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Garden Catalogs Brighten up the Winter

In spite of all our investment of time and energy into social media, it’s still fun to receive a garden catalog in the mail.

So many garden writers over the years mention the winter ritual of finding such a catalog, arriving just on time.

As the cold weather continues and just having experienced a massive snow storm here in New England over the weekend, we need releif,

I am so happy I have a few garden catalogs to keep me occupied over the next few days.

White Flower Farm has a beautiful catalog featuring its flowers, containers and oh so many plants plus surprises as well.

Notice White Flower Farm refers to its catalog as ‘Garden Book.”

Nineteenth Century Catalogs

Rochester, New York seed company owner James Vick (1818-1882) took great pleasure in writing the introduction in his seed catalog.

His 1870 catalaog has a wonderful title: Vick’s Illustrated Catalogue and Floral Guide. [above]

In it he writes, “It is no small work to make one hundred and twenty thousand catalogues, and send them to many persons in every State in the Union.”

But he had a reason.

He wrote, “It is my interest as well as pleasure to encourage the love of flowers.”

Reason enough.

An Old Catalog

I came across a wonderful article in the English magazine The Living Age from January 3, 1914. The name of the article is “On Flower Catalogues” by Jessie Fielding Marsh.

Marsh delights in the arrival of the garden catalog at her doorstep.

Here is a seed catalog from that same year. Look at the warm, rich colors on the cover. This is probably the kind of catalog that would have come to her door as well.

She writes, “Catalogues are for grey days, dark days, when our outlook on life is a sad one, when our plants lie under the earth and there seems no prospect of any return of color and warmth.”

She ends the article with a wonderful sense of hope.

Marsh writes, “Yes, in winter you read your catalogues – in summer you live them!”

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Totally agree. I’m based in the UK and garden catalogues are evolving year on year, with am aim to inspire. Sarah Raven catalogues have achieved near cult status, notable for her clever plant combinations. For roses, David Austin’s catalogue is a must. More recently they produced a catalogue focusing on the character of roses and how to place them with beautiful photos, rather than the typical list. Even an old catalogue can be inspirational, so worth keeping.

    1. Hello Stephanie, thank you for your comments. You and I agree, with others, that winter time isa perfect time to page through catalogs. And various kinds of catalogs as well. Wonderful we have these paper treasures to enjoy. Best.

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