“The season of lists and callow hopefulness…”

The Williams Bon Chrétien pear, aka the Bartlett, one of my many garden catalog purchases for spring.

The great editor and grande dame of New England gardening, Katharine S. White, gives her opinion on dahlias in Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, but she loved this time of year here in Maine almost as much as she did full-blooming July, and for one reason—the seed catalogues. As she explained in her inaugural New Yorker gardening column of March 1, 1958, “For gardeners, this is the season of lists and callow hopefulness; hundreds of thousands of bewitched readers are poring over their catalogues, making lists for their seed and plant orders, and dreaming their dreams.”

I joined their ranks yesterday. After dreaming and poring over the Fedco Seed catalog for weeks, I placed our gardening order for this coming spring, including a ton of seeds and even five new fruit trees for good measure. I’m happy to say that we’ve decided to plant a pear tree—a Bon Chrétien (aka the Bartlett), naturally, as per Encyclopedia, as well as plenty of dahlias. The Whites once lived right down the road, and I was happy this weekend to remember Mrs. White and her seed catalogues of yesteryear.