When these same catalogues arrive in May, the gardener is too busy to read them during the day, and too exhausted to hold them to the light upon retiring at night. But in January, even a Sunday afternoon will seem like a darling time to lie beneath a coverlet and peruse the catalogue’s glossy pages, festooned with fantastic flora. ‘Tis then the gardener, in his trance, will look forth from the imaginary perch upon which he floats above a fanciful landscape, and beguile himself with virtuous visions of digging, amending, mulching and other praiseworthy tasks which are, of course, delightfully effortless so long as they remain within the realm of honorable intentions.
“How glad I shall be to work,” he thinks, “when the warmth of spring ignites fire in my belly.” “I shan’t mind it at all, for it will be pleasant to sweat a little in the cool hot of spring, then sit back with a fortifying tonic, and survey the lilac buds and the cherry blossoms.”
“See here how florid these peonies and roses seem, how jazzy these irises appear.” “I could fit a goodly patch of these in that weedy area out by the back fence.”
But alas, the lush inflorescences which bloom forth from the catalogue pages postulate an ideal outcome that does not prepare the gardener for the runty roots which actually arrive in the mail in late March. If the gardener has been around the block a few seasons, all this is well known. Yet such experience does not prevent these dreams from germinating, for surely all humans have learned to survive difficult times with benign hallucinations. Come sub-zero temperatures, come coverlet, perchance to dream.
Painting: James Stephens - "Snowy Remote Light" - 2002, Gouache on Paper, 8" x 10"