Of course, most of the magazines arriving at my house look as if they are on death row–skinny, no ads, many articles advertorials in disguise. House & Garden, my favorite shelter magazine, was put out of business over a year ago. Conde Nast decided to run out my subscription with the awful Domino, which has now suffered House & Garden's fate. So Conde Nast is currently running down the clock by mailing me Self, which will probably go out of business before we finish our relationship in May. Self! Boy, that's a long, strange trip from Jay McInerney's delightful wine column. At 48 with three kids, demanding clients, a book contract, a big vegetable garden, three hens and four goldfish wintering over in the basement, I am in the wrong demographic. No Time For Self, I'm the target market for that publication.
So the arrival of two ridiculously glossy and gorgeous catalogs in the last week has buoyed my spirits. First, Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery. The high degree of specialization in this catalog is really nice–a huge selection of peonies, some of them bred by Roy G. Klehm, as well as clematis, hostas, magnolias and a few other things. As to how they can afford to mail out such a thick book to someone like me, who's never ordered from them before, let's just admit that the tree peony that appeals to me most, 'Baron Thyssen Bornemisza,' costs $225.
The greater mystery is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, whose catalog I requested on Amy Stewart's recommendation, even though I am a loyal Fedco customer. But I have to admit, Baker Creek has won some of my business with its mind-blowing selection of seeds from all over the world. I'm a mad experimenter in the vegetable garden and sought seeds from Italian and Indian sources this winter. Now Baker Creek makes me wonder why I bothered.
And the catalog is so gorgeous, it deserves at least a week of bedtime flipping-through.
I'm assuming that all of the catalog's amazing photos are owner Jere Gettle's work, since that's certainly suggested by the photos on his website. As to how they amortize 150,000 copies of this beautiful book over $1.50 seed packages–well, I have no idea, but I do think a Rant interview with the adorable young Gettle family is in order.