I heard about a new magazine on the block and decided to try it out. But what I got wasn’t exactly a magazine.
The first thing that struck me was the smell. Whether due to paper, glue or, more probably, ink, I could smell an odour I can best describe as similar to gone off emulsion paint from a few feet away. Several days in the open air have not resulted in a noticeable diminution of the odour!
The second thing that struck me was its weight. By that I don’t mean content but, rather, a centimetre-plus thickness and the weight of the paper on which it had been printed (that centimetre-plus is only 124 pages plus covers). If nothing else, this somehow felt like quality should feel. The strength of the binding is something too! This little gem has been built to last. At £10 an issue, plus £3 postage it ought to be.
But what to call it? It’s not a magazine. It’s not exactly a book. A journal maybe? Well maybe. I’ll call it a “being” as that’s simpler. It’s not a kop-out, honest!
A few pages in I was wondering what the target audience of this being is. A few more pages in and I’d decided it wasn’t me. As the odour of stale paint wafted around my nose, I came across simplistic articles about “How to Grow Tomatoes” and “How to Pot a Plant”. There were articles about how to determine your soil type (three short paragraphs and a lot of white space on an A4 page with a full-page illustration of some chemical jars), how to make compost and on looking after your allotment during the summer months. These are all subjects that have been covered repeatedly in repetitious splendour, with far more useful detail, in gardening magazines galore. Unless you’re looking at a patch of earth for the first time, you’ve probably been there, done it and got the T-shirt. This is basic stuff. An article describing different types of rake is pre-basic.
There is something called “The A-Z of Gardening”, subtitled “Everything You Wanted to Know ….” It’s a glossary of words. It includes, for example, a definition of the word “Quite” and of the American “Yard”. But words such as “Cotyledon” are missing. So it’s not “Everything …..”. If anything, it’s a poor attempt at humour.
Adverts, if indeed they are adverts, are classy. Several of the articles seem to be advertisements or “advertorial”. Those that might be interesting are swamped by the “trying to be clever” ones.
There’s a lot of white space too. And a lot of photographs and illustrations which take up a lot of space, unnecessarily if this is supposed to be something that people read.
If you’re a novice gardener, you’ll find the likes of Garden News far more helpful. If you want a bit more, there’s Gardeners World Magazine. For real depth, garden design and the like, there’s Gardens Illustrated. All of these far cheaper and far more informative. Rakesprogress is, I suppose, a case of style over substance. It’s art not gardening.
So will I be buying another issue of this being? Definitely not.
But if you’re interested, head over to its web site rakesprogressmagazine.com. If you can work out the navigation you’ll be able to buy a copy. It’ll look good on your coffee table.