Even back in Longfellow’s time, winter’s cold was lessened by the warmth of seed catalogs.
By Chris Cohan
“Aside from the garden of Eden, man’s great temptation took place when he first received his seed catalog.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882, American poet
Even back in Longfellow’s time, winter’s cold was lessened by the warmth of seed catalogs. With a faux-blizzard blowing, what can be better than to curl up with catalogs, especially those filled with photographs of perfect fruits and vegetables. You wonder, could I grow plants like that? Then the flowery prose closes the deal like a used car salesman… Only 28 days till harvest. Imagine eating fresh from the garden in less than a month. Where do I sign?
Remember the flower garden. You have to buy flowers that bloom all season long. There are flowers in many colors and heights and resistant to everything! Don’t forget flowers that attract birds and bees. You can’t resist. Why should you? Just in case you are still wavering, strategically placed in the catalog is a photograph of an 8-year-old girl. She is standing next to botanical garden-quality flowers. You think, yes, if she can do it, so can I.
Catalog glossy pages filled with amazing flowers and blemish free vegetables make us yearn for spring. Against the drab greyness of everything, garden possibilities seem doable and exciting. Somewhere deep within ourselves inspiration sprouts.
Confidently, we dream to plant and have gardens just like in the catalog. Forget the odds, who cares, what do they know anyway. Like golf, all you need is to hit the ball well once and you are hooked. The same is true for gardening. In a sea of weeds one plant flourishes.
You mailed in your order. You made a commitment. The gardening season has begun. Begun? Wait there is snow on the ground and temperatures are in single digits. More snow is predicted. Your garden is a white, cold, barren wasteland. Days are longer and the sun a pinch higher. You have chores to complete to be ready for planting.
Traditionally, says Mike Zotzmann, organic gardener extraordinaire, the first pea plantings commence on St. Patrick’s Day. That is only six weeks away! So much to do, and where to begin. You start thinking, will I be ready? Your dried, cracked gardener hands have just softened up again. When will the soil be workable? Frantically, you start and stop. Then calmly you have visions of freshly tilled earth — pure, rich, clean, innocent, and full of so much hope. What better metaphor for life.