For those of you following along, my little flower shop in Flowerama is coming along quite nicely. Thankfully, I have managed to rip myself away from it long enough to look through some seed catalogues. You might think that a boring old catalogue would be no match for a fancy computer-generated garden where I can harvest a gorgeous crop in a matter of hours. But you would be so wrong!
Seed catalogues are, for the uninitiated, a wonderful tool for whiling away pleasant hours during the winter months. Because along with seeds–categorized into annuals, vegetables, herbs, bulbs and the like–there are corresponding photographs. Pictures of the seeds themselves would be dreadfully boring, so some excellent gardener somewhere has grown every plant to maturity and then captured it in full bloom. The best catalogues have pictures large enough to see every bit of bloom and foliage. I can imagine mine growing exactly like that. Or something.
Seed catalogues can also be the inspiration for intense list-making. Much more enjoyable than a “to-do” list is a list of everything I want to plant this summer. There has to be zucchini and tomatoes. I always plant nasturtium. The kids love sunflowers. We ate a lot of swiss chard last summer…and I will need to start a fresh crop of forget-me-nots….maybe I should separate out the flowers from the vegetables….but wait! What about herbs? There is basil and parsley and….well, you can see how my lists begin to get out of hand.
But neither of those is the best reason to read seed catalogues. The best reason is for the fun. I am sure that you would smile just like I did when you discovered “Fairy Tale” eggplant, and two related varieties (one white, one purple) called “Hansel” and “Gretel”. Or consider growing pumpkins that are are not orange, but a soft shade of pink or blue! There is also orange cauliflower, globe-shaped zucchini, purple sweet peppers and ‘easter egg’ radish (described as “unusual”. Duh!)
I have not actually placed a seed order yet. I will probably forget until it’s too late, and then go hunting in every garden centre within a hundred mile radius trying to find peppermint pink swiss chard or yellow watermelon. You know I won’t find them. Buyers for Wal-mart are much less imaginative than Veseys, Dominion Seed House or Stokes.
And that is perhaps yet another reason why seed catalogues are so great. They offer gardeners the opportunity to grow more than the few standard varieties of tomatoes and marigolds than they will carry at Canadian Tire. We can rediscover the heritage seeds our grandparents grew, experiment with the best cucumbers for our backyard climate, and impress our friends and neighbours with produce they will never see in any grocery aisle. The (gardening) world, if we go looking, is far bigger than the big box stores would have us believe.
So now I am off to think about whether I could keep the raccoons at bay this summer. Because I have just noticed that I could grow popcorn right in my own backyard–and how cool would that be?