For the love of gardening: gardening catalogs still rule

Posted: May 11, 2021 8:00 AM

Gardeners love gardening so much they can’t keep their enthusiasm to themselves! At least, that’s what happened to me. I was recently asked to write a little something for the bee Speaking of gardening gloves, I couldn’t help but think of all the other garden-related topics that would be fun to write about. For example, the wonderful catalogs that end up, often spontaneously, in my mailbox.

The first to arrive this year was from Breck’s (“Bulbs have been sent straight to you from Holland since 1818”). This company publishes two catalogs a year. The spring catalog presents hardy perennials such as hellebores and hostas. I once succumbed to a new hosta with enormous leaves two feet long by eighteen inches wide. The name of this huge hosta is “Kingsize”, which lacks imagination! But the catalog photo shows a big man behind a really gigantic clump of hosta, so it must be pretty impressive. Hostas with very large leaves take about three years to grow, but they are worth the wait. They can create real drama in places that sun-loving plants can’t tolerate.

Breck’s is an old reliable company. They want you to be happy and successful with your purchases and to that end include a free planting manual with every order. look for it to fall catalog in May.

When I was writing A passion for daylilies: flowers and people in 1992, Gilbert H. Wild And Son, Inc, was the largest daylily nursery in the world, and it is still America’s leading producer of daylilies, irises and peonies. I received their spring catalog recently. What I didn’t know in 1963 when my first Wild catalog arrived in the mail was that it was the start of a long and ardent love affair with daylilies and the Wild family of Sarcoxie, Missouri. . I still have a few old cultivars from those early days: pale yellow ‘Whir of Lace’ and ‘Kindly Light’, another pale yellow with narrow, spidery segments. I also love and still grow ‘Rocket City’ a large, beautiful orange with a darker eye area and ‘Siloam Double Classic’ a mellow pink.

The history of this venerable nursery began when James Herman Wild was in a wagon heading west. Somewhere along the way, the cart broke down. Wild was appalled at first, but looking around he liked what he saw – open fields and wildflowers. He decides then and there to put down roots himself. His son also liked the scenery and bought a crate of peony roots which he planted around the house. They grew and prospered. Irises and daylilies too. Before long, the Wilds were in the nursery. And they will likely stay that way as long as gardeners enjoy growing peonies, daylilies, irises, and other vigorous, healthy perennials.

Another mail order catalog I look forward to is Annie’s Annuals & Perennials. The owner, Annie Hayes, has a smile that says it all: “Gardening makes people happy!

In addition to a glimpse of new possibilities for the garden, I learned in this year’s catalog that Annie is retiring. However, she introduces us to the equally upbeat Sarah Hundley, the new owner, of whom Annie says, “With endless drive, curiosity, a great sense of humor and a solid background in business and agriculture, I am so glad the stars have aligned. to reunite Sarah and me. I am also happy and reassured that Annie’s catalog continues to offer all the annuals and perennials you can think of and more.

This last sentence hits the nail on the head: mail order catalogs are invaluable to gardeners as many have specialties and/or offer plants that are not available at local nurseries. Even better, they often happen when the only thing you can do is dream about the garden.

Enjoy your gardening, until next time!

Sydney Eddison will contribute a regular column in the coming weeks. She has written seven books on gardening. Additionally, she has collaborated with the Color Wheel Company, on The gardener’s color wheel: a guide to using color in the garden.

For her work as a writer, gardener, and lecturer, she received the Gustav AL Melquist Award from the Connecticut Horticultural Society in 2002; the Kathryn S. Taylor Award from the New England Wild Flower Society in 2005; in 2006, the bronze medal from the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut. In 2010, his book Gardening for Life: How to Garden Wisely as You Age won the American Horticultural Society Book Award.

A former theater teacher, lifelong gardener, and resident of Newtown for sixty years, Edison’s love of the English language found its most satisfying expression in four volumes of poetry: Where We Walk: Poems Rooted in New England Soil 2015 ; Fragments of Time: Poems of Gratitude for Daily Miracles2016; All Luck: Poems Celebrating Love, Life, and the Enduring Human Spirit 2018; and Light of Day: Poems from a Life of Looking and Listening2019.

Sydney Eddison and Phoebe — Hank Meirowitz photo