A print journal is the next step for The Planthunter’s Georgina Reid.
Not long into the pandemic lockdowns in Australia, Georgina Reid, the editor of The Planthunter web magazine, grew weary of words on a screen.
“The stories I want people to actually read, to think about, and to sit with, they don’t have a natural home online,” says Reid, a landscape designer who writes about the connection between people and plants—stories that are often lacking place. So Reid had a thought: “Maybe that needs to be print.”
The pieces in Wonderground, the journal born in her riverside studio, are pensive and rousing, sometimes heartbreaking. They form collections of works made to be held in hands and enjoyed deliciously and not all at once.
“It’s about telling stories that challenge the way we see ourselves in the world, that inspire us to create the future that we want to live in—it’s as simple as that and as complex as that,” Reid says.
“Saving Grace” is the first story in the recently published second issue, themed “Lost”; it opens the volume with a conversation between Reid and the artist Bill Henson about moving his childhood garden, “rock by rock, tree by tree.” Next, “The Lost Flora” by Cecil Howell is an essay on botanical absence and renewal. David Whyte’s “The Well of Grief” is one of three poems. There’s also some fiction. “It’s quite a diversity of content that doesn’t fit into a box,” Reid says.
Reid is not a stranger to publishing, having written and produced The Planthunter’s content for a decade, and a book (see “Garden Punk,” LAM, May 2019), but the production aspect of print—putting all the other pieces together—she describes as at once “terrifying and fun.” But it’s worthwhile “to find and tell stories that aren’t always told, and to help others be seen,” she says, particularly during a period of crises. “I thought, where are the stories I can hold on to? That will help me navigate this? It’s [our] responsibility to write them, for other people.”
Her approach has garnered her a large following—just shy of 90,000 followers on Instagram, but Reid says that given how local her work is, she’s still surprised by how far and wide it has reached. After the first issue of Wonderground, “Arise and Shine,” sold out in days, she decided to scale up circulation and secure worldwide distribution, while maintaining her personal ethics. The journal is printed on 100 percent recycled paper, and it’s important to her to pay the staff and contributors proper wages. In a recent Instagram post, Reid mentioned that her parents are also on board, serving as Wonderground’s distribution center, “reading out your address, wondering what your garden looks like,” as they mail out each web order from their home.
Wonderground’s next issue, exploring “Desire Lines,” will be published in North American spring and available for purchase online at shop.theplanthunter.com.au. “The role of art and storytelling and beauty in the context of the climate crisis…. Yes, it’s a lot of work, full-on, but what else should I be doing?”