effect on my gardening and life enjoyment. Being only 37 I can still see the direct effect of increased flexibility and back strength. My older class-mates are especially great examples of this. Since I started less than 2 years ago, I've gone from attempting to touch my toes and being able to just touch the tops of my feet to now being able to fully place my hands on the floor. I can also do backbends that I last did in third grade gymnastics. My current goal is to do an unassisted hand-stand, I'm getting there slowly but surely.

I'm craving a vacation but with my self-imposed work schedule I do not see that happening for quite some time. Today I'm sending out my first batch of magazine renewal letters. That is quite an occasion to celebrate and mark for us as that means one full year of publishing has passed and we are jumping full tilt into a new one. Tonight I think I'll celebrate by doing "nothing" or at least nothing constructive.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Local Garden Radio Show Coming Back

Just an update on the "Garden Gurus" program hosted by Behnkes Nursery. They took a break and have re-tooled and are re-launching next month. I enjoyed being a guest on the show several times in 2005 and hope to remain a part in 2006. Here are the details:

The Garden Gurus radio program is now preparing to launch a new season beginning February 4, 2006. The program can be heard in DC area on Saturday mornings from 8-9:00am on WMET1160AM and live/archived online at www.wmet1160.com. This season will be their second at WMET and third on the air.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rating Plant Popularity

One of the fun things about being a garden writer is getting some of the behind-the-scenes research and info that the general public may never see. One example is an annual list culled from search requests at http://hort.net. (Tip of the cursor to Chris on the Garden Writers List for collecting these stats.)

This list can provide garden writers and green industry folks with what is "hot" and what is not for the general public. However, I think these stats need to be really examined and gone over carefully before we all jump to some wrong conclusions.

For instance, what does it mean that Pieris japonica topped the listed for plant name searches? It was far and above the number one item with 29562 views. The second most popular item was Cleome hassleriana with 7791 views. Should we be doing a cover feature and whole special issue on Pieris japonica? Why the strong popularity? The count difference is so huge it almost seem like a "fix" or one very obsessive person has made it their home page?

Here are some other fun stats from the list:

Viburnum, hosta, iris, and hydrangea are the top searches in the images gallery. In 2003, roses topped the image search list, but in the last two years the beloved flower fell - though it still hangs on in the top 10. I know what to have our photographers look for more now.

Other top plants for information searches are Magnolias, Japanese Maples, and Dogwoods. Interesting most of the top 20 are small trees or landscape shrubs. Perennials are on the list, but are farther down and seem to be dropping. I could speculate that this is a trend towards shrub gardens now or that folks are just more curious about certain plants now or they are tired of perennials and know all they need to by now. In any case, I'm happy to say that our next issue - March/April 2006 is a theme issue on trees and shrubs. This was set about a year ago and nice to know we are on top of the trends.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Predecessors Update #2

Still no luck in tracking down Dig. But in my search, I did come across two other interesting publications.

One is now defunct. It is: The Woodland Garden and it is too bad I did not learn of this earlier. This neat little quarterly newsletter was printed in black & white, but makes the most of it with a lovely layout. The subject matter is very specialized -- shade gardening in the MidAtlantic states. I have two issues (spring and summer 2004) sent by their former editor, Sigrid Thomas. I believe they ran for 8 years and ended in 2004. Their cost was $18 a year to subscribe and Sigrid says they had good success with getting readers and advertisers. They published out of Potomac, MD.
Sigrid said it was a labor of love. She added: "My collection of garden books is extensive, because I started out as a landscape designer. It eventually led me and a partner to start The Woodland Garden. Being in my seventies, I've retired from both. All my energies now go into writing a memoir about three generations of my family originally living in Estonia."

The other is not yet in print. It is: Dig It. I came across them through a tip by blog reader,
Peggy Riccio, who also kindly sent three issues of Grandiflora mag.
Dig It is an ezine at the moment. They plan to go to a paper version shortly and will be a monthly publication. Mary Jasch, publisher/editor of DIG IT! Magazine, says they are out of New Jersey and focus on "East Coast Gardening." I notice they overlap with our target audience slightly - in that they go from Maine down through DE and PA and we are the entire DC commuting area which includes some sections of southern PA and DE - but I would not consider them direct competition. I'm hoping actually that we can complement each other and maybe work on some future co-promotions. You can learn more about them at: http://www.dig-itmag.com/.

