The editors here at Fine Gardening are not “just” editors. To say that they wear many hats might be the understatement of the century. They are, in my humble opinion, better stage managers than you’d find on Broadway. You often don’t see their names tied to any particular article, and so you might assume that their role is just to make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed within the text that you end up reading.
And yes, they do that.
But the editors here do so much more. I’ve worked at a handful of other publications during my years in publishing, and in all of those experiences I’ve never come across an editor that is tasked with more duties than here at FG. Take, for example, the gorgeous article “Rethinking a Mature Garden” on pages 62–71. That feature was choreographed by associate editor Carol Collins. What it took to create that masterpiece is nothing short of spectacular. First off, Carol drove several hours to New Hampshire not once but twice to carry out three separate photoshoots.
(Fun fact: Many of the photos you see in this magazine are shot by the editors, who undergo intensive camera training when they are hired. These photo shoots can take place at any time of year and in any North American location you can imagine. The editors are often required to be on-site by 4 a.m. and sometimes don’t hit the pillow until midnight.)
OK, back to Carol. For this article, she went to New Hampshire in early spring to capture shots of large trees being cut out of a mature garden—an essential part of the overall story. Then she returned in late summer to photograph the garden again. This shoot required a lot of planning around a wedding taking place at the Trowbridge residence, an added challenge.
Then the draft came in from the author, and Carol worked her magic on the text, finessing it into a succinct and actionable article for our readers. She tech-edited the plant names, cross-referenced multiple sources to get the zonal ranges right, etc. It was a process.
I chose this particular article to highlight the role of the editor because it’s a good example of all the extras the editor can be responsible for. In this case, Carol created all the tree and shrub silhouettes in the article to make the principles described come to life. Then she went a step further and lent her artistic abilities to the sidebar, drawing every image you see of Laura, the author, pruning various shrubs.
And this, I promise you, is just one example of the effort it takes to create these pages. I haven’t mentioned the lengths that our art director and myriad others go to in order to make each issue of the magazine. I’ll save that for another letter. Meanwhile, I hope this background information gives you a greater appreciation for the issue you’re reading right now. I know every time I read it, I’ll think of Carol setting up her camera tripod by flashlight in the wee hours of the morning. But those photos were worth it—right, Carol?
—Danielle Sherry, executive editor