Gardening magazines of Canada

osenjaNovember 26, 2007

Hello everyone!

I am just a beginner at gardening. I have started my fascinating life of a gardener just this summer. I was thinking of subscribing to one of the gardening magazines to get some tips and ideas. Could you suggest me which magazines are the best? I went to a book store but there are so many!! I got one... then realized that it's U.S. magazine. It doesn't really suit me since I am in Ontario, Canada.

I would REALLY appreciate your help!!! Thanks in advance!!


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Hi Julie,

This may sound cynical but it's true, there's very little real information in most of those magazines. They're mostly pretty pictures and advertising. Don't waste your money on them, you'll need it for the really expensive aspects of gardening and landscaping.

This is my recommendation for beginners. First, go to your local library or the nearest large city library. They have all the best gardening books for free, zero ads, and start reading. Second, find your nearest Hort club, join and find a few local gardening mentors. Gardeners are very happy to pass on knowledge and you'll learn more in one afternoon from an experienced local gardener then you will from five years of reading gardening magazines. Thirdly, go on a local garden tour this summer. It may cost a few dollars but you will see all the best local gardens. You may even find one that suits your property, take lots of pictures, draw up a similar plan and start digging.


Here is a link that might be useful: Ontario Hort Clubs

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 12:03PM
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Thanks a lot for your posting. I appreciate it. The only thing is that I work full time and have two kids so I don't have too much time for libraries. So it would be nice to get something delivered to my door every couple of months, you know. :) But I will definitely try one of those tours! It sounds like a great idea. Do they do them during the summer?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 2:39PM
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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

Canadian Gardening is the most popular one, and it's not that expensive. I find that some of the basic advice offered in it is plain wrong, and it focuses a lot on garden design instead of 'how to', so I don't really recommend it for you unless you're looking for some eye candy during the cold winter months. But if you're not strapped for cash, it might be good to subscribe for a year or two to see what you like and don't like. You can subscribe here

The hort club and garden tours jimmyjojo mentioned are good ideas. The horticulture clubs might even offer classes on how to get started or other aspects you find interesting.

If you post what city/town you're near someone might be able to give you some specific contact info.

This place (Gardenweb) is honestly the one of best places to get advice on what to grow and how to grow it. Nothing beats the voice of experience :-) Most of the members posting to this particular 'Gardening in Canada' forum are from Ontario (not me - I'm in Montreal) and they'll know exactly what you need to know about your local climate.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 2:25PM
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thank you for your message. I have bought Canadian Gardening a couple of days ago but I didn't really like it. It's too commercial. What about other Ontario magazines? I've got Gardening Life and Ontario Gardener, too. Gardening Life was pretty much the same as Canadian Gardening, in my opinion. Ontario Gardener looks more garden focused. But I am not sure about the content. Do you have any experience with these magazines?


    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 9:39AM
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Check out this site. More of a leaning to prairie gardens but usually good information.

I agree that forums like these on GardenWeb and also are probably some of the best sources of down to earth good advice.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Gardener For the Prairies

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 1:30PM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

Why do you want a Canadian magazine? The plants do not know they are growing in Canada.

I'd suggest a Canadian mag, but none are worth the money, in my opinion. The best magazine one I have found is Fine Gardening (from US). Great pictures, lots of facts. Some deals with warmer climates, but a lot of the US is in zone 5 and 6 so it works great for .S. Ontario.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 9:03PM
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I have 2 magazines that I like, they are Ontario Gardener and Gardens West. I found these 2 to be the most informative magazines. I admit that Gardens West isn't from Ontario, it's from B.C., but I like the articles and get some great ideas from it. You won't find this one on the newstands but they have a website. Both of these magazines have a website you can look at before subscribing (or not). Marg

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 2:44PM
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I gather lots of magazines for ideas. I'm very visual and so I need such inspirations in order to create my gardens. Among the Canadian magazines, I would suggest the Canadian gardening magazines. It's not too expensive and very informative. Garden Life is a nice looking magazine but in my honest opinion, it has more to do with style rather than horticulture.

