* Prices may differ from that shown
It won?t come as any surprise to those who regularly read my reviews when I say I?m a keen gardener. There?s something about the feel of the earth between your fingers and the sense of satisfaction to be gained from watching a fragile seedling or a tiny cutting grow into a vigorous, thriving plant. However, I?m not a winter gardener. I don?t have a proper greenhouse and I don?t react well to spending too much time outside in the cold and damp. It?s during those short, miserable days of winter that I can be found with my nose stuck into some sort of gardening literature. Garden News is published weekly and is available to buy on a Wednesday. If, like me, you choose to subscribe, you?ll receive it a day before it hits the shops although I?m not sure that has any real advantage. For me, subscribing simply means that I?ll receive it every week without having to dash to the shop on publication day because in our town, leaving it one day later would usually mean it?s sold out. You wouldn?t believe the times my other half has trawled the shops of Crewe in search of Garden News for me. I believe it was after one such fruitless journey that he suggested I take out a subscription. Published by emap, this isn?t a magazine as such, more a gardening newspaper that generally consists of about 50 pages at a cost of 1.30 per issue. It?s easy reading and although probably not of much interest to the professional gardener, I?m sure even those with a good few years behind them spent picking up gardening knowledge will find some handy hints and tips now and then. Any specialist periodical will eventually have to repeat information as new readers won?t have seen the original piece and also because techniques develop that may give the same subject a slightly different angle, but I find Garden News to be just a bit too repetit
ive. I?m not overly impressed with their main feature articles either as they often leave out what I consider important information, like when a particular plant should preferably be put in the ground and when it?s likely to flower. Telling me what sort of soil it prefers and how to feed it is all very well and good but I?m not likely to be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not to add a particular plant to my collection when I don?t even know when it?s going to flower. However, there are always lots of little tips and hints about things you should be doing in the garden at the time of publication and they often include information on how to do these things so it?s not all bad. The particular issue I?m looking at right now has a piece about feeding the lawn, another about making a sedum mat in the patio or pathway, how to pot on fuchsia cuttings, growing busy lizzies from plugs, cleaning up your garden pond and how to grow oriental vegetables. And that?s just three pages worth! There?s a two page spread on Auriculars but unfortunately, as I?ve come to expect, there?s no mention of when they flower. Maybe because they?re flowering now they figure everybody will know that they?re spring flowering. But would they? How do we know they aren?t going to continue flowering through to Autumn? There?s advice on where to plant them but unfortunately, there isn?t really any proper after care advice either. There are several regular features including ?Hot New Plants? where Frank Hardy introduces a couple of plants that have recently been launched. This is one of the more interesting features in my opinion as it helps me keep up-to-date with what?s on the market and there have been a good few times when I?ve seen a new plant at the garden centre and known what it is because I?d recently seen Frank?s review of it. The letters s
ection seems to be popular as there are always plenty of reader?s stories and ideas to browse through. I often think that experienced amateurs can offer more real gardening advice than a lot of the professionals out there who?ve become so hung up in water features and hard landscaping that they?ve almost forgotten what roots and blooms are and as such, there are often some very good tips to be picked up through reader?s letters. ?Steve?s Scene? is a column by Steve Brookes and varies from cute anecdotes to interesting ideas that he?s thought up and tried. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious but always entertaining. ?Other People?s Gardens? is another of my favourite sections. Every week a reader?s garden is featured as a 3-page spread and more often than not, I?m totally envious! They?re not all huge gardens either; sometimes the featured garden isn?t much more than postage stamp sized but you?d be amazed at what some people manage to do with a tiny plot. The colour pictures usually give me new ideas for my own garden though and they?re always accompanied by tips from the gardener. There?s also a half page feature called ?Readers? Gardens?. These gardens are usually less impressive than the main feature although I don?t mean that in a derogatory way. They?re still over and above what you?d find in an average garden but this feature offers only one colour picture of the garden, a picture of the gardener(s) along with a question and answer type interview. Again, there are tips to be had from what the amateurs have done. ?Question Time? with Nigel Colborn usually spans 2-3 pages and consists of, as the name suggests, questions from readers. Some demand more in-depth answers, some are what they call ?quick queries?. I?ve learned lots through this and every now and then, a question will come up that covers a problem I?ve also been having.
