Public Garden magazine welcomes and encourages proposals for editorial content that furthers our vision of making public gardens indispensable! The magazine consists of three main editorial sections (Backbones, Perennials, and Focal Points), providing unique, high-quality content related to all aspects public garden industry. Its goal is to share your successes (and occasional failures) with others in order to elevate all gardens.


Content proposals are accepted on an ongoing, rolling basis. Please limit your proposal to 100 words or less. All proposals should be of new, previously unpublished materials. (Adaptations are possible if the difference is distinct enough; new material should be included.) If your proposal is accepted, high res (300 dpi) photos of at least 5”x7” must be available. The number of photos vary by section from one to eight. You may suggest the editorial section in which you would like your article to appear, but the final decision rests with the Editorial Advisory Group (EAG).

Upon acceptance you will be contacted with the submission schedule, photographic requirements, other relevant information, and the issue in which it is to be published. In addition, you will be connected to a member of the EAG who will help you focus and craft it into an attention-grabbing article. Proposals are held for at least one year; as not all sections appear in every issue (see timing in individual section descriptions).

Submit your proposal to Managing Editor, Dorothea Coleman, at

EDITORIAL advisory group

Members of the Editorial Advisory Group (EAG) are volunteers with a range of interests from our Communities and a wide geographic range of gardens, plus Association staff. They meet quarterly in January, April, July, and October to decide content for the May, August, November, and February issues, respectively.

Editorial structure

Backbones (500-700 words) are the main articles that make up a large portion of Public Garden editorial content. Some recur in each issue, others on a bi-annual or annual basis, depending on content received.
  • Annual Conference Highlights—(August): This section comprises photos from conference selected by Association staff and is the only Backbone not open to general submissions.
  • Digging Deep: Case Studies—(February and August): This feature spotlights recent research related to Public Horticulture, preferably published in the form of a case study. Submissions should contain an introduction, methodology, outcome, and implications/lessons learned/analysis.
  • Global View—(November): Takes a look at our industry from a global perspective. This section profiles an international garden or collaboration, taking an in-depth look at an industry topic in other parts of the world. 
  • Horticultural How-Tos—(May and November): The focus is on a professional, skilled horticultural project at a public garden. For example, fabrication of large forms used to guide pruning of historic hedges, construction of winter cover structures for tender plants, installation and maintenance of mosaiculture forms, pruning and cutbacks on tender perennials, etc. Submissions should include a detailed description of the project or event, why it is important or impactful to other gardens.
  • Learning in the Garden—(February and August): Share with us your garden-related curriculum ideas for youth or adult educational programming that can be easily used and adapted by other horticulture educators.
  • Multi-disciplinary/Multi-industry—(May): This section showcases disciplines and industries outside of, but related to, the field of public horticulture. It highlights a project or program relevant to public gardens or one on which a public garden collaborated.
  • Pushing the Boundaries—(February): These are thought-provoking articles covering topics that challenge the status quo and push boundaries in the public gardening community. Sample topics include urban futurists, how knowledge from other industries can help gardens, or how to engage garden visitors within a diverse and ever-changing society
  • Small Garden, Big Impact—(May and November): The essence of this section is to spotlight the extraordinary within the ordinary, and share fresh perspectives or lessons learned when making the most of limited resources in a small garden. The garden may be a garden inside a larger garden, a garden in a small community, or a small garden that is open to members and the public. 
Feature articles generally range from 800 to 1,500 words. Focal Point features are high profile, either because of their national or international significance or because they push the boundaries of Backbones or Perennials. 

If you have an idea, please submit a query letter of one page (maximum), telling us how you would approach your topic, whom you would interview (if applicable) and what makes the topic a good fit for Public Garden. Upon submission approval, you will be contacted with a requested timeline for submitting full article and accompanying photographs. Focal Point features are high profile, either because of their national or international significance or because they push the boundaries of main articles and issue themes.

Perennials are recurring segments (500 words or less) in Public Garden, generally no more than one page and containing a high proportion of imagery.
  • Garden ExhibitsThis 400-word section features an amazing garden exhibit—art or educational—from any American Public Gardens Association member garden, large or small. Just be sure to tell us what impact the exhibit had on your community. Photos should include visitors enjoying it.
  • Garden Professional SpotlightThis 400-word segment offers a brief interview with an industry professional in any area. It is not limited to executive directors or horticulturists. The interview questions to be answered are: Tell us about your journey in public gardens; Tell us about a recent project you worked on; What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about working in this field? 
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?These short, informative articles (max 400 words) focus on non-horticultural departments, such as human resources, fundraising, marketing, volunteers, maintenance, information management, and more.
  • PhotosynthesisSend us your best shot(s)! This two-page photographic spread can accommodate photos as large as 17”x11” in a landscape orientation and should tell a story. They should not be standard publicity photos but rather illustrate a mood (foggy morning, smoke-filled afternoon, etc.); show a garden past and present; a garden in all four seasons; a garden in development; extreme close-ups of flowers; demonstrate the diversity of seeds, growth patterns, etc; bird’s eye or drone view of a garden or conservatory… Be imaginative and daring. A brief description (less than 200 words) should be included. 
The Perennials listed below are either written by staff or selected collection curators. These are the only categories for which proposals are not solicited from the general membership. 
  • CEO’s NoteWherein the CEO spotlights new or changing initiatives. 
  • Nationally Accredited Plant Collection™ Spotlight— This 500–700-word article features a collection selected by the Plant Collections Network Manager. 
  • Program SpotlightThis 500–700-word article is focused on the Association’s signature programs, prepared by Association staff.

Public garden author feedback

“Writing about our work helps us to focus, explain what we are doing, and define the impacts of our garden with our community. Writing is an important way to share our work with others. Many of us have the same issues and concerns and seeing how others handled similar situations is helpful. We get new ideas from others as well.

Writing for Public Garden has helped to quantify work and to put specific projects into a larger perspective. Everyone should think of writing as a means of benchmarking their work and sharing ideas and results with others.”

Mary H. Meyer, Ph.D.
Professor and Extension Horticulturist
Director of Masters in Professional Studies-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

“As with most writing, contributing to a professional publication proved to be good practice in organizing ideas and supporting them with evidence. It’s a good exercise for any professional. It is also a good experience to go through an editing process, to have someone else read the words and improve them. The more you do this, the better your writing becomes. In addition to improving my writing, this article (and others) are part of my professional résumé. They add dimension to my experiences and make my expertise more credible.”

Katherine Johnson

Youth Education Director

Chicago Botanic Garden


Statements of fact and opinion in the articles in Public Garden are those of the respective authors and contributors and not of the editors or sponsors of Public Garden. No representation, express or implied, is made of the accuracy of the material in this magazine and neither Public Garden nor American Public Gardens Association can accept any legal responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions that may be made.