Sunday, December 31, 2006

Attention Shutterbugs!

You’ve seen those gorgeous garden photos published in magazines and newspapers. Enter this year’s competition and have a chance of getting your winning images published, too! Whether your take the photos in your own backyard, a nearby public garden, or while visiting friends and family in their local gardens, there are so many photographic opportunities to be found. Let’s show off the best in DC-area gardening!
This contest offers an opportunity for all photographers to present their best shots of gardens in the greater Washington, DC area. Contest entries will be judged on technical quality, composition, originality, and artistic merit. More than $500 in prizes will be awarded!
The first annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest will commence at midnight tonight and entries will be accepted until midnight on January 21.

For the full details, go to the Contests page on www.washingtongardener.com, send an email to editor@washingtongardener.com to have a PDF version emailed to you, or see page 13 in the Jan/Feb 07 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Winter Soul-stirs

My most hated date of the year has just passed - Oh Happy Day! From here on out the daylight increases and we are headed for a new growing season.

We are in the middle of getting the Jan/Feb 2007 issue of the magazine out. With all the holidays and extra days-off-just-because, it will be about a week late coming out. It is just so hard to get a hold of folks for interview quotes, fact-checking, photo requests, and proofing in the month of December. It seems like the world just shuts down (as does our printer). Though it also felt that way back in August when I was prepping the September/October issue. Just going against the norm and bad timing, I suppose.

I absolutely hate missing deadlines, even if they are self-imposed ones. This week and last I've worked over 120 hours so far and plan on pulling an all-nighter tonight so I can give myself Christmas evening and morning off. Don't ask how I got all my cards out and gift shopping done, I'm thinking that is a minor miracle in itself. I'm chalking it up to buying things throughout the year at all the festivals and shows we've attended for the magazine. Next year I'll try to duplicate that successful strategy.

Don't feel too bad for me though I'm having a great time listening to 24-hour Christmas songs on the radio and writing about some of my favorite plants -- orchid basics, growing asparagus, and choosing winter daphne shrubs will be just a few of the article features in this next issue.

During my self-permitted lunch break today I caught one of the WETA Neighborhood segments on our local PBS station. This one was all about Glover Park's community garden which dates pack to WW2. Here is a link to the video footage posted online. Such a pleasure watching folks work in the warm sun and harvest fresh vegetables. What a nice gift on this dreary gray day.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Georgie Boy

Our current issue has a cover story on horticultural careers. This has gotten great reactions and apparently is widely read as we got contacted yesterday by the George Washington University landscape design program. They said they'd gotten some great referrals from it as they are very favorably mentioned and would like to reprint it in their student inquiry kits as well as put a link on their web site. So here is the link and here is another they did. I thought this was only appropriate as Washington Gardener, while not directly named after George himself, is indirectly named for him -- as it is named for the city which is named after him.

NOT after Washington state, I might add for the few blog readers out there who are West Coast oriented or just wishful thinkers. If you are in the Washington state area, there is a regional gardening publication for you - Northwest Garden News. It is based out of Seattle and a really nice resource for the Pacific Northwest.

Anyway, back to OUR Washington. We've done a daytrip column to River Farm and somewhat touched on his farming/agricultural interest. I'm saving a daytrip column to Mount Vernon until a later date as it is so well-known and something we can do at most any point while smaller, lesser known sites can get the attention while each is in season and timely. If I get the advertising income up, I can add pages and then add a column idea I've had for profiling long-gone gardeners significant to the local scene. Currently, we only profile live, active area gardeners. Washington, of course, would be a top candidate for this new 'influential gardeners in our past' series.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Super Secret Double-Life

I've just been interviewed me on the blog: LTs Jazzy Radio Loft & Lounge. What am I doing on a jazzy radio blog? I know LT through LoveSexyDC, a local Prince fan group I founded over a decade ago. It's funny how people I've known for years have no idea about this part of my life whereas my "Prince family" may be completely unaware that I run a garden magazine -- just as my yoga friends that I spend on average three nights a week at the movies -- and so on. I think they call that "compartmentalizing." I just call it life.

