Saturday, January 10, 2009

Here Come the Catalogs

I love the avalanche of catalogs that floods my mailbox in January. Thanks goodness it’s an oversize mailbox or it would have collapsed under the tonnage. The covers alone thrill me—images of pink lilies and and illustrations of golden beets vie for my attention.
Nichols Garden Nursery (, celebrating its 60th year, has a beautiful cover that takes me back to slower times. Framed by a pear tree, a young woman gathers sunflowers, accompanied by her adorable dog.
I e-mailed artist Marcie Hawthorne ( to let her know how much I love her work, and to request permission to post the cover on my blog. In her reply, she told me more about the illustration.
“This year the artwork depicts my daughter, Sierra, when she was younger, and our beloved (and now departed) female Ridgeback, Teneya, who also was a constant companion in the
garden,” she wrote.
Inside the catalog, vegetable, flower and herb seeds for sale are accompanied by mouthwatering descriptions. Supplies for making cheese, home brewing and wine making will also give you new ideas for 2009.
Rose Marie Nichols McGee and her husband Keane McGee carry on the business that her parents began in 1948. And together with Maggie Stuckey, Rose Marie wrote “The Bountiful Container,” now in its fourth printing. It shows you how to create container gardens of veggies, herbs, fruits and edible flowers.
“People don’t have enough room to do these big gardens. They want a small garden that can yield twelve months a year,” she says. For example, Survivor Parsley can be harvested longer than any other variety.
“It has more sugars in the leaves, and sugars help the plant survive,” Nichols says.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Bluestone Perennials—it was the first mail order catalog I used back in the days when I couldn’t find enough selection in local nurseries (hard to believe now). Their offerings remain tempting and their 15% early discount helps offset the shipping charge. I’m smitten by Agastache ‘Raspberry Summer,’ Sedum ‘Picolette,’ and Kolkwitzia ‘Dream Catcher,’ to name just a few enticements. You can request a free color catalog at their website ( and also check out their tempting half price on-line-only specials.
Leafing through the White Flower Farm catalog is like walking through a spring and summer garden. The lush color photos practically jump off the page, especially the dazzling dahlia display. Most of all I love the container collections, which make me want to plant more annuals next summer. The way to offset the shipping is to order a $50 (or more) gift certificate and get a 10% discount on your order.
Some of my most unusual plants have come from forestfarm (, a major source of woody and herbaceous ornamentals, located in Williams, Oregon. At the website you can see color photos of the plants, and order a free print copy of the catalog which will serve as a terrific reference book. I usually order the more economical tubes (which have always been thick with well-formed roots) and then grow them on in larger pots. You’ll be amazed at their offerings of viburnum, hydrangea, eucalyptus, pine, crape myrtle, willow....

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