-from February 2008 issue of BBC’s Garden’s Illustrated magazine.
- page 12
This turn-of-the-century seed catalogue, John A. Bruce & Co.’s Illustrated and Descriptive Catalogue of Seeds, 1884, was perfect reading this morning as I prepared to make my final seed choices and orders for the 2008 growing season. The gorgeous illustrated book (do not miss the cover on page 6), reproduced in full and made available online as a part of the Ontario Time Machine project is fascinating to explore including vegetable varieties many of us still enjoy today (they sold my favourite dwarf pea ‘Tom Thumb’!). Reading through the book sent me off on some wild but fruitless chases for interesting varieties like ‘Alpha’ a blue wrinkled pea, and ‘Black Portugal Musk Rock’* (page 13) a fascinating, bumpy-skinned cantaloupe.
As you turn through the pages be sure to click on descriptive photos, text definitions and audio files that provide further insight and historical context.
I’ve got to include an additional shout-out here to my spouse Davin who designed the Ontario Time Machine website.
*Cantaloupes or musk melons were called “rock melons” around the turn-of-the-century due to their hard, rock-like rinds.
I was recently interviewed for the Garden Monkey’s Celebrity Hijack series. When the mysterious (and totally hilarious) Garden Monkey contacted me about an interview I jumped on the chance because I knew it would be fun. This interview was an absolute joy to answer and a bit of a thinker too. Plus I got to swear a wee bit. You have no idea how hard I work to reign my potty mouth in on a daily basis. While you’re over there be sure to check out the previous interviews with some of the UK’s most famous gardeners. I love that almost everyone prefers the title “gardener” over “horticulturalist.”
Given my brand of humor it comes as no surprise that the two most interesting interviews I have conducted recently have come from UK publications.
Another Seedy Saturday Toronto has come and gone and like last year I managed, with great effort, to make it around to a few booths and pick up some seeds. The event was more packed than ever this year making it nearly impossible to leave my brother/assistant alone at the table for any length of time or push through the crowds lingering around some of the larger seed sellers. The sellers I did manage to get to were often sold out of items on my wanted list. And forget the Seeds of Diversity trading table. I had high hopes but only managed to snag a pack of red orach seeds. Next year I plan to employ the strategy of browsing during setup, BEFORE the crowds arrive. Next year.
Here’s what I managed to bring home with me:
Can you believe You Grow Girl is eight years old? Neither can I. Sometimes it feels like all of this has passed in a blink of an eye. Eight years is a small child in grade three. When I look at it that way it pretty much blows my mind.
Of course I would be lying if I didn’t say that some days it feels like an eternity has passed in those eight years. On a personal level I really grew up with this project. It started as a fun idea based on an offhand remark from a friend poking fun at my obsession with gardening, and has changed and evolved over the years into what is probably (at least in hours clocked) the central focus of my life. So much has gone on behind the scenes over the years — I am often asked to explain what this is and the impact it has had on my life but to be honest, even after all this time, I still haven’t formed a language to encapsulate it. I know this is a bit cliche to say but there really is no way I could have predicted eight years ago the path this project would lead me down. And to be honest, things change so quickly and extremely that I really have no idea where it will lead me still.
I have a lot of people to thank for their help and support over the years — some who have been around since almost the start and others that have come and gone. Some of you contributed when the site was a magazine, some have moderated the forums, contributed to discussions, bought a t-shirt, came out to events, or just wrote and said “Hi.”
More than anyone I have to take a moment to thank my partner Davin Risk. He has quietly and patiently put more hours and thankless work into this project both behind the scenes and in a public sphere then I ever could have anticipated and to be honest ever had the right to ask. Over the years he has quietly stepped in to help in countless ways: from all sorts of technical and design work, to unofficial portrait photographer; to helping hand and unpaid laborer in the gardens and at various events and workshops (he has absorbed so much about gardening over the years that I look to him when my mind draws a blank); to being my shoulder when things got crazy, to basically living with and tolerating the endless insanity I have brought into our home and lives through this endeavor. Not only has he tolerated all of this for eight years without complaint, but during the times I have threatened to pack it in and get a “real job” he has always insisted I keep going. He’s a keeper.