I made a trip to the bookstore this weekend, so it's magazine review time again. I've been wanting to get my hands on a copy of People Places Plants (PPP) for a long time, because it's written specially for Northeast gardeners.
Publisher. People Places Plants is an independent media compan founded by Paul Tukey (editor) and Dr. Richard Churchill (associate editor & staff horticulturist). (If that ever becomes my job title, it means I've died and gone to heaven.) The magazine is based on the show of the same name, which appears on HGTV and is hosted by Tukey and Roger Swain, who was the host of PBS' Victory Gardens gardening show for 15 years. The company has less than 20 employees and is based in New Gloucester, Maine. Local, small companies always get good grades! Grade: A
Content. The magazine features three sections–you got it, People, Places, & Plants. The People section regularly highlights gardeners from the six northeastern states (NY, NH, VT, MA, RI, & ME). In the Spring 2006 issue, the Places section features articles on creating small urban gardens, gardens in the Boston North Shore area, and a local event calendar. The Plants section contains the largest number of articles. The spring issue featured in-depth articles on new vegetables, native trees, bluets, edible lawn weeds, a native plant called coltsfoot, hardy epimediums, and tropical plants. They also have Special Section articles, which in this issue included an interview with Debra Koons Garcia, the maker of the documentary about genetically engineered food called The Future of Food (and Jerry Garcia's wife); a gardener who went blind but still gardens; garden photography; and a woman whose parents left her an amazing garden and is keeping it going.
One thing I really liked is that PPP vocally supports sustainable gardening practices:
If we show it, you can grow it, meaning we write about plants that will have the best chance for survival during our harsh winters. And we believe in patronizing our locally owned garden centers, where you are likely to receive the best service and advice when you shop for plants and supplies.
Overall there was a high quantity of content and it was very thorough. I liked the diversity of topics. The only reason PPP doesn't get an A is because it has a very glitzy appearance–glossy paper, bigger than a standard size magazine, and very colorful. That's kind of a turn-off to me–it's just too Sunset-y. If you've ever read that mag you know what I mean. Grade: A-
Ads. Well, there are definitely a lot of ads. However, they are primarily for local nurseries and growers and organic supplies–no ads from Scott's or Weed B Gone at least. Grade: B-
Website. The website is well done but doesn't provide access to any current or archived content–although you can order back issues. They're pretty clear that they want you to subscribe to get the content, I guess. Grade: B-
Cost. An individual issues $5.95 (steep) but a 1 year subscription (6 issues) is $24.95, which seems very reasonable considering the quantity & quality of the content. A one-year subscription also includes a discount card that provides a 10% discount at a variety of northeastern nurseries and garden centers. Grade: B+
Overall Evaluation. I give them an overall grade of B+. Even though its content was excellent and I like that the publisher is small and local, I couldn't give PPP an A because of a few (admittedly minor) annoyances. Even so, I will probably eventually subscribe to PPP because I really liked the local angle.