Southern Gardening: Garden catalogs feed garden fever all winter

January 5, 2019 10:16:52 PM

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As I'm writing this last Southern Gardening column of 2018, I'm trying to take one more look back before plunging headlong into the 2019 gardening season that's just around the corner. But I'm having trouble concentrating because the mail carrier is distracting me. 

 

It seems like every day there is at least one new shiny thing in the mailbox that grabs my attention. And they're being delivered earlier than ever this year. 

 

To what am I referring, you ask? To gardening catalogs, of course! 

 

When I get a new catalog, it brings me back to my younger days going through the Sears catalog toy section. Now it's just big boy toys, and you know how it is with boys and their toys. 

 

I've shared my obsession with gardening catalogs before, and it hasn't changed. Even though times have changed and most ordering is done online, there's still something I enjoy about thumbing through the latest catalog. The tactile sensation of turning the pages is like walking a winding garden path and wondering what's around the next curve. 

 

When I'm looking through garden catalogs, I always have a stack of sticky tabs so I can mark the pages I want to go back to and have another look. 

 

It's pretty common for me to get more than 30 different catalogs each year, not counting duplicates. That's a lot of reading that I thoroughly enjoy, but to tell you the truth, I only order from three or four favorites in any given year. I know avid gardeners who order from a completely different set of their favorites, demonstrating the wide variety to choose from in the garden catalog world. 

 

I also start most of the plants I grow from seed. There's something I like about considering the potential that's contained in a tiny seed. It reminds me of an Internet meme that was shared this fall. It asked: "Can you describe an acorn?" Of course, the answer is, "In a nutshell, it's a tree." 

 

When I look at a tomato seed weighing 1/100th of an ounce, I don't see that small seed. I see a tomato plant that in three months will gift me and my family with 10 to 20 pounds of fresh tomatoes. If only we all lived up to that much potential. 

 

Now, I'm not going to bore you with a list of my very favorite garden catalogs. If you're that interested, you can search the Southern Gardening archives online to see what I shared from time to time in the past. 

 

What I'd like to see you do is not just toss those garden catalogs you get. My New Year's wish is for you to take the time this winter to find some plants you are interested in growing next year. You may end up not ordering anything, but I guarantee you'll be inspired to have your best garden and landscape yet in 2019. 

 

Happy New Year! 

 

Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at [email protected]