But even if it's just well-written descriptions, I'm never as happy as when I have a new catalogue to peruse.
Catalogues are in part responsible for my complete transformation into a gardener. While I was living at home after I finished school, I used to look at the plant catalogues my mom got in the mail. I was seduced not just by the plant porn, but by the catalogues themselves. At that time, Klehm's Song Sparrow was just Klehm's, in nearby South Barrington, with a catalogue of pen and ink drawings and enchanting descriptions. I still love Klehm's, even though they sold the South Barrington property and moved to Wisconsin. Their current catalogue is filled with enticing color images.
Catalogues greatly facilitate armchair gardening. I can dream of how a new plant would look in my garden, completely disregarding the reality of the conditions, or what's already there. It's a way to dream big, winter gardening dreams. Badly written catalogues, or those with terrible images are a great source of amusement for those with a warped sense of humor. ("Adaptable? Of course it's adaptable, it's a weed." Or "No way, that flower is so not that color!")
Most catalogues are straightforward affairs, and I miss the old Heronswood catalogues, with their essays and quirky plant descriptions.
|a much-thumbed old Heronswood Nursery catalogue|
Besides Klehm's, other current plant catalogue favorites are Plant Delights (worth it for the cover alone), and Arrowhead Alpines, for the incredible selection of cold hardy plants. I envy Joseph of Greensparrow Gardens, who got to visit the Arrowhead Alpines nursery. I also used to get Forest Farm's catalogue, but they stopped sending it to me. What a great read that thick catalogue is; just dive into the maple listings if you have insomnia. I bet you don't get halfway through them before you nod off. I've requested this year's catalogue. It's free to U.S. residents. For sheer garden porn, it's hard to beat the White Flower Farm catalogue. Large, fairly accurate color images of plants in gardens, in vases, in attractive combinations to inspire and delight.
If I didn't get catalogues, my mailbox would be sadly empty in January. Have you seen any particularly beautiful or inspiring catalogues? Which are you favorites to read? I need more.