“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.” Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897
The February garden is a hopeful place. Dormant and dull, but definitely hopeful. Long gone are last summer’s bolted lettuce heads, tomatoes laden with blossom end rot, and overgrown spongy zucchini. Instead, our inner gardens-to-be come to life with images of inspiration from the glossy pages of perfection that is… the seed catalog.
Browsing the vibrant selection of pristine vegetables, where not a blemish is visible nor a leaf out of place, I cannot help but feel empowered and confident about my 2015 garden. This year will be better, I tell myself assuredly as I form silent mantras…I will keep my beds weed-free, I will pinch off basil blossoms before they render the leaves bitter. And this year, I will not plant my tomatoes too close together. Nothing can stop me now.
The images alone are quite powerful, evoking the horticultural super hero in all of us, but the descriptions? At times borrowing language from the page-turner romance novels of airport gift shops, the copy writers work hard to convince us that we can grow not only healthy and fruitful plants, but down-right sexy vegetables. A few titillating excerpts…
“Long uniform tubers, yellow flesh with firm waxy texture and a nice nutty flavor” La Ratte, a french fingerling potato.
“Ripens from green to chocolate on the outside and brick red inside, thick sweet flesh.” Sweet Chocolate bell pepper.
“Sweet, aromatic, orange flesh; flavor is complex and deeply satisfying” Noir des Carnes cantelope.
Why, hello. Where have you been all winter?
My final selections, which I ordered with much enthusiasm, arrive sooner than expected, leaving me feeling slightly conflicted this past week. On one hand, I am one step closer to starting the garden, one small step closer to spring. On the other hand, seeing the seeds in front of me takes me one step farther away from the catalog fantasy world. My future garden is in my hands, literally, and the neatly-packaged envelopes of potential are waiting on me to figure out when, where and how to proceed.
Yes, I have done this before, but every year brings with it questions and uncertainty. But it will all be okay. It will be okay because one of the first questions asked about this year’s growing season was by my 8-year-old daughter.
“Can I have some of the seeds for my own garden?”