I would recommend several US garden magazines and that includes Fine Gardening. Rather than subscribe though I prefer to buy whenever the topics appeal to me. Better House and Homes have produced many issues of interest. Expensive and so I don't subscribe but will choose one or two depending on topics.

I would recommend several UK magazines, especially the BBC Gardening ones. I think among the many magazines available out there, these ones are very informative.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 4:49PM
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cindra(z5b Ont)

Hi Julie and welcome to the wonderful world of gardening! I have to agree with others that paying for those mags is basically a waste of good gardening money.

Since your time is limited as far as libraries etc go, consider spending the money you have for magazines and buying gardening books instead. There are a lot of great ones out there and you would always have them to look and read over in your spare time. You can get some great deals on them at ebay and other places. Just an idea.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 6:04PM
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cookie8(zone 5 ON)

I love Harrowsmith. Although it has a smaller section on gardening, it offers excellent advice and there is minimal advertising, just a very good read.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 10:29PM
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I would recommend Harrowsmith too, although it's not just about flower gardening, it does have a lot of overall country information and help.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 7:46AM
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In my opinion, new gardeners just should start with the basic information on soil and plantings and so find a good reference starter book to deal with the basics. And as the new gardener get more experienced in gardening and become interested in garden design - this is when garden magazines become an invaluable resource for new ideas. I like to stay current - to check out what's new and for that I refer to magazines. Not only do magazines provide ideas for garden design, they also point to resources (green gardening, names of experts, products, internet sites, etc,)

So for really heavy duty info - I suggest Garden Gate which is more of a reference journal than it is a magazine. Mother Earth News - green gardening, Fine Gardening. BBC Gardening, Royal Horticultural Society.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 10:04AM
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osenja, good question and good responses to specific magazines and websites. Don't forget that the holy grail of gardening tends to be that it achieves 'year round interest'. I'm a new gardener too and have found that winter garden tours are a good way to see snow and ice effects on seedheads, evergreens and ornamental grasses. I buy mags when I can't find pretty pictures on the net(which is a rarity now). As for gardening (ie-horticultural) tips, I find the magazines to be nearly devoid of info and purchase used books (or mags for my own gallery of garden pics) to create a refence library of info. As for design tips, there is no end to advice available in word or picture form. Gardenweb even has a forum called 'design' where many very experienced people post and answer questions. Try I used to accumulate magazines galore, until I realized that my money is better spent on plants, good food for them, decent soil materials and tools for gardening. A cursory web search will yield *much* info.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 12:50PM
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shapiro(5a Ontario)

Osenja: Jimmyjojo, the first poster after your message above, has it right! Read some good, basic books, join a garden club (or visit their plant sales) and look around local gardens. See what pleases YOU. Of all the magazines, Fine Gardening has the highest quality information and it does not matter that it is from the US. Easy to figure out what applies to you and what doesn't.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 10:00AM
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sharont(z5 can)

Just thought of a easier way of acquiring magazines without subscribing if you would do with older issues. Check out the 'used book' stores. Most have a shelf for mags near their gardening books. Check all their old magazines like Gardening in Ontario, Gardening on the Prairies,GardenLife, Harrowsmith, Organic Gardening(very old), Canadian Gardening, Fine Gardening, Family Circle Easy Gardening, Country Living Gardening.
There are even British gardening magazines at times.
Browsing through these can give you insight to types of gardens and plants to grow.
I have stacks that I go through every winter and always find a plant or idea that I'd forgotten to use.
The only subscription I enjoy is Canadian Gardening although it is getting repetetive also.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 8:35PM
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i confess i am a closet magazine addict! i subscribe to all the ones mentioned above .i get some great ideas from them and along with the seed catalogues,they help me make it through the too long winters .I re-read most several times and then pass them along to friens and garden club members .I find the xmas issue seam to have a bit more fluff so try canadian gardening a little later in the spring .

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 9:41PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Someone asked: Why focus only on Cdn magazines, the plants don't know where they are growing?

For me it's a matter of living in zone 3/2. I find that most USA magazines rarely acknowledge the cold zones nor list plants or growing methods suitable for them. They might have a special rose issue and list one rose hardy to zone 4, but the rest are hybrid teas. In fact it's sort of amusing seeing them list a plant they claim as 'very hardy' and then list zone 6 as it's zone rating. I think this is just the way it is as the majority of the population in the USA lives in warmer zones.