Friday, January 13, 2006

DC-area Gardeners' Sites

I'm always on the lookout for DC, MD, or VA gardener's web sites, blogs, etc. Here are two that Jim McKenney maintains does two sites: http://www.pvcnargs.org/, which is the local chapter of the Rock Garden Society, and his personal site, http://www.jimmckenney.com/. The latter, Jim says is" "My Virtual Maryland Garden, which will never be truly finished until I die; there is already lots of material there."
I love his personal site as an example for other local gardeners to not be afraid and jump right in with an online garden journal. Yours need not be picture perfect or close to completed, we lean just as much (if not more) from following those still in progress.
I notice that while we are a region rich in gardening wealth, our area seems to have a shortage of gardeners online and in forums -- as compared to those in Canada, UK, Northwest US, and Australia! If you know of a DC-area gardener with an online site, journal, blog, etc. please let us know.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Momentary TV Stardom

Our link is now up a the WUSA-TV9 site: http://wusa9.com/links/links_article.aspx?storyid=557. I got up early on Sunday morning to be on their 8-9 am live news broadcast. What a great experience that was! My decades of TV addiction have finally paid off with one skill -- being able to hold my own in a TV appearance. I won't be winning any Emmy's, but I'm glad to say I didn't embarrass myself and was asked to come back -- which is always a good sign.

I demonstrated our "RainyDay" project from the Jan/Feb 2006 issue which was "Aging a Pot." Basically, a messy, fun thing to do with kids to give your terra cotta pots a bit of patina and have them look less shiny and new in your garden. I also chatted a bit about seed starting and plugged pur upcoming seed exchange at the USNA (details at: http://www.usna.usda.gov/).

They gave me an extra minute or so at the show's closing and the staff was terrific to work with. I'm going to try to brainstorm some lively ideas to do on future Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, they do not have a live crew on the weekend broadcasts - which is too bad as there would be so much more we could do - maybe we can arrange some weekday advance tapings.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Local Garden Radio Show Ends

Behnke Nurseries' Garden Gurus show on WMET1160am has ended its run. The archived shows are still available online at http://wmet1160.com/artman/publish/gardengurus.shtml. Not sure how much longer that will be though - so get on over fast if you are interested.

I was happy to be part of this show and make several guest appearances. It was not only fun, but an educational experience for me to see how radio shows are put together. I can definitely appreciate how much work it takes to get listeners and a loyal audience. With a number of other garden radio shows in our area competing at the same timing (Saturday morning), it would be hard to make a new one work without it being very different, offering some unique information, and/or having a large promotional budget.

Now I'll be researching the other local garden radio shows, so I can call in or do live interviews, to spread the word on the magazine and our related events and services.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Season's Greetings

Here is a photo I took today of the "Season’s Greetings from the National Mall" exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden. The installation ends tomorrow (1/8/06), so get on over there if you have missed it. The buildings are miniature versions of those found on or near the National Mall. All are created using natural materials -- mostly seed pods, bark, and twigs.

The fast running train that goes over and around this miniature mall was fascinating to the many young children in attendance - so (if you have any) bring the kids! They'll also enjoy the adjacent exhibits, which let you smell various plant-produced scents such as lavender, curry spices, and lemon verbena, and the sLowlife (stet) exhibit that shows plants can dance, yearn and feel.

Since we never did an official holiday greeting to our reader, I figured better late than never. Have a wonderful 2006 everyone may your gardens and yourselves be blessed with marvelous health throughout the coming seasons!

We've Been Profiled

Our case profile is now up on MagazineLaunch.com. The direct link is:
http://www.magazinelaunch.com/article/articles/106/1/Washington-Gardener-Magazine-Case-Study.

This link is not yet live on the main page of the site but it be in a few days when their Jan. newsletter is released.

Looking it over - I'm pretty happy with the results. Gives aspiring publishers some genuine information, rather than a sugar-coated fantasy which is what I often see in many business/entrepreneur publications. Although it is not the most flattering photo I've ever taken - yikes! I guess I was going for "real dirt gardener" that day over a glamour shot. But it couldn't hurt to have some nice, posed studios shots down. One more thing to add to the growing "to do" list...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Promotions Rolling Along

The January/February is now mailing, the holidays have really screwed over my production schedule - will have to account for that next year and maybe even move up deadlines.

I'll be talking about the magazine this Sunday, 1/8, from 8-9 am on WUSA Channel 9 News in Washington DC, which will include a nice link from their web site. I'm supposed to be on air about 8:45 -- tune in when it starts though as they said I'll have a few "teasers" throughout the show. I'm trying not to think to much about this and not get too nervous. I know it will be over in a flash and just hope to make a good enough impression to be asked back again.

MagazineLaunch.com has selected us for their case profile in their January edition. I'll put a link directly to it -- as soon as it is available -- I believe it will be close to the 20th. Basically, this site is about how to launch a magazine. It is a terrific resource and certainly has helped me a lot in these early days. I'm hoping our example helps or inspires other newbie publishers as well.
They have a "rate it" section and I'm pleased to see we have a 4.80 out of 5 possible stars! I had submitted our listing way back around our launch time, but had forgotten all about this feature. If you're a reader of our print publication, please add your rating as well. Just go to www.MagazineLaunch.com and scroll down to the yellow "search for links" box on the bottom, left and then enter "Washington" -- our listing should come right up.