Garden Design Magazine 2016

Garden Design MagazineDetroit Garden Works has been on hiatus since January 15. Anyone who comes to our door is welcome to come inside, but most of what there is to see now are the repairs we’ve made to our old block walls and roof, the new paint throughout, and clean surfaces all around. What Rob has selected for our 2016 gardening season is beginning to arrive. It will take every bit of the next two weeks to put the shop back together for our March reopening. But there is another sure sign of spring. The early spring 2016 issue of Garden Design Magazine is set to ship the beginning of next week. If you are a gardener of a certain age, you probably recognize the name. Garden Design Magazine, in its previous life, was published between 1982 and 2013.  Jim Peterson, entrepreneur and risk taker, decided to buy the rights to the magazine from the Bonnier Corporation shortly after they ceased publication.

Garden Design Mafazine Early Spring 2016Though his primary interest was in establishing a new innovative digital presence for Garden Design, gardening aficionados all over the country spoke strongly to their appreciation for the printed page. Who knows what possessed him to commit to bringing that print publication back to life in an incredibly beautiful and signature way, but he did. I greatly admire this about him. Jim called me to ask if Detroit Garden Works would consider carrying his new magazine. I loved how he was willing to take his passion as far as making his case for his new magazine personally to people in the retail garden community.  I admire any gardener that creates magic from dirt, and Jim Peterson is no exception. Of course I said yes. I am an American landscape designer. A publication devoted to American landscape and garden design is a resource I would treasure. I take great pride that my practice was featured in their first issue.

photograph by Rob Cardillo

Garden Design Magazine is easy to like. Each of the four yearly issues are much more journal than magazine. The early spring issue which will ship the first of next week is 148 pages, none of which are devoted to ads. The paper is of such a substantive and fine quality that the photographs represent beautifully-more like a monograph than a magazine. The beauty of the photo reproductions do justice to the beauty of the photographs themselves. This highly evocative photograph by Rob Cardillo speaks volumes about composition and color in a garden. Who knows what article is in store that will feature this photograph. The quality of the photographs in every issue is matched by articles bound to be of interest to anyone and everyone who gardens – either personally or professionally.

photograph by Rob CummingsI had occasion to speak with Thad Orr, editor in chief of Garden Design, at some length last week.  I was interested to hear him talk about his approach to the work of creating a magazine that would encourage wide readership in the gardening community. He is clearly keen to represent three broadly brushed and overlapping areas of interest. The individual gardener, who designs and tends their own garden, will find articles that speak to a personal scale, scope and interest. The professional landscape and garden designer, whose practice is a life’s work, and those with an abiding interest in horticulture either as a grower or a practitioner round out the trio. This photograph by Rob Cummings speaks not only to the hard work of garden, but the artistry that can accompany every aspect of great garden making. It also speaks to other groups in the gardening world-those who design and make tools, furniture, garden gear, or ornament.

photograph by Jason IngramThe magazine is willing to celebrate any aspect of garden making. There is no stultifying narrative about what gets to be called gardening, and what doesn’t. Their tent is a big one. The benefit to readers is whatever topic they choose to cover, they address with some depth. A new gardener might fill their first containers with geraniums, as they are ubiquitous in nurseries all over the country.  I love them – they are the little black dress of the container plant world.  But this pot, photographed by Jason Ingram, features a geranium I am not familiar with. There will be those who are interested in the plants in this pot.  And those who are interested in the design of it.

photograph by Pia ClodiGrowing and arranging cut flowers appeals to everyone who has ever been enchanted by flowers. I have no idea in what context this scrumptious but simple arrangement of anemones, lisianthus and carnations was photographed by Pia Clodi, but I will be finding out next week.

photograph by Bob StefkoGarden Design does a great job of telling stories about people who garden in one form or another.  This part interests me greatly, as every person has a different point of view. And most surely a point of view worth learning about. As a landscape design professional, I am naturally interested what other people in horticulture and design are doing. Bob Stefko’s portrait of Roy Diblik, well known American plantsman, grower, author and designer tells me an interesting story is on the way. If you gardener, and are not familiar with his work, there is a golden opportunity to get acquainted.

