The Siren Song of Seeds


    by Amanda Morris, Ph.D.

    Super Sugar Snap. Queen Lime, Dancing Girls, and Color Crackle Zinnias. Chantenay Carrots. Moulin Rouge Beets. Mardi Gras Radishes. Neon Lights Swiss Chard.

    Just listen to the party; a lively, colorful, tasty Spring party destined for my garden beds and pots (and dinner plates). I should be overhauling two course syllabi, writing quizzes, revising deadlines and yet…and yet…this tempting winter pastime of garden dreaming beckons.

    Seed catalogs! New Hybrids! Luscious Photos! I am doomed.


    Ice kisses the dormant leaves, the ground crunches and snaps, but the promise of spring hovers in the crisp air and I am wooed away from work by the siren song of seeds.

    Surely, I am not the only one. Unlike some gardeners, I do not force bulbs to bring the riotous joy of Spring into my home early. My green thumb ends outside the deck door. As to that, my garden rests in an unkempt state, every plant wilted and brown, leaning and frozen to the spot where the frigid air first found it.


    Instead of sinking time into Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, I procrastinate by lingering over seed catalogs, researching better methods for growing early spring vegetables, and reviewing photos of my garden taken last year to see what was growing when. I am enamored. The siren song of seeds leads my heart and mind on a journey of imagination and anticipation. This drives me not to work, but to act; a walk through the frozen landscape to better appreciate my dormant garden in this coldest of times. As I walk, I imagine what the new seeds will add to the space when they sprout, adding color and texture, and newness to this two-year-old planting space:


    The promise of Spring, blackberries, and blossoms, the garden resonates with a calm sort of beauty that suggests stillness and requests patience in the deep cold of winter. The garden fills my heart in all seasons.


    Dr. Amanda Morris is an Assistant Professor of Multiethnic Rhetorics at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania who spends as much time as possible in her garden. 


    1. I too was out in the snow, walking the garden, deciding where I could put more beds for more veggies and small fruits. Providing entertaining speculation for the retired neighbors. I can resist the allure of clothing and other catalogues, but not the seed and plant catalogues.

    2. Colorful party indeed but a little tamer than the seed catalogs of yore promised, with “Howling Mob” and “Bloody Butcher” sweet corn. Here’s a snip from an old newsletter of mine on the lure of seed catalogs:
      “Tomatoes are a must, of course. Seemed like a no-brainer to go exclusively with Mortgage Lifter. That’ll be a heck of a relief to be done with. The choice wasn’t so clear with the beans, so I’m going with several. I’ve got a row each of Prosperity, Ne Plus Ultra and Early Leviathan (can’t wait to see those) plus a few hills of Lazy Wife Pole Beans (unlabeled for obvious reasons). I also couldn’t resist Collective Farm Woman Bean either, which I did put a nice big name tag on, just for its inspirational value. One other unlabeled item tucked way in the back of the garden, behind the fence, is a hill of Painted Lady Melons, an old Ukrainian variety. Apparently not all of those collective farm women shared the same values.”


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