LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

In the late spring, when the soil is warm and fragrant, I am more than content to pick up a flat of generic tomato seedlings, a nursery six pack or two of everyday lettuce plants, and a few pots of herbs and call it a garden.

The seed catalog folks know just how to push my buttons on a gray winter day, to stir my dreams of Italy, France or romantic days of yore. My favorite is The Cook’s Garden. Their lush imagery is irresistible. Purple Passion Asparagus makes us gardeners sound pretty intriguing. And Violette di Firenze Eggplant casts a romantic aura.

But the tomato collections are my Achilles’ heel. How can I choose only one or two from amongst Big Rainbow, Brandywine, Costeluto Genovese, Sweet Baby Girl, Aunt Ruby’s, Caspian Pink or Enchantment? There’s even a tomato called Garden Peach, described as having “velvety skin, rich flesh, and full flavor.” Its claim to fame was winning a live taste test on The Today Show several years ago.

Flower seeds are listed toward the back of the catalog. I always put on the brakes at the sunflower collections. Used to be, I thought all sunflowers were the classic Giant Grey Stripe. Oh no. Here, you can find an entire, diverse sunflower world. From the rich, dark burgundy Velvet Queen, to Italian White, with its four inch blooms with chocolate centers. I want to try The Joker, described as a new sunflower possession “frilly golden petals that surround a fluffy dark center.”

As my finger hovers dangerously close to a “send” instruction, I linger awhile on the Vine seeds group. The names are captivating: Painted Lady, Love In a Puff, Mina Exotic Love. Ripples.

I feel warm and sleepy now, ready to dream, with visions of heirloom tomatoes dancing in my head.

Sleep tight, friends, wherever you are.

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