Dig in: Green shoots in publishing as a new magazine makes stylish progress

‘Rake’s Progress’ is a fresh take on the classic gardening magazine genre

It's not that often you come across a freshly-minted garden periodical that makes you want to drop whatever you're doing and settle down for a good read, but so it is with the wittily monikered Rake's Progress, the first issue of which launched just a few weeks ago. Described by its creators as "a new gardening magazine that has art and photography at its heart and the outdoors as its mission", it's the brainchild of London-based couple Tom Loxley and Victoria Gaiger.

It’s a fresh take on the classic gardening magazine genre, very handsomely produced, featuring contributions by a host of talented photographers and writers, including Andrew Montgomery, Martin Parr and Robert MacFarlane, and covering an impressively diverse range of garden-related subjects.

I loved, for example, the feature on the Aquilaria tree, a threatened species native to south-east Asia, whose fragrant, resinous wood, known as oud, is so prized by the perfume industry that it is now valued at up to £10,000 per gram, or about 30 times the price of gold.

The launch issue also includes interviews with the well-known guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds, the Chelsea gold-medal winning garden designer Luciano Giubbilei, celebrity florist Simone Gooch, urban apiarists, and a former dinner lady by the name of Mister Finch, who now makes her living knitting (yes, knitting) ornate birds, foxes and hares adorned with miniature flowers.


Garden shed

The same issue also takes a look at the garden shed of jewellery designer Alex Monroe. Hipsters may enjoy the feature on workwear designer Nigel Cabourn and his love of gardening, as well as his range of utilitarian clothing, some of it inspired by the army wear worn by his father during his service in Bombay, Bangalore and Madras in the second World War.

There's also a moving piece by the BBC's chief international correspondent, Lyse Doucet, on the private gardens in places such as Afghanistan, Gaza and Ukraine that have somehow defiantly survived the ravages of war. Kabul, I discovered, was once known as a city of gardens, a place where flowers bloomed en masse in the now-ruined grounds of Darul Aman Palace. "Now a byword for bombings and blast walls . . . scarlet roses still flourish in neat rows inside fortified compounds," writes Doucet. Those words spelled out poignantly for me how much gardening matters in all of our lives, as well as why.

See rakesprogressmagazine.com