Our first publisher feature in The Digest is a spotlight on Wilder Quarterly, a modern horticultural magazine that caters to the next generation of nature enthusiasts, even if that means just taking a break from our digital screens. Whether you’re interested in hand-pollinating your own flowers, or learning more about its role in art and culture, Wilder takes root in all aspects of flora and fauna under the stars — and its team is even excited about astronomy. Speaking with Celestine Arnold and Abbye Churchill, Publisher and Managing Editor, we found out more about the magazine.
When was the magazine founded, where are you based, and how did it start?
Celestine Arnold: Wilder was founded in fall 2011. I started gardening, or really killing helpless plants, when I moved into my then boyfriend-now-husband's apartment in Prospect Heights. He had an enormous outdoor space and I couldn't let it go to waste. I'm an autodidact so I immediately looked for resources. Martha, Sunset, House and Garden were so boring. They weren't made for a 30-year old woman in Brooklyn in 2014. I was desperate for a magazine that talked about growing things and the great outdoors that resonated with me and the times.
While we started in Brooklyn, we've since moved our hubs to Los Angeles and Chicago. At least for now.
What brought the idea about doing a magazine about horticulture?
Abbye Churchill: Since Celestine originally started Wilder, the magazine has grown into covering much more than horticulture alone though. Though we definitely have strong roots in the world of growing, we are also interested in nature as a source of inspiration for art, music, fashion and culture — as well as getting our hands dirty with DIYs across different disciplines. It is about encouraging people to participate in the physical world around them, about life beyond digital screens.
"It is about encouraging people to participate in the physical world around them, about life beyond digital screens."
How does each issue of the magazine come together?
CA: We've never had a proper office, and I kind of hope we never do. It's been amazing to have writers, editors, business folks be all over the place. I think it's one reason that the magazine manages to cover the entire country and dabble in the international. I would hate to lose that roaming spirit.
AC: One of the nice things about working with such a small team for Wilder is that the publication exists wherever we are which can allow for all of us to participate in incredible adventures and then incorporate that experience back into the publication.
"I would hate to lose that roaming spirit."
What's the biggest reward in terms of publishing your own magazine?
CA: It's a cliché, but I love when people tell me that they started growing, or loved a piece of art in the book, or tried a how-to. It's really wonderful to create such an inspiring, beautiful thing.
What's written for Wilder next? Any new projects?
AC: We are currently at work on our first book, The Wilder Annual, which is a 21st century update of the Whole Earth Catalog. We wanted to create a single volume that has all the information you'd need to live in harmony with nature — from urban homesteading, to how to hand-pollinate flowers, to recipes for some of our favorite jams and preserves, plus interviews with some of our heroes.
"It's really wonderful to create such an inspiring, beautiful thing."
What sort of natural phenomenon are you looking forward to this summer?
CA: I'm used to getting excited about the seasons changing, since I've always lived on the East Coast, but y'know it's true — it is summer all the time in Los Angeles. I get to grow almost anything, hike whenever, head to the beach every day. So, a friend of mine recently suggested I get into astronomy, which seems like just a thing. It's much easier and gratifying out here with the wide open sky. There's the Perseids Meteor Shower this August which is supposed to be one of the best to observe, so I'm psyched for that.
AC: My favorite part of summer is being able to grow and harvest my own fruits and vegetables. I spend summers in Maine and last year we had a pretty good run with the vegetable patch — I even managed to eek out a watermelon before the end of the season. This summer I am planting a medicinal herb garden for use in my homemade beauty products. Aside from gardening, I've always been a fan of the late-summer meteor showers. You really can't beat looking at falling stars over a clear lake in Maine!