Writing for UK Gardening Publications
by Rachel Newcombe

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Gardening has always been widely practiced, but it has experienced a distinct surge in popularity in recent years. As a result, there are now a host of UK publications on the subject, ranging from those aimed at beginners to those taking a more inspirational stance, plus specialist magazines for experienced gardeners. Because of this expansion, there are now a wealth of opportunities for green-fingered international writers wishing to tackle this market area.

Gardens and plants, in their many different types and sizes, exist around the world and provide the perfect material for international writers. It is, however, important to remember that there are distinct differences worldwide. The obvious ones stem from basic elements such as climates, soil types and plant varieties. Considering these global differences, it may seem odd to suggest that writers worldwide should write for UK gardening magazines, as in many cases their own experiences may well be very unlike those of their readers. However, the great thing is that these very differences can work effectively in the international writer's favour and can prove to be an excellent selling point. As is the case with many other markets, new, original and unique material sells.

Extensive experience and masses of previously published clips from similar publications in your own country are not essential when trying to break into this market, although they would certainly be advantageous. One of the most important aspects is to ensure that your knowledge of gardening matters is tip-top -- you'll need to be able to successfully identify plant species and spot weeds a mile off!

Photos and Sidebars

One of the major factors influencing the sale of gardening- related articles is the inclusion of good quality colour transparencies or photographs. Readers are going to want to see, in the best possible manner, the luscious gardens, unique designs or unusual planting arrangements that are so wonderfully described in the article!

Sidebars are also widely used, especially in conjunction with articles regarding particular plants, gardens or shows. Sidebars provide all the required details in one handy place. Ensure, for example, that sidebars include all the information likely to be required about the plants -- their growing conditions, particular needs, soil specifications etc. It is also deemed acceptable in many cases to include relevant website details, such as sites where further information about plants can be found or even where special varieties can be purchased.

Finding Ideas

One of the good points about writing for this market is that there is such a large scope of possible subject matter and range of magazines to focus on. Although there is inevitably some overlap in the types of articles preferred by each publication, there are also distinct variations and definite room for creative ingenuity. Despite the fact that many gardening magazines thrive on articles covering the basics of gardening, they are also interested in other types of articles, especially those offering a new twist, or a topic are that hasn't been widely covered before.

International writers have many advantages over those in the UK, not least being the fact that wherever your location, there will be a whole host of different plants, gardens, gardening practices or gardening events that could be covered.

It may sometimes seem hard to 'spot' examples to use in articles or new angles to focus on. The main thing is to always remain open and never stop looking for potential article material wherever you go, as there's bound to be something usable lurking somewhere. To be successful and give your article more of a chance, aim to find something different (e.g., an unusual, off- the-beaten track garden or a garden reflecting cultural trends) that will appeal to UK readers. Some of the main areas applicable to international freelance writers are gardens and gardeners, plants and methods, tips and techniques.

Gardens and Gardeners

Many publications like to include features on unusual gardens and places of interest to visit. These can range from publicly visited large gardens to small-scale and roof-top gardens. Look out for adverts of forthcoming garden open days or ask around locally to see if you can find anyone with a creative small garden. Reviews of gardening shows are also popular and, for international writers, can offer lots of opportunity. If you're intending to review a large local or national event, it is definitely advisable to contact prospective editors in advance. You may be lucky and discover they'll pay your expenses or even that they'll hire you as an international correspondent for future events in your area.

Unique and well-known gardening characters are also of interest. Wherever you live, there's most likely at least one local gardener who would happily reminisce about the changes they've experienced over the years, or who could give you a new or unusual slant on their own methods and experiences. Interviews or profiles of such gardeners are always popular, and the more unusual, the better!

Plants

Articles about plants are a popular topic in UK gardening publications. These range from general articles dealing with particular plant groups, to individual profiles or articles on seasonal planting ideas. One topic that seems to have ongoing popularity for UK publications concerns unusual, tropical plants or area-specific plants. This is an interest international writers can certainly benefit from.

Methods, Tips and Techniques

Methods, tips and techniques are covered in almost all gardening publications. The length, style and detail vary between individual magazines, but in general terms they cover all areas of gardening and design, from simple ways to beat pests and new design ideas (e.g., decorative planters, garden mosaics and border designs), to specialist planting techniques. Step-by-step projects of all types also fall into this sector and should always be accompanied by clear pictures or illustrative diagrams. Anything that has an intriguing style or basis (such as traditional cultural techniques) is likely to appeal.

Other examples of related issues that could be covered are water gardening (offering possibilities in both general gardening and specialist water gardening magazines) and methods such as organic gardening and permaculture.

Other Perspectives

There's no need to feel restricted to the topic areas outlined above, as there are further opportunities in existence and new ideas just waiting to be discovered. One of the main things to remember is that magazines like different perspectives. For instance, an article on "Gardening Down Under" focusing on gardening in Australia may be of interest to a UK publication. Also, consider topics such as people who use unusual pots, recycling in the garden, and international community gardening projects.

With so many UK gardening publications on the market, now is a great time to try your hand at tackling this area. Writing for such publications can be a thoroughly worthwhile experience.

Copyright © 2000 Rachel Newcombe
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.


Rachel Newcombe is an award-winning UK-based writer, editor and researcher. She contributes news, features and reviews to a wide range of publications, including BUPA, Allergy magazine, Discovery Health, Child Education magazine, Channel 4, UKTV, Families First for Health, Moira Allen's TimeTravel-Britain.com, and Berkshire's County Child. She's currently editor of a women's health website and involved in the launch of a new lifestyle magazine. She can be found on the web at: http://www.rachelnewcombe.com/.

 

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