Yesterday my daughter and I went shopping–not because we didn’t do enough this month already because we certainly did our part to improve the local economy–but because it was a totally dreary day, we had some gift cards to use, and thought we might snag some big discounts–which we did. And to spend some time together, a pizza and movie later at home, in our jammies on the sofa, Katie snuggled in as well. Hard to beat and I went to bed a happy gal.

My next round of shopping will be a different sort–“window shopping”– from the vast selection of garden catalogues that are rolling in right now (they have MY number for sure.) I revel in it. Each morning over coffee and toast I am visually delighted with what seem to be endless options and ideas for new things and pictures of old favorites. Just plain entertainment. I have no room of course for most of it but that doesn’t keep me from reading anyway. Fueling this fire was last week’s chance to spend some time in the garden, thanks to the mild weather. I have never, EVER gardened on Christmas Eve, but since there was chickweed to pull, I figured I would have at-it. Nothing like a little weed extraction to inspire me as to what is going to come next year in my garden–and what I might suggest for my clients.

R.H. Shumway’s 2016 Illustrated Garden Guide is old-time-y fun; it has a photo of R.H. on the front cover, top left. I adore the color illustrations of the front and back cover and the black and white illustrations inside. I am intrigued by something called “Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew” (I think I might have had some of this at a holiday party.) The description reads, “Contains Spinosad, a naturally occurring soil-dwelling bacterium collected on a Caribbean Island from an abandoned rum distillery in 1982. Kills bagworms, borers, beetles, caterpillars, codling moths, gypsy moths…etc.” I never heard of this so I’m going to Google-it up. The name sure got my attention, even though my garden is (thankfully) not troubled by these particular pests.

Burpee has been a favorite of mine for a long time and since they are relatively close, I can order without feeling like things are coming from the other end of the Universe. Cut flower expert, Mary Ellen, had “Queen Red Lime” Zinnias at the market this season and they were gorgeous. I will start mine from seed this year in pots first so I can keep a better eye on them; Katie loves to bound through the beds and I had too few Zinnias last summer–and I love them. I’ve grown “Pop Art Red and Yellow” before, too, and they were striking. New this year is something called, “Dragon’s Breath” Celosia, described as “Florific fabulosity” (these have got to be made up words) but if the plant is true to its photo, I’m in for a treat. Plus, it says, “faced with intense heat, humidity and low water, (sounds like SJ, right?) “Dragon’s Breath” produces more and more amazing plume-like flowers and green-red foliage.” I haven’t grown Celosia in a good while, either, so it will be a welcome change.

From Territorial Seed Company (and BTW, many “seed” companies also carry plants, too, so it’s worth peeking in the catalogue despite the title) carry something I’m highly interested in called “Seaberry;” It is supposed to be “tolerant of the most inhospitable growing situations.” I am always for the work-horse plants, the ones that can do great things with little help from us. The berries are a fantastic orange that come on late summer and persist into the fall and winter. The mature size of the plants are 8′-10′-a little scary to me for my space, so I’m thinking about it. I love orange and I’m always keen on looking for things to add to the late summer garden–into the winter a big bonus.

The Natural Gardening Company has a very pretty catalogue with clear text I can even read without specs–a bonus. They say they are the “Oldest Certified Organic Nursery in the United States” and “The Home of Tomato Heaven.” Sign me up for THAT right now. They have a flower called Monarch of the Veld, (great name to start with–I’ve always known it as African Daisy, but I like Monarch of the Veld better) in a variety called “Orange Prince,” “that can be grown in containers or as bedding plants.” Aside plants, you can also learn from catalogues. On page 59 I learned the best way to cut flowers in “Harvest Notes Flowers: Most flowers look better if they are cut before the buds open. In the morning blossoms are full of moisture and are less likely to wilt, but in the evening they have more food stored in their stems, which helps them to last longer in a vase. Use sharp, clean clippers to cut the stems, and put the cut flowers immediately into a bucket of water. Re-cut the stems under water to prevent air bubbles from impeding uptake of water and nutrients. Let flowers rest for awhile before arranging them, so they recover from the stress of the hardest; a few hours will suffice, or if you have a cool, dark room for them to stay, they can cure overnight. You many wish to put a preservative in the water; try either about 1 Tbsp. sugar per quart, or to acidify the water which prolongs the life of the flowers add 1 tsp. vinegar and a crushed aspirin tablet. Remove foliage that would be underwater so it doesn’t decay, and check to be sure that the water stays clean.” I didn’t know about cutting in the evening, or about the sugar and the acid factor in the water.

Do you have a favorite catalogue vendor you’d like to tell us about? Please share in the space below.

A Grand Entrance...
Happy 100!