January 6, 2010

Temptation at the Door

You have probably noticed that the invasion has already begun. Creeping into your mailbox and ending up in the overfull magazine basket, the plant catalogs for spring 2010 are coming.

Full of eye-candy that seems especially delicious to the color-starved eyes of northern gardeners (maybe not so much to the southern folks), the parade of plants tempts the gardener to pull out the pocketbook.

Do you really have space in your garden for that fabulous new plant? Maybe not, but let's order it anyway and figure out a spot later. Or maybe even order a whole packet of seeds since they're so inexpensive . . . of course I speak from experience here. I didn't really have space for all the baby delphiniums I grew from seed last year, let alone the Double Click Rose Bonbon Cosmos. But I threw them all in anyway.

I should remind us all not to trust the catalog photos and descriptions to be completely accurate. The printing process can't do justice to all the different shades a flower displays at morning, noon and sunset. Each garden's conditions determine the actual size and show of flowers. A careful shot can blur the mildewed leaves in the background so you can't see the white powder covering them. Ahem.

At high noon, almost any sweet subtle shade looks drab and washed out. Most pictures show the vivid color that you'd only see at the perfect moment during the perfect sunset when the light is just so. And of course you'll never find photos of the plant after a torrential rainstorm has left it drooping or when a hungry pest has had its way.

And sometimes, the photo may actually be ALTERED from its original form - gasp!
To all of that I respond, so what? The cost of failures is part of my tuition at the school of gardening. A friend will benefit when a plant doesn't quite work in my garden and needs a new home. My plant bill is a lot less expensive than medication and counseling for seasonal depression.
So to the plant catalog companies: please add me to your mailing list.


  1. Hi VW~~ Your blog is so refreshing and bright. The best kind of eye candy to feed the starving winter soul. Your cosmos are dazzling. The 'Double Click' cosmos are really a cut above, aren't they? I was pleasantly surprised with how well they performed last year. One of the catalogs, Select Seeds, I think has white double click seed. I've been having just as much fun perusing plant nursery websites, aka garden porn. :) Good to hear from you. I hope you're keeping warm. Spring is just around the corner. Let's keep telling ourselves this. It's also cheaper than meds. :)

  2. VW, lovely post, a chuckle but so true! I found a solution for too many 'baby dalphiniams' or rather the slugs did - I am not sure if there are any left! I have so many seeds from last year, I must not buy more but I said that last year and the year before!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  3. Awww, now you've got me excited! I want spring to arrive but at the moment in the UK it seems a mile away - even if my spring bulbs are already popping through. Our freezing temperatures aren't likely to go for another week they are now forcasting.

    I cannot remember the last time I saw a -6 on our forecast... Usually it's a shock if we get to -1.

    I know how you feel about the seeds, I have a seed box given to me as a birthday present, it's now packed full of seed packets already and I cannot wait to get going... I've been thinking about which tomatoes to grow next year already :)

  4. Plant and seed shopping in the winter is a bit like food shopping when we are hungry. You are so right about the 'eye candy' VW ... all so tempting. Yes the bill is much less than any other therapy! Lovely post ... so uplifting. Carol

  5. You are so wise, VW. Of course the photos in catalogs show the plants at their best, even if it has been augmented somewhat. So what is the perfect response. The cost of seeds, and the entertainment value of drooling over the catalogs during the winter is priceless. We have way more failures than successes, but just one plant per season that thrives is worth the effort. IMHO. :-)

  6. Good morning VW. I am such a sucker for those Cosmos and Delphiniums and ..... well, I know that the pictures in the catalogs are adjusted and try to remind myself of that fact.
    Your photos are so grand, I hope to do half that well.

  7. Hi VW,

    I know that plant snobs would shudder at my delight in the lowliest of annuals, zinnias, marigolds, violas but they remind me of my childhood and happy days so I keep growing them! Some people just don't get the gardening therapy but I think you nailed it!
    I'm a huge fan of those Double ClickBon bons. I had success with those and that says something, because I have extreme conditions!

  8. Gosh your pictures are just beautiful! I'd have to definitely order these flowers-I'll worry about their space later:) Happy New Year to you VW.

  9. Great posting! When I first started starting seeds indoor I used the whole packs too. I made a note in my plant log. "You do not have to sow the whole pack". LOL I had so many seedlings. I grew St. George's verbena last year and they did mildew like crazy. In the catalog this year they had on the ad that they do not mildew. What a lie. I should tell them about it ;-)
    Your Double Click Cosmos is pretty any way you look at it.

  10. I feel the exact same way! Bring on the seed catalogs. If it really snows tomorrow I plan to spend the day plotting and planning my next year garden!

  11. Hello VW,

    I love your outlook. There is just something so wonderful about perusing a plant catalog and dreaming of what you are going to plant. I love the double cosmos.

  12. I'm ordering the 'Double Click' Cosmos this year after reading about them here. I do always wonder where in the world I'll squeeze everything in, but somehow manage. Plus I've already told my sister not to buy any plants because I'll have plenty to share this year!
    Your pictures are all so pretty, they should be in the catalogs.
    PS Have fun with the painting. That's a hard job to do when you've got little kids around!

  13. oh my God, this is the first time I see double petals cosmos, they are soooo beautiful!!!!
    If we live near by we could exchange some seeds, I have double hollyhocks and they are now blooming so beautifully!!!
    Thank you for your visit, VW.
    Muchos Cariños,
    Maria Cecilia

  14. Right now I have a dozen or so catalogs to tease me into buying plants that make no sense for C&L! VW, the one catalog that teases me the most is filled with xeric plants that hate my garden!

    Those Double Clicks are quite lovely...


    ps it's 17 degrees in my zone 7 garden!

  15. (lol) what a delightful read, yes I have three lists on my computer for three seed companies and I haven't even started on the veg yet.

    Your images are beautiful
    Belated Happy New Year

  16. Yes those catalogs are pouring in and rejuvenating my spirit that has already seen too many gray NW days! As has your lovely post and beautiful pink cosmos!! I will have to add these yummy doubles to my list!!


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