Thursday, February 7, 2008

Garden Catalogues

They're here! They're here!

I went online a few weeks ago and ordered all of the free gardening catalogs that I could find. Many places charge for their catalogs, which is understandable considering the expense to them. The prices are reasonable at only a buck or two a piece, but I figure if I don't know the garden company I don't want to spend money on their catalog. The costs could add up fast. My mom says now that I will be on everyone's mailing list, getting junk mail from obscure places. But I don't care ...except for the twinge of guilt about the trees that are being killed by my living large, covered in catalogs. Hopefully it's at least recycled paper and I'm told that's mostly what they use these days anyway...I am dreaming of spring. I am moving my vegetable garden this year to a larger, flatter piece of my property. I also plan to go crazy with hydrangea and flowering perennials to fill in my garden spaces.

We moved to this property three years ago. There were many established and very large plants, but the landscaping was not cared for by a true gardener. I have slowly been moving and reshaping the backbone of my garden. I now know exactly what I want to do here. I have visions of great English Victorian-like spaces. There will be hidden hideaways where my daughter and her friends can play with large expanses of green between. (I'm trying to convince my husband that the green should be clover and not lawn.) There will be flowers blooming continually. There is shade and sun and will be wild mystical gardens with waist high wild flowers. There will also be a tame formal herb garden that even include boxwood. I am not a fussy gardener, so tame is relative...

In my old house I ordered three burning bushes (when they were still allowed in these parts) from catalogs and received sticks in the mail. By the time I left the property seven years later, the sticks each had about three branches and grew from a foot high to two feet high. So, this time, I'm taking my time making my choices. I've read that mail ordering perennials is not always a great idea, so I'm going to start with a few.

These are the catalog I have in hand. More I expect will be trickling in:
Park Seed Company
Thompson and Morgan
White Flower Farm
Bluestone Perennials
Dutch Gardens
and of course the obligatory Burpee. I've been on their mailing list for years.
I am so excited about Bluestone with its unusual flowers and awesome prices.

I have been a shameless garden store junkie in the past, wandering through the aisle and spending my self-given "allowance" every week on whatever catches my eye. As a floral photographer, I have visited garden centers almost every week during the growing season over the past couple of years just to take photos. I never walk away empty handed though. There is always something new, beautiful, bright and tempting. It seems like it will be easier to control myself while catalog shopping. HA HA!

My interest in catalogues was awakened by the book "Two Gardeners: A Friendship in Letters" about Katherine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence. The book is an archivists dream. (In my other life I'm an archivist, managing historical records.) We get a peak into the personal lives of these personable women and the camaraderie they form through their shared gardening passion. Both women were famous garden writers. Katherine S. White was also the wife of famous novelist E.B. White. One of the things for which she was best known was her catalog reviews. She spoke about catalogs with passion. What a fascinating history these glossy colored booklets must have. I can't wait to learn more!

Any advice about mail ordering perennials will be appreciated.


Claire said...

Melissa, I checked out your blog because, as a blogger for Park Seed Company, I saw that you mentioned our catalog. Thanks! But what really piques my interest is the comment that you are an archivist. One of my many projects is doing some archive work here. We are 140 years old this year, and we have lots of historical materials that really deserve to be preserved. I would love it if you would email me to discuss! Thanks, and best wishes for your new garden and your renewed blog.

Melissa Mannon said...

Hi Claire,

Thank you for your comment. I would like to e-mail you, but don't see your e-mail address in your profile. (Are you the Claire F. on the Park Seed Co. blog?) For more information about my archives work please see . And please drop me your contact information. I would love to talk with you!

Mike said...

Hi Melissa,
Just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know I enjoyed and appreciated your blog, and suggest checking out some of the gardening "social websites" . For instance, Dave's Garden (and its Garden Watchdog) and Garden Web are not only good sources of information, they also provide independent references on nurseries.
Mike Butler
Bloomin Designs Nursery
558 Auburn Rd
Auburn, GA 30011

Melissa Mannon said...

Hi Mike. Thank you for the information. I'll be sure to check out Dave's Garden and Garden Web. I also am looking forward to exploring I love hostas and have never seen so many varieties in one place.