Seed catalogs make me think and dream....

There's just something about hope of spring that makes you want to sit and ponder garden catalogs!

When I was younger, the Burpee catalog would come in February sometime and I remember watching my dad sit and peruse that catalog, thumb the pages, look wistfully at different tomato and bean varieties. Just planning and thinking and dreaming.

I always liked the "Kids" pages. You know, where they show you the "World's Biggest Pumpkin"

or "King Spaghetti Squash Monsters!" They had oddities in that section to spark kids into trying to plant and grow a garden and nurture their green thumb. If I wanted to, I could order "Mexican Jumping Bean" plants or grow "Chocolate Peppers" and other amazing things.

I usually was content with picking one or two things to add to my dad's tremendous garden. I loved growing sunflowers and started them in pots on the sunny bathroom window. They grew to be humongous!

The heads on those harvested plants were bigger than dinner plates! I also grew "Japanese Lanterns" and would harvest the beautiful vivid orange oriental looking flowers and bring them in for Halloween decorations. They would bob and dingle around on their bare stick branches. I could see how they were from the Orient. They looked like they would be in one of those Japanese watercolor paintings with the calligraphy character words down the side.

My dad had a tremendous garden. Miles and miles of green beans. Several kinds of tomato plants (complete with my least favorite insects in the whole world, the ugly & terrifying "Horn Worm" otherwise known as a "Tomato Worm". ACK.)
(this is what real monsters look like!!)


Pop also grew onions, potatoes, lettuce, cabbages, corn, cucumbers, kale....whatever he wanted or fancied. And he grew LOTS of it. I remember canning with my mother, on sultry hot days in the kitchen with the steaming hot water bath canner going. Quarts and pints and jars lined the counter tops. When cooled, I would take them down to the cellar to the pantry and mom had lined the shelves there with contact paper and lace trim on the edges.
 Beautiful colors of red tomatoes, green pickles, yellow corn relishes, purple beets. It was a feast for your eyes.

Of course, mom loved the work when it was all said and done and she could look at her handiwork and enjoy the fruits of their labor, literally. But it wasn't all homespun goodness and milk and cookies in the kitchen when it was happening. I was well aware of the hard work and the occasional steady stream of discontented bitching that would come from my mother's lips. "Why does he have to grow so MUCH?!"

But we were all glad dad DID grow a big garden, especially in the cold winter. We would go down to the pantry or the cold root cellar and get fresh big turnips or carrots or onions and bring them upstairs for the pot on the stove that was already boiling.

Mom loved her flowers. She grew bushels of them! Foxglove, bleeding hearts, lilies of the valley, dahlias, black-eyes Susan's, roses, zinnias. She made the gardens around the house a "showplace".
I have grown lots of things, but never to the extent that my mom or dad did.
I do enjoy having fresh veggies and herbs in from the garden though, and I do love my flowers!

I have had to slow down a bit this spring, and I really can't lift anything over 25# or so, while my eye surgery heals.... And then there is the next surgery to come soon...and the recovery after that.
I was reminded by my sister, Adele, recently that dad's cataract surgery "didn't go well". This was back 25-30 years ago. Evidently, my father's diabetic eyes had degenerated to a point that one eye was "not worth fixing" and the other eye had cataract surgery, which "was not a success". At this point in time, my father's sight was a signed deal and he got around less and enjoyed things less. He's been gone now 16 years and my mom left this world 5 years after he did.

I think of all these things as I look at the 4 Seasons and Burpee catalogs. I think of my dad and wish he could've had his sight.

I am planning on sprucing up my existing gardens with a few more perennials, possibly making a hedgerow out front, planting some Hostas in a circle under my front tree,

and putting in a small garden of veggies again.
Tomatoes. I must have tomatoes, and hope they won't blight like they did 2 years ago.

As I turn the pages of this bright and happy, bursting with abundance catalog, I think I will buy something out of the catalog just for him. Something colorful. Maybe some Giant Beefmaster Hybrid Tomato plants. They promise me that they will give me "Large quantities of thick, sweet, meaty tomatoes that weigh up to 2 pounds!"
 ("Mangia! That's a lotta sauce!") I should have enough to eat fresh, cook, can AND give away some to friends and family. (It's tradition to have them get the overflow, as anyone with cucumber or zucchini plants will tell you)

And I will buy something totally frivolous, beautiful and flowery for my mom.  Maybe a "Hummingbird Vine" to grow up my porch trellis where the old Clematis died...

The catalog tells me that "Hummingbirds and Butterflies find it irresistible. Its dark, shiny green leaves are smothered in large, showy, orange scarlet trumpet shaped flowers from July to November. Hummingbirds appear to collect the sweet nectar and come back year after year. A vigorous grower-reaches 20-40' Grows in poor soil, sun or partial shade."

Yah, that's the one. I can see me sitting on my cute front porch some early summer morning, with my book and my tea and hear the hum and buzz of happy little hummingbirds getting their sweet drink from the vine.

I think dreaming of spring and ordering plants and flowers from a catalog, is almost as fun as buying a new wheelbarrow at Lowe's. :)

I can't wait till I can lift it!

3 comments:

LynnieBee said...

Yup, that about sums up how I feel right now, can't wait to get in the dirt and start planting :) If you have the time, add *Animal, Vegetable, Miracle* by Barbara Kingsolver to your reading list. She writes so very passionately about growing her own food, it's infectious :)

Richard said...

Ah Merlyn, be careful with the Trumpet Vine. It is very invasive...it will tear your house apart.

Merlyn said...

good luck Lynne!

and Thanks for the tip Rick! I wish someone would've given me a heads up before I ever planted Snow on the Mountain!