Make the most of catalogs

For last several years, my name has been struck off the lists of some of the gardening mail-order companies that used to send me their publications on a regular basis. The reason, I presume, is that I don’t order by mail as much as I did in the past. In a way, it seems only fair on the part of the companies to use their discretion, given the fact that paper, our natural resource, is meant to be put to good use.

Therefore, now that receiving gardening catalogs is more or less a privilege, I try to get the most out of the ones I get. In addition to selling merchandise, they do contain a fair amount of other pertinent information, most fairly current, and all for free, figuratively speaking. For instance, just about every year, it is while browsing through some catalog that I come across the perennial selected as the Perennial Plant of the Year, or learn about other award winners, new varieties and cultivars, and drought resistant plants that will soon become available in the market for us to grow.

Highlighted on the first few pages of the catalogs generally are the featured and newest items for the season. For instance, Park Seeds, the company that got me started in ordering through the mail years back, is offering a “Zinnia Queen Lime” this spring, an offer that seems tad bit too tempting to resist. Speaking of which, I have already put a marker on this page, since zinnias are easy to grow and lime green happens to be one of my favorite colors!

Another catalog that is bound to become dog-eared by the time I make my selections is Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, a name all too familiar to gardeners around here, since this company is based in Gloucester, Va. In fact, at some point or the other, quite a few of us have heard Mr. Heath speak in seminars on their extensive collection of bulbs, or visited their location at 7900 Daffodil Lane. Full of enticing color pictures, the mail-order catalog has bulbs listed from A-Z, ending with about 10 pages of “Cozy Companions” for specific bulbs. For those who are botanically inclined, each plant also has the name of the family it belongs to!

I do hold on to some specific catalogs from season to season, but since it is impossible to keep all of them, I have found a neat way of making use of the ones that I cannot: For every item ordered, I cut and save the accompanying color illustration, scientific name and the description, and file it for future reference. This way, I have the plant profile readily available whenever I need it.


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