Make it stop!


In addition to the torrents of early spring (more snow than rain so far), I suspect many of you are similarly bombarded with emails and catalogs for both this season’s plants and next season’s bulbs.

I must get an email flyer from Park Seed every other day, and one from High Country Gardens every week. It’s puzzling because I never order from either of these companies. I do like to check out the Park offerings because, well—they’re crazy!

They seem to be inventing a new hybrid every week, each one more lurid and more overloaded with full, shaggy double flowers than the next. I’m going to need a pair of sunglasses to view their ads if this keeps up. The words “huge” “dramatic,” and “magnificent” are key.

Michael Pollan compares the catalogs for Wayside and White Flower Farms in Second Nature, commenting that Wayside’s “blooms press forward from their pages provocatively, many of them bursting free of their frames, almost as if from a bodice.” But the flyers from Park (Wayside’s parent company), make those images look subtle and demure.

I’m vividly reminded of the danger of doubles every spring when I pull my Obdam double daffs out of the mud, and place them in a long-necked vase for support (after spraying them off). I expect to stake a six-foot-high Oriental lily, but I’m not about to make mini-stakes for all my double bulbs and perennials. Of course, many of these Park doubles are completely unrecognizable from the original cultivars, but keep in mind that they all flower for at least 12 weeks. I’m tempted to order some just to see if they’re as insane as the pictures.

Now, on to the new Brent and Becky’s catalog. We here at the Rant love B&B’s, but it gave me pause when, in Susan’s recent interview, Brent Heath described their new policy of packaging their offerings into “combos.” In the new catalog, these are called “mixtures.” Fine, but I don’t like it that the mixes are “possibly unlabeled.” I guess I’d trust a mixture from this company more than most others, but I still want the names.

It’s good to have the catalog—in a few weeks I can compare the images within to the reality outside, as Kim did recently.

In a few weeks. Seems like I’ve been saying that for weeks.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. It’s funny that some companies think that the bigger, brighter, and fuller is more appealing. I personally adore miniature and tiny flowers, and love simple ones as well. Plain daisies, plain field poppies, violas, all have a special appeal to me. Much more than a gargantuous double dayglow dalia or somesuch.

  2. Elizabeth and Michele… some of the abovementioned plants are ones that I happen to particularly loathe as noted on a previous comment. *grin* Maybe I’ll work up to a rant on this someday. 🙂

  3. High Country Gardens did wear me down last week. It was snowing, they had some things I’ve wanted to try at reasonable prices… and they’re a lot less transparent about their sales message than WFF is. I don’t mind sales propaganda packaged in “Good plants for X Situation” lists, I guess. 🙂

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