In the interview we talk about the LoveSexyDC, how it started, my magazine business, gardening, and of course, Prince himself. I think he asked some very smart questions and the conversation flows well. Please check it out and leave comments -- I'll visit his blog page and answer any additional questions that may come up.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pawn-set-ah

The latest issue (12/15/06) of the Washington Gardener Enews has been sent out and is now archived online for all to read. The feature story is on Poinsettias, which I must say make me crazy to write about in that I want to spell them every which way but the right way. It doesn't help either that I hear the name pronounced with innumerable variations so that there seems to be truly no consensus on the correct one. Whether it is pawn-set-ah or poween-set-tya, it is one plant that I personally never had any urge to purchase. I'm more the paperwhite and mini-cedar girl during the holidays. This year though I was sucked in by the 3 for $9 pricing and have them by my front door in an incongruously pricey planter (pictured at top left).

Will I attempt to nurture and bring the poinsettias back for next year? I think it will be determined by what shape they are in at the end of the season. (I just hate seeing all those leggy, leafless poinsettias on receptionist's desk when I visit offices around town!) Though knowing me, I wouldn't have the heart to throw the poor things in the compost pile in the dead of winter.

BTW the first winner of our Brookside Garden of Lights Subscription Contest is Kathleen Rapp of Gaithersburg, MD. YOU still have a chance to enter for the next contest drawing on December 31. See our Contests web page for details.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tree Tales

Our latest Washington Examiner article is now out. It is entitled: "Tall Tree Tales" and is about tree pruning basics plus caring for your shade plus ornamental trees. We also have a side-bar on DC's largest trees. Read it online (Dec 15 edition - page 74) or grab the print version at street boxes around town today - the article is on R10 (Real Estate section - page 10).
BTW I'll be at my brother's booth at the Downtown Holiday Market at F and 7th Streets NW today for a few hours to give him a break. Stop by if you are in the DC area. He is space #4 and is selling Antique Prints including many botanicals. He also has a rack of the current issue of Washington Gardener magazine for sale so you can buy a copy or sign up for a subscription in person if you desire. The market runs everyday from 12-7 through December 22.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Side Show

We've been very busy lately getting several side projects going. They include a trip to the Philly Flower Show on 3/7, a garden author talk at the DC library on 2/7, our Seed Exchange on 1/27, our new Photo Contest (open for entry from 12/15-1/15), and much more.

Just a quick reminder that the last date to order a GIFT subscription to arrive for Christmas is 12/20.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Spinning Networking Webs

I'm a panelist at an upcoming DC Web Woman program on magazines. DC Web Woman is one of the best kept secrets for networking in our area. Free to join and be on their email lists. The only costs involved are fees for attending workshops and social events. You can attend as many as you like or none at all -- a totally low-key, no-pressure organization. Most all of the members are involved in web site building in some way or other -- some are freelance web hosting service providers, some work for big corporations in their IT department, some are like me and have one we maintain for our businesses, and still others are just interested in getting into the web business in some aspect. If you are in publishing today, I don't think it is possible that your job is not somehow web-related. What I like best about this group is their complete openness and willingness to share. I attribute that to the great women who make up the membership and keep it running smoothly.

Here are the details of the talk:
Monday, January 22
Moving to Online: Print to WebWorking with Print and Digital Magazines
DC Web Woman
American Public Power Association
2301 M Street NWWashington, DC 20037

Tonight I'll be at the annual DCWW Holiday Party. We are donating a gift subscription to Washington Gardener as one of the door prizes and I'm really looking forward to meeting many of the woman whose emails I read on a daily basis.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Gathering The Seeds

The Second Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange is coming up quickly. I'm in the middle of finalizing all the various details of it for publication in the Jan/Feb 07 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine. We are already getting many wonderful door prizes and goody bag items from various sponsors. Today I received a called from Organica who is giving a generous donation of 125 samples of sample bottles of plant nutrition tablets for a goody bag item. If you are a garden-related company and would like to donate a door prize for the event or give a goody bag insert (125 of any one item), just contact me by December 15.

We expect a sell out as we have already gotten in a good number of registrants and we are limited by space constraints to just 125 attendees. Sign up soon using the registration form you can print out at the USNA web site. Remember that current Washington Gardener magazine subscribers get $5 off the registration fee. Just note that on your registration form and we'll confirm against our subscriber list.