I like Cdn Gardening Magazine as at least they acknowledge the existence of the prairies. One thing though, sometimes the zone ratings they give recommended plants are not accurate. They usually error on the side of caution, however, for example stating sambucus racemosa 'sutherland' as hardy to zone 4 (when it grows here in zone 3/2 just fine).

I absolutely love the annual publication called "The Prairie Garden". They publish once a year and usually have a theme, for example this year's theme is hardy roses, but the book is filled with lots of other interesting gardening articles as well. Alot of the articles are written by people who garden on the prairies. Some pictures too, but mostly good information which I think people on the prairies and even other zones might find interesting.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Prairie Garden

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 10:38AM
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I'm a fan of Garden Gate too - picked it up in an airport in the States once and I was hooked.
I suspect I've borrowed every single gardening book in our County's library system at least two or three times over the years. One librarian is kind enough to automatically put "new on order" books on hold for me as soon as she sees them listed. You might take your kids to the library with you - they could browse the kid lit section or use the computer there while you delve into the gardening resources available there.
I work in a garden centre and also garden at a golf course - books I refer to often for fundamental information include the Readers Digest New Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada, the DK Gardening Manual for Canada, the Great Canadian Plant Guide and What Grows When (two little books crammed with great info). I'm a big fan of Patrick Lima's books too - his garden on the Bruce Peninsula is worth a visit! Just a click away at chapters or amazon - good luck as your garden starts to grow.
Become a regular customer at one of your local garden centres and find a friendly staff person - they can be very helpful. I have fun putting together "collections" for new gardeners - I even draw them planting diagrams if I have time - just go at a less busy time (not on the weekend) and bring your questions and ideas along.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 8:27PM
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I just got my garden design magazine and now have gotten very inspired by Piet Oudolf - whose Wave Garden has become very popular in Europe and is slowly gaining popularity in the west. He draws inspiration from Prairie gardens /Wildflower gardene and this seems to be very much in the trend now.

Glen - you have something going there. I had been wildflower planting for many years now but I've just now caught the fever. I'm expanding the space to make more wildflower gardens. It's not just Garden Design that seems to promote the idea of wildflower gardens, even the recent Martha Stewart magazine focused on wildflower rock gardens which is an excellent idea for boulevard areas and car port areas. I did a quick review on competing magazines and there seems to be nothing new in them this season. Too bad.

This stresses my point in that magazines do have functions beyond serving as eye candies. They inform us of what's new! Why we are starting to see certain plants or other products in the market! etc... And as a gardener, never satisfied with what I created the year before, I'm always eager for change.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 3:49PM
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A couple of other really good magazines, Manitoba Gardener & Ontario Gardener. They are specific to the province. I like the Manitoba ones, because they have very hardy recommendations for plants. They answer & publish your questions. They are a small time publisher, but well worth a years subscription. I am in the process of subscribing myself. I will have to find the link myself. I was at a trade show & they offered a bit of a deal. Lois Hole Online is also good, very good books, & advice.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:55PM
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halaeva(z6 Toronto)

Welcome Julie.
I started my gardening buying lots of magazines and I did not find anyone supportive and helpful .Therefore I went to a bookstore and I purchesed Reader Digest' A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants'.American Book with over 15,000 plants and over 6,00 pictures of plants.The book is well known among famous gardeners.I am very happy with my choice and without this book I couldn't gardening and I recomment thi beautiful hardcover book.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Ornamental-Plants.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 5:18PM
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casper1(5/6- -10F Ont)

Hi Julie, The book Hala mentioned is indeed a very good book, but not one that you need as yet.( too advanced) If you are in the Toronto Area, I would suggest that you come out to a meeting of the Ont.Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society, they meet the second Sunday at 1P.M. at the Tor.Botanical Gardens 777 Lawrence Avenue Leslie St. Admission is free, and if you like the meeting, applications for membership are at hand.
Hope to see you,Dec.14 / Barry Porteous is the speaker.
You will enjoy. Rai

Here is a link that might be useful: Ontario Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 6:56PM
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