photograph by Robert YuI do believe there is some great landscape design being done in the US.  Photographed by Robert Yu, this contemporary landscape is absolutely stunning. It is not a landscape I am familiar with. Garden Design is a forum for landscape and garden design that I appreciate having available to me. I might not otherwise see this garden. I am keenly interested to read more about it.

photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo30 years have passed since since I last grew bearded iris. This astonishing photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo not only makes me want to grow them again, it makes me want to grow these.

photograph by Rob CardilloAs much as I appreciate this garden and fence, as photographed by Rob Cardillo, what strikes me the most is the idea that a landscape and garden can be a gateway to a way of life that is good for people. Garden Design makes this case in many different ways.  If you do not already subscribe, I would recommend you do so. Subscribe now, and you get the early spring issue from which all of these photographs were taken, free. Check it out:  subscribe to Garden Design here Yes, I have a good bit of enthusiasm for this magazine. It is the only magazine of its kind. I would like to see them continue to cover horticulture and design for a long time to come.


  1. Dear Deborah, a great read, both Dirt Simple and Garden Design. I am really fascinated by those rebar arches covered in grapevine in one of the photos.

  2. Hi Deborah:

    Wow. Thank you for your thoughtful write up about Garden Design magazine!

    To answer some questions:

    Who knows what possessed him to commit to bringing that print publication back to life in an incredibly beautiful and signature way, but he did

    I love art, architecture, gardens, and people. Also love communicating and organizing information in a delightful, pleasing, and helpful way (your readers should check out We have been doing so since 1999 with our site where we serve over 16 million people per year. And that’s how we see it- we are serving people. Helping.

    What better topic to do so than with gardens: plants, products, people, destinations to enjoy. How fun to connect people to these things and to each other.

    And oh yeah (not a minor detail), what a marvelous team we have of editors, photographers, writers, designers, web developers, and customer service folks (yes, a real person answers our phone: your readers can try it! 855-624-5110). Most of us have worked together over 10 years.

    We know all about the questions people have about the future of print: we expect our business to be one part print (a vital, already profitable part of the whole) and several parts digital (we have advertising online/ in our newsletters/ etc.). But oh that print part is so beautiful and makes so many things possible. Print still matters.

    By communicating effectively we will reaching several million people per month through print and digital (digital being larger)- however people want to interact with us.

    I loved how he was willing to take his passion as far as making his case for his new magazine personally to people in the retail garden community

    This has been the funnest part of the project, the incredible people I/ we have met. From the Garden Bloggers Fling, to the garden shows…wow. Meeting people with so much passion (and encouragement to us) is a treasure: garden retailers, farmers, floral designers, landscape designers, home gardeners, growers, and on and on. Each passionate.

    We want to meet people, talk with them, that’s how we learn and make our product better, and it makes it all fun. When you sit across from Bill Marken, Jan Johnsen , Pam Penick, Dorothy Kalins, or talk on the phone with you, for instance, and can feel the passion they have with what you are doing- the twinkle in the eye or voice, well that is amazing.

    Finally, you are a huge inspiration to me. Your passion in each and every blog post. Your store, the fantastic products you make and inspire people with.

    In the end, that’s one thing I really love about this country. People can take their ideas and without a lot of interference go to market and make something great. And if people think it IS great they buy it- which is what is happening now with Garden Design magazine. Who was I to call you, or Barnes and Noble or Whole Foods- but you all took the calls!


    Jim Peterson
    Publisher/ Owner
    Garden Design

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jim, thanks so much for your letter. You can speak to your work better than I could ever hope to – so I am happy you did. I think what you have done and are doing is important to gardeners, designers and horticulturists all over this country. Your magazines have a space in my library, and rightfully so. The magazine is a vote of confidence in all the great gardening that is going on in the US. I will confess that I had not been to the digital Garden Design in quite a while-wow. You are taking it to another level. All my thanks to you for what you have done to put your weight behind local and national landscape/garden design, and horticulture, in a serious way. all the best, Deborah

      • Oh I don’t know. I think you spoke to our work just fine!

