Sunday, January 2, 2011

Catalogue Gardening

Like many of you, I am now deep into that annual January effort affectionately known as "catalogue gardening."  My mailbox is brimming over with so many collections of brightly-colored, bountiful images of perennials and produce that my mailperson may have to file suit against my homeowner's insurance to pay for their hernia.  Just a single day recently brought me the pictured catalogues below, some of which I've ordered from before, and some that I've never heard of.

I know that some of the companies behind these and other catalogues are likely run by evil capitalists who are preying on my current deficiency of green scenery in order to increase their sales.  I don't care.  I'm an addict in a poppy field.  Indeed, as I open the mailbox and leaf through the daily minutiae, I can feel myself begin to salivate and shake.  A mere glimpse of the perfect magnified beauties within the pages and my mind's-eye view of my garden begins to shimmer and change.  There are those plants that, upon a single glance, we know exactly where to place within our garden beds and budget.  There are others that make up our wish lists, contingent for their purchase upon pennies from heaven or other unexpected funds.  The choices are narrowed down or expanded again and again, as we examine lineage and breeding, learn about environmental preferences and zonal requirements, and simply choose by our heart's desire.  And then there are the shining iron tools, the irrigation controllers, the cloches, and the plant stimulants to be mulled over.  Will it never end?

It is particularly cruel that many of the catalogues have arrived within the last week, just as if their makers knew that I would have a few days off over the holidays to spend some quality time with them, but I am braced by the knowledge that Christmas bills were high and the sky is not the limit for anything but a trumpet vine. 

I'll look through them all, and some new enterprises will probably receive some of my coin along with my tithes to old stalwarts.  I've already submitted my order to Stark Bros., planning for renewing the strawberries and adding new blackberry varieties.  In fact, Stark Bros. got in line first because I was sampling the less common fruits of the local market and came across an Asian pear labeled as a "pear-apple."  Somewhere out there in a field or a storage cooler is my new Asian pear tree, scheduled to arrive in late March.  In my current state of rose-fever, I'll likely succumb to a few new roses from  Heirloom Roses and Rogue Valley Roses, and nary a year goes by when I don't order a bit from High Country Gardens  and Song Sparrow Farms.  And, of course, the local nurseries shouldn't fret because I always trust my senses of touch and smell to add some final purchases, introduced during the spring trips to the growing greenhouses as my winter discontents fade to April's optimism.

Happy Catalogue Gardening, One and All!


  1. It is remarkable that every garden blogger who has reported receiving catalogs for either seeds or plants, responds in the same passionate, uncontrollable way.

  2. Looking through garden catalogs in the dead of winter is a bit like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach! EVERYTHING looks so good, it's hard to resist the temptations! Don't spend all of your pennies in one place :-)

    Oh, and thanks for your VERY KIND comment on my blog. Appreciate it :-)

  3. I guess I am one of those rare individuals who responds negatively to being sent seed catalogs from companies I have not requested catalogs from. I consider that spamming, frankly, and if find out which company sold my mailing address to all these seed companies, I will STOP doing business with them immediately. I didn't authorize the sale of my address info to third parties, so why should that be happening?? The American Rose Society used to do this as routine procedure, at least till people started complaining about it.

  4. I am reminded once again that I've been meaning to get the Fedco catalog, and so have just ordered it. Also the High Mowing Farms catalog, which showed up on Organic Gardening magazine's top 12 list today. Catalogs, catalogs, catalogs, what's not to like? I've learned that my address gets out no matter what I do, and not always via garden catalog companies. I apply a combination of recycling and online address removal efforts to keep the junk at bay. Also, there is usually a place on catalog order forms where one can specify 'please do not share my address'. Maybe it's spam, but it's pretty benign, compared to everything else out there.

    I'm there with you, Professor, on the joys of winter catalog gardening. It is ideal in so many ways: warm and cozy conditions .... no weeds ..... temperature neither too hot nor too cold .... no frost .....

  5. Yes, have to agree that it is a kind of spam, but I don't react to free catalogs nearly as badly as I do the random solicitations telling me I've inherited money from Nigeria. If someone wants to waste their advertising money on me, so be it. And they do occasionally tag me....yesterday's mail brought me a catalog with the Poppy 'Lauren's Grape', so I feel it's time to bite the bullet and finally order that one...along with some others.

  6. I'm with you...I kinda hate myself for being so voracious when I get those catalogues...I can barely control myself and I start imagining all the things I'm going to order. Luckily, I never do anything right away and end up ordering only a few things...otherwise I'd be a pauper indeed!


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