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The news this week that Amateur Garden is to cease publication has sent shockwaves through the horticultural industry. A mainstay of the gardening press, the much loved weekly magazine provided generations of gardeners with tips and inspiration, and was due to celebrate its 140th anniversary next year. Sun Gardening's Steve and Val Bradley, along with the late Peter Seabrook all worked for the AG, as did many well know names in the gardening media industry. The news was announced in the wake of increased operating costs across the magazine industry, including a 20% year on year rise in the cost of paper.
Former News and Web Editor at Amateur Gardening and friend of Sun Gardening, Marc Rosenberg, had this to say on the announcement:
This is a sad week for those of us who work in horticultural publishing, with the news that Amateur Gardening (AG) – the UK’s oldest weekly gardening magazine – is to close, with its final issues to be published next month (October).
Although I left AG in 2017 to specialise in freelance editorial and communications, I was privileged to have spent almost two decades on the editorial team, working alongside the UK’s leading horticultural writers, broadcasters and TV presenters.
Founded in 1884, AG championed the Dig for Victory campaign during World War II; secured a Parliamentary enquiry into the future of allotment gardening with its Allotments 2000 campaign, achieved incredible sales growth during the Ground Force garden makeover era and launched the National Amateur Gardening Show. AG is the magazine where, in the 1980s, a young deputy editor by the name of Alan Titchmarsh made his big break into the world of television.
The working hours on AG were often insane, but we had a lot of fun. We challenged environmental hogwash, exposed rogue traders selling banned garden chemicals online, questioned whether big budget gardens at RHS shows had lost touch with reality and secured interviews with top celebrities, breaking a host of stories that made headlines in national newspapers and bagging a wheelbarrow full of awards in the process.
The challenges facing print media in an industry hammered by rising costs and intense battles for circulation are well documented, but the closure of AG represents the loss of one of the most cherished brands in British gardening history – a title that always stood up to horticultural snobbery, provided down-to-earth advice and, above all, believed that growing flowers, fruit and veg should be fun, even if you lack horticultural know-how and don’t have much money.
Hats off to editor Garry Coward-Williams and his team who worked like trojans to keep AG rolling off the press through the nightmares of Brexit, Covid and the cost-of-living crisis – and for supporting me as a freelancer by commissioning my ideas for editorial content. After 139 years of hitting the newsstands, AG will be sorely missed, especially by elderly readers who looked forward to the magazine every week, and novice gardeners who took up the nation’s greatest hobby during the pandemic.
This story was published on: 15/09/2023
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