Uh, I never said I was done, now did I?
A new seed catalog arrived today: Wildseed Farms' "2004 Reference Guide & Seed Catalog", specializing in wildflowers (annual, biennial and perennial), "exotic garden varieties", herbs and native grasses.
It's slender in size with modest production values (definitely not one of your fency-shmency numbers--all the better, in my book). It is packed with information. There's a page with the current USDA Plant Hardiness Map (actually legible!) accompanied by a detailed, color-coded table with spring and fall planting and sowing date recommendations for each zone. Its several pages of information on raising wildflowers cover each step of the site preparation-seed starting-planting-cultivation-seed collection life cycle in such detail that I'm tempted to laminate and bind the pages and add them to my library. The catalog listings are well-organized and, again, include more information than often found even in dedicated plant "manuals": the plant's common name, botanical name, and botanical family; a well-written paragraph description of the plant; and the following plant stats: average planting success percentage; height; days to germination; optimum soil temperature for germination; sowing depth; blooming period; average seeds per pound; seeds per packet; seeding rate per acre; coverage area per ounce; suggested use; and miscellaneous (but useful) notes [for example, on african daisy (dimorphotheca aurantiaca): "The genus name, Dimorphotheca, means 'two shapes of seed' relating to the fact that the plant produces two non-identical seed forms"; on arroyo lupine (lupinus succulentus): "The most water tolerant of all Lupines"; on catchfly (silene armeria): "The stem exudes a sticky sap that captures small insects that try to steal nectar without pollinating the flowers"].
But wait--there's more! Each listing also includes a photo of the flower, an icon for its flower type ("P" in a red box for perennial; "A" in a blue box for annual; "B" in a yellow box for biennial); a map showing the geographic range (continental U.S.) in which the plant naturally occurs or has become adapted; seed price by the pound, quarter-pound, ounce and packet; and (this is my favorite) a photo of the plant in seedling form--the purpose, diplomatically put, being "to enable you to distinguish your wildflowers from unwanted vegetation during the establishment period". Or, er, a helpful guide for us at the lower end of the weed-identification learning curve. I need this guide, if nothing else to avoid the close call I had last season with the dramatic, four-footer that shot up in my annual bed. It was so vigorous, so green, with interesting foliage. What could it be? When flower buds started forming, I became suspicious...they were small, about the size of a BB. A little research and...holy hay fever, Batman! Ragweed, ready to bloom. No doubt I'll see this one again; all my digging and tugging extricated most of a taproot the size of a daikon radish (well, give me license for a little fisherman hyperbole here), but not quite all of it.
It looks like the catalog editor let a frustrated stand-up comedian get his (or her) ya-yas out in the section called "The Cosmos Collection". The tagline: "For the Gardener who Procrastinates!" The plant stat section is labeled "Cosmos Information Overload." Dwarf cosmos are called "The Vertically Challenged Cosmos". And a helpful tip: "If you have trouble growing Cosmos...take up golf!!" Ba-da-boom. Boy, I'm about up to my neck in cosmos, but...but...but how can I not try "Cosmos Psycho White"? I'm pretty certain this is not a typo for Psyche cosmos, because these don't look like Psyche--they look like Purity with serrated-edged petals. Only $1.50 a packet; 100 seeds in a packet. How can I say no?
And what else? I have been looking for a windowbox petunia to replace last year's Frillytunias -- Wildseed Farms has a petunia x violacea 'Laura Bush' (exclusive to them, they say) with reported heat and cold tolerance, violet colored flowers, and fragrant blooms. ($1.50 a packet; 200 seeds in a packet.) Sold!
The catalog's shipping charges are modest when the seed prices are factored in. Its ratings on Garden Watchdog are not voluminous in number, but all are positive.
Time to update the spreadsheet.