Gardening Catalogs

I received a flower catalog in the mail today, and it struck me what a great marketing ploy that is. When people are sick of winter, the snow, the dreary landscape, the gray skies, the unending cold, seeing the bright colors of a potential spring garden would bring out the checkbooks and charge cards of even the most casual gardeners.

If it weren’t for my tight budget (because of the horrendous increase in my homeowner’s insurance), I’d probably be ordering from the catalog right now. I might still have sneaked in an order for a handful of bulbs — who needs to eat, right? — but I want to wait and see what, if anything, comes up on its own this year. Some of the wildflowers I planted last year were perennials, which might bloom again. Some of the wildflowers reseeded themselves, so they, too might bloom. There are also the flowers that I transplanted, like the New England asters, and the fall plants I got last year to add color to my fading garden. And I have a bunch of seeds to fill in areas where nothing blooms, such as the four ounces of zinnia seeds I bought last fall, the seed packets a relative sent me, the wildflower seeds leftover from the previous fall, the larkspur seeds I harvested.

I listed all those possible blooms so that I don’t feel bad about not ordering any of the luscious flowers in the catalog. I also remind myself of all the bulbs I bought that never bloomed — in fact, I’ve never seen such a resplendent display of flowers except in the catalogs. They either cheat and force plants in a greenhouse so that despite different growing schedules, the plants all grow at the same time, or else they . . .

Well, I don’t know what else they do. All I know is that I don’t get the glorious growth that is pictured in the catalogs.

I will be interested in seeing what happens in the spring after all the snow cover we’ve had this winter, so unusual for this dry part of the state. Perhaps this will be the year my own garden is catalog worthy. If not, well, I’ll do what I always do — celebrate the flowers that do come up, and console myself over those that don’t with thoughts of next season’s gardening catalogs.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

2 Responses to “Gardening Catalogs”

  1. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    Gardening truly is a year-round pursuit. Winter is the planning and dreaming time for me. I don’t think I’ve ever mail-ordered seeds since seeds for locally hardy varieties are readily available in our garden centres, but I do love browsing through the catalogues…almost as much as I love wandering through the garden centres! We had another snowfall this morning, so I’m longing for spring flowers all the more today. The colour of your asters is marvellous!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      There’s no garden center in town, just the hardware store, which has racks of plants starting in April or May. The asters came from Walmart, of all places. It was a single plant that one day might take over my whole yard.

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