There are questions that seem to be repeated a tad too often, usually the ones about getting rid of slugs and vine weevils but I suppose that?s because they?re the sort of problems most of us will get from time to time (or in my case with the slugs, all of the time) and new readers will be needing help with them. Joe Swift draws up a design for a reader?s garden each week along with planting instructions. They?re real gardens that are causing a problem for their owners and can range from dark areas up the side of a semi to boggy areas and those with sandy soil that?s sun-baked throughout the day. He always has a solution and I find it interesting to see what he comes up with. Unfortunately, this is another area where there?s plenty of instruction related to the actual planting but very little related to after care. I?m sorry, but plants don?t look after themselves. Another of my favourite features is ?On The Wildside? where Julian Rollins tells us a bit about wildlife that can be expected in the garden, what we can do to entice them in, what the different varieties are useful for and lots more. He also pops in some information on wildlife that you don?t want in your garden and what to do to prevent them visiting. We?re planning to make a wildlife pond this year so it?ll be exciting to see whether it helps. There?s a reasonably good balance of organic and non-organic cultivating advice and problem solutions which I feel gives the individual a better chance of making a decision regarding which way to go. I try to be organic in as far as not using chemicals that are harmful to the environment but there are times when non-organic products cut the mustard better. All chemicals aren?t necessarily bad. There?s plenty of information for the vegetable gardener too, although I rarely read those pages as I don?t do veg. I should but I just
don?t have the room for both and I love decorative plants too much to give them up. I want a relaxing oasis at the back of my house, now an allotment. But each to their own and if asparagus and broccoli are your thing, there?s some advice for you to be had here too. I wouldn?t, however, recommend it for those who grow only vegetables. There?s a crossword and a children?s page, a few pages dedicated to small ads, reviews of garden tools and other equipment and some special offers although I?ve never actually taken advantage of them. Most weeks there?s a free packet of seeds but unfortunately, not usually the seeds I?d want. Mind you, having said that, I will be planting both the nasturtiums and the morning glory that have been given away recently. I hate throwing seeds away so they?re all collected in a box in the cupboard under the stairs but I know I?ll never use most of them so perhaps it?s time to find them a new home. Subscribing is easy. Inside the paper you?ll find a coupon that can be handed to your local newsagent instructing him/her to reserve a copy for you every week or you can do as I did and go to the ?Magazine Subscriptions? website (url can be found at the end of this review) to subscribe on a monthly basis. The cost is then £4.33 by direct debit. When considering magazines such as BBC Gardener?s World and Garden Answers, this one?s pretty dire in comparison. But it costs less so what can you expect? It?s certainly better than its closest competitor, Amateur Gardening, which is a proper magazine that?s also published weekly at 30p more than Garden News. I bought Amateur Gardening every week for at least a year and although it has lots of pretty pictures and big name columnists, it hasn?t anywhere near to amount of information that Garden News has. What?
s more, being made of newspaper, when you?re finished with it you can rip it up and put it on the compost heap or use it as a mulch! I don?t know how long I?ll continue to subscribe to this particular publication but until something better is available on a weekly basis, I?ll be sticking with it. ~~+~~+~~ URL Magazine Subscriptions: www.magazine-subscription.co.uk/garden_news.htm
'Garden News' is a weekly gardening magazine in newspaper format. Priced at £1 per issue, this is one of the most reasonable of such publications - its main rival is 'Amateur Gardening' which is similar in content. 'Garden News' has news on current events in gardening, sections on 'how to' for practical application, a kids' gardening club and competitions. It has a good mix of articles for beginners and experts, and news on the big flower shows etc. The other bonus is that at certain times of year there are free seeds.