It may come as no surprise that in addition to plants, I also collect things that are connected to the world of plants and horticulture in some way: old books in the categories of gardening, botany, or nature; prints that feature images of plants, birds, insects, and other things of a scientific nature; old gardening products and packages; vintage seed packets, catalogues, and ephemera; plates, cups, and other dinnerware with botanical motifs; and still other things not related to plants at all… the list goes on and on. From my background in graphic design and art comes an interest in printing processes of a bygone era, the result of which is a small printing press, and a collection of assorted metal and wood print blocks and type. What don’t I collect? The only honest answer I can give is things that do not catch my eye.
I am shocked that in the 13 years I have published here I have only featured some of these little gems a handful of times. Recently, as I shifted all of my gardening books from my office to a room with more shelving space, I rediscovered all manner of interesting old things that had become lost in the fray. As a life-long advocate of Show and Tell, it occurred to me that I should share some of these interesting bits and bobs here. And so I will.
I begin with a recent find, purchased just last weekend at the last flea market of the season. At first I spotted the seed catalogues: 1930s and 40s era booklets advertising the wares of Dominion Seed House, a local company that is still in existence.
I combed through the pile of catalogues and made by selections, and then, as my eyes wandered, I noticed several printing blocks of assorted sizes that appeared to have a botanical theme. It turns out that they are the blocks that were used for these very catalogues!
The seller had a few small blocks remaining that I did not purchase — primarily line drawings of roses. The last item I chose with this old pea seed packet.
It’s a large packet and my guess is that this was not a size typically meant for backyard gardeners. As you can see, the seeds were treated with some sort of fungicide. The packet has a powdery feeling about it and I am eager to put it in a frame so I can avoid touching it with my hands.