"The Palmetto:" the FNPS magazine

Marjorie Shropshire
Photo by Anne Cox
Marjorie Shropshire is an FNPS behind-the-scenes treasure! She's a longtime FNPS member, and since 2005, she's the one who puts together our slick little magazine filled with science, plant highlights, gardening, and more. While it's only sixteen pages, it is crammed full with useful and interesting content and it's a lot of work to put it together.

This particular issue from last year, with Dick Workman's instructions on how to make a basket out of one palmetto leaf, sparked a flurry of activity after it was posted on the FNPS Facebook page. It was shared more than 100 times and several people joined FNPS right then so they could receive this issue of the magazine with their new membership package. And now Dick will be running a hands-on workshop at the upcoming conference. It's limited to 25 people, so if you wish to join in, register today, because the workshop is filling up.

Building a magazine

Here's a rough outline of the process:
1) She gathers the articles, which could be four pages, two pages, or one page. In each issue she tries to include a research article, which could be from the FNPS research grant winners, regional professors or other researchers. Then she includes a general interest article covering some aspect of native plants and maybe the wildlife that depend on the natives. Sometimes she includes a report of the landscape award winners, conference previews or highlights, and other FNPS-related topics such as land management reviews. Other pieces include book reviews, how-to's, or general gardening topics. Getting people to write the articles is the most difficult and time-consuming task. Marjorie even goes to science-oriented conferences to find topics and meet up with people who might have something interesting to write.
Marjorie at her desk outfitted with two networked Apple computers. A third
computer goes with her when she travels.

2) Once she has the content, she reviews it, and if the material is appropriate for Palmetto, she sends it to the science review committee.

3) After the science review committee checks for scientific accuracy and approves the articles for publication, Marjorie edits the articles for length, style, and grammar. She then begins the design process.
The Pantone Process Color Book is used to choose accurate color
for the magazine.
4) Palmetto is built using Adobe Creative Suite applications (InDesign for page layout, Illustrator for creating charts or graphics, Photoshop and Bridge for photo editing and retouching, Acrobat for final editing and communication with the printer.)

5) After the magazine is fully edited and formatted, it is read by an outside reviewer as a final check. Only then is it ready to go to the printer

6) When she's done with the editing and formatting, Marjorie sends the file to the printer, Hartley Press in Jacksonville. They create a reader proof and a high resolution proof and mail them back to her so she can see how the layout works on paper. She sometimes makes more corrections on the pages and also uses the high resolution proof to check out the colors against the Pantone™ Matching System so the printer knows exactly what she is looking for on press. Although the printer needs to have the proofs back before proceeding, much of the final correction process is done electronically, using PDFs, e-mail, and the Internet. See Part Two on Hartley Press and what happens on their side in the next FNPS blog post.

Palmetto wish list

Marjorie's wish list for The Palmetto is to expand the magazine in size and make it more science oriented so it becomes the “go to” resource for anyone looking for information about Florida Native Plant topics.

So here's what you can do as an FNPS member to help this happen:
a) Volunteer to write some articles about your FNPS activities, a plant profile, a book review, or how to garden with natives. This wonderful magazine goes to every member and it boasts a consistently high readership among the recipients, which provides good outreach and exposure for your work. Also, if you know a researcher, graduate student, botanist, or native plant enthusiast, even if they are not an FNPS member, share The Palmetto and encourage them to contact Marjorie about writing an article.
b) Most FNPS chapters and many FNPS committees participate in outreach, services, and other events, but do you ask people directly to join? We all need to be more proactive, especially when your chapter or your committee is performing a service like invasive plant removal, river/pond clean-ups, or butterfly garden plantings. It's up to us to build FNPS membership so don't be shy, ask the people in the groups you are helping to join.

Marjorie, the artist

Marjorie uses her drafting table for her wide variety of artistic projects. The landscape outside her window, currently planted with the typical south Florida non-native garden species, is in the process of being converted to a native plant garden for birds and pollinators. At this point, it is still in the design stage.
A study in colors.
Marjorie has drawers full of her art. these are small studies done in the field.


In addition to her skills in graphic design, Marjorie is a talented artist in various media and has a map cabinet filled with her art. Also some of her treasures punctuate her home's decor such as an amazing mosaic chair.

FNPS is fortunate to have our magazine in such capable hands. It's one of our most popular membership benefits.



Written and posted by Ginny Stibolt. Photos, except where noted, are by Ginny Stibolt.


P.S. Full disclosure: I hired Marjorie to illustrate my latest book, "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida."  She did a magnificent job!


The mangrove mosaic chair, designed and tiled by Marjorie. Marjorie's line art illustrations for my book add so much.

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