Seabrook on... gardening magazines

The National Garden Gift Voucher (NGGV) scheme has shown the benefits to be gained by independent retailers working together. It builds trade for all, generates publicity funds and is completely self-financing.

Those who were involved from the outset know establishment was not easy and earned much heated debate. Now it is taken for granted, trade leaders might consider what else could be done to help local businesses.

I see a gulf between the trade and consumers, which gets wider with every passing month. There was a time when regular trade briefing days were attended by most gardening columnists and broadcasters.

Now such events are few and far between, with the result that a lot of what consumers see, hear and read is out of date. Is it not time our trade took a more proactive hand in producing sound, timely and relevant advice?

Take a look at Sainsbury's Magazine, available at all the stores' checkouts, and see a well-produced, glossy magazine selling by the hundreds of thousands. The Tillington Group successfully produces its in-house magazine, but it is not a monthly that is sold to customers.

If, for a year or two, all the NGGV publicity money was invested in a for-sale gardening magazine — which incidentally would promote the scheme - it could prime the pump. Done well, it looks a goer to me. Once it's up and running there could be "how-to" videos on the web.

There have been half-hearted attempts to produce magazines co-operatively within the trade in the past, most of them off the back of garden manufacturers.

Some people in the trade may say that magazines are old hat and that a move directly to TV and the internet would be better. There is certainly a good argument for the trade to get involved in gardening programmes, but magazines would be a good first step.

Peter Seabrook is a garden writer and broadcaster

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