A focus on ‘plants instead of celebrity and lifestyle’
White Flower Farm catalog hopes its new venture will come up roses. Following the lead of catalogers such as Williams-Sonoma, which launched the magazine Taste this past fall, the Morris, CT-based gardening products cataloger is launching a magazine called The Gardener this spring.
Also like Williams-Sonoma, which says Taste doesn’t promote the cataloger’s products, The Gardener will not push White Flower Farm products, says president Elliot Wadsworth. “We’ll source the products used throughout the magazine, and some of those will be White Flower Farm products, but we have no plans to sell product in the magazine. The minute a magazine starts to look like a smarmy self-congratulatory rag, no one is going to read it.”
A Boston-based bimonthly publication, The Gardener will debut in April with a 36-page issue. The magazine will carry no advertising and will be 100% subscription-funded.
“We felt that without advertising we could produce a good quality magazine,” Wadsworth says. “We could control the editorial and design of the magazine without worrying so much about church-and-state issues, because there would be only ‘church.’”
An annual subscription to The Gardener costs $20. White Flower Farm has been promoting the magazine with inserts in its spring catalog mailings, which offer subscribers to the magazine $20 off White Flower Farm products.
While Wadsworth will not disclose the current subscription response rate, he says the company is so far “pleased” with the response. “We hope that we can get somewhere in the vicinity of 50,000 subscribers,” he says. “We’re prospecting for subscribers in our house file, and if we get lucky we could get some of the 50,000 from the house file. We’re also exploring [prospect] options with other people in the gardening industry.” According to its list data card, White Flower Farm has more than 113,000 12-month buyers who spend an average of $90 an order.
Under editor Tom Cooper, the former editor of Horticulture magazine, The Gardener will focus on “practical, hands-on” editorial, such as garden design and plant histories, says Wadsworth, who previously owned Horticulture in the 1980s. Because of their history together at Horticulture, Wadsworth says, he and Cooper have a “similar enthusiasm” for the content of The Gardener. “We want to focus on plants instead of celebrity and lifestyle.”