My garden catalogues are stacked neatly in a pile. I am scared to open them. Something bizarre happens in my brain when I start to read them. I seem to lose all perspective on reality.
Last year a friend gave me a book by Susan Watkins called Garden Madness. Her section on gardening catalogues had me weeping with laughter. I finally went out and bought my own copy of the book and, if you find the following even half as funny as I did, I encourage you to do the same. There’s more where this came from.
“It is the dead of winter. You have just stuffed logs into the woodstove for the seventeenth time today, and it is only nine o’clock in the morning. Outside the landscape is as exciting as a piece of yesterday’s butcher paper. With the wind chill factor it is forty-seven degrees below zero. Everything has frozen to death including the fence. You are seriously considering the logic of doing the same. Perhaps you will simply walk to the mailbox naked.
But lo! What is this? A bright shining kaleidoscope beams out of the gloom and into your eye … What is this Fantasia of delight, this Xanadu of prose, this promised fairyland of spring?
Why it is a garden catalog, of course. You shall open it now and, and read it cover to cover. You shall look at every glossy photograph … You shall read every word, believe every claim, desire every seed. You shall contemplate the quickening of your breath, the tingling of your veins, the thumping of your heart, the foreclosing of your mortgage. You shall, in other words, order every single plant in the catalogue. And you shall have absolutely no idea what any of them are by the time your head has cleared and UPS is trundling up your driveway. Not to mention the fact that that all the packaged plants will look exactly the same – like fettucini.
It is early spring now. The UPS man has been to your home one hundred and twenty-five times since March first. He will no longer get out of the truck if you are nearby. Instead, he flings the packages out the door as if he were feeding lions at the zoo. He has a frightened look on his face. You do not blame him. You have a frightened look on your face, too. The garage no longer has room for cars. The local landfill exploded last week, spewing cardboard and excelsior over your tri-county area, and you are solely responsible. You have 9,725 plants to install before next winter, and you are not going to make it. The daylilies in box #316 have been grabbing at your ankles with their roots. Any moment now they will go for your throat. But you are still trying to figure out where to plant all the fettucini in box #65. The name on the label says it is “Eragrostis v. expensivosa as allgettoutti.” But you have no idea what that means. You do not remember what any of these things are, or why you ordered them in the first place. … Some of these plants may kill you on contact. You no longer care.
Outside, it will soon be ninety-seven degrees above zero and humid enough to turn wallpaper to oatmeal. It is out there that you must toil for your sins. You are doomed.”
From Susan Watkins, Garden Madness