Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal: part deux

The catalogs keep coming. Beautiful catalogs from Henry Field, White Flower Farm, van Bourgondien, Burpee, all trying to seduce me with their succulent vegetables, their colorful flowers, their naturalizing bulbs. How can I not be entranced by the Lily of Nepal or the hybrid lily Boogie Woogie? I don't even like eggplant, but the Purple Rain hybrid woos me with its description: "elegant, gorgeous wine-purple, streaked creamy-white."

I vowed that never again will I shop from a catalog. Sometimes the prices are tempting, sometimes the strains are unlike any found in our local nurseries. Certainly the text of these catalogs must be written by graduates of some esoteric degree program in hypnotic prose. A cleome is a favorite for its "commanding but ethereal presence in the back of a border", while the hollyhock Queeny Purple boasts "powder-puffy, bi-petalled flowers crowned with a multi-petalled center crest." I have often been tempted. Sometimes these flowers live up to their promise, but all too often I would have done better to pay more at our local nursery and get a good look at what I was buying.

Then we have tomatoes. The Ament track record with tomatoes is not too good. It may be a matter of soil or sunshine. Possibly the tendency to plant late and water sporadically has something to do with it. Should I listen to the sirens of Burpee promising "gorgeous color and meaty flesh" or wait and see what Allemons has to offer in May?

Stay tuned. You haven't heard the end of my garden saga for 2006.

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