We’ve all taken part in this scene: It’s mid-March and we’re standing in front of a magazine rack for the umpteenth time this winter. We home in on the gardening section, and voluptuous images of wisteria, flowering dogwood and camellia proceed to taunt our winter-weary eyes.
We know these plants won’t stand up to our rugged Maine winters. We know that what these magazines have to say about these gorgeous specimens won’t do us any good, but we just don’t care. Desperate for winter to melt into spring, we take the magazine home for a dose of visual horticulture therapy.
Well, Maine gardeners, the long wait for a magazine that features pines and mums, indoor gardening and short-season plants is finally over. Now there’s a gardening magazine tailored just to our needs. People, Places and Plants, a Falmouth-based publication founded, edited and published by Maine’s own Paul Tukey hit the countertops and magazine racks at garden centers and stores nearly a year ago. Here in central and northern Maine, it’s just gaining some notoriety.
And that notoriety is well-deserved.
“This is Maine’s magazine, not something published by the Hearst Corporation,” Tukey said. “This is just a Maine guy with no money trying to put out a magazine for Maine gardeners.”
Tukey’s commitment to Maine is evident in his life and in how he relates his past and passions to his readers. In his “Letter from the Editor” at the beginning of each issue, Tukey often writes fondly of his childhood gardening memories, his ties to agriculture and rural Maine, and his sincere love for all aspects of horticulture.
In his first year of publication, Tukey, a former journalist for the Evening Express in Portland, in partnership with his wife, Elizabeth Stehle, who is director of circulation and marketing, has learned a lot about what Maine gardeners want in their magazine. Those who have been following Tukey’s work can attest to the fact that People, Places and Plants has undergone a transformation since its first issue and that these changes have improved the look and content of the magazine.
Overall, Tukey is pleased with the way the magazine is progressing. Gardeners all over the state send encouraging words and ideas as well as articles to contribute to his publication. Inevitably, he has received a bit of criticism as well.
“We did get some negative feedback about having celebrities on the cover,” Tukey said. He’ll take the readers’ message to heart and make changes in cover photos in the future. But he admits that while he envisioned the magazine’s focus would be on gardeners, it turns out that many readers enjoy a magazine chock-full of technical information.
“People want a gardening magazine that gives them information,” Tukey said. “What they really want to do is learn.”
According to the 36-year-old writer-editor-publisher, one of the most popular sections of the magazine is the garden calendar, the “centerfold” of People, Places and Plants. The calendar offers horticultural advice pertinent to the season, phases of the moon, and precipitation and temperature information. Every issue also features a kids section, profiles of Maine gardeners, and features on plants that thrive in our climate.
The March issue of People, Places and Plants has a range of articles about gardening with children. Many of the contributing writers are active teachers whose hobby is gardening. It has 80 pages of information you won’t want to miss. Rhododendrons and new vegetables for 1997 are two of the main features. In addition, there’s a listing of 75 horticultural events coping up statewide. Tukey hopes the magazine will become a meeting place for all those interested in gardening.
“Eventually I want people to think to automatically call us with events and information,” he said.
What a wonderful asset for northern gardeners — a magazine designed as a mechanism for us to celebrate together our love for gardening in Maine. For more information about People, Places and Plants, write to P.O. Box 6131, Falmouth 04105, or call 800-251-1784.
Attention Waldo County Gardeners: The Waldo County Cooperative Extension is sponsoring a garden day on Saturday, March 15, at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.
Two educational sessions will be offered with a variety of seminars to choose from in morning and afternoon sessions. Morning topics include presentations on herbs, home greenhouses, extending the growing season, low-maintenance landscaping and saving seed. A keynote address will be given by Susan Pierce of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association during the lunch hour. Pierce will discuss plans for bringing the Common Ground Fair to Unity. For information about the garden day, contact the Waldo County Extension office at 800-287-1426.
Correction: The photo that appeared with last week’s column was labeled incorrectly as an aster. It was, in fact, a chrysanthemum.
Diana George Chapin is the NEWS garden columnist. Send horticulture questions to Gardening Questions, c/o MaineWeekend, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329. Selected questions will be answered in future columns. Include name, address and telephone number.