Monday, 5 September 2016

Review!! Rakes Progress-A Progressive Guide to Gardens, Plants, Flowers

A few weeks ago I was involved in a very interesting conversation on Twitter about this new gardening publication and it ended with being offered a review copy. So here are my thoughts.....

Rakes Progress reminds me of those magazines like The Face that sprang into our consciousnesses in the 80's and were publications that really informed a generation. They decided what and who was cool, and what and who was not, giving credence to styles, music and lifestyle that can only now be seen really in some of the lifestyle blogger and vloggers we see with millions of followers. It feels solid, printed on beautiful, thick paper, and full of not just interesting articles, of diverse subjects such as war gardens written by Lyse Doucet, the BBC's Chief International Correspondent, to Yorkshire's Rhubabrb growers and a piece about Jake Hobson's Niwake,  but also wonderful photographs and pictures that are art rather than illustrations.

It's fair to say I am a fan. it's alternative, inspiring and exciting. I want to see what is in the next episode and am about to sign up to a subscription, making it the only magazine I will regularly read about gardens, because I have really given up on all those glossies that just are about chocolate box photography and articles that for me lack any inspiration. Occassionally I may buy one, but I want cutting edge and excitement and although I love a herbaceous border as much as the next person, the perfection of the images can be off putting if you are struggling to garden in an urban space that is also used for a million other purposes.

But I think I need to tell you, dear reader, about that Twitter conversation because the one thing that made me just a tad shouty was the price point which is £10 and my question was about how that is inclusive? Now I have to say at this point that this is a quarterly magazine so £40 per year is really only around £3.333 per month. My thoughts around this is that you still need that £10 to be available and if you are struggling to make ends meet is that ever going to be manageable? if you were a stuggling family does that £10 go on food or a stunning gardening publication?

Having said that I doubt that is the demographic that is being attracted here and for the hipsters, the young people working on food growing projects, for British Flower growers and florists, for those working on exciting aquaponics projects and looking at urban farming, as well as for those looking at new ways to garden as both amateur or professional I would suggest this is a must read. Having said that I wonder if in the future there will be more of a web presence, some of which of course could be behind a subscription, but some of which could be accessible to all and finally I wonder if the subscription could be paid monthly as £3.50 per month is far more manageable to many than a payment of £40.

What I would say is that there is a lot of talk about how garden media is stuck in a rut and not interested in cutting edge technologies, campaigning or the more political side of gardens and gardening. I believe that moving forwards, Rakes Progress could become the voice for all these things and more, making them exciting, challenging our perceptions and inspiring us to challenge ourselves.

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