July 2006 editorial

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Oh, my aching muscles...

NWGN 100 Issues Later
By Mary Gutierrez

Last year Northwest Garden News reached the ten-year mark, and now another milestone is upon us. This issue is the 100th we've published since 1995.

I'm not sure if that makes this issue any more significant that last month's or next month's. But what it means to me is very simple. I have plopped myself down in front of the computer and labored until all hours of the night 100 times. And you know what? I hope I do 100 more.

Publishing is a strange business. Whether you are a daily, weekly, or monthly publication, you always have that period of time when the hours are compressed and your adrenaline pumps a little harder.

I've always loved the business of ink and paper, but like many people I've come to rely on the internet as a source of news and information. With as much embarrassment (because it took so long) as pride, I'm happy to say that we've finally launched a web site.

While Northwest Garden News has been late coming to the online community, we'll make up for it with our comprehensive content. My goal is to make the largest repository of gardening information in our region.

Unlike many publications, who only tempt web-surfers with glimpses of stories, we will post as much content as we can. We are continually adding stories from the past ten years to the site. You'll find new information added daily.

So as soon as you're done reading this copy of the paper, boot up your computer and come pay us a visit. Our address is just like it says on the front cover:

Crisis in Kingston

Most of you have probably already heard about the sudden, sickening closure of Heronswood in late May.

In a maneuver reminiscent of a bankrupt internet start-up, nursery employees came in for a company meeting where they were informed that their jobs were gone. They were escorted off the premises and the gates were closed.

George C. Ball, Jr. himself-President of W. Atlee Burpee & Co. (who purchased Heronswood in 2000) came to Kingston to deliver the news.

On May 30, at 11:44 AM, the press release announcing the closure and "relocation" of Heronswood popped up in my e-mail box. The well-crafted statement had been carefully massaged. George Ball was nesting this egg for some time. Presumably, even before the Heronswood catalog and web site were revamped for the 2006/2007 season.

Heronswood junkies enjoyed the color photos in the new catalog, but sorely missed the colorful-and sometimes off-color-plant descriptions that Dan Hinkley penned in his photo-less catalog. I know I wasn't the only one who was riveted to the armchair after the old catalog arrived each winter.

The reason for moving the nursery cited by Ball, is to take Heronswood to a "...more appropriate climate location on the East Coast,"-referring to his company's nursery and test gardens in Pennsylvania. I don't think all of Heronswood's horticultural treasures will find the Zone 6 climate more appropriate!

In reality, Heronswood isn't relocating at all. The plants are relocating, and sales will be through a "virtual" nursery-the Heronswood web site. Let's face facts: Heronswood is gone.

Ball's plans for the Heronswood "brand" appear to be to take the most cold-hardy plants and market them to a national audience. I think the logic behind this move is fundamentally flawed.  And I don't say that just because I'm a disappointed Heronswood customer.

In my opinion, the purchase of a place like Heronswood must be driven by a passion for plants and the desire to share them with equally passionate gardeners. These plants need to be introduced to the right kind of gardeners-not the greatest quantity of gardeners.

Will the mass market be interested in these subtle and out-of-the-mainstream plants? The Home Depot crowd wasn't flocking to Heronswood before... We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Enjoy summer, and visit our new web site. Until next month! —Mary

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