|Among my collections are old vintage seed packages and catalogues. Their art is breathtaking as is much of the art and photography in contemporary seed catalogues. They know how to entice!|
'In February I had pored, enchanted, over the seed catalogues and their glossy photographs, dreaming of the still nonexistent garden. My idea was to combine vegetables and picking flowers in a plot just behind the house. Sitting at the kitchen table in a snowstorm I had joyously imagined Chinese peas (eaten pod and all), zucchini, cucumber, every kind of lettuce. I went wild on flowers––cosmos, zinnia, marigolds, elegant salpiglossis, annual phlox, delphinium, bachelor's-buttons––with a total disregard of how all of this was to be fitted into one small patch. After all, one has to be allowed some extravagance in February. By April all those little packages of hope were stowed away in a big tin breadbox, in case a mouse decided on nasturtium (delicious!) as an aperitif before going on to candle ends, soap, and any crumbs I might have left lying about.'
––May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep
I do not have the green thumb of my mother or grandparents before her. Each of my aunts and uncles were blessed with a green thumb, too. My friends Rosemary and Edie also have glorious gardens. Mine seem to do better in small manageable beds and pots. Like my friend Joberta Wells, who just wrote about seed catalogues in her blog, we find it easier now to just drive down to the Mennonite produce auction and various stands where we pick up fresh local produce––for about six months of the year. Besides, it is so affordable to do so that it is just cheaper than to grow it ourselves! But where is the fun in that? And, a gal can dream, can't she? Now that I am getting more rooted here, I'm starting to want to establish more gardens of permanence across the road at the farm: beds around the cottage and a 'small-ish' kitchen garden. Maybe a great big rambling heirloom pumpkin patch, too. [The nice thing about bumper produce is that I'm blessed with friends, pigs and chickens to give it to. Not that my friends are pigs or chickens.]
'Snowbound, I can at last concentrate on writing. But when the day's stint is done I pore over seed catalogues and the brochures of nurserymen, and dream of next year's garden. So, at least in my imagination, the garden is very much alive all the time . . . as with any other grand passion.'
––May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep
|This image is lovely in theory, but...|
|I visited Baker Creek Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri in May 2009: they have a great thing going there with saving heirloom seeds and passing them along. Their seed packets are also stunning.|
Select Seeds gal for almost as long as the small company has been in existence. They, too, focus on unusual heirloom varieties, but mostly flowers. My friend, Priscilla Hutt Williams, back in New England, turned me on to this Connecticut company when she planted and tended the most beautiful cottage-style kitchen garden at an historic museum house where I worked over fourteen years ago. Perennial Pleasures, up in Hardwick, Vermont, was another discovery early in our marriage. Their perennials were among the hardiest and longest lived in our garden. I even dug up some of their 'Golden Globe,' that I'd planted early in our marriage, to bring with us to Kentucky. [It was traditionally planted by outhouses in New England.] Back in New England, around mid-May, I enjoyed making runs to Walker Farm in Dummerston, Vermont with my friends Rosemary and Edie, to stock up on all manner of plants and starts for the season.
'As I write, snow is falling outside my Maine window, and indoors all around me half a hundred garden catalogues are in bloom.'
––Katherine S. White, 'A Romp in the Catalogues'
Onward and Upward in the Garden is a fine way to spend a winter's day dreaming about the gardens of summer. She and her husband, E.B. White, were writers for The New Yorker and had a farm in Brooklin, Maine. [His children's book, Charlotte's Web, is one of my all-time favorite books, and his collected essays are fine examples for any writer, as are Katharine's.]
Well, I'm off for my own catalogue 'romp' while my husband and boys watch a movie on this snowy evening. I'll report more as the months unfold.
I hope that you will, also.
You come back when you're ready!