Ruth WalkerComment Puts Gardening Information Just a Mouseclick Away

Ruth WalkerComment Puts Gardening Information Just a  Mouseclick Away

Sunday we’ll be heading to Mackinac Island for the Grand Garden Show at Grand Hotel.  It’s a Proven Winners event and I couldn’t be more excited to go!

As a preview of the people I’ll be meeting there, last week I talked with Jim Peterson of who is also attending.  As someone with a background in journalism, I was intrigued by the move of Garden Design magazine from a traditional print magazine to one that is online only.

The transition to online only took place in 2018 and, Jim explains, allows Garden Design to provide a content rich site and a weekly newsletter that is focused on information that is useful in each zone during each season.  For me in Northern Michigan, that means I can read the newsletter and take an idea and run with it – not wait three or four months before I can implement it.  When you live in a snowy area that’s a huge advantage since there are several months when the closest I get to my garden are the plants I leave up for winter interest.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Gardening magazines must appeal to a huge universe that encompasses a wide range of zones and different types of gardening.  That’s inevitable for any national print magazine, Jim says.  “In a typical print issue we might have had a story from the Pacific Northwest, one from New England and may be in the Mid-Atlantic States or the Southwest.  The feedback we got from readers was that much of the content was irrelevant for them.

“With the website we can break information into zones and make it relevant to each reader,” he adds.  The ability that geo-targeting provides Garden Design allows the writers and designers to cover a specific area.   It also lets gardeners who are searching online directly reach information they can use.

It’s an approach that’s proved popular because these new communications tools: the website, social media and weekly newsletter reach 700,000 interested gardeners nationwide.  “We are a group of writers and designers who help people get the information that interests them right away.”  That ability to provide information dates back to 1999 when the group developed their first educational and informational website.  When they learned that Garden Design magazine was going to close in 2013 they bought the magazine and began using the treasure trove of information it offered for the website.  Since then they’ve added to the information available online.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

One segment that really intrigued me was the site’s list of self-guided garden tours.  This regularly expanding section provides travelers who love to visit gardens with day trips that they can fit into their vacation plans.  Currently the site offers tours in Seattle, Washington D.C., the lower Hudson Valley in New York, in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.  Scheduled to be on the site soon are self-guided tours in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.  There’s also a list of guided garden tours including the one on Mackinac Island next week, lectures, flower shows and more.

What I took away from my conversation with Jim and my exploration of was that signing up for their newsletter was a must do.  In addition to meeting him at the event, I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with Garden Design through each week’s newsletter (and also I appreciate that it’s just once a week so that I can make time to really take it in).  What gardener isn’t looking for new ideas all the time?  Plus, when you sign up you get a free book pdf.  To sign up for the newsletter just go to and scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll see the sign up form.  Let’s keep those great gardening ideas coming.