Eat This

Never thought I’d see the day …


… when the catalog that covers the “spectrum of plant snobbery” and would never “deign to carry mere annuals and vegetables” would have tomatoes in plastic pots on the cover. Those are Michael Pollan’s words about White Flower Farms; I am sure that many of you also loved the chapter in Second Nature where he deconstructs the world of garden catalogs. I thought too that Pollan’s book was the first to call catalogs “garden porn” but I couldn’t find the exact reference this morning.

WFF has carried annuals for years; in fact, it was the first place I bought strobilanthes (Persian Shield), but I’ve never seen anything but a lush array of daylilies, dahlias, oriental lilies, ferns, or other perennials on its cover. Until this year, as you see on its summer 2009 catalog. The vegetable offerings are mainly tomatoes aimed at the patio veggie grower, including some heirlooms like Green Zebra, Black Prince, and Riesentraube. The bulk of the catalog is still perennials, shrubs, and bulbs.

There’s no question that a gorgeous ripe tomato—especially a green, yellow, or purple heirloom—is as seductive as any flower, but can a couple pages of tomatoes justify a cover? I guess. In the magazine world you put on the cover what you think will sell the book, and in this gardening season, clearly, veggies rule.

Posted by on March 24, 2009 at 4:25 am, in the category Eat This.
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15 responses to “Never thought I’d see the day …”

  1. Veggies have always ruled in my garden, glad to see everyone else join in. There is no excuse if you garden, or even if you don’t, to not try to grow at least one vegetable you can eat. And tomatoes are a great choice for that one vegetable.

  2. Its a similar client that buys the heirloom tomatoes they sell. I’ve received healthy perennials in little pots from them, so why not a healthy veg. They’ve also been selling grassy meats for a few years, though I can’t partake in that.

    I haven’t read second nature, but his Pollan’s later volumes. I’m spinning a post off his
    and wish I had his time for research!

  3. Sheila says:

    I thought the same thing when the catalog arrived yesterday! How times have changed!

  4. Dave says:

    Makes sense to me. I’m seeing more and more clients request edibles in their landscape designs, and I just signed one up yesterday that wants to devote the entire area beyond the pool to fruit trees, berry bushes, and vegetable beds. Peoples’ priorities are changing, and it’s really an exciting time to be a designer and have a front row seat. So, kudos to WFF- apparently they’re actually paying attention to what their customers want.

  5. Lzyjo says:

    I’ve heard gardening is up 20% this year, over last year. Partially due to the economy. I can see their reasoning in in catering to the demand for edibles.

  6. Yolana says:

    Did you see the prices, those are very wff. 40 bucks for six plants in 3 inch pots, ouch. I started 8 varieties for about twelve dollars with loads of plants left over to give to family friends and neighbors.

  7. Marie says:

    Tomato be a fruit 🙂

  8. ChristyACB says:

    There is now a certain chic to growing heirloom fruit and veggies and I just think this catalog is catching onto the trend.

  9. In 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared the tomato to be a vegetable in a tariff dispute–tariffs were payable for vegetables but not fruits. Then again, the European Union declared the carrot a fruit in its 1979 Jam Directive, which set standards for how much “fruit” must be contained in jams.

    Sooo, while botanically we think of tomatoes as fruits and carrots as vegetables, laws can dictate otherwise.

  10. Mary Beth says:

    I’m not surprised at all – 21st century “victory gardens” is all the rage. . . . and it’s the only way we can get an edible tomato around here . . .

  11. Marte says:

    Very interesting information, Ginny

  12. Diane says:

    Kathy Lee would be so impressed.

  13. Guess we’ve not the only era of crazed supreme court justices!

  14. I just received my WFF catalog and the heirloom tomatoes did take center stage. Garden Porn indeed! Give me more if only for the wealth of information within.

  15. Susan says:

    I am starting to feel like it is unpatriotic not to grow tomatoes this season….and my with all my blight!