Catalog excursion delivers joy

You have heard of Happy Hour, right? Well, mine may be a little different from the one you are thinking of. I just spent a very happy hour with my Park Seeds catalog ordering the seeds I will be starting in my basement in a few weeks.

That is so enjoyable, selecting flowers and vegetables for the coming summer, and dreaming of the beautiful flower beds and bursting vegetable garden that will arrive in that fat, yellow envelope.

If you plan to order from Park, though, a word of warning. After carefully typing in an order for 21 items, everything came up “product not found.”

I called the company, and a polite and helpful young man told me he did not know why they still offered a quick order form, because they all knew it does not work. So, you have to type in one item at a time and add it to your shopping cart.

If you are a slow typist, and computer-challenged as I am, that takes a while. But now that the order has gone through, I am pleased with the wide variety I had to choose from, and I am longing to find the result in the mailbox.

I optimistically had planned for just a few flowers. That always turns out the same way, and this year I have ordered nine varieties, mostly annuals. I tell myself how much money I am saving by ordering seeds rather than buying plants, and my conscience clears.

Some are regulars. I always grow Dolcissima petunias, an Italian variety with large flowers in variegated pink shades, and they do well in hanging baskets and my window box. A blue and white bacopa, Utopia Mix, has pelleted seeds, which makes sowing easier, and does well in sun or shade.

For the shady front garden, I am growing coleus in a mix of shades and a new impatiens called Stars Aligned. I like several colors of impatiens as well as white, but I find that the descriptive words in the catalogs such as lilac, violet and lavender do not fit with my conception of those colors, and are inclined to turn out pink or magenta.

So, I will wait until I can find the plants in colors I can see.

I always plant a long row of sunflowers, and I have quite a few left from last summer, so I have restrained myself and ordered just one packet of Van Gogh mix. I hope they will live up to their name.

I also need some vines for the arbors, and will be receiving sweet peas in a Villa Romana mix, which are short and bushy, and a black-eyed Susan in shades of pink and peach.

A couple of novelties I could not resist are Minette basil, which forms 10-inch globes, and the eggplant variety called Easter Egg, which I have grown in the flower bed in the past.

And then I saw an interesting echinacea, PowWow Wild Berry, which is a rose-pink perennial that is supposed to bloom in its first year with good weather and water tolerance.

And so to the vegetables. I am focusing on green beans and tomatoes this year, along with the asparagus, onions and garlic that are permanent residents.

Last year was disappointing, but the tomatoes did well, and I am going to grow the usual Celebrity and Brandywine, which do well for me.

I love green beans, and have a lot of seeds saved, but will also be planting Maxibel bush beans and Algarve and Mountain White pole beans. I brought back some Wisley Red Runners from England last fall, and hope we will get the rain they need this year.

Some of the extra space will come from the raspberry patch. I am going to dig those canes out and they will be at the Master Gardener plant sale in May

So there it is, the first step completed on the way to a good gardening year. And if everything does not turn out exactly like the pictures in the catalog, at least I had a lot of fun ordering.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at