Confluence of My Two Passions

“Jeff says you may want to have a dictionary handy for today. To his amazement, Jeff discovered that his iphone’s dictionary app was keeping a history of the words he looked up during the course of his reading in 2013, so he has tried to incorporate as many of those new words as possible in this week’s column. Have fun!”The Daily Sentinel ”    
I’m not for sure what I love most- books and words  or gardening. Happily, this time of the year these passions converge in the arrival in the mail of gardening and seed catalogues. Gardeners everywhere, like communards, plot and plan for new gardening conquests. Having muniments to land, sometimes large sometimes small, we fossick through catalogues to find just the right plants to fill our bit of earth. We consult gardening hierophants, the authors of our favorite gardening books, for advice, each writer having his own tendentious viewpoint.  He may be a janissary of organic gardening and their claustral ilk who specialize in scatology.  Or a munshi  that advocates the use of petrochemical fertilizers and a lupara approach which never leave plants enervate.   But with whatever breviary we choose, we begin the search and umrah for the pulchritudinous. With the aide of the best garden books at our side and this year’s gardening and seed catalogues before us, we set about our goal to create gardens worthy of empyrean glory.

The two catalogues I have before me at the moment are the effable Forest Farm catalogue and the non-abstemious, John Scheepers “Kitchen Garden Seeds”. I don’t want to create a froideur between myself and any of you, my readers.  These may not be your favorite catalogues or necessarily mine- they just happen to have arrived on my doorstep first via the mail. Others will arrive in due time and when they do I will put down my garden spade and come in out of the cold, throwing an antimacassar over my wife’s  finest living room chair and study catalogues as if Capability Brown’s oeuvre was before me.  Each catalogue will arrive creating a pother in my mind. Catalogues like the Antique Rose Emporium, Woodlanders, Franchi Seeds of Italy, J.L. Hudson Seedsman and Twilley Seed will each try to have as much influence and sway over my garden so as to become my gardens auteur.

At this point I must sound the tocsin! Garden catalogues are hard to resist. We gardeners order plants from them in a kind of somnambulistic fog. Each plant is described by the catalogues authors with such panache and aigrette that make hierophants turn erubescent when they read the descriptions. Would you not want a plant that was once “lost” but now found. The Metasequoia glyptostroboides -Dawn Redwood (its sobriquet) was once only  known to botanist in the Mesozoic fossil record, but in 1948 horticulturalist  were amazed to find it actually alive and  growing in central China. Well, why not be a piker and buy just one of these effable trees.
I never regret the bacchanal time spent in garden catalogues. No, not a dolorous moment. I look up having spent hours in pleasant diversion without having risked arrest for being drunken and disorderly. Each of these fine companies in there munificence have placed before me and for my pleasure the confluence of my two passions reading and gardening!

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