        I will confess that I had not been to the digital Garden Design in quite a while-wow

        I will invite your readers to check out the “Find Your Garden Style” and the “Regional Garden” section on

        Plus check out many of the sections on the site like this on succulents :


        • Deborah Silver says

          Dear Jim, your commitment and excitement about your vision for Garden Design is compelling – I am a fan. I especially appreciate your emphasis on regional work. I do believe that great landscape and garden design is being done all over the US. You make a big effort to represent design, nation wide. Thank you for that. all the best, Deborah

  3. michaele anderson says

    So glad that you are spreading the word. Just came back from subscribing thanks you your link. Ha, now my husband doesn’t have to wonder what to get me for Valentine’s Day…mission accomplished!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Michaele, a Valentine’s Day gift/subscription to Garden Design-what a great gift. Rather brilliant on your part! all the best, Deborah

  4. Thank you for this wonderful news! As a fellow designer I really have my seed this publication and the inspiration and knowledge it provided. If it was not for this blog I would not have known! Signing up as soon as I finish this comment!

  5. I just subscribed. Looking forward to my first issue!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Alan, I think you will be happy you did. Garden Design is an important publication for anyone who loves the garden. all the best, Deborah

  6. I used to subscribe to the “old” Garden Design and I loved it so much; I’ve been subscribing to the “new” Garden Design for about two years now and love it dearly. More dearly than the old version. It had never crossed my mind that it could topped but it has been. I keep every issue, rotating them on my coffee table. Each issue really is like a coffee table book. Every visitor to my place exclaims, “Where did you get this magazine?!” But even sweeter, even nicer, is the personal attention that comes from the Garden Design people. They sent me a lovely handwritten Thank You card after I first subscribed. When I moved, I emailed them my new address and they responded that day with a personal email letting me know they had updated my address. This kind of service is so beautiful to experience these days. I love the magazine and it is obvious that this venture is labor of love for the people creating it.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Susan, my experience has been much like yours-it does count for a lot-that person to person. best, Deborah

    • Thank you for your kind comments Susan!

      I’m posting your note on the wall in the office- there will be a lot of smiles.

      In a nutshell your note could serve as our business plan:

      -Make something outstanding in a world of decreasing quality and cut backs.

      -old fashion service in an increasingly automated and impersonal business environment.

      Thanks again,


  7. I’m encouraged because it looks as if Garden Design has returned to its core subject: gardens! I was reluctant to subscribe again because I’d been disappointed in how “home design-y” it had become. Thanks for the encouragement to subscribe–think I will do so!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Anne, you won’t be sorry if you subscribe.Every issue has been very solid-in my opinion. It is hard to strike a balance between gardens and lifestyle-for lack of a better word. But gardens are places for people to be. all the best to you, Deborah

  8. Glenn Barnes says

    Thank you Deborah,
    Once again, you have inspired. While I just subscribed, I’m still looking more forward to your next blog entry at Dirt Simple.
    All the best!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Glenn, many thanks for your letter – I appreciate it. The magazine is great-you’ll see. best, Deborah

  9. I am interested in seeing & reading Garden Design magazine as I did in the past. I will surely look for it. Thank you for announcing it.

  10. Pippa Honess says

    It sounds like a great magazine Deborah, do you know if they ship it overseas.?

  11. Deborah and Jim, What a treat to read this post, even though I’m a few days late! I’m so pleased that you have brought this wonderful publication to the attention of your many readers, Deborah. You have given them a gift they will enjoy and learn from over and over and over… just like your posts! Jim, I was thrilled in 2014 when I discovered Garden Design was available again, since I had been a long time subscriber of the original GD and had missed it’s presence in my ‘idea’ library. Little did I know that the new Garden Design magazine would be worthy of being placed on anyone’s coffee table! I’m definitely a ‘print’ lover, and every issue has exceeded my expectations. Thank you and your very talented staff.

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