Friday, 8 January 2010


Minus eight outside, but the wintry sun is shouting out through the house, pouring golden light into the rooms and, for a while, making me think that it is Spring. And here am I, sitting by the Aga with my morning coffee and a shortbread biscuit - and being seriously seduced. Rather like the supermarkets, who start putting Easter hot-cross buns and chocolate cream eggs near to the doorway (two for the price of one) in January, so through the door this morning comes THE SEED CATALOGUE.

Oh, look here - a new kind of broccoli - Brokali Apollo. What a clever idea to call it after the god of light, the god of music and song, the leader of the Muses - yes here he is with "tasty and tender stems".

Or shall we have a medlar tree - "good central lawn feature", large PURE white flowers - oh let's make a hole in the front lawn and plant one! Hang on a minute - "truffle-like flavour" - surely for that we can read "earthy".

Provencal salad mix looks interesting - all those succulent little leaves which pop up so quickly that, unless you are Peter Rabbit, go to seed before you have a chance to cut them.

I like the sound of Pixie cabbage - is that a cabbage for pixies, or is it a tiny cabbage? Whichever it is the photograph shows it without a single caterpillar hole. And I do rather fancy Yin-Yang french beans (French, with a name like that?) -tender green stems in Summer and black/white beans to dry for Winter. Oh, and look at the wonderful picture of Canterbury bells - cup and saucer mixed in pink, white and blue, the "perfect cpttage garden flower." I accost the farmer as he comes through the door, "let's reorganise the garden. Get out the cheque book and we'll send for these things - I've made a list!" The farmer, who has the middle name of "Voice of Reason" raises his eyes towards the brilliantly blue Winter sky and says, "Forget it! Come down to earth and make me a coffee!"

Every year I get seduced by the seed catalogue just as my father did before me. My mother always called him the armchair gardener and I am very much like that myself - how I adore reading Vita Sackville West's Garden Book, particularly the bit about the young man turning up at her door at Sissinghurst, flinging open the back doors of his van and revealing a sea of pansies - all of which she bought. My pleasure seems to come from reading about it, rather than planting said pansies. I posted a poem about the armchair gardeners a long time ago. I make no apology for putting it on again:-

The Armchair Gardener.

Swathes of poppies,
banks of delphiniums,
frondy ferns and a
cascade of pools.

He planned it all from the
comfort of his armchair,
while outside
the golden dandelions
and a rash of purple thistles
painted their own canvas. (for my father, John Henry, who died in 1972)


dinesh chandra said...

Great Post and the use of the word seduce , is fantastic you are great in writing prose . Great Post as well as the poetry.


Dinesh Chandra

willow said...

The dandelions and thistle remind me of my own garden! Stay near that lovely Aga, Pat, and enjoy the seed catalog.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

You paint delightful pictures with both prose and poetry, Pat.

Those catalogues are seductive and I must admit often successful in getting me to order way beyond my capacity to plant in the Spring.

Slowly I have learned to exercise some restraint and just allow my imagination to run rampant with the possibilities....and then return to my senses about what is physically possible for me.

jinksy said...

That's my kind of gardener...

The Solitary Walker said...

Lovely piece, and such a good poem, Pat.

Pondside said...

I can't resist a big, fat illustrated garden book - Nothing but dreams, but a great way to pass a rainy afternoon.

Golden West said...

My spring bulb catalogue came, as well - such colorful pictures of spring temptations! I put an extra 150 Dutch iris bulbs in the week before Christmas - sort of an experiment in late planting, as I've never planted them later than early November. If they bloom as hoped, it will be nice to have a staggered bloom to prolong the cutting.

rallentanda said...

A sweet and charming poem with lovely imagery.Frondy ferns I like.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Lovely poem Weaver, funny too.

Heather said...

Delightful poem Weaver. Every year I start with such enthusiasm and like you am seduced by the wonderful descriptions and photos in the catalogues. Sadly, they fail to remind us that pests, diseases and the weather itself may all get at our crops before we have a chance to. It won't deter me though, and I shall be filling my containers with fresh compost as soon as the soil starts to warm up. It's surprising how many pickings of beans, etc., you can get from a half barrel and how many seedlings can be raised in a tiny greenhouse. At present the door is frozen shut so I hope all is well in there.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Weaver, I do so love reading your musings. I too am an armchair gardener, but also a dyed in the wool out-in-my-nightgown-to-dig-before-tea gardener too. I love every aspect of gardening, even the weed tugging. It is a meditation for me and when things bother me I either pull weeds or make soup.

