Happy Anniversary, Leaf Magazine. A year ago, our friends Susan Cohan and Rochelle Greayer launched a quarterly garden publication that looks just like a traditional paper magazine except for one thing: it lives online.
The goal was to give readers who flip—or rather, click—through the pages on the Leaf Magazine site the visually rich and tactile experience of reading a glossy shelter magazine. Lushly illustrated stories about such topics as monochrome gardens, ethnic-inspired outdoor fabrics, and cocktails you can make from corn whiskey are interspersed with traditional full-page magazine ads:
Photographs courtesy of Leaf Magazine.
To mark the magazine's anniversary, we asked co-founders Greayer and Cohan (who also happens to be an incoming president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers—to share gardening secrets (and insights):
GARDENISTA: The UK has gardening columnists at most newspapers, and garden shops with fabulous selections of durable and beautiful products, and a wide selection of interesting plants at the corner nursery. How can US gardening publications nudge things in the same direction?
LEAF: We’re close to a tipping point in this country. There are fantastic designers who are doing incredible work and are celebrating American style outside that is distinctly different from the European models. There are other kinds of thought and style leaders here also, but they need a web presence to have the reach, the influence, and the offerings. That’s one of the reasons we decided to be digital only. We want to help fill that gap and move outdoor design forward here and not be limited by geography.
LEAF: There are hip US garden design hotbeds in San Francisco, Austin, Philadelphia, and Portland with knowledgeable public support and incredible designers in a high concentration. That’s not to say those elements don’t exist elsewhere, but the big challenge is that we have a big, big country with diverse regions and climates—and not a lot of centralized anything.
GARDENISTA: What kind of gardening trends are ahead for home gardeners in 2013?
LEAF: In general, Americans specifically are beginning to see their outdoor spaces as an extension of their personal interior decorating style. They’re continuing to nest and extend their lives outside more and more as part of that idea.
GARDENISTA: Any other trends?
LEAF: DIY options and ideas for outside are stylish, and the current trend of re-imagining, re-using, and recycling materials will definitely continue. But it will become more polished on one hand and simply used as found on the other. We also think that people are interested in sourcing local materials—things closer to home that reflect their region—and that idea carries over into plants and planting design. Gardeners are increasingly interested in naturalistic and regionally appropriate planting schemes and plants.
Finally, we think there’s going to be a growing interest in niche growing. So many people are a bit burnt out on trying to grow everything, whether it’s food or ornamental. The backlash from that will see small and large growers consolidate and specialize. If you have a backyard veggie garden, it is okay to only grow what you like and trade with neighbors or buy at the local farmers' market.
GARDENISTA: Leaf looks like a traditional paper magazine, but you click through it page by page on the Internet. Why did you choose this format?
LEAF: The "page turning" format makes Leaf feel inherently like what people are used to reading, yet it’s really a new form of magazine. Digital publishing gives readers direct access to information from the page. Blogs have had that interactivity in a shorter form for years, but what’s different is the depth and breadth of what we publish in Leaf each time. It’s a long format and there are many, many links to explore in any one issue.
GARDENISTA: How can readers subscribe to Leaf?