BTW, FONA members also get $5 off the Seed Exchange attendee fee. (No, if you are both a subscriber and a FONA member you can NOT add these discounts together! Nice try. ;-) What is FONA? The Friends of the National Arboretum. I have a front-page article all about the Seed Exchange in their current Arbor Friends newsletter. You cannot view it currently online - but I imagine it will get posted soon. FONA is a great group of supporters of the Arboretum. If you enjoy visiting this great DC resource, I highly recommend you join this nonprofit and get involved in their many programs.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Losing My 'Patiens

No, what you see pictured at left is NOT a bunch of boiled down old asparagus tips that I threw into my window boxes for an oh-so-attractive holiday display. This is what happened to the last of my Impatiens in last night's freeze. They were blooming cheerily away in a nice red hue and looking very seasonal, I might add. Evil Jack Frost got to them and now I have "rip out window box plantings" added to my To-Do list.

Coincidentally, on Martha Stewart a day or so back she scolded her warm-up-act Joey, a budding gardener, for trying to hold on to his annuals and prolong their bloom. She practically hissed, "Yank them out NOW." Then tutted him for his laziness and cheapness. He looked wounded. As was I. Martha, I love ya, but damn if I'm going to take my few precious blooming plants out even one minute before they give up the ghost. I milk my babies to the last second of their lives and last year that was well past Christmas.

It is not my being cheap or lazy in this case (though in other instances I'll readily admit those two flaws in my garden care-taking). Rather, it is a complete unwillingness to admit that my beloved summer days are long gone and winter has set in. Those annuals are my last vestige of hope until the snowdrops pop open in early spring. I'll be counting the days...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Christmas Spirit

It was tough getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Like my friend, Julie, I was not really feeling it. I had started my cards and received a few. Been to the Brookside Garden of Lights with my nieces and sang some carols with them and still not a tingle. I had made an evergreen door swag project with the Takoma Horticultural Club (pictured at left). I had put out a few seasonal decor items. Last night I went to mass (first Sunday of advent), followed by a some shopping for presents and a yummy hot chocolate. After all that, I was still not feeling it.

Then I did the Channel 9 "Gifts for Gardeners" segment (read text or watch video) this morning and by the time I got home, it hit. Was it the Santa's elf hat I wore? Was it the talk of getting great gifts? Or the cold, crisp day? Was it finally giving in and buying paperwhites at full retail price at Johnson's on my way home from the TV studio? Maybe reading the religious magazine article on St. Katharina of Siena while waiting for the bus? Who knows?! All I know is it worked and between checking emails and getting caught up on paperwork I've been listening to the all-Christmas radio station, baking cookies, and finishing up those cards with a renewed energy and spirit. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 01, 2006

How to Get Your Garden Product Listed

Our latest Washington Examiner article is now out. It is our "Top 10 Gifts for Gardeners." We did a short piece on this on Channel 4 at 4 news yesterday and will do another this Sunday on Channel 9 at the 8:00 news. Our segment will be coming on around 8:46. Read it online (Dec 1 edition - page 66) or grab the print version at street boxes around town today - the article is on R10 (Real Estate section - page 10). The same piece is also in the Baltimore Examiner, which is posted here (see Dec 1 edition - page 94). You can of course get the print version in Balitmore and its surrounding counties also. The article is on R30 (Real Estate section - page 30).

Of course we are promoting gift subscriptions to our magazine as a great idea. But I'm also giving exposure to some great products and samples we've been sent over the past year. I get at least 3-5 press release for new products (and some not so new) per day. We run a "ProductPreview" column in the magazine that we can usually squeeze around 6 of these into. We do not run this column in an each issue. So you do the math -- 365 x 5 -- products being pitched vs. space for me to highlight a maximum of 30 of them. This column and TV appearances let me spotlight a few more of them. However, that is still a tiny fraction.

How do I decide which products make the cut? It is very subjective, though I try to be as fair as possible. First, if I talked to the company's reps in person at an event like the GWA Annual Symposium, they get a leg up right there. Nothing like face-to-face to make the connection. Second, I listen to referrals -- what are other gardeners gushing about? Third, I try out samples and give them to readers/fellow gardeners to try out as well. Fourth, when it comes to deadline time and I don't have a product's info and high-res CMYK images on a CD/DVD or easily downloadable for the company's web site that second, guess what? I don't use it. If you make me dig and cause me precious time to get those items, I move on to the next product on my list.
One manufacturer who did everything right is West Country Gardener gloves. Not only did they come to GWA prepared with a great product, but they also sent follow-up samples and information. Further, their product photos are one step above the rest. See the one pictured here (converted to low-res for web by me). Good quality action shot -- full of color and life. Something I'd use any day in both product listings and in editorial shots.
So the take-home message for garden product marketers trying to get press placement? Meet the press in person, send product samples, and then follow-up with those CDs of product images and fact sheets.