Field of Science

Garden catalogs

As soon as the Christmas season is over and you've seen the last of gift catalogs for a short while, well, until they figure out what merchandise they have left to flog off on post-holiday sales, the first of the garden catalogs arrives!  Seeds, bulbs, and plants, and the Phactors peruse each one looking for things that might fill in this spot or grow in that spot.  This is a gardeners favorite winter-time activity, day-dreaming about new plants for our gardens.  A lot of corners get folded down, but ultimately, reason prevails, and you end up ordering some of those things.  As somewhat jaded gardeners, novel plants grab our attention, mostly because a lot of others have been tried and failed to deliver.  And of course these catalogs are largely pictorial promissory notes.  Look at what this is going to look like in your garden!  And so you dream of how good this will look.  In general bulbs have been the most reliable of catalog items to look the way the pictures say they will look.  Shrubs are another matter.  Now our azure beauty berry has been a great success growing in a very tough spot.  But some plants are famous, part of our pantheon of tremendous disappointments, some of which have been tried several times as our memories are dimmed by fabulous pictures indicating that somewhere at least once one of these plants looked this good.  One of our great disappointments has been weigelias; they just never look very good, wimpy bushes, wane flowers always duller and fewer than anticipated, and after a couple few years it gets the ho-hum yawn and yank.  But that's how it works, you fall for the promises every time. 


Anonymous said...

Oh, does this hit home. Every word true (although I try to stick with the resolution that if I kill it three times, it's out). And amazingly some most unlikely plants survive and flourish - even here, in subarctic northern coastal Maine. Nice to know that our vices are shared.

Jenn said...

Hard not to fall for promise.
And it is heartbreaking sometimes.

The Phytophactor said...

Heartbreaking is right. Third try with an ornamental hemlock (Tsuga is underway (like anonymous - we have a 3-strike rule). Love them, but hate to keep killing them. They are hardy here, when established, but our area is a bit too hot and dry in the summer to make that easy.