Rowlands look to grow Connecticut Gardener magazine
When Connecticut Gardener's devoted readers pick up the current issue, they'll discover the local, information-packed magazine they've always loved. The quarterly's new owners aren't messing with a good thing.
"Our subscribers are passionate about the magazine. They tell us, 'I've saved every issue. Whenever it arrives I stop everything, sit down and read it," said Anne Rowlands, who was a subscriber herself.
Buying the magazine was natural for the couple, who will act as editors and publishers. Will Rowlands, the former editor and managing editor of the Westport News, has a background in graphic design. Anne is the development director for the Wilton Library, and a former executive director of the Darien Chamber of Commerce who also worked at the Westport-Weston Chamber. She will handle the business end, subscriptions and advertising.
The Fairfield residents are both life-long gardeners.
"In warm weather we spend most of our time in our garden," said Will Rowlands.
Despite selling the magazine, Pamela Weil, a master gardener, is staying on as a contributor and horticultural advisor. "Pamela is not disappearing," Will said. "She is our founder."
Her article on variegated plants appears in the March/April issue, the first published under the Rowlands' ownership.
What Connecticut Gardener's 2,000 subscribers value about the publication is its focus and relevance.
"It's all Connecticut," Will said. "It's all local."
Whereas a horticulture magazine might just have three pages on zones 5 and 6, the current issue of Connecticut Gardener has 16 pages filled with tips, techniques and in-depth information about plants written by local master gardeners, plant scientists and authors of gardening books. The March/April issue has articles on the tasks gardeners should tackle at this time of year, a Q&A section in which horticultural experts share methods of keeping weeds out of garden paths, an in-depth piece on tomato blight, with color photographs to help readers identify it, and a calendar of events. Even longtime gardeners will learn new and useful information.
"It's not fluff," said Anne. "It's deep."
One change to Connecticut Gardener is the Web site, www.ctgardener.com -- Will redesigned it. Now readers can check the Web site for the frequently updated calendar of events and links to gardening resources.
The Rowlands also plan to grow the magazine's subscription base. "It hasn't been heavily marketed," said Anne. "It's been word of mouth."
The Rowlands grew up in Westport, where they inherited a love of gardening from their parents. And they have passed the gardening gene on to their son Graham, who is Connecticut Gardener's new technical advisor. Like Weil, Anne and Will Rowlands tended a garden in the Green's Farms section of Westport. There, they had an acre of land, "tons of deer and shade," said Anne.
When they moved to a quarter acre in Fairfield, the conditions were just the opposite. "It has sun and no deer," Anne said. "We're learning about gardening in a small space."
Will added that it had been organically gardened for 17 years when they bought the property. "Now it's been organically gardened for 24 years," he said.
The Rowlands recently met many Connecticut Gardener readers at the Hartford Garden Show. "People at the shows tell us what articles they'd like to see," Will said.
"A lot of people were asking about voles," said Anne.
In future issues, Connecticut Gardener readers might find more articles on growing vegetables, rotating crops, organic gardening, native plants, invasive species and plants that attract birds and butterflies.
"Pamela tells us that people love charts and garden design plans," Anne said.
"It's a mix," said Will. "In any good [publication], you try for a good mix."
For more information, go to www.conngardener.com, send an e-mail to email@example.com or call (203) 292-0711. Subscriptions are $20 for one year; $36 for two years.