GardenDrumsubTropical Gardening magazine closes in June 2017

Very sad news that another of Australia’s premium gardening magazines,  subTropical Gardening  has been forced to close after 12 years of award-winning publication.

Providing much-needed information for that vast gardening audience in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical climates, subTropical Gardening will be keenly missed by its many fans. With so many house and renovation magazines now only providing minimal, low-level and dumbed-down gardening content, the loss of another well-researched and expert-written gardening magazine says a lot about the new media landscape.

subTropical Gardening magazine second last issue, #42, due out soon.


As this new media landscape has developed over the past 10 years, gardening publishers have seen an increasing portion of nursery and garden industry advertising dollars go to PR and marketing companies or into the gardening product companies’ own websites and social media. The PR companies are constantly pushing for free marketing opportunities in the surviving publications. And gardeners don’t seem to mind that much of the online content they’re now reading is advertorial rather than editorial and directing them into buying just one company’s products.

Editor of subTropical Gardening magazine Paul Plant says:

“Regretfully the lack of industry support (advertising) was the key reason we were forced to close down the print production. The costs of graphic production, printing and posting continued to rise but advertising support collapsed. Many companies now appear to be increasingly investing their advertising budgets in their social media presence.”

During its 12 year run, subTropical Gardening has had over 60 contributors, including many from interstate and overseas, and won several awards including 2012 and 2014 Most Popular Gardening Publication, and 2011 Award of Merit – for excellence in horticultural media.

The final issue of the magazine (Issue #43) is due out June 2017.

subTropical Gardening


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12 thoughts on “subTropical Gardening magazine closes in June 2017

  1. The team who have helped create this magazine have done a wonderful job… content was written by qualified horticultural people, images were 99% original (only a few stock images used during 12 years) from each contributor for each article, and the botanical accuracy was checked with herbariums in Australia and overseas.
    Printed, produced and owned within Australia, it generated many die-hard followers passionate for both the horticultural content and to supported local content for local gardeners.
    Sadly, we fold under financial pressures.

  2. It is a shame that another high- quality gardening journal has to close its doors due to financial constraints. SubTropical Gardening is one of the best journals for gardening in hot climates, and now we’re left with HandyMan, Bunnings and all the high-end “chick journals” for occasional splinters of tropical gardening.

    So here are my thoughts: would it be financially viable to run sTG solely (!) as an electronic journal and completely get away from print media ? This should create significant savings (no costs for paper, printing, envelopes, mail distribution etc.), so that member’s annual electronic subscription fees might cover the costs ? What about turning the magazine into a regional ASPAC subTropical Gardening magazine ? More readers, more gardens, more plants, higher revenues etc. I’d buy the ‘leftovers’ for 1 dollar in cash, rebuild the team & give it a go. Anyone interested to talk please ring me on 0448581800. Cheers, Florian

    • The problem is that while people will willingly part with $7-10 for a paper publication that they read and throw away, they are very unwilling to pay similarly for something digital. There’s an entrenched mentality that says ‘if I can hold this thing in my hand then it’s worth something but if I can’t, it’s not’ and also that expects anything digital to be not just cheaper but free. Believe me, I know! The economics of it are that the cover price of a magazine really just covers its distribution and the advertising revenue covers its publication.

    • Sorry, I’m not sure what ASPAC stands for?
      Even digital, there are costs to create a publication – human time to create graphics, have it uploaded, writing, photography, etc.
      One of the shocking hidden facts that people do not realise is that to have an App on Apple and Google, if you use Adobe to create it, it will cost about $400+ per month just to keep the App going. If selling price is $5 per mag (or less) to access, that’s a lot of new people who need to subscribe every month just to keep it up there as an App… and then after that there may be profit – with luck.
      As mentioned by Catherine, the public are hesitant to pay the appropriate price for an online publication as they do not accept the real costs involved.
      There are new platforms being created that compete with the Apple/Android app interface and this may change the pricing system.
      The question on everyone’s mind is… will people pay for good content on an app or website (eg. GardenDrum?

      • Hi Catherine & Paul,

        first, thank you for your thoughtful responses. I didn’t expect that in a more & more digital world people are not willing to pay for digital content, even dowloadable oneone. My idea was to sell the electronic magazine at eg 50 % of the price of the paper one on a “pay per download’ basis, and at the same time to significantly broaden the audience by covering the entire Asia-Pacific (ASPAC) region, reader-wise and theme- / gardening / plant-wise. Readers would still be able to generate a hard-copy, retain the electronic one on file, but the costs of printing, packaging and distribution would be abolished. We’re running a small tour-guiding company in FNQ and wanted to create an app for us – after seeing the costs of creation, and more of the upkeep, we said “no’ to it

        However, I do believe that if the change from print to electronic is reasonably explained to the tropical gardening-interested reader she / she will go with the flow. One of the benefits of e-Magazines is you can store them, but are not filling shelves and shelves with gardening magazines; another benefit could be that the entire content is electronically searchable, etc.

        I can’t really comment on the financials, as I do not know the P&L figures of the subTropical Gardening magazine; would I pay for the electronic GardenDrum ? Absolutely, despite most of the content being for ttemperate gardens. Honestly, most people waste so much money on ‘debatable’ things, that 5 or 7, or maybe even 10 quids a month for the hard-core gardener should be doable (buy more knowledge & one bottle of wine less per month – it’s even a healthy choice :-).

        Whatever happens, a big thank you to all involved for the last 12 years of a unique and extremely enjoyable gardening journey !

  3. Thank you Paul for the 12 informative years of subtropical gardening. Brisbane can be a tough place to garden – poor soils, erratic rainfall, sweltering summers and pests galore. Your magazine has showed me what’s possible, in a down to earth and practical way, and kept me inspired, in a region where many are not. I never minded paying for the digital magazines and excitedly downloaded from the App Store while the app was working. Arnos Kings varied and interesting articles were always enjoyed, and so appropriate for the subtropical regions. I hope something can rise again in the future because the subtropics are a unique region that needs local horticultural advice.

    • A phoenix can rise in many forms 🙂
      The costs of Apps were surprisingly much higher than expected but when uptake is lower than needed, crunch time happens.
      There will be more media content from people like myself and Arno King so keep an eye out for them. Arno already contributes to GardenDrum and I will shortly be contributing a few articles.
      Thank you James for your support and kind words 🙂

  4. Hi Paul, so sorry to hear on GD the closure of the best Sub-Tropical reference mag for Australia. Thanks for all your VERY hard work in keeping the bar so high on quality content that speaks directly to reader interest over all 12 years ! A great achievement 🙂

  5. Didn’t know this magazine existed. I get surprised when I hear about ones closing down I’d not heard of before. Perhaps the newsagencies aren’t stocking them? Or maybe I’m just not looking in the right places online.

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