From the editor - February 2011
When photos of Lyndell Shannon’s Birkenhead, Auckland garden (page 86) landed on my desk the other day, the art director had attached an underlined note: “Desaturate reds!”
It made me laugh out loud. Lyndell and I, you see, go way back and my earliest memories of her are drenched with red. I met Lyndell when we flatted together in a little cottage in Wadestown, Wellington, decades ago. Lyndell’s room was a cubby hole off the kitchen, which she decorated with bright South American artefacts and painted a glorious, deep red so that it glowed like a jewel.
I thought she was clever. I still do. Lyndell’s garden has just won a Landscaping New Zealand design award. It is stylish, intimate and it pops with red touches, including a red outdoor table under a sari-style awning that casts a rosy light over the area (it was this red glow in the pictures that frightened our art director).
Knowing someone who features in NZ House & Garden – as I do with Lyndell – gives a double meaning to a feature: you can admire the pictures as usual, but you also have another smug, secret level of understanding. “Oh, yes,” you think, “I saw a glimmering of that talent early on…” or, “I know where that idea came from”.
It’s a satisfying, connected feeling and it’s amazingly common among NZ House & Garden readers. Just about every day I get emails from people who’ve opened their magazine and gone “snap”. “Thanks for putting me back in touch with my old schoolfriend, Pam,” they might say. “It was great to see her in the mag.”
But it’s not always the people that readers recognise and respond to – it’s also the houses, homewares, art. After we published the pictures of the grand Daresbury estate in Christchurch (September issue), a number of readers wrote about playing on the estate as kids. But my favourite letter of this kind is one written by Jeanette Gould soon after I took over as editor. Jeanette had gone through the magazine and counted her five very personal responses to items she saw: a jug like one she owned; a flower she loved and so on. It made her feel the magazine was tailored for her, she said.
It gave me great satisfaction too. As a medium, magazines are known for creating a strong connection with readers and their success is sometimes measured by the extent to which they create a “community of interest”.
From where I sit, there’s no doubt that NZ House & Garden readers are a big, loose family – connected by their love of home, family, beautiful things and so on – and also, because our country is little, often connected to one another.
Nice feeling, that.
Story: Sally Duggan
Photographs: Belinda Merrie
Stylist: Tracey Strange Watts