The first seed catalogues of 2008, Richters Herbs and West Coast Seeds (in that order), recently arrived in my mailbox, a sure sign that spring is just around the corner even if the outdoor temperatures say otherwise.
I’m going to admit here that while I have the words, “Start to plan this year’s gardens” jotted down for Wed. January 2008 as a reminder in my day planner, I haven’t actually started much of anything. Okay who am I kidding? I haven’t started anything period. Nothing is started. I did a bit in the fall when my hand was forced by the Great Canadian Garlic Collection but nothing has happened since. The fact that I had to write it down as a reminder at all is a sure sign that I am either busy (which I am) or that my personal garden style, which tends more towards whim and fancy doesn’t lend itself to hardcore planning. It’s not that I don’t plan, it’s just that I make “plans” that are always amenable to last minute changes. While I am great at “selling” others on a leftover seedling that I’ve got to get rid of, I am also easily persuaded by the seeds and seedlings of others. Come planting season for every plant I get rid of, there are an equal number of unplanned additions that are welcomed into the fold for one reason or another.
My gardens are small and limited by any number of factors (i.e. light, location) which means that one or two unaccounted plants can throw even the most flexible arrangement out the window. As an example: I don’t like eggplant. In fact eggplant makes my mouth itch, but I have been persuaded to grow another gardener’s leftover eggplant seedling/s on more than one occasion.
But not this year! This year I am going hardcore on the planning. Don’t even try to stop me. I am unstoppable. I am an undeviating, relentless machine for planning. Once I get started. Which I haven’t.
So of course, like every year, as the catalogues arrive on my doorstep I am circling everything with a fervor knowing full well that I will never find the space for my wishlist. I haven’t made any purchases so far but here’s what I have found of interest in the first two catalogues.
From Richters Herbs
- Medinette Basil – It is no secret that I love basil and am always on the lookout for varieties to try. This one is touted as a compact basil with leaves that are larger than your typical bush basil. Sounds good to me.
- Calypso Orange Calendula (Calendula officinalis ‘Calypso Orange’) – I particularly love calendula in my community garden plot because it is beautiful and long-blooming, self-seeding in the garden, the flowers and leaves are edible, it has great skin-healing properties, and it grows well as a companion alongside other less attractive food plants. The calendula always seems to invite all kinds of spiders and beneficial insects into the garden and I rarely leave a visit to my plot without taking home a handful of fresh blooms to put in a vase or dry. Richters is promoting this variety as particularly medicinally potent variety with dark centres that make it worth trying for the beautifying factor.
- Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) – Tastes like a mild garlic but it not a garlic at all but an amaryllis. I am particularly sold on the pretty flowers that are said to bloom throughout the summer.
- Afrodite Parsley (Petroselinum crispum crispum) – Although parsley has a special place in my heart as the first plant I ever grew, I have to admit that I don’t particularly like to grow it and pretty much haven’t since the early 90s. But I’ve been thinking this is the year to pick it up again and this curly variety described as looking like “lush moss” might have me sold.
From West Coast Seeds
- Orca Beans – Okay let’s face facts here: I have such a backlog of beans waiting in cue to be grown in my gardens that there is no way these are going to make it anytime soon. The catalogue states this type is “fun for kids” but as a gardener who gets excited about pretty beans I have to say these are fun all around. So pretty! And an heirloom to boot. And you know me, give me a good back story and I’m sold.
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli (Brassica oleraceae) – This cold-hardy, spring sprouting biennial sounds fascinating but my guess is that it’s not really suitable for my climate. I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried it.
- ‘Atomic Red’ Carrot (Daucus carota) – I’m pretty partial to ‘Purple Haze’ but this bright red carrot sure is hard to resist.
- ‘Black Spanish Round’ Radish (Raphanus sativus) – Now that I have mastered the radish it is time to branch out into new terrain.
I did not grow tired of this sight. You can see another tree filled with tillandsia here.
I liked how they were so closely clustered that they looked like pine needles in a deciduous tree.
A quick recap:
- Green Minds is a portrait project exploring gardeners and their passion for growing greenery. I am seeking to validate all kinds of gardening practice. This includes anything from a sprawling lush paradise to a single plant growing in a coffee can. Gardens include but are not limited to: community gardens, allotments, backyards, balconies, rooftops, front yards, containers on a patio or street corner, store windows, fire escapes, windowsills, guerilla gardensÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.
As spring approaches and my schedule for 2008 starts to unfold I am seeking new subjects for the project. Since I live in Toronto I am primarily limited to gardeners in this area. However, I am going to be in San Francisco and Austin, Texas this coming spring and would love to take advantage of those trips to schedule some photo shoots. Other trips may pop up so do not hesitate to get in touch regardless of where you are. I am seeking a diverse group of gardeners and gardens to photograph. Skill level and the maturity of the garden do not matter. I don’t care if your garden is as small as a basil plant in a tin cup. I want to take your picture and hear your story!
Please email me: Your contact info, a few words about the garden and the gardener and the location.