In 2021, our garden journal is 29 years old!

Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Gardener's Journal 2021 thumbnails

Sometimes I think we’re bonkers. Four years ago, we inherited an annual garden journal that was already a hit, and yet we keep on trying to make it better.

Three years ago, we introduced an interactive digital version of the immense gardener’s source directory. Last year, we laminated the print book’s covers to stand up to soiled fingers and power-use. This year, we’ve added a pocket in the back to more easily store the year’s plant tags, empty seed packs, and photos. And, every year after that first quick handover, we’ve gone through every single entry in the contents to update them.

That last one won’t stop until we do.

In 2019, we also changed the name from the Toronto Gardener’s Journal to the Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Gardener’s Journal (click that link to buy it!) because the contents cover much more than the GTA. In fact, they go beyond the Golden Horseshoe to include most of Southern Ontario.

The only reason we didn’t change the name to the “Southern Ontario Gardener’s Journal” is that we needed to gather more info about garden centres in the southwest of the province. Don’t be surprised if our name changes again next year for our 30th anniversary edition!

But the name hasn’t stopped gardeners outside our region from ordering. Every year! For years! Our journal has regular users from Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Northern Ontario, to B.C. And only prohibitive cross-border mailing costs have prevented us fulfilling requests from New York State. They’d heard about it on CBC Radio!

In 2021, the digital Gardener’s Source Ebook contains the most complete directory of sources, because last year the print journal was busting its bindings. Best part: the Ebook’s active links put you a click away from stuff you want to find. But we didn’t do away with sources in print – you’ll find 22 pages and about 300 double-checked sources for the plant and seed vendors, garden products, and services you want most.

Frankly, the updates and changes take a ridiculous amount of time to do, both the checking and the programming. On an hourly basis, my sister, Sarah (the designer), and I (the editor) don’t make much. Changes like last year’s lamination and environmentally friendly mailers add to hard costs. And we get no money for advertising or sponsored listings; none. Bonkers, right?

But the price hasn’t changed since 2009, when the journal, managed by its creator, Margaret Bennet-Alder, was redesigned. Last year we even reduced the price for the Source Ebook. Why? Because, like in Margaret’s day, it remains a labour of love and a service to gardeners. We learn tonnes when making our tips and listings up to date. Plus, and this is a big one, we get feedback like this:

“I can’t speak highly enough about the journal. I’m excited each year to show my work colleagues, and anyone who’ll listen, how cool it is when it arrives.”

With 2020 bringing more and more people into the garden, Sarah and I are looking forward to being there with them in print as well as in spirit.

I hope we’ll be with you, too.

1 comment

  1. Each year, when we begin this journey as novice publishers, we wonder how many copies of the Gardener’s Journal to print, and how quickly or slowly they’ll sell. In 2020/21, two events, where we in the past have had booths for in-person selling, were COVID-cancelled. We were worried! But our bookstore clients all increased their orders this year and most have fully or nearly sold out. It’s now February 4th, and we only have eight books in our own stock left. Last year, it was June when we sold our final journal. These are clear signs that the pandemic has sent people into the garden.

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