"It sounds odd, but I don't think we are perceived as a garden. We are more about history, atmosphere, ambience, even life and death." This quote from Peter Stafford, in the December issue of Gardens Illustrated is about the Lost Gardens of Heligan, which he manages.
The quote is illustrative of what is so special, and these days unique, about Gardens Illustrated. It's long been the most beautiful gardening magazine in the world, and I love it for its always artful photography. I most appreciate that it hasn't become as formulaic and how-to as most other gardening mags have in these difficult publishing times.
The profile of Peter Stafford captures both the fascination of the Lost Gardens, and Stafford's unique management style that preserves the garden's ancient rhododendrons during their decline, "leaving them to die gracefully." Every issue contains such a profile (I've been lucky enough to write a couple of them over the years), as well as explorations of gardens around the world, and plant profiles by leading experts.
It's not that the editors ignore the practicalities of gardening. The December issue offers a master's class on tree planting and advice on winter gardening, from which grasses to choose (Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah') to the perfect paving (sandstone). Rarely is a plant mentioned without a photo given, and design stories are filled with photos large enough so you can actually see the various elements the author is describing.
This magazine is pure pleasure, with an international perspective that brings the larger garden world to life.