Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mail-order catalogs

I’m sure you get a lot of gardening-related catalogs in the mail: from nurseries, seed companies, garden supply stores, etc. I certainly do. In the past, I used to receive even more, but considering how virtual the world has gotten there are still plenty of printed materials that arrive in the mail every week.

While I realize that printed catalogs are a fairly frivolous use of resources, not to mention far less user-friendly than an online version, I must confess that I love curling up on the couch with a new plant catalog. I guess it’s for the same reason I still prefer reading a real newspaper in the morning as opposed to getting the news off the web. There’s something comforting and real about things you can touch, versus online information that blinks into and out of existence in a heartbeat. A printed catalog is something that doesn’t disappear. It lasts as long as you bother to keep it. (Mind you, I don’t keep them as long as I used to—too much clutter and grumbling from my wife!)

Nurseries send out plant catalogs during the darkest days of the year because they know us all too well. Here we are, sick of the snow or rain already even though winter hasn’t even really begun, dreaming of sunny spring days, starved for unfurling leaves and burgeoning blossoms. And then we receive a catalog that’s filled from cover to cover with the most perfect plants ever seen, a riot of shapes and colors that pushes every button in a gardener’s brain. Is it fair to do this to us plant lovers when we’re at our most defenseless? Absolutely not, but let’s face it, these evil geniuses are allied with the Dark Side anyway.

So today I receive the Spring 2011 catalog from Bluestone Perennials. On the cover is a stunning vision in white, yellow and purple. During the first feverish seconds I don’t even know what it is, but I don’t care, I must have it. It’s not until a minute or so later that I realize it’s a viola, and I’m not really into violas.

Then I start to page through the 90-page glossy catalog. In no time, I have a list of plants I must have—NOW!—or I will perish. Except these plants are not available now. Shipping to our zone doesn’t even start until late March. What these calculating masterminds—no doubt cackling at the efficacy of their wicked campaign—are selling is the promise of botanical nirvana. You know, dangling the proverbial carrot right in front of our face with no intention of giving it to us any time soon.

Evil, evil people.

OK, get out of my way. I must place an order. Right now. Especially since there’s a 15%-off coupon for early birds!

Disclaimer: I hope the good folks at Bluestone Perennials don’t take offense at my words. They’re a great company, and I’ve always been more than happy with the plants I ordered from them. But they could make their catalog just a tad less attractive so I wouldn’t be tempted so much.

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