Yesterday I planted citrus, harvested citrus, and nipped back branches on my juvenile espaliered apple as a flock of goldfinches serenaded me with their happy conversations.

Life is fulfilling, ever changing, and beautiful when you love the nature around you.

Please keep including us in your life,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh so true! And beautiful as always!

So funny, I just read your comment and have only this minute come in from watching Edward and Apple play in the snow! I don't know of anything more entertaining! It is 20 degrees outside and the snow obviously has no intention of melting anytime soon which, although knocking a big hole in my plans for the day, has thrilled the dogs so much that I don't mind a bit. I've been taking pictures of their snow-covered faces, and will post them if they are good enough!!

jeannette stgermain said...

I LOVE your header, and that's how it must look like when its about -8 weather! One of my bloggie friends from Holland reported it was -6, very cold for Holland!
In that weather you must have a strong mind to even think about seeds LOL!
Keep warm in the weekend:)

Granny Sue said...

It's a word picture, Weaver, one of tranquillity and study. Here's one I wrote a few years ago on the same topic:

Seed Catalogs

The first day of a new year.

In the vacuum left by departing visitors,
I huddle with quilts
in the warmth of a golden fire,
colorful catalogs on my lap.

Cocooned by snowfall
from the chatter
of everyday,
I plan

a summer of bounty and color.
A garden rich with green grows
amidst the swirling cold and white
of January.

Anonymous said...

One of my absolute favorite poems below, I always wonder about greasy Joan.
For the visual equivilent Peter Breughel strikes e as showing how raw the northerm winters were.
I remember pre-central heating as I know you do.....
I laughed at the farmer's response to your plans...
for some reason I can always find money for a plant or a book....
I think a medlar tree would be a VERY VERY good idea!

Loren said...

I wonder if my grandkids will even know what seeds are.

But here I am on the other side of the world going through the first two seed catalogues that have arrived.

Nothing like buying seeds to show your trust in the future.

Stine in Ontario said...

Tee hee. Gardening is way more fun sitting in an armchair. Although I am a gardener, my enthusiasm is strongest in January and February. :)

Titus said...

Oh yes, I identify, and the poem is lovely.
I'd still try and persuade him to go for the medlar tree though!

DJ said...

I am in my armchair as I type this, and will soon dream of glorious spring color while sitting here, also.
~Salutations from a fellow armchair gardener

Robin Mac said...

Lovely poem Weaver and I share yor dreams from garden catalogues. I was shopping this morning and was horrified to find hot cross buns already in the shops. Whatever happened to seasonal shopping? Keep warm in all that snow. Cheers, Robin

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Oh, I like that poem.

I also like the planning as the pages of the catalog turn. The imagination soars as the plotting begins.

But, oh, my. Stay warm.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for your comments. It is good to know that I am not alone in being an armchair gardener. Bonnie says it all when she say s we have to exercise restraint - we can so easily get seduced into biting off more than we can chew.
GW speaks of spring bulb catalogues - I love those too. I expect our snowdrops are coming through under the snow so that is something to look forward to.
It is lovely to read comments from the other side of the world where the roses and the citrus plants are all thriving - and in some cases desperate for water. Isn't that the good thing about blogging - to get comments from all over the world.
Granny Sue cheers us up with her poem on the same subject -seems we are all at a loss what to do in the days following the New Year.
Thanks to you all. Keep warm

Elisabeth said...

It's always lovely to imagine. We need not go anywhere or do anything. We can just sit back and day dream.

Even in the snow and ice of winter, or the furious heat of summer we can conjure new worlds for joy and comfort.

PurestGreen said...

The arrival of the seed catalogue is one of my mother's favourite moments in the year. It's so funny how gardeners all over the world are linked by this annual occurrence.

Lucky Dip Lisa said...

What a lovely tribute to your Dad.
At the moment it's so dry we'd be lucky to grow grass. The dandelions don't seem to mind though, they continue to grow in the shady areas.
I hope your managing to keep warm!

BT said...

That's a super post Weaver, and I know just how your Dad felt. A lovely tribute to him. Ask Jim about Sissinghurst Pinks.

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