Do you remember the day you planted your first vegetable or flower seeds? For me, it started in hot, smoggy southern California. Both my Mom and my Nana loved their 1960's suburban back yards, but never wanted to plant seeds. Mom had six different fruit trees (none that ever produced any edible good fruit) and lots of ice plant around her nicely manicured lawn. Nana had a lovely rose garden, a huge lawn that grew dandelions, a sweet blossoming orange tree, nice lemon trees, and a truly scary black English walnut that dropped wormy nuts every October.
Nana also handed out pennies per pulled dandelion. Weeds, dirt and grass all smelled good to me so I never minded digging out the weeds. In the 1960's, that translated into 20 candy bars per 100 weeds.
One fateful winter day when I was ten or eleven, I spotted an ad in my "Weekly Reader," proclaiming that kids could make lots of extra money selling seeds to their neighbors. My Mom actually agreed to the scheme without too much fuss, and I wrote away for the seed selling kit. A month later, the mailman delivered small brown package addressed to me! It was thrilling, like Christmas and a birthday rolled into one.
Lifting out the packets one by one, I read charming names above the pretty pictures: Petunias, Candytuft, Bachelor Buttons, Marigolds, Baby's Breath, and Sweet Alyssum. Of course, I had to open a package and couldn't believe what I saw Flowers actually came from the tiniest bits of stuff, and that just seemed, if it were true, crazy miraculous. Would these little specks really grow and become alive if I planted and watered them?
They did, even though I had planted them under our clothesline in the heaviest parched clay soil imaginable. My magenta petunias, blue bachelor buttons, white baby's breath and pale yellow marigolds made me feel like Mary in The Secret Garden and it still does. Of course, I never sold any seeds and ended up having to buy them all, but what a small price for a lifetime love?
Now, of course, buying seeds is even more fun. Big glossy catalogs start appearing in the mailbox in December, and that sends me to the Internet for on-line sales.
Here are my annual winter joys: my favorite seed catalogs and websites.