I could hardly wait for my first issue of Garden & Gun magazine to arrive.
I’d bought a subscription through one of those group-buying deals. The title seemed so ludicrous that I laughed at the sight of it. I just had to see what it was all about.
Gardens and guns — ha! I pictured bumpkins toting their shotguns out to the back 40 to keep the varmints out of the corn patch. This would be a trove of humor material, I was certain.
Peeling open the front cover, I wasn’t disappointed. A two-page advertising spread showed a woman aiming a rifle at an exploding poof that I assumed was once a bird. “Some pigeons die more dignified deaths than others,” the accompanying slogan said.
Turns out she was shooting at clay pigeons, and the ad was for Georgia’s tony Sea Island resort. But, hey, the red shards flying out of that exploding clay disk were still disconcerting.
Then I turned to the contents page, where I was stopped cold. There was a photo of Julian Van Winkle, a rock star of the rarefied world of bourbon connoisseurs and the subject of a profile in the magazine. I recognized him because I had toured Kentucky’s bourbon country and attended a tasting of his bourbons just a few weeks earlier. People at the tasting lined up for his autograph and bemoaned how difficult it is to find his elusive hooch — even at prices that approached a week of my take-home pay.
I started to realize this magazine wasn’t quite the backwoods gazette I’d expected.
I flipped another page, and there was a Rolex ad. Hunch confirmed.
It turns out Gardens & Guns is, in the words of a more erudite friend, more like a cross between Southern Living and Vanity Fair.
And you know what? I liked it. A lot.
It’s slickly sophisticated, but with a bit of devilment. Its back-page columnist is, after all, humorist and curmudgeon Roy Blount Jr. A letter to the editor in the August/September issue pointedly accused him of being “either an idiot or an (enter an anatomical vulgarity here that my mom wouldn’t let me use).” Can’t say I’ve ever seen that language in Better Homes and Gardens.
I was entertained by an interview with golf course designer Pete Dye and intrigued by a story on an artist who engraves exquisite designs on gun hardware. I was wowed by examples of stylish furniture and accessories made in the South, with the exception of a $3,750 wingback chair upholstered in patched canvas and perched on Lucite legs. Clearly my taste isn’t sufficiently refined.
Despite its name, the magazine was rather light on both gardening (to my dismay) and guns (to my relief). But there was plenty else to capture my attention.
And my husband wants to read that Pete Dye article.