A Walk on the Wilder Side: My Review of a New Garden Mag!

The typical glossy gardening mags that I mentioned recently are a bit like that plate of mini-cheesecakes you ate that one time.  They’re fun to indulge in and they create feelings of giddiness, but after your tenth one, you crave something less sugary.  Many of us want something more nourishing and substantial in our garden-related reading, but it’s not easy to come by.

One remedy you might consider for overindulgence in glossy garden eye-candy is Wilder Quarterly – a new print  publication launched this fall that wants to reach “people enthralled by the natural world.”  Both the content and style of WQ are earthy, wholesome, satisfying.   The first issue – which I read from cover to cover – offers up a wonderful smorgasbord of articles.  Here’s a taste:

1. no-nonsense profiles of the carrot & dahlia plant families

2. how to grow Cheddar cauliflower (I read the whole article and I don’t think it really tastes like cheese)

3. a charming and funny piece by Dominique Browning about the pleasures of weeding herb beds

4. a Q & A with Russell Stafford, purveyor of rare bulbs

5. an illustrated guide to building your own cold-frame (they actually make it look do-able!)

6. a nostalgic look at the “seed bombing” and “guerilla gardening” of the 70s (it’s not as violent as it sounds)

7. a short feature called “Coop d’etat” about — what else — Urban Chicken Farming

8. a piece about the next trend for city gardens: Urban Cattle Ranching (okay, not really!)

9. and my favorite: an interview with mycologist Paul Stamets, who wrote Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World – a book about the extraordinary potential for these networks of fungi to help solve environmental and engineering problems — and which is currently being adapted for the big screen to star Angelina Jolie and Jonah Hill.  Okay, I made up the last part, but this whole fungi/mycelium thing is really mind-blowing, and the article in WQ spurred me to order Stamets’ book from Amazon.

This is only a tiny sample of the offerings.  At 161 pages, the fall issue is really more of a book. There are quite a few how-to articles and recipes scattered throughout, and there’s a definite emphasis on vegetables, urban gardening, community gardens, i.e., topics that appeal to a younger, more tattooed audience.   Since I’m a suburban, middle-aged, mostly-ornamental gardener, it might seem that Wilder Quarterly wouldn’t appeal, but it does, for this reason: most of the articles are really about people, people who love growing things, and that’s what hooks me. 

Even the pictures of the gardeners featured in the articles are refreshingly different.  They look tired around the eyes.  Their hair is disheveled.  Many of them are not smiling. 

Russell Stafford, Owner of Odyssey Bulbs


They actually look like they’ve been gardening! 

So I thoroughly enjoyed Wilder Quarterly.  This first issue was a tad rough around the edges, with quite a few typos and weird empty spaces on the pages, but I’m willing to overlook that for now.   After all, I didn’t have eye-candy in mind when I subscribed to this quarterly.  I’ve been searching for the pot roast and potatoes, the red beans and rice, the chicken soup of garden writing.  Wilder Quarterly is a nice addition to the menu.

(Here are some more professional, less rambling reviews of Wilder at Cool Hunting, Garden Rant, and The New York Times.)

8 thoughts on “A Walk on the Wilder Side: My Review of a New Garden Mag!

  1. I received my copy just last week and have been sampling the articles. Good stuff. I guess I’d fall into the suburban middle-aged mostly ornamental gardener category, too. We (I) grow vegetables, but I don’t get obsessed with them. I’m just thankful when I get enough tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplants equal to the effort of growing them.

  2. Kathleen, you are way more advanced at vegetable growing than I am. Last year I tried growing peas but I only got about a quarter cup of them…and I was actually excited about those. I’m still trying, though!

  3. Okay, you’ve got me intrigued. The Garden Rant and NYT articles did too, but I balked at the subscription price and the urban farmer vibe (chiming in here as yet one more suburban middle-aged ornamentalist). But I could step outside my garden style pigeonhole (rut?) and read about other garden topics if they are as interesting and well done as you say. . . you have me reconsidering Wilder.

    • Laurrie, it was pretty pricey, but there was a discount they were offering through Garden Rant. It definitely has an urban farmer vibe, too, but I still found there were enough articles of interest to folks with a general interest in gardening to make it worthwhile.

  4. Mary,

    I don’t find your review rambling at all. I love your use of detail and comment about the realistic pictures. I would certainly look that way if I were a gardener. Actually, I looked tired with bits of holly leaves in my hair after I pruned my holly trees. Thanks for an entertaining and edifying review!

  5. This gives me so much courage!!! I’ve been contemplating a negative critique to the new back entry to our town (generic, non-regional, boring pap) for my monthly garden column in our local paper…but have utterly pussed out to this point. Colorful, practical, bushed, alternative energy is just the push I need. I have been LOVING your posts:)

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