December 16, 2011

My Take on Wilder Quarterly

I've been putting off reviewing the new Wilder Quarterly periodical, but I finally had time to sit down and read through the copy that was sent to me.

First off, here's a quote from the Wilder Quarterly website explaining what the periodical is about: "Wilder Quarterly is a publication for people enthralled by the natural world. In our pages you’ll find green thumbs, rooftop gardeners, foodies and chefs, seed savers, architects, hobby farmers, horticulturalists, innovators, amateurs, and experts. Just your everyday mix of growing enthusiasts. Wilder is ‘life through the lens of the growing world’— indoors and out, culture, travel, food and design. Published seasonally for this generation of growers and the next."

I might as well get my negative comments out of the way, and then I can focus on all the great aspects of this periodical. First off, my copy of Wilder Quarterly stinks! And by "stinks" I mean that it literally smells awful! Perhaps I got a bad egg, but as soon as I took the plastic wrapping off, I was totally offended by the rancid inky aroma. I've cracked the book open many times in the last couple weeks and the smell isn't going away any time soon. I suppose that if I were into huffing fumes, I would actually list this under the positive qualities of this periodical rather than the negative.

Now that I've shared my whiny complaint about stinky inky printing (maybe my sniffer is more sensitive than it should be), let's move on to my second (and hopefully more justified) negative comment.  Wilder Quarterly is fairly expensive for a periodical. A one-year subscription is $60 and that only gets you four issues (or you can pay ~$19 per single issue). However, you have to take into account that each issue is actually more like a small book (~160 pages) rather than a thin, floppy magazine. In addition, there are no advertisements, so you're getting lots of content instead of pages of ads. For someone like me (i.e. a poor graduate student), this periodical (despite all of it's great points, which I'll get to in a minute) is a little too pricey for me to get excited about. However, if you've got the cash and/or you like collecting gardening texts, Wilder might be a great addition to your collection.

Okay, I'm done complaining, so let's move on the to good stuff. The photography is great. I love that Wilder is printed on matte paper rather than glossy. For some reason, it just seems more legit that way.  I liked how Wilder seems kind of "Indy" and yet very professional at the same time. I hate seeing magazine photography of perfectly manicured gardens because it is unrealistic and sets us normal people up for failure. Wilder instead highlights real gardens made by real people. I think that's one of the huge differences between Wilder and other periodicals out there.

There's a nice variety of articles in the issue I received. Unlike some other periodical on this topic area (I'm thinking Mother Earth News, Grit, etc), I actually wanted to read every single article in Wilder.  There wasn't a single article in Wilder that I dismissed as "boring" or "not for me" upon reading the title.

The writing was good, and not overly pretentious. Wilder is such a good-looking periodical that I was worried that it wouldn't be very approachable for the reader (but no worries on that). There were a few cases were I found myself wanting more from an article (I was surprised to turn the page and find out that the article had already finished).  But I guess the fact that these articles grabbed my attention enough to be "page-turners" is a good thing! I also like the variety of article types. There were interviews, how-to's, and biography-type articles.

Overall, I'm really excited that this periodical exists and I hope they are successful and long-lived. If I can't handle the price-tag maybe I can get my local library to get a subscription!


  1. I can totally relate on the ink aroma, because I cancelled my National Geographic for that reason, but I actually did not mind the Wilder ink--it is less "plastic-y." I want to support the idea, so I subscribed, but I am hoping for improvement with the next issue. I also loved the photos of real gardens.

  2. It wasn't just your copy -- I've been subscribing for a year and every issue smells horrible. It's a shame. I would be a rabid fan of this magazine if only I could stand to touch it before letting it air out for a week. Yikes. My subscription will be going away -- it's too dang expensive to smell SO bad.


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