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Following his successful pirate radio stint presenting Perfumed Garden for Radio London until August 1967, Peel found himself a figure in some demand on London's "underground" scene. With a journalistic side career underway with a regular "Perfumed Garden" column in International Times, the DJ also contributed articles to the first two issues of a magazine that emphasized the more mystical side of the hippie movement, Gandalf's Garden. It has been said that there was an overlap between the Perfumed Garden listeners' group and the readership of this magazine; yet Gandalf's Garden distanced itself from the sex, drugs and anarchism of the underground press, the emphasis on spirituality causing it to claim to be an "Overground" magazine.

The magazine ran for six issues, published in 1968 and 1969. Because of their rarity and the quality of the psychedelic artwork, copies of the issues were valuable collectors' items; however the entire output of Gandalf's Garden is now available on a CD-ROM.

Peel-related articles

(Extracts from the Issue 2 pieces were reprinted in Peel's autobiography, Margrave Of The Marshes, p. 242-244)

Other

  • Peel was scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for the magazine in May 1968 on a bill with others including Tyrannosaurus Rex and David Bowie, but cancelled his appearance in favour of driving Captain Beefheart to a gig in Kidderminster the same night (see Gigography 1968 for details).
  • Letter in Issue 2 (p.28) from reader Christopher Easty, who enthuses about Issue 1: I have been waiting for something of depth to emerge from the Underground - or anywhere - for a long time....I have been severely moved by Donovan and John Peel, to name but a few, but always felt that they are what William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience) calls the "healthy-minded" set and "once-born" people - people who have never left the world of evil. I'm probably wrong but that's how I have felt it. And of course I.T. has been so trivial and childish - it's a reaction against the times, which means that it is a product of the times, not its own scene....
  • Letter in Issue 2 (p.29) addressed to "Dear John Peel": I run a magazine, or at least I'm trying to run a magazine at a public school...Of course the total drag is that I've got to watch out for strict censorshit....But when I read Gandalf's Garden I realised there were other ways of blowing their minds. Your "musical gardener" article really freaked me out. I got so high on reading it, unlike the "Perfumed Garden" scene. I mean, I dig reading about music, but if you can write like in "Gandalf's..."''
  • Letter from Donovan in Issue 2 (P.29): If it is strong then it will grow and all who know and grow shall be, at journey's end, together....P.S. and greetings to "the Lemon" Peel.
  • Review of Third Ear Band LP "Alchemy" in Issue 5 (p30):...In "Area 3", among the peacocks and perfumed gardens of the east, dee-jay John Peel can be heard "jamming" in on the session, making that "whangy" sound on the jaws harp and proving that his musical sensibilites are not confined to the turntable....

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