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Looking out the window I can see the ground.  There is no snow cover in Monson right now.  That could certainly change at any moment – I have lived in New England all my life and I know that all weather, especially in winter, is very changeable.  When I see the ground I think about the garden.  On nice days it is good to take a walk and see what is happening in the garden.  You can observe birds eating fruits and seeds in the landscape.  You can tell if larger herbivores are browsing on your evergreens and decide what you would like to do about that, or not.

My favorite winter activity that relates to the garden is looking at seed catalogs.  For me, this is FAR more exciting than when the Christmas catalogs from every company I have ever made an inquiry to arrive.  Those catalogs generally go straight into the recycle bin.  But seed catalogs, they are special.   Seed catalogs hold the promise of spring and summer and my hands in the soil again.  I love looking at all kinds of plant catalogs, even if I am not going to order from them.

Long ago I gave up vegetable gardening.  I used to think it would be fun to spend time with my young children in the garden.  That usually lasted for about an hour.  Our best success was with radishes that were planted and matured in a month.  Lettuce and peas were usually food for the wild rabbits.

Vegetable gardens take more dedication than that, but I still love to look at the vegetable seed catalogs when they come.  What is new?  I remember planting purple green beans and I have bought purple carrots and Tuscan kale.  I think about growing birdhouse gourds, even though the one I have has never drawn more than a glance from any bird.

Flower catalogs are so beautiful.  The gorgeous colors, the unusual plants and new varieties of old favorites sing out from the pages.  Moonflowers that bloom at night are exciting; zinnias are always a favorite in my home garden.  Catalogs containing plants from England and beyond always have exotic flowers that look spectacular. There are even catalogs for heirloom varieties of plants – both vegetables and flowers.

I spend the most time looking through the native plant catalogs.  Yes, there are seeds and catalogs for those too!  I think about trying species that are marginally hardy (maybe this is the year they will persist for more than a year).  I dream about the northern species that really just are not happy in our warm summers and warming winters.  I have been pondering the drought tolerant species that seem like they may thrive here (still knowing that suddenly we may have a very rainy year).

Of course, as with anything, many seed catalogs are also online.  Looking for tree seeds?  Local seed sources?  Yes, there is a place to find those too.  So, before you send those catalogs straight to the recycle bin, take some time, look at summer on the pages of your catalogs and think about the garden